Friday, February 25, 2011

Party Like Its ...

It's my birthday! Well, not today but soon and I am very excited! About this time last year I was having some kind of mental and emotional break. I was pretty depressed that my life had not turned out the way I had planned when I was 18. I did not finish university with a degree in journalism. I did not travel the world as a freelance reporter. I did not settle down as a local reporter/columnist once I decided to have kids. I did not have several books published or win any literary awards. I did not live in my dream home with a housekeeper and a cook. I did not, I did not, I did not...

What a sucky way of looking at life!
I was so focused on the things that I perceived that had not gone right that I was missing all of the rightness that I was standing in the middle of. Not so this year. I am celebrating every good thing in my life and looking with joy at the future. I am remembering times of heart break and triumph and realizing that all those moments have taught me, have made me into the person I am. I am embracing the challenges in life as gifts and opportunities for personal growth. And I am breathing in the sweetness of being loved by my people.

*Cue the old nun singing Climb Every Mountain*

Seriously, life is still crazy busy, chaotic and messy but its mine and I am here to live it, to experience it and to enjoy it! Thanks for popping by everyday day to read about this random mom and her wacky life. Thanks for sticking with me, supporting me, encouraging me, laughing with me and sometimes at are a pal and I think you are awesome!

Click play, stand up and party with me like its 1976!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Child of the 70s/80s

Its the month of Nic-o-rama and as my birthday approaches I've been thinking a lot about the things of my childhood. I have a lot of happy memories of playing with my cousins, sleeping over at my grandparents' house and playing, spending hours and hours just playing. All of these memories have made me a bit nostalgic for some of my favourite things from my childhood.

I used to love running around with my cousins, playing statue or TV Tag, shouting out names like Rocket Robin Hood, Who's the Boss and Fraggle Rock. On rainy days we would curl up on my grandparents' red brocade couch in their living room  and watch Bugs Bunny and The Tom and Jerry Show. I remember commercials with the Koolaid man and Hubba Bubba and TootsiePops. We played with our Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids (her name was Rosie Fiona and she was a '3') and Care Bears (I had Love-a-Lot).
I loved the lessons I learned from Sesame Street, The Friendly Giant and Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. I remember when Snuffy was still Big Bird's imaginary friend, when Mr. Hooper died and all the times I would imagine myself sitting in the rocking chair and looking up, waaaay up.

Being a child of the late 70s and early 80s rocked. It was the era of Lite Brite, Slinkys and the Etch-a-Sketch. In the evenings we could sit down as a family and watch Little House on the Prairie, The Littlest Hobo and Punky Brewster. We played Hungry Hippo, Twister and IQ 2000. We watched ET, Gremlins and Goonies on the big screen and we danced to Eye of the Tiger by Survivor, Physical by Olivia Newton-John and Fame by Irene Cara. We were groovy, solid, hip and far out. Can you dig it, good buddy?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Telling

One of my favourite shows on TV these days is Parenthood. I started watching it because I love Lauren Graham as much as my sister hates her but I keep watching because there is a storyline that I identify with all too well. In the first episode Adam, the oldest adult child of the Braverman family, discovers that his son, Max, has Asperger's Syndrome.

I have watched this story play out over the past season and a half. I have watched the Bravermans meet wacky families, experience and explain Max's meltdowns and struggle to come to terms with what the diagnosis means for their family. Each step the Bravermans have taken I have been there with them, remembering similar times in our own history but last night something happened that was foreign to me.

Max overheard that he has AS and asked what it means. His parents froze, like deer in the headlights, panicking and scrambling for the 'right' answer. This is where they lost me. I have written before about my feelings regarding honesty about Aspergers. To us, right now, its no big deal so I was a little annoyed by how this show that I love portrayed this moment. I was annoyed by the panic and fear on the parents' faces until I thought about The Telling and not the topic.

As parents we all have conversations that we dread having with our kids, most of those conversations revolve around puberty related issue but there are other tough conversations. Anyone who has had to explain to their kids that they are getting a divorce, or that a teenage relative is having a baby or that a loved one has passed away knows that the initial telling leads to questions. Its those follow-up questions, for me at least, that cause me to hesitate when I get to The Telling.

I can control what I am going to say but I can't control what questions the kids are going to ask and for a control freak like me, that stresses me out a little. Their random questions demand thoughtful, age appropriate, honest answers and to come up with those answers on the spur of the moment requires some fast thinking, a cool head and a lot of coffeejuice!

But seriously, we can't let the fear of the follow-up keep us from having the tough conversations because if a kid is asking a grown-up a question then its a question they desperately want answered. I remember plucking up the courage to ask my parents what I knew where tough and uncomfortable questions. It wasn't easy for me and it sure as heck wasn't easy for them but I can't remember one time when I asked a sincere question that they did not answer it.  They took things one question at a time and gave me all the information that I needed to know, no more and no less. And that's what I try to do with our kids now.

I strive to be honest with the kids, if I don't know the answer to a question I say so and either we google it together or I tell them to give me a little time to find the answer and we'll talk again, soon. If they ask something that isn't age appropriate or is beyond what they really need to know, I tell them. I tell them that as a kid, they have the privilege of not having to deal with adult issues and that the answer to this particular question is an adult thing and that when this situation has any impact on their day to day lives then we'll let them know and answer their questions.

I try to remind myself that I am teaching them about life, how to live, how to think, how to respond to the things that happen in the world. Its my responsibility to frame their world, to explain, to answer questions ... to tell.

Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children. ~Oliver Wendell

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Yesterday was a holiday, no school, no work, just a whole day for family laziness and general hanging-outedness. We watched a movie, played with Play-doh, did some crafts, built Lego and watched a full blown Jedi-war. It was a good day, but this morning we were back to our routine of getting up, getting dressed and getting out the door.

Mr. Awesome went to work, the kids went to school and after a meeting I went grocery shopping and returned home. When I stepped through the door, for a moment I thought we had been robbed. Paper was scattered from one end of the entrance to the other, cheerios covered the kitchen floor and the living room floor was scattered with books.

As I walked through the house I noticed that all of the closets were open with their contents spilling out all over the floor, giving the impression that the closets had thrown up in the night. There was doll clothes, Lego, glue sticks, glitter, hot wheels, Teck Deck, DVD cases, playing cards, marbles, sweatshirts, socks, snack wrappers, Zhu Zhu pets, tissue paper and Playmobile everywhere. In the bathroom I found a half finished science experiment and seven Babies floating in two inches of water in the bathtub. In the laundry room I found a fort made of comforters and pillows stretching from one end of the room to the other and the floor of the guest room was the scene of some sort of doll and bear mass casualty event.

My house was a mess ... with a capital Holy Crap!

I contemplated running away from home, burning the place down or using the snow shovel to push everything back into the closets. Then I asked myself, "WWLD?" What would Loonette do? When they were younger, my kids LOVED Big Comfy Couch and the '10 second tidy' became a staple of our clean up routine. As I surveyed the mess, I knew it was going to take a heck of a lot longer than 10 seconds to clean up, so I set myself up a '10 minute tidy' goal and went to work.

In under ten minutes I had almost all of the mess pitched back into the mess-makers rooms, swept the kitchen and fished all of the Barbies out of the East River. The science experiment was left where it was because I have no desire to see a real explosion and meltdown but the crime scene in the guest room was moved to Crafty's room and the trail of mess from Dude's room to Mischief's room was divided and pushed back behind closed doors.

My house, my living space is once again returned to order and the mess has once again become the mess-makers problem, and not mine. Thanks Loonette for the tip ... now time for coffeejuice and some crafting!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Good Old Days

When we were kids our playgrounds consisted of the vomit-inducing merry-go-rounds, metal monkey bars set in concrete and the child-launching teeter-totter. The swings were slabs of splintered wood with cracked and peeling lead based paint suspended from a wobbly frame by rusting chains and the slides were steep with shallow sides and a metal base that would heat to boiling point in the summer, seering off a layer of skin with every slide down it. We played tether ball, dodge ball and lawn darts with our friends and cousins every free moment we had.

This was where we played, unsupervised from sun up to sun down on weekends and through out the summer. We would pack a peanut butter sandwich and some Koolaide in our backpacks and spend the day running wild with our friends. We explored the woods near the school, played in the creek that ran through the park and biked along the highway for miles, without helmets, adults or reflective clothing. We never thought about bug spray or sun screen, we were explorers, pirates and renegades. We were kids and this was our world.

Nowadays kids are helmeted, padded and bubbled wrapped while playing in their own yards and we would never even consider letting the precious wee ones bike to school alone, or play at the community park unsupervised. Kids aren't allowed near a puddle without a life jacket and a certified life guard in tow. Every time our kids step out the door we make sure they are slathered in SPF 900 and coated with deet free organic insect repellent. We feel like bad parents if we forget to pack a sunhat, hand sanitizer and a nut free, wheat free, gluten free, sugar free snack for our kids.

I know times have changed. I know that the world isn't like it was when we were kids and there are new dangers we have to protect our children from. We also have new technology, new research and a new understanding of childhood injuries and illnesses. These are good things to be aware of but sometimes I think we are doing our kids a disservice. We are protecting them rather than teaching them to be aware and self sufficient.

After the first time a wooden swing came at you didn't you learn to be aware of your surroundings? Didn't you learn to read a person's facial expression and the meaning it held when perched on the high end of a teeter-totter with your scheming cousin sitting on the low end? Didn't you learn the impact of weather on metal when you sat on a hot slide or touched your tongue to a cold monkey bar? And didn't you become more self aware, more honest about your physical capabilities when spinning at mock speed on the merry-go-round after lunch?

I'm not saying we should throw the kids to the lions and see how they do, I'm saying ease up a little. A scraped knee or bleeding nose won't kill them. If they fall off their bike, don't put the training wheels back on, pick them up, dust them off and get them back on the bike. Don't squash your child's natural curiosity and sense of adventure because you are trying to protect them, teach them how to assess the risk, make the necessary adjustments and let them give life a shot.

Just living is not enough. One must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower. ~Hans Christian Anderson

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One of Those Days

I am having one of those days, actually one of those weeks. The kind of week where you always feel like you are running on an empty tank, half a brain and about an hour behind everyone else. The kind of week where most things that can go wrong do go wrong, the kids are wigging out at every opportunity and best laid plans are now a heap of chaos. My week is the definition of the lunatics running the asylum at the intersection of a rock and a hard place with a giant brick wall for me to bang my head against. I am spinning my wheels, working hard but it's hardly working and there is no rest for the weary, or the wicked, or whoever it is that is perpetually denied rest.

When I get to this point in crazy all I can do is pour myself a cup of coffee and think about a story a dear friend once told me. It is my go-to, "I need a laugh now" never fails me tale of the epitome of parental embarrassment. And for once it didn't happen to me!

I am telling this story without permission but because my friend is generous and forgiving I know she won't mind. I will change the names to protect the innocent and the overwhelmed.

My friend, Melanie is a very poised and confident, professional woman. In fact, when I first met her I was a little intimidated by her 'togetherness.' I know she is laughing because we both know the truth about how together she really is, how together any of us really are when put to the test and boy, was she ever put to the test!

When Melanie's daughter, Allison was about two or three years old they went on a family ski trip. Allison was, and still is, a hardcore animal lover and at the time her favourite movie was Cinderella because of the all the birds and mice and especially the cat, she loved that cat! To help pass the time for Allison while driving on the shuttle between the resort and the ski hill, they brought along a portable DVD player and it worked beautifully ... until it didn't.

 One morning while they were making the drive from the resort to the ski hill on the jam-packed shuttle, the battery died on the DVD player and Allison threw a fit the way only a toddler can. At the top of her lungs poor, little, curly-haired Allison began screaming, "I can't see Lucifer, I can't see Lucifer!" Lucifer is the name of the cat in Cinderella, but the whole scene sounded far more ominous after a few seconds when Allison's voice became hoarse and scratchy.

Soon every eye on the bus was on this red-faced screaming toddler and her mother, my pal, the poised and efficient, Melanie. Melanie was mortified and wanted nothing more than to melt into the floor, but she did her motherly best to calm her screaming exorcist-like child while her husband and son pretended not to know either of them. Melanie tried several things to calm Allson but it wasn't until she promise that Allison "could see Lucifer later" that the screaming finally stopped.

So, whenever I am feeling low, whenever the everyday stuff threatens to overwhelm me I like to think of Melanie and Allison and that busload of strangers. Everyone has a rough day from time to time but at least, "I can't see Lucifer," yet!

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Love Notes

On Valentine's Day each of the kids decorated a paper bag to use as a mailbox then we all spent about an hour writing notes and drawing pictures for each other. Yesterday I organised the notes and clipped them together so each kid would have a little booklet of love notes from their family and I left them on the table for them to find at breakfast this morning.

They were delighted with their discoveries and quickly flipped through their booklets admiring the kind words and thoughtful pictures. As they settled into their breakfast they continued to look through their books and chat about the contents. Here's some of what I heard ...

Crafty reading to Mischief - Mom wrote that she likes how you think of others
Mischief - That's nice. She probably wrote that because I tried to help Drew clean up after he puked all over the place at lunch. I was thinking nobody wants to smell that while they are trying to eat.
Crafty - That is thoughtful ... and disgusting!

Dude - What's this picture of?
Mischief - That's you hugging me.
Dude - Oh, I thought it was of me sitting on you.
Mischief - It could be that too I guess 'cause you do that too.
Dude - Yeah, but only because I love you.
Mischief - I'll try to remember that's why the next time you do it.
Dude - I'll remind you

Crafty - You wrote that you like that I'm Artsy. Thanks.
Dude - You're welcome. Artsy Fartsy.
Crafty - What?
Dude - You're Artsy and I'm Fartsy, we're Artsy Fartsy.
Crafty - Yeah, I could have wrote that in a love note.
Mischief - But then it would have stinked!
All laughing hysterically

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author Unknown

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Taking a Shot

This morning, moments after my alarm went off, I flicked on the TV to my favourite morning show and began the arduous task of getting out of bed and getting ready for the day. As I went through my normal routine, I listened to the local news, segments on how to cook a baked potato (seriously) and how to save money for retirement, without really paying attention. And then a story came on that caught my attention. It was a follow-up piece to a story that had aired five years ago.

The original story was about a high school senior, a basketball player, who had set a school record for points scored during a game. The thing that made this story newsworthy on a national level was that it was the last game of the season, and it was the kid's first time on the court. I remember hearing about this story when it first aired and at the time I thought it was a nice, little, feel-good piece but it wasn't until this morning that I heard two things that I had never heard before. Those two little nuggets of information changed my perspective of the story.

I searched Youtube and found this segment that aired five years ago. Can you spot the two things that I missed?

He's autistic and he missed his first shot.

Watching this clip made me a little emotional. I love that the whole school was behind this kid, cheering him on, wishing for his success. Who says kids on the spectrum can't have friends? I love that this kid missed his first shot but instead of pulling him from the game, his coach crossed his fingers and said a prayer. I love that this kid felt confident enough, strong enough in himself, to try a second shot. And I love that he didn't stop the moment he achieved success, he kept going, he kept reaching for the next goal and the next. He didn't stop until the whistle blew and the game was over.
Often times those of us who know, work with or love a kid with extra needs want to give them a chance to 'be normal' but we are afraid of what a failure may do to their 'fragile' self esteem.  We don't want them to have to deal with another disappointment or rejection so we shield them. We decide for them what they can handle, and often we put limitations on them that are unnecessary, limitations that end up suffocating their potential.

The reality is that failure is a part of life and without risking failure we would never know the joy of success. These kids will never know what they are capable of if we don't get out of their way and let them try. Let them be normal, let them experience life as it comes to them.
This kid, Jason McElwain, is now an adult who has published a book about this event in his life, tours around North America raising money for Autism Awareness, is entertaining assistant coaching job offers from several schools and universities and is confident, independent and self-sufficient. He was given the room to try and he succeeded.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Things I Love About Them

Today is Family Love Day and as I am bustling around the house preparing for our traditional pink pancake supper I can't help but get a little mushy and maybe even a little weepy. Through out the morning as I have been running errands and cleaning up after a weekend of popcorn parties and general, messy laziness, I have been thinking about my people. I have been meditating on why I love them, the things about each one of them that is unique, and I have been falling in love with them all over again. I have come to the conclusion that I am very, very blessed.

I Love that being married to Mr. Awesome is like having a sleep over with a best friend who never has to go home, I love the way he 'gets' me, loves me and is my biggest fan. I love that he cries at the sappy parts in movies, that he melts when the kids crawl into his lap and that I am his favourite person. I love that he has a huge heart, shows compassion to the underdog and that he goes out of his way to teach the same values to our kids. I love that I get to live my life with a truly exceptional man, he is a devoted husband, an incredible father and the best person I know. He fills my world.

I Love that being Dude's Mom has taught me that being different is just code for being extraordinary. He has taught me what it really means to be brave, to persevere and to have self-confidence. He is the impossible made possible, he is logic and reason tied up with hope. He is wonder and independence, he goes left when everyone else goes right yet somehow his left is right. He is peace and joy and discovery. He is Christmas every day of the year. He makes my world go round.

I Love that being Crafty's mom has taught me that life is meant to be seen, experienced and savoured; not rushed. She is everything that is light and colourful and beautiful. She is giggles and flowers and hearts all woven together in the wings of a butterfly. She is art and music and laughter. She is an opera inside a vaudeville show. She is intelligence, grace, passion and wit. She is my dream come true, she is my little girl. She brings colour to my world.

  I Love that being Mischief's mom has taught me that there's no point in sweating the small stuff because it is all small stuff.  He is a mess-maker, a rainbow chaser, a stunt doer, a song singer, an inventor, a genius and a madman. He is Rhett Butler, Jack Sparrow, Superman, Survivorman and Yoda all wrapped up into one six year old. He is strength and love and laughter. He is wit and charm and cuddles. He is the height and depth and breadth of life. He turns my world upside down.

I Love that this life, these people have taught me about hope and dreams and the future. They have taught me to laugh at myself, dance in the rain and exhale slowly. They love me when I am unlovable. They pick me up when I fall. They forgive me before I ask for forgiveness. They believe in me. These are my people and I am crazy, silly, madly, deeply in love with them!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Practicing Motherhood

Doctors, dentists and lawyers have a 'practice.' Mothers are expected to practicing, just be.

There is no school for mothers. There is no apprenticeship. You don't get to sit back for four years and learn the ins and outs of motherhood and then under supervision try it out for a few weeks to see if you're cut out for it. There is no competency test (thank goodness), no licensing process, no certifications, you don't get to practice being a mother, you just are. How crazy is that?

And even more mental is when women, strong, beautiful, intelligent, loving women, become mothers and suddenly they walk around in a cloud of worry and guilt over how they are raising their children. They judge themselves harshly, make no allowances for mistakes or their inability to predict the future. They lose sleep, lose hair, lose friends because all they can focus on, obsess over is whether they are good enough, are they a good enough mother?

We all want the best for our kids. We want to give them the tools they need to be successful, productive adults. We want them to be happy, kind and compassionate. We want them to avoid broken bones and broken hearts. We want them to know the thrill of success but never experience the bitterness of failure. We want better for them, so we do our best. We try and we succeed. And sometimes we try and we fail.

When we see success, we say, "Whew! What a lucky break!" and when we experience a parental failure we beat ourselves up and carry our misstep around our necks like a monument to our short comings.  We promise ourselves that we will do better next time, we second guess ourselves, berate ourselves. We hold on to the moments where we felt like we failed and let the successes slip through our fingers. How backwards is that?

We need to give ourselves a break and reframe how we look at motherhood. Being a mom isn't about the individual moments of success and failure, its about the big picture. Its about the kind of person you are. Its okay to be scared, to try things and fail, to make mistakes because the thing that matters, the thing your kids will remember is how you loved them.

A woman, and mother, whom I greatly respect said something to me a couple of years ago that changed my perspective of motherhood. She said, "You don't need to be a great mother to raise a great just need to be a good mother." I don't need to be perfect, to have all the right answers I just need to do my best. I need to practice motherhood.

Watch this video and give yourself permission to practice, to fail, to learn more, to do better.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Stuff of Horror Flicks

I swear my life has been like scenes out of a horror film this week.

We have been woken in the middle of the night by zombie like creatures stumbling into our bedroom, moaning and mumbling incoherently. They beckon us to follow and like all terrified nitwits in those movies, we go with them, into the dark. They lead us through hallways and down stairs, we feel the ground squishing under our feet and a pungent odor seers our nostrils. The zombie suddenly flicks on the light and we scream in horror.

The zombie is our vomit covered child and the 'squish' we are standing in is a pool of their own making. We have been lead, in the dead of night, to their rooms were they have 'not quite' made it to the bathroom. Welcome to The Flu of 2011.

We lived in a house with hardwood floors for six years. And in those six years we only had one episode of a child throwing up on the floor. We have lived in this beautifully carpeted home for six months and in the past week all three children have chucked on the carpets. Seriously?

This is one of the worst parts of parenting, I don't do well with puking kids. Don't get me wrong, I feel bad for the kids when they are sick but the cleaning of the chunky carpets, the washing of the stinky bedding and the constant stench of sick in the house is almost more than I can handle. Although I do better than my mom did when we were kids, more often than not she would end up throwing up with us, I am not the parent the kids seek out when they are sick.

This is Mr. Awesome's forte, this is how he earns his awesome. He can comfort the kids, clean the floors and change the bedding without so much as a grimace. He makes everyone feel like everything is going to be just fine. In fact, when I called him earlier to give him an update on the kids, he offered to come home and help clean up the mess on the floor. Although I declined his offer, and cleaned up everything myself, he still gets bonus points for asking.

Every horror flick needs a hero after all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It Must be Genetic

My mom had this condition when I was a kid, maybe it was a syndrome, it might have even been a disease. I don't know for sure but whatever it was I think I have it, caught it, could I have been born with it? Most of my aunts seemed to suffer from it at least occasionally and I see symptoms in some of my cousins. I don't recall my grandmother having it but then again I was her grand kid and might have missed the signs. Anyway, I have it for sure ... just ask my kids.

I'm a Mean Mom.

I know my mom had it for sure because when I was a kid I had to clean my room instead of playing with my friends, I had to go to bed at my regular bedtime even during the summer when the sun was still shining, I couldn't eat candy for breakfast or run wild through the neighborhood without supervision. She was mean, very, very mean. And according to my kids, I am mean, too.

They haven't said it but I can tell they think it, especially this week. I won't let them play outside in the -36C windchill, they can't eat sugary cereal for breakfast after spending the night in the bathroom throwing up, they have to wear their snow pants AND boots to school even though some of the other kids are wearing runners and homework still has to be done before they can watch TV ... just like last week. I also won't let them walk to school by themselves, miss school because they 'just don't feel like being there,' or trade their fruit for chips in their lunches.

Clearly, I have the same condition that my mother had when I was a kid. I don't think there is any treatment or medicine for it. If I remember correctly I just had to wait it out. As time passed, and I got older, the symptoms lessened and my mom got better. She seemed less mean, and in fact, she actually seemed to get smarter during her recovery. Things she said made sense, she had some good advice and I benefited greatly from her input. It was remarkable, actually.

I hope my kids have the patience to wait it out with me and hopefully I too will become wise in their eyes ... once I recover, that is.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

And the Award Goes to...

I love watching award shows.

I love the all snazzed-up celebrities in their designer finery jammed together on the red carpet like hogs in an 18 wheeler. I love watching the ladies teetering on unrealistic heels wearing skin tight satin gowns in the blazing Los Angeles sunshine while they attempt to look poised and glamorous in front of the cameras. I love seeing the sea of men in identical black tuxedos and hyper-coiffed hair giving the impression of a mass-produced celebrity. But most of all I love the crazies; the celebrities who use awards shows to be cutting edge, outrageous or flamboyant only to have it go oh, so wrong for them. I love the worst dress list! It’s all ridiculously fabulous.

I also love the acceptance speeches. I find it fascinating to see who tries to be self deprecating, who forgets to thank their spouse and who decides to try to talk over the music. I like to compare the prepared, those who try to read an impossibly long list of names off a badly crumbled piece of paper, with the unprepared, those who just ‘wing it.’

As I watch these shows I sometimes fantasize about my acceptance speech, the speech I would make at something like this. I often joke about The Parent of the Year Award, as in "That move would never have won me The Parent of the Year Award" but what if there was really such a thing? What would you say? Who would you thank?

Since there is no such thing as The Parent of the Year Award (thank you Jesus!), and if there was I would hardly be a candidate, I will never have the chance to experience the swanky gowns and glittery jewels of the Red Carpet. Sigh.  So, I guess this will have to do. Right here, in my chilly basement, right now, in my purple paisley flannel pjs and ratty old hoodie I give you my acceptance speech.

Oh, thank-you, thank-you. This is such a surprise. I am so honoured (the fake shock and false humility are the backbone to all good acceptance speeches) The road from parenthood to this platform has been a long one and it encompasses so much more than just this past year. I would like to thank all the random cute babies I have seen over the years, thank you for being sweet and adorable and for suckering me into wanting a baby of my own. Thank you to all of my friends who became parents before me, thank you for trying to warn me, for encouraging me to enjoy my sleep-ins, solitude and proper hygiene while I could. Sorry I didn't take you seriously and I forgive you for saying "I told you so." I deserved it.

Thank you to all my babiless, single friends for sharing all of their unsolicited, unhelpful advice at moments of peak stress, that was really ... awesome. Thank you to the lady in the check out line for judging me harshly while my two year old had a meltdown, and to the librarian who questioned why my three year old doesn't know how to spell his own name yet and to the Sunday School teacher who admonished me for the inappropriate words my toddler was saying in class. Thank-you to my mother-in-law who inevitably calls whenever the kids are screaming, fighting or having a tantrum and of course, I would like to thank my mother for saying so many times, "I hope one day you have kids just like you!"

But most of all, I would like to thank my children for pushing me to the brink of sanity each and every day. For challenging my self control and mental fortitude on a moment by moment basis. For asking me countless answerless questions first thing in the morning, for volunteering me to bake, craft and supervise at an array of school functions ... without telling me until the night before. Thank you for constantly leaving a natural disaster category mess is your wake everyday, without it to clean up I may be forced to find something else like, reading or writing, to fill my time.

Seriously ... thank you for making me stop to literally smell the flowers, even if they are only dandelions. Thank-you for pointing out the colour of the sky, the sound of the birds and the warmth of the sunshine.Thank-you for reminding me every day that life is meant for joy, adventure and love. Thank you for making me into the mother you need me to be.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Love Day

February is a popular month. It is the month of Black History, Loius Riel Day and the global sensation of Nic-o-rama (aka my birthday). It is also the month we celebrate Valentine's Day. This is the day where once a year everyone goes crazy for pink and red hearts, stuffed animals and roses. This is the day you celebrate being part of a twosome by being worried that your lover will forget to love you properly. And if you are not part of a twosome you depress yourself by pondering your aloneness while you eat copious amounts of heart shaped chocolate. Happy Valentine's?

Or you take a healthier approach to this day and you broaden your scope of love.
I have never been a fan of Valentine's Day. It felt like a day when a lot of people were left feeling out of the loop. It seemed that for this one day if you were not part of a couple you were no one and to me that has never been an okay message to send. Not even for one day.

So the first year I was with Mr. Awesome I told him in no uncertain terms that I do not expect nor want any type of love fest on Valentine's Day. I do not need a grand gesture of love on February 14 because he loves me in a million small ways every day of the year. He went along with that, partly because he agreed with me and partly because it got him off the hook. Our ban on Valentine's Day lasted about three years and then I caved. I fell in love with a new man and everything changed.

The first Valentine's Day after Dude was born we celebrated Family Love Day. It wasn't anything we did intentionally or even officially, we were just so taken with this kid and this family-love that Valentine's Day became something totally different for us. That first year when Dude was 11 months old we celebrated the day with an extra long group cuddle in our bed, pancakes for breakfast and all the hugs and kisses the little man could handle. This tradition has carried on now for nine years. Every year we treat Valentine's Day like an anniversary for our family, a day when we love each other on purpose.

It is our hope that as our kids get older they will continue to see February 14 as a day to love the people who are important to them instead of only focusing on and seeking out romantic love. The world is full of broken hearted people who look past the true love in their lives, the love of friends and family, and focus only on the wisp of emotion they feel they are missing. They spend Valentine's Day, and many other random days throughout the year, feeling sad and lonely when they could be embracing the love that they have from the people who really matter in their lives.

One of our favourite movies is Love Actually. It is the story of the intertwining lives of people who are searching for love but it is not just about romantic love. In fact, one of our favourite scenes is where the washed up rock star realizes that the 'love of his life' is his manager, the man who has been with him through thick and thin, the man who is his best friend.

So Valentine's Day, for us, isn't about romance and 'proving' love, its about celebrating love, real, messy, everyday Love. Here's the opening scene from Love Actually ... one of the best truths about love I have ever seen.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Bizzy and Uncle Awesome

Last weekend my sister and my niece, three year old Bizzy, came to stay with us for a few days. We had a good time just hanging out, chatting and watching the kids play. It's been several years since we've had someone that little living in our house so we sort of forgot some things, mainly how three year olds are the best people to keep your ego in check.

This visit Bizzy didn't bother with me to much, she was all about Uncle Awesome.

Mr. Awesome is a power lineman for the local hydro company. He is pretty proud of his career, as are most guys in this trade. I joke that they all have God complexes because they work so high off the ground and play with power, he says it's not a God complex it's just that they are all just that good.

So last Friday when Mr. Awesome came in the door, dressed in his grubby orange coveralls and Fire Resistant blue shirt and chore coat, Bizzy took one look at him and said, "You are a gas man?" Thinking that she meant that he worked for the natural gas side of the company, Mr. Awesome replied, "No, baby-girl, Uncle Awesome is a lineman. I climb poles."

"You work at co-op?" she asked. My sister burst out laughing and explained that Bizzy thought that Mr. Awesome pumped gas for a living. Deflated, Mr. Awesome said, "No Bizzy, Uncle Awesome does not work at the gas station." Bizzy took a step back from him, looked him up and down, wrinkled her nose and said, "You are very dirty," and walked away, completely unimpressed.

Fast forward a week to this morning, Mr. Awesome and I were leaving the house at the same time this morning and I mentioned to him that the van needs gas. Being the awesome guy that he is, he offered to follow me to the gas station and fill the van up for me.

I pulled up to the pump and rolled down my window as Mr. Awesome jumped out of his truck and walked over to the van. "Fill 'er up!" I joked. I watched him as he took the nozzle from the pump and started filling the tank,

"You know, " I said.

"Don't even say it!"

"I'm just saying, I can sort of see her point," I laugh.

He hung his head and started to laugh. This man who had just spent seventeen hours working through smoke and wind and snow at a barn fire, then patrolled miles of line in blizzard like conditions, this guy who went through four years of hardcore apprenticeship, years of roughneck on the job training and works in hazardous conditions daily looked down at himself, in his Hydro uniform, pumping gas and said, "Bizzy's right, I do look like a gas attendant."

There is nothing like the observations of a three-year old to humble you, give you perspective and make you laugh at yourself.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snapshot Memories

As a mom, some days can feel endless and yet at the same time it can feel like time is rushing along at the speed of light. In the moment, the daily routine of 'being a mom' can be frustrating and exhausting but the journey of motherhood is beautiful and precious. I know that all the little moments that drive me nuts now are the same moments that I will miss as my kids grow up; it's happening already.

On the wall behind my computer screen I have a large collage of pictures of my kids. Its a random sea of some of my favourite shots from over the years, pictures that capture special moments or personality quirks. I love looking up and seeing two-year old Mischief drinking out of my Tim Horton's cup and Baby Crafty biting her toes and four year old Dude wearing an giant inflatable football helmet. These pictures keep me from losing my mind some days.

Seriously, these pictures and memories remind me how quickly time flies and how I need to Carpe Diem, seize the day, intentionally remember my life, moment by moment. Dude is nearly 11 years old and I would trade a month restful sleeps to have one night with my infant baby boy snuggled in my arms as we watched the sun come up together. I look at Crafty and marvel that this smart, witty and beautiful 8 year old is the same girl who wrapped herself in my scarves and destroyed three tubes of lipstick when she was two in an effort to 'be fancy' and every night when I tuck Mischief in I have to remind myself this grimy, busy, nutty little boy is the baby who used to laugh in his sleep almost every night.

When Dude was born, my aunt showed up at the hospital with magazines, gum and one piece of advice, "Remember him like this. Life will get busy and some days you'll feel overwhelmed and frustrated but remember him, even on those days because they will be gone before you know it." Although, I didn't get it then I listened to her and I have taken mental snapshots, intentionally made a memory, of my kids often.

I remember what their smiles looked like when they were missing teeth, the feel of their baby hands touching my face and the sound of their giggles as they play and scheme and dream together. And every day, when I wrap my arms around them and kiss their soft cheeks, I promise myself I will remember, I will remember, I will remember .

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Way Back to Funny

I'm not feeling very funny today. Folks, I'm trying but its just not happening. I'm not funny or witty or silly or even exceptionally creative today. Granted, I've only had one cup of coffee but still...I got nothing.

As a writer this happens sometimes and as a mom it happens all of the time. I'm in the place where I have run out of 'good mood' and all I feel is 'blah'. I think its the point where the everyday life stuff begins to pile up and I forget that this, all of this, is meant to be a fun, joy-filled adventure. When I get to this point I go to my words, not the words that I have written, but the words I have claimed as my own. The words that make me think, that make me laugh and that remind me that being 'the grown-up' doesn't mean that I have to be serious all the time.

These are the words of my childhood, the words that taught me that its good to be silly, that sometimes the world only makes sense when you look at it sideways and that imagination is the key to my sanity. These words come mostly from Shel Silverstein, his writings were the first I read that made me feel like being a day-dreamer isn't a bad thing and that words are not just for serious, they are for fun, too.  I'm going to share some of my words with you and maybe we can find our funny together...


If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!


Sandra’s seen a leprechaun,
Eddie touched a troll,
Laurie danced with witches once,
Charlie found some goblins gold.
Donald heard a mermaid sing,
Susy spied an elf,
But all the magic I have known
I've had to make myself

Put Something In

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.