Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Dog's Breakfast

Grateful Thursday from the dog this morning....

I went to reach for the dog food this morning, it wasn't there. We ran out at last night's feeding apparently, why doesn't anybody tell me these things?

Given the circumstances, the hour, my pyjama-ed state, the pouring rain and insufficient coffee consumption, I did the next best thing to going out to the store for dog kibble....

He's eating cat food. The K9 equivalent of pie & ice cream for breakfast.

He would like to pass along the following message for Grateful Thursday...

Life is good.

Happy Thursday everyone, Hope Gratitude and Smiles are meant to be shared. What are you grateful for today?


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Living In the Reality We Created

Where are you on the gun issue? I want to weigh in with some politically educated opinion and knowledge but I have none. From what I understand it is far too easy to acquire fire arms, way to legal to possess them, way to impossible to determine who might be walking around with the ability to destroy lives tucked under their jacket of stuffed in their waistband. Truthfully I am not informed well enough to share an opinion on the big political picture gun issue, and clearly, irrefutably there IS an issue.

A lack of educated insight should not however be mistaken for a lack of position. I have a very strong position on guns. "Not in my world, not in my house, not in my children's toy box, not on their video game console, not in the games played on the street. Not in our life" It has not made me a very popular mom. Yes, I pull my son off the street when the gang war-esk games start, and 10 year olds are running around with make believe weapons using quiet peaceful neighbourhood homes, cars and gardens like an urban hand to hand combat jungle. I exchange Birthday and Christmas gifts that arrive sporting gun violence. I once threw an entire present in the garbage complete with miniature plastic scope and hand grenades because I could not return it for something less offensive. (Okay the act may have been fueled partially by a complete 'I can't believe you would even consider that gift Grandma." response.)  My nephews hate coming to hang out with me because my video game selection, while completely appropriate for 4-8 year olds, contains Wii sports, and Lego Star wars not Call of Duty Black Ops or Sniper Elite.

Do I sound paranoid that exposing my children to guns, violence and the virtual extermination of society is going to create in them an appreciation for violence and weaken their regard for human life? I'm not afraid of that at all. I'm not even convinced that those exposures have the power to insight violent rampage fantasies in people who are mentally stable and high functioning. I do however believe that our kids get enough or rather far too much exposure to violence and tragedy in their everyday lives to require the supplement.

It has become inescapable, each and everyday there are stories of gun violence and acts of terror precipitated on innocent unsuspecting people. People who go to neighbourhood block parties, drop by the mall for a new pair of shoes or decide to take in a movie premiere. Students who leave for an education in the morning and end up in a box on the lawn of a university campus in the afternoon.

In the days of my childhood we would play Cops and Robbers and Cowboys and Indians (yes I am that old) for hours upon hours, we would capture the bad guys and draw our weapons and even shoot them at one another, but our imaginations could create without much effort worlds that did not exist beyond our backyards and playgrounds. That is just not possible today. A child cannot imagine a world more violent than exists in reality, for their minds to conceive scenarios more devastating or gruesome than have already been imagined for them in movies, video games and television is incomprehensible, I'm not sure as an adult I could pull it off.

The things others have imagined we have accepted into our lives and in this regard we have fostered the very violence and terror that breaks our hearts and causes us to weep for the world we are raising our children in.

"Not in my world, not in my house, not in my children's toy box, not on their video game console, not in the games played on the street. Not in our life" I, foolishly (or not) choose to envision and encourage our kids to imagine a world free from violence and disregard for human life. Hoping that they might fuel a new reality for a world we have let be imagined way off course.

So the gun issue becomes for me, in my mind, a matter of parents having a position and then having the balls to enforce it in their own homes. Have the conviction to back up your outrage with action. There is no 'on the fence' about this topic and yet so many are. They say I am against guns and violence then they give their kids a ride to the video game store to buy the latest first person assault game. Parents cry over school shootings and send their kids out to play with orange capped AK47s and handguns. Those things don't magically appear in your home, they reside there with your permission and their presence is like a big 'BUT' in a sentence, it erases everything that came before.

Have the resolve to say no when everyone else is following along. If you are truly opposed to a thing make sure what you preach is what you teach.

Gratitude today to all of those doing just that.


Written with a heart overfilled with tears for the families of such senseless tragedy. It is to them we owe our very best efforts to envision a better world through the imaginations of our children.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lily's Story

Today I can't think of a better thing to share than this brave little girl's story and the amazing gratitude of her family.


It's in you to give a family hope.

Hope, gratitude and smiles are meant to be shared, Gratitude to Lily and her family for sharing their hope and gratitude and smiles.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adopting GRACE

If life can bring you to it, GRACE can move you through it. Trying hard everyday to adopt a little...

   be Grateful
                                                 Respect everyone - yourself included
                 your Attitude is a choice
                                                  Celebrate everyday accomplishments
                     Encourage others

Thursday...Your Turn @ The Table...  What are you Grateful for today?

Enjoy the sunshine...Keep smiling :)


Friday, July 13, 2012

It's Been an Educational Week!

Things I learned this week...

  • If you have a teenage daughter on track for film school you don't need summer camp. (I will post links to parts 1 & 2 of the first summer production once part 2 leaves editing)

  • It is always important to hear it from the source. Little brothers will tell you their sister has bus tickets to get to summer school without even checking.

  • Hotdogs are better to throw than hurtful words. or are they? Depends on the amount of ketchup vs. the words under consideration. A case by case circumstance I suppose.

  • There is actually a scenario in which scorching humid air is desired over the car air conditioning system. You have to be stuck on the 401, late for a championship ball hockey game and covering your eyes so as not the witness your ten year old son 'dressing' in the back into stink soaked equipment, but it does exist.

  • Lavender scented poop bags are a mosquito attractant not a repellent.

  • Anti-bacterial hand gel is just as effective as stinky afterbite.

  • Celebration ice-cream eaten in quantity is not calorie free.

  • The dog, no matter how many times you send him off the bed will always find a way to creep back on. Dogs are like boomerangs and my back is like a twisted pretzel.

  • Homework is only homework if the teacher refers to it as such in class. Otherwise it is a 'thing' you have to do, that's not that much, won't take long, and can wait until 10pm on Sunday night.

  • If the only resident to ever be charged with continually violating municipal watering by-laws moves to Montreal - there will be conformity in the neighbourhood. Brown lawns for all!

  • You can't lie at math.

Eventually Friday arrives as another whirl of adventure begins! This weekend I hope to find water, purge a walk in closet and participate with my family in a Guinness Book of World Records event - we are going to be part of the world's longest picnic. Check one off the list!

Happy Friday everyone, do your homework, love your family, leave the lavender scented poop bags at home :)

Gratitude, Hope and Smiles are meant to be shared...pass it on.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Popping in for a Grateful Thursday ... (then I'm gone again)

I feel rather obligated to write a post today, not that obligation should ever be the fuel for creative expression. There is pressure that comes with obligation that you just don't get from impulse.  There should be no expectation on this piece therefore. (that just took some of the pressure off)

For my friends who meditate you understand that there is great clarity born of silence. An understanding found in moments of self inspection and observation that aren't found standing in the middle of the freeway. We need moments of silence to reacquaint with our desires and check our bearings. You just can't get that standing in the middle of the fast lane in nothing but your knickers and flip-flops desperately trying to hold your own against the rush of traffic, waving your arms and jumping around frantically to get noticed so you don't get mowed down. At some point you need to step off, plunk yourself down in the grassy median assess your circumstances and recharge.

That's where I am, over here in the grass between the east-bound and west-bound lanes. *waves hello* I've taken a break from everything, writing, social media, T.V. texting, talking, thinking; it's just me over here catching my breath checking the map and figuring out where I need to be and how I am going to get there... or rather it is Mike and I plunked in the weeds figuring it out together; where our family needs to be and how we are going to get them there. I'm looking at the traffic rushing past in both directions and wondering how the hell we've survived this far! It is easy to see exactly where we want to get to, but it means jumping back out into traffic and trying to navigate across four lanes of eastbound traffic in our knickers and flipflops to the other shoulder. This is not going to be easy, but no adventure worth risking ever came without some fear.

Gratitude today for grassy medians, big signs and my first class husband and travel companion - I love you.

It is also Grateful Thursday, (hence to obligation - I need to hear from you!) so I'm hollering across from the center lane "WHAT ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR TODAY?" can you hear me over the traffic?


Now I have to get back to standing in traffic.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Art of Victory and Defeat

We are in Mississauga this weekend for the OBHA Provincials. This is very exciting, the last time we were in Mississauga for a hockey event E got to work the defense gate, benched with a major concussion, so he is very grateful to be out on the floor running with the team this time around.

Game one was an exercise in the team getting their bearings. There were some really good plays and some very great passes, the goalie made some extraordinary saves but mostly there was a great many 'one man teams' trying to win the game, to our downfall. 5-3 was the score for game one.

First face-off of the tournament for E
Between game one and two Mike, E and I grabbed a pizza to supplement our packed picnic and headed to a shady spot to enjoy a relax and some downtime. I especially love these reflective moments when Mike talks with E about his strengths and weaknesses from a game, they have a real routine built around hockey. Mike asks "what was your favourite thing about that game? and he asks what do you think needed some work?" E always answers with the same observations Mike comments to me in the stands and I am impressed with his game comprehension. Everything I know about hockey I learn from these conversations. I also learned today that "Mom you probably shouldn't shout out, you really don't know what to say when, maybe just leave it to Dad." This is especially comical because 'Dad' doesn't know how to shout. We are a doomed cheering squad.  After game one E was happy with his positioning, the reason behind his assist and two goals.

On to game two, a hard fought match up Kitchener vs. Cambridge which comes with a Hometown vs. Hometown rivalry. The game was phenomenal! Our teams so evenly matched that there was not a goal scored until 10 minutes left in the game. First goal to Kitchener. The stands erupted with a final break in tension! How there are not more heart events in spectator stands is beyond comprehension, I think I actually saw one dad's throbbing temple vein collapse.With that goal I thought to myself it took 20 minutes for someone to get one in the net, with only 10 minutes left could we get it back? We did, within minutes E popped one in off a well played team passing rally; Tied! Six minutes left in play and our team is dealt a devastating call by refs, even the opposing team questioned it; a penalty shot for pulling down a breakaway. Whatever, it was a bad call, everyone knew it, even the ref I'm sure. What a horrible way to lose a game two teams worked so hard for. The penalty shot found it's hole and Kitchener was up 2-1. It deflated everyone. One final empty net goal at 30 second left in play and defeat was confirmed.

Emerging from the dressing room after the game were tired disappointed kids from our team. The source of their disappointment not the loss, but the unsportsman like conduct demonstrated in the closing handshake line where a member of the opposing team called each boy a 'Bitch' or an 'Asshole' as he bumped their glove. *sigh* and I am reminded again how hard parents and coaches need to work to teach, demonstrate and hold their kids up to high moral standards in sport. It was an incredibly unfortunate end to a game 30 kids can be proud of. I'm not even sure what the answer is to this behaviour, it seems impervious to eradication.

Except by acts of the opposite, like the father from the winning team who stopped us with his son in the hallway on our way out of the building and said to E "Awesome game! your team really gave us a hard fight, it could have gone either way, anybody's game to win really, well played, you guys can be very proud!"

Gratitude to you Hockey Dad...for showing two boys what good sportsmanship looks like!

On to game three and four today, new day, new games, new picnic new chances to play our best again. I think I like hockey tournaments even if I shout cluelessly.

Enjoy your Saturday, encourage good conduct and share some smiles.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

You're Going to Miss This

In the midst of the Terrible Twos I never envisioned missing them. It never occurred to me that I would want back the piggy tailed banshees and their displays of public humiliation. I couldn't imagine pining for the days when my children melted to the grocery store linoleum like limp noodles to writhe and cry in protest over cookies, cart pushing and gummy bears. I never stood over my toddlers as they filled the air with whaling tears and thought 'these are good times'. Until I land on one of those raising teenager days that makes the Terrible Twos look like a trip to Disney.

My Gran used to say 'little kids, little troubles'.

Gratitude today that children reach full size somewhere between fourteen and eighteen and that the grocery store is inherently void of Slinkys. One can retreat there for some solitude and a trip down memory lane watching young moms struggle with their 'good times'.

Grateful's your turn @ the table. What's on your list of Gratitude today?


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Picture Perfect...Perfectly Pictured

There are days that determine your destiny, days that change who you are and what you want out of life. The defining days are few; most people can count them on one hand and identify them without a moment of retrospect. Most assume to find these moments in their ‘celebration days’. As I listen to my teenage daughters dream, I know they are anticipating that their wedding day will be one and the arrival of their children will be others. For my son, the day he hoists the Stanley cup over his head centre rink he envisions, will be one. I do not have the heart to tell them that those days while monumental and significant might not be the days they anticipate them to be. I’m not sure how to break it to them that a defining day mostly likely will start out just like any other day with sleeping in and burnt coffee, traffic jams and leftovers for dinner. Should I tell them the day they get a tooth crowned could be the same day that alters their life forever?

Looking into the future it is impossible to see what your defining days will be, looking into the past however is a different story. Looking backwards it is easy to recognise that it is not the wedding day that changes your life, it is the day you realize you are truly, completely and devotedly in love with the person you are going to marry. It is not the day a person dies; it is the very first moment you reach out for them and realize they are not there. It is not the day your first child is born, it is the day you discover you are going to be a parent.  Or it was for me, that moment changed my life forever. That day I saw my family in a mental picture that burned into my soul, that moment altered my path forever.

I’m sure it was a Sunday, we did most things on Sunday back in those years, it was the day we had together. I suspected we might be pregnant; at least that was our plan. I remember the anticipation of peeing on the stick, the instructions were committed to memory, this was one thing I wanted to be sure I was doing right. I wet the stick and waited for the hormones to seep across the test window; I held my breath and prayed. I did not blink, did not move from my seat or pull up my pants to look respectable if and when I could bound out of the bathroom and into the hallway to announce our news to Michael. I did not take my eyes off that home pregnancy test. We wanted a baby and I wasn’t going to miss the exact moment of finding out we were getting what we wanted. A three minute pregnancy test takes a lot longer than three minutes but when those two thin pink lines were finally staring me in the face my world froze. We were getting what we wanted. Except suddenly; I didn’t want a baby.

What I wanted was grown adults, a fabulous, well rounded, successful, compassionate family of grown adults. In that instant my mind had skipped right over diapers and 3am feedings to a long rustic parsons table in our home over-looking the lake. The table was surrounded by our grown children and their spouses. I could see some of them playing cards with Michael and laughing with his same easy sense of humor; that original charm that had drawn me into his world like a moth to a flame and made me fall in love with him. Some of us were perched around the large counter space peeling potatoes and hauling strawberries, working together to prepare dinner for the clan, sampling along the way. I could hear our grandchildren giggling and taunting one another as they ran in the halls and weaved through their parents’ legs and into the kitchen. I could see myself scooping one of them up as they darted past, plopping them on to the counter to snap the tips and tails off the green beans. The stereo in the back ground was muted useless by the drone of happy voices. This space was the embodiment of love and acceptance. I could see it in the gentle looks and the passing touches of familiarity. I could smell the home in our home, a reminiscent mingling of cinnamon, vanilla and smoke; it filled my heart to tears. I saw myself walking over to open the window allowing our laughter and love to bounce out beyond our walls, to dance across the water and infect the world beyond us. This was our family; I did not want to hide it from the world. I saw myself catching Mike’s knowing gaze and contented grin on my way back to my counter task. I felt the corners of my mouth turn up and mirror his, our hearts swollen with pride for what we were so very very blessed to enjoy. How could two young kids have gotten so lucky?

That was my picture, my picture was love. I could hear it, see it, smell it, taste it breath it in and let that breath back out again without fear of the vision disappearing. That is what I saw in my mind the moment I found out we were going to be parents.  We were going to raise an amazing family! That was my defining moment, the instant I understood my life was not about me it was about that vision and every action from that very moment would be in pursuit of attainment.

I’ve neglected to ever ask Mike what his vision was the moment I bounced squealing out of the bathroom with tears in my eyes and waving that urine coated lab test. I guess I just always assumed his vision was exactly like mine. He could very well have been envisioning knitted blankets and booties, the 3am feedings and over-my-dead-body names to scratch off the list before I could contemplate them. Perhaps he had a vision of university tuition and loaning his car to teenagers. In that case I suspect he also had a mental map to the liquor store and a private place picked out to shed some tears. Maybe he had a greater mental picture of the future than I did. I suspect this to be true as proven through our adventure; he has taken more than his fair share of turns shining the light beyond the struggles at hand and onto the bigger picture.

What I did not know at the time of being frozen by my mental picture of parenthood was the significance of such a vivid visual representation of our goal.  Only in the last ten years of our journey have I come to understand that tangible vision is how successful people get things done. If you truly want to be successful at anything, business, arts, music, sports any great endeavour, yes even parenting, you have to envision what that success ultimately looks like. What are you wearing? What are you eating? Who is by your side? Are you rich or are you poor? Are you healthy or are you sick? Do you have parrot on your shoulder or a dog on your lap?  What do you smell? Where are you? What can you see if you look out of the window? What conversations are you having over diner? If you can’t imagine how it looks, smells, tastes and sounds how will you know when you’ve gotten there? How will you know that you have successfully reached your goal? You won’t, and what happens for a lot of people is that we allow ourselves to stop short of our heart’s desire because we are content enough and don’t know where our finish line is. People rarely ever think about over shooting their mark. So I understand now that the mental picture that burned into my brain the moment I confirmed that yes, there were indeed two lines in the window, is the major contributing factor to my ability to keep all the be-bees in the holes.
Gratitude, for imaginations, pictured perfection and their power that forces me to dig deeper, try harder, be more accepting, love greater and be more patient when I would much rather share my feelings.

Gratitude as well for the understanding that what we might end up with instead of gazing together into a future of family togetherness and harmony, could be therapy retreats where our grown-up children can pummel us with sponge batons and hate on us constructively for bungling up their childhoods and leaving them bitter and neglected souls. That will be fun too!

Gratitude, Hope and Smiles are meant to be shared...enjoy your Monday Tuesday!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oh, Canada...How Could You?

We picked Lula up from work on Saturday, she hopped into the van angry and disappointed. "I have to work tomorrow!"

"What do you mean 'work tomorrow'? It’s Canada Day, Nobody 'works' tomorrow."

"Ya well I do" she grumbled, "We get to celebrate Canada Day on Monday, that's when the store is closed."

Okay, I've missed a memo and clearly the referendum debate and vote in which we elect to move Canada Day (a statutory holiday) to which ever day fits best with our schedules and our retail economic plan.

Have we lost our minds Canada?

I thought maybe this was a one off scenario, but no, Lula's store, the one down the street, the big mega stores at the mall...all open Sunday; Canada Day...closed Monday. Somebody said to me "Ya well, everyone else is off on Monday." Yes, everyone else is off on Monday, because the Statutory holiday falls on a Sunday, people who ordinarily don't work on Sundays get to take the Monday off, that way the employer is not paying them extra to not work on a day they would not be working anyway. It's the administrative economic plan.

Anger I guess festers in me over this for a couple of reasons; first remember the days when nothing was open on Sunday? You couldn't buy a loaf of bread, a new stove or a new pair of jeans. Heck if you forgot to buy milk you found yourself at the mercy of the corner 'convenience store' the store with penalty high prices that thrived on brisk sales on Sundays and holidays. Yes, dear children, there was a time when the 'Convenience' store was vital to the community for more that slushies and cigarettes. Can you remember back to that time when everybody was home on Sunday by design, when there was nowhere to go, nothing to do and no one was missing from the dinner table? Sunday was a day for family. Was, we let it go to retail convenience and the quest for economic gain. Way to go Canada.

What about Boxing Day? Remember that day? Once upon a time people celebrated Christmas overflow on that day. Nothing was open. In recent years we have been missing family from our celebrations because they either 1) have to work or 2) have a line up for the best ever deal they need to be in. We let that day go too, replaced those 24 family hours with consumer need and retail greed. Way to go Canada.

There is a great amount of talk about making November 11 a national statutory holiday. Please I beg you Canada, don't do it. In the eventuality of that happening marketers will find a way to basterdize it into a retail event with half priced IPods and free poppies to the first 100 customers. In the event that November 11 falls on a Wednesday in all likelihood we will celebrate it on Monday or Friday in pursuit of a long weekend. It's the predictable demise of Canadian tradition. I would much rather keep my two sacred minutes of silence at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month and remember the occasion than have an extra day to kick back with my friends. Plus pausing for those 2 minutes will be good practice for Christmas when there is no holiday to associate with December 25th and I am sitting at my desk opening e-greetings and reminiscing about the way holidays used to be celebrated in Canada.
The whole thing infuriates me. We live in the greatest country in the world with the greatest freedoms and opportunities. We have been blessed with reasons to celebrate and the freedoms to do so..... And we are giving them up, little by little one inch, one shopping hour, one holiday at a time. There is a lot of complaining about working too much and never getting a day off. Well we used to have them, but we let them be taken away. Nobody arrives at the end of this journey wishing they had spent more time at work or at the mall. Way to go Canada.

Our plans for Canada Day have been changed in light of Lula's having to work. We were going to go for the day, maybe to the beach or downtown celebrations enjoy the day and stay for the fireworks display, but I refuse to celebrate as a family without her. Instead we will catch fireworks tonight and go somewhere tomorrow after the flags have been torn down and the festival booths have been dismantled. We will celebrate an ordinary Monday instead. We will but I will be sad for yet another tradition we have allowed to slip through our hands.
I would be ever so grateful today if people refused to step foot inside a shopping mall, grocery store or big box. I would be grateful if we as consumers sent that message to retailers that some things are not for sale; like our national pride, civic freedoms and family traditions. If we sent THAT message the WAY TO GO CANADA! would be one of grateful celebration!

Happy Canada Day! Enjoy your celebration like cigarettes...Smoke'm if you got'em!