Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crazy Cat-isms

No, this is not a post about cats ... I haven't completely lost my mind.

Cat with Bono ... seriously!
This is a post about my pal, Cat. Actually, I stole her. She was my sister's pal first but once I met this crazy gal I couldn't get enough! Cat is funny and random and quirky ... all the best things in life, really. She stalks celebrities and makes them fall in love with her, she lives life with over flowing joy and where ever she goes that's where the party is.

Over the past couple of months I have had some tough moments, times where I lost my 'funny' and optimism, times when I have felt completely drained and without fail all I've needed to do is click on to Cat's Facebook page and suddenly I am laughing. My day seems a little bit brighter and the world is, once again, the crazy, silly place I love when seen through Cat's unique perspective.

I have felt a little selfish, keeping Cat to myself (and the 400 other FB friends she has) so here she is, or at least a sampling of some of her wonderful randomness from the past couple of weeks.

*Just found leftover Christmas baking from 2yrs ago in the downstairs freezer. That's gonna save me HEAPS of time in the kitchen this holiday season!

*I have no idea how eBay works, but I have 7 min and 42 seconds to figure it out.....

*Trying to reason with a 3yr old is like trying to blow out a lightbulb.

*Finders keepers, losers wear their pants low and saggy with their Fruit of the Looms showing.

*When it states on the back of a Windex bottle "do not ingest", do you think they mean "a lot"? Or "at all"? (anyone know how to get Windex out of coffee?)

*I wonder how many times that Da Vinci guy had to paint that picture of Mona Lisa to capture one of her where she wasn't blinking.

*My daughter's been making up some weird names for her imaginary friends lately (Siffra, Fjaril) - sounds like she's reading an Ikea catalogue
*Forever 21 sounds like a store for vampires.

*Nothing scarier than waking up in the middle of the night to pee and forgetting you had beets for supper. Well, maybe except having that thing from the Alien movie break out of your chest cavity. The beet thing would be a close second.
Laughter is an instant vacation. ~Milton Berle

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

That's Why You Should Never Hold a Grudge!

About a month ago Dude was having an off day at school and got into a scuffle with a good friend of his. It happened again two weeks later, this time it ended with Dude being punched in the face by his pal. Dude was very mad and we were confused; this is the last thing we expected from these two guys.

It turns out that Dude was being really annoying and didn't stop when he was asked. His pal, having a bad day already, gave him a hard right hook in the jaw. Dude was hurt, embarrassed, confused and offended. He was still very upset when he got home that evening and had refused to reconcile with his friend at school.

Over dinner we tried to talk to him about the importance of forgiveness. We discussed how it wasn't right for his pal to punch him but it also wasn't right for him to ignore the repeated requests for space. We talked about how this kid has been a really good friend, how he has been patient, understanding and always on his side.

After an hour long conversation Dude began to concede. He remembered that friends, good friends, are hard to come by and throwing a friendship away over a bad decision made in a moment, becomes a bad decision that can last for a lifetime.  He was ready to forgive and ask for forgiveness although he did not really see the downside to holding a grudge ... until this past weekend.

This weekend was a big one for Canadian football fans, it was the Grey Cup! Along with all the parties and festivities that happen during the week previous to the game, the CFL holds a brunch to honour past players. This year Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp, two football greats from the 1960s, were being celebrated.

Someone should have checked ahead of time to make sure they were ready to celebrate ... together.

Just minutes into the brunch, a fight broke out between these two CFL alumni. It was a fist fight (and there was some cane action in there, too) between two men in their seventies. A physical confrontation based on a bad hit that was made during a football game 55 years ago. A fisticuffs, at a charity luncheon, because of a grudge that's been held for more than half a century. Seriously?

"Dude, this is why you should never hold a grudge."

"Because you might beat someone up with your cane when you're old?"

"Yeah, sort of. Instead of these two men being remembered as CFL greats, they will always be known as those two old dudes who beat each other up. That's their legacy now."

"Wow! That's dumb legacy."

Yes it is ...

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.  ~Lewis B. Smedes

Monday, November 28, 2011

Star of the Week

Last night, just before bed and after a crazy weekend of organising a craft and bake sale at Dude's school, Mischief brings me his school folder and announces that he's star of the week ... TOMORROW! Well, tomorrow is today and with a bunch of scrambling and rummaging we were able to pull everything together to fill his folder for the week. He trotted off to school this morning, happy as can be, ready for the week to be all about him.

As I was filling out the poster with him, listing his favourite books and movies, all the things he's super good at and what makes him the spectacular kid he is, I was thinking how nice it would be if everyone had a Star of the Week poster about themselves. What a fantastic visual reminder that things aren't as bad as they seem and that you are, in fact, kind of fantastic.

I find that even as a grown up fitting in can be kind of tough. There's always the urge to compare yourself, your situation with the next person. Are my clothes as nice? Do we make as much money? Do our kids have the same kind of stuff their kids have?  It all can become overwhelming and a little depressing if we let it go on.

The thing is, we're all different and the only way to be okay with that is to celebrate our own uniqueness, to be the Star of our own week, our own life. I have spent a lot of time in my life comparing myself to others and feeling like I don't measure up. I felt worthless for a long time and then I remembered the truth, I'm not meant to be just like anyone else. I am meant to be different, unique. I am meant to be me and that is all kinds of magnificent.

If you are feeling kind of lousy, a little 'less than' make your own Star of the Week poster. Remind yourself that you are awesome and smart and beautiful and talented and fantastic just as you are. When your poster is done, pour yourself a cup of coffeejuice, sit back, admire your own handiwork and soak in your own awesomeness for a bit. You deserve it!

You know ... you really are fantastic.
~Mrs. Fox, The Fantastic Mr. Fox

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Awesome Family

I get a lot of comments about Mr. Awesome's name. Lots of people think its cute or funny but until the other day I had never met someone who thought we should actually change our last name to Awesome. In fact he's been trying to convince his wife to change their last name for at least 8 years!

At first when he brought it up I thought he was a little crazy but the more he talked about the benefits of having Awesome as a surname the more I could see his point of view. Just think, instant encouragement every time anyone said your name. At a restaurant, "2 for Awesome!" At the doctor's office, "Patient Awesome, right this way!" And your kids ... just think of how great they'd feel at school during attendance, "Awesome, Janey?"

I really think this is a fabulous idea, everyone you encounter confirming your greatness just with a mere mention of your name. Any time you need a confidence boost all you have to do is pull out your license and (ignore your goofy picture) read your own name.  Every time you sign your name, send an email or make a call, you identify yourself as being Awesome. Every time a telemarketer calls they ask for Mrs. Awesome and its you! You are Awesome, for real!

Even if you aren't willing to take the leap and actually change your name to 'Awesome' just remember you are. You are Awesome and Strong and Fantastic. You are Brilliant and Important and Irreplaceable. Every time some one calls your name remind yourself that you are. Whenever you sign a note, know that you are. Every time you see your name in print add 'Awesome' because you are. You are. Awesome!

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered - either by themselves or by others. ~Mark Twain

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

No Strangers Necessary

In Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire Blanche declares that she has always depended on the kindness of strangers. I always that that was a romantic notion, getting by on the goodwill of total strangers but I have come to realise that will a passel of loving and generous friends there's no need to rely on strangers.

This is a crazy week for me. Before all of this cancer stuff I committed to planning a major fundraiser, be the parent volunteer for a noon hour club and help out with another school activity once a week at Dude's school. this is aside from the regular classroom volunteering I like to do at Mischief and Crafty's school. So when all the doctor's appointment started piling up I began to panic. I knew I couldn't be everywhere all the time; I couldn't, realistically, do everything myself.

That's where my remarkable friends and neighbors have come in. Not only have they stepped up to run the fundraiser, keep the noon club going and sub for my other volunteering, they have also offered to help with my regular life. I have friends and neighbors offering to drive the kids to activities, pick them up from school and keep them whenever I need help. Other people have offered to help me clean my house, do laundry and cook meals and still others have offered to take me to appointments and keep me company when I feel gloomy.

New friends, old friends and best friends have come running to help even before I've asked. I am overwhelmed and blessed. I don't know what the future holds, heck, I don't even know what tomorrow holds but I know that I don't have to do this alone.

This may seem sappy and random and over the top but I do want to thank every one who has offered a kind word, a prayer and a warm smile. I want to say thank you to those who have already stepped in and stepped up to give my kids a safe place and some stability. I want to acknowledge those who have done what they are best at, from amazing haircuts to arranging flights for my family to cooking meals. And I want to honour each friend and neighbor who has made generous and kind offers of help and support.

Your friendship is the rope that is keeping me tethered to Hope ... thank you!

Who needs the kindness of strangers? People who move away from their awesome friends!
~An old friend who I love and still need :-)

Monday, November 21, 2011

'Tis the Season

It snowed last week so I should have seen it coming. The kids put on a Chanukah Celebration featuring The Pajama Elf & Baby Jesus; I should have taken that as a sign. I decorated for Christmas this weekend; I was inviting trouble. I've been wearing my Magic Christmas Socks for a week, just tempting fate, so when it happened this morning, why was I so surprised?

We have the first sicky of the season ... The Cold & Flu Season.

Dude woke up this morning looking like ten miles of bad road, as my dad would say. He was blurry eyed, sniffley nosed and running for the bathroom. After spending 20 minutes leaning over the toilet, declaring his impending demise, I told him to shuffle back to bed. No school for him.

There are Christmas Carols, Chanukah Songs, music for New Year's, Chinese New Year's, Thanksgiving, Easter, Springtime, Summertime ... anytime. There is a song for almost any occasion but I can't seem to find one for this season, this Cold & Flu Season ... maybe I should write one.

(To the tune of Head & Shoulders, Knees & Toes)
Sniffles and  Coughs and Runny Eyes, Runny Eyes, Runny Eyes
Sniffles and Coughs and Runny Eyes ... Fever, Aches, Sneezes and Phlegm


(To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)
Upset stomach, stuffy nose
I hate being sick, man, this blows

Or ... maybe not.

My wish for you this Cold & Flu Season is this ... May your sniffles be short, your Kleenex be plentiful and may all your children have excellent puking aim always! Be Well!!!

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book. ~Irish Proverb

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Pink Scarf

A couple of months ago my friend gave me a pink scarf. She called first to ask if I'd wear it, knowing my dislike for the colour pink. She also knows that I am a sucker for a good cause so once she told me it was purchased in support of Breast Cancer Research I said I'd take it.

That was Before. Before, when my lumpy breast was just a cyst and I was running through my life at warp speed. Before I woke up every morning with my first conscious thought being, "I have cancer." Before I ran out of steam long before I finished my 'To Do' list, Before I needed to nap in the afternoon if I wanted to go out in the evening, Before I worried about whether my exhaustion was caused by stress or cancer. Before I saw the colour pink as an uber-girly hue that I would never voluntarily wear.

That was Before. This is Now.

Now my second thought every morning is, "This has come to pass, to pass, to pass." Now I am setting priorities and spending my time doing what I really want to do. Now I am saying "no" to things that clutter my time and sap my energy. Now I am experiencing Hope, Kindness and Encouragement as real, tangible things. Now I see the colour pink as a banner of all these things, as a mantle in honour of all those who have come before me, as a talisman against negativity and despair. Now I wear my pink scarf like a warm hug and a suit of armour.

I wear my scarf almost every day. It reminds me of the friend who gave it to me, her thoughtfulness, irreverent humour, fierce love and protective strength. It reminds me that she believes in me, loves me and is fighting for me ... and so are many, many others.

 I reminded myself of that last night, when I was tired and sad. I wrapped myself in my pink scarf and thought about all of the people who are cheering me on. All the people who are thoughtful, funny, loving and strong. All the people who believe in me, who are fighting along side me. I wrapped myself in my scarf, in my people, in pink and remembered that Hope is the thing. Hope is the thing that held me Before, is carrying me through Now and will be with me After.


Remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. ~Emily Kimbrough

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Modern Child

Remember when you were in elementary school and there was that kid who could entertain himself for hours by picking his nose and examining what he found there? Or the kid who cried over everything? Or the one who could burp the alphabet? Or what about the kid who covered her arms and hands in self inflicted doodles? Or how about the kid who prided himself on making people run, screaming from his presence by sheer force of his self made noxious fumes?

Remember those kids? Fun times.

Or maybe you were one of those kids?

You'd think that in this day and age of techno savvy kids bombarded by adult images on every billboard and commercial kids nowadays would be much more mature and  sophisticated. Yeah ... not so much. I spent three hours on a school bus yesterday and I can tell you that there is nothing elegant or composed about the modern nine year old. They are just as goofy, gross and juvenile as kids ever were ... and proud of it!

I was one of several parent volunteers on a field trip with Crafty's school choir. When I signed up I thought I'd be hanging with Crafty and her pals and it was all good. The reality was quite different. I ended up with a couple of boys in my group and that changed everything. They weren't bad or rude boys ... it was worse ... they were typical nine year old boys.

The ride to the event wasn't too bad. I think they were lulling me into a false sense of security. Most of the kids read, drew pictures or chatted quietly among themselves during the hour and a half drive. When we arrived it was all business and the kids did great. After their performance we settled in to have lunch together ... and that's when things started to unravel!

They were subtle at first; a random tossed carrot, a stray fart sound and a few goofy faces, nothing too bad. I just chalked it up to letting off a little steam after being so nervous all morning but when we boarded the bus for the ride home everything escalated!

The same 30 or so kids who were quiet and calm on the ride in to the city erupted into a mad mob of lunatics! Paper was flying, kids were squealing and pencils were rolling down the aisle. The wee monsters were doing blow fish on the windows and flicking condensation from the windows on to their pals. An intergalactic war broke out on the seat next to me and behind me some kind of Booger Battle erupted. Kids were laughing, squealing, singing and chanting. It was chaos!

The straw that broke the camel's back ... or nose was when the space conflict was resolved and a fart contest began. That was it. That was more than I could take. Within seconds our whole section of the bus reeked! I don't know who was feeding what to those kids or what had crawled into them and died but the smell these two, sweet looking boys were able to conjure is the stuff chemicals weapons are made of! I spent the remainder of the drive breathing through a musty mitt I found in my coat pocket and it smelled like Heaven, comparatively.

The next time people complain about kids growing up too fast I am going to challenge them to an hour and a half bus ride with 30+ grade three and four student ... that should set them straight!

Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. ~Will Rogers

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hyperplanactivity Psychosis

When Dude was younger we had to have a daily plan. Every night before bed I had to change the 'to do' list on the fridge, flip the calendar over to the next day and outline everything that we had planned to fill the day. He needed to know what to expect, what was expected of him, each day. He had to mentally prepare himself and preplan his moves for the next day. If we genuinely had no plans for a day I had to make something up because Heaven forbid we had a day without a plan!

Back then I was not a 'have a plan' kind of person. I generally let things happen and just sort of made things up as I went along but for the sake of peace and harmony in our house I became good at planning. And now I need a plan. I really, truly need a plan. I need to know what comes next, what are the steps we need to take to achieve a goal, I need to line up the ducks and dot and cross everything. I need to know where I am headed and how I am getting there. Some say this obsessive need makes me intense but I like to think it make me organized.

This Hyperplanactivity tends to leave me feeling anxious or annoyed when I am working without a plan. I want to Git 'er Done (to quote the great philosopher, Larry the Cable Guy)! I want to know what’s happening next, prepare for it and make sure it all goes the way I see it. Control freak much?


This past couple of weeks has been an extreme exercise in patience and trust. I have no plan, I know nothing and therefore I can make no plans. I don’t know when my surgery is, what recovery will be like and what, if any, treatment will follow. I have no control and so I have no plans. People ask me to do things, if they can help and what I’m doing next week, next month, next year and I have nothing to say. I shrug and mumble, “I dunno” like some moody teenager.

I’d like to say I’m weathering this new phase of my life like a champ, but I’m not. I’m cranky and irritated that I can’t make a plan and if I do try to make a plan I know that it really means nothing because I know nothing and I’m in charge of nothing!


Clearly, I’m losing it.

And maybe that’s part of the journey. Maybe this is one of the lessons I need to learn along the way. Maybe I need to learn how to let go. Maybe I need to find a way of being okay with allowing someone else to make the plans, take charge and take care of things. Maybe I need to learn how to trust in a different way.


The course of life is unpredictable... no one can write his autobiography in advance.
~Abraham Joshua Heschel

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rude People Suck

Brace yourself ... this may be a little bit of a rant.

Rude people drive me nuts! I can't handle it when people choose to be rude and forceful instead of pausing for a moment to consider that they aren't the only people on the planet and that, perhaps, they should just cool it before spouting off and looking like a jerk. I don't get the self-centeredness that fuels some people and drives them to the point of madness. I mean, seriously, it can't be fun to be that tightly wound all the time, can it?

This rant is coming from a place of pent up irritation covered by a thin veil of politeness. We have encountered some incredibly rude people in the last few days and an email I recieved late last night just pushed me over the edge. Rudeness has always bothered me but lately I find this 'Me First' attitude completely ridiculous and I know that if I don't rant somewhere I will throw a public fit a la Steve Martin in Father of the Bride.

Anyway ...

Here's the thing, you don't need to start a fist fight at a parade because someone asks you not to stand in front of little kids, you don't need to send a nasty email because someone didn't respond to your first nasty email fast enough, you don't need to cut to the front of the line because your time is so much more important than everyone else's time, you don't need to haggle with and belittle someone who has provided a service for you at an already agreed upon price and for crying out loud you don't need to think about yourself all the time.

Look around ... there are other people on the planet!

Being nice matters. Kindness has eternal value. Treat others as you want to be treated. And rude people suck ... so don't be one!

Life is short but there is always time for courtesy. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, Social Aims

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lending Hope

I was sorting through some of our movies last week and I came across an old favourite, About a Boy. There are so many things to love about this flick but my favourite thing is the general message of togetherness.

I love watching Hugh Grant's character make the transition from feeling okay in his solitary life to embracing the truth that 'no man is an island.' I also agree with the perspective of the boy, "two people isn't enough. You need backup. If you're only two people, and someone drops off the edge, then you're on your own. Two isn't a large enough number."

Its true, two isn't enough, neither is three ... we need more; more than ourselves and our immediate family. More than just a handful, we need a gaggle. We need a gaggle of people on our side, cheering us up, cheering us on, lending their hope and joy and peace. We need to let other people in. Life is filled with weird and quirky characters and you are meant to experience them, let them in and become a friend-family ... or a family of friends.

This weekend I spent some time with friends and family. We made the trip home to my parents place and it was the first time since word got out about my Defective Boob that most of my family and friends had a chance to see me. To tell you the truth I felt a little bit like they were all coming for a viewing (and I'm not dead!) but once I got over myself I realised that they came, they showed up, to see me because I am not alone. I'm not an island.

While mingling with cousins and aunts and exchanging teases with uncles I basked in my not-aloneness. I accepted their words of love and encouragement no matter how eloquant or awkward they were said. I stored each kindness in my memory to save for a rainy day. I did the same through out the weekend as I hung out with friends, lunched with more family and lined the streets of my home town to watch the Santa Parade with my peeps.

Everywhere I went people willingly lent their hope, support and encouragement and I gladly borrowed it! I am doing great right now but I know as the days pass there will be times when running on my own steam will fail me. I know that I will face moments of fear, sadness and uncertainty and I know that if I was truly an island I would be washed away by the grief. But I''m not alone.

And for that I am grateful!

I am also grateful for every word of encouragement, every shared hope, every smile, note and hug that has come my way in the past week. Thank you for lending me your hope ... I promise to cherish it!

Every man is an island. I stand by that. But clearly some men are island CHAINS. Underneath, they are connected...
~Will from About a Boy

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering to Stand

This time of year is always a mixed bag of emotions for me and this year is no different. I feel pride, sadness, patriotism, grief and hope. I am overcome by the depth of sacrifice strangers are willing to make to protect freedom and ensure justice for people they will never know; I am amazed at how they can use words like duty and honour in the face of danger and death and I am humbled that they have given their all for me and my children and my children's children.

We have a strong connection to the military in our family. Mr. Awesome's dad and both grandfathers have served and my grandfather and uncle have also served and I have a cousin who is currently serving. I know the heartache and pride military families experience ... willingly. That's what gets to me. All the sacrifice, danger, injury and death is made willingly. They choose to put the greater good ahead of their own wants and needs. They choose to risk everything in hopes of bringing security and freedom to others. They choose to stand when running would be so much easier.

My grandfather rarely spoke of his time in the army; I only ever had one or two conversations with him about the actual experience of 'storming the beach'. His regiment was at Dieppe, they sailed across the English Channel in the predawn hours toward the unknown. Their hope was to launch a sneak attack, their reality was very different. Bad weather and poor communication had many of the men from my Papa's regiment, The South Saskatchewan Regiment, land on the wrong side of the river, increasing the risk to their safety and success.

His regiment was in France for less than 8 hours on August 19, 1942 but the losses they suffered were astronomical. They retreated in a chaos of bullets, explosions and cries of pain. Many of the wounded never made it off the beach despite the best efforts of the few in tact soldiers who made repeated trips between the beach and the boats, hauling as many wounded men as they could.

I asked my grandfather once how he did it, how he could keep moving, keep soldiering with bullets flying and death everywhere he looked. He didn't say anything for a long while and then he spoke.

"You just don't have a choice. Either you keep standing and moving forward or you die. I didn't want to die so I just kept moving." I find that more true these days then ever before ... either you choose to stand and keep moving forward or you choose to lay down and die. Putting it that way, its a no brainer.

Tomorrow, as our family gathers to remember all those who risked every thing, every time for freedom, justice and hope, I will think of my grandfather, standing on the beach of Dieppe. I will think of the raining artilery, the smell of death in the air and the sounds of war and fear filling his ears, I will think of him standing and moving forward. In the moment of silence tomorrow, I will think of how he made his choice to stand when there was anything but silence surrounding him ... and I will follow his lead. I will choose to stand and keep moving forward.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. ~Ambrose Redmoon

For a full account of what the men of SSR faced that fateful day see An Exercise in Sacrifice

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Pollyanna Sisterhood

I just have to say 'Wow!' and 'Thanks' and 'You are so awesome!' I am humbled, encouraged, strengthed and comforted by all the notes and messages I recieved yesterday. It empowers me to know that I have such a large group of supporters in my corner ... you all rock!

I've been thinking a lot about what has made me who I am, the things I've learned and the people I've known. I grew up in a good family, attending a church and a school that taught me all about God's love, grace and faithfulness. I was fortunate to be raised knowing that even though the circumstances of my birth were unplanned, I ... me, the person God created, was not a mistake. I have always known that God thought of me, planned for me but it wasn't until the summer I was 19 years old that I started to see what that all really meant.

That summer, on a whim, I applied to work at a camp a couple of hours from home. I didn't know anyone who worked there and I had no connection to that place at all. I just saw the ad on the university bulletin board and I applied. Two weeks later I was jammed into a club van with 10 strangers heading to an island in the middle of nowhere.

It was in that place, away from everyone and everything I knew, that I began to know myself. I began to think about life, God and my future and I began to get a sense of the person I want to be. I remember sitting on the dock one crisp May morning and deciding that I want to live a thankful life. In fact I wrote it in my journal, I commit to being a thankful person, to finding one good thing in every situation to be thankful for and if that's the only good thing around, I will hold tight to it and never let it go. I will be thankful.

I'm not sure what prompted me to write those words but now, more than 15 years later, those words are written on my heart and a part of who I am. That naive promise I made when life was an adventure and anything was possible and life only held good things is still serving me now ... when life is an adventure and anything is possible and life only holds good things.

I've been 'accused' of having a Pollyanna view of life. When those words were first hurled at me, I was offended but as I thought about what those words really mean I couldn't disagree. I do have a Pollyanna approach to life. I would rather see the good in people than the bad, I would rather be thankful for the blessings in life than dwell on the disappointments and I would rather live in a place of perpetual Hope than unending despair. Yep ... I can't deny it, that's kind of Pollyanna.

 I am proud to be part of the Pollyanna Sisterhood, it is what I was created for. I know that a huge part of my purpose in life is to encourage, empower and inspire hope in others; not because I have it all figured out but because I am learning as I go. I know life is tough, disappointing and things often go awry but I also know that life is a beautiful adventure and that thankfulness makes all the difference ... thankfulness and encouragement.

All those messages I received yesterday have been saved in a file on my computer and written on the walls of my heart. I am thankful for you, I am thankful that you took the time to encourage me and I am thankful that I get to walk this journey with you on my side. So although I would rather be doing almost anything but fighting cancer, I am thankful ... I am glad for the lessons I will learn and the friends who are on my side.

“Be glad. Be good. Be brave.”

― Eleanor H. Porter (author of Pollyanna) 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My Defective Boob

... and I'm not talking about Mr. Awesome.

I have never been the picture of health and wellness. I have been overweight my whole adult life and I've never been able to stick to a diet and exercise routine. I am not very proactive when it comes to my  health, neither am I a very good advocate for my own needs but there is something I have always done, one thing that I did religiously for my own health and peace of mind; monthly self breast exams.

Each month, the week before my period I give The Girls a good once over. I figure its the least that I can do for myself. It only takes a couple of minutes and I am laying down in bed anyway so why not. I have been doing this every month for at least ten years and I have never found anything suspicious ... until April.

In April I found a small, marble sized bump in my right breast. From April to June, when I saw my doctor, it had grown to the size of a golf ball. By July, when I had a mammogram, it was changing the shape and size of my Girl. In October when I went for an ultrasound the lump was the size of a lemon and very painful. In fact, it had been painful all along and that coupled with the rate of growth had the doctors convinced that it was a cyst.

The day of my ultrasound, Mr. Awesome dropped me off at the clinic and took the kids to the park. It was just an ultrasound to confirm that my painful lump was, in fact, a cyst. So as I was laying there on the table, defective boob hanging out, being examined by two doctors and a nurse I was shocked when they declared my cyst a non-cyst and I was panicked when they said the word 'biopsy' and jabbed a huge needle into my poor Girl.

A week later I got the call. My non-cyst is breast cancer. I have breast cancer. But I also have Hope and Hope is much bigger, stronger and ferocious than cancer.

I have an appointment with a surgeon and there will be plans made and treatments outlined but nothing is more important than Hope and Confidence. My faith is a part of who I am, it weaves its way through my life, holding things together, holding me together. I know my God. I know He sees me, has an awesome plan for me that I am not even close to completing. He gave me an incredible husband, three magnificent kids and a lifetime of love to give. I am not finished.

We have been through a lot in our 15 years, Mr. Awesome and me, and the one thing we have learned through floods, Autism, miscarriages, accidents and illness is that circumstances don't have to define who you are or how you live. Circumstances are the things that happen to you, not the things that define you. The defining comes in your reactions to the circumstances, your attitude and perspective.

I am not 'That Mom with Breast Cancer.' I am Some Random Mother who has her share of challenges and more than her fair share of blessing, joy, peace ... and hope. So I will accept your prayers, words of encouragement, happy thoughts and good vibes and I'll keep you posted to my progress.

Thanks for being my pals!

Jesus died for my right boob ... so I don't have to!
~Some Random Mother paraphrasing Isaiah 53:5

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Catch-Phrase Kid

I think I have been watching too much TV lately. I have developed a paranoia of drowning in stuff, of becoming a hoarder. For the past couple of weeks I have been Mean Mom. Y'know the one. She's the mom who makes you run and hide when you hear her coming because she always has a list of jobs to do. She's the one you never want to catch you resting, playing or watching TV and you CERTAINLY never whine about being bored to because she'll make you clean under your bed, sort through the dress up clothes or tidy your closet. She's the one you dread and I am Her.

The kids have had several Fridays off in a row and each Friday I have had a new task for them to do above and beyond their regular chores. They have sorted through books, games, toys and clothes. They have tossed broken things and boxed things they've out grown. They have pulled out couches, crawled under beds and even crawled into the dark and creepy corners of the storage bins to discover hidden treasures and even more hidden junk.

Now what? My laundry room is piled high with boxes of things that are good but out grown that I need to sort. Somehow me making them work creates more work for me! Not fair!!!

As I was whining about how unfair it is that I have so much extra work to do now Mischief saunters up the the laundry room door, leans against the door jam and rolls his lollipop around in his mouth for a minute while he watches me move boxes and sort through the mountain of things blocking my office door. After hearing me grumble for a minute or so he pops the sucker out of his mouth and says, "Be careful what you wish for."


"Like you say sometimes, you wished for us to clean our rooms and now your laundry room is a mess ... be careful what you wish for."

"Listen Smarty-Pants," I laugh.

"Nope," he interrupts, holding up a pudgy little hand, "You can't always get what you want, life isn't fair and be careful what you wish for. That's it." He slides his lollipop back into his mouth, shrugs, shakes his head and walks away.

... and I cleaned the laundry room. Be careful what you wish for, Mean Mom.

Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistency they're going to catch you in next. ~Franklin P. Jones

Friday, November 4, 2011

Salute to the Creative

Today my kids are home from school. Its report card prep day in our school division and so I am stuck with hyper, bored and dangerously imaginative kids all day. it takes a lot to keep them entertained and engaged in something constructive and I have a lot of respect for their teachers because their job is twice as challenging. they have to keep them engaged AND they have to teach them.

I love seeing people tap into their creativity to make the mundane interesting and exciting and I especially love it when teachers step out of their comfort zone, leave their dignity on the doorstep and create a lesson, or even a moment in a lesson, that the kids will absolutely remember.

Here are a couple extraordinary teachers and the crazy lessons they planned to capture their students' attention ... and imaginations.

Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater. ~Gail Godwin

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Extraordinary Love

Love is a crazy thing. It can take your breath away, kick you in the gut, sustain you, devastate you, inspire you, confuse you, send you soaring, leave you hanging. It can be everything that is good and kind and beautiful and it can be your worst nightmare. It can fill you up and it can suck the life out of you. It can make you feel like you have gain the world and it can make you feel like you have lost your very soul. Love is a crazy thing.

The craziest thing about love is that it can be all these things at once and none of them at the same time.

There are a million different types and degrees of love. I love peanut M&Ms, scarecrows, the Starbucks girl, my kids and Mr. Awesome ... just not all in the same way. My devotion to each is true and strong but I don't love them the same way. I still love the first boy who ever stole my heart, my high school best friend and the 90 year old woman I would share my coffee break with when I worked at the nursing home. I haven't seen any of these people in more than ten years but they each still hold a precious place in my heart. And my affection for each person who holds a piece of my heart does not diminish my love for the others. I think it adds to it.

I think we become the sum of everyone and everything we have loved and our attitude about those Loves is what shapes us. I have had my share of heart ache but I have also know unconditional, take my breath away, humbling love ... and I am thankful for both. I am thankful for the lessons of strength, survival and beauty I learned in my moments of heart ache. I am thankful that because of those disappointments, I cherish the Loves I have more deeply and I know that I am stronger than I thought.

I wake every day in awe of the people who love me in spite of my shortcomings, pettiness and ugliness, who see me through Love's eyes and cherish me just as I am, who lift me up, have my back and walk beside me. I am thankful with my every breath that my life is filled with people who see me worthy of love even when I don't feel worthy because it is in that Love that I am made worthy.

Its all so extraordinary ... this Love thing.

All that you can't leave behind.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Celebration of Thanks

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I was sitting in church with my family, listening to the message and thinking about the thirty-something thanksgiving services I have been to, the thirty-something thanksgiving meals I have sat down for and the thirty-something times we have been asked to take pause and think about all the things we are thankful for. Year after year, we sat in somber silence, counting our blessings. Why?

Why be somber? Why be so serious when thinking about, thanking about all of the good things in your life. Why not celebrate your blessings? Why not rejoice in all of the good? Why not? Why do people automatically equate laughter with frivolity?

I had a teacher in junior high who was pretty intense. He rarely smiled and often spoke of The Seriousness of our Faith. He had all the humour of a Quaker (sorry if there are any good humoured Quakers out there ... didn't mean to offend). I get that he was trying to instill in us the awesome sacrifice of The Cross but I am pretty sure God laughs, that Jesus parties (check out John 2). So why do we try to convince ourselves that in order to be properly grateful for the life we have we have to be sombre?

I have a great life. I have three wacky, wonderful kids. Mr. Awesome is my best friend, partner and love of my life. We have friends who love us unconditionally, a family who always has our back and a church that teaches us about hope, love and acceptance. I have gifts and talents that I am still discovering and a whole lifetime to figure out how to us them. My blessings are innumerable and that is something worth celebrating ... are yours?

If you want to turn your life around, try thankfulness.  It will change your life mightily.  ~Gerald Good

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Inspired to Finish?

Inspire - to serve as the enticing cause, to urge or or encourage, to fill with revolutionary ideas

Folks who know me know that I am very easily inspired. I read Anne of Green Gables and wanted to be a red headed orphan, I watched 'Rudy' and I wanted to play football for Notre Dame, I have a thought and I immediately write a story synopsis. Some days I can have a new 'inspiration' every two minutes...just ask Mr. Awesome. He loves it when I start a conversation with, "I have this idea..."

But being 'inspired' to start something isn't enough, is it? Not if you are trying to write a novel, that's for sure.

Just over a year ago I started writing a novel, a sort of Bridget-Jones-for-the-Mommy-set. I was so inspired when I started that I was easily writing 3,000 words every afternoon. The story was coming so easily and the words just flowed ... I was inspired.

Then I hit a bump on Inspiration Highway and so matter how I tried to write around it I could move past it smoothly, so I detoured. I skipped ahead in the story and kept writing but I had lost my sense of direction, my groove, so I quit. I was uninspired and things got tough and I was frustrated ... so I quit.

I am a quitter.

But I plan to change that. This month, November, is Nanowrimo. Its National Novel Writing Month. This is a little boost that we pre-professional writers often use to jump start our projects. I have started Nano several times but I have never finished. This year that will change. This year I will write 50,000 words and finish the first draft of my novel. This year I won't be a quitter. This year I am inspired to finish!

Feel free to ask, harass and hound me about my word count all month. Right now I'm at 21,000 by November 30 I plan to be at 70,000. Help me!

No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
~Master Yoda