Friday, 31 December 2010

A look back at 2010 and a look ahead

This year has been bittersweet. Bitter because in May I lost Matt. Even though I've had a rich life already, peppered with loss and renewal, joy and sorrow, this passing devastated me. I grieve for him everyday.

And sweet because I was blessed with Naveen Matthew . He is a daily reminder of how good life is, how fortunate I am to be his mother.

I always think it's been a successful year if I've stretched myself a little. If I was willing to learn how to be different if something I was doing wasn't working.

I tried to let go of my selfishness a little, not give my ego centre stage when possible and allowed the idea that I might not always be right lead me a little.

I learned that standing by a belief, unwavering no matter what, might not be the best way. That pliability is more humane.

I hope that in the new year I can find new ways to do better. Be kinder, gentler, quieter. I hope that I write more, complain less, and spend most of my time striving to be the best me.

I found this quote on a friend's blog:

Let no one ever come to you without leaving better or happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.

Mother Theresa

Happy New Year to all of you who take the time to come here. Thank you!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

How do I love thee?

I don't always know how to be happy. I nitpick. I get huffy about unimportant crap. I let being right carry me off on self-righteous tangents. I micromanage my husband.

I write here about the majesty of my children, the splendour of being their mother, the exuberance with which I've embraced parenthood. But I hardly ever write about Shaune.

He's always in the background. I include him when the story calls for it. I add him like seasoning if it will enhance the narrative, but I rarely focus on him.

I don't know why I don't write about him more often. Well he would probably find it phoney. In real life he's sort of used to me being not all that showey toward him.

I rarely grab him in an embrace, profess my love for him. I hardly ever tell him that I'm glad he's my husband. I don't know if I could aptly let him know just how much it means to wake up from a nap and smell a magnificient meal cooking on the stove. That it feels like home when he's home even though we're not perfect together.

I wish I could admit that I am (sometimes) wrong more often.

I like that he doesn't demand things of me, things like my adoration, my gratitude, my undying show of affection. I know that relationship specialists might look at my attitude and tell me to smarten up, pull up my socks.

And I'm not saying that we're a match made in heaven, that my lack of giving all those things that are supposed to make a marriage work is working. I certainly know I could do better.

I was thinking about this today and realizing that I could use some work when it comes to him. 

 This is the cake Shaune made for Deaglan's birthday. Deaglan went crazy when he saw it.

Check out some of the other entries over at Shell's place.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Monday stuff

Naveen had his first Noel this year. He spent a lot of time being adored by various relatives, some of the time on the floor trying to crawl and a good portion of Christmas Day on gramma and grampa's bed napping.

Deaglan added a tow truck, a garbage truck, a remote control excavator and dump truck, a fire engine, a police car, an ambulance and a ton of other things to his already overflowing stockpile of toys. All sorts of new scenarios have been created in play situations. And today he asked several times if it was still his birthday. Newsflash kid - it was over two days ago!

Shaune and I had an agreement that we weren't buying for each other this year. He's been back at school and working only parttime and I'm on maternity leave making it a time of frugality for our little family. I was caught off guard with a beautiful necklace and pendant with my two babies's names engraved on it.

We packed up every trace of Christmas and banished it back to the basement where it will stay out of sight until next December. The living room looks gloriously empty.

We didn't have our holiday party this year and I'm grateful. Matthew would have been missing and I didn't need the reminder. He's already on my mind all the time.

Being surrounded by family, Shaune and the boys filled me up. I'm lucky.

The kids were positively spoiled rotten by their grandparents and aunts and uncles. They scored tons of new toys, books and clothes. This little sweater and hat were from Aunt Katie and Uncle Justin.

Visit Carissa and Ratz to read other Monday posts.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

You were born on Christmas Eve

Dear Deaglan,

you're three tomorrow. You are the Child this blog was created for. My first baby. I've said so much here, sometimes to you, most of the time about you and always because of you. I imagine you reading this when you're grown, when you are older, maybe when you have your own family. You and your brother are who I write for most of the time. My silent readers. 

A famous person said that when his first child was born it was as if life came into focus, like he didn't even know he'd been walking around with an impairment. This is how it happened for me too. When you came to me, I began my journey to my better self.

Last night when we were reading together you told me that someday you would be big and I would be little. I told you that yes, it's true, you would be big one day, you would marry and live somewhere else with your wife. When you looked perplexed, I explained for simplicity's sake that when people grow big, they become mommies and daddies. You told me that you didn't want to be big and that you just wanted to stay at home with your Mommy and your Daddy and your Naveen. My heart swelled because it's how I wanted it too. 

I know that you will leave me one day...I've already begun to fall behind, watching your back as you run on ahead. Trying to grab at your shirttail...

I'm not the best mom, not an excellent mom, maybe not even a great mom. Too often I go to bed knowing I could have done a lot better. I think to myself, I should have said yes more when you asked me to play, I should have played longer those times I did and I should have taken you outside when I didn't. Because for some reason, when I don't get you outside I feel like I failed you a little that day.

I want so much for you. Mostly I want to teach you to be a good and kind man. I want people to see you the way I do.

This job is hard sometimes. Because often I just want to indulge you. I want to give you everything you ask for. I want to laugh at your antics instead of disciplining you. I want to baby you, overlook things so that you never have to get mad at me. Being in your favour, in the sunshine of your love feels so good that it makes my job as your mother, tricky. And honestly, watching you cry, has made me sad enough to want to weep myself. 

I didn't know life could be so good and frightening at the same time. Good because of the joy children bring to it. Frightening because none of it is under our control.

It's been a gift to have you home with me this year. I'm enjoying getting to know you as someone's brother, as my oldest child, as a jokester. I'm thrilled and delighted with your growing sense of humour.

Thank you for teaching me to have fun again. I forgot about pretending, and creating, and the enchantment of building forts. I'm grateful too for learning about trucks,trains,cars and motorcycles. You constantly get me out of my comfort zone.

I try everyday to listen to what you are saying. I know I'm not always right just because I'm the mother. I strive to encourage you to express your feelings, even the negative ones. I try to teach you that it's okay to cry, feel angry, or grumpy. I try to model good behaviour but know that I fall short all the time.

I want you to know that everyday can be fresh and new. You can wake up and start again, leave yesterday far behind.

I would love to teach you that having a clean house always makes you feel better. That to give to someone who needs it is one of the most important things in life. That you lucked out by being born into abundance. That there's no room for intolerance and that your brother is your best friend.

I hope you always want to include me in your life. And happy, happy birthday my sweet first baby.

Love Mom.

Check out some of the other entries over at the Red Dress Club using the prompt Charity - how do you teach your children about how much they have compared to children in other less fortunate parts of the world.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

What did Oprah ever do to you?

In three years of blogging, I've never written about Oprah. I could have. But I didn't want to give all the haters the satisfaction.

However,now that it's nearing the end,I've put on my thicker skinned shell, and I'm remembering this is my little corner of the universe - I can write what I want to, so here is my first and most likely last post on Oprah Winfrey.

I don't know why Oprah is so polarizing. What did she ever do besides make billions of dollars providing interesting daytime television?

What's wrong with having a bookclub? Most of the time I read books recommended by friends and family anyway. Why wouldn't I read a book that was researched by a team of paid staff whose sole purpose is to research up and coming books?

And what's wrong with becoming more aware of problems in Africa, an Angel Network or seeing my favourite celebrities in personal interviews?

I just don't see how this is cult-like. That's right, I've heard people who oppose Oprah refer to her influence as a cult.

I'll admit I could do without the play-by-play of the roadtrips with Gayle but I just turn the channel to Ellen those days. No one's perfect including you and me.

The thing I don't understand about your hate (yes, I'm talking to you)is that you can never give me a solid reason why. You usually say something like, she just bugs me. And for the record, I do something because it seems like a good idea not because Oprah said to do it.

And one person even said of the show, that it's what housewives watch. Here's the phone, genius, it's the 1950's and they want their attitude back. Please! Give me a break.

I'm sad that it's the last season not because I'll miss Oprah herself. I'll miss the good programming. I'll miss seeing someone so wildly popular talking about doing good and positive things for children, animals and her fellow man in this world. I'll miss seeing my favourite authors highlighted. I'll miss the pleasant surprise of catching a story that uplifts me. Because I'm not jaded by life. I am still impressed when people commit kindnesses to each other.

And let's face it, you'd be singing a different tune if you or someone you knew was given a bit of recognition for something you accomplished on her show.

Okay I'm done.

I'm joining Shell in Pour Your Heart Out. Check out some of the other posts.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Christmas home tour and other random Monday stuff

Here's a glimpse into our house this season. I had to be strategic in placing things. I found myself wishing for a mantle, more shelves and definitely more high-up places little hands can't reach. Our tree is a fake we've had for years. Our plan is to start buying a real tree beginning next year. We'll keep this one to put up in the basement.

 We live in a modest house - it's a three bedroom semi. Sometimes when I find myself getting carried away with envy on visits to friends' and family's homes that are larger and more lavish, I remember a few things: (1) this house is affordable while we have small kids in daycare (2) I'm busy enough, I don't need any additional square footage to clean, (3) Not having fancy things is good  when you have small kids and most importantly (4) I have everything in life to make me happy right now!

The Christmas card clothes line (above) was looking a little sparse this year, so I grabbed some cards from last year to fill it up. People just don't send cards like they used to. I sent out 50 cards. At Costco you can do a photo card with a greeting and a background of your choice for a great price. 50 cards with envelopes for $22.00 taxes in. This year I saved on stamps when I could, by hand delivering to people I knew I'd be seeing or bulk mailing (like to my friends at work).

Shaune and I painted these scary looking paper mache figures on our very first Christmas together, thirteen years ago. I did the angel, painted her brown because at the time I couldn't find one single brown-skinned decoration. Shaune did a good job with the reindeer but the eyes he painted make it look like it just escaped crazyville. I almost didn't put these out this year but Shaune insisted, arguing for their sentimental value.

 I made the garland on the mirror from some decorations Shaune's parents gave us from their stock. I tied the little gift box tree ornaments onto some yarn. The tiny Christmas tree on the table is a dollar store find that I decorated. I'm stunned that it's been sitting on the kitchen table for almost two weeks and Deaglan has not once tried to dismantle it. Stunned!
 I had some mini canvases from two years ago on which I glued wrapping paper. I have several of these all over the house. They cost nothing and add some merriment. There are tiny ornaments stuck to the window too but they're almost invisible in the light. I did this on most of the windows on the main floor.
 We love our neighbours and I know they don't read this blog but I have a confession to make. I cut this greenery from their trees. Shaune was appalled when I told him but in my defence, I only cut the pieces that were buried in snow. I think  I actually did them a favour.
 This morning Shaune called me a "nerd Mom" when I got misty because Deaglan needed a haircut and I couldn't bring myself to agree. He asked me what was next for me,
appliqué Christmas vests? Maybe.

I mean if you consider that the happiest I've ever been was when we switched our SUV for a minivan, and get downright giddy at the thought of watching Deaglan's eyes light up when he opens his presents on Christmas morning, maybe a reindeer vest is not too far off.

I think I could improve this planter for next year. Most of the materials were found in fields and woods nearby. I had the planter and ribbon and used some of the left over ornaments from the tree. On a walk recently, we found this empty bird's nest - it had fallen out of a tree. Deaglan went crazy because we regularly read a story by P.D. Eastman called The Best Nest, and he was convinced that we had found the best nest.

And finally, we baked cookies (again) this week. Because Shaune loves to cook, and is unmatched in the kitchen, I've sort of let go of all things culinary. I know I used to cook before we met but the lack of practice has led to a serious lack in confidence. However, motherhood doesn't let you get away without doing some baking and learning at least a handful of easy, popular dishes for your kids. I enjoyed making these sugar cookies (I used a Martha Stewart recipe). Deaglan helped mix the ingredients and cut the dough, but I waited till he was napping before mixing different coloured icing and decorating each cookie.

I'm joining in for Miscellany Monday and Remind me Monday. Please check out both of these blogs to read other posts.


Thursday, 16 December 2010

Red Writing Hood - Tradition

When I was younger - probably twenty years ago, my mother gave me a book which over the years I have replaced several times. I loved it so much that I would often gift it to a friend if I felt she too might love this book. Then I would buy myself another because I couldn't stand to be without a copy. 

This book changed my inner life. I began thinking in terms of writing. Back then I wrote in journals. It was memoir-type writing but there was something so private and serene about it that really hooked me. Like the author, I often found myself in coffee shops and diners, writing in my notebooks.

I wrote about nothing. Just whatever came out. It was therapeutic, documentative, self-preserving and especially to that young me, very romantic. I haven't picked up the book in a few years but I know exactly where it is downstairs. I love the simplicity of the exercises and the way the author weaves in her personal story of writing.

I've treasured this gift my mother gave me. I've never told her how much. I hope to pass it onto one or both of my kids. Maybe it will give them permission to sit in a cafe and write one day.

I saw this interview with the author of that book, Writing Down the Bones, and wanted to post it for my entry in the Red Writing Hood promt Tradition.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Terrible two's or not

I'd be lying if I didn't admit that there are many moments of deep sighing these days in dealing with the antics of the local toddler.

Yesterday I had to give Deaglan a time-out for opening a second gift from under the tree. He had already opened one, something I couldn't bring myself to get worked up about because, after all, he's only almost three.
But I explained, in detail, the process: how we wait until Christmas morning, after Santa has come to open the presents.
This boring explanation could not trump the heady buzz he must have felt opening that first gift and hitting the jackpot with a Thomas the train bath toy. So he went for it again while I was distracted in the kitchen.
And today we went to see Santa at the mall. Because Shaune and I get creeped out by mall santa's, we weren't planning on taking the kids unless they brought it up, but we were already at the mall, and there was no line-up and that new-parent bug took over. We even paid the eleven bucks for the five by seven print we could have photoshopped ourselves for a fraction of that price.

After we left the mall, Deaglan had a million questions:
  • When was he going to get his station (a three vehicle -police car, ambulance and firetruck - parking garage he fell in love with a few days ago)
  • Was Santa going to that store to get it?
  • When would Santa see his goats (I explained for the tenth time that they were reindeers)
  • Why couldn't he have his station now
And the fiction you find yourself weaving about the north pole and the elves is RIDICULOUS.

I know that they call this phase he's going through the terrible two's but I have to say, it's a lot of great stuff too.

The joy he gets from substituting every other word with poop, pee and stinky bum/feet/armpit - well it's hard to always remain neutral and discouraging. And the fact that he asks me all the time if I think he's funny, kills me. 

Last night before we started reading our last book at bedtime, he looked at me and said Mommy, I'm going to be funny now. And sure enough he was.

This is my entry for Pour your heart out. Check out some of the other posts.


Monday, 13 December 2010

Remind me Monday

It's deep freeze cold outside. Biting, blowing cold. I have a few minutes to myself and feel torn. There's a lot of housework to do but I don't want to do it. I'm sipping on hot chamomile and reclining in my favourite chair. I should be wrapping gifts while the kids are napping. But that would require effort. I'm enjoying the quiet. No one asking me
to play.
Or make them something to eat.
Or change their diaper.
Or hold them because they are teething.

I should call some people back.

But it's just a few minutes so I'm going to quiet that other voice. I'm telling it to take a hike because I don't want to clean

or fold
or wrap
or call. I just want to sit here.

Sip and Recline.

I want to keep these few moments for myself.

I'm joining my friend Ratz in Remind me Mondays.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Nobody does it like Nancy and Tracie but here's what I came up with.

I read this post a few nights ago and promised myself I would try a similar one. I really need a bit of levity today. It's dim outside. The baby has been up even more throughout the night than usual and we've been snowed in for going on a week.

Here are the yays and boos of my last week:

Yay: I've finally started to feel a bit of the holiday spirit.
Boo: Much to Shaune's silent horror, I've been turning just about everything into a Christmas craft. Did I mention that I'm not artsy in that way at all?

Yay: Deaglan is doing great with the potty training and is in underwear most of the time meaning we're saving on diapers.
Boo: Either I need to improve my butt wiping skills or invest in some darker coloured Fruit of the Loom briefs.

Yay: Naveen is thriving, he's healthy, hitting all the milestones and recently started eating cereal and some baby food.
Boo: This healthy little nightowl is now teething, so is awake even more throughout the night and to top it off, his poop smells like he's been eating hotdogs and skunk pie.

Yay: I bought an awesome advent calendar from Costco a few years ago and this is the first year Deaglan is really into it. We filled it with hershey kisses.
Boo: I've already had re-stock the hershey kisses once and it's only the 10th of December. Sadly Deaglan had nothing to do with the disappearing kisses.

Yay: We've been doing a lot of fun holiday baking with Deaglan.
Boo: I'm eating cookies for breakfast lunch and dinner and am possibly suffering some sort of sugar-induced rut.

Yay: My friend asked me to be a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding and we chose dresses a few weeks ago.
Boo: My plan to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by May and thereby have the dress taken in isn't going so well. Cookies and kisses.

Yay: Deaglan is becoming more and more articulate.
Boo: He has stumped me several times this week when negotiating:
  • a later bedtime
  • why he should be able to eat dinner in front of the TV 
  • why he should be allowed to eat cookies for breakfast (this one didn't take too much ingenuity - he caught me red-handed)
Yay: Deaglan is asking a lot of healthy questions about life.
Boo: He insists that he will have a vagina when he gets big like Mommy regardless of my numerous explanations to the contrary. (Wrong on so many levels - first of all Mommy is not big)

Yay: I'm on maternity leave which means I'm saving money on buying new work clothes for the season.
Boo: If I keep up my current diet, the only pants I'll be fitting into are Santa's and he needs them.

My wonderful real life friend Lesa's mom Sharon made the Christmas ornaments for the boys.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sexy vampires make me want to vomit

I have no tolerance for vampire stories. I refuse to read novels about them, won't watch any of the twelve thousand new TV shows about teenage 90210 vampires and wouldn't dream of paying ten bucks to see beautiful twenty-something British actors biting each other's necks on the big screen.

I will be so bold as to say I hate the vampire movement. It bugs the crap out of me. Some people will accuse me of being a realist, of lacking imagination, even of not being fun. But I don't care.

I prefer drama of the mortal world. I like law and order. I mean I really like Law and Order. All through my adult life, my roaring twenties when I thought I was the first person ever to discover the beauty of Van Morrison and wearing Doc Martens made me anti-establishment (please!) I have watched this show. In my early thirties where I saw myself as some sort of sophisticated urbanite because I ate expensive food and drank good wine and into my late thirties where I've finally started to uncover the me I like, I've always loved Law and Order.

There is something simple about the formula. A person discovers a body. The cops come in, take cues from the crime scene to uncover what happened. The lawyers prosecute those responsible. There is nothing glamorous. There is no plot. We rarely get a personal look into the bedrooms or even the kitchens of the characters unless it is crucial to the story of the crime. And my favourite part?

It's real.

In Dick Wolf's world, there are no gratuitous sex scenes, no seductive teenagers committing the crimes to drive up ratings, no superhero detective named H swooping in to save the day, wearing clothes he likely couldn't afford on a real life cop's salary, no solving the crime within the hour time frame, no good guys always winning. The bum on the street, looks like a bum on the street, not a beautiful guest actor with strategically placed 'bum' makeup above his eye.

And the story unfolds as it would in life. In his memoirs, Stephen King says that he rarely ever writes a novel with a preconceived plot. He starts out with an idea or situation and then lets the story uncover itself - he likens it to digging up a dinosaur skeleton. Done right with the appropriate tools, he says, the story will show itself.

It's not unusual for the DA's office to lose their case on a tiny technicality. Sometimes the person we spent 45 minutes blaming for the crime ends up being innocent. Children die. Women get raped and don't get justice. Innocent men spend ten years behind bars. People are refused medical care because they can't pay.

Real life. Ugly and messy.

I'm participating with Mama Kat using the prompts simple and bold. Check out some of the other entries.

Monday, 6 December 2010

My kind of Monday

I'm linking up with lowercase letters for miscellany monday and also keeping in the spirit Ratz created with her post Remind me Monday.

  • We're snowed in over here. I'm on maternity leave and home anyway, but Shaune is loving the extra day off considering he's been busting his butt six days a week going to school and work since September.

  • Deaglan in typical toddler fashion is either always in tiny Fruit of the Loom white briefs or his birthday suit. We often ask him to please get his clothes on but he just looks at us like we're nuts. It's hard not to love seeing a tiny boy in tiny briefs.

  • I'm sort of getting in the spirit but I'm not sure Shaune's all that thrilled. You see, I have absolutely no artistic ability (like none people) but am loving creating things from scratch for the season. I'll have to post some of my masterpieces in a later post and you can be the judge. I'm taking Shaune's polite silence as an indication that I shouldn't start selling anything on Etsy just yet.

  • I know I've said it before, but I just have to say it again. I could just eat Naveen's double chinned, pudgy baby deliciousness right up.
Hope you're having a good Monday and don't forget to count your blessings!

Friday, 3 December 2010


Christ, I  thought, why did I open the door for this lunatic?

"Ma'am, we’ve been talking with your neighbors about what can be done to assure that there will be employment and housing for everyone. Do you believe that it is reasonable to expect that human governments will accomplish this?" she says.

Naveen on my hip is squirming now.

"Sorry, what?" I ask, hoping the baby will come through for me with some loud crying.

"Do you believe what we teach from the Bible, namely, that we are living in ‘the last days,’ that soon God is going to destroy the wicked, and that this earth will become a paradise in which people can live forever in perfect health among neighbours who really love one another?"

"Listen, we're not really into religion. At all." Now I'm bouncing the baby, hoping she'll see how busy I am.

"Many folks tell us that. Have you ever wondered why people like me volunteer to make these calls even though we know that the majority of householders may not welcome us?" she's now taking out a pamphlet .

Damn it, she has an answer for everything. It was the bloody snow outside and the cold look on her face that made me even answer the door. Plus she had on a pair of buttery brown leather boots worn on top of black leggings. Can they wear nice boots and leggings? Shouldn't they have to wear a sign or something?

"I should have just told you upfront, I'm not interested in this - uh, your religion." I say. Why can't the phone ring for the love of God?

"Let's not talk of religion. Most people would like to have the kind of government that is free from corruption, one that provides employment and good housing for everyone. What kind of government do you think can do all of that?" She continues completely ignoring my protest.

"Listen, I'm sorry but I don't want to talk about this. I appreciate what you're doing. But I have to go pick up my son from daycare." I say, relieved I thought of something tangible.

She smiles and looks at her watch.

"At 9 A.M.?" she asks.

Now I'm getting pissed.

"Okay, I've been trying to be polite. I am.not.interested in this."

Finally, I can see she gets it. She starts buttoning up her beautiful red wool coat wrapping what looks like a creamy black cashmere scarf around her neck. When the hell did Jehovah's Witnesses start looking like this?

"Maybe I can leave this with you." She says, pushing a pamphlet toward me.

"No, I don't want that." I say, bordering on rudeness now.

I closed the door and even though I was rattled, I couldn't help but notice how calm she stayed until the last minute. What the hell kind of brainwashing were they doing over there that this attractive thirty-something woman was happily willing to have the likes of me practically spit in her face all in the name of religion?

This post was motivated by the Red Writing Hood prompt: Trapped. Click over to read some of the other entries.

Post script: This is a work of fiction. I have nothing against any organized religion. I do however get irritated with door-to-door soliciting of any kind. Except little kids trying to sell cookies or wanting to make money raking leaves or shovelling snow. It helps if they're really cute too.

Besides, I can see a JW a mile away and usually run to the back of the house with the baby and like a coward pretend I'm not home.