Tag Archives: Family

The Hunk in My Front Hall

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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 🙂

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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.

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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’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.

Visions and Processes

Finally, my 11 month old has settled down for a nap that he fought for hours, and I have a few moments to compose my swirling thoughts into written words.

I wasn’t going to do a New Year’s resolution post, but I do have a vision of how I want 2014 to be, and I know that I will commit to it better if I actually put it here for everyone to see.

2014 has to be better than last year. 2013 started off with all the promise of a huge year for us. Our youngest was born at the beginning of February (in a rush too, coming in only 45 minutes!) and we were looking forward to a year of firsts. What we hadn’t expected was our first experience with complete tongue tie, then a deadly infection that hospitalized him for two weeks, then just a couple of weeks later, hospitalized him again. Then a bought of pneumonia in early July, and repeated colds and bronchitis. So strange in our family to be so sick and so horribly traumatizing to see your newborn subjected to medical interventions and a hospital stay, even though I never left him. (I haven’t stayed in a hospital since I was 5, and all three children were born at home.)

Our road trip to the east coast was postponed as we were too afraid to be away from our children’s hospital if he got sick again.

Our eldest, the one with autism, had a major regression that we are still puzzling over. Yes some of it may be due to the baby (even though our specialist says no) and likely some of it is due to the onset of puberty, but wow, it caught us off-guard and we are struggling with teachers and administration that have forgotten all the skills that we worked so hard to teach them five years ago.

We lost some people very dear to us too, within 8 days of each other, and our children got to experience their first funeral. I was hoping that they would have been much older for that particular rite of passage.

I closed a business that I had put my heart and soul into, but was burned out from.

To top it all off, we had the big ice storm, and while our home fared quite well, it caused some big stresses in unexpected places.

So 2013, I’m not sorry to see you go AND that is the end of my complaining about it.

2014, welcome to our lives. We have much work to do together you and I.

First, thanks to this insightful post I’m changing my language. I am removing the word “busy” from my stock answers when people ask me how things are going. I will answer with the truth and not an excuse.

And this post inspired me to refrain from making huge goals this year, but to instead create a process that I work on consistently. I will achieve more, feel successful on a daily basis and surprise myself when all my hopes are met.

This year’s processes include:
-Writing. Daily. Stop depending on my part-time job for time for meaningful writing and instead use that for bonus writing time.
-Attendance. Writing groups, and classes. I’ve already signed up for our local writer’s group monthly breakfast this weekend.
-Activity. Keep walking, keep doing exercises. Investigate and choose another class.
-Eating. Continue to enjoy food, just with more moderation and balance.
-Gratitude. Practise it daily.
-Sell. Articles. As many as I can write. Especially from our road trip this summer.

Looking at that list gives me satisfaction. Those are doable, achievable practises that will give me great pleasure. (and hopefully earn some money too).

Anyone else out there working on processes over crazy goals?

Reality tv moms actually exist

The holidays have left me brimming with stuff to write about, I mean there’s certainly a ton of new material when you throw in Autism, family gatherings, out-of-town family and a huge ice storm that wrecked havoc on homes and businesses. And I’m sure posts on some of these things will come. But that will be later. Right now I’m interested in a conversation I had yesterday with my daughter.

She is currently dancing as part of the cast in a local production. With about 15 kids between the ages of 6 and 17 in the cast, there are obviously a lot of moms who hang around in the back, helping with costumes, makeup and gossiping.

Two of the moms in particular are aggressively vocal, dominating the conversations and spreading their particular brand of nastiness like a poison around the room. They complain about everything, brag about their sons getting ejected from hockey games for mouthing to the ref, brag about yelling at store clerks while they make unreasonable demands and generally treat their children like crap. Being trapped there as witness to their behaviour makes me feel like I’m trapped in some circle of hell watching a mash up of the worst traits of “Dance Moms”, “Toddlers and Tiaras”, and “Wives of some random rich guys” (Or whatever that last one is called.)

I don’t care for that aggressive, put-people-down style of television and until now, I hadn’t believed that people on those shows really, truly exist.

I, and other moms, choose to ignore most of it, but I hadn’t realized until yesterday just how much little ears were paying attention.

“Mom,” my girl asked, “Have you heard those two moms in the change room?” I sighed, knowing at once whom she was referring to. I described them just to be sure and she said “Ya, how come they are so mean?”

I sighed again and explained that some people feel better by putting others down and treating them like dirt.
“But how does that make them feel better?” Good question. One that I don’t have the answer for.

In fact, talking about these moms felt a lot like talking about bullies at school. Sigh. I know some people never grow up, but how do I explain that to a ten year old who wants everyone to get along?

I find it really sad that people feel the need to live like that. Yes we all have bad days, and sometimes need a few minutes to bitch about it/get it off your chest, but there comes a time when it is time to stop dominating the conversation with your complaints, close your mouth and just listen to someone else.

Just imagine what a wonderful world it would be if all the complainers in your life (especially those you can’t choose to get away from such as family members or other parents at school or dance) would just learn an ounce or two of self-regulation and stop after two minutes? The very air would be easier to breathe and the negative impact on our children would be greatly reduced.

In the end, I told my daughter how I avoided getting sucked into the negativity, and how I ignored most of it. It’s not the most satisfactory answer, as it seems to leave something hanging, but it was the best I had at the time. And it’s not my job to change these women. But is it at least partly my responsibility when their comments are being noticed by my child? Maybe. But I am not good with any confrontation, even if I am in the right, and I am chickening out of even a gentle rebuke. I know I will bump into these women again at future productions and maybe competitions, maybe then I will say something, and then again maybe I won’t. I know I don’t treat others like that, so I know that the example I am setting my children is the one I want them to see and emulate. And that is clearly my job and it’s one I take seriously.

Family Traditions

Family traditions are important to us. They might be as big as 25 people for Christmas dinner, or they might be as small as Sunday morning breakfasts in our sunroom. My husband and I work towards making our traditions something that the children not only enjoy but happily anticipate.

For our eldest, traditions are a comfortable, repeating and predictable event, for our daughter, they are a fun activity she enjoys while spending time with her family. For now, the baby gets to come along and experience new things.

Some of these traditions are deliberate, some not so much. One though is as new to me as it is to our older children: cutting a Christmas tree.

You see, when I met my husband, I had never had a real, live tree before.

So, off we went, to Spademan’s, the very same tree farm he had gone to with his family as a child, and we’ve been going there ever since.

It’s not huge, but by the time the kids have traipsed from one corner to the other, checking out every single tree looking for the perfect one, we have spent a good 45 minutes to an hour out there.

Our eldest carefully marked the trees in the running with tufts of dry grass and our daughter practiced her head stands and cartwheels amongst the rows of trees. All while I struggled to lug around our chunky baby who was so bundled up that he could hardly move yet was somehow able to surreptitiously remove his boots every few minutes. (there was no snow for a toboggan and we don’t yet have a wagon as I cleverly passed on all of the baby gear long ago) My husband corralled the dog, and juggled the saw, the video camera and the point and shoot camera (having wisely decided that the big camera might be too much to carry this year)

As is usual, we marched back and forth several times between two trees that I think were actually identical twins in an effort to determine which one was better. Someone finally said “I don’t care! I’m not walking anymore, it’s THIS one!” That someone might have been me.

Then, while I plopped myself down on the frozen ground to put the boots on baby again, and my hubby lay on his side cutting down the tree, we tried to get the older two to use the cameras and record the tree falling for posterity. Neither cared to.

But then our daughter stood up and said she wanted to carry the tree back, and promptly picked up the trunk and started dragging it. We looked at each other, shrugged and gathered up our things and boys quickly to catch up to her. I ended up carrying the top end to make it a wee bit easier.

I only took a small moment to correct hubby when he told her she was tough doing manly things, and told her that no, she is a strong woman. I don’t know if she caught the difference or not, preferring to focus on carrying the tree. She wouldn’t even take a break until I suggested it.

Back at the entrance we watched them pull our tree through the funnel-like contraption to fold the branches up to tie them for travelling, and got a big thrill watching them pull a really wide tree through using a winch.

We sat around the big bonfire and drank hot chocolate from our ancient thermos (used only twice a year-the Christmas parade and Christmas tree day) and ate hot dogs that never seem to stay warm wrapped in foil.

On our way home, two of the three fell asleep and the other zoned out completely.

Later, we decorated the tree while watching Christmas movies and despite a few minor quibbles (inevitable in our family of five)everyone was satisfied that our Christmas tradition had happened again.

After everyone was tucked into bed, hubby and I looked at each other and smiled. Despite everything else that may be going on, all is right in our home.

The reason I don’t win anything

This past weekend I was doing what all competitive team parents must do at some point:
The Pub Night.
I know some people really enjoy it, and honestly it wasn’t bad at all–the company was fun!

It was also the first snowfall of the season that day and it kept a lot of people home. (Why do the forecasters always create so much drama over the potential maybe’s of a storm and basically shut the town down for a couple of cm?)

So it was quieter than we had expected and the bids on our silent auction items weren’t quite as vigorous as we’d hoped.

We were joking that with the lack of bids we would all end up going home with something, and I turned to my friend beside me and said that it wouldn’t matter, because I never really win anything.

She said to me that she never did either and that was ok. Because we have everything that we need in our lives, so we don’t need to win anything

Well. Um. Yeah.

So instead of complaining any further about it, I changed my view. I have everything I could possibly want. Three awesome children, an incredible husband, a silly dog, a four bedroom home, a van (yes I’m even grateful for the van!), and wonderful in-laws. Who could honestly ask for anything more?

Thank you to my fantastic friend for pointing out the obvious when I obviously needed it.