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Monthly Archives: May 2012

I’m here, really I am

Hi there,

It feels to me like for ever since I wrote something.  I can tell you though, I’ve spent some time here actually just rereading my blog, and I’ve concluded something: I’m so glad I have a blog!  It’s great to have a record of “deep thoughts” I’ve had, and it’s been wonderful to reread the exercise of my mind.

Thing is…  I don’t have much to say.  Maybe tomorrow I’ll post something with pictures of the nursery.  That’s really been what I’ve been working on for the last week or so.  Baby will be delivered on July 5, which is just 36 days away now, if you’re counting (like I am) and I want to be ready.  And we almost are!  The final things that we need are not essential: her bear, and her piggy bank.  She can be born and even come home without those possessions having found their way into our home.  What I can say is that her room is even better than I could have hoped for…  I am so happy with it.  It’s a lovely space, and since Saturday (when the EPIC decal got on the wall) I have spent time sitting in the room, in the chair that I was rocked in as an infant, rubbing my belly and telling my little girl how excited I am that she’s almost here.

I’ve been having a lot of Braxton Hicks (fake-out contractions) for about a month now.  They’ve become pretty much a daily experience now… I don’t remember this from other pregnancies, but it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.  You tend to forget a lot of stuff about being pregnant, which is why so many of us go back more than once!

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to let you know that I’m still here, and one day soon I’m sure my dander will get up and I’ll have something to write about.  Or something wonderful will happen and I’ll rush right over to share the story with you.  For now, I’m just trying to get the quilt done.

Be well,

m

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Randomness

 

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10 Years… How Long is that, Exactly?

I took this picture on Glenn’s birthday this year. Not much is in bloom in March, but if you look really hard, in the upper right corner, you can see in the distance some pretty little blue flowers -sort of a purple haze – in the grass.

Some people will have you believe that 10 years is a long time.  It’s a decade; and our world really likes to work with 10’s.  We celebrate and cheer when a couple reach their 10-year wedding anniversary, and every decade after that too.  When our children turn 10, it’s a big deal because they are really no longer little people: they are on the cusp of teen years, requiring more freedom and control over their lives.  In any given 10 year period, people get married, and some get divorced; people are born, and people pass away; homes are built, bought, lived in and sold again.  Holidays are celebrated, milestones are marked, time passes.

10 years is almost half of my brother’s life.  He turned 21 in March, and then passed away in May.  If you think about half of your life, there is no doubt – however old you are – that it’s a long time.

I found that when we had come to the 5-year anniversary of his passing, we had really encountered all of the “firsts”.  The first move without his scrawny, wiry frame foisting around the equivalent of his body weight.  The first babies to our family were conceived, birthed and celebrated.  We had faced all of the holidays (Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, New Years, Valentine’s Day, his birthday – all of our birthdays for that matter – Easter and then the dreaded Victoria Day weekend), and the trial against the driver of the car was all said and done.  We knew what to expect as each event came, we knew how we reacted to the approach of days like tomorrow, we could anticipate what our life would be like until it ends.

We’ve been to weddings and funerals: some happened in the church from which Glenn was buried, as well as the funeral home who prepared his body for his “final rest”, as they like to say.  It would seem that we’ve done it all.

Does that mean it’s long enough?  Does that mean that I don’t still think about him?  Does that mean that on occaision a thought of him catches me unaware and I burst into tears over his absence in my life?

No.  No it does not mean that.

5 years later, 10 years later, and I imagine 30 years later, I will still mourn his absence in my life.  A friend of mine recently said to me that she thinks of her loss as, “Well, that’s 10 years you’ve missed me and 10 years that I’ve missed you.”  I suppose that’s apt.  Because you know, while I believe that he’s with me and in a better place and happy and all that; while I talk to him routinely and believe that he sometimes answers me; it’s not the same.

We’ve healed as much as we can; what’s really happened is that we have morphed into different people.  People who don’t know shocking loss will tell you that “Time heals all wounds.”  The truth that I have come to live with is that in fact that’s not at all true.  You just get used to living with the pain.  It becomes a partner in your life, a companion who is always with you, an old friend you can count on.

So Glenn, you’ve missed a lot.  Your nephews and your niece, roller coaster rides, new pasta dishes, awesome new video games, the last 2 installments in the Lord of the Rings movie adaptations.  I too, have missed so much.

Who would you be now?  Would you be a father?  Would you be living in the country like you always wanted?  Would you be working with dogs, or any animals?  Would you be married?  Would you have finished high school? I guess that’s where it gets different.  What your life would be like is a series of unanswered questions, because it just ended.  It just ended as it was getting started really, and I miss terribly not being able to see the man you would have become.

Happy anniversary, Chum.  Wish you were here.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Family

 

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Parenting… It’s Tough!

The other day, Connor came home with a birthday invitation.  Normally this occurrence does not cause any concern, other than “what are we going to get for a present?  What do you know about them?  Do they have any wants?”  You know, the usual sorta thing.  This invitation was different though.

It was an invite for a sleep-over party.  And the birthday celebrant is a girl.

I like to think of myself as a fairly modern woman, easy going and adaptable.  I try to be an engaged parent, who’s friend enough with her kids that they want to talk to me, and spend time with me, while at the same time being the authority figure.  I like to be seen as reasonable, supportive and accommodating.  When I read that invitation though, all thoughts of  fun and openness flew out the window.  “Some hussy wants to spend the night with my baby boy??? I don’t think so!”

Okay, not quite.  But you know me: I do have a mild flare for the drama.

It did put me into a minor state of alarm though…  these kids are 8 year-olds, for the most part…  Is it acceptable to have co-ed sleep-overs, with people to whom you are not related, when you’re this old?  So I did what any reasonable person does when faced with a dilemma: I posted it to facebook.  And what a flurry of commentary that brought on!

Before I go on, I feel that I should share something very personal with you.  Here’s why: it fully colours my perspective and influences my thought processes around parenting.  Even more so when considering the “co-ed sleepover” type questions.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse.  My first offense happened when I was 6.  So to be honest, I was surprised when we had “the talk” with Connor recently that he didn’t know what sex was.

There’s a fine line, I think, between responsible parenting and imposing your own experiences on your children.  It’s not that I think because he was invited to a co-ed sleepover at the age of 8 that he will be molested, or made to do something that he doesn’t want to do.  It’s not that I’m worried about the parents of this little girl treating my son inappropriately either.  When I posted my concern about this invite to facebook, a friend of mine who has some shared history with me made her position clear: do not send the kid, kids are into “show me yours, I’ll show you mine” and he will be…  for lack of a better word, unsafe.

Because of my history, I know what she’s talking about.  I’m not worried about the adults in the host-home for the sleepover, it’s that there will be other children there, who may have had the terrible misfortune of experience like mine.  And once that train is out of the station, there is no turning back.  Abused children instigate these games because they are innocent and are unaware that what they are suggesting is highly inappropriate.  I know this because my first offender was not the picture you think of when you think “child abuser”.  My first offender was a child, who was engaging in play with me the way someone else – likely an adult in a position of trust – had played with him.

Ultimately, I am likely to allow Connor to spend the night.  What’s important to me is that there is another boy attending because I think that will make him feel a lot more comfortable.  I know that Connor has a very strong sense of himself, is not easily swayed to do what he is not comfortable with (have you met MOMD?  Connor is so much like his Dad) and he has a very firm grasp on privacy and his need for it.  I do not think he will engage in inappropriate behaviour.  I trust him to be a perfect little 8-year-old boy.

The 6-year-old girl in me is very proud of him, and is working every day to let him go and live his own life.

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2012 in Family, Opinion, Oversharing, Raising Kids

 

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In Praise of Women

An original poem, written by me

In Praise of Women

Her body is
Art
and
Miracle
all at once
Infusing life with creativity

Her mind is
Intelligent
and
Connected
at any given moment
Knowing what is needed and providing

Her spirit is
Courageous
and
Spontaneous
in any situation
Finding joy and peace inspite of fear and burden

She is Holy
She is Magnificence.

She is Love
She is Beauty
She is Drama
She is Emotion

She is you.

It’s been a long time since I wrote poetry.  It’s been a long time since I was inspired to, to be honest.  But this morning I woke with a start to something in my mind, et voila.  It’s born of many things, not the least of which is the controversy spawned by the cover of Time this week.  I started a post on that, and you know, it might still get published.  But for now, I’m going to let it lie.  There are some fantastic posts out there (like this one and this one to point you to just 2) and really, the inflammatory piece really doesn’t warrant any more attention.

Today, I ask you to think before you judge, and to stop before you give voice to that judgement.  Your right to have an opinion is accompanied by an equally important right: to think before you state it.  While today is officially named “Mother’s Day” I personally believe that it’s a day in which all women who care for children in any capacity – as a sister, aunt, cousin, daycare provider, neighbour, friend…  whatever capacity you can think of – to be celebrated for the joy and honour it is to be Woman.

Here’s to you, my friend.

 
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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in Poetry, Randomness

 

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I’m here, I swear

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  And really, not for any tragic or dramatic reason.  Nothing’s happening…  except that it’s May.

I’ve started a few posts in the last week, but only one of them made it to your screen.  The most recent draft was full of complaints – so much so that I actually titled it, “No One Likes a Complainer”.  For realsies.

I’ve been on myself about this…  why am I not writing?  I’m sure I have something to say.  And I’ve got a few minutes to bang something out too, so..  why not?  And then it hit me:

It’s May.

You may be wondering what the month has to do with anything.  Well, really: May’s a big month for me.  In fact, it’s not really the whole month, but rather just a couple of days in short succession.  To be sure, there’s good and bad in those days.  But still; it’s a lot of emotion to process in 3 days.  Generally it takes up my whole month.

On May 18, 2002, I was at a friend’s house, playing board games with a bunch of other friends.  We had a great night, and when all was said and done, MOMD & I went home to our apartment to call it a day.  We were tucked in bed for the night, and about to be asleep when the phone rang.

It’s never good news when the phone rings at 1:00 in the morning.

It was my parents calling.  They were at our life-long retreat (it was a trailer on Rice Lake, north and east of Cobourg that we always called “The Lake”) for the long weekend and were now making their way back to the city, following the ambulance that was carrying my brother.  Could we meet them at Sunnybrook?  Umm… yes.  Yes we’ll be there.

We hung up the phone and called my sister who lived a few blocks away from us.  We got a cab, went down to get her, and then all 3 of us went up to Sunnybook to meet my parents and my brother.

It’s funny the things you remember… moments of that night seems so clear to me.  Like still photos in an album, except with emotion attached to them.  The 3 of us (MOMD, my sister & I) got there before my parents, but at about the same moment that my brother arrived.  We had been nervously joking in the cab that he had probably broken another bone, obviously seriously since he was being rushed to Toronto, and that all he really wanted was some attention.  “That’s younger siblings for you,” was the overall tone.  Because you see, we didn’t really know what had happened…  My parents – who can blame them really – could not tell us the extent and severity of the accident.  You know, I’m not even sure that they knew what had happened at the time.

Anyway.  So we get to Sunnybrook and I overhear the emergency triage nurses talking about a patient who just arrived via ambulance, and I hear them say that his blood type is B.  “HA!” I said to my sister, “Mom lied to everyone!  I bet you’re type B too,” I said with a laugh.  Why his blood type mattered, why I said my mom lied, is another story.  I just remember this moment so vividly…  so clearly…  and I think it’s embedded in the fabric of that terrible morning because I was not grasping the severity of the situation.

Eventually my parents arrived, along with various and sundry cousins, aunts & uncles.  No one knew what the outcome would be, but I think that some of them had a better idea than I did.  It was 2:35 in the morning when a chaplin and a doctor came to the waiting room to talk to us.  They saw everyone there, and decided to ask the “family” to come with them.  So we went – Dad, Mom, Amanda, me & Mitchell.  Actually initially Mitchell stayed behind: it was just my parents, my sister & I.  Then my Dad said, “Go get Mitchell, he’s family.”  So I ran back to get him.

Never has a hospital corridor seemed so long…

We were taken to an operating room.  Glenn was there, lying on a table.  I think he was in a hospital gown, although I really do not remember what he was wearing. This is where the night moves from a photo-like memories to images trapped under water, shimmering and shifting, with sound sometimes penetrating the barrier.  I imagine this is the effect of shock.

His face was bruised, and his eyes were protruding so badly…  like they were trying to get out of his head.  The doctor – a neurologist – said a lot of things.  I remember him saying phrases like “sustained blow to the head”, “swelling on the brain”, “not reducing”, “fatal”.  I remember my Mom standing alone, stroking Glenn’s hand…  I remember my sister falling to the floor, sobbing, clinging to my Dad’s legs…  I remember that I did not know what “fatal” meant when the doctor said it.  I remember at some point Mitchell moved to my Mom’s side, put his arm around her…  I remember we didn’t want to leave him.  We wanted to stay in that room so that we could wake up.  So that we could leave this awful dark place and return to our honest and real realities.  Because this?  This was hell.

We didn’t want to go back to the waiting room.  We didn’t want to have to see all those loving faces, fear and knowing in their eyes, and tell them that Glenn was dying…

We didn’t wake up.  It’s been almost 10 years now that he’s been gone.  We know this reality now.  That our kids will only know who he is from our telling of him, from pictures, and sometimes we’ll see him in them.  That’s probably the hardest, good thing about genetics.  Although I don’t know what I’ll do if this baby I’m carrying is born with his eyes…  that might be a little much for me to handle.

Although there was a time when I would have said loosing my brother would be more than I could handle.  And 10 years later, I’m still here, handling the situation as best I can.  I suppose that if she has his eyes (which, incidentally are also my Mom’s eyes) then I’ll get through that too.

I started out telling you that there are good things in May: there are.  On May 18 one of my longest and dearest friends was born.  On May 19, my brother died.  On May 20, I married MOMD.  So you see, there’s a lot of emotion packed into May.  You’ll forgive me, I know, if my posts are erratic and then emotionally charged when they do happen.  Because really: it’s just May.

 
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Posted by on May 8, 2012 in Family, Oversharing

 

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Is this thing on??

I started this post a few days ago, when I was in a mood created mostly by what was happening in my world (anyone with children of any age – your own or ones you rent – can relate to this for sure).  I felt that no one was listening to me.  Mostly because, they weren’t.  I spend my whole day with my kids.  Kids are, by nature, very selfish little creatures.  They do what they want, demand what they want, and if it is not provided post haste, they let you know how you’ve failed them in the loudest and most obvious of ways.  I get that.  It’s what they’re programmed to do until enough time, experience and grooming from parents and caregivers shows them that in fact, they are not the only people in the world.

Anyway, what I started out writing on Tuesday is not really what I’ll be posting today.  That said, it’s been niggling at me, because there are some good points I was making (in my of course very humble opinion) in my “ranty” piece.  So I’m going to take those points, and attempt to make a piece worth reading.  Here goes:

People have been asking me why I started a blog.  It’s a valid question, especially since it seems that everyone and their dog has one now (you know about dogbook, right?).  My answer was generally things like, “To find my voice” or “To have a place to share the adult thoughts I would have through the day when I was surrounded by little people.”  Sometimes I would say something like, “Well, in high school I had a teacher who once said of my writing: ‘Every time Michelle puts a pen to paper, a diamond is produced.’  It’s been a long time since I wrote anything other than a shopping list, and I wanted to see if I’ve still got it.”

If that question was asked of me today, I would answer it thusly: “So I know that someone, somewhere is listening to me.”

Writing this blog is a place for me to express silliness (like this, or like this even), my fears (like this, and this), my indignation (like this and this too), my sadness (like this), my gratitude (building it up, like here or expressing it freely like here) and really, just any emotion I am feeling at the moment.  I appreciate you for reading what I write, because even if you don’t comment, I see that you were here via my stats page.  If you do comment, I love it because I know that I’ve struck a chord – good or bad – with someone else, and we can have a discussion (if not an actual conversation) and I know for SURE then someone’s listening.

I guess really, I was only making one good point in the post I started out on Tuesday.  That was this: I am so grateful for you, my reader!  Thank you for taking a few minutes from your day to read – and sometimes engage in discussion with me – about what’s going on in my life.  That simple, passive act on your part has given me immense comfort.  I want you to know just how thankful I am for you.

A heart for you!

A heart for you!

 
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Posted by on May 4, 2012 in Randomness

 

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Disconnect…

In the past I have shared about my ongoing issues with weight.  It’s been a struggle of mine for much of my life, and one that I do not want to pass on to my children.  While it’s true that from time to time we go to chain, fast-food restaurants, it is far from the norm.  In fact, my kids get so excited about Subway, those other burger-based joints are routinely skipped over.  There are days though, where we end up in one.  We talk a lot about how it’s not healthy food, and why is it that stuff that is so bad for us (deep fried potatoes are linked to cancer – did you know that?) can taste so good in the moment.  We talk about how if we go to one of the chain restaurants, it’s only because we have all eaten really well that day, and will not be having any junk to eat afterwards.

MOMD’s position is everything in moderation.  And while I really am opposed to fast-food intellectually, why do those damn fries taste so good??

Anyway.  Yesterday was McHappy Day.  On Monday, Connor brought home a little note from school advising parents of that fact (a fact the kids were all ready well aware of, thanks to classroom discussion), and explaining that staff from his school would be working at the restaurant on Bayly from 3:30-5:00.  Further, money raised that day would be directed to a local children’s organization – The Grandview Centre.

When I saw this note, I had a little flicker of unease.  At first, I didn’t know exactly what it was, so I pushed the feeling down and got on with getting homework done, starting dinner and chasing the boys around.  I actually didn’t take the time to address my discomfort until we were sitting in the restaurant yesterday, the boys having just finished eating their dinners.  As it turns out, I have several issues with this.

One: There is a strong sense of community in schools.  Particularly in my son’s school, which is a Tribe school. This is great in many, many ways and I admit that I love his school pride and spirit.  However, it makes it very difficult to say “we aren’t participating” in a school activity, because it’s a value statement.  As his parents, when we say no, we are telling him that what he values is not important to us.  And ever since this, I’m working really hard not to do that.

Two: I don’t want to send the message that supporting charities that focus on children’s welfare is not important.  Especially since we have used the services of the beneficiary in this particular case (Sam’s hearing assessment happened at Grandview).  It’s a great opportunity to have a discussion about what kind of needs kids have, what the charities help them with, and ultimately helps my kids to see how much they have in their lives.

Three: (And this is the biggie) Schools are more and more, becoming places of health.  Connor has gym 4 days out of 5, has outdoor play 3 times a day, and even has a “healthy snack” program.  Kids are taught about food groups, healthy choices, unhealthy choices, and parents are talked to when lunch bags seem to be consistently unhealthy.  There’s a strong focus on educating both the parent and child in an effort to have healthier individuals in society.  Connor has even had marketing education: he came home from school one day talking about the lies in commercials.  I for one, think this is great.

Here’s where the disconnect comes in.

If we are working so hard to raise healthy people, why on earth would a school link arms with a fast-food restaurant?  Many schools – Connor’s included – are free of vending machines now: no pop, no chips, no chocolate bars.  If you want to buy a drink at school, you’re choices are either white or chocolate milk (whether or not that’s “healthy” is another debate altogether, so I’ll skip over it in this post).  If you didn’t bring your snacks, or you forgot your lunch, there are fruits and vegetables and yogurts.  These children are looking to parents and educators for guidance, they trust us.  And telling them “Let’s go to McDonalds to help kids and support out community,” is a departure from their usual message.  It muddies the waters, and makes it more difficult to explain to my kids that french fries are unhealthy and are making us sick, so we have to eat less of them.  When the school aligned themselves for this community day – which again I stress is a great initiative helping many, many people who need our help – they put a stamp of approval on the restaurant, and the food it serves.

It is that which I take issue with.  But am I crazy?  What do you think?  Am I overreacting?  Have your say in the comments.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Family, Food, Opinion, Raising Kids, Soap Box, Vexations

 

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