Category Archives: family

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Dad

Happy Birthday Dad


Today would have been my father’s 80th birthday.

That just feels weird even typing it. I can’t picture him at 80, I can’t extrapolate how he may have been. You see we lost him when I was 14 and I never had the chance to get to know him as an adult.

Already this is hard to write. Yet I am trying to celebrate his life this year rather than the day of his death. It’s a sentiment that I read somewhere online, probably reposted by someone on Facebook. For weeks I’ve been contemplating it, and all day chewing on my words, what I would say and how I would say it.

He first got sick when I was very young, so I never knew the healthy vibrant man he had been. I knew a loving, caring, hardworking dad, who loved jokes and Saturday night hockey. Yet I used to always dread that one day I would get called out of class to be notified by the principal that he had died. That was the one fear about it all that never came true. He died over the Christmas holidays, packing away our decorations. Understandably I hated Christmas for a while. I really only remembered it’s magic through the eyes of my children.

I admit that over the years I haven’t always remembered his birthday or even the day of his passing–sometimes it was just easier not to mark it. This post is a conscious effort to remember a happy day. Like the time we put 50 candles on his 8″ birthday cake. The flames were huge and melted the icing into a mess. What a laugh we had over that 🙂

Tonight at dinner I will share stories of him with my children, his grandchildren. Our first carries his name as a middle name, and our second carries his sister’s name also as a middle name.

We’ll talk of the time when he was teaching horseback riding and he got kicked in both knees. The times I used to help him clean the pheasants that he and the good ol’ boys had hunted (yes eww, but it didn’t bother me then). We’ll chat of the time we went fishing and my little brother was the only one who caught anything. Of his stories commuting on the GO Train. His co-workers and the jokes they used to tell. How he could fix anything. And the time I accidentally dipped my blond pony tail into the blue paint he was using and how even paint thinner wouldn’t take it all out.

I will tell them that he would have loved to be a grandfather. Because he would have. He loved being a dad so how could he not?

Later, I will raise a glass of wine. Pretend that it’s clinking on his glass. And share the drink that we never got to share.

The List

one of our fun hikes from a few years ago

one of our fun hikes from a few years ago


It almost didn’t happen.

We do it EVERY year.

But this year in the chaos that is the night before school, between unpacking the trailer, showers and discovering that not only was a lunch container lost but so were sharpeners and erasers BEFORE SCHOOL EVEN STARTED it was forgotten.

Eventually everyone was settled to bed and my hubby remembered.

Every year on Labour Day, in the evening when things are (supposed to be) calm, we all sit down and write a list of all the things we did that summer.

Everything from our tall ship excursion to our epic road trip was on the list this year. Whale watching and grandpa nearly dis-mounting a Mountie were there too. So were sleep overs, pool parties and going shopping. Anything that we enjoyed we add to it.

And then we re-read what we’ve done in previous years. There was the camping trip with ice cream every single day. There are animals spotted (from birds and turtles to bears and moose). One year was Fort Henry where the kids were “hired” as soldiers and then had to take their recruiter to jail for enlisting underage recruits. Another point talks of playing in the waves at the beach, learning to swim or ride a bike.

It’s our back to school ritual. I’m so glad that hubby remembered. When we all woke up the next morning, there was a draft of the list on our places at the table. We added our thoughts to it, and now we have eight summers worth of lists to look fondly back at.

7 Things I Never Thought I’d Say Before I Became a Parent

Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a city far, far away (well a 45 minute commute anyway) I had a life. It was civilized, and people spoke politely to each other (with the exception of road rage) and we never spoke of body parts unless we were drunk or laughing at some celebrity who forgot she wasn’t wearing underpants. It was peaceful there. And drinks at noon were cool.

Then I became a parent.

black mini van parked in my driveway

black mini van parked in my driveway

And I found myself saying all manner of strange things. Things that once repulsed me were now topics of everyday conversation. In fact, I often find myself desperately seeking some adult conversation. A mere sentence or two that has nothing to do with the contents of one’s diaper or where the damn permission form has gotten to now.

When I stop to think about it, some of the things I’ve said are pretty horrifying. So, just to brighten your day a bit (as you revel in not having to say those things, or that you managed to escape them), I thought I’d share with you some of the most awful things I’ve found myself saying:

7.  A mini-van? Really?

6.  Yes, someone needs to be sober in the house at all times.

5.  No the baby doesn’t count.

4.  Oh, that diaper smells delightful! Think we can make it home without causing another rash? That mom over there is about to ram us for our spot.

3.  Seriously? You’re picking your nose and eating it? At the table? Instead of this dinner I slaved over?

2.  I know it’s fashionable to wear tight shorts, but honey, do you know what camel toe is?

1.  Sure I can take three more kids in the van. Pile them in!

 

 

The Hunk in My Front Hall

photo

The above installation in my front hallway is a modernist reflection upon the slavery of the contemporary suburban family to the corporate machination of planned obsolescence in the early 21st century.

If you believe that, then please support my application for an artist grant and installation into the Smithsonian. Also, I have a great piece of land on the moon to sell you.

Remember when I posted about the fridge in my front hall and I said that the circus wasn’t done yet?

Well I was right.

It’s now May and the snow is long gone (even if the cold air isn’t), and still the fridge is in my hall. I’ve asked a few times about when it’s going to get moved. My brother-in-law lent his handy dandy appliance dolly out to some friends and now he can’t get hold of them to get it back. And the guys are all busy. Or something.

Ok so now I’m in the habit of opening the baby gate, going down the stairs and loading up before I head up again to cook. Which I guess is really not that bad (I mean you can get used to anything right?). And unloading groceries is super easy when you enter the front door, drop the bags on the floor and you’re there.

But I am tired of explaining to the plumber, and guests and even the newspaper kid why there is a kitchen fridge in my hall. I mean it would be cool if it was a wine cooler wouldn’t it? Well maybe even that would be a bit trashy…

Well… on Tuesday evening I pulled something out of the freezer and was puzzled to find it soft. When we investigated, both fridge and freezer sides were not as cold as they should be. At first we thought the door hadn’t been shut, but realized it would have beeped annoyingly at us. Nope. It’s broken. So we scrambled to save what we could and stuff the garage fridge (the one that no longer smells of smoke but now has a permanent home in our garage).

The next morning a call to our reliable repair place found that fixing it would likely be in the $700 range. For a used fridge. That’s ten-ish years old. So not happening.

Now, we are on the hunt to find a new, new fridge that will fit the weirdly sized space in our kitchen (and actually be placed there by guys paid to break their backs lifting heavy crap).

And I have to either live with a hunk of dead appliance in my front hall (rednecking it in the burbs anyone?) or find a way to get it out and to the curb.

The funny part? The guy who sold it to us walked into my hubby’s store the day after and asked how we liked the fridge! LOL. Poor man was horrified, but honestly, there’s nothing that can be done. We’ve had it for a few months now, so it’s just one of those things.

The circus may yet have a part three… stay tuned.

As our kids pointed out: Good thing it died before we hauled it into the kitchen 🙂

Members of the Media: Stop endangering my son’s life

This. This is why I don’t believe in Autism Awareness — an “awareness” promoted by parents complaining just how awful their child with Autism is. How their lives changed for the worse the day of diagnosis.

“Awareness” is not acceptance nor is it inclusion. When we promote inclusion and acceptance we promote support. Support for the person with Autism. Support for the caregivers. And we do not tolerate articles that say “so severely autistic that they can’t speak”. Speech is not an indicator for competence or intelligence.

It’s time we all stood up and demand acceptance, inclusion and support.

Spectrum Perspectives

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The End of Competition Season

It’s been a whirlwind few weeks. Checking costumes, extra practises, getting to competitions, squeezing in a teeny room to change and another one to warm up.

We all enjoy it though. And this weekend brings us our final dance comp of the season. There is an element of relief, but it’s pretty bittersweet. I, who was always a rec soccer player has found that I love being a dance mom. No one in our studio is the scary kind of dance parent, we all help each other out and love to hang out. I’ve made some wonderful friends through my daughter’s dance. And for anyone who thinks I push her she comes home from practise and immediately starts dancing and perfecting her acro tricks. All of the girls do this. Dancing is in their blood, part of who they are.

IMG_2577

One of our moms posted this Dance Mom Prayer on Facebook tonight and I thought it so wonderfully captured it all that I had to share it with you:

A Dance Mom’s Prayer

For Competition Day

Dear Lord, it is competition season and I have a few prayer requests. Please let our day begin well. May our directions from the internet be correct. May we arrive at the venue on time and find ample parking.

May we have every shoe, costume, costume accessory, tights, extra tights, make-up and any other thing you know we will need, but I have failed to list.

Dear Lord, we need to pray for the venue, yes the venue. May the dressing room space we have be shared with a nice studio, with polite girls and parents and may everyone be provided with the understanding that while we would all like more space, this is what we have to deal with and make the best of it. May said dressing room not be located three stories up from the theater. While I know I need to exercise more, I do not want to start today and dancers in tap shoes hustling up and down three flights of stairs makes me nervous!

May my dancer’s make-up be flawless and Lord bless those applying mascara for their dancers. May the hair process go smoothly. May buns be slick and poufs be poufy. May my dancer have a sweet and cooperative attitude so I do not have the urge to push that last bobby pin in a little firmer. 🙂

Prayers to the parents attaching wigs to their sweet little dancer’s head. Give them guidance to adhere those wigs firmly for I have yet to meet a child, tween or teen who wants to be dancing on stage in a wig cap.

Dear Lord, we must pray for the performance. May my dancer be even more beautiful than she was at dress rehearsal and please dear Lord may she stay upright throughout her dances. If you recall, we have experienced that life lesson in the past and survived; but, we would prefer not to have a repeat.

May our quick changes seem effortless and our tights remain intact. Lord, let the fishnets remain free of giant holes. May we be free of costume malfunctions for I have witnessed them and would not wish them on anyone. May hats stay on heads and shoes stay on feet. May Props remain propped. May we not hear the announcement “Can someone from XYZ studio, supply a back up CD”.

Vision – Dear Lord, this is a big one, please provide dance parents and dancers perfect vision for today so they can see when they enter an auditorium at a dance competition there are dancers performing on stage. I repeat, there are dancers performing on stage. Dear Lord provide them with the awareness that now would not be a good time to stand in front of others or talk loudly.

Dear Lord, may parents, friends and dancers understand that hootin’ and hollerin’ and shaking noisemakers for a lyrical or ballet dance just breaks the mood.

For the awards – may the announcer be courteous and entertaining, but not long winded. May the announcement of the awards be quick, but not so rushed that we can hardly understand what scores the dances received.

Dear Lord, at the end of the day….

May I have had an enjoyable day with the other Dance Moms from our team

May I be appreciative of the other studios we shared our day with

May we have been well entertained by talented children who enjoy performing and sharing their talents

May I continue to be amazed at how hard our dance teachers and studio owner work and how much they genuinely love their students

and most importantly

May my dancer leave today with the same confident spirit she had when she arrived.

Amen.

Source: Your Daily Dance

Have a great competition this weekend girls!!!

I did it! #bikinibodymommy 90 day challenge

Back in January, I was ready for a change. I was unhappy with the weight I had hung onto after my third pregnancy, and wanted to do something about it.

I was looking at options, and while I know I would have had results with an aggressive program, I also knew that sticking to it and more importantly, enjoying it would be very difficult for me.

I blogged about my visions for the year here.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to choose when a friend posted on Facebook about the Bikini Body Mommy Challenge. I read about it and quickly decided it was for me.

The premise is quite simple: strength training on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, while cardio is on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. All of it can be done at home with simple equipment (timer, mat and 10lb weights.) And usually the workout is around 20 minutes. Oh and did I mention that it’s free?

There is an optional meal plan as well for a small monthly fee. I tried it, and used several of the recipes but found I’m not very good at being told what to eat each day, so used it as inspiration instead.

The first six weeks or so were amazingly successful and I saw results quickly. However, I found that the six day a week program was very hard for me to maintain when our toddler was cutting his molars and up half the night or when I got sick or for many other reasons.

I chose though to make the 90 days really about 90 days straight through. So at the end of a week, whatever I missed was missed, with no going back and starting where I left off.

Eventually I settled into a routine of about four days a week and I’m quite happy with that. Honestly anything I do is better than sitting on the couch, but now that I’m into the routine I find that I miss working out on days that I don’t.

The last week of the challenge was really sad for me. I got hit with that nasty cold going around and only worked out on the Monday, not feeling up to it at all the rest of the week.

However I have some amazing results that I want to share:

-I lost a full 10 lbs.

And some of my measurements are incredible:
-I lost 4 1/2″ off of my hips
-4″ off my bust
-3 5/8″ off of my chest and
-3 1/4″ off of my waist!
-arms were about 1″ and thighs 1 1/2″

I’m thrilled! And I plan to keep up with it. There is a transition program to keep going until the next set of videos is posted starting May 5.

I’m happy that I have been keeping up with my vision for this year and when May 5 rolls around I will be up bright and early that day 🙂

I’ve Married Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor

It’s true. I’ve married Tim-The-Tool-Man-Taylor. You know the guy who has these great ideas that get out of hand? And his long-suffering wife still loves him? Yeah. Him. And not it’s not because he leans over a fence talking to Wilson. Though that happens too. But that’s not why I’m writing about it now.

Honestly my husband is an amazing man. It’s just that sometimes he gets a little, well carried away. And then things don’t always go as planned.

Take for example what happened last week. Well, we actually have to go a bit farther back than that. We bought a new trailer in January. It’s everything we ever wanted. It also means that the big kitchen reno we are dreaming of is going to be postponed a couple of years.

In the meantime, our ancient old kitchen fridge was dying. The ice maker had stopped working a while ago, and the water stopped a few weeks back. Food was freezing in the bottom drawer and the top shelf no matter what setting it was on. Oh and did I mention that it was almond? And UGLY.

One night last week my husband got the great idea to go on Kijiji, find a decent stainless steel fridge that would fit in the space and use that for a few years until we build our showcase kitchen. (You know the one, it will grace a magazine spread or be featured on a reno show. Yeah, that one.)

He found a great one that wasn’t too far away, and immediately contacted the owner. A time was arranged the next day to pick it up and he recruited one of his brothers to help him. Sounds straightforward right?

When I got back from the dance pick up, I found the almond beast discarded at the curb while it’s doors lagged behind halfway up the driveway. Wonderful… Not.

I went in to discover that the “new” fridge was still in the front hall and that the old one had barfed up it’s contents all over my kitchen. Ice cream was sitting on the floor melting, fruit had rolled off the counter to land where it may and somehow (I think) the dog had been kept away from it all.

You see the fridge would not go up the four stairs because of an oddly placed bathroom (it was like that when we bought the house. It means much of the furniture for the main floor and upstairs had to go around the back of the house and in the kitchen doors.) That would explain why the snow blower was out and running. Unfortunately it couldn’t cut through all that ice left over from December’s storm and manually chipping it would take a decade or two.

Which means we have to wait for our forever winter to finally end. In the meantime, the chair that I sit on to put my shoes on has been relegated to the garage and the fridge is in it’s place. In the front hall.

Yeah, not happening. Dear? You know that beer fridge you wanted to buy for the garage? Go back on Kijiji tonight and get one. Pick it up tomorrow. Then you can put it in the kitchen for now and this beast can go in the garage.

I’m not usually that assertively bossy, but I was not going to live with my kitchen fridge in the front hall. And he did it.

Unfortunately when he picked up that plain ‘ol white fridge, it was really cold and had been in an unheated garage. It wasn’t until it was running in our heated one (yes it ended up there first) that we discovered what was wrong with it. It stinks. Of smoke. Inside and out. Just how much do you have to smoke to have the INSIDE of your fridge stinking like that?!

It has been cleaned and scrubbed and cleaned again. There is no way that thing is getting in my kitchen like that.

So for now, it lives in my garage, blocking the way through for taking out the garbage and recycling. And I have a kitchen with a big bare spot that is not covered by tiles, but by a weird tone of turquoise paint. And a big-ass stainless steel fridge in my front hall.

front hall

Can spring please just come?

But wait! The circus isn’t finished yet! He picked the big one up in a work van. It fell over inside the van. Didn’t scratch the fridge, but it popped out the side of the van and cracked the paint. Good thing he’s the boss. Bad thing was he didn’t use the old truck that’s close to being retired, he used the good one. Sigh.

And since it is such a Tim Taylor circus, I’m willing to lay money that there will be another issue getting it in. I have an idea of what it could be, but am not willing to jinx it that much by publishing it. Because honestly, I just want my ugly kitchen back together.

And then get into our RV and hit the road, because I can’t stand cooking in that f-ugly kitchen. I know, I know. I made the choice. And I’d probably make it again. Though I might just suck up using the old almond fridge a while longer.

We had “the talk”

Last night my 10 year old daughter and I were watching one of those house hunting shows. There was nothing spectacular about this one, they weren’t in any exotic locations or looking at million dollar homes. The couple was just an ordinary every day couple.

About halfway through my daughter turned to me and said “I’m confused mom. Are those guys friends or are they married or something?”

“They’re married honey.”

“Oh.”

I could see she needed a little more explanation so I decided to keep it basic.

“It’s pretty simple. Sometimes two men love each other, sometimes two women. Sometimes it’s a man and a woman, like Daddy and I. And we are lucky enough to live in a country where we can marry who we are in love with.”

“Ok.”

“Do you have any other questions about it?”

“Nope.”

And we turned back to the show.

And that is exactly how complicated it ever needs to be.

If everyone took that approach with their children for topics ranging from same-sex marriage to special needs, we would be raising an entire generation of people who accept differences as merely the things that make us unique. That’s the world I want to grow old in, and the one my children will grow into. An accepting, open world.

And then reality sets in…

We know that our eldest child, the one who has autism, really doesn’t have any friends. Honestly he has just one. A boy, very similar to himself whose family we know. It’s very unfortunate that they do not go to the same school and only see each other some weekends.

But knowing he has issues with social interactions and seeing for myself are two completely different things.

The other night I watched him for a few minutes in his hip hop class. He has come a long way, following along and not getting overwhelmed by the music and moving mass of kids. He impressed me with his dance moves. Watching that part of the class, and you would never know… yet it was impossible for me not to notice him in the downtime, the moments of instruction or waiting his turn.

He stood to the side. Looking at anything but the other people. Staring into space. Not as relaxed as he tried to appear. Apart from the others.

It was a small moment, but it pierced me. I began to question the wisdom of putting him in the class. He enjoys it but does not love it. We want him to have these opportunities but I wonder, at what cost to him? How much does he understand? We know that the older he grows, the more he “gets” it, but I honestly don’t know how he feels about it.

Some days he talks about wishing he had more friends, more people to hang out with on the weekends. But most of the time, he operates without seeming to need that social connection.

It breaks my heart every time we do something as a family and he hangs back, chilling in his room or the basement. I know that to a point that is stereoptypical teenage behaviour but still… I want to connect more with him.

And seeing him in a group of age-peers like that, standing to one side, not connected with any of them, drives it home. That he does not connect on a level that we understand. No matter how much we can wish it away, or try to change it, that is who he is. It will never diminish our love for him.