Thursday, September 27, 2012

Let's Get Foxy

Its the most wonderful time of the year!

I love fall. I love back to school and all the shiny new school supplies. I love the explosion of colour in nature. I love sunny afternoons and cool evenings. I love sweaters and boots and hand knit mittens. I love fall!

One of my very favourite things about fall in Canada is the Terry Fox run. I remember starting grade one and looking forward to my first Terry Fox run at school. I had spent years being envious of my cousin and the poster she had that held all the participation stickers she had collected for running each year with her classmates; I was finally going to run, I was finally going to have my own collection of stickers!

And run I did. Each year of my elementary school career I collected change, ran and carefully hid my participation sticker away, in the back of my Bible with all the stickers I received for knowing my memory verse. Stickers, The Bible and Terry Fox.

Now, each year I watch the excitement build in my own kids as they plan for the run. Last night, Mischief laid out his 'running clothes' and labelled his water bottle. He scavenged around the house, looking for change and even dipped his hand into his piggy bank.

"It's for the cure," he declared as he dropped his sacred pennies and dimes into a Ziploc bag.

For the cure.

For those who may not be familiar with Terry Fox, he was a young man who had his leg amputated because of a cancerous tumour and less than two years later he decided to run across Canada to raise awareness and money for a cure. That was in 1979, now more than 30 years later each September kids across our country raise money and learn about hope and a real life hero. They learn that you can  impact the world by using what you have, where you are, if only you dream and believe. They learn to have compassion and to put feet to that compassion.

Clearly, Terry Fox did more than raise awareness for cancer research, though; he was a pioneer in finding a cure for something else, too. He addressed a societal woe by just being the person he was created to be. Terry used his athleticism, charisma and competitive spirit to inspire a nation.  Terry called us to look beyond what's happening in our own little world and open our eyes to what is happening in the great big world. And once we see, we must act. Terry started a cure for complacency and self focus and just as he hoped, others have picked up where he left off. Others have continued to run.

I love seeing people look outward and initiate change. I love it when people use this one life to make a difference in their circle of influence. People like Craig KielburgerHannah Taylor and Robb Nash saw a need and followed their hearts, bringing life and change and hope. They are running in Terry's footsteps.

Terry Fox believed in miracles. He believed in community. He believed in cooperation. He believed that if we all came together we could change lives. Terry believed that his message was bigger than himself. He believed that if enough people caught on a real difference could be made. Terry believed in the future. He believed in us.

I love this time of the year and I love Terry Fox!

Even if I don't finish, we need others to continue. It's got to keep going without me!
~Terry Fox

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Present. Talking. Expecting.

Mr. Awesome and I have been attending a parenting course for the last couple of weeks. Its geared toward parents of adolescents and the material covered is mostly about how to help them navigate the sexual minefield of our culture. In one of the sessions the speaker talks a lot about the need our kids have to identify and bond with each parent, especially at this time in their life. He talks about the intentional positioning parents must do to hold a their place in their child's life, the do anything, move any mountain mentally that parents should have when it comes to their tweens and teens.

I've heard other speakers talk about how just when our kids need them the most we tend to back away; your five year old isn't going to give in to peer pressure and participate in under age drinking but your fifteen year old might. Your toddler won't be pressured into a sexual relationship they aren't ready for but your teen might be. Your infant won't shove you out of their life with both hands but your adolescent might.

So how do we stop this?

I'm not sure that there's a one size fits all, sure fire way to keep our kids safe but I do believe that being present, talking and expecting more from them is a start. Being physically, mentally and emotionally present is vital. Like many other women in my stage of life, I've thought about going back to work full time. The kids are all in school full days, can stay at school for lunch and let's face it, the extra cash would be nice but I can't do it. I need to be here. I need to be present to celebrate awesome days at school and walk through the rough patches with pals.

Being physically present isn't enough, though.

I need to set aside my phone, close the laptop, put down the book and hear, feel, experience my kids' world. I need to be aware, engage and know what's going on. I find it can be much harder to be present mentally than physically. Responsibilities, lists, menus, chores and errands crowd my mind and try to steal my focus. I have to discipline myself to really see and hear the kids some days.

Talking. I love to talk, chat, gab, fellowship, catch up, fill in, story tell and hang out. But talking kidspeak is a different thing entirely. I'm good talking about friends, school and projects. I'm less good with Lego, stunt planning, hypothetical battles between Gandolf and Dumbldore and what colour shoes go with what dress for the Barbie Gala of the Century but those are some of the things that matter the most to my kids right now. I need to enter their world, understand what's important to them. I need to talk about the mundane and the ridiculous so that when they want to talk about the important, life-stuff, of dating, peer pressure, relationships and teen life, they know that I am hear, still caring, still listening.

I also need to expect the best from them. I need them to know that I believe n them, that they will make wise choices, walk in kindness and compassion and live with integrity. I need to set the bar high and be willing to give them a boost when they need it. I need them to know that I believe they are capable of greatness and that mistakes aren't fatal. I need them to know that they are spectacular, magnificent and wonderful.

Present. Talking. Expecting.

It was with all this filling my mind and flooding my heart that I dropped the kids off at school yesterday. We had hit a rough patch with Crafty over the previous couple of days, she was all prickles and tears, and I wasn't sure of just where we stood. So when I parked the car and got out to help Dude unload his tuba (yes, my kid plays the tuba now and that's a post for a whole other day!) I wasn't sure just how the good bye was going to unfold.

Dude gave me a quick side hug, told me that he loves me (sigh!) and wished me a good day before he disappeared into the throng of grade seven kids flooding into the building. I turned to Crafty, said good bye and wished her an awesome day and she just stood there. I wanted to hug her but her friends were gathering and frankly, she was giving me some serious stink eye ... not the most welcoming feeling ... so I just looked at her and she looked at me. I took a step towards her and she just kept looking.

I felt awkward and stupid and completely exposed. I wanted to hug the kid but I was afraid that she was going to reject my affections, I was afraid of being embarrassed. Then I realized what a moron I was being. This is my one daughter, in this one moment in the only life I'll ever have. It's these moments that I need to be present for, that I can't be afraid of, that I need to show up for.

So, I took a deep breath, said a quick prayer and pulled her to me in a big bear hug. I mumbled something about hoping that its not too uncool to hug your mom in front of your friends.

"I don't care if its not cool. I need you to hug me. Always!"


I guess I said good bye and I guess she joined her friends and entered the school. I guess I drove away. I guess because all I remember is being so thankful that I took the chance in that moment to be present, so thankful that my kid opened her heart to me and told me how much she needs me. I was awkward and stupid and completely exposed but not for the reasons I first thought.

I was awkward because I put the judgement of her peers above what Crafty needed of me, I was stupid because I let my self doubt cause me to downplay the importance of my presence in her life and I was completely exposed by my own insecurity and pride. Lord willing, never again. Never again will I quash my natural parenting instinct because it feels awkward and silly. Never again will I leave my daughter questioning whether I love her enough to look past the prickles and embrace the soft hearted girl who will need her mom always.

I am one lucky gal to have this life, these kids and I can't afford to ever overlook the blessings, honour and privilege it is to be called mom.

Present. Talking. Expecting.


From Me.


Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It's about hanging on during a very bumpy ride. 
~Ron Taffel

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Do You Have What It Takes?

That's the question I've been asking myself a lot lately. Do you have what it takes to do this job? To be this wife? To raise these kids? To lead this life? Do you have what it takes?

I don't know.

I don't know if I am patient enough, strong enough, wise enough to do this. I don't know if I know enough to do all of this well. This life seems very big sometimes; the responsibility of loving, supporting and partnering with Mr. Awesome, the responsibility of raising, guiding and nurturing The Wee Ones, the responsibility of being a good friend, a good leader, a good person all seems like a lot sometimes.

And it is, when you take it all at once.

Here's the thing, though, life isn't meant to be a one mom show. People are not designed to do 'it all' and certainly not designed to do it all alone, not even moms - and yet we kill ourselves trying. We juggle sports, hobbies, clubs, exercise, fashion, meals, laundry, cleaning, relationships, homework, health and a hundred other real or perceived responsibilities and then there's this crazy thing we do to ourselves. We compare. We compare ourselves, our kids, our husbands, our lives to other more successful, more 'together' women. We hold up a measure stick and wear our judgement like old Jacob Marley's chains, whether we decide we measure up or not.

There is no freedom in comparison. There is no joy in judgement. There is no life in keeping up with the Joneses. There is no way to be you when you are trying to measure up with someone else. There is no way to be you when you are trying to live up to the expectations you think others have of you. There is no way to be you when you are living to please/impress others. There is no way. There is no way.

So, do you have what it takes to let it all go? Do you have what it takes to live freely, to live happily in your own skin, in your own life, in your own way? Do you have what it takes?

Do I?

Do I have what it takes to be true to who I am created to be? Do I have what it takes to be honest about my abilities, my capacity? Do I have what it takes to set the right priorities and stick to them? Do I have what it takes to lead this life?

Here's the deal ... let's stop. Let's stop looking at each other and trying to figure out how we measure up. Let's stop placing expectations on ourselves based on what we think everyone thinks about us. Let's stop passing judgment on ourselves and others. Let's stop. Let's stop. Let's stop.

Let's start celebrating each other. Let's cheer each other on. Let's encourage each other. Let's recognize we are all different and we are all magnificent. Let's honour the gifts and talents that make us unique. Let's start living comfortably in our own lives. Let's start.

Do you have what it takes?

All the mistakes I make arise from forsaking my own station and trying to see the object from another person's point of view.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This Day

Today is one of those days. This is a date that is never forgotten. This is a moment in history that you'll always remember where you were when It happened.

On September 11, 2001 my alarm clock went off just before 8am. I heard the newscaster on the radio say that an airplane hit The World Trade Centre; that it looked like pilot error. I remember feeling bad for the pilot and his family and hoping that no one else was injured or dead.

A few minutes later I ran through the shower, got Dude out of his crib and sat him in his high chair for breakfast. We were going for a playmate with friends and I was looking forward to some adult interaction as Mr. Awesome had been away for a couple of weeks on business. As I turned on the TV, looking for Sesame Street or Poco for Dude to watch, I found that every channel was covering the accident in New York.

Only, it turns out it wasn't an accident.

And its much worse than just a plane hitting a building.

I sank to the couch, stunned at the images of a second plane hitting the towers and then the smoke, the running, the screaming, the jumping and finally the collapse of one then another. I called Mr. Awesome to see if he had seen the news. He was watching it too. we stayed on the phone for more than an hour, mostly in silence, as we watch the news coverage coming from New York and Washington. When we hung up the phone and I continued to watch.

I watched and watched for hours. Days. Months.

Its now been 11 years. 11 birthdays, 11 Christmases, 11 summers, 11 winters, 11 Septembers that the victims have missed and that the families have lived separate from the life they had planned. That's what sticks with me; the abrupt change of plans.The all-of-a-sudden-direction-change in life for those nearly 3,00 families.

In the past 11 years there have been countless victims of accidents, countless people who succumbed to disease, countless people who never had the chance to live the life they had planned. After all I've been through this year, after surviving, I feel an certain sense of obligation to live, really, really live.

We are the lucky ones. We are the living, the ones with another tomorrow, with another chance to do the things we've always wanted to do. We have this chance today to make the most of our lives. We owe it to those who are gone, we owe it to ourselves.

Instead of 9 11 being only the anniversary of a tragedy, why not make it the anniversary of the day that you decided to live on purpose. The anniversary of the day you woke up and decided to passionately pursue the life you've always dreamed of.

Make it the anniversary of your all-of-a-sudden life direction change. Plant a flag, build a monument to the life you are going to live. And then live it.

When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, "I used everything you gave me." 
 ~Erma Bombeck

Monday, September 10, 2012

Where's the music?

Whether its a meatball being nosed across a plate, a chick floating on a door while watching her boyfriend sink into the ocean or a vampire and a werewolf fighting over which monster gets the girl; whether sweet, tragic or melodramatic, romantic moments are always set to the most heart-breakingly beautiful music.

So imagine my surprise when I met and married Mr. Awesome and I didn't hear any music and my further surprise that real life romance rarely looks the way it does in movies!

Since we didn't have the traditional start to our relationship, there was very little romance to our courtship. We were friends, pals, buddies who fell for each other. There was no preening, wooing and impressing. There was just us; goofy, dorky, imperfect us. And yet somehow I still thought (hoped?) that once we were married, our life was going to be one gushy, romantic moment followed by another all set to Chicago tunes.

Not so much. And that's okay.

I've grown used to the rhythm of our life. I find comfort in the easy friendship and unadorned simplicity of our love ... It's us and that's magnificent.

Still, every now and then, I wonder what it would be like to live out one of those fantastically romantic movie moments. I wonder what it would be like to have Mr. Awesome fight off a bunch of ROUSes, be mostly dead for part of the day and yell 'as you wish' as he tumbled down the side of a hill.


I was in one of those missing-the-Hollywood-romance moods a couple of weeks ago when I attended a family movie night at our church with some friends. I was sitting with a friend of mine who is recently divorced and while we were chatting Mischief kicked over my coffeejuice mug and spilled The Precious.

I was very disappointed that my sweet hazelnutty goodness was gone but what was I going to do? We went back to our conversation and I didn't give my poor Precious another thought. About ten minutes later Mr. Awesome came strolling across the parking lot with a fresh coffeejuice for both me and my pal.

"Now that's romantic!" she said.

I looked at Mr. Awesome and in that moment I realized he is, and always has been my knight in shining armour, my dragon slayer, my mutt with the meatball. It's the million tiny things he does everyday that has built our love and created a life of true, honest to goodness romance.

He winked at me as he handed me my coffeejuice and I blushed like a school girl as my heart flip flopped and butterflies took flight inside my chest.

Yep, this is real romance.

This is true love - you think this happens every day?
~Westley, The Princess Bride

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


T minus 1 hour, 3 minutes.

That's how long we have before I take a very disinterested Dude and a very nervous Crafty for their meet the teacher appointments at the middle school. Dude is happy with his home room teacher; he knows him and is comfortable with him. Crafty, on the other hand, has spent the last 24 hour hours alternating between hand wringing and manic positive self talk; she is a bundle of nerves over this move to the middle school.

My poor girl has spent days planning her wardrobe, checking and rechecking her school supplies, trying on all her shoes for comfort and style and vandalizing our patio with sidewalk chalk (art therapy?). She is really trying to be positive and happy excited about this change. She has made lists about the good things about being in a bigger school, with more kids, in a class with none of her friends, with teachers she doesn't know, eating lunch in a cafeteria of chaos filled with older, bigger kids; she really has tried. She is trying to be brave and I have, for the first time, decided to sit back and let her walk this road on her own ... mostly.

In the past, when she has been this anxious, I have talked with her, strategized with her, soothed her and tried to (sometimes frantically) make everything better. Not this time. At the end of last school year, when we realized that she wasn't placed in a class with her friends, we had a conversation about how, although she's disappointed, she also needs to look at this as an opportunity to meet new friends and put distance between her and some of the friend drama she didn't enjoy with some of the girls she been with. And that's it. That's been the extent of my involvement.

Whenever I see her anxiety over this winding up I just remind her of the conversation we had in June and leave her to sort things out. And she is.

This morning we went through her closet, tossing out what doesn't fit and putting away all of her new clothes. The whole time, she jabbered on about how things will be good, about this how this is a fresh start, an opportunity to meet new friends. When we were done and she had laid out her clothes for today I asked her how she was doing.

And she burst into tears.

We sat down on her bed and I held her until her crying stopped. I asked her again if she was okay. She said she was fine and just needed to get that out of her system and then she headed back outside to continue her graffiti project in the yard.

I stood at the kitchen window and watched her for a while, marvelling at her strength, courage and optimism. I'm in awe of how independent she is becoming and how she rarely lets her anxiety stop her from doing the things she really wants to do. She is a beautiful girl, inside and out, and I am a very blessed mama.

A girl should be two things; who and what she wants.
~Coco Chanel