Monday, February 28, 2011

Quitting...The Up-side

"Quitters never win and winners never quit"

I've been thinking about this quote lately. Thinking about how many times I heard it as a child, how many times I've uttered it to my own children and thinking about how completely inaccurate it is.

Quitters win all the time, in fact some of my greatest victories have be brought about through the simple act of quitting.

I quit my job when Lula was a baby. I wasn't suppose to work after she was born but life and the economy had other plans. I spent everyday in misery knowing that I wasn't where I was meant to be. I cried at my desk for the first 30 minutes of everyday. Until one morning I just walked into my boss's office and quit. I had no plan, no idea how I was going to buy groceries or pay the mortgage but it didn't matter. I just quit. I quit and I won, our family won. I stayed home for 13 years No one starved, no one was cold or living on the street. Sure we had one car and hand-me-down clothes and made presents instead of buying them but we felt good about it.

I've quit being angry more times than I can count. I quit being angry at my father after 11 years of silence and I won the chance to renew our ties, I won a terrific grandfather for my kids, I won peace inside myself.

I quit a boyfriend once or twice, I quit the ones who made me cry, the ones who didn't call, the ones who wanted me to change. I just quit whoever didn't make me feel wonderful. I quit and my prize was Michael; who makes me laugh, and calls just because and who loves me for who I am.

I used to smoke. Physically I felt horrid and every day I worried about when my habit would catch up with me. I worried about getting sick and not being around for my children. Then I quit 3 years ago and I won back my health and my chance at seeing my children grow into their lives.

I quit a job once (okay twice) It was taking more than I was willing to give and offering nothing in return save for minimum wage, ever burdening pressure and a future that looked an awful lot like it's present. I quit without a plan or a something in the wings. I didn't even have a resume drafted. I quit and I won. I found a job I love where I can grow and contribute. A job that respects my family and appreciates my abilities.

We spend a lot of time telling our kids not to quit. Maybe that's wrong. Clearly sometimes you have to quit to win. These are a few big things I've quit but I quit things everyday. I quit arguing to let someone else be heard, I quit worrying about what others think to do what makes me happy. I quit trying to keep my floors sparkling to make time to hang out with my kids. I quit drinking coffee at noon so I can sleep at night. I quit trying to turn left when clearly tuning right would be more effective. I quit trying to achieve good hair to be on time for work. There are 100 tiny things I quit everyday in favour of 100 tiny victories.

So clearly quitters often win and winners often quit. The trick is knowing what to quit and when.

I'm grateful to be a's brought me a lot to be grateful for.

A special editorial note for my children....Somethings you don't get to quit. That post is part 2 coming later...don't run around quitting everything yet.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Dr.'s Waiting Room Got Nothing on Me

There are things we take for granted everyday. Items we pass by, Things we live with that take up space but not much of our attention. Items like family photos that hang on the wall. They hang there, you pass them 12 times a day as you travel up and down the stairs delivering laundry and running to the washroom but would you notice if someone drew a mustache on Grandma Betty? No, not until a visiting friend inquires about when Grandma stopped shaving. (I promise at that moment you will also notice that it's been awhile since you dusted the tops of those photo frames).

Our home is an extreme example, every room looks like a "find 12 things that are wrong with this picture" page. Every once in a while I catch something myself. Like the magazines you will find in my powder room should you find yourself in need of "reading material" Wow! that's neglectful, even for me!

Today I am grateful for the many friends and family members who have used this room since 2003 and have never commented on my domestic ineptitude.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Can You Spare a Little Gratitude?

We started out really well this morning. E-man went to school, I went to work...everything was right with the world. For 2 hours.

E-man's been sent home and I've abandoned work for parenthood. As I understand it, he is not "well enough" to their standard to be back at school. For the record, we have very differing opinions.

Digging deep to find some gratitude at the moment. Got any to share?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Celebrating I.I.Y.D.

I'm home today. Squeezed into an 18" section of the couch. The remainder of the space occupied by a fevered 9 year old huddled under a Pittsburgh Penguins blanket.

18" is just enough room to stick my legs out straight to rest them on the coffee table and balance my computer on my lap. I started out by checking my e-mail and sending an update to my boss on E-man's condition, (thanking him profusely for being a parent too and a truly compassionate human being willing to let me work from home for a second day.)

E-mails done and work arranged, I moved on to update myself on the world beyond my cushion with a stop on facebook.  Not much changes. So and so is still sick of work, blah, blah, blah, everyone's horoscopes have been updated, fortune cookies delivered, KJ spent a great deal of time on quizzes last night (I hope some were homework related) it's sunny in Mexico and family in Australia have escaped the worst of the quakes. My cards are pointing at love today and spending time with a close relation. That card app is so accurate...the only time E-man was closer to me was that 9 month stint we spent together before he was born.
Facebook never fails to disappoint me, none the less I feel compelled to update my status "working from home again today"

The girls have left for school, the TV is stuck on some newage japanamation cartoon that I clearly do not understand but can't change because the converter is just beyond my reach. Within my reach however is what remains of my 6am coffee, it's cold and gross and I keep shifting my gaze from the cup to the converter hoping by some telekinetic phenomenon to transpose their positions.

I surf a little, looking for somewhere for my mind to wander. I check the weather, the news, I look for new and great quotes to savour. Then I remember "International Chocolate Cake Day" (If you missed it check the post "Eat Your Gratitude" ) Maybe, just maybe, there is some international event worth acknowledging and celebrating today. If so, the next 45 minutes of confinement could be used to wish everyone on my friends list and contacts list and very "happy wear brand new socks day" or "best wishes for merry grapefruit day." What a great idea, clearly confinement brings out my resourceful nature.

Do you know what I discovered?....Today is "International Inconvenience Yourself Day." I kid you not, I couldn't make that up.

I look around me, satisfied that I am doing a bang up job of celebrating an observance I wasn't even aware existed. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Reviving the Comfort of Home

Well, we are back. Having spent 4 days in Ottawa for some family downtime and battery charging. Travelling with the kids is always fun. We spent 6 hours discussing the merits of personal space, debating the musical virtue of Lady Gaga vs. Aerosmith and ironing out hotel sleeping assignments.

All in all we did a pretty great job of travelling to Ottawa. We managed to leave our driveway 90 minutes behind schedule which in actual fact was only 45 minutes behind the family adjusted departure time Mike calculates and holds secretly in mind until we are on the road. One stop for gas, a run into the grocery store, a stop at the bank. 2 washroom breaks and a detour to follow a truck off the highway to an apple pie factory that boasts "home of the BIG APPLE" (it was very big and the pies were very big and the candy apples were apparently very delicious.) 1 stop for coffee, sandwiches and a winning scratch ticket. We arrived right on time!
Parliment Hill

The weather in Ottawa was unusually warm for February which put a bit of a chink in our plan to enjoy Winterlude and skate on the Rideau Canal. (activities which were the logic behind choosing Ottawa for a midwinter escape.)

Fortunately The Delta was a good choice of hotel despite the scary aspect of picking up our room on Expidia for less than half price. I secretly had visions of a bedbug infested 4 star that couldn't fill it's suites since word got out but it was actually very nice, clean and attentive. I had a moment of horror on Sunday morning when Lula woke up covered in an itchy rash. I was greatly relived once we realized that it was an allergic reaction to an over chlorinated pool not my worst hotel fear come to life.

We really did get lucky with the hotel. It was central to the world. We parked our van in underground on Friday evening and left it there. We were within a 10 minute walk to everywhere.

Michael & E-man take on the ice slide
While we waited for the canal to freeze we toured the Parliment Buildings, The Byward Market, The Mint, The National Gallery, Confederation Park, Gatineau Quebec, Jacques Cartier Park and The War Memorial. We ate Beaver Tails and drank hot cocoa, E-man drank Root beer in the pub from a brown bottle and KJ salivated over the best burger in the world. We talked about the Confederation Flame, protesters, freedom and security, national pride, civic responsibility as well as the usual talk of bodily functions, personal space, idiosyncrasies, and peeves. A note to my Dad and Sister...We ate poutine from a shack in Quebec made by a little french lady... yes it was great and yes I concede defeat.

Lula, Michael, KJ & E-man were at too, I'm just always on the other side of the lens.
The temperatures took a dip while we were busy and by Sunday a portion of the canal had been re-opened for skating. Mike, E-man and KJ speed skated the entire 4.5 open kilometers while Lula and I leisurely traversed half the distance. The ice may have been open but it wasn't easily skateable. Lula opted for boots and pointed out rough patches for me to avoid. We missed the steel drum party awaiting the rest of our skating party and others who made it to the end of the route but we enjoyed some long overdue conversation.

Monday was a travel day. We packed our bags. I always wonder why we have less room in the van on the way home from somewhere.  Do miniature shampoos, soaps, body lotions and hotel pens take up that much room? Travel coffee in hand we departed 30 minutes behind schedule (according to Michael's adjusted departure estimate) A quick drive past the Priminister's address and a stop at the ByTown market for a departing BT (beaver tail as nicknamed by E-man) We successfully navigated our way through the maze of downtown one way streets back out to the highway and towards home.

One stop for gas, a washroom break and a winning scratch ticket. Two more washroom breaks, lunch and a detour for ice cream from the Colburg Dairy which happened to be closed but fortunately close to Dairy Queen. We spent 6 hours talking about reality and future adventures. We refrained from the music debate in favour of making up our own lyrics to popular songs. We discussed the merits of personal space. We arrived home right on schedule.

Back to normal
We unloaded suitcases to the laundry room for washing and within minutes resumed ordinary life. Tuned in, logged on, plugged in and dealing with illness. In the span of a car ride E-than developed a fever, sore throat and stuffed up nose.

Getaways are fantastic for changing the pace and the scenery. They provide great memories to relive over Beaver Tails made at home and allow us to catch up with the growth of the individuals in our family. Getaways provide alot to be grateful for. Perhaps the greatest gratitude is heard in the comfortable collective sigh as we pull into the driveway of home.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Anticipation is the Best Rest for a Tired Spirit."

Today I am grateful to be enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

Thursday is the day we get around the table to you. Your turn, what's your gratitude?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Take 5

We all have days where we need to "practice" gratitude. Challenging days and experiences plague us all. These are also the time we need to dig a little deeper and unearth some gratitude. Finding little things to be grateful for opens the door for more good to come in.

Here's a quick trick for those moments when we need to "take 5"

1...think of all the places you'll go today. Which one is your favourite. Maybe you are a mother of 3 and your favourite place to be is the solitude of your bathroom. It's okay to be grateful for locking doors and running water.

2 ...What's the song playing over and over again in your head right now? "Take this Job and Shove It" ? That's a good one!  I bet in your head your rehearsing the choreography too! You can be grateful for a sense of humour.

3 ...What 's the best thing you've eaten today? That first cup of coffee? A muffin, that was suppose to be carrot but turned out to be banana because that girl who served you screws it up every morning?

4 ... Quick! Count how many people said good morning or hello to you today. Who from that list were you happiest to see? I bet it wasn't the girl that serves your muffin but I bet she said good morning.

5 ...Go back over the list and think about what you could have answered. Right now the best place someone might be is with their child in a hospital room. Someone's song could be "Amazing Grace". Some people won't think about what they've eaten but rather if their children will eat tonight. Some people have lost the one person that makes them happiest to see.

Monday, February 14, 2011


"If the only grateful you have today is that you love or are loved, that is enough."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mid-weekend Musings

Friday was my favourite day of the year. Well the school year anyway. I have 4 favourite days of the school year; the first day, the last day and the two report card days in between. The first and last days are the only ones that I am guaranteed everyone will be up and dressed and excited to go to school. That's gold in my books. Report card days are my favourite because I love to have the badgering, nagging, grounding, praise, pride, guilt and stationary bills that reside in the space between the first and last day validated.

The kids love to count their A's and compare their marks. I don't care about the marks, they are a simple measurement of what they know. I care about the comment section at the bottom of the page. That short paragraph is a snapshot of who they are when you aren't there to monitor them. In those few sentences you get a measurement of the person they are learning to be.

I am never disappointed and incredibly grateful on report card day.

Report card day euphoria carried my through to my Friday evening challenge. Computer programming. (I am not a computer programmer) I started at 6:00pm staring at a web page of instructions. By 6:05pm I was enlisting the help of my computer programming genius brother via Facebook chat. (he is actually a computer programmer and the reason I still have all of my hair) Even with my own personal geek in my corner by 7:15pm Michael quietly set a rye & ginger at my elbow.

By 7:35pm I was understanding why my brother doesn't particularity enjoy my company. (Besides the fact that I cannot sit on the shore beside a pile of rocks and not throw them in the water... but that's a post for another day.) We don't speak the same language, our brains process information at opposing speeds. In his brain the ballerina spins anti-clockwise, in my mine she spins on her head. Fast forward to 9:30pm two drinks on my end, we've abandoned our Facebook conversation for a telephone one instead. I'm not sure how many drinks were consumed on his end of the line. I'm sure I provided much more frustration than my project served me.

9:47pm mission accomplished! E-man can resume gaming. A hobby that is surely training his brain to view the ballerina spinning anti-clockwise.

I must express my gratitude for my brother, his patience and the good sense he had not to squash what little computer confidence I possess. It might be all I have to rely on for future computer problems. He's not answering my IM's anymore.

I was so happy to put head to pillow Friday night. There was no fear of web addresses, program names, code or file extensions swimming in my brain. Lula had the girls over for a sleepover and scary movie marathon.

I have been a mother for a while now and no matter how many of them we have I will never understand why they call them SLEEPovers. Nobody sleeps.

Saturday morning mini blizzard
 Saturday was a house day. Laundry, cleaning, plumbing repairs the domestic equivalent of a trip to the dentist but I knew it was coming. I woke up knowing that Saturday was not going to offer much to be over the moon grateful for. That was confirmed when I reached the kitchen bleary eyed and suddenly realised that I used the last of the coffee on report card day. Up 5 minutes, out of coffee and facing the prospect of instant coffee because of a mini blizzard outside. I don't go out in yuck weather for anything not even a decent cup of coffee.

Then I remembered the last time I ran out of coffee. I had resorted to opening a really poor quality grind that I had "in case of emergency" in the cupboard. Luckily I saved the remaining half of that emergency coffee in the freezer. Gratitude in a cup! Even a bad cup of brewed coffee is to be admired next to a cup of instant

Saturday progressed. Michael and I surfed through domestic chores. E-man and KJ enjoyed a day of entertaining friends and not being badgered by parents. You better believe they are grateful for that! Lula worked. KJ made plans to hang out with her sister after work at a party for one of their friends. I can't tell you how great that was to see them go out together. They are each others best friend, they just don't know it yet.

Michael surprised me with an early Valentines gift. It really was a surprise, we don't usually celebrate the occasion with much more than a card. On a good fiscal year maybe a box of chocolates. I'm sure that being the parent of teenage girls is opening both our eyes. He's always disappointed that Lula doesn't get spoiled rotten by the love of her life and I'm always disappointed that she's okay with it.

We do okay for a couple of kids who never want anything more than to wake up each morning with the other person to share the day with. Our kids see that we are comfortable and content. 25 years will bring you that. What they don't get to see is the beginning, the years when Michael went out of his way to get my attention and earn my affection. They don't see the notes I wrote and the songs he played for me. They don't see that on the worst of days he was who I turned to or that when I called nothing else was as important to him as making things right in my world. They don't see all the plans we changed at a moments notice to be there for one another. They missed the calls for no reason and the unexpected visits. They weren't there to witness the adventures. We remember them because they are the foundation of what we have now. They make the Valentine concept something we celebrate everyday.

 a gift from the man who knows my heart better than I
 There is a lot of gratitude to be expressed for a little bit of relationship bling that recaptures the spirit of those beginning days. A lot a gratitude as well for living each day with the person who carries and cares for my heart.

So the weekend is half over of there is half of the weekend left depending on your perspective. I like to think I have half of it left. There has been so much to be grateful for already that I can't wait to see what else is in store.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Around the Table


Tonight, when we gather for dinner and we begin our gratitude, someone will say "I'm grateful it's Friday" There will be a rousing "ME TOO!" Then, we will all exhale collectively that breath we've been holding all week.

"When you think TGIF be grateful for Monday thru Thursday. They are the bridge that carried you over. If they hadn't been so miserable Friday wouldn't be such a big deal would it?"

Hmmm, perhaps we need to work on making the rest of the week more enjoyable.

Your turn. What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Wow! We're All Moving in the Same Direction! (I'm just going to arrive with heartburn)

It's been a really good week. Everyone in our home is moving forward in one way or another.

Lula began picking courses for grade 11 with future university hopes in Sociology. It's amazing where her life is taking her! She's full into semester two now and she loves her teachers. I am always amazing at how she manages to balance school, work, friends and family... she seems to have it all together and makes us very proud.

KJ received her first course selections for highschool! Now the big choices begin... you can see how excited she is about the possibilities and opportunity that highschool life presents. I have to interject here that she put a very proud smile on my face this week with a 100% on her geography test and a 97% on a history one! way to go!

E-man is preparing to participate in his first ever inter-school basketball game! He has a Saturn sized ring around his mouth from nerves but boy is he pumped for this! He really is becoming a leader among his peers and I love that visiting teachers have taken the time to write home to us about his gentle supportive spirit.

Michael is really looking forward to our planned R&R. A road trip is just what the Doctor ordered. I think he's counting the sleeps until he can gas up the van and collect paper coffee cups! Michael loves to explore with our family and this quiet moment before a very exciting future emerges is the prefect opportunity.

As for me, I am celebrating the completion of my first and last ever "free biscuit day" My stop over in fast food is coming to an end. life is moving forward in my financial job and I'm looking forward to serving my last "coke with that?" 

To celebrate, I also ate my first and last biscuit sandwich with the hope that the repercussions of that act far outlast what remains of my time in the burger kingdom!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If You Need Me I'll Be Counting My Blessings

Gratitude slapped me in the face first thing this morning. I stumbled out of bed like usual and into the bathroom. On my way downstairs to start the coffee for my still snoring Michael I was greeted with the warm scent of nutmeg and pumpkin, mmmmm. For a moment I thought some breakfast fairy had left fresh muffins for me. Then I turned the corner into the living room and immediately remembered that we burned the pizza last night. My heart stopped for what seemed like an hour. There in the corner was the warm glow of a scented candle.

My mother always professes that God watches over children and fools. Thank goodness for that because our home was filled with children and evidently a fool was in the position of responsibility.

Grateful is a pretty insufficient emotion in this case.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

If a fellow isn't thankful for what he's got, he isn't likely to be thankful for what he's going to get.  ~Frank A. Clark

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just a Little Downtime

This weekend was all about downtime. A little shinny in the yard for the boys, a little wine in the kitchen for the girls and a heart recharged with laughter for the days ahead.

Be grateful today that you spent yesterday in the company of those who bring you joy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Can I Have a Word Please

I love words. I love hunting for the perfect one. A well composed business letter or blog entry will elate me for the day. What can I say, I'm pretty easy to impress.

Words are quite possibly the most powerful tool a person has to portray themselves, to defend themselves, to manifest their life. Have you every noticed that a person who complains always has a lot to complain about? Alternately People who use most of their 20,000 words we speak each day to acknowledge happiness and gratitude always have a lot to be happy and grateful for.

I know I just said 20,000 words, clearly a statistic from a female subject. Men only use about 13,000 but even that minuscule use of words has great power to bring good or bad into our lives. 

Words are my favourite parenting tool. A well placed super word can stop even the smartest mouth or argument. I remember the first time I told Lula to stop being Obstinate. We were having the battle of the bedroom and I threw it out there.
"Stop being so obstinate." I said.
She stopped cold. "What's Obstinate?"
"Obstinate is being difficult on purpose for no other reason than to make life miserable for someone else." I answered.
"Wow that's a good word." she said.
"Yes" I said it's a fabulous word, now go clean your room." One word changed the conversation and the air and she remembered that my name is 'mom' not 'moron'.
Lula marched upstairs to get started. On her way past KJ's room she poked her head in ... "Mom says you are obstinate."

That word never worked again.

Words have power. I love that one well strung sentence can evoke more emotion then an entire novel. Perhaps this explains my love of quotes.

I appreciate a person's ability to take a lifetime of philosophy and compact it into a single sentence. I have quotes on the walls in every room in our home. My hope is that KISS wisdom delivery will subliminally backup my our parental position on kindness, apathy, effort, perseverance, patience, gratitude and love.

Today I am grateful for words and what a well placed word can bring into a life.

My favourite gratitude quote for this week...

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." John Kennedy

Thursday, February 3, 2011

My Turn at the Table...Then Yours

Today I am grateful for patience and understanding. I do not always say the right thing. Rarely do I do the right thing. I am fairly certain that I mess up 95% of my wife and parenting duties.

I am also certain that I am blessed with a family of people determined to be patient with my mistakes. I am grateful that they choose to overlook my short comings in favour of clean laundry, good food and taxi service.

and oh ya...snow tires!

Love to hear what you are grateful for today...share us a comment!