Monday, December 16, 2013

The holidays are so hard.

I am a huge fan of the holidays. I ADORE tradition and making traditions with my own family is something I love to do. Unfortunately, the holidays are a HUGE stressor for the boys. Change is difficult at the best of times and holidays are so stimulating it can be completely overwhelming. The excitement at school is one thing, but add to that decorations, lights, music, presents, and preparing gifts for family members and it is too too much for my children.
We have tried to decorate early - in November - and leave the decorations up for a super long time for the boys to get used to. We have tried decorating on Christmas Eve and take everything down by Boxing day so there is not so much time to get distressed by the changes.
Let's just say that in the seven years we have had Max, we have had seven different variations on how we attempt to incorporate the holidays in our home. We have still not hit upon the plan that best minimizes the overstimulation. It's a HUGE frustration for Shel and I. We WANT to have a festive and happy holiday. Here we are, less than ten days away from Christmas and we don't have anything up. Well, we do have a Christmas table cloth.
It's so crazy. The "happiest" time of year and I am grieving the loss of my "dream" of Christmas.
I wish I knew what to do to make it the best for the boys without feeling as though I am missing out on something that I love.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What I know for sure

Please bear with me - this post is going to ramble on a bit.

Oprah always says "What I know for sure is...." I have been envious of her - she knows a lot of things for sure! She has been publishing magazines monthly for over ten years and she prints something she knows for sure in each one of them, so that ALONE is more than 120 things that she knows.
I always think - "I wish I knew something for sure."

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am doing meditations for the first time. I am well into the third week and the most recent meditation was about being grateful.

I believe in gratitude. I always have. I had an experience this week where I was away at a conference and a server who was working for the hotel was seeming to have a rough night. One of the women at our table saw her getting into some trouble in the hallway and she was not smiling or enjoying herself as she worked serving dinner. Another (inspired) person at our table issued a challenge to those of us seated there to see who could make her smile first. A challenge is something I am usually up for and it was GREAT fun to try and get her attention, show gratitude for what she was doing for us, and get her to smile. We managed to get her to smile then and over the next 24 hours went out of our way to connect with her. I KNOW FOR SURE that she felt appreciated by us and that it made a difference to her that night. It was a recent and "re"-affirmation that gratitude has power.

Late last night I got a text message that my aunt's organs were failing and that her children were being gathered at the hospital immediately. Later, the decision was made to remove her from the respirator and within a few hours the message came that she had passed away.

I was - I AM  - gutted. I hurt for my mom. I hurt for my cousins. I hurt for me! I lay in bed, my mind racing and I thought, I need to get some sleep tonight and I need to do my meditation. I turned it on and began listening to the message on gratitude. I lay in bed, tears streaming down my face, listening to a message I KNOW to be true - and not feeling like I WANTED to be grateful at all for the passing of my loved one. I felt hypocritical laying there, listening and feeling resentment instead of gratitude. Out of the blue, I imagined being in the presence of my aunt and hearing her say my name. "Ju".

I cried harder, but realized that I have -  I KNOW FOR SURE  that I have - MANY, MANY things to be grateful for.

I am grateful that I was born in a time and in a place and in a  family where I was loved, nurtured and raised by my aunt, forging with her a mother-daughter bond that has lasted my lifetime and is not done.
I am grateful for the skinned knees she fixed when I crashed my bike over a speed bump in California Caravan Park in England - racing to get home to her.
I am grateful that she taught me how to cross stitch, grateful for the Christmas decorations we made together.
I am grateful for the red rosettes she sent to me every year for my birthday - with my age in gold. I am grateful for her voice, her songs, that lifted my spirit. I loved to lay my head on her lap in church and FEEL her sing.
I am grateful for her prayers for me "When the moon is rising". (The moon rises daily - as did her prayers on my behalf !)
There was never a time in my life EVER, that when I called her that she didn't greet me  - "Ju. Hi my love." She only had to hear me say hello and she knew it was me.  I am grateful for the dress she made for me when I graduated from high school - so that I didn't have to wear anything in pastels and with lots of bows - (she still managed to slip in a bow). I am grateful for the blankets she made for my sons. I am grateful for the hand written cards she sent when my pets died . She is one of only two people I know on earth who still sent things in the mail handwritten.

She was there for me in my infancy, there for me in my youth, there for me in my teenage years and in my adulthood.  I have spent time with her on three different continents. I spent summers with her when I was in high school, lived with her when I was.... Who knows what I was?! Confused?
I could go on and on and on and on.

In the last 20 hours or so I have watched her siblings, her nieces and nephews, and others she knows write on facebook about their love for her. The lives she impacted are immeasurable. I could start to make a list of the charitable organizations she has helped, of the hours of service she has put in, and begin to measure the impact she has had on the world. It is plain to see that EVERY person she had contact with has been enriched by their relationship.

Instead of beginning to take measure of the impact she had on others I will share with you what I know for sure  - she loved me. I know she did, and she knows that I love her.

Thank-you Aunty Bren. I know for sure.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Meditation Experience : day 2

I am about to begin the second meditation in the 21 day program with Oprah and Deepak.
Yesterday was my first one and I was nervous but I actually really enjoyed it. I have been looking forward to the second one all day.

You can still join by linking HERE.

The message today included this: "Through meditation, we connect more deeply with the present, increase our awareness of “what is,” and emerge from the silence with a sense of balance and a desire to make right, conscious choices in our lives. In this way, we begin to recognize our own undeniable role in creating the story of our lives and begin to align ourselves with those choices that are the most nurturing for ourselves and everyone around us."

Though I REALLY like the sound of it, and I certainly believe it may be true for some people, I don't think I am quite so enlightened after just one day! I will say however, that when I emerged from the silence yesterday I DID have a desire to make right, conscious choices in my life. I'm still seeking the "balance" part!

I am a little nervous about today's meditation because I feel like I could continue to do yesterday's meditation for a month before I was ready to move on. Is it possible to "meditate too fast?" LOL

Here I go.......

Monday, November 11, 2013

Season of Change

Lots of things have changed for our family in the past year and I have been working hard on moving forward with a sense of renewal and purpose and making a positive change - in our family and personally.

Here are some of the positive things that I am participating in/focusing on RIGHT NOW:

I am working in the community with the Restorative Justice Program and I LOVE it.
I have a new job with many opportunities for learning and growth and I am taking them!
I just started the 21 day meditation challenge with Deepak and Oprah and completed my first meditation today.
I am focusing on gratitude and being positive in my daily life.
I quit smoking.
I COMPLETELY changed the focus of my graduate program project and had to start over!

When I celebrated my 42 birthday I decided I would set a list of 42 goals - one for every year of my life and I would accomplish them by the time I turn 43. I have started a "pseudo" list in my brain but I wanted to start putting it down on paper (or blog) so it was a little more formal.

So in no particular order here is the beginning of my 42 goals for the year:

1. Get a tattoo.
2. Finish a cross stitch character for mom's nativity.
3. Make a quilt.
4. Take the boys to the ocean.
5. Do a craft from pinterest that I am interested in.
6. GRADUATE with my master's degree.
7. Blog at least 52 times in the next year.
8. Read at least 52 books in the next year.
9. Start to Zentangle.
10. Take a photo every single day.

do you have any suggestions?

It's been 11 days....

The kids went home 11 days ago. I miss them SO much it is insane. It is such a strange thing to miss someone who is living, but who you have no access to. It's not like anything I have ever experienced before. We have been foster parents before and we have had MANY kids come and go from our home. Some we have kept in touch with, some are in the community and we see them from time to time, others we have no contact with but we didn't have for as long as these babies - and we weren't so bonded to them. It is a strange, strange thing and I have no words for it. I feel bereft.

It's not like I have a ton of time to sit around and mope. I am extremely busy with work and the boys are very, VERY busy - as usual. I am trying to be grateful for the blessings I have. I am focussing on gratitude and positivity in my life but still I get these "niggles" throughout the day of sadness for the babies being gone.

I am trying to think of this as a time to strengthen the relationship and focus on the "bigs" as we came to call them. We measured Maxies foot yesterday and it is the same size as Shel's. Our seven year old  has feet the size of his mama. Yesterday we played with him and CJ on the bed and giggled and laughed and had fun with "JUST" them like we haven't for a long time. I need desperately to reconnect with Maxie in particular and so I am trying to allowm yself to feel the gratitude for that opportunity right now.

It is hard to "let go". It's not something I have mastered and it is darn painful. At the end of the day I have to just "go through it" I guess and allow myself to feel the sadness and the loss and appreciate the LOVE that my little's brought into my life. They brought me so much joy and blessed my life immeasurably. I hope they know now and will ALWAYS know - Goo loves them.

If I had a flower for every time I think of you, I could walk forever in my garden.

 I love you my baby, You brought a smile to my face EVERY single day that I knew you. I will try to keep that smile :)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween Super Heroes

Our boys had SOOOOO much fun on Halloween it was amazing. It was one of the best nights we have had as a family all together in a LONG TIME. I am grateful for the day.

CJ went to school as an Iron Man and returned from school as an Iron Man Zombie!

He has been so excited about being Iron Man that he has been wearing his costume for weeks already. He went to school this morning in costume and was actually excited about school for once! I thought my social man was going to love school but alas, he does not. If only every day were a costume day.

Even Max wore "part" of a costume to school. This is miraculous as this shy guy wants to do NOTHING that will draw attention to himself. He wont even wear the toque his momma Shel got him because he doesn't want the other kids to "look at " him!
Crazy kid.

One of the reasons we LOVE trick or treating out in the country is because people give SO Much candy - you don't even have to go to many houses to get FULL bags! That was true again for this year. The people are so trusting they leave bags out while they take their own kids around. The first time I saw this I could not believe that people were so honest and actually LEFT candy out without worrying that it would all be taken by the first person who walked up. It isn't!

Is anyone home?

One of the houses that we went to even gave out FULL Mason jars to the kids, painted black and decorated like mummy's. SO CUTE!!!!

It was a great night. The weather was the best it has been in years and the boys were super excited.
The Halloween theme has carried through in our house for a few days now. The boys played "haunted house" last night and today Max decided to turn CJ into a skeleton with Permanent Marker.
CJ didn't object of course.

Sunday, November 3, 2013


I think everyone who reads this blog knows that we have fostered children.
Let me just say that the foster care system in this country is JACKED UP.
When a child is removed from a home a parent usually has up to six months awarded by the court to get whatever it is they need straightened out done so. Sometimes less time is given but no more than six months. After (I'm going to use the maximum amount of time - because it has been in our case) six months the parents go back before the judge and they can prove they have done what is completed. If it is - kids go home. If not - kids stay in care and the case worker can either ask for another "temporary" guardianship order or a "permanent" guardianship order. Usually after six months, unless there are extreme  extenuating circumstances, the case worker will not ask for permanent guardianship but will continue to work with the family towards getting the child home.
In the time that the child/children are in care, the case worker must explore other possible placements for the child/ren in the event that return to parents is not possible.
They look to family members - this is known as kinship placement. This is the most sought after alternate care plan for the children. Family group conferences are held to try and establish who could possibly come forward in the event the parents cannot, to care for the children.
If there is family, they must pass criminal record checks and child welfare checks and their homes must be inspected and they must go through a process JUST as rigorous as any adoptive home. Those who have adopted children know that this process is very invasive and a huge pain - but absolutely necessary.
So now, twelve months have passed. HOPEFULLY by this time the parents have their shiznet together, because it is only legal to ask for temporary guardianship twice - or up to 12 months. Then the court MUST take the children and find alternate homes for them in order to provide the MOST stability and quickest resolution IN THEIR LIVES.

Here's what I think should NOT happen in foster care......
1. Kids should not be returned to parents who have no home.
2. Kids should not be returned to homes where individuals did not pass criminal record checks or child welfare checks.
3. Kids should not be returned to homes where they were removed from WHEN NOTHING HAS CHANGED IN THAT HOME "just because" workers are too busy with too many cases to adequately follow up and have things like drug tests completed.
4. Kids should not go from having "2 hour supervised" visits on an unpredictable schedule to being released to homeless parents for completely  unsupervised overnight (week long) visits before court because all of a sudden the court date is imminent and no transition plan has been made for the children.
5. Foster families should not be treated like chattel.

So if you are thinking of being a foster parent I have just one word of advise to you. RUN AWAY. RUN AWAY FAST before you meet and fall in love with, and care for children who will then be manhandled by a broken system.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Let me in!

I did the most UNTHINKABLE thing a parent could do - I  locked the bathroom door. I don't always, in fact, I NEVER lock the door, because the fights that ensue outside the door as everyone in the house tries to enter the locked door are unbearable. There's a child radar that goes off when a mother enters a bathroom and shuts the door. It alerts every child, and in our house, every animal, within 500 yards and they all come charging in to see what is the matter and to demand entry. For the MOST part, it is safer and quicker and quieter to leave the door open, sneak in and get out as fast as possible before anyone comes running.
I don't know why I decided to lock the door, but I did. The kids were all in bed asleep, but I KNEW, I KNEW, that the child radar would wake at least one of them. I threw caution to the wind and did it anyway.
I shut the door as quietly as possible, I turned the lock as quietly as possible. I undressed in complete silence and turned on the water. I stepped in and stood with my head under the scalding water and thought I was home free. Then came the knock. I heard it, but I pretended I didn't. I took an almost glorious HOT shower, but I felt guilty knowing one of my cherubs was out in the hallway, bereft without access to the bathroom and his mom. (He had another mother close by, but mother in the bathroom trumps mother in the bedroom.) I got out and grabbed a towel and saw a folded note being pushed under the door.
I was apparently in the shower long enough for my five year old, distraught at being ignored as he knocked, had time to "write" me a note.
I hate to say it but it's true - locking the door was worth it - just for this note.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving... or not?!

It is officially Thanksgiving day here in the Great White North. Thanksgiving in my mind is a time of family and friends gathering to enjoy one another's company and to play football outside in the cool fall air.
We have a family tradition at Thanksgiving where we pass a bowl of uncooked rice at the supper table and every person takes some grains. Then we go around and say what we are thankful for - one item of gratitude for each grain of rice. A few years ago my brother and his wife came to us for Thanksgiving. She was unfamiliar with the tradition and when the bowl passed around we told her to take a handful - and she did. I still laugh to think about it. We made her talk about what she was grateful for all night long!!
For the last ten years, Thanksgiving for me meant all day at work cooking for the student's who are staying in Residence over the long weekend. Some years I had help, other years I did it alone.
This year there was just us, no all day cooking for students, no family visiting or trips to see anyone. Not even my old friend Eddie was around this year to join us for our Thanksgiving meal.
Shel and I are both working full time right now. We have managed to arrange our schedules so that one of us is always at home while the other is at work and we have saved the cost of daycare that way - and one of us has been able to be with kids at all times which is important to us.
Unfortunately it also means that we are a wee bit on the ragged side. We are like ships passing in the night. We started to write in a journal for each other so that one could get home and read what the other had done/was doing - but we are so darn tired we haven't kept it up. (and to be honest we aren't getting much done in the home hours anyway!)
Our Turkey dinner today ended up being.... I don't actually know because I had to come to work for 3 pm... but I do know that we both forgot to take the turkey out of the freezer last night until LATE LATE LATE and so it was not thawed out and able to be cooked today.
We haven't exactly cancelled Thanksgiving, we are just postponing it. I think tomorrow night we will all be home and can eat together. Having said that I am not 100 percent certain! I have to check the calendar.  have to check the calendar multiple times a day to make certain that everyone is where they are supposed to be, with what they need (I have only missed a swim suit once).  I do happen to know that today is Monday but that's because it's a holiday and I know the kids were SUPPOSED to go to school today but didn't. And no - we didn't go out to the wait for the bus this morning, but I could totally see why you might think that we would.
Since this is a VERY non-traditional Thanksgiving for us you might believe that I am not thinking about gratitude. You would be wrong. It is forefront in my mind. I am grateful for SO MANY THINGS. Here are some of the things I am happy to share with you that I am grateful for.
1. I am grateful for the people in my life. I am grateful for my spouse, for my mom, for my aunt, for my siblings, for my Max, My CJ, and my littles. I am grateful for my nieces and nephews and in-laws. (yup it's in print). I am grateful for our neighbours, I am grateful for our friends. I am grateful for our family doctor!
2. I am grateful for to have the means and opportunity to provide for my family.
3. I am grateful for the methods of communication which keep me in contact with my friends and family who are far away but a HUGE support to me.
4. I am grateful for my health.
5. I am grateful for Canadian Citizenship.
6. I am grateful for my thesis advisor who is STILL working with me to finish my degree.
7. I am grateful for our kids caseworker who has been a huge advocate and support for us.

I hope there is something for you to be grateful for tonight.

Friday, September 20, 2013


This is not my reality. It was NOT seven years ago that we picked him up from the hospital.
He had a great day. Mom made bacon for him for breakfast. Gramma Cathy called and sang happy birthday to him over the phone. He absolutely did NOT want anything taken to his class to share with other kids, he wants no attention drawn to him for ANY reason and he already asked to stay home from school because the principal was going to give him an apple for his birthday.
He had an ice-cream cake, he got his own TOOLBOX and a key to lock it!

This is the first photo we ever took of our Miracle Max

Here we are leaving the hospital:

And here is the photo I was able to get of him this morning:

Here are his answers to the questions I am going to try and remember to ask him each year:

1. What is your favorite color? Yellow
2. What is your favorite toy? My Music Player
3. What is your favorite fruit? Oranges
4. What is your favorite tv show? The Wild Kratts ( it is what was on t.v. as we were talking)
5. What is your favorite movie? Night at the Museum
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? The tool-belt I got for my birthday
7. What is your favorite animal? Zebra
8. What is your favorite song? Daddy Cool by Boney M
9. What is your favorite book?  I don't like books ( this is both disturbing AND true - his mother and I LOVE books and he does not!)
10. Who is your best friend? Ben (this is equally disturbing. Ben is not so nice to Max......)
11. What is your favorite snack? Ritz Cheese Crackers.
12. What is your favorite drink? Apple Juice Boxes
13. What is your favorite breakfast? Oatmeal (I thought he would say "bacon")
14. What is your favorite lunch? Ham Sandwiches
15. What is your favorite dinner? Spaghetti
16. What is your favorite game? Sonic Dash on his Ipad
17. What is your favorite thing to play outside? Riding Bikes
18. What is your favorite holiday? Summer when there is no school.
19. What do you sleep with at night? My sleeping bag
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? Firefighter. Not really but I don't want to answer any more questions so that's what I am saying.

It took quite a while for me to get all this information from him. He is not a talker and would rather not be "interviewed". He had a number of different reasons why he could not participate in this adventure but made it through alive!
I hope you enjoy this little snapshot of my boy.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

THREE months? How did that happen?

It seems impossible that it has been three months to the day since I last posted. I can't believe that much time has passed. SO much has happened.
I am no longer working in my former position, where I was employed for ten years. I have a new job, Shel has a new job, the boys are back in school, and we are moving forward and being MUCH more conscious about making our lives healthy and happy and positive. I would be lying if I said I have resolved all of my feelings about what happened and the people involved, but overall I can honestly say I am MUCH happier now and grateful to have moved on and away from what was a toxic environment for me and vicariously for my family. (This is not to say there were not a small number of great people that I worked with)
It was only three months ago that our lives were shaken up and we had some serious decisions to make. starting before the job loss, it seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong, WENT wrong. We had bad news on Shel's health, then bad news on mine. I was out of work, our van broke down, our dog died.... yup, I'm not even making it up about our dog. I could actually go on and on about things that were happening all around us.

I went through some very dark days and would not have made it through them without the most amazing support. Some friends in town picked up Shel and the boys when the van broke down and loaned us a vehicle. We took a trip to the city for some medical testing and had a fun afternoon with the kids in Galaxyland. I quit smoking. Two "friends" I have from blog land but have never met in person (Teena and Michelle) sent words of support which really impacted me in a most positive way. My spouse, my mom, my siblings, ALL of them offered daily support - sometimes hourly! I discovered some friends among former "aquaintances" in this small town who also offered insane amounts of support and positivity. Even my "distant" friends supported me in emails and messages on facebook.
Then I got a monthly newsletter (which I subscribe to) from Carol Lynn Pearson which was so timely and relevant it gave me goose pimples. Here is what she had to say in her own words:

"SMOOTHING THE PATHWAY OF OTHERS.  Actually, I've been forced to think about this because the bishop of my ward asked me to speak in sacrament meeting (which I did last Sunday) and that was our theme of the month -- "Smoothing the pathway of others."  He specifically asked me to tell the story of my life with my former husband Gerald (which you have or can read about in Goodbye, I Love You.") That was just a small part of my talk.  I emphasized that as I was smoothing Gerald's path at the end, there were others smoothing my path, and I believe others were smoothing their paths.  That's what we do for one another, you know.I began my talk with a little story I heard long ago -- about the King who placed a large boulder in the road leading to the city and then hid to see what would happen.  The merchants and important citizens came by and loudly complained about the boulder and then went around it.  Finally a peasant put down his basket and used all his might, finally moving the boulder out of the road.  To his surprise, there where the bolder had been was a purse with 50 gold coins and a note written by the king, stating that the gold belonged to whoever cared enough for others that he/she would remove the boulder.We love our stories of heroes removing obstacles for others -- when Superman moves not only a boulder, but a building -- when Schindler moves a deadly boulder from the paths of 1,200 Jewish people.We do that on a smaller scale, you and I.  And we don't find a purse full of gold.  But what we do find is this -- peace of mind, gratitude, a knowledge we have been of use in this world, and -- very often -- experience that gives us an opportunity to be of use to many others.  That's what my experience with my former husband gave me -- the privilege of being able to touch the lives of large numbers of gay people and their families. That kind of opportunity is pure gold.Each of us has different boulders to help remove from the paths of others.  And I really do believe that there is some large plan that puts us in the right place at the right time.  The boulders in your own path -- and the boulders in the paths of those your meet on your journey -- are perhaps ones that are designed specifically for you.  At least that's the belief that helps me when the path gets rough.  Thanks for walking with me."

My path has been smoothed by many people over the last three months. Thank-you. Thank-you. Thank-you. One day, if your path needs smoothing, I would be honored to smooth it in return.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Moving forward

My job is officially over.
We have a lot of decisions to make and a lot of things all going on at once. In addition to the  stuff we have going on with Shel, I also got some bad news about my own health.
Take a deep breath and move forward!!!!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

He turns FIVE today

My humpback whale turns five today. It is hard to believe my little guy is already so old! He is quite indignant that he is NOT old - he is still "new". He may still be new but he does not fit in my arms the way he did five years ago !
I saw this idea on the internet for asking your kids questions each year on their birthday and then compiling it from each year into a book for them when they are older. I thought it was a cool idea and so we started today!
Here are CJ's answers:

1. What is your favorite color? Flames and blue flames and red flames. Actually, all the flames and red and yellow and purple.
2. What is your favorite toy? Monster truck toy with a remote and with red flames on.
3. What is your favorite fruit? Oranges and apples and bananas and strawberries and grapes and everything. Which one do you like the most? Strawberries!
4. What is your favorite tv show? Tuff Puppy and Sponge bob and Flushed away.
5. What is your favorite movie? Flushed away
6. What is your favorite thing to wear? Sandals (he got a pair of sandals today for his birthday. Until today he has been wearing flip flops!)
7. What is your favorite animal? Dogs and kitty cats
8. What is your favorite song? Blue and Pink (CJ made up this song last year when we went to Edmonton. All he does is sing “Pink and Blue” over and over and over again. When Max joins in he tells him to stop singing because it messes him up!)
9. What is your favorite book? He didnt have an answer to this question , but when we got ot th elibrary he always chooses a "where's Waldo book to bring home and when we were in Edmonton at the hotel last year he got a Bible in the room which he take EVERY WHERE with him and which he wants us to read from for him before bed.
10. Who is your best friend? Evan and Justin Weenink.
11. What is your favorite snack? Root 
12. What is your favorite drink? Root beer (He drinks more chocolate milk than rootbeer!)
13. What is your favorite breakfast? Egg and Bacon Sandwich and pancakes.
14. What is your favorite lunch? Noodles
15. What is your favorite dinner? Noodles and pancakes.
16. What is your favorite game? Every single game (on his ipad)
17. What is your favorite thing to play outside? Bikes
18. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas.
19. What do you sleep with at night? cars
20. What do you want to be when you grow up? A worker man to fix bikes if loose chains fall off. (He can already fix a chain that comes off a bike and he is good at it!)


Monday, June 17, 2013

Fathers Day When You have Two Moms

In school this past week the kids all worked on crafts for Fathers day. In CJ's class the aide worked with him on a card for his two mom's and he brought this cute card home on Friday.
It is very cool that he is in an environment where his kind of family is recognised and we appreciate the work his aide does with him - we know it is reflective of her and not of everyone in the school.

It has been an interesting few months to see how our boys are processing the idea of being in a different kind of family as they are getting older and more aware of the other kinds of families around them.

On Mothers Day, Shel was outside with the kids and said to them that she needed to get inside and start preparing a meal for supper for me for mothers day. Max was quite insistent that she did not need to do this because she was the FULL mom and I was the half mom. Because I work and am out of the house in the day and Shel stays home, to Max it means I am half-mom, half-dad.

CJ has started to talk about his "dad". He has always been less literal and more imaginative than Max, and in the past he has had imaginary friends. Now when he sees something - a motorcycle, a camper, a cat in the road - he says it is his "dad's". He has told us his dad has black skin and red hair (his favorite colours). When pressed for information on whether or not we can meet his dad, he tells us his dad is dead.

It bothers Max a LOT when CJ talks about his "dad". He initially would tell him to stop it and tell him that he was lying. Shel and I have encouraged Max to leave CJ alone and let him use his imagination. Both boys know they have two moms and have been with us since birth. I think they are trying to make sense of their world, and I hope we are being supportive enough for them to do it in.

Unfortunately Shel's dad has passed away and my dad is busy overseas with his "new" family and so the boys don't really have great father role models in our dads. Thankfully we have great siblings and sibling -in -laws for the boys to look up to as male role models. I just wish they were closer.

In the meantime we will celebrate "two best mom's day" - which reminds me - Max didn't have anything for me on fathers day for being half a dad!? I need to bring that up with him tonight.

Laid to Rest

At work the flag flew at half staff last week in honor of Sarah. She was laid to rest on Saturday. It is still so hard for me to believe she is gone. It is surreal.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

365/17 Sarah

Try this: make a list of 365 people whose names you remember and who were interesting to you. And then, if you can, write down a few words about each of them before they're gone from your memory. If you can't do this, it might be wise to spend the next 365 days meeting more people in person who are interesting to you. Learn their names.

Last night a friend of mine was hanging out, quadding, having fun on a Friday night. She stopped to wash off the quad in the river and was swept away by the current. Her body was found today. I am in total shock.
Sarah was an AMAZING person. That seems like a cliche, like something you are SUPPOSED to say about a person who has passed away. In this case it is not cliche, but true.

I have known Sarah for about five years. She works in the housing office on the other campus and I have reason to talk with her FREQUENTLY, many times a week and some times many times in a day. When she sees my number come up on the caller id she answers the phone "Hey, Hey, Lady!"

She is friendly, helpful, kind, and I feel honored to have known her. We always chat and laugh of the phone when I call. On the rare opportunities I have to visit the other campus I always stop in and visit. I have never seen her without a smile on her face. She is a RARE person. An incredible person.

I will miss hearing her voice. I am just in shock that this has happened. I keep checking her facebook status as though all of a sudden she is going to post something and let us all know this is some kind of sick joke and she is ok. I just can't stop thinking about it. This is so insane. Rest in Peace my friend.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bear sighting

Yesterday afternoon I was driving with the little kids and look what we saw!  I am THRILLED I had my camera with me. I am blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gone so long

It's been a while since I was here last. Life has thrown our little family some insane curve balls. At the end of all the budget cuts at the college I came out of the other side with my position intact. It has been a double edged sword to have made it through the cuts and I am still reeling a bit from all the changes. Things have not settled and I don't know how long it will be until they do.
Now for the clincher..... Shel has cancer. The big "C". We officially found out today. Everything has happened quite quickly. We will be getting a call from the doctor on Thursday by noon on what happens next. I don't know yet if I will be blogging though this or not, but I figured I would at least post this so if I am gone from this site for a while then people will know why!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Bike riding

Our boys love little other than being on their bikes from the time their heads come off the pillow in the morning until we are dragging them in at bedtime.
I love bike riding season aswell, it just feels like I spend a LOT of it fixing bikes. This summer our goal is for Shel and I to join these little expeditions.

A few years ago when the farmer whose fields surround our house took down all the trees, he moved some grain bins onto our property. He asked if he could and told us he was selling them and they would be taken away. He did sell them. They were removed. Left behind however were four large cement pads which initially was a huge frustration to us but has since turned into quite an adventure for the boys.

I cannot BELIEVE how tall my oldest boy is getting. He has the most adorable smile.

Friday, May 17, 2013

When a tree falls in the forest. I mean, yard.

It seems like one week we are under a snowfall warning, then the next week we are under flood watch. Most recently we have had wind like you wouldn't believe.
The trees around our house have taken a beating. We have SO much yard work to do it is a bit overwhelming and when the healthy trees come down in the wind it is a big discouragement. THANKFULLY the tree fell at an angle or it would have taken out part of the roof.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Soccer season

Last year was the first year I had kids in soccer. I volunteered to coach the under six team. This year the minor soccer association in our town was in danger of folding and a desperate plea went out to ask for volunteers. I helped with three of the four registrations, volunteered to coach under six again and somehow ended up vice president of the minor soccer association. WOW.

Soccer was scheduled to start on Tuesday night. On Monday the president sent me a text message to say she was not going to be able to attend and was going to drop everything off to me on Tuesday at work.

She came and gave me all of the lists for each of the coaches of the kids on each team. (I think the coaches NEED to have this info before the night they are showing up the first night to coach but maybe that's for me to work on for next near?!)

I went early to the first field where the under four and under six teams start. I put up colours on each goal post and then I hung up lists in the same colours on the fence for people to see. If their kids name was on a yellow sheet they went to the yellow goal etc. It was MUCH better than last year when all 100 plus kids showed up and went from field to field to see if their kid was on that pitch.

Last year I started to practise right away and so parents who saw I was actually playing with kids already all just came and put their kid on my field and I had a WHACK of kids that were not mine for the first few weeks. At least THAT was an improvement over last year.

The president had apparently told people that they could still register on the field the first night and so people were showing up to register and pay and I had NO help at ALL to take money, put kids on to teams equally AND coach at the same time. I started my kids with help of a parent to watch them and tried to finish up registration. I think it is a BIG mistake to take registration on the field especially when we had FOUR registrations before hand and they were advertised in the paper, and on the town notice board AND with sandwich boards on main street (also a change for next year!)

THEN (and this is the real kick in the teeth) A lady showed up to put her kid into the under four team and her name was on the board as a coach. She said " I never volunteered to be a coach!"

I have NO idea why the president just put names down as coaches and never bothered to confirm with people that they were doing it. It is VERY intimidating to parents, especially parents who have no knowledge of soccer to be thrown in like that and I felt HORRIBLE.

 I found an older boy who plays lots to coach the u-4 for Monday and he said he would do it every week and the mom said she would be happy to help him but she had not signed up to be a coach, nor had anyone called her to let her know she was coaching. It was the president who put all the lists together and I just assumed she had contacted everyone?

 I managed to get everything sorted and get some time with my little group of under sixes, then the time ended and the under eights started to arrive and I had 15 minutes to get them sorted AND get to the next field to get the lists to the coaches of the under ten teams and lo and behold a dad walks over to me and says - my wife's name is on that board to be a coach and she is not even here tonight. He had sent her a text message and she said she didn't volunteer OR have anyone call her! We have two under 8 teams and the one guy showed up with his son from college to coach the one team and they agreed to take all the kids and coach them all together which was a HUGE relief but I still had people coming to register. I got through as fast as I could, I didn't write anyone a receipt but told them I would get to them later. I went as fast as I could to the school to the under ten field and got the coaches there the lists and did the late registrations and had a few minutes to breathe. The man who came to coach the one under ten teams was on my list as being the coach of the under 16 team and so I asked him about it and he said...... wait for it.... no-one had asked him to coach the under 16 team and he has a son on the under ten team and so that was where he wanted to be! Shocker of all shockers.

I now had no coach for the under 16 team!

I went over to the fields where the under 14 and under 16 teams were, and took registrations for the under 14 team. There are very few under 16 kids to play - not even enough to field one team - and they said they would just play together and they were all thinking of car pooling and going to Peace River teams anyway, so they were good for the night just to kick some balls around alone.
So we waited and waited and waited for the under 14 coach to show up and I finally called her but only got her message machine. I left a message to let her know we were at the field waiting and a minute later she called me back and said........... No-one had called her to let her know that she was supposed to start coaching Tuesday night! She said she would be there on Thursday. So I stayed and coached the under 14 kids for an hour and a half so that they could play. (she wasn't able to be there on Thursday as it turns out and then the following Tuesday called me to say she was willing to be an assistant coach but not coach the team full time and alone. This has yet to be resolved.)

On Wednesday I spoke to the president VERY briefly and took all the stuff back to her and she asked why I wasn't writing receipts as I was getting money :(

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

And the water started to flow

It has felt like a LONG winter. We had snow on the ground that has stayed since before the end of October and here we are at the end of April/beginning  of May and this week we had a heavy snow fall warning.
On April 21 when we walked to the corner and looked back at our yard it looked like this.


Then on Saturday April 27th the wind started to blow and the snow started to melt and all of a sudden the fields were deep with water.

 The wind was blowing so hard the water in the field had whitecaps! WE were out watching the water and realized it was rising FAST. It was coming up over the road in places.
 Here Max is walking along the road that is being covered by water. It was getting deeper and deeper and flowing faster and faster and we decided it was a good time to head home. The wind was BITTERLY cold and the water was ICE cold.
 As we got home we realized the dugout had overflowed, the ditch had overflowed and the water was now flowing over our driveway!!!!
We kept a close eye on the water levels and thankfully they didnt get any higher, although we do have what appears to be a lakefront property now!
The water rose and rose and then froze overnight and then started to receed. It has left some interesting ice formations in the fields now.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

I'm watching you

I love to laugh. It doesn't matter who I am laughing with, it is one of my favorite things.
In March I went to visit my mom and she lives in the same town as my sister. When we get together there is ALWAYS laughter.
One morning I went with my sister and her husband to Home Depot. As we were waiting we noticed a man standing at the end of an aisle just staring at us and not moving. He looked like a zombie. For some reason it made us laugh so hard. We decided to try and get a photo of him on our phones. That was even funnier. We were trying to be "sly" but it was not working out, and it didn't even matter! He still stood there and stared at us. A cashier standing immediately across from him was watching him and watching us and was also laughing.
Today I got an email from my sister with the heading "I'm watching you." I opened the email and the only thing in the content of the letter was the photo we took of the zombie guy in the store. I laughed so hard.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alison Redford - thanks for nothing

Last year when Alison Redford became premier of Alberta she visited  Mount Royal University and promised $650 million in funding for post-secondary education. One year later the reality is COMPLETELY different.

There have been significant cuts made to the budgets in post secondary education. This means that all 26 post secondary institutes have decisions to make. Difficult, life-changing (for some) decisions.

Programs at some institutions have been cut already and there are more cuts to come before the final budgets are complete by the end of June.

Mount Royal was affected to the tune of 14 million dollars. They have announced the termination of disability studies, music performance and theatre arts diploma programs, along with the forensics, journalism, perinatal care and aging studies certificate programs, and an engineering transfer program.

The University of Alberta has been affected to the amount of 65 million dollars over two years.

Lakeland College has cut 60 employees positions.

The mayor of Calgary said this week “I have been on record as saying that the provincial government has made a terrible error in its post-secondary education policy — great cities need great universities and great universities need government support."

I work in a post secondary institute. There have been no announcements made yet on cuts here, but retirement incentives and other incentives have already been offered to those who are willing to leave now. The hammer has yet to fall. We have been assured that there will be no cuts to programs as a result of this budget, which is a great thing but what it means is that the deficit we face will be made up predominantly by cuts to jobs. It is impossible to balance the budget otherwise.

Where the premier and the education minister see dollar amounts I think they miss the bigger picture. The HUMAN picture. The premier has announced that there will be a freeze on tuition for the next year and that the budget will not be met "on the backs of the students". That's a nice idea, however instead of raising the tuition with the cost of living, which is a standard in post secondary institutes, the premier will instead balance the budget on the backs of the post secondary employees who will lose their jobs.

I don't know if I will lose my job. It may be another month before I know. In that one month period I, and my family, and the other hundreds of employees - in my institution and all others in the province AS WELL AS their families will all have to deal with the stress of not knowing. When the announcements are finally made those who are cut from positions have the stress of moving forward.

Insomnia, nausea, eye twitches from not sleeping, irritability, anxiety, heart burn.. heart attack? Will I snap at my son tonight when he breaks something accidentally, but because I am exhausted and stressed out? Will he cry? Will he feel disconnected to me and think I am a mean mom and not someone he wants to trust?

This is just a SMALL idea of the cost to me right now - and to the other employees who are in limbo.

Let's say in a month I lose my job. How will I pay my mortgage? How will I pay ANY of my bills? I live in a VERY small community where the opportunity to find employment at the same rate of pay which I have right now is virtually impossible. So do I move my family? Sell our house? What do I do for medical insurance in the meantime? Where do we go?

The government of Alberta thinks they are saving money, but I say they are wrong. HORRIBLY wrong and disconnected from your constituents. What you are doing has a HUGE cost, the results of which you may not be able to measure right now but which this province will be paying for for a LONG, LONG time. Unfortunately so will we.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The trials of an oldest child

I am the oldest of five children. My spouse is the oldest of four. I could write endlessly on the trials of being the eldest but I will spare you. (Those of you who are eldest in your respective families will all know what I have to say and those of you who aren't, won't understand!)
Today I was reminded what it is like to be the oldest child by something that happened with my own kids.
When I picked up CJ - second born - from school he proceeded to tell me that Max (the eldest) had been bad on the bus. His retelling of the incident was very funny because he told me "in Bud's voice". Bud is the busdriver.
I was highly amused at his retelling of the incident. Then it got me thinking. When I was growing up it used to drive me CRAZY when my younger siblings would tell my parents things I had been involved in prior to my arrival at home. It seemed like no matter what I was involved in - and there wasn't a lot - just enough to make this a salient memory - my parents would know what had happened before I got a chance to tell them.
Right before my eyes my ownchildhood is being re-enacted by my own kids. No matter how glad I am to know what happened and no matter how funny the telling of it was, I feel sorry for Max.
Gosh it is hard to be the oldest child.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Letter to Max 6yrs 7 months

Dear Max,
Gosh it has been so long since I wrote you a letter, I have fallen down on the job.

After this weekend I knew I needed to sit down and write to you. You are growing so fast it is ridiculous! We sat down this week and compared the size of our feet. Mom's friend suggested that maybe mom has small feet but I don't! Your feet are HUGE! We have to buy you ANOTHER pair of indoor shoes for school already. I'm pretty sure you will be the tallest person in our family, and I think it will happen soon.
You are so kind, and so gentle, and so thoughtful it makes me proud to be your mom. You came into the room this morning and the first thing you said to me was "Happy Easter Mom." Mama Shel and I lay in bed listening to you play with the little ones. You are such a good big brother. I know we tell you this all the time but it is true! You always include the little ones when you play and you make games that everyone can join in on.
You love to cook and clean and work on projects and you have set up your own little office in the room upstairs with all your things.
Since the weather has FINALLY improved you have been outside riding your bike almost every day this past week. You already have a five speed bike! You love to ride and you have even gone outside ALONE to ride. This is so amazing to me because for so long you would not do anything without having either Mama Shel or I in your sight. I think you were four years old before you ever went around the house out of our sight even when we were outside with you!
I can't say enough how much your mom and I are proud of you.
Did you know that there were people in this world who tried to tell me and Mama Shel all the things you could never do? They told us you may never ride a bike. They told us you may never learn to read or to write. Even this year at the beginning of grade one they told us that you would only learn "living" skills - like dressing yourself - and not things like spelling or math. Boy, have you shown them! You are a funny kid though, you brought home a spelling test this week and didn't even show it to me or Mama Shel. You are still the same quiet, shy boy you have always been and don't like any attention drawn to yourself, even if it is hugs and kisses for doing so well on your spelling!

When I came to the school the other day I saw this letter you wrote about the Leprechauns and took a photo of it. I think it is a perfect example of how generous you are and how you think of others.

My baby boy, My Miracle Max. It is hard for me to see you grow so fast. I want to keep you small and protect you from all the hard things that are out there in the world. I want you to have a wonderful life full of success and it is hard for me to let you go, even in the small ways I have had to do already.

I love you my son, more than words will ever express. You will keep doing amazing things, you will keep showing the people who say "you can't" how wrong they are - no matter if it takes longer for you to get to your destination. Your mom and I will always be here, we will always love you. One day you may even decide you want to sleep in your own room and not on the floor in our room. I will be happy for you on that day. I will be happy for me and mama Shel because we will be able to get up in the night and not have to walk over you to get to the bathroom. I also know that on that day I will be a little sad that you have grown up even more, and I won't hear your breathing as you sleep so deeply. I love the sound of your breathing, it makes me happy to know you are close.

Rest your head, close to my heart, never to part, Baby of mine.

Mama Ju