Commenting on parenting, soul-searching, and everything in between... on YOUR blog!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If the name fits...

I’ve never really considered myself a blogger (hence the name of my blog!), so I guess that gave me the excuse to not have to write on a schedule, or to not write at all if I didn’t have anything interesting to share. I haven’t written in this space for over a month. I either haven’t had the time or can’t come up with a topic to write about. I’ve actually considered just giving up the whole blog entirely. But I won’t. I will save this space for when I want to write. I may not be feeling the need to right now, but I’m sure it will come back at some point.

Many of the bloggers who I enjoy reading have decided to take a break or slow down their schedules lately. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or it’s just a coincidence, but it seems to be happening more and more. I know the holidays are definitely affecting my routine. There is so much to plan, to buy, to stress out over!

All this to say is that I don’t see myself writing here anytime soon. I would like to thank you all for being so supportive and for taking the time to stop by my little “non-blog”. I really appreciate your words and your friendship. I’ll still be around, reading your words and leaving comments when I can. But for now, I am truly a non-blogger. Take care.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

{Accidental} Five Finger Discount

Have you ever been out and become distracted (by kids, a wandering mind, or just your surroundings) and ended up accidently breaking the law? You know, like driving along and suddenly noticing you’re going 20 over the speed limit? Or following the car behind you, not realizing that you just ran a red light? I think everyone has done something like that at least once in their lives. But what about something a bit more serious. Like shoplifting. Not intentional shoplifting, more like… shoplifting by distraction. Yup, I’ve done it. More than once, actually. I have left a store with something in (or under) my cart and not paid for it. The big question is, What did I do about it? Did I: a) Go back to explain the mistake and pay for the item? Or b) Just let it go, not wanting to explain or bother? Well, the answer is B. Go ahead and judge.

The times that this has happened to me were very innocent mistakes. On more than one occasion, I have forgotten about a case of Pepsi on the tray underneath my shopping cart. I was already at the car when I realized it, with two kids and a cart full of groceries. I did feel a bit badly about it, but not bad enough to actually trek back into the store and pay for it! Another time at Wal-Mart, Hubby and I chose a new clock and put it on that bottom rack of the cart. Oops. Another forgotten item. We didn’t realize until we got to the car. It was busy, we had tired and cranky kids. It just didn’t seem worth my time to go back, although I know it is the Right Thing to Do. Does that make me a bad person? Honestly, I don’t really think so.

I am an honest person. If I was walking down the street and saw someone drop money or their wallet, I certainly wouldn’t keep it. I would flag them down and give it back to them. If a cashier handed me back the wrong amount of change, I would point it out. Even if I noticed the Pepsi under my cart before I left the store, I would go back and pay for it. I don’t mean to steal, but it happens sometimes.

Has this ever happened to you?
If so, have you gone back to pay for it or did you just keep it?
Do you think I’m a horrible person?
(Please tell me I’m not the only one who has done this!)

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Booger Sweater

It was a wet, chilly morning yesterday and I felt a cold coming on so I decided to wear a warm, cozy sweater to work.  It's a soft, mossy-green color and it fits nicely.  I bought it last year at the end of the season and hadn't had much of a chance to wear it yet.  Miss M obviously didn't remember it at all.

I went in her room to wake her up and flicked on the light.  After a few seconds of cuddling and back-rubbing, she finally opened her eyes.  She glanced at me.  At my sweater.  Then she sat up straight and said, Your sweater is ugly.  Just like that.  Huh!  I asked why she thought it was so ugly.  She said, I don't know, I just don't like the color.  I said, That's fine, Sweety.  But I like it and I'm going to wear it to work today.

Okay, Mommy, she said, looking for something positive to say.  Then she had it.  Well, at least you can pick your nose and wipe your boogers on your sweater and no one will see them!

Great.  I wore a booger shirt.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm still here!

So, I've been super-busy with back-to-school hectic-ness and work has been a lot more demanding lately, too.  I haven't had a chance to write in this space in a very long time.  Actually, I have been considering giving it up altogether.  But I'm not ready for that yet.  I'm not much of a writer, but I like to come here to share little stories of my life.  Things that are going on, things that I think about.  I guess I'll just continue to write when I can for now anyway.

All this busyness has made me realize how much guilt I feel on a daily basis.  Why do we, as women (parents? mothers?)  always feel guily about something!?

I can't read blogs at work because I feel guilty about not doing actual work.

I can't blog at home because I feel guilty about not doing housework (or helping with homework, or making lunches, or giving baths, spending time with Hubby, or missing my favorite TV show!).

If I read a blog on the fly (i.e. on my phone) I feel guilty if I don't get the chance to go back and comment.

I don't want to go to French class tomorrow morning because I have a lot of deadlines at work and I'll feel guilty if I don't start working on them right away.

If I go to work and miss French class, I'll feel guilty because I've already missed a couple of classes and my work pays for them!

If I feel like being lazy but Hubby is doing laundry I feel guilty just sitting there so I usually drag my butt up to do something.  Even if I've already cooked dinner/cleaned the kitchen/etc.  (this is my own guilt.  Hubby doesn't do or say anything to make me feel bad about it).

I am tired of being a baseball family.  It's October and there are still at least two more full weekends of baseball.  Meaning four games per weekend, with at least one day out of town.  I wish that it will rain like crazy this weekend so it will be cancelled, but then I feel guilty because I know my son loves it and I want to support him.

I haven't visited my parents much lately.  Mostly because of all this baseball.  I feel guilty about that, too.  I want to, but I just don't have the time lately.  Soon I hope.

Those are just a few of the many reasons why I feel guilty lately.  It sucks.  I need to stop worrying and just do what I can.  I know this, but yet it never seems to help at the time.  But here I am, writing away while Miss M sleeps and Hubby and J are downstairs watching baseball.  It's nice to sit in the quiet and just write.  But there is still a tad bit of guilt as I sit here.  Well, I guess I'll stop now and go do something.  Like maybe just go to bed.  I'm exhausted!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Update on Miss M's school bus woes

Just a quick note to give an update from my last post about Miss M's anxiety of getting off the bus at school alone in the mornings.

There was no school on Monday, so we drove her to the school daycare.  No issues.  Tuesday was the big day.  Hubby and I walked her to the end of the driveway.  She was quiet, but seemed okay.  But then the bus turned the corner and headed our way and she freaked out.  She cried, she grabbed her daddy and begged that he drive her to school.  She was crying too hard by the time the bus stopped, so he agreed to drive her to school again.  When they arrived, he went through everything with her again.  He showed her that there is nothing to worry about.  He showed her where her friends would be playing when she got off the bus. 

When Miss M got home from school on Tuesday, I asked her if she felt better after Daddy showed her the routine at school (again), and if she thought she could do it on her own.  She said, Yes, I think so.  Progress!  But Hubby and I wanted to be sure.  He sent an email to Miss M's teacher, explaining the trouble she's been having each morning.  We hoped that the next morning would go a little more smoothly.

The next morning (Wednesday, which was yesterday) when Miss M got up, she told me that she thought she could do it.  That she would be a brave girl.  I encouraged her and told her I was proud of her.  She got ready and we went to wait for the bus.  The bus turned the corner and was headed our way.  She gave me a look.  A look that said, I-don't-think-I-can-do-this!  But I squeezed her hand, gave her a kiss and said I knew she could do it.  She was a brave girl.  A big girl.  She nodded and got on the bus.  I waved to her as they drove away.  No tears.  Yay!

During the day, the teacher replied to Hubby's email and told him that she found a "helper" for Miss M.  A girl in sixth grade that takes the same bus as Miss M will guide her from the bus and bring her to her play area each morning.  She had already introduced her to Miss M, and she was really happy about it. 

I am so happy and so relieved that the teacher did this for us.  Miss M was excited to get on the bus today.  She felt so much more comfortable and confident, knowing that her helper, Kim, would be there this morning to show her the way.  I'm sure things will go much more smoothly now.  I can't wait to hear how it went this morning when I pick her up this afternoon!

Thanks for your concern and well-wishes, everyone!  :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

I wasn't expecting this

Miss M started kindergarten only two short weeks ago.  I wasn't worried about her starting school.  Not at all, actually.  She is sociable, and she went to a large daycare centre for four years, so she is used to a structured environment with lots of other kids around.  I figured school would be a piece of cake for her.

But my sweet little girl is having a hard time.  For the first two days of school, she and the other kindergarteners wore a special name tag around their necks and the teachers would wait for them to arrive and direct them to their their designated area.  But after those two days, they were on their own.  Now my brave, outgoing, little supergirl feels lost.  And scared.  She gets off the bus at school and feels alone, unsure where to go. 

Earlier this week she told me that she doesn't like taking the bus to school because she gets lost.  I couldn't really understand what she meant.  I asked her what the other kids do, and she explained that they go around to the back of the school and play until the bell rings and then they go in.  I asked what she does.  She told me that she gets off the bus and gets lost, and then a bigger kid (sometimes the big brother of her best friend) takes her hand and brings her to where she's supposed to go.  We talked about it and I explained that she just needs to do that on her own.  If she can't find her friend, she can just play on the structure and wait for the bell, since it rings only minutes after she arrives anyway.  I thought she was okay.

I was wrong.  On Fridays, I have to leave the house earlier than usual because I have a French course that I must get to, so my husband stays with Miss M until the bus comes.  I was almost to my class this morning when my husband called.  He had to drive her to school.  Oh, did you miss the bus?  I asked.  No, it wasn't that.  Miss M just wouldn't get on the bus.  She had a crying fit, pleading not to go on the bus.  Hubby told the bus driver that he would bring her to school himself, and that's when the driver told him that almost every morning, Miss M cries when they get to school until an older boy comes and brings her to her area.  I feel so badly!  I had no idea that she was this upset about it!  Her dad brought her to school this morning and they went through the steps she needs to take when she gets off the bus.  She has to go to the back of the school, cross where the bigger kids are playing, and over to where the younger children are playing.  He walked with her when the bell rang and showed her exactly where to go when it was time to go in, too. 

I don't know what else we can do for her.  I assume that she feels intimidated and maybe like a little fish lost in a sea of older students when she steps off the bus and turns the corner.  But she needs to learn that if she just keeps walking, she'll be in her own area and can play with other children her age.  I don't think it's just the bus.  She is fine on the bus until they arrive at school.  And I don't know if it would even help if we drove her to school because we aren't even supposed to get out of the car when we drop off our children.  There is a drop-off area where the child can exit the car and walk up a path to the school.  It would probably be even more difficult because she would want us to walk her up every day.  Plus, we need to get to work.  If I drove her to school first, I wouldn't get to work on time.  Oh, the stress! 

We are going to talk about it with her more over the weekend.  Maybe we'll go to the school and go over everything again with her.  I'm not sure what else to do, but I certainly don't want her to feel lost or scared or sad when she gets to school every day.  Advice is welcome!

Monday, September 13, 2010

No time for blogging but sharing a few photos from our weekend

Life has been busy.  Hectic, crazy, breathless busy.  I haven't had time to think about this blog or what to write about.  I've barely had time to read any blogs.  But please know that I am still reading most of my favourites but just haven't had time to comment.  I'm hoping that I will get into a comfortable routine soon, and will have more time to converse with everyone but until then I will just leave you with a bit of fun news that my family enjoyed over the weekend.

Miss M, through her T-ball league, won a trip to Toronto!  Her coach submitted her name for Player of the Week and her name was drawn for the national grand prize!  Toronto  is only a four-hour drive from where we live, but we got a paid flight, one night accommodations, and tickets to see two Blue Jays games!  It was a whirlwind adventure.  Miss M and I were up early on Saturday morning to catch our flight, Hubby and J took the train and met us there.  We stayed at an amazing hotel that is attached to the stadium and we could see the entire field from our hotel room window!  We saw both games, did a little sight-seeing, and returned on Sunday night.  Everyone had a blast, but we were exhausted!  Here are a few pics!

She loved the plane! Even on the way home when there was a lot of turbulence she said, "Whee! I like the bumps, Mommy!" Oh, to be an innocent child again!

She enjoyed the games. They were a bit long for her, but we played "Spot the Mascot" and bought some treats and souvenirs to keep busy!

The weekend was a lot of fun for everyone, but we couldn't wait to get home to our beds by Sunday night!

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Six Word Friday: Still My Babies

From a baby to a boy
A little boy to a tween
It all happened much too fast.
When did I become the mom
of a teen?  It doesn't compute.
But it is now our reality
He's not mama's little boy anymore
But he'll always be my baby.

She's my sweet little baby girl
I remember looking down at her
Her tiny fingers, her innocent eyes
Looking back up at her mommy
So tiny, so fragile, so sweet
It seems like it was yesterday
And she's changed and grown overnight
A total transformation from a baby
To an amazing, vibrant little girl.
And she'll always be my baby.

This week's Six Word Friday topic was TRANSFORM. Be sure to visit Making Things Up for more Six Word Friday fun!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My kids are growing but I'm not sad

It doesn't bother me that my kids are growing up.  Seriously, I don't get weepy about it at all.  I don't wish they would stay babies all of their lives or stop getting older.  I enjoy watching them grow and learn every day.  Yes, it happens quickly.  Sometimes we don't even notice it.  But I don't feel sad.

Monday was J's first day of junior high school.  There was a lot of "newness" for him.  It's a school outside of our local school board, so we have to take him to a common drop-off area where a chartered bus takes him to school.  He is in a special sports program (in the baseball discipline) that we are all very excited about.  Also, the school is French.  All French.  J did take French Immersion all through elementary school and his dad (and that whole side of the family) is French.  But J is definitely more English.  He was nervous about it.  I was nervous for him!  But he knows quite a few kids through school and baseball that are also enrolled in this program so it helped to know that he would have friends there.  We also knew that this would really improve his French skills, which is so important in the area where we live.  Anyway, he started on Monday and he really enjoyed it.  I wasn't sad on Monday morning before he left.  I was anxious, I couldn't (and still can't) believe that my little boy was already starting grade seven, but I was happy and excited.  I feel proud of what he's accomplished and what Hubby and I have accomplished in raising him.  Am I worried about the teen years and what is in store for us?  Yes.  Do I wish I could go back to him being an innocent little boy?  Not so much.

Miss M started kindergarten today!  She was so excited.  She was ready 30 minutes before the bus was due to come, but demanded that we wait for the bus right away.  She didn't want to miss it.  We waited (forever) and we took lots of pictures.  The bus came and she looked a little nervous but she climbed those big stairs and took her seat.  I smiled.  No tears, just pride.  My big girl was going to school and she was ready.  I know that she will do just fine and I can't wait to hear all about it when I pick her up after work.

I actually felt much more sad and weepy two days ago on her last day of daycare.  She had been at that daycare since it opened when she was only 18 months old!  I felt very emotional when I picked her up, and couldn't even speak to the educators besides a quick "Bye! Thanks!" because I would have broken down.  I didn't want Miss M to see me upset because she was happy and excited, knowing she was only two short days away from going to real school!  Everyone there just loved Miss M and they took really great care of her.  It was sad knowing that we'll probably never be back again.

Sometimes when I'm reading other blogs or status updates on Facebook, I think maybe I don't care enough.  Maybe I should be crying, feeling sad that my babies aren't babies anymore.  But I think (hope) that it is just because I know they are ready for the challenges that lie ahead and so it doesn't make me worry (as much).  Also if they were sad or didn't want to go, it would probably make things harder but they were both very excited and looking forward to their new respective schools. 

Am I weird?  Am I the only one who felt happy instead of sad as I saw my kids off to school this week?  Because really, I feel like an oddball.  Maybe even like a bad parent.  But I know that's not true, so what is it?    

Friday, August 27, 2010

Six Word Friday: I'm not waiting

Get off the computer! Just wait.
Go take your shower! Almost done!
Turn it off now! One minute!
This is the last warning! Okay!

Time to get up! Not yet!
You have to brush your teeth!
Can you wait a minute, please?
No, it’s time to go! Okay!

Mornings are rushed in our house
There is no time to waste.
But sometimes children can’t be rushed
And they just want us to wait.

But after I’ve given three warnings
No more patience, I’m not waiting.
They know their time is up
They get ready, no more hesitating.

Head over to Making Things Up for more Six Word Friday fun!

Shopping, Peeing and Ice Cream

You know that high you get after a day of shopping?  To be honest, I rarely have a feeling of elation after shopping. More like deflation. I’m usually in a rush, traipsing from one store to another, bickering at the kids to hurry up, saying no to most of their requests for treats and toys, getting really over-heated, stopping for pee breaks at the most inconvenient times, getting stressed about overspending and then finally arriving home and being absolutely exhausted. It’s normally not a great feeling.

But last night? Last night was different. I finally felt that high. One that I certainly didn’t expect to have going in. Back to school is almost here and I’ve been stressed for the last few days thinking about all of the things that need to be done for next week. It looked like this weekend was going to be a write-off just getting last-minute things and preparing the kids for school.

Yesterday afternoon I had to bring Miss M to the doctor for something minor. We didn’t have an appointment, but my doctor’s office offers a walk-in clinic for patients in the evenings. I was dreading the visit, thinking we would be waiting there close to two hours. Luckily for us, they opened early and she was the fourth patient called. We were back in the car in under an hour. I was excited. I figured we could get some errands done that I had planned to do on the weekend.

We went to Miss M’s favourite kid’s shoe store and got her two new pairs of shoes. I like this store because the staff is familiar with the AFOs (braces) that she wears and they know how to find good shoes that fit well over them. And the shoes were actually cute! Other times in the past, we’ve had to go with navy or brown shoes because they were the best fit. Miss M really liked her new shoes, which made me happy.

We went across the street to the large shopping mall. I had promised Hubby that I would check for some new pants for him. His were very worn-out and he was well overdue for new ones. There are two department stores in this mall. We parked near the first one and headed for the men’s department. Miss M started to complain right off the bat. She was hungry and she had to pee. I realized that if I wanted this shopping night to go well, I’d have to be patient. We found the bathroom and then I explained that we would just look at a few things for Daddy and then we’d get something to eat before heading to another store. She agreed. She was good while I browsed around. No more complaining. We played peek-a-boo around the clothing racks. She would yell Boo! at me and I would scream and pretend to drop whatever item of clothing I was looking at. It made her laugh. It made me laugh, too.


There were no good sales at the first department store, so we left without purchasing anything and I kept my promise to get some dinner. We headed to the food court and I let Miss M choose any place she wanted. Oh, the choices! She talked it through. Should she get Chinese? A sub? A hotdog? Nope. She finally decided on (yuck) KFC. I agreed and we happily skipped over to order her some popcorn chicken and fries. I got two soft-shelled tacos from Taco Bell. We sat and we ate. We giggled and we shared. I didn’t rush her. She told me when she was full and then I let her take the tray over to the garbage. Something I normally wouldn’t do, fearing she would drop it, but she made it just fine and dumped everything in the trash. Then she had to pee again. Luckily the bathrooms were not far. We went, washed our hands and Purelled. Then she wanted to go get ice cream. It was time for negotiations. If you’re a good girl while we’re at the next store, we’ll come back and get an ice cream. Okay, Mama, she promised.

While we were walking across the mall to Store #2, Miss M declared that she was too tired to walk and requested a stroller. Hmm, nice idea but she is a five-year-old. Not a small five-year-old, either. She’s an inch or two away from four feet tall and she weighs about 50 pounds. I told her she was too big to get a stroller and she’d have to walk like a big girl. But she complained more and I felt bad because I know her feet do tire easily, especially after walking in those braces all day. We stopped at the Customer Service desk. The lady told me she’s too big. I know, I said, but do you mind if we just try? She obliged and let us in the corall of strollers. Miss M grabbed one and tried to hop in. But the bar got in the way. She couldn’t put her legs through. Then she had an idea. She sat in it and put her legs over the bar, so that her legs were dangling. Probably not the safest seating arrangement, but it worked for me!

So off we strolled to Store #2. There were sales galore and the pants that my hubby likes were $25 off! I sent Hubby a text to see how many pairs he wanted and while we were waiting for his reply we headed over to browse the girls’ clothing section. They had a one-day-only sale of 50 percent off all outerwear! We got busy trying on jackets and snowsuits. And even though it was rather hot in the store, Miss M didn’t complain once about putting on winter coats and snow pants. We found her a perfect fall coat and a pretty snowsuit. On our way back to get the pants, we grabbed some boxers for J that were also on sale. I bought four pairs of pants, a coat, a snowsuit and three pairs of boxers all for almost half of what I would have expected to pay!

We went back to return the stroller, browsed the mall a bit and found the last thing that I needed from Miss M's list of school supplies (a nylon bag for storing her shoes).  Then we got her ice cream (she deserved it) and headed to the car. It was after 8:30 and we had been shopping since 4:30. I actually felt great. We got in the car and for the first time in a long time after shopping, I wasn’t hot and cranky or snappy. We continued to talk and laugh and sing together on the way home. And the most surprising part is that I didn’t even buy anything for myself! Well,  I did get a mocha frappucino, but I deserved a treat, too. I kept my patience and in turn Miss M behaved.  I realize now that most times it is actually me who causes the stress while shopping, not my children.  I had a new perspective last night with Miss M.  I tried to make things fun for her, I didn't rush or nag.  We took our time.  It might have taken longer than usual, but it was worth it for both of us.

Do you enjoy shopping or dread it?
How do you handle shopping with your child(ren) (or do you avoid it at all costs)?
Do they expect ice cream, or do you bribe them with ice cream?
Do great sales make you happy?

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Interview With ShannonL (yes, that's me)

My friend Kate from Watercoloring on the Table tagged me for this interview meme. Kate is just lovely.  She writes about raising her two girls, including the the ups and downs and everything in between of being a stay-at-home-mother, and she shares her thoughts on life in general.  She writes frequently and she is always honest, thoughtful and sweet.  She is one of my daily reads and I really enjoy her blog.  Thanks for thinking of me, Kate!

So, here goes nothing!

What experience has most shaped you, and why?

Oh, boy.  I honestly don't think one experience in particular has shaped me to who I am today, but probably a number of things over the years.  My childhood and my wonderful parents were a huge part of it.  My parents were always very loving, open and honest with me.  I think that is why I am such an honest person and value honesty so much.  We also moved a lot when I was young, changing neighborhoods and friends frequently.  This helped me become independent, but also a bit shy.  I never got used to making new friends.  I never had tons of friends at one time.  I made a few good, real friends and stuck with them.  I am still that way, and having a hard time making more friends, although I'd really like to.  I have a loving and supportive husband who has been a huge part of my life for 14 years now, and of course becoming a mother to two beautiful children has shaped me the most.  Motherhood changes you in so many ways that you would never imagine before having children.  I live for my family. I adore them.  They are everything to me.

I don't have one life-changing moment that has "shaped me".  I have had struggles along the way, as most people do, and I've dealt with them in my own way.  I believe I am stronger for overcoming some of those obstacles.  But I don't believe they have shaped or defined me.  I hope they haven't.

If you had a whole day with no commitments, what would you do?

Gee, that would be awesome!  I'd sleep in, get up when I felt like it.  Get a yummy latte at Starbucks, then go for a pedicure and maybe do a little shopping.  I'd meet a good friend for lunch and chat about anything and everything.  I'd go home and play good music really loud and sing and dance.  I'd sit out in the sunshine and read some blogs.  I'd make a big salad for myself for supper and then probably just veg on the couch or in bed watching a good movie.  Kinda boring, I know.  But it sure would be a great day!

What food or drink could you never give up?

Drink:  Diet Pepsi.  Can't live without it.  Coffee is a close second.  I love my coffee in the morning!  Actually, I don't drink much else besides Diet Pepsi and coffee.  Horrible, isn't it?  I know I should drink more water, but I just don't enjoy it.  I don't like milk, either. The only other beverage I drink is iced tea.  I am so unhealthy!

Food:  Hmm, I don't think I could give up pasta.  I love spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni... I can't imagine never eating pasta again. 

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?

I haven't travelled anywhere outside of North America, so I would love to go just about anywhere!  Probably Cuba, Hawaii, Jamaica... anywhere hot.  With beaches.  And an all-inclusive resort! 

Who do you have a crush on?

Hmm, a crush, eh? (how Canadian of me!) My husband, of course!
Well, I did always like (and don't laugh at me!) Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.  More when he was a professional wrestler though, and less now that he is just an actor.  He lost a lot of muscle and doesn't look as hot as he was.  But, yeah, I guess that would be my crush.  Oh, and I like Jean Claude Van Damme, too.  Not so much now, but in his early days.  You know, from Blood Sport!  And I don't like either guy for their acting skills.  Not at all, actually.  Just their looks.  But anyway, my number one answer is still Hubby!

If you were leader of your country, what would you do?

Boy oh boy, I am so not into politics.  I would NEVER want to lead my country.  I would fail miserably.  The only answer that pops into my mind is healthcare.  I would do something to ensure that all Canadians had a family doctor.  I know too many people that don't have a family doctor and have to rely on walk-in clinics or hospital emergency rooms (my parents included).  It's not cool.

Give me one easy savoury recipe that doesn’t include cheese.

Man, these questions are not easy for me.  I'm really not a "give out recipes" kind of person.  We're simple meat and potato or spaghetti and meat sauce kind of people.  And I just thought of two recipes, but they do include cheese!  Ok, here's my go-to meal.  Throw some chicken breasts in the oven with mushroom soup, make either minute rice or Lipton noodles and sauce (I like parmasan) with veggies on the side.   Easy-peasy.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

I never really dreamed of a particular career.  Probably why I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  But I looked through my "School Days Memory Book" not too long ago, and when I was in elementary school I wanted to be either a waitress, model, or singer.  Um, I'm definitely not any one of those.  Although I do love singing karaoke!

If you could spend just one day in someone else’s body, who would it be?

Probably a child.  Like my daughter.  There are so many times when she's quiet and I look over at her and wonder what she's thinking about.  I guess if I spent the day in her body, I'd know!  Either that or a pet.  Like a really spoiled cat.  They have the best life.  And I'd like to know what goes through a cat's mind, too.

Which woman writer – living or dead – do you most admire and why?

Honestly, I really don't have an answer for that.  For the last few years, besides newspapers, magazines and blogs, I have only read a few trashy romance novels and a couple of Janet Evanovich books - which I didn't really enjoy.  When I was in junior high school I read a lot of books... mostly Stephen King and John Grisham.  So sorry, still no woman authors to write about.

What character trait inspires you the most?

Honesty.  Just being honest about yourself and to yourself really helps you understand yourself so much more.  And being vulnerable.  I am inspired by people who can be open, honest and vulnerable.  Willing to share so much with others and risking hurt or disapointment while doing it.  I guess it's the reason why I love reading blogs by people who are real.

What is your favorite kind of music?

I love music.  Almost anything.  I guess I would say that Top-40 is my favourite, but I truly love a mix of artists and genres.  I like old-school Metallica, AC/DC, Queen, Bell-Biv-Devoe, Digital Underground, George Michael, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Mary J. Blige.  And I love Train, The Black Eyed Peas, Carrie Underwood, Hedley, Eminem, Lady Gaga... I could go on and on!  And all of the songs I play?  I sing along and know all of the lyrics by heart. 

Which book or books have inspired or touched you the most?

Oh no, back to the reading questions!  Well, when I was young I read Life With Billy (a non-fiction book about a case of domestic abuse and "Battered Woman Syndrome" by Brian VallĂ©e).  Reading the true stories of the abuse that that woman suffered was heart-breaking.  And sickening.  It was my first time ever reading about such crude, controlling, dangerous behaviour so that story really stuck with me.

What is your favorite family custom?

Hmm, we are a pretty go-with-the-flow family.  Not really big on customs or traditions.  But we do have a few things that we try to make a habit of doing together as a family.  I guess my favourite one is at Christmas time.  Every year we all go out as a family to choose a tree from a lot.  It gets delivered to our house and we bring it in and leave it sit for the night.  The next day we curse and try to set it up in the stand, and play Christmas carols, I drink Bailey`s Irish Cream, Hubby has a beer and the kids have hot chocolate, and we all decorate the tree (and the rest of the house) together! 

Well, that is the ideal anyway.  Last year it didn't go nearly as smoothly.  We chose a tree, although I wasn't happy with it.  But it was the second lot we went to, and we were all getting cold so we bought it.  It turned out to be totally dead and I pretty much decorated the whole thing myself.  Then it ended up falling over and half of the ornaments broke.  We tied it up and I re-decorated it.  It was a sad, limp tree.  And there were needles, a lot of needles everywhere.  Last year I was disapointed that our family tradition was ruined.  I even said that we should buy a fake tree (the horror!).  I didn't mean it.  I can't imagine not having a beautiful, fresh, real tree in my house for Christmas.  I love Christmas trees.  I love the smell and I just love sitting and staring at the lights.  They are so beautiful and mesmerizing.  Oh my God, I can't believe it's the middle of August and I'm actually feeling excited for Christmas right now!  Ok, enough!  Anyway, I think we are going to try out the Christmas tree tradition again this year, and I really hope it goes better than last year.

Thank you so much, Kate, for tagging me in your own interview.  It was fun!  Now I have to send this to a few other bloggers, and add my own question. So my question is:  How/where did you meet your spouse/significant other?

I am passing these questions on to the following bloggers.  I can't wait to read all about you!  Sorry if this is not really your "thing", but how could I leave any of you out?!

Christine, my good friend IRL and in the blogosphere, from Coffees & Commutes.  Her blog is all about being open, honest and vulnerable.  She's learning a lot about herself and inspiring others while she's at it.

Sarah from s a r a h c a s m, the first blog I read after Christine and never stopped.  She's all about perspective and really makes you think or re-think. 

Corinne, another honest blogger who I enjoy reading very much, from Trains, Tutus and Tea Time.  Her heartfelt writing and beautiful photographs always have me coming back for more.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Not feeling like myself









All of these feelings and more are what I have been experiencing this week.  I don't know if it's just hormones or if I'm letting everything get to me for no reason, or what.  But I don't like feeling this way.  I have no patience with my kids.  Every little thing rubs me the wrong way and I snap.  Then comes the guilt part.  It's a vicious circle.  I've written before about feeling lonely and my fading friendship and I think that's what has been bothering me the most.  Lately I just feel like a big loser.   Like nobody (except for my family, of course) likes me or cares about me.  I think I will have to talk with my "fading friend" to get my feelings out in the open.  That way we can either start trying to be friends again or I can just forget it and move on, rather than sitting here wondering what I did wrong and if she even notices or cares. 

Friends or no friends, I think I need to get out and do things for myself, by myself.  I am planning to register Miss M for some kind of class/activity this fall, but maybe I should also sign up for something myself!  I'm not sure what yet, but I'm thinking it should be something totally new.  Not only will I enjoy some "me" time, but maybe I'll find a new passion or even find a new friend! 

I need to get myself out of this funk, and I think I've already started.  Writing everything down like I just did and thinking of a possible solution is making me feel a whole lot better.  Thanks, (non)Blog!

Friday, August 6, 2010

All she wants to do is dance (and sing, and kick, and flip...)!

I came across this website the other day as I was helping Miss M search YouTube for a Hannah Montana song (I know, I know.  But she loves her!).  The site is hosted by two young girls who teach dance moves, healthy and kid-friendly recipes, games and outdoor activities and also gymnastics.  I thought they were really cute and they do a good job speaking to the camera and explaining things well.  Miss M was just enthralled by them.  She watched the girls do a dance routine to Miley Cyrus's Hoedown Throwdown and she wanted to do it, too!  The girls had a step-by-step video of how to do the moves to the chorus and Miss M played it over and over, practicing the choreography in our kitchen.  Now every night this week she has asked me to go to their website so she can learn more.  She has been practicing two different Miley/Hannah dances and has also been following their tips on how to do the splits.  Miss M has always shown a love of music and singing/dancing/performing and I couldn't be happier about it.  I was like that as a child, too.  I had two albums from the Mini Pops along with Michael Jackson's Thriller that I loved to play over and over again.  I sang along to every song and used to do dance routines and "sing" into my hair brush microphone on top of the coffee table.

Her love of dance and gymnastics has me thinking a lot lately about what type of activity to sign Miss M up for this year.  She is five now and old enough to register for most of the children's programs. The fall registration book should be out next week and Miss M has already made dozens of requests.  She wants to try everything.  Her favorites (so far) are: dance (ballet), music (guitar or piano), karate (or taekwondo), girl scouts, swimming, gymnastics and indoor sports (soccer or baseball)... to name a few!  I think this is great, and although we don't exactly have the time or money for her to try all of these activities, I'm really glad that she's keen on learning new things and being active. 

What's been bothering me is that in reality there are some things that she is physically unable to do.  Because of her disability she can't point her toes, which pretty much rules out ballet.  She needs to walk in her braces for ankle support, which pretty much rules out karate.  And what about soccer?  I suppose at this age it would be okay, but will she be frustrated that she can't run as fast as the other kids?  I know there are other things that she is interested in where her condition won't be an issue, but what about the ones that are?  How do I tell my five-year-old daughter that she "can't" do something when I know she believes that she can do anything?  As her mother, isn't it my job to encourage her?  That's the way I've always looked at it, and now I'm torn about what to say if she really wants to take something like ballet or karate.

I think we'll wait for the catalog to arrive, discuss her preferences (maybe even find some new ones) and I'll go from there.  Perhaps she'll choose painting or cooking or bird watching!  Maybe the topic of her disability won't even come up, and then my anxiety will go down.  I hope.  Because my little Supergirl is determined to do anything she sets her mind to, and that's fine by me!

Miss M, Rock Star, enjoying a waffle bowl sundae

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

In BeTween

Most of the bloggers that I read have young children.  Many still in the Toddler Years and just getting into the Terrible Twos.   For me, the Terrible Twos are just a sweet, fading memory.  My son, J, is twelve.  Twelve!  And he is an old twelve, a mature twelve, at least in the physical sense.  He is now taller than me (I'm 5'6"!), he has reached his dad's shoe size (11), and he has hair growing.  Everywhere.

So J is much less of a child and more of a teen.  Or tween, as they say.  And he is right smack-dab-in-the-middle of the Terrible Tweens.  Nobody warned me of this.  I didn't realize that my sweet little boy would all of a sudden turn into an awkward, deep-voiced, lanky, lazy, attitude-giving TWEEN overnight!

Oh, the joys.  Overall, J really is a good kid.  And I understand that tweens are growing up and they crave privacy, individuality, freedom.  They want to do things on their own and not tell Mom and Dad about every minute of their day.  I want to back off, to be a bit more trusting and more lenient.  But man, it's hard.  How can we let him make more decisions for himself when he doesn't even take care of his own body?  Seriously, if we didn't nag at tell him to shower/brush his teeth/wash his hands every day I don't think he would ever do it!  And there are so many serious pressures, temptations and other tweens out there just waiting for him to give in or make a bad decision.  I often wonder if we're doing all we can for him.  Have we taught him enough about Right from Wrong?  About respect of others and of himself?  I hope so, I really do.

J will start high school next month.  He is registered in the sports program offered at the school.  They do half-days of classes and the other half is spent training in their chosen discipline (baseball in his case).  Academics is their first priority and they insist on good grades and hard work.  I believe they provide more guidance and attention to the students in this group than the kids in the "general population" and I am very happy about this.  J needs structure and he loves sports, so it's a winning combination.  The kids in the sports program have their own section of the school.   They stay in that section together and they have separate lunch breaks from the rest of the students in the school.  I hope this prevents him from meeting people who could potentially be bad influences.  I don't want him to start smoking/drinking/experimenting with drugs any time soon.  Don't get me wrong, I know that the kids in the sports program aren't all angels either, but I know that if they are caught doing these types of things, it will not be tolorated and they will be dismissed from the program.  They have a lot to lose.  I hope J keeps that in mind.

Yesterday was a civic holiday, which meant a day off from work for me.  J had received money from his grandparents to buy some back-to-school clothes so I decided to take him shopping for the day.  Initially, the purpose of this post was to vent about his defiance yesterday morning and how he hurt my feelings.  But as the day went on, his attitude improved and we had a nice time together.  So I will put my frustations aside and just blame his behavior on hormones!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fading Friendships

When we first moved here, I didn't have any friends of my own.  I only knew Hubby's friends and family.  Then I met you.  Your then-boyfriend (now husband), S, was friends with my husband and they played ball together.  You both came over one evening for drinks.  When I got home from work you were already there, drinking my Caesars!  I didn't mind.  You were outgoing and friendly and we just clicked right away.  Our houses were walking distance from each other and soon the two of you were coming over every weekend.  And you and I were going out for karaoke.  We had a lot of fun.

We were close.  We talked frequently.  You stood in my wedding.  Then you and S bought a house and moved.  Not far, but it was no longer within walking distance.  The weekend visits slowed down.  Hubby and I soon bought a house, too.  Again, it wasn't far.  But we were all busy homeowners running errands, doing chores, staying in.  I got pregnant with Miss M.  There were even less visits.

Soon we were only keeping touch on Facebook and email.  We'd talk about how busy we were and that is had been a long time since we last got together.  Months went by without a visits or phone calls.  You had a wedding of your own, but it was overseas and we were unable to attend.  We went to your reception and I was truly happy for you.  Every time we got together it was just like old friends, back to normal.

Our husbands got into a bit of a disagreement over baseball.  It didn't seem that significant at the time, but maybe it was to S?  Does he have hard feelings toward Hubby?  It doesn't seem that way when they see each other...

You are now a mother and have a beautiful one-year-old son.  I visited days after he was born and it was wonderful.  We talked just like old times.  Conversations are so easy with you.  I made an effort to contact you and visit you a few times after that, too.  You talked about your son's upcoming birthday party.  I assumed it was just for family, but saw the pictures on Facebook soon after.  All of your friends were there.  We weren't invited.  It hurt.  I was insulted.  I probably wouldn't have been able to go because of J's baseball tournament, but you didn't know that at the time.  You just didn't invite me.

What happened? 

It is hard enough to make good friends at this point in life.  To lose a good friend for no apparent reason is even harder, I think.  Should I talk about it with you?  Will you just blame it on being busy and laugh it off?  I am afraid to ask.  I don't want to get hurt.  But I already am.   

Friday, July 16, 2010

Intentional Happiness: Vacation!!!

I'm a little late getting my Intentional Happiness post up, but better late than never, right?!

We are on vacation!!!  This past week we took a family trip to Toronto and our second week will be spent relaxing and doing whatever we please at home.  Here's a little glimpse of some of our !!! moments:

Going out for dinner with my family and enjoying
my first beer of vacation!!!

Our baseball-y family enjoyed a Blue Jays - Red Sox game!!!

Going up here...

...and looking down here!!!

Taking the kids on their first subway ride!!!

Miss M's first pony ride!!!

A LOT of swimming!!!
(Miss M is the only one brave enough to pose in a bathing suit!)

Tired, sleepy, quiet kids after crazy-busy days!!!

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer as much as we are!!!

Intentional Happiness

For more moments of Intentional Happiness, visit Momalom and Bad Mommy Moments.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Memories - A mother's worst nightmare

It was the first weekend in July, exactly six years ago.  The weather was hot and sunny.  Hubby was playing in a baseball tournament and our then-six-year-old son, J, wanted to go, too.  He adored going to the ball field with his daddy.  He still does.  The tournament was taking place in a small community about 40 minutes outside of our town.  They left early that Saturday morning and would be gone until supper time.  I was five months pregnant with Miss M and looking forward to a day all to myself.

I waved goodbye to my boys, had breakfast and hopped in the shower.  I was going to do some serious shoe shopping!  Okay, just one pair, really.  But I was looking forward to it, nevertheless.  After browsing a few stores I returned home with a perfect pair of summer shoes.  It was hot outside and I was preggo.  I decided to take a swim in our backyard pool.  The water was cool and I enjoyed the peaceful outdoors, not a sound but the water splashing and the motor humming.  It was so relaxing.  When I was done, I threw on a button-up shirt over my bathing suit and sat out of my front step, admiring my newly-planted flower garden.  I thought I heard the phone ringing from inside the house.  I ran in to get it, but didn't make it in time.  The caller ID said "unknown caller", so I didn't worry about it much.  I brought the phone back out with me and continued to soak up the sun.  It was getting close to supper time, and I imagined that Hubby and J were on their way back home after a long day of baseball.

The phone rang again.  [Still now, as I write this, I feel shaky.  My heart is racing and the hair on my arms is standing up.]  I answered, and it was my husband on the other end.  He was crying.  I can't remember the exact words, but he told me that he and J had been in an accident and that J "wasn't okay".  They were at the town's local hospital and the doctors were with J. 

The panic, the fear and the pure helplessness I felt at that moment is inexplicable.  I hung up the phone, grabbed my keys and ran to my car.  I drove straight to the hospital, probably faster than I'd ever driven before but it felt like the longest drive I had ever taken.  All the way there, I prayed.  I am not a religious person.  Not anywhere near it.  But I had to believe something.  I had to do anything that would help my son.  I didn't know how bad things were, if he would even be alive when I got there.  I screamed out loud as I drove, Please, God.  Don't take my son.  He doesn't deserve this.  He's an innocent child.  I need my baby boy!  Please save my son, God.  I'm sorry I don't pray often, that I sometimes doubt if you even exist.  But I need you now.  I need my boy.  Please!

When I got to the hospital, they rushed me to the back where my husband was.  He didn't look good.  His leg was full of blood, he was limping and a little hunched over.  He was in pain.  Then, from the corner of my eye I could see J in another room.  He was strapped to a stretcher, wearing a neck brace.  His eyes were closed and he was surrounded by doctors and nurses.  What happened!?, I gasped.  My husband explained through tears that they were driving home from the ball field when the car coming in the opposite direction suddenly drove into their lane.  Hubby tried to swerve, but the other car did too, and hit them head-on.  The car had been crushed.  J's side of the car was hit the worst.  Hubby had to crawl out of his window to try and reach J, who was unconscious.  Ambulance workers and firefighters showed up and had to use the jaws of life to get J out.  They rushed him to the hospital in the ambulance, where (and I found this out later) they lost him and had to revive him two times.

The doctors came over to talk to us and said that J had suffered a head injury and would have to be taken to the children's hospital in the city (about an hour away).  By then, Hubby's dad was there and he drove us straight to the hospital.  We didn't talk much in the car.  I think we all silently prayed and just wanted to get there as fast as possible. 

Arriving at the hospital is a blur.  They immediately took J to get a CT scan and they brought me to the administration desk to get our insurance information.  I was still wearing a damp bathing suit with a long shirt over it, and I was shaking.  Partially from being cold, mostly from nerves.  They gave me a warm blanket to wrap myself in.  When the scan was over, a nurse came to talk to us.  J would be taken to the intensive care unit, where he (and his scan results) would be assessed.  We were brought to the waiting area.  And we waited.  Finally we got to see him.  It was a shocking sight.  He was asleep (they induced a coma because of the pain and to keep him calm), he had a ventilator and wore a neck brace.  His little hand was swollen and there was tape over the IV needle.  His knee was wrapped in a bandage and he had stains of blood all over his body.  It was hard to take.  We sat by him, just holding his hand and talking to him.  Telling him everything would be okay.  We hoped.

The neurosurgeon came to see us.  J had suffered a severe traumatic head injury. The impact of the collision had done to his brain the equivalent of Shaken Baby Syndrome.  His brain had rattled around in his skull and really took a beating.  The doctor had reviewed J's scan and found some swelling on the left side of his brain.  He said that there was hope the swelling would go down on its own, but only time would tell if there would be any permanent damage or if he would need surgery. 

That evening we raced home to get some clothes.  We brought J his favorite teddy bear and put it beside him on his hospital bed.  We were able to sleep in a nearby room for families, and took turns throughout the night sitting with him.  After four long days in ICU, the doctors felt he was improving.  The swelling seemed to have gone down, and they brought him out of the induced coma.  Seeing his eyes look at me after what had felt like eternity was amazing.   He was brought to a regular hospital room.  It had been several hours since he woke up, but he hadn't spoken a single word.  The nurses said this throat would be sore after having a breathing tube in for several days, but I was still concerned.  When we spoke to him, he would nod yes or shake his head for no, usually looking straight ahead, rather zombie-like.  We didn't know what to think.  Of course we were thrilled that he was alive and well, but now we had to deal with more unknowns.  Is this how he would be?  Would we have to teach him to talk?  Would he ever speak again?

After a painful two days of nodding and head shaking, J finally spoke. He had been refusing food and the nurses were getting concerned.  Hubby asked him if he wanted some chicken nuggets from his favorite chicken restaurant.  "Yes!" he exclaimed.  We were so relieved.  Hubby told him he'd buy nuggets for him every day for lunch if he just kept talking.  And he did.  And he also ate a lot of nuggets.

He was allowed to go home after another two days in the hospital.  He was speaking, but he still wasn't totally back to "normal".  He had speech problems, memory issues, difficulty with balance.  He went to regular speech, occupational and physiotherapy sessions.  Months later he was doing much better.  It's six years later now, and I'm proud to say that J has fully recovered.  We are so very lucky that there was no permanent damage to the brain.  I thank God every day for saving him.

Monday, June 28, 2010

But all the cool kids are doing it

Last week I read a post from Becca at Drama For Mama about fitting in.  Her five-year-old daughter, Hannah, wanted to paint her nails.  Not only because she thought it looked pretty, but because all of the other girls in her class had their nails painted and she wanted to fit in.

This post really struck me because my own daughter, Miss M, is the same age as Hannah and it bothered me that a girl at the ripe young age of five was already worried about fitting in.  To me, she shouldn't be thinking about that for at least another five years.  She should just be a kid.  No worries, no self-esteem or self-image issues.  Just be a kid.  It certainly doesn't last long.  Becca's post stayed on my mind for a few days, and I wondered if I should bring it up with Miss M.  She is already somewhat mindful of the fact that she is different, because of her disability and the braces she wears on her feet.  I was curious if she felt that way about anything else.  Or if she had ever asked me to do or wear something just because other kids were? 

Then something hit me.  I brought Miss M to daycare on Friday morning and the other children were playing outside in the yard.  The temperature was still a bit cool, so I told Miss M that she should put a sweater on.

No, Mommy, I don't want to.

Yes, Hunny.  I don't want you to be cold.

I'm fine, Mommy.  I don't want it.

But why not?

Look, she said as she pointed outside to the other kids.  Nobody else is wearing one and I don't want to be the only person wearing a sweater!

Wow.  At that moment, I realized it was my fault.  I was worried if she ever felt like she had to fit in, and of course she had.  I had taught her.  I thought back to all of the times when she didn't want to zip her coat, wear a hat, put on sunscreen, etc.  What did I say to convince her?  Look!  All your friends are doing it.  You should too.  Ick.  It wasn't a good feeling.

I told Miss M that it didn't matter if the other kids were wearing sweaters or not, but she convinced me that she wasn't cold.  I decided not to push the issue and left the sweater on a nearby hook, just in case.  I gave her a kiss and said goodbye, and I thought about my past actions all the way to work.  Had I messed up?  Made her second-guess herself?  Made her want to fit in with the other children?

I have decided to let it go.  I will now think twice about what I'm saying as I convince her to do something, but I don't think I will have a conversation with her about it.  She is a very independent little girl, capable of making decisions for herself.  If she brings it up (like Becca's daughter did), then I will talk to her about it.  I think as parents, many of us get desperate and say things that perhaps we shouldn't when trying to talk our children into doing what's best for them.  Miss M is a confident, well-adjusted little girl so I am not going to beat myself up about it anymore. 

This whole "fitting in" thing just really got me thinking.  I have seen a hint of it now, and I'm sure I'll see plenty more as she starts kindergarten in September.  I just hope she holds onto more of my positive reinforcements than my do it because your friends are doing it demands.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I feel the earth. move. under my feet

I can't seem to get that Carole King song out of my head this morning.  I suppose it's because I truly did feel the earth move yesterday, and I'm still a little freaked out.  A 5.0-magnitude earthquake hit our area yesterday at approximately 1:45 p.m.  This is not a common thing.  In fact, it is said that an earthquake only hits in our region about once every 10 years.  I lived in another part of Canada 10 years ago, and I had never experienced an earthquake until yesterday.  I really don't want to experience it again.

I was quietly working in my office of my government building on the fifteenth floor, when suddenly I felt a rumble.  It was mild and I thought someone was moving furniture, or maybe there was work being done on the elevators.  Then, not two seconds later, it got stronger.  Much stronger.  My desk was moving, my body was shaking, I could feel the floor vibrating under my feet.  I was standing by then, and my heart skipped as I looked at the window, terrified of what I might see.  Was it a bomb?  Was the building colapsing, had something hit the building?  I ran into the hallway and my coworkers were all standing around, looking shocked as well.

Just as we started to ask each other, What was that?  What do we do?, the fire alarm sounded.  I was panicking.  I sprinted back to my office, grabbed my purse and BlackBerry, and headed to the stairwell.  We still didn't know what was going on.  There were speculations that it had been an earthquake, but nothing confirmed.  We didn't even know at that point whether anyone else in the city had felt it.  Some people were laughing and chatting on the way down.  Not me.  I was really scared.  My heart was pounding, my chest was tight.  I could feel my neck burning and knew that it was all blotchy.  I just wanted to GET OUT.  As we were neared the bottom floors, my phone rang.  It was Hubby, asking if everything was ok.  He was at work, about 15 minutes away from me, and he had just experienced the the same feeling.  I felt a bit of relief, knowing that it wasn't just my building and it had been felt all over the city.  Hubby had called the school and daycare and both kids were fine.  That was good news.  Finally, we got to the main floor and out to the street and I was able to breathe again.  My legs felt all wobbly from nerves mixed with 15 flights of stairs.  My heart was still fluttering, but I finally felt safe.

After an hour of waiting outside in the hot, humid weather, we realized that it would be much longer before anyone could go back in.  The buildings would have to be inspected to ensure no structural damage had occured.  We were told to go home.  As I was driving home, I realized that I probably over-reacted.  But I couldn't shake that feeling of terror that came over me when I felt the first big shake.  The feeling of helplessness is inexplicable. They talked about it on the radio, and it was all over news sites and Facebook.  There had been quite a bit of damage in other parts of the region.  A small bridge had collapsed, windows were broken, chimneys and roofs were damaged.  But there were no reported injuries, which is the most important thing. 

I picked up the kids on my way home.  Miss M and the other children at daycare had been napping at the time and didn't feel a thing.  J had been on a school trip and was standing outside with his friends, waiting for the bus to bring them back home.  He said they had barely felt it.  I was glad they hadn't been scared.  We drove home and went about our day as usual.  This morning I'm sitting back at my desk, writing this post when I should be working.  So now I will go back to work and hope that my first earthquake experience will also be my last.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Keeping it in the family

Have you ever watched those crazy families on Jerry Springer or some other trashy talk show?  You know the ones, the wife left her hubby to marry her cousin and now she's pregnant and not sure if the baby belongs to said cousin or her uncle?   My family could be on that show.  Ok, not we're not quite the same as that family, but it's pretty strange.

My grandmother got married when she was only 15.  She had my mother a year later, and they had a son (my uncle) a few years after that.  It was a rough life. They didn't have a lot.  My grandparents didn't have a great marriage.  He was quite a bit older than her (close to ten years, I believe), and things were rocky. 

[Hmm, as I writing this, I realize that I don't know many of the details.  It's not something that the family sits around the kitchen table chatting about.]  On to say that my grandfather ended up having an affair with... my great-grandmother.  That's right.  His wife's own mother!  He left my grandmother and the two kids, and continued his relationship with his mother-in-law.  Needless to say, my grandmother was devasted.  Not only did her husband, who was the only bread-winner of the family, just leave her and her children to fend for themselves, but he left her for her mother!  I can't imagine how she felt.  She had no money, no husband, and no mother to cry to or lean on for support.

They divorced and she got on with her life.  She provided for her children as best as she could.  After a few years she found another man.  A gentle, caring man who she married (and is still married to).  And my grandfather married my great-grandmother.  His ex-mother-in-law.

So, yes.  My grandfather was also my step-great-grandfather.  My great-grandmother was my step-grandmother.  Meaning my mom's grandmother became her step-mother.  How weird is that?!

I got thinking about this and what really struck me is my grandmother's attitude and her relationship with her mother.  I'm sure the first few years were rocky.  Maybe they didn't even speak to each other.  But she came to forgive her mother.  When I was little, I had no idea that there had ever been a problem.  My great-grandmother was at my nan's house everyday.  They talked together, drank tea together.  Their homes were only a short walk through a path in the woods away from one another.  And my grandmother's new husband became friends with her ex.  Good friends.  They would visit and do things together all the time.  My great-grandmother had some health problems, and it was Nan who took care of her until she died.

I don't think I could do that.  My mom and I are close.  We are great friends.  But how can you forgive something like that?  And how could a mother even contemplate doing that to her daughter and grandchildren?  I consider myself to be a forgiving person.  I may not forget, but I do make an effort to forgive.  But I would have a hard time with this.  I suppose you never know how you will react to something so devastating until it happens, right?  Maybe they had a heart-to-heart and she was at peace with it.  It's true that they most likely would have divorced anyway.  As I mentioned, I don't know the fine details of the story, but I do know that my grandmother made some incredible sacrifices and decisions for her children.  Maybe forgiving her mother was something she felt she had to do for the sake of her family.  Whatever the reason, I think it took a lot of strength for her to continue a relationship with her.  She was, and still is, a very strong and amazing woman.

What do you think you would do in this situation?
Do you have any crazy family stories to share?
Do you ever watch trashy talk shows ("You ARE the father!")?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Busy Weekends and Cranky Kids

Our son, J, had a break from baseball this weekend for a change, so we thought we'd have a relatively (and well-deserved) quiet weekend. Well, it didn't really turn out that way!
On Friday after work, I picked up Miss M from daycare and drove her straight to her friend's house for a playdate. J was planning a movie night with his friends, so we brought him home after school to change, had a quick bite to eat, and drove him to the movie theatre. Hubby and I had some errands and a few last-minute Father's Day things to do, so we stopped at a few stores and by then it was time to pick up Miss M. We came back home, knowing that in an hour or so it would be time to pick up J, too.  After the movie, J called to ask if he could sleep over at his friend's house. So I packed him a bag and Hubby went to pick them both up and droped them off.
The next morning, we got up and brought Miss M to her baseball competition. It is an annual "triple challenge" that all teams participate in. They throw at a target, run the bases, and hit the ball. They also get their team photos taken. It was fun to watch the little ones hitting, running and throwing. But it was HOT. After melting for a couple of hours there, we stopped at a fundraiser barbeque for lunch, headed to the bakery to pick up a cake for my in-laws, and then got J from his friend's house.
It was my parents-in-law's 40th wedding anniversary this weekend, and we were taking them out for supper at our favourite steakhouse restaurant. My in-laws normally eat early, and we were bringing the kids with us, so we picked up Hubby's parents and got to the restaurant for 4 p.m., when it opened. We had wine and a fabulous meal.  The kids were well-behaved and it was a great evening out.
Everyone was pretty tired (and full!) when we got home. And that's when it started. The bickering, the whining, the teasing. It was obvious that both kids were exhausted. They get on each other's nerves very quickly when they are feeling that way. With a little bit of reminding and gentle nudging, they gave it up and went to their separate rooms, soon going to bed for the night.
The next day was Father's Day. The kids came to our room to wish their daddy a happy day, and we gave him his gift and cards. Then we got ready for another meal out. We had agreed to meet my in-laws again for breakfast at a local restaurant. I could still barely breathe from dinner the night before, but we managed to meet them and have another nice (lighter) meal.
We got back home and there were chores to do. Hubby worked on the laundry while I put some away, and then I decided to tackle Miss M's room. It had been getting way too full of stuff. Miss M helped, too. She was a real trooper in letting things go that she no longer needed/wanted. We ended up with two garbage bags full - one for the trash and the other to give away. Then there were more chores: the bathrooms, the floors and more laundry. Miss M played outside. J went for a bike ride. They both spent time in their rooms. Then they got bored.  We all hopped in the van and went to Wal-Mart, and then a short visit to my parents' house to see my dad for Father's Day. We had one more stop to make, and the kids were both tired again. Once more there was fussing, teasing, whining, and tears.  J knows just how to get Miss M going. I mean, seriously. These kids are seven years apart. SEVEN! I guess when you're tired, cranky and bored, age just doesn't matter. But my nerves can't take it sometimes.
Finally we get to our street, and they are both out of control, fighting over who would get to play with the scooter first. That was it. Hubby and I both screamed and told them that NO ONE would be playing with the scooter. It was not to be touched. They realized that we meant business. And then something changed. They came in to get a fudgesicle and went outside to play soccer. Together. It was nice.
Once they were back inside, it was flop-on-the-couch time for me and Hubby. But bed time was fast-approaching and Miss M was cranky again. She came over and asked me for a fudgesicle.

No, Hunny, I told her. You already had a fudgesicle today.

But I want another one.

Sorry, but you just had one. No more for today.

She goes to the kitchen and comes back holding a fudgesicle.

No, Miss M. I said no more today. I take it from her and bring it back to the freezer.

But I'm hungry, Mommy!

Well, if you're hungry you can have a little snack, but not a fudgesicle.

But I'm HUNgryyyy!

How about a cheese string?


Some blueberries or raisins?


Oh, how about some mini Ritz crackers?


Well, I told her, you can't be that hungry then. I just offered you four different things and you don’t want any of them.

YES, I'm HUNGRY! But I don't want those things. I want a FUDGESICLE!

By then it wasn't yelling, it was shrieking. And she was shrieking right beside me, tears streaming down, stomping on the floor. That was it. I picked her up over my shoulder and brought her for a time-out in her room. Wow. I went downstairs, took some deep breaths, and then I got her some mini Ritz, a box of raisins and some water and left them on the stairs.

After her time-out, she came down and quietly asked if she could have a little snack. I told her it was waiting on the stairs for her. She took it up to her room and I followed her up a few minutes later to tuck her in for bed. A very tired, cranky little girl. If you don't believe me, see for yourself:

My daughter really should have napped yesterday, but at age five, it’s pretty much impossible to make her do that anymore. Sometimes we just want to have a relaxing day with not too many activities, but it’s hard for kids - even if they need it, too. What do you do when you want to have a quiet Sunday at home after a busy Saturday, but your kids start bickering? Or one starts whining? Or has a total melt-down?

Have a great week, everyone!