Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year Wishes

We are coming upon that evening, of ringing in the New Year! Come midnight, glasses will be tinkling, lips will be kissing, and hearts will be full of faith for a better year ahead. My hope is that you spend more time looking forward than you do looking back! I know I am certainly going to try!

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?

I don't. I feel the same way about New Year’s resolutions as I do about Valentines. You should not have just one day that you choose to show love, just like you shouldn't have one day to have as the defining starting point of making positive changes! These should be every day. That does not mean that I don't take some time for reflection, forgiveness and taking in the familiarity of my mistakes and how I can make changes for the better. My inspiration comes in unsystimatic moments though, and it is a process that always takes a long time for me, with much thought and consideration.

I do like to wish people a Happy New Year. It is a nice positive wish that you can wish for anyone, no matter what their race, religion, or beliefs. Even if someone does not celebrate New Year’s, wishing them a great year should be viewed as just that, a wish you have for them.

I am always intrigued by how we all choose to celebrate New Year’s Eve. I have not found the perfect way to ring in the New Year. Not yet. I remember as a kid, my mom would always be working New Years Eve. We kids would be at home with my dad, (unlike Christmas, I do remember how we spent many of our new years eve). It was always the same, in the living room, blankets sometimes on the floor, watching Dick Clark and the ball light up, everyone on TV singing and kissing and confetti all over the place. Then we would call my mom at work and wish her a Happy New Year!

I have never been one for very large New Years Eve celebrations. It always amazed me that women can have their hair and makeup done to perfection, a new outfit on their bodies, and then they get drunk, fall all over bathrooms, fight with their men, and ruin what could have been a perfectly fun evening. Men fight with each other, kiss women they shouldn't, and fail to be present in the moment most times. Just my observations by the way!

Intimate dinners and celebrating with family and friends is always nice, surrounding ourselves with people we trust and love, and who bring out the good in us! The last few years we have gone to a hockey game, which has always been fun. This year will be nice, as we now actually have a TEAM! Haley has her very own jersey too!

A few years ago, the company I worked for was selling these.

They are little cards that you give out, with candy and a hand written message. I think I only ever gave one out, but I kept them, as I thought they were a wonderful idea. I love the thought of personalizing in your own handwriting, a wish that you have for someone, something that comes from your heart, with genuine love.

I may take some time in the next few days, to write a few out that I can give to the people I care about. When these are all gone, you can bet I will be designing and making my own!

This is not my day to reflect, to think, to honour my year. I just don't feel it right now, but I will!

So friends, Happy New Year! I wish for you much health, joy, laughter, and strength of mind and soul! I know we say every year, may this be our best year yet! That is a good goal to have, so maybe this will be the year, we make the changes we need, to make that wish actually come true!

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 15, 2011

At the Dinner Table

My dining room is not really a dining room at all. In its original form, it was a bedroom, a small 10 x 10 room that I turned into a dining room. There is no door, just an open, white trim doorway. The one time closet is now an inset with dark wood shelving from near top to bottom, that houses my pretty dishes and glasses, the walls inside, painted a dark burgundy colour. The window is rather large, takes up nearly the whole wall, with just a white lace valance. On a good, sunny day, this window splashes light on my terracotta colored walls, my dark wooden table and four black leather chairs. On the opposite wall of my window, I have two shelves that hold my many cookbooks, baking books, magazines and a few sun loving plants. My placemats have burgundy, terracotta, burnt orange and olive green stripes, with small glass beads at the edges. They are a beautiful compliment to my warm, sunny, comforting dining room.

Can you see it? Can you feel the sunshine warming your face?

I can. It is my favourite place to write, gather with my small family, have an afternoon coffee or glass of wine, and all too often, my favourite place to put way too many papers that clutter up the table and take away my serenity!

We eat at the dinner table often. My daughter is in charge of setting the table. She decides who will sit where, and sometimes, she writes our names on a piece of paper, a small offering of kindness to know that in this designated spot, we are welcome to sit and enjoy our meal.

Sometimes our dinner table is lively with laughter, talk of the day, upcoming plans we may have. It is also where we make new plans, discuss how we want to spend our summer vacation, making the occasional list. However, sometimes, if one of us is having a bad day, or not feeling well, our table is not so lively, it's a bit more hushed, turning sometimes into a silence that can be uncomfortable and broken by the drop of a fork, or a smile.

This other dinner table is in the large kitchen, just off to the corner in a little nook area, built specifically for a small table. There sits a table, wooden I think, oblong in shape, with five vinyl covered chairs with chrome legs. The double kitchen sink, is in plain view, and has directly above it, a big window that has a view of the apple tree in our backyard. I don't know if the sun ever did shine in that window, but I know that my mom sure looked out of it a lot. I always thought she must love doing dishes, because she was there so many times a day, wearing always, an apron around her waist that she had made. I sat at the dinner table, just to be near my mom, and I watched her in the kitchen so often, I memorized her moves.

It is at that same dinner table where I remember there was not always laughter, sharing of everyone's day, or kindness. I do remember fear, I remember respect, the formality of a saying by my dad, and I hate to this day, "well if that's dinner, I guess we've had it!" I remember a time that our plates were picked up and smashed into the kitchen sink, soiled still, with a dinner we did not get to finish, left for my mom to clean up. Someone must have disliked something served that night for dinner.

When we did finally move away from my dad, and joined my sister’s dinner table, we discovered lively conversation, around a dinner table big enough to fit our family and the friends we brought home from school. Around that table is where we ate, we laughed, we drank our coffee and we visited, oh we always visited around that table. That table saw lover’s quarrels, family fights, discussions, it held the games we played, the homework we did, and once even held my mom sprawled out on it posing for a picture with the family around her. We grew to have fun around our dinner table, and as teenagers, we ate there nearly every night and without fail, every Sunday!

I want our girls to feel that our dinner table is a safe place, a time to share, to ask questions, to laugh, make a joke, to compliment the cook on the hard work and love that went into creating the meal, no matter how simple or fancy. (Wow do I wish they actually did this!) I look forward to the day that I have a large enough dining rooms that will fit a table big enough for our two grown girls and one day, their family, and a whole lot of love and laughter! These are the things I want our girls to know about our dinner table.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Prince, You still Rock My World!

I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old the first time I saw the Prince movie Purple Rain. I was in love with Prince in an instant! He was my first musical crush. I watched the movie every single day after school for over a year. My big brother's friend would criticize my new found love, to no end. He would say mean things about his height, his physique, his screaming voice, his femininity, you name it. Everything Prince has ever been criticized for, he was saying to me, trying to sway my pre teen mind from my futile obsessive love of an untouchable human being.

His attempts failed at every try. Nothing could sway my dreamlike state of mind. I was so sure that if I met Prince when I was "of age" , he would most certainly want to marry me! He may be a slight man, but to me he was larger than life! Oh the dreams we teenage girls have! They are amazing and sometimes a little more than crazy.

I can tell you that although I may have had an unrealistic reverie of my beloved Prince, from my love of his movie and mostly of his music, came so much more. That movie was etched in my brain, I memorized the dialogue, word for word, and I was touched to the core of me. His music inspired me to write poems, to write anything I could, to have courage to be my own person, to take a stand for my taste in music, no matter what others liked or disliked. When I would watch that movie, something changed in me. The movie was sad, it was deep, it was tumultious, it was tragic, and it was sexual ( I forgot just how much until I watched it with my eleven year old daughter!). It was familiar. He was familiar. I could not get the image of those sad eyes, those perfect lips and beautiful hands out of my mind. Then of course, I grew up! I stopped dreaming of the day I would meet Prince and he would fall in love with me, and I gave up all hope of seeing him perform in concert.

Yes I gave up hope of ever seeing Prince in concert, until.....this week. He was coming to our fine city to perform in his Welcome 2 Canada Tour. Me and two of my friends went to see him, my aniticipation building until I thought I was going to burst! He came on stage, of course in pure Prince theatrics, and I was in love all over again! We danced the whole concert, and it was amazing! A few times I had to turn to my friend and hug her, I was so thrilled! Of course I could not see his sultry eyes up close, but I did see a close up of his wonderful hands on the big screen ( I know that is such a wierd thing to find sexy, but I do!). The concert went on for 2 1/2 hours, but I could have listened and watched forever. There were times I just watched, and took it all in. Times I wished that his performance was in a small venue, where we could dance if he played something to dance to, and sit and enjoy a jamming session just to see the joy in their face. Pure joy. He said it,  "real music, played by real musicians". I have heard that he often performs after party sessions in smaller venues. He didn't do it in Winnipeg this time, I only hope he will next time, how else will I ever meet him? You see, I am still sure if he met me now, he would know he was looking for me! It was always me. At his concert here in our fine city, several times he called for the lights to come on. He was looking, but he didn't see me then either. Perhaps next time! :) Perhaps in our next life.
Music is so unmistakeably the one thing in this world that touches us all. Music moves us. Sometimes in the form of dance, sometimes in the form of emotion, memory, it can even be our therapy. Music makes us feel better, it transports us in our mind and in our soul, where we want it to take us. Music makes us sad, makes us happy, makes us feel. It sometimes makes me feel, when I don't want to, but that is the magic of it. Music is magic. There is nothing else in the world so universal, that connects all people, no matter our color, our race, our religion.

I don't care what other people think of Prince, what the media says, what anyone says. Going to that concert, was likely a once in a lifetime for me, and I loved every single second of it! Sure, I will hold out hope to one day see him perform in a small venue, where I can sit up close and just be in awe and enjoy.  I will be forever grateful that I had the chance to enjoy a concert I thought I would never be at, and yes Prince, you still rock my world!

Monday, November 28, 2011

What a pleasant surprise in my inbox today!

I knew this day was coming, I was given the date, so I should not have been surprised....

In the morning, after Haley goes to school, I spend an hour on my computer, going through my e mails, my facebook, catching up on the blogs that I follow. This morning, one of the blogs I read, the Momoir Project, was in my in box. I knew right away by the tittle that it was my story! How exciting! I have had my blog posts on other blogs, but somehow this was different. Perhaps because I was asked, instead of ME doing the asking.

Some of you know that I am taking a writing course. There were many courses, both locally in a class room setting and online, that I could have chosen from. I chose this one, because for a year I had followed the blog, as I created my own blog. I had other reasons as well. I knew that I truly enjoyed every story I read on the blog, and having read them always challenged me to be a better writer myself. I knew that if I could write like some of these women do, then perhaps I could one day go somewhere with my writing, perhaps one day I will have something published. My other reason was Cori Howard. She is a writer, an editor, has been published herself. She is a mother and she is Canadian. I knew that she was a good choice, and that if I wanted anyone judging my writing, I wanted it to be her, and not a teacher in a classroom setting.

I have alot to say, but I don't often say it. I prefer to write it. It is who I am, has always been who I am. I write better than I speak, and I am okay with that. Writing about motherhood, the camaraderie that comes with it, the struggles, the losses, the unexplainable joy that comes with being a mom, is something I want to share. If you have kids or not, does not matter, because it is more about being a woman, a kind soul, a friend. To me it is all connected. I could not be where I am without the friends I have and have had, the strong women in my life, the kindness of others.

Please read my story here, on the Momoir Project. Leave a comment on the blog, if you can, it helps to grow everyone's  blog, and is so much appreciated!

Thanks so much for taking the time to check it out and read!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011



There were years of laughter and tears
In-between times that could have been fantasy or memory.
Following the tender times, were the final destructions.
With the lies and disappointments, here ended the relationship of child and sister.

Those are words written by my fifteen year old self. I hardly recognize them, and I certainly don’t remember writing them.
My earliest childhood memory is of my Granny and my sister. I was holding my Granny’s hand, looking at my sister on her bed, as she rolled the cord around her hair dryer. I remember clearly, looking all the way up my Granny’s arm to her face, but I don’t remember what she looked like. I only remember she was wearing a scarf on her head. I remember feeling sad. When I ask my sister about that memory, she tells me that it was the day she was moving out of our house, and out on her own.
I have a favorite photo of my sister. She is in her twenties. Her hair is a golden brown, airy mass of curls in a short style, parted ever so slightly in the middle. She is holding two of her Pekinese dogs, one in each arm, sitting on the floor with her legs tucked underneath her. She is looking down at them with a slight smile on her face. True to the current style, she is wearing cut off jean shorts, showing off her tanned, slender legs, and a grey, faded Mickey Mouse t shirt with black bands on the arms. I think it is the most beautiful picture I have ever seen of my sister. She is natural, picturesque, and happy.
There are many photos of my sister that evoke a much different feeling in me. Mostly they are of disillusionment, sorrow and loss. You see, when I think of all the things I remember of my sister, I can think of the instant I lost her. Not physically, of course, but I lost the sister I had always known, and continued to see her diminish more and more.
I was fifteen, hiding in the bathroom, reading a letter that my brother in law had written to my sister. A few months earlier, he broke the news to her that he found out he had a child with an older woman he had “experimented” with when he was just 18. It also happened to be right before he met my sister. Well, as you can imagine it was a shock to my sister that he had a kid out there, as they had their own child that was only 2 years younger than his illegitimate child.
As I read this letter, I felt guilt for having snagged it off my sister’s dresser, heartbreak for my brother in law as he professed his love for her, and despair as I realized my family was breaking up. My brother in law was more than just by sister’s husband; he was my father figure, as my own dad was not in my life. He never let me take a bus at night, would drive me and pick me up wherever I wanted to go, never let my brother’s bully me, and he treated me like I was a princess!
With this break up, my world would not be the same, and neither would theirs or the kids. Circumstances changed the course of life. My memories faded away, of the sister who would have me for sleep over’s, bake me a vanilla chocolate chip cake, give me her worn clothes, pick me up mini cakes every pay day from my favorite bakery. Slowly fading away were the memories of the sister who cleaned her house every Saturday morning, lunched on tuna sandwiches and pickles while reading the paper on the floor, laughed with her kids, gave selflessly.
With her divorce, and the years to follow, came a sister who was consumed by her need to have a man in her life, was altered by the number of over the counter drugs that ravaged her body and mostly her mind. Gone forever was the sister I trusted, loved, looked up to, and craved to be around. Those memories are hidden deep in a place I cannot summon up at any given time, but they are there nonetheless. I carry these memories, of a person I love, that I will hold close to my heart. I miss having a sister emotionally, but here is the good thing about the people are gone or changed forever, our memories stay just the way they were.

As always, thanks for reading!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Birth Story

I am taking a writing course on Momoir writing. One of the writing starts was to write our birth story. It was a bit challenging to write because it seems so long ago. Knowing I will not experience giving birth again saddens me so much. However, I wrote it and got some good feedback, so I thought I would share it here on my blog!

My Birth Story

When I was pregnant, I had a fear that my baby would die while it was growing inside me. I also had a fear that it would be born dead. I had visions of the cord being wrapped around the babies neck, that I would do something wrong and it would just die. When I talked to other moms, I learned that they all had this fear, just maybe not on the same dramatic level I did. I would like to say I got over that fear, but I didn't. Then one day I woke up and I had a new fear - what if I didn't like my baby? I mean, I was never one of those little girls who dreamed of her wedding day, having the white picket fence and I didn't dream of babies. I had cats, two cats that I really loved. I called my mom and asked her "Mom, what if I deliver the baby and I don't like it? What if I don't love it like I love my cats?" She laughed at me first and then she assured me that I would love the baby. She told me she had the same fear when she was pregnant the first time. But as soon as she heard her baby cry, it was instant love. So, like all new moms, as I drafted up my birthing plan, I imagined loving my baby the minute I heard it cry. I thought about the music I would play, I practiced the breathing I was taught, and I imagined the delivery, painful but so rewarding as I held the baby to my chest as she cried for the time.

I am bad at remembering dates, and certain details. I have to write things down. I don't remember what time my daughter was born, how long she was at birth, or any such scores that they gave when she was born. I don't even remember how long I was in actual labour.

What I do remember is that I pushed for five hours, that I was passing out in between contractions near the end, that I broke every blood vessel in my face and eyes. I remember that when they asked me if I had the urge to push, that I said yes. I think I must have lied. I had no idea what the urge to push was really supposed to feel like. All I knew is that I wanted my baby to come out!

I knew this baby was not ready. I knew it the way a woman just knows things. I wanted a doctor to come visit me (it was a teaching hospital and in those five hours an actual doctor never came to examine me, only students). I wanted drugs! I never was going to sign up for natural birth without drugs. I knew childbirth would be painful, so I had planned for drugs. So they had me all hooked up and ready to go, only they could not reach the anaesthesiologist, and then at some point it just became too late.

In that five hours of pushing, the nurses had me try every position they could think of. I was tired, and my husband was worried. Soon, babies somewhere on the floor were being born. I could hear women screaming and babies crying. One, then another, then another. When the third woman let out a large gut wrenching moan, I let out my own tired cry, and asked the nurse, "did she just have her baby". Then some time later, another one, and once again I asked the nurse, "did she just have her baby"? When the next one was born, I was not polite, I was swearing, wondering why my baby wasn't coming out!

When the doctor finally did come, everything was a blur to me. I heard her say episiotomy and I cried. I didn't want an episiotomy. The next thing I knew, I was being taken to an operating room, and the doctor was going to perform an emergency cesarean section. I cried harder and told the nurse adamantly and with such authority that I was absolutely not going to have a c-section. This was not in my birthing plan, I was scared and that doctor, whoever she was, I didn't like her! I did not want to have a c-section. I am sure someone tried to reassure me, comfort me perhaps, explain the reason why this was happening. I was just crying harder. I heard the words "baby is in danger" and "meconium" and "small pelvis".

As I lay on the table, I noticed this doctor was short, she needed a stool to stand on as she examined me. I looked over to my left, and asked the man with the blue surgical mask if it was normal for my arms to be burning. He said that yes, sometimes that can happen. He assured me this was necessary, so the surgery could be performed. Just as I was going to cry again, I heard someone asking if we wanted to watch the surgery as it was happening. I vehemently shook my head and said absolutely not, as I heard my husband saying a bit too enthusiastically, yes! They put up a curtain so I could not see the monitor and I looked at my husband, and told him I NEVER wanted to know any detail about what he was about to see. Then, in what seemed liked only minutes, I was cut open and my baby removed from my body.
I opened my eyes and noticed that I was not in a hospital room. It seemed to me I was in a hallway, or near a nurses station. It was loud, and bustling with activity. As I lay there, I started to remember the events that unfolded before I wound up here in this crazy, noisy area. I wondered what time it was, how much time had passed, where was my baby, was she ok? She, I had a baby girl! I could feel my tear ducts filling up, my face was burning, the tears were streaming down my face, but no sound was coming out. I could feel the wetness on my neck, and on my hospital gown, my hair sticking to my chest, and although I felt like I was sobbing, I could not make a sound. Finally a nurse noticed that I was crying and she said not to cry, she could get me something for the pain. I shook my head and thought to myself, no, no, you can't fix this.
I am not sure how much time passed before they brought me my baby girl. She was in the ICU. I was thinking how nothing went according to my birthing plan, it was all so wrong, it all felt so wrong. I wanted my baby, I wanted to see her. I remembered the call to my mom and my fear of not loving my baby when it was born. Later that day, a nurse came in, asked me if I wanted to meet my daughter. As I was nodding my head yes, she was put on my chest. I looked at her face, and was amazed with the swell in my heart and the emotion and love that overcame me in that moment. I did love her!
It was three years later, while on my break at work, that I picked up a book sitting on my desk. It belonged to one of my employees who was practicing to be a midwife. I flipped through it's pages, not really interested, but curios. It was full of pictures, diagrams, terms I did not understand. I scanned the index quickly and came to the chapter about emergency cesarean sections. It is here, within the pages of this chapter, that I learned there was in fact a real reason why I mourned the way my daughter was born. Many women who had c - sections often went through a grieving process, for the loss of not having a natural child birth. I read on, and learned something new about myself. As I read, I felt my sadness come back in a rush and then slip away just as quickly. I put my head in my hands, and I cried. All this time, I was unknowingly grieving, but no longer had to. I had identified those feelings and it was time to move on from them. After all, I had my daughter and I loved her like nothing else in my world.

 Thanks so much for reading!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Shift

My hands wrap around my favorite mug, and as I lift it to slurp a sip of my coffee, I feel a cool breeze on my face. The realization of the shift in weather hits me. The evenings have cooled, the mornings offer up a chill I have forgotten. Summer is coming to an end. I have enjoyed our long hot summer, but I am ready for the shift in season that nature inevitably gives us.

Our summer was abundant. Abundant in heat, like no other I can remember. Our summer was filled with travel, family time, laughs and times golden for making memories.

This summer was filled with so much swimming that I am sure my skin has aged a year from sheer dryness!

I am ready now for the cooler breeze, the lower steady temperatures and night time fires. I welcome the falling leaves, the changing colors, the anticipation of routines with the start of school.

I like summer, love it in fact, but I am a fall girl. I love the colors of the new fall fashions - the browns, burgundies, wines, and greens. I like to remember myself as a kid, getting a new pair of corduroy pants for back to school. the smell of my school supplies scattered in front of me, all labelled and ready to go into my new back back. Lets not forget the fresh new haircut, trimmed to perfection for the first day of school.

I love the feel of a brand new, or old and perfectly worn sweater and how it wraps around you when the breeze picks up, sending a chill up your back.  I love to wrap my sweater tightly around me, pull the sleeves down and feel instantly comforted, transported to a level of such comfort, you can't help but smile and lift your face just a little bit higher, letting your hair get caught in the wind, the sun reflected on your face, your spirit lifted.

Hello fall, welcome back......

Monday, August 15, 2011

Procrastination or Laziness?

I hate to think of myself as either lazy or a procrastinator. Either word seems to have a negative connotation that leaves me feeling bad about myself. Lazy? I am not resistant to work, sluggish, slow moving. I do not lack motivation. Well OK, sometimes I lack motivation, but those times are few and far between!

If you look up the definition of procrastination on Wikepedia, this is a small part of what you will find:

In psychology, procrastination refers to the act of replacing high-priority actions with tasks of low-priority, and thus putting off important tasks to a later time. Some psychologists cite such behavior as a mechanism for coping with the anxiety associated with starting or completing any task or decision.

OK, that sounds a little bit more like me! If you dive really deep into the whole psychology of procrastination, which I promise I will not do here, (because that is just not something I would do!), I see that it really is not me. I only fall less than halfway into that category! I would never, not meet a work deadline, I would never not do something that would require another person to go without something I promised them, I would never not do something that someone else was whole heartedly depending on me to do. I may rush like hell, break a bone, sweat it out, curse and complain, and get it done without you ever knowing what happened behind the scenes!

Procrastination can also be associated with perfectionism, which I am heartbroken for myself to say, I do suffer from! And that is NOT a good thing. I do sometimes negatively evaluate the outcome of my own performance.

I can have a list of things that need to be done, and have three weeks to do them. You know what? I will do one or two and then rush like the wind in the last week to complete it! I like the rush and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing that list in a hurry! I feel the same way when I empty a bottle of lotion or use the last of the toothpaste or shampoo! It just feels good to have it done!

Just something to ponder, do you put things off, do you procrastinate?

I have closets that I promised myself I would clean, junk that I thought I would throw out, sell, donate. I have gotten through some of it, but the piles still continue to be there, the clutter has just moved from one room to another (usually with a door that I can close), and don't get me started on my craft and workshop space! It's unbearable some days. My husband would absolutely agree. Then when I have a Friday night scrapbooking class, I am worked up into a frenzy trying to get the space presentable!

I find that I often have numerous projects on the go at one time. The other day, I spent a few hours going through some of my craft projects. I have three tables, sometimes four that I work at. I piled my projects up, I had five in total (not too shabby!). I prioritized them and labelled pieces of paper #1 through #5. I would do that at work all the time so I figured it would work here at home as well. In fact, I have already completed #1, now just to finish up to #5 without starting another one!

So on the day I write this, I had to go down to my craft space, grab my laptop, trip over the vacuum (which I swear to you, I NEVER put it away!) and close a door so I don't see the mess.

 As I turn off the light, I take a look over my shoulder. I see craft paper that I left on the floor, a basket of laundry that needs to go in the washing machine, a bag of junk that I am pricing for a fundraising yard sale, and the vacuum which I dropped in the middle of the floor yesterday when the phone rang is still in it's dropped position!. I say to myself - "I'll get it tomorrow, I'll have time, and it will all still be there!"
Oh, how it will all still be there!

Thanks for taking the time to read......


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Crying into a pillow

I daydream sometimes, of days of summer home schooling grandeur.

I dream that we will stick to our 9:30am start time. I dream that the day plan I mapped out the night before will go smoothly, working from page to page, with discussion and understanding. A few breaks will be taken for water, to laugh at the cat as he spreads his outstretched paws towards us or creeps on my back when I am leaning over to help.

I daydream that we will end on time, with only having had a few difficulties. Then we will get on with our day. Perhaps we will pick from our boredom summer jar that I made, see a friend, have a friend over, go for lunch. Oh the many possibilities of  perfectly planned summer holidays.

Like I said, sometimes I DAYDREAM of summer home schooling grandeur.

The reality is somewhat different. The reality more likely has me sitting across from my girl, with an assortment of money in front of us. Coin, that I know she can't count. Coin that she never learned to count in school. Perhaps they taught it briefly, perhaps not. Either way it is now my responsibility to teach her. When she gets frustrated with the process I ask her if she wants to go to the movies with her friends when she is older, go to the mall to buy clothes, go to 711 to buy a Slurpee. She says yes to all.

I am trying to teach her the value of learning to count money.

Now, a few days later, she is still struggling to understand. She gets frustrated, so we move on to something else. This lesson seems so long already.

She looks at her worksheet, she reads it, I help her with the first few questions. She seems to have a grasp. Now is where I practice the art of walking away, leaving her to learn some independence when doing her work. What I am unknowingly doing is just walking away to leave her to figure it out by herself. Just like in school.

What she doesn't know, is that what I am doing is going to wash half of the kitchen floor, or the whole floor. Whatever ten minutes gives me. In that ten minutes I just want to cry. I want to see my tears fall on the already wet floor, drop into my bucket of soapy water. I want those tears to flow because I am so frustrated. I am so unbelievably angry that in grade 5, she has not a bit of knowledge about money. I had hoped that the school would teach her that! I was hopeful that money would just come easily to her. But why should it, nothing comes easily to her. Nothing.

Well OK, laughing does. That is a big something.

My tears don't come, they rarely do anymore. I have tried a long time to be strong, to be ever hopeful and positive. I think my heart has just been broken for so long that it sometimes feels impossible that it will mend. I do try to think of how good it sometimes feels to cry. Thinking about it, the tears nearly come, they are close, but my ten minutes is up.

I have to stand up, and be encouraging and positive in the seven steps it takes to get from the kitchen to the dining room.

I sit down and I see that she did not "get it". She does not have the skill set to do this particular assignment I chose. For some of the answers, she has even guessed. In a look, I know that she knows I am disappointed. I grab the eraser and erase what she got wrong. Question by question I help her. There are five she got wrong. Once we complete it, I tell her to go to her room and take a little break. Slowly I go to my room, close the door quietly so she doesn't hear me, stuff a pillow into my face, and I cry. The tears come, the sobbing starts, and I cry.

I think of how she will be ripped to shreds in this world, of all the mean kids who will tease her, the friends that will abandon her, the teachers that will fail her, the people that will judge her. I cry harder now with the pillow in my mouth so she won't hear me because I don't want her to feel guilt, shame, stupid.

I think of how her real father has no idea, our families have no idea. I feel like I should call someone, I wish I could call someone....but there is nobody. Because unless you are me, or have a child like me, you have no idea how desperately sad it feels to know that your child is considered nearly mentally retarded and she looks so damn average. Unless you are me, you would have no idea what to say, and you would feel to listen would not be enough. Yes she was assessed and tested as near mentally retarded, and I can assure you those are NOT my words. I do not use that word.

I can feel an actual ache in my heart, because I want so badly for her to learn, to use her brain, to train her brain. I know she can, I have seen what she can do! She can do anything she wants to, if she tried, if she believed it, if she wanted it. I can feel the hardness in my throat when I think that having a teachers aid is something she doesn't have. Having a teachers aid is no longer about one on one attention with a child for the betterment of their education. I am pissed off beyond belief that she does not qualify for a teachers aid, and that school really has so little to do with actual teaching, learning, caring.

I want to yell to someone who will listen...She is dumb! She can't count out $2.65 in coin, she knows not, the difference it should feel like to be 1 hour or 6 hours. She sometimes forgets and thinks that after 399, comes 100! I want someone to hug me and understand. Don't tell me it will be OK, don't tell me she is so great and so kind, and so happy. I know all that. Just hug me and let me cry, just listen. Tell me I am doing the right thing, or the wrong thing. Tell me what other moms in my situation do. What do they do? I wish I knew.

I can feel now, unable to breathe. I think to myself, now what? We were supposed to go to the water park. I hate this day. This is a horrible day for me, but I don't want it to be a horrible day for her. I can hear my husband saying she shouldn't go if it was a matter of her having a bad attitude or bad behaviour. I can hear the resource teacher saying she is still a kid, she should enjoy summer. I hear myself say, it is not her fault that her brain is like that. She doesn't "not get it", on purpose. She can't know what she doesn't understand. Her brain needs practice and repetition, that is why I do what I do with her. That is why we home school in the summer. I am not mad at her, and none of this is her fault.

So I take the pillow out of my mouth, remove it from my face and go shower. We end our lesson with some spelling practice. We pack a lunch, and go to the water park.

We wait in line for over a half hour in +31 degree weather and I think to myself - I am a patient person, I am a patient person, I am a patient person. Later as I bite into my sandwich I look over at Haley who is smiling back in appreciation. I think to myself, God help me because trying so hard to be a patient person could one day kill me!

I am writing this at the water park and I think, it must be time to go. After all, I do have cleaning to do, laundry to do, and groceries to get. I walk over to find her, wondering where she is, only to find her using the huge water gun to shoot water at kids she doesn't know. Her face has a huge smile, her belly jiggling up and down with laughter, and I think to myself, I can wait a few more minutes, I am a patient person.

Today, or tonight, I will find some time to pray to my God, thanking him for all the strength he does give me, that I recognize there are bad points about me, but I'll thank him for all the really good things about me too. I will tell him that I will keep going, keep trying to be positive, keep on teaching and above all, keep on loving her.  Every day, I learn. Every day I am amazed that I can love her even more.

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read.


Saturday, July 2, 2011

Road Trip

Setting off on a road trip across Canada. Some people would love it and others would hate it-looking at the long days sitting in a vehicle with dread and anxiety instead of glorious anticipation.

I am not sure what I like about it. I would like to say that it is the thrill of being on the open road, wind blowing my hair. It's not. Driving makes me tired and the wind gives me a headache! I wouldn't say I really love it until we get to the mountains. Before the mountains however, I do not find the flat land all that appealing. What I do like is the the smell, the random churches standing alone, erect with looming authority. I love the groups of silos, enormous in the fields. I love the farmhouses. The old farmhouses. I imagine white lace curtains on open windows, blowing, letting in a cool breeze. I imagine men, dirty and hot from the heat with tired bodies from the hard work all day. Women in the kitchen, cooking, baking, canning. Children running free with their siblings, playing with water and running wild in the big yard, while the family dog, faithfully follows.

I love the colors of the fields. Bright yellow with canola, hay bales, the beautiful purple of flax fields. I like to see the horses gathered in the fields. The cows don't interest me so much. I can only imagine their miserable existence while waiting for slaughter to be someones food. I love to see the seagulls, flying low, grazing the ground, soaring high above. Always I love the clear sky, spotted with the kind of clouds that are thick and fluffy, and seem close enough to touch! You can see the shadow they cast over the fields and hills and you are reminded of the simple joy of finding shapes within them.

I love the times when the highway in front of you looks wet, but when you get there it's dry. I don't know what causes that, but it mesmerizes me and can keep me entertained for far longer than it should!

We have gone through Saskatchewan, spent Canada Day in Medicine Hat and soon the open road will take us past Calgary, into the Kananaskis area and the beautiful mountains.

I will put my feet up now and get lost in the music. That's another thing I love. The right kind of music, loud so you can sing along. We have a great c.d, Songs For The Open Road. We can blast it and listen to Van Morrison, Lynrd Skynrd, BTO, Don McLean singing American Pie (which I have been known to sing really loud, to which Haley says "oh no" when it begins. It also has Cat Stevens, Peter Frampton, and would not be complete without Jim Croce with Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown! The best travel c.d ever! Do you have a favorite c.d for driving on the road?

As always, thanks so much for reading.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Eyes of a Stranger

Have you ever really looked into the eyes of a stranger? How many times a day, outside of our jobs, do we pay attention to those we don't know

We see people when we cross the street, walk the aisles at the grocery store, get into an elevator, when we order our coffee. Everywhere we go we see people, have the opportunity to connect with them....but do we?

One of the things that I am always aware of when I am shopping, and someone is walking past me, is that so many passer by just don't smile. Rarely do they even look at anyone else. Okay so maybe you are naturally that pissy, but could you not even make eye contact? That takes no effort at all. Are these people that busy that they can't take the mili second to look me in the eye? Or are they too busy texting or looking at their phone? I am talking about people, all people, but I do exclude here the guy who looks at every pretty female he walks past.

When you're in the elevator and someone gets on, do you smile? When it's just you and another person and one of you reaches your floor, do you say bye? Perhaps you say have a good day. Maybe a smile and a nod? Just this evening as my daughter and I were on the elevator up to see her tutor, three elderly men got onto the elevator with us. You could tell they were quite the characters! Haley can sometimes get uncomfortable around people she doesn't know when they start laughing and joking. She always thinks they are laughing at her. I was aware of her posture so I put my arm around her. These three elderly men chatted with us, up to their floor. Each of them saying good bye or have a good night when they got off the elevator. One of them even jokingly asked me to make sure "Bob" got off on the right floor-I assured him I would. It was a small moment, only a 3 minute interaction with a few strangers, but it made me hope that Haley remembers that I was the kind of mom who was kind to strangers, always with a smile and a hello. I hope that when she looks back and remembers the times she grew impatient as I talked on and on to a total stranger, that she realizes it was because I was compassionate, caring and kind. And I genuinely like to know things about people. Someone may tell me something that they do or like, and I always want to know why.

photo bucket photo

Have you ever met someone, even briefly and thought to yourself - I could be friends with that person. Have you ever looked into the eyes of that same person just to see if you could see something that you recognize? A commonality perhaps, or a similar character trait that you have have in common, or perhaps a character trait you wish you had. I think about character allot. In so many of the books I've read, you are asked to do an activity that makes you look inward, and describe yourself, list your attributes, your accomplishments. I always find that so difficult because I find myself describing myself as the person I aspire to be. It's hard to hold ourselves responsible though, so how are we supposed to know when we have arrived at that person we have aspired to be? I need a check list of some sort I guess! So go ahead, lets make friends with a stranger that is going to unknowingly challenge us to be a better person!

Or how about this? Have you ever spent an hour, or a day, or even a few moments with a stranger and you thought to yourself - I could marry that person! I could spend the rest of my life with him/her. Had you not looked that person in the eye, you would never have had that feeling, or the thought, whichever came first.

It seems in this day and age we have become so de sensitized to the human spirit, the kindness and compassion and the human touch. People seem to be so judgemental, get offended so quickly and shy away from people they don't know.

I spent years working in a cafe. I learned so much about people, humanity, the kindness of strangers who became friends. I learned a great deal about the human spirit and the importance of making that connection with someone you don't know, and just how much that kindness can change a person's life. Once, I found out that one of my regular customers suffered from major depression. Every single day he came in to our cafe, and stayed for an hour, sometimes longer. Sometimes he would be there more than once a day. I learned that he came to see us for his comfort, and that had it not been for our interaction with him every day, our kindness, our words of "have a great day", our smiles, he may never have been able to get out of bed some of the days. We changed his life, every day in some small way.

Now, I am only there at that cafe as a customer, and all these years later so is he. Still to this day I will greet him by name, say hello, tell him something funny and genuinely ask him how he is. He may not be a "friend" that I would call or hang out with, but he once was a stranger, who I took the time to look in the eye and say hello to. From that first day of hello, we were no longer strangers.

I also remember an elderly lady who would come in with her husband every once in a blue moon. There came a time when suddenly I didn't see her anymore, and I always wondered about her. One day, there she was with her daughter. When I asked her where she had been she told me the story. Her husband had died, and she wished she had to. She felt as though she had nothing to live for, and just wanted to stay in bed. Her daughter tried to get her out of the house but she didn't want to go anywhere. Then one day her daughter said to her "let's go somewhere that you and dad loved to go, he would want to meet you there." She told me she remembered how welcoming I always was to them. That they could sit there and I would smile at them. I don't know her name, I never did, or I have forgotten. But I was so honored to know that she had that as a memory. That maybe her husband was gone, but her memories were still there, alive and full of feeling, and once again, kindness was what made the difference. I took the time to look into the eyes of a little old lady and a little old man, and they didn't feel like they were strangers!

photo bucket photo

So please, the next time you walk by someone in the grocery store aisle, in a long frustrating line up, the grumpy kid serving you, smile, look in their eyes, say hello. It may take a few tries, it may get frustrating, but keep doing it, because one day it will make the difference!

Happy Wednesday, and thanks for reading!