Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Don't Let the Paint Job Fool You

My Gran had this car when I was a little girl; on the outside it was big and green and shiny and Gran took very good care of it. Grandpa was a mechanic in the war so he kept the engine running very smoothly. On the outside it looked just like every other car in the city.

On the inside it STUNK! It stunk like the guy who tightened the last bolt on the assembly line crawled into the backseat for a nap and died! That's not even accurate, it smelled like my garage the year we left for 2 weeks holidays in July and forgot a bag of garbage, leaving it to fester in record breaking, stifling temperatures. The stench was powerful like running over a skunk, it followed you, burnt your nostrils and attached itself to your hair and clothes.

Today, one of my kids would have jumped into that car and cried out "HOLY COW! WHAT'S THAT SMELL?!?!?!?!!!!!!" But I was raised in the 'children seen not heard era' I held my breath for as long as I could, breathed through my nose when I was incapable of carrying on any longer, and leaped from my seat to the fresh air the instant the PRNDL hit park!

I worked up the nerve to ask one day about the smell. It seems that Gran was the victim of a leaky carton of milk from the Publix, that emptied completely into the carpet floor of her car while she nipped into the liquor store for Grandpa. It was July, in the days before Oxyclean and Febreeze.

The remarkable thing about my Gran's car was that for as great as it looked, there was a reality that couldn't be disguised. 
Gran's car taught me that just because something looks good to the outside world does not mean the people inside aren't suffering (even with a pine scented air freshener hanging on the rear view mirror). We would have suffered a lot less in that car if Gran had let us roll the windows down. We also would have been revealing our plight with the outside world so the windows stayed up.

The further I get on in life, the more people I am exposed to, the greater I understand that it's not just my Gran's car that stunk. Everybody has a stench they are coping with. Some houses stink and credit ratings stink, some jobs stink, and marriages, and family relationships, a lot of parenting stinks, health stinks and dependencies stink.

I am also learning that I have the greatest appreciation for people who drive around with their windows down and the music turned up. People who are not hiding that life is not perfect but are willing to make the best of the situation.

Spend some moment everyday in reflection of gratitude and happiness. Even if the time found is standing in line for coffee...use is wisely.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thursday...Your Turn @ the Table

It's Thursday...Your Turn @ the Table! What will you be GRATEFUL for today?

I am grateful for the people I encounter who restore my faith in the world, inspire me to push past my own fears and make me laugh. 

What are you Grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Motherload of Questions

Ever get one of those 1 million questions about me chain messages on facebook?

I wondered today what the Q&A would look like if my kids created the questions. It would have a theme, the theme would be....

Questions my kids ask that I don't want, or rather don't know how, to answer effectively without my ignorance showing, or offering incriminating knowledge to be used at a later date against me by a teenager hell bent on getting their own way.

Why is the sky blue? because the grass already has green.
How many cookies can I have? one.
How many cookies did you have? 2 less than Daddy
How many did Daddy have? cookies?
No girlfriends, how many? more than he needed too.
How many did you have? girlfriends? none
No, boyfriends. How many? as many as it took to learn what I didn't want.
When did you start dating boys? 2 years before grandpa said I could
When can I start dating? 2 years after Grandpa says you can
Did you ever want to leave Daddy? once in a hardware store.
When did you have s-e-x? After I filled the prescription.
No how old were you? 10 years younger than grandpa wanted me to be.
No really, how old were you? old enough to know better.
You're not going to answer this question are you? nope.
Did you do drugs? no, do you do drugs?
How old were you when you moved out? the first time?
Did you ever steal anything? you're Father's go tell him that, he needs a laugh
You think you are pretty clever don't you? I used to before I had kids.
Were you good in school? average
How many classes did you skip in highschool? none, we called it baggin.
So how many classes did you 'bag'? not as many as your father.
Did you fail any classes? gym
How do you fail gym? baggin
Why would you bag gym? I couldn't run because I smoked too much
You smoked? not as much as your father.
How old were you when you started smoking? don't say older than your father. 14
Did Nanny know? when her cigarettes started disappearing.
Did she get mad? yes, cigarettes were expensive.
No,was she mad you smoked? not as mad as when I cracked the car.
You smashed the car? Not really I smashed a curb.
Bad? the curb was okay, the car needed a new wheel
Was Papa mad? only because I lost the hubcap
Were you drunk? when?
When you cracked the car? no
How'd you crack the car then? it was slippery
So you weren't drinking at the time? no
Did you ever drink? I'd like one now
No, back then? no
Really? yes
Yes, you didn't drink? right
Wait, I'm confused, you did or you didn't? exactly
You're not going to give me a straight answer are you? no but your father might
Did you ever get in a fight? once.
Who won? not me.
Were you drunk? no
Did you ever sneak out of the house? not if I wanted to keep living there.
What would you do if I snuck out of the house? try it find out.
Would you kill me? no the rest of the family needs me I can't afford jail time.
Have you been in jail? no
Juvenile detention? no
School detention? no
Really? no.
Which one? school detention.
So you never been in jail? no
What did you do for fun? read and knit.
Really? sometimes
Ever want to drop out of school? not as badly as your Dad
Why didn't you? because Nanny would have killed me, I don't think jail scared her.
What about Dad? what about him?
Did he drop out? no.
Why not? I think Grandma almost did kill him.
What would you do if I dropped out? buy you a can opener.
A can opener? yes for the cat food.
Ever have a boyfriend Nanny didn't know about? sure
Ever want to runaway? no, only to things
Ever had your heart broken? of course
Did you think you would never be happy again? I was wrong
What made you happy again? my friends
Who was your best friend? your Dad
Why did you marry your best friend? who else should you marry?
Were your parents happy about it? I was happy about it
How old were you when you got pregnant? 25
What would you do if I got pregnant? didn't we cover this?
No, what would you do? restrain your father.
Really? no
What would you do? buy you a stroller
A stroller? yes so you can get to daycare and school and your future.
You think you're pretty clever don't you? we covered that
When did you become an adult? when I stopped relying on my mother.
When was that? 10 years later that she was hoping for
Can I ask you anything? I hope you do
Why is the sky really blue? I don't know

A little creative answering will get you only so far. Eventually you have to be honest.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

At the End of My USB

I was all set to begin this morning. I had the energy from a well rested sleep, the solitary time to write (the singular advantage of waking at 5 am by rote on Saturday morning) and I had the story. Actually I started out with a brain clogged with words, stories, annoyances and refection.Writing is a pleasure that has been just out of arms reach for a little too long. I can see the top of the counter I simply can't reach the cookie jar!

Somewhere between making coffee and feeding the cat I decided that I wanted to share our recent bookstore adventure. Bookstore adventures always begin with a suggestion and end with  Michael tugging at my coat to extricate me from the store, as I grasp at books along the way to soak into memory before we are gone. I could quite easily be turned into a bookstore Gollem, left their long enough. I'm the one in the dark recesses cracking spines, sniffing pages and telepathically manipulating  others out of my bookstore bubble.  No excursion to the world of ink and words is ever quick, painless, or cheap.

So that is where I was going to start. As I assembled coffee filters, water and grounds I assembled my thoughts. I fed the cat and reached for the camera, wanting to take pictures of my bookstore bounty to accompany my words.

I reached and it wasn't there, which isn't really surprising given my challenges with domestic engineering and household management. I never panic, it's always lurking somewhere. Usually, the somewhere is under a teatowl or in the fruit bowl, but this morning my search netted me nothing. This lead me to believe that it could be in the bathroom (what is up with kids taking pictures of themselves? Remember the days when you took pictures of your friends and they took pictures of you. Remember when you used to get the pictures back from the developer and plan a meet- up to look at the pictures, share a cocoa, some laughs and your doubles?) searching the bathroom for my camera really makes me miss the good old days.

Absent from the usual haunts, I decided that perhaps Michael used the camera. That being the case, the camera would be put away, Michael always does this, a habit that annoys me to no end. If I want to find something I hate finding it in the exact place it's suppose to be, we have 3 kids, were something is suppose to be is never the first place I look. I searched but came up empty handed. I'm not sure where the camera has gone to, I am confident however, that it will surface eventually, like missing converters and underwear the dog drags into the livingroom when company is over.

I may not have located my camera but Lula's was handy so I snatched it up, took a couple quick shots and immediately panicked. Pictures are only as good as the USB that sends them to your computer .....And my story changed.

This is where I have to locate the cable....

Every person with a cell phone and a camera has one of these drawers (that's what I tell myself to cope) In a home with 5 people we have a drawer of relevant cords, a basket of possibles and a box of no longers. Cell phones, cameras, video cameras, personal gaming systems, computers they all have cords, charges or adaptors and the only thing universal about them is their ability to instantaneously tie a stress knot in my frontal lobe the size of a softball. I always go into the drawer with a positive mindset, foolish in the belief that if I expect the right cord is there, it will be. Like driving to the front of the parking lot because you know a space is waiting there for you. My frame of mind performs a quick 360 when I fail to match the first cord to my device. Worse yet is thinking you have a match because it fits the device only to find that the opposing end is rigged for a purpose other than your task. More than once I've matched a wall charger to a computer connecting device.

So I hovered over the drawer of wires with camera trapped pictures in one hand and a mess of wires in the other, wishing I had a third hand to apply pressure to the throbbing vein in my temple. I plugged and unplugged, tried to fit round pegs into square holes, cursed silently and decided that suddenly my bookstore story wasn't so relevant or relateable. In fact my little bookstore story seemed like a lame trip through candyland on the way to a thrash metal rock concert palooza.

When I finally located the cord to match Lula's camera I rewarded myself by taking a picture of my defeated opponent.

I also considered that perhaps after writing my frustration out of my brain, I should probably take a time out. Reflect on the power a drawer full of cords has over my Psyche, and find some peace.

Gratitude for the book that might just have the answer "God Never Blinks  50 lessons for life's little detours" This fabulous little book is filled with reality check stories and insight. Michael picked it up on our recent bookstore adventure. 

Funny how I've come back to that.

Spend some moment everyday in reflection of gratitude and happiness. Even if the time found is standing in line for coffee...use is wisely.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Bullies are Not Born, They are Raised.

Having a child is the nursery school equivalent of being handed a hunk of plasticine, a pencil and a toothbrush and being told to make something fabulous. There are no clear parameters, you may or may not have the right tools for the job, the beauty and integrity of the finished piece is open to interpretation and at any given moment someone can come along and squish what you have been working so hard to accomplish. But the plasticine is yours and you get to do whatever you want with it.
This week is Peace Week. On Thursday, kids will wear pink in support of anti-bullying. Boys, girls, teachers all wearing pink in an effort to reshape the pieces being moulded by parents who fail to grasp the concept that they have a responsibility to raise healthy well rounded children with respect for society, compassion for their fellow human beings and tolerance.
Think I'm on a soap box? I am! My son gets bullied, he gets bullied by a boy who is half his size, who recruits other kids in a 'hate on for E-man' campaign, He gets bullied because he refuses to play the games that taunt other children, stands up to the kids who do, and asks for help from parents and teachers to put an end to it. The bully lives two houses down the street and so the troubles persist at home, during street hockey and basketball games, on bicycles, skateboards and walks with the dog.
I know that there are 3 reasons people say hurtful things...fear, jealousy, and negative self-worth. I know that two wrongs don't make a right and that the high road is the one less travelled. I also know what it feels like to be a victim, the shame, the sadness, the hurt.
I also understand that it is my responsibility to mould my hunk of plasticine into a well-rounded productive member of society who treats people fairly, with compassion and tolerance.
Lord help me, I get it. I also want lay a great big dose of "in your face" on the bully's father, who threatened my son yesterday and told him to shut the F*#@ up!  Yes, help me because I have to handle things like an adult SHOULD handle things, I have to hold our actions up to our son as an example. I have to hug him and tell him to ignore it, to walk away and pray for this person's healing. I have to explain that the only actions we can control are our own, that bad people will be present in his life from now until forever and that the best he can do is to develop a frame of mind, a personal way to cope. As the words are coming out of my mouth a conflict is raging inside my chest.
Yes, help me, because we are dealing with the situation, empowering our son, talking to the adults, preparing to involve authorities if needed to protect our 9 year old. Help me because I feel like a vein might just burst out of my temple while I suppress my anger so that we can demonstrate civility, compassion and diplomacy to our son and to his bully, who by the shear misfortune of parental neglect of duty doesn't know any better.
People are hurtful for 3 reasons
Negative self-worth

Raise your kids to be confident, content, tolerant and loved...

You are creating the future.

 Gratitude today, that while kids are moulded they are also re-mouldable. Gratitude to all those adults showing kids a better way. Gratitude, to everyone who will wear a pink shirt on Thursday, to all the kids who stand up against bullying, gratitude to the bullied who don't pay the torture forward.
Gratitude, to my son who will wear a pink t-shirt to school. Mostly because he likes the colour pink and understands that incredibly cool boys can wear pink with confidence, he understands this concept so well that he requested pink laces for his hockey skates. He understands too, that pink stands for something, hope, strength and in the case of his t-shirt this week… acceptance. He's going to wear the pink t-shirt to bring awareness to bullying; he will wear it to show a shoulder to shoulder resolve with his peers to put an end to school yard teasing, taunting and aggression.  
And I know that he will hope secretly that he will be spreading a personal message "please leave me alone."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Borrowed Gratitude - Remembrance Day

I received this beautiful story on Remembrance Day from a cousin...I just had to share her story. Thanks Barb for lending it to us!

Thanks for the Rememberance Day blog...

Aunt Betty had a brother killed in the war...

Her father had died within days of her being born... and her oldest brother, Jim, became her father figure in her young life...

He died in February of 1945.... He was 23 years old. Mom was 11. She took his death very hard. My childhood memory of rememberance day, is either of freezing at the cenataph, or, of participating in the service (Brownies/Guides)... or, if we couldn't get there, we would be in front of the tv, watching the service... mom always spent the day in tears....

Not long after Uncle Bud died, Mom and I went on a trip to Europe. After 10 years of caring for dad, and 3 months of difficult home care before he died... my husband suggested the she and I just "get out of here" for a bit.... so we did.

Other than the obvious tourist stops of Paris and Rome, mom's biggest wish for our trip was to visit the grave site of her brother - the uncle I'd never met. Our tour guide was very accomodating, and arrangements were made.

It was one of the most moving, epiphony days of my life.

I would have said that given my experience with Rememberance Day... and, as I grew to an adult, my understanding of facts figures etc giving the day a better sense of reality... I would have said that I had a terriffic grasp of "rememberance"....

That was untill I visited my uncle's grave site about 30 km outsite of Munich....

Visiting ANY war grave site in Europe is ... well... truly mind boggling! The pictures that you see on tv... rows and rows and rows of white tomb stones... they aren't taking pictures of one site... there are hundreds!

My uncle's cemetary was small... with just under 3000 graves... but it looked massive to me! We spent about a half an hour there... took a rubbing of the stone, put a poppy banner on Uncle Jim's grave, as well as a small Canadian flag...As we stood there, I realized that Jim had been buried with 3 other members of his flight crew... we put Canada flags on thier graves too ... we were there on July 1st, and I had stuck some flags in my luggage, in case we could celebrate... I decided that the flags left for the "boys" would be a far greater celebration than anything our tour guide would come up with!
Mom and I were the first (and probbly only) visitors to Uncle Jim's grave site. It was good for mom... she was already grieving for Bud...and now, she could finally say good bye to a brother that she had been grieving for for over 60 years.

For me.... Rememberance Day will never quite be the same... that same fall, Nov 11th found me watching the service from Ottawa, on tv... tears falling the whole time. Even though I had watched mom all those years.... now the men were "real"... and there were thousands and thousands of them...all who gave thier lives to stop a world terror....

there's no point to this email... other than to share... and... suggest... someday, when your kids are grown and you are able to travel a bit.... if ever you go to Europe... take a few minutes of one day, and visit a war grave...Even if you don't know anyone... it makes it far more personal than any Rememberance Day you'll ever experience here!



Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembrance Day

When the kids catch a glimpse of the clock at 11 minutes past 11 they always say "11:11 make a wish" and you know that secretly even if you don't subscribe to superstition everyone in ear shot is making a wish. Some one is wishing for that special boy to notice them or for a really great mark on a math test, someone is wishing for that promotion at work or for a family member to regain their good health. Everyone has a desire to wish for.

There has been a lot of talk about this year's Remembrance Day being on 11/11/11. Each time I hear the reference my mind automatically jumps to 'make a wish'

11/11/11 make a wish.... and I wonder what the wishes around me would be.

Parents wishing for their sons and daughter back
Children wishing they had know their Fathers
Husbands and Wives wishing that the person they said good bye to was the same person who returned to them.
Families wishing for the safety of their sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, brother, sisters, aunts and uncles.
Those are big wishes

The Veterans who are wishing they never had to go, never had to pick up a gun, never had to kill.
Veterans who wish they weren't haunted by the horrors of war.
Veterans who wish they didn't have to leave their families behind to travel to a place where they would leave their friends behind.
Veterans who wish for those years back when they should have been building and enjoying their young lives instead of defending our freedoms.

Veterans who wish that their sacrifices, the sacrifice of lives, the sacrifice of their families is not forgotten.

11/11/11 make a wish...

...come true, Thank a Veteran, pause to reflect on their sacrifice...REMEMBER

Sincere gratitude today to the Men, Women, and Families of service past and present who have sacrificed so many wishes of their own to afford us the lives and freedoms we enjoy today.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thursday...Your Turn @ the Table

Happy Thursday!

Today I am Grateful for...

The Canadian Legion
Naturally occurring life lessons
Community volunteers
An extra hour sleep
Lunch already made in the fridge
Grass not Snow
Quiet rooms

Share your's Thursday your turn @ the table.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fill In the BlahBlahBla Blanks

75% of parenting is logic, knowledge, research and innate. The other 25% is dumb luck, playing the odds, process of elimination and flat out guess work.

When they are babies, you guess while they won't stop crying, and what is causing excess gas and sleeplessness. Toddlers present mysteries surrounding fears, rational and irrational, along with that fantastic game...'guess what it was and guess where I put it?'

By the time your precious bundles of joy hit middle school parental confidence is cresting high. The mere fact that they, and you, have survived that ambiguous 25% 'could go either way' factor for 12 or 13 years is a huge confidence boost! I for one believed that I had acquired the insight of the Mentalist and the instinct of Colombo.

... and Blahblahblah...
Then yesterday we had this conversation around the dinner table. I say conversation but really we were an audience to KJ's monologue that went something like this.....

"....and then Mrs. M was like "Katelin, pick up your work and move to that other station and blahblahblah." So then I did and Marcus unplugged my keyboard and plugged his in and ya, so every time I tried to do something he hit the back button on me or searched a new page and I was like stop and blahblahblah. And then at lunch Dillon took my Arizona and ran away and I was like get back here cause that's not even my drink and Suzy was like ya and blahblahblah.

I won't prolong the torture, that's enough to get the jist across. All those 'likes' and blahblahblahs are ACTUAL WORDS used as part of the conversation, not fillers I put in to get to the end faster.No, she really said them, like the rest of us are on the receiving end of some live reality twitter feed meant to guess the words that round out the story.

I haven't understood a conversation in our home in 3 months, not since Blahblahblah became the catch all phrase. I'm not going to complain though I might not have a clue what they are saying but the teenagers are still talking! I'm grateful for that!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday...Your Turn @ the Table

Good Morning! Time to get around the table and share some Gratitude.

Today I am grateful that it is National Men Cook Dinner Day. Mike says there are too many 'National Days of.....whatever." I think restaurants are grateful it is National Men Cook Dinner Day too!

Your Turn.... What are you Grateful for today?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday's Example of Domestic Bliss

Go ahead tell me this bowl of candy isn't for Mike and I. It has our initials all over it!

Much gratitude to our Lego man for all of his hard work and cuteness to collect such a fabulous treat for Mom and Dad. I'll put in a good word with Santa for you.

Spend some moment everyday in reflection of gratitude and happiness. Even if the time found is standing in line for coffee...use is wisely.