Monday, March 26, 2012


I am not ready to be a grandmother and I spend an awful lot of time reminding my children of that fact. I use whatever means land in my path to make the point that sexual responsibility is a real thing with real consequences and best left to consenting adults.
Think I'm kidding? Last week KJ was taking a prescription for a tummy virus. She opened the bottle and said “I think I missed one.” to which I, without missing a beat, yelled “PREGNANT!” KJ quietly explained to me that A) she's not that kind of girl and 2) prescription antacids do not have anything to do with pregnancy. “No”, I said “but if that had be your birth-control you would be PREGNANT!” *insert visual of teenager shaking head and rolling eyes*

It should be fairly clear that when Lula announced that she was bringing home Robo-Baby for the weekend I was ecstatic! I know that teenagers have an unrealistic view of infant rearing and I have heard some really great Robo-Baby horror stories. I was looking forward to the up all night screaming computer infant that would leave my 16 year old weary, frustrated and slightly sleep deprived. I wanted to see her pull her hair out for 48 hours and beg for it to stop.

This is the reality she got...

Robo-Baby turned on at 3pm, ate and slept until the evening. He let Lula eat her dinner hot and was only awake for 45 minutes between 7 and 10pm. He did not spit-up on my daughter's shoulder during burping. The diapers did not smell. Yellow baby poo did not gush from onsie leg wholes or up and out through the neck whole. Robo-Baby went to sleep after 5 minutes of rocking and stayed that way even when the chair creaked and the phone rang. Robo-Baby woke up once through the night for a 20 minute feeding and went promptly back to sleep until a reasonable hour. He let my daughter eat breakfast, get dressed, have a hot cup of coffee and enjoy a 25 minute car ride without fussing, crying, soiling himself or crying for no apparent reason. Night two mirrored night one and Sunday morning found my very lovely daughter not nearly as dishevelled as I was rooting for.

Apart from a few sparse moments of new Robo-Mother anxiety that had Lula doing the rock, bounce – what's wrong with you dance the weekend did not pose much reality... save for one moment...

During a crying episode KJ rather loudly complained “I didn't sign up for the stupid Baby why do I have to listen to it's crying and crap?”

So while the experience of Robo-Baby may have been under-realistic for the caregiver I am very grateful that the message was not lost on everyone.

Hope Gratitude and Smiles are meant to be shared,


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Raising a Loser

We've reached the end of our inaugural hockey season, save for a friendship tournament next weekend, our league play is done. Yesterday was a disappointing finish for the kids and this morning you could hear the confusion over their placing. I can't blame them I am also incredibly confused. Our team finish on top of the standings for the playoffs but we won't be playing in the final game because we lost our very first playoff game yesterday. The only game apparently that counted for the series.

I swear I will never understand this stuff, but the Dads who do understand the logistics of round robin play have been busy explaining and reassuring kids that yes, while it makes no sense and seems incredibly unfair it is how everything plays out.

So we lost, and that's okay, or at least that's what we say to the kids, you played hard, you had fun, you did your best. - what a crock, nobody likes to lose, it's not okay. be sad, talk about it, be disappointed, wallow...and get over it, you've got exactly 10 minutes.

I'll give you 10 minutes then we're going to talk about the journey.

Let's celebrate the kids who very literally could not even skate when the season kicked off, and the kids who could not pass the puck. How about those first half a dozen games where you got your butts whooped over and over again, those were fun. Not as much fun as the very first game you won maybe, but they were a place of great learning. What about your favourite moments of the season, lets talk about those; the string of wins, the Christmas Tournament that ended in shoot-out madness, the game at the OHL arena where they announced your names and pumped rally tunes. Those were favourite memories. How about the time your goalie had to leave the ice and you played empty netted for almost a full period and denied the other team a single goal...that was awesome! I personally really enjoyed watching the camaraderie grow. In the beginning the locker room was a quiet, sterile place, months later parents are lined up in the hallway wondering if you are ever going to quit goofing around and emerge.

So yes, I know losing sucks and the way you lost your place in the standings seems unfair and you are disappointed. You also played your best because great volunteers who spent their Saturdays and Sundays  for the last 6 months taught you never to give less. You did have fun because you played with your friends. You fought hard for that loss - you were after all playing to win.

Mostly, you've won so much more than you've lost, it's hard to see right now but I promise it is something you can be proud and happy with!

Gratitude to the coaches, the time keepers, parent taxis, convenors, coffee barristas, Zamboni drivers, the good sports and the referees. Gratitude to all parents across the Hockey Nation this week who are 'raising' losers - it can be hard to remind them that there is no such thing - Well Played!


Friday, March 23, 2012

The Power of a Payment

In part of my daytime job role I deal with extreme sadness. Some days, like today, I leave my desk with a battered spirit and arrive home with a broken heart.

I am the person who calls you after your mother, father, husband, wife, son, daughter dies. I am the person who helps you to get all the paperwork in order and helps make sure that the life insurance cheque gets delivered. It's not what I do all day but I always have at least one family on my desk, sometimes I have four and they are all hard.

There are two sides to a death. The side you see; the tears, the  mourning, the hugs, the flowers, family, friends, ceremony and trimmings. Then there is the business side of death the side you don't see until you are the one charged with settling your loved one's last wishes. That side is clinical. There are rules, there are regulations, there are expenses and paperwork that all the kind hearted, compassionate people in the world cannot take that away.

Before entering my current position I will admit I didn't really see the value of Life Insurance. It was a requirement of life to meet the contractual obligation to the mortgage company. Quite frankly it was an extra payment that I could really have done without. (for a little while we even did) We were 20 something with no plans to depart this world and no worries that it might happen against our will. The thought never really crossed my mind what would happen if I did die.What that would look like for those left behind, who would pay for my funeral, how my husband would pay the bills? How long would it be before he would have to be back to work full time?

Then I helped deliver my very first insurance cheque to a family. I was terrified the first time I had to pick up the phone. I didn't want to tell this man who had just lost his wife that I needed a form completed and an original death certificate. I didn't want to bother him and reduce his wife to a pile of paperwork, but I had to, otherwise he would never get the insurance payment .

The insurance payment that he really needed. His wife dying kept him from work, provided overnight, a series of bills totaling well into the thousands of dollars. I was uptight every time I picked up the phone to update him on the progress. I felt terrible the day I called him to let him know that I had his $25,000 cheque. Then he said Thank you, with a audible sigh of grief and peace choked together. He wanted to be glad that he was released from his financial burdens but the reality of his wife's life equating to a dollar figure was a lot to bare.

I will never ever forget the heartfelt gratitude that came from this man when I met him in person. I was in awe, how could someone facing this insurmountable anguish find gratitude.  I thought that this man was extraordinary. I came to realize that genuine deep felt gratitude was a common denominator among those left behind. A gratitude not felt by those left behind without the recourse of life insurance and holding the bills and the worry.

Suddenly the job I was doing seemed very real, very necessary. I could see the other side of death the business side and the very real effects of that monthly payment into thin air.

As soon as we are born we begin dieing, it is the only inevitability and the when is the greatest of uncertainty. Life Insurance is something nobody likes to talk about, no one wants to think about their loved one leaving. Some people even think that the discussion is inviting bad luck. I can tell you this, not dealing with the conversation has the potential to induce more harm and heartache than you can imagine.

Today was a bad day for dealing with sad people. It would make me feel much better if I knew everyone reading this took the steps to talk to their Insurance guy, make sure you will be leaving your family with a legacy and a gift not a burden and a greater heartache.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Out of the Zone

Today I went bowling. You should know that I did not choose bowling, would not choose bowling, and I have serious reservations about people who bowl.

Bowling is just wrong for so many reasons in my world...

The EWW Factor. I know they spray those shoes with industrial strength anti-bac (or maybe it's just Lysol - you don't know) I can't even use a public microwave and this sport wants you to put a stranger on your feet. My skin literally crawled for 2 hours as I felt the fungal infection permeate my socks and attach itself to my very non-athletic feet. Even after arriving home, immediately removing my socks and cleaning my feet the feeling of violation still lingers. If you have never experienced this just look around you next time you are at the lanes...guy with sweat spraying from his forehead with every lob was wearing your shoes last Tuesday night. - you're welcome.

As if the shoes where not enough, at some point around mid hurl of ball 3 (I say hurl - because that's how I bowl) I realized that not only were my feet submerged in footwear as well used as a subway restroom, my fingers were repeatedly being stuffed into the communal holes of a 10 pin bowling ball. I worked my head around it, avoiding the thought of the microbial contamination assaulting my fingers. Then snacks arrived and every one began commenting about how well the ball would slide off your hand with the finger holes lubed up with pizza grease. Eww, Ewwww, ewww,eww, EWW!

The Reliving - No event like a corporate bonding bowling afternoon will go unmentioned. Tomorrow I'll be reliving the cringe, skin crawling nightmare all over again.

Gratitude today that a few hours in someone else's shoes have reminded me to keep working at my own game. Oh, a gratitude too that my kids never ask to go bowling.

Gratitude, hope and smiles are meant to be shared,


Keep watching the Space for a big project announcement

Friday, March 16, 2012

With a Little Help from My Friends

This is a piece I should not be writing. It has the potential to embarrass a child and exacerbate an already tense situation. I'm just so freaked out by the service of *wait for it* ... a cell phone company of all creatures, that I am going to write it anyway.  In the interest of preserving family harmony and respecting the privacy of a teenager I'm just going to pretend it happened to someone else.

So my friend has teenagers, my friend also has grey hair, frazzled nerves, a zest for life and a positive outlook on her current situation and the future. As I understand it teenagers can sometimes test your patience. It is not their fault they really don't have much control over their developing brains or hormones. The poor creatures are continually trying to navigate that delicate balance between stability and instability while trying desperately to separate themselves from the apron strings in preparation for adulthood. I really do have to commend them for the difficulties they face on a daily basis while they navigate through this storm. I remember being there, it was not an easy place to be.

On occasion however teenagers get caught up in themselves. They think themselves braver than they believe and wiser than they think. They test the limits too thoroughly and need to be reeled back in. Right around this same time they also believe they are more cleaver than their parents.

My friend's daughter was riding one of these big for her britches highs recently. Mistakenly deciding that she had attained an age where the rules of family life and respect no long were applicable to one so mature and capable. Oh, my poor friend her children really are capable. The daughter began breaking curfew, ditching responsibilities, balking at simple house chores like pick up your dishes and hang up your coat. She was adopting an air of belligerence and sass. All intolerable behaviours in civilized circles. Routinely such behaviour would result in loss of privilege, most namely the confiscation of cellular devise.

My friend's clever daughter being ever so capable and bright could see this coming in the headlights and ditched the phone. "lost" it. On the premise that you cannot extract blood from a stone, you cannot take what is not there. No phone, nothing to loose.

There is more than one way to skin a cat however and my friend as a parent of teenagers has developed some skills of her own through out this adolescent storm.

I did say this was a story about a cell phone company didn't I? That cell phone company is Virgin Mobile. The phone company with the funky auto-attendants and super customer service staff. Virgin Mobile who earned my friends unwavering loyalty recently when she called to inquire about suspending service to a cellular devise.

Yes, Virgin Mobile clearly organized and staffed by the parents of teens. Service suspended... no additional charge for the suspension or the reinstatement (should that day arrive) Virgin mobile and the very kind customer service attendant who inquired if the suspension was due to the phone being lost? The dear who knocked the monthly bill down to a minimal $15 while on suspension when she was told the need for suspension was disciplinary.

Gratitude today from my  friend for some assistance from an unlikely source. Parenting is hard work she says we need all the help we can get.

I have a feeling that Virgin Mobile understands where the money comes from to pay those phone bills and that like in my friend's case, service suspension is not likely to last very long. It's surprising how a little disconnection can put things back on track.

Happy Friday - It seems like a day for grand adventure - go find one!


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In My House We Don't Pay You to Have Fun

If one more person asks me how much I pay my son for a goal I think I might just scream.

Pay him for a goal, are your freaking serious? Have you seen the price of hockey registration? Heck, have you seen the price of gas? I've paid enough already for this boy to play hockey! Beyond the debit card ca'ching that goes on to get him into and to the games I have also paid with my Sunday morning sleep deprivation. I am not about to start shelling out five bucks a goal.

Frankly I am amazed that anyone would subscribe to the practice of paying their kids to play in the first place and I am offended quite openly by the number of parents who automaticly assume that my son is good on the ice because I pay him to be. Anybody who thinks that would work, please... raise your hand. Now put your hand down and leave the room.

My son does play very well. We have done one year of hockey fundamentals where he learned to skate and hold a stick and stop without smashing into the boards. We spent a season in ball hockey where his most spectacular goal was a slow motion roll in from the far end of the rink that should very well have been called for icing. This is his first year of ice hockey and he has excelled. Yes, he leads the league in assists. Yes, he has more than a hat trick of hat tricks. Yes, he sits in the top three goal scorers. Yes, he loves the game.

He eats, sleeps and breaths hockey. There are games on tv, games in the street, mini stick games in the basement. I have to pull him in off the street for dinner and glue him to the chair to keep him there long enough to eat. He is the first one in the van on game day and he wakes us up for practice on Sunday mornings. On the way to the arena I can hear him in the backseat singing along to the “hockey play-list” he has created on his Ipod. He warms up at home before his games, he makes himself a protein breakfast and requests pasta lunches.

Yes, he loves the game, he has fun out there on the ice that is what makes him a good player.

If the day ever arrived that I felt compelled to pay him for his performance that would be the very last day he plays hockey.

The question “how much do you pay him for a goal” makes me furious and I wonder how many kids are out there on the ice because they want to be and how many are out their because their parents want them to be the next big star?

Hey, I have an idea if you really want your kids to be stars and you think money will do that why not stop paying them for goals and start paying them for sportsmanship. How about a buck for every fist-bump or pass to a player who doesn't get many shots. Maybe a purple slurpee for knocking the goalie on the shoulder after a rough game and praising all out effort. How about five bucks for yelling a “thanks coach” on the way out of the dressing room.

Maybe, if you did that, in 20 years the stands will be filled with awesome hockey parents.

Gratitude to the parents who have not asked how much we pay our kid to play, the ones who stop him and say great game and who recognize that he's just having a good time. Gratitude as well to my friend who suggested that she pays her son to be the first one out of the dressing room after a game – now there is an idea I would contribute a buck to!

Hope, Gratitude and Smiles are meant to be shared


Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Feel Like Something New

Working on a holiday in The Space Between Raindrops. There will be some changes coming and going as I freshen things up a bit.

First change...

What do you think of the new background? It's rocks. Doesn't really fit does it? Read this to see why I chose rocks Jar of Stones

Friday, March 9, 2012

Music that Will Move My Friday

Lets count the wonderful things about your boss going on holidays. Or lets not, I really like my boss, my kids really need me to maintain employment.

There is however one very wonderful thing about the boss being on holidays that I can talk about and really would be remise if I did not - Concert Tickets!

Somebody has to use them, and anybody could have I guess. Fortunately the opportunity filtered down to me. So last night Michael and I enjoyed an evening with the KW Symphony and the Jeans & Classics Band. Also very lucky for us the tribute was to the very fabulous U2!

Now there is a soundtrack for life. I must apologize to the concert goers in our proximity for the excessive toe tapping and butchering of pitch as we lamely attempted to sing along. Somethings you just can't help, kind of like a sneeze - you have no control and you can't do it without blinking.

Today I am grateful for a generous employer, a fabulous date and the music that will be stuck in my head all day today (that will make Friday hum!)

I'm leaving you with One performed by U2 and Mary J. Blije. A very beautiful rendition of a song that is not really about love but actually the very opposite. Funny how we can confuse discord with passion. Going to be checking myself today that I am actually doing things out of love not the absence of it.

Happy Friday!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Women's Day - A Question

Happy International Women's Day!

This is a day for all women - not just the famous or the oppressed, not only the ones who make a grand difference but also the women who make an everyday one. This is a day to appreciate the women who have led us here and the leadership role we hold for the women coming up behind us. This is a day to recognise the ability we have to affect change in our world.

This is a day to consider the woman you aspire to be, because that is a unique trait of women, we are continually aspiring to 'be'.

In celebration of International Woman's Day I want to ask...Who is the woman you aspire to be?


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Beautiful Lula

This is my very beautiful Lula. Beautiful on the inside with her compassionate heart, her genuine concern for other people, amazing sense of humour and creative energies beyond your wildest imagination. This is my very beautiful Lula. Beautiful on the outside with eyes that captivate, a smile that lights up a room, A bouncy bun of thick gorgeous curls, a confidence in her walk and a presence that attracts the comments of complete strangers. “your daughter is beautiful”
This is my beautiful Lula. Inside and out. I see it. My Lula doesn't see it. My Lula looks in the mirror and doesn't like what she sees. My Lula looks in the mirror and sees a girls who needs to be trimmer and fitter. She sees a girl who no one takes seriously, who gets over looked and placated.

Is that the girl you see? If you know my Lula I bet you don't see that, I bet you see the girl who always makes you smile, has a kind word to share, the girl who would do anything for her friends. You probably see the girl who is always going out of her way to make sure things are right in your world, who will give up homework, family time, her favourite movie, video game or adventure if you need a shoulder to lean on. You probably see the little girl who gave her favourite big bubbly plastic ring to a kindergarten classmate who lost her own down the sewer drain. You probably see the girl who can find art in everything. You probably see the girl with the beautiful eyes and the confident walk all nestled under a perky puffy bun of auburn curls. If you know my Lula, that is probably who you see. As a Mom and as a human being am very humbled to know such a beautiful soul.

If you don't know my Lula, you might be wondering how can such a beautiful and amazing girl have such a negative impression of herself? How can she think that what she sees in the mirror is not enough. How can she not see what everybody else sees?

First she has a mother who has failed to celebrate her enough. Second she has siblings, siblings in teenage years can be your very best friend, they are also notoriously hurtful and mean spirited to one another. Third she has friends who don't take her seriously, they feed on her humour and can't imagine that she is hurting inside. And yes she is a teenager trying to find her way in the world and identify who who is. Those things don't do much for a person's self esteem.

I am the mom of this beautiful girl and I wish that I could talk so she could hear me. I wish I could say all of the things she needs to hear to recognize the incredible young woman she is. We have a deadlock in our home. Lula thinks that I'm not listening, but I am, I just can't see all of the things she thinks she is not, I can only see all the amazing thing she is. I see them and I tell her, the trouble is that she can't hear all of the amazing things. She can only hear all the things she thinks she is not.

Being the mom of a teenage girl is heart wrenching at times because of the potential you see in your daughter, because they often times fail to see it themselves and because all of the talk from you in the world does not have the power of a single word from a stranger or a friend.

Gratitude today to the people who see my beautiful Lula and have the words that I don't have to help her see what she can't see.

Have I made the situation seem desperate? Yesterday was a day like I've written above. Fortunately, my beautiful Lula is also grounded in reality and has a great amount of support and a very equal number of fabulous days.

I let her read this post before making it public and she gave me her permission to share it. With the caveat “It is beautifully written, except those spots that make it sound like I am depressed about myself. Maybe for a few minutes yesterday maybe I was, but I'm good again.”

So this is really why I wrote this piece. To help Lula identify the blip on the radar screen. To remind her that we all have those days and to remind the rest of us...

That not everyone has more great days then bad blips. To remind us that people don't always see themselves the way we see them, that sometimes we can't see that people need to hear about their beautiful.

When you are out and about today recognize the beautiful in someone – not just in your head but out loud so someone else can recognize it. We all need to hear it sometimes from people who have the words we can hear.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Where the Missing Things Are

Lately there has been a great deal of activity centred around searching in our world. E-man was searching yesterday for the perfect mix of inspirational tunes to share with his team to pump everybody up in the dressing room. Getting into 'the zone' is apparently very important to 10 year old boys. He spent a lot of time, searching, listening, playing songs for Dad to screen for inappropriate content. In the end he could have saved himself a lot of time by just playing his personal inspirational play-list. All the good beats are there already – all public performance approved except that one by Tiny Tempa song and a great Eminem one. Yes, bad Mom alert, my kids listen to music occasionally dotted with a curse word and low grade profanity, they are else are they going to know what vocabulary will get them perma-grounded?

Lula has been searching too. Friday evening our house almost came unravelled while she scoured for her misplaced work schedule that would not have been missing in actual fact, had her coat not also been missing. Relief was granted by a third look in the closet. I'm not entirely certain how her coat came to be hanging in the closet (life is one mystery after another) but that's where she found it, right where is should have been, and there was her schedule right in the pocket where she left it. I'm going to be honest here and say that I liked the mini meltdown she was having, it was much more pleasant than the one she had upon realizing that she was scheduled for 8am not 1pm like she thought.

Then there is my search. The hunt high and low for the nail clippers. This drives me crazy! They are never where I put them, never in 'their place', never in their 'other' place, or even in the maybe place. Eventually I stop looking and stop looking at my nails that need desperate trimming. I get on with life. Feed kids and animals, drive people around, wash dishes and work, write, put laundry away. Then I find them, the nail clippers, nestled in the cup on the dryer meant for pocket change, dislodged buttons and items I've saved my washer from.

Isn't it funny how that happens, we look for things so hard that we make the job difficult for ourselves or we miss things that are right in front of us. Gratitude today that the answers to life and nail clippers always seem to turn up when I stop looking.