hidden

Do you hide things? I know I do.

Are you a parent? A spouse? Then I’m pretty sure you’ve hidden some things.

I hide things. Christmas presents. Chocolate. Expiry dates. Vegetables.

Christmas/birthday presents are a big hide. And yes, I have had that worrisome experience of not knowing where I put everything. I have missed giving some gifts until it was too late. Of course, in most instances, “too late” only means that the birthday or Christmas gift exchange has been missed …. sometimes, though, it really is too late and those shoes/jeans/pyjamas won’t fit anymore or that game has become passé.

Chocolate — if you have a spouse like HardWorker, you hide the chocolate. BoyGenius takes after me in a lot of ways, and love of chocolate is no exception. Also like me, though, he has the ability to eat a few pieces of a chocolate bar and then leave it for the next day. Or the next day. A couple of pieces a night makes a good bar of chocolate last a long time. (nb: this does not work for bars like Snickers or Coffee Crisp) HardWorker has never developed this ability, as hard as I have tried to help her for the last twenty-two years. We often had a piece of chocolate as dessert in our house when I was growing up, and the true German bars were not always easy to come by so we shared and savoured them, bit by bit. HardWorker says they didn’t have that experience, so if there was chocolate, you ate it up quickly. So now, in our house, I hide the chocolate. I have to change up my hiding spots every month or so, because she will snoop in every cupboard in the middle of the night until she finds the treasure. Sometimes the best and most successful spots are out in the open. Even BoyGenius has learned to hide things in plain sight.

Expiry dates are something that I also have to hide from HardWorker — if I didn’t I would constantly be throwing things out that are still perfectly good and definitely safely edible. I mean, come on people, sour cream and yoghurt are made with bacteria! What could possibly go wrong with consuming these products 3-9 months past their “best before” dates? Eggs? Most countries don’t even refrigerate their eggs, let alone worry about an expiry date. Bread? Until it’s thoroughly shot through with mould I’m toasting that slice. BoyGenius seems to have the same cast-iron stomach that I do, and I am happy for that.

Hiding vegetables isn’t something that I necessarily do intentionally but it is a very effective way to make sure they get eaten. When BoyGenius was a baby and toddler, he ate anything we gave him. He was quite happy with Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes and dill pickles were a favourite snack of his. He refused to eat bananas after about age four, but as it turns out, he’s allergic (fresh fruit syndrome/oral allergies that are related to his 8-month long seasonal allergies). As he got older and “developed his palate” he swung wildly on the like/don’t like scale. Still does, with everything from ribs to cauliflower.hidden But let me tell you, if I can “hide” mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, or just about any other foodstuff in lasagna, chili, soup or fried rice then it gets gobbled up without any complaints. #momwin

What do you hide? And from whom?

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Categories: family, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

day three

So it’s the 3rd of November, which makes it day three (3) of this #NaBloPoMo or #NaNoPoblano thing I’ve signed on for. I’m still here. **YAY!!**

I’ve decided that in addition to committing to posting an entry every day, I am committing to removing one bag or box of stuff out of my house every day this month. I am, sadly, already one day behind on this, but today’s bag was large, had a grocery-bag add-on, and also a separate stack of boys’ jeans to go with it. So, in essence, that was two days’ worth. Truth.

There is a lot of excess stuff in my house. I’m not sure why I hang on to certain things. Some of it I can explain away — my Opa’s pipe, my dad’s jacket from when he was a butler/handyman, many of BlueEyes‘ things — but other things are really not necessary. How many fancy beer glasses can anyone really need? Might it be possible to consolidate all of the scribblings on countless scraps of paper into one notebook? Do we have to keep ALL of BoyGenius’ stuffed toys?

I guess what it all comes down to is remembering that I am a work in progress, I am perfectly imperfect, and my life is ever evolving. Or as a famous fish once said, “Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming.”

Categories: family, loss, memories, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m going to stop

For a long time, I didn’t watch the news.

For a long time before that, I did. It was the 10 or 11 o’clock precursor to bedtime. It meant the end of the day; time to see what had happened in the world, in the country, in the neighbourhood. Then, a few years ago, I had a baby. I think that’s when I first stopped watching the news — new baby, no sleep, oddly timed feedings/pumpings, etc., etc. Then when I tried to go back to it I could no longer stomach it. It was bad news most of the time and it really stressed me out. So I stopped.

I did alright without watching the news. If there was something big happening I was sure to hear about it anyway, whether it was on the radio in the car, in the schoolyard, or on the tv at McDonald’s. HardWorker still watched the all-day headline broadcast channel before she left for work or before bed, ostensibly to check the weather or the traffic. Whatever I did happen to see annoyed me no end and it wasn’t just the content. Not a single commentator seemed able to read the sheets that were in front of them without stumbling over names, dates, locations, or the basic tenets of the english language. They make me crazy. I try to stay away from it if at all possible.

I found I was able to stay fairly stress free (news-wise) and life was good. Facebook was something I had discovered and joined years ago (after abandoning my mySpace page) and I enjoyed keeping up with family and friends from around the globe. New babies, vacation pictures, familial losses, even making new friends; it was all at my fingertips. I even joked with other school parents at SCC meetings that if the news wasn’t accompanied by kitten videos on Huffington Post it meant nothing to me. Then it all changed. People started regarding the Huffington Post as a real “newspaper”. The major networks all have Facebook pages, as do all of their regional stations. All the Posts and Times and Gazettes are there as are numerous weekly or monthly magazines. People quote Twitter on their FB pages and link to just about everything that gets published anywhere. It’s too much. Too much to read. Too much to follow. Too much to click through.

It’s too much. Sensory overload. And let me tell you, I barely link any of my accounts, I don’t check my mail every hour, and I’m only on Twitter about once a week. I HAVE A FLIP-PHONE. That’s right. I HAVE A FLIP-PHONE. I do not receive badges, banners, or updates; do not get pinged every time a new e-mail comes in; no swish or chirp when someone tweets something. It doesn’t seem to matter. When I do check Facebook there is invariably some new horrible thing that is being shared by everyone I know. When Hardworker comes home and asks, “Did you hear about …?” I have to say that I did. Whether I wanted to know about it or not. Apparently we no longer have the option of not watching the news.

Well, folks, I’m taking it back. I’m going to stop watching. Stop reading. Stop scrolling. Stop clicking through links. I’m going to stop. I know that some people will think this is no way to live in this day and age. They will call me names and tell me I’m part of the problem. I’m telling you this is the only way to live in this day and age. If I don’t stop I won’t survive.

So yeah, I’m going to stop.

 

Categories: family, friendship, media, NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

still tired

November. Wow. This year is almost over and I’ve hardly been here at all.

It’s been almost three years since I wrote about being tired. Three years, and not much has changed. Well, I may be somewhat more tired than I was, but the rest of the stuff is pretty much the same. Of course, the world is on fire and that’s pretty draining, too. Living next to the US of A and being bombarded by their pain and inflammation on a daily (sometimes even hourly) basis is exhausting. I can’t even imagine how terrifyingly intense it is for those of you who live there.

Yesterday while on my way out to run some errands I thought, “I haven’t felt this tired since I was 6+ months pregnant” (which was when I realised I shouldn’t be driving in to work any longer since I was pretty much falling asleep at every red light).  I ran into a friend at the dollar store and while we were in the middle of our “how are you” pleasantries she said, “I’m so tired this week, I feel like I’m pregnant. That’s what I told my husband this morning!” I just chuckled and agreed, “Oh my god, that’s exactly what I thought on my way here.”

I have so much to do, and so little energy. I have spoken with my doctor about not being able to fall asleep, not being able to stay asleep, and falling asleep during the day if I sit still for too long. All my bloodwork (iron, vitamins, cholesterol, thyroid, etc.) comes back “normal” so it remains a mystery. Hormones? Sure, why not? They’ve been pissing me off lately anyway.

November has begun. I am a Little Pepper and committed to NaNoPoblano, so here I am.

Categories: NaBloPoMo, NaNoPoblano, Sleep, words | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

I will hold you up

My BFF and I came to each other rather late in our childhood — we were 45 — but I think we have made up for the years apart and then some. We met because her second child and my one and only were in the same Kindergarten class. We have evolved far beyond school-parent friends and have melded into family. It all happened very quickly. And I am thankful for her every day.

In September, on my BFF’s birthday, her grandmother died. Annie was 99 years young and was the very definition of a Babba. She loved her children, her grandchildren, her grandchildren’s children, and her great-great-grandchildren with an unbelievably open heart. Hell, she loved BoyGenius as if he was her very own great-grandchild right from the day she met him. She had lived through some things, she had come out, and she kept on living. And loving. I loved her, and I miss her.

At the beginning of this week, on Sunday night, while in hospital fighting pneumonia, my BFF’s mother had a massive stroke. She died Monday morning at the age of 79. This second unbelievably strong woman from this family passed away so unexpectedly that we are all still reeling. Shirley was a seemingly tireless worker who took care of everyone and everything. She was the glue that held her family community together. This loss, so close on the heels of Babba’s passing and coming so without warning is like being hit by a tetherball in full swing — the force and ensuing vibration have rocked us to our cores. I loved her, and I will miss her (it hasn’t really sunk in yet).

I know that my friend will find it exponentially more difficult to come through this than I will. I know that her head and heart are filled with regret and “if only”s. I know that her heart is broken and her spirit is only hanging on by the thinnest of threads. I know that words are cold comfort and even actions may go unnoticed right now. I’m doing what I can, including driving across country this evening so I can be there with her, for whatever she needs.

As I enveloped her in my arms on Monday afternoon I promised her one thing: “I will hold you up as long as you need.” The palpable release of even a little bit of tension was all the thanks I needed. I love her and I don’t want to have to miss her.

Categories: family, friendship, loss, love | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

poetry on a thursday

Although this wasn’t written today it is fairly new; with the cool air and the autumn breeze it seemed an appropriate day to share it.

My God! Do you really not see what I see when I look at you?
The way you sparkle when you laugh, like the diamonds of early dew;
the light that glows from deep in your soul when you’re telling me something new;
the strength that emanates from your hands when you’re working with a tool;
the depth of wisdom behind your eyes that shouts that you’re no fool;
the flow of your hair, the curve of your hip that your beauty do betray;
the love that breathes and beats in your heart — it all makes me want to stay.
I wish that you could see yourself through my eyes now and then;
you wouldn’t doubt your value or your worth ever again.

This poem percolated for a few days, and I lost some of it while wool-gathering. I think it still turned out okay. 

Categories: friendship, love, poetry, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

24 Things Women Over 30 Should Wear

This is an absolutely perfect read for a Monday. 💕

Warning:Curves Ahead

This morning, as I was perusing through my Facebook timeline, I happened upon an article that a lovely friend shared. It was entitled “24 Things Women Should Stop Wearing After Age 30”, and it triggered Maximum Eye-Rolling from everyone who took the time out to read it.

Written by Kallie Provencher for RantChic.com, this “article” (I use the term loosely) highlighted things such as “leopard print”, “graphic tees”, and “short dresses” (because “By this age, women should know it’s always better to leave something to the imagination”). Kallie, it seems, has a number of opinions on what women over 30 should and shouldn’t be doing, having also penned “30 Things Women Over 30 Shouldn’t Own” and “20 Pictures Women Over 30 Need To Stop Posting Online”. (What is this magical post-30 land where women are suddenly not allowed to do or own so many things?!)

Motivated by Kallie’s “article”, I decided…

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almost 12

Last night I was far too deep inside the “book” I was reading (it was an e-book, I can’t deny that I use those) and was long past tired, so it wasn’t until close to 1:30 am that I finally closed the iPad and pushed the switch on my bedside lamp. It took me at least 20 minutes to doze off and drop into a solid sleep. Not so solid, however, that I didn’t immediately awaken when my almost 12 year old son appeared at the side of my bed. “Mama, I had a bad dream.” I glanced at the clock before I scooted over against the wall and held the covers up for him to climb in beside me: 3:17. After a few minutes spent watching him, I felt confident enough in his slumber to close my eyes, trying to drift off. He moved about a bit and then, “Mama, my head hurts.” I asked him if he wanted a pill or just an ice pack and he decided on both. I checked the time when I climbed over top of him and back into bed: 3:43. Once he was lying still for 15 minutes I climbed back out and took myself and my alarm across the hall to his empty bed. I lay awake a while; listening in case he needed me; unable to settle because I was worried about not getting enough sleep. 7 am came fairly quickly. HardWorker was already gone, I had some time before I needed to get BoyGenius up and into the shower, and tried to plot out just when in the day I would fit a couple of naps in. My Fitbit app advised me that I had managed only four hours and six minutes of actual sleep — nothing I could do to change that. It was going to be a long Monday.

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For a few weeks now, I’ve been getting hit with the realization that I am about to be the parent of a 12 year old. How did this happen? I didn’t really plan on this. I mean, I know that’s how it works, if you’re extremely lucky: your children grow up and you all grow older together. But seriously, my plan was to have a baby, maybe a toddler. A 12 year old? I never really thought that far ahead. He’s in grade 6. And the school year is more than half over. His birthday parties now consist of 3-4 friends, pizza, a movie, and some video games. To be fair, they’ve been like that for a few years already; he’s always seemed two to three years ahead of his chronological age. Not that we’ve rushed him, or anyone’s expected him to be more mature, or anything like that; he’s just always had this “presence” and common sense, logical thought process and a wicked quick sense of humour, an easy-going nature and a thoughtful need for fairness, all combined with a solid sense of uniqueness and self. While most of those character traits have stood BoyGenius in good stead over his 12 years, he has also had to put up with disparaging comments about his sensitivity, his choice of hairstyle or shoe colour, his apparent “know-it-all”-ness, his book and movie preferences.

I still look at him in wonder at least once a day. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me worry, he makes me proud. There is still so much for him to learn, but there is sooooo much that he already knows. There are things he does that frustrate me, and there are things he does that make my heart swell with amazement at who he has already become in his 12 short years. And the thing is, the person that he has become, and that he still has to grow into, that person has been there since day one. That personality was already in place with the first wave of his hand and kick of his foot in utero; the good-natured-ness, the sense of humour — already there.

Sometimes I miss my baby. Sometimes I miss my toddler. Most times I know that the young man sprawled across our couch or searching for food 15 minutes after dinner is the same guy. When my almost 12 year old gets awakened by a bad dream and needs to snuggle with Mama I am absolutely sure.

I love you, Schnucki.

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musings (on death, in this case)

The first line of this crept into my head as I was peanut-buttering my toast this morning. No idea why, but I thought I had better sit down and find some paper pretty quickly (kind of like that split second when you know you’re about to throw up), so I did just that. And ended up with this:

 

I have held the hand of Death
as it invades and seeks to usurp
the breath of Life in a loved one’s body.
While Death is not pretty and Death is not proud,
wanting and waiting to snuff out the Life within,
it does seem to care for the shell and the skin without.
Rarely have I felt a hand so soft or smooth
as one struggling to hold on to another day or two.
Skin stretched taut over cheekbone and brow
may seem a grotesque mask to some,
but if so then surely one made from the finest silk
with nary a furrow or crease.
It is almost as if Death, knowing its own reputation
doth proceed, has searched for some small way
to repay the great sacrifices made,
and understanding that family and friends may be holding fast,
offers the only softness it knows,
one of gentle touch.

 

As I said, I don’t know where this came from, I only know it had to come out.

Categories: loss, love, words | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

mammograms, Christmas lights, and yoga

I have had 4 mammograms in my life, the last one being about 2 weeks ago. Today I am going for a fifth. That last one, I requested it this past summer due to an unexpected and unexplained bruise that showed up on my right breast one day. I watched it for a few days, then went to see my doctor once I decided it was weird. She didn’t think much of it, advised that since I was taking some anti-inflammatories for a yoga injury (wait for it, I’ll explain in a bit), it was probably just a broken blood vessel. Gave me a requisition to book a mammogram for October, since I had just had a normal one the previous October, and they’re allowed on a schedule. Fine, no problem. If she’s not concerned, then I’m not concerned. So October comes, I book my appointment and tell them why I’m there (my bruised right breast). We do the squishing and they say my Dr. will get the results by the end of the week. On the following Monday they call and say the want to take some additional pictures of my left breast. Left. Huh. They schedule me in for 2 weeks later. No problem. They’re obviously not too concerned if they can wait 2 weeks. Then I get a letter in the mail from the radiology office saying the radiologist wanted some more pictures and my doctor asked them to book me in: mammogram and ultrasound. No problem. I go this afternoon. I’m not worried, not really. HardWorker gets call-backs all the time, has cysts, has to have fluid drained and tested, etc., etc. As a matter of fact, she has a post-mammogram specialist’s appointment this afternoon. I’m not worried for either of us, I’m sure it’s/they’re nothing. I’ll let you know.

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I’ve been seeing this link on Facebook lately to an “article” (or two) about why you shouldn’t put up your Christmas lights until after Thanksgiving. I don’t know what the reasons are, I haven’t clicked through to do any reading. I won’t. I think there are many such arguments out there, and they probably aren’t new. Here’s the thing: we are all busy, we all celebrate different things in different ways, and it doesn’t affect you (or anyone else, for that matter) if I put my Christmas lights up in June. Truth is, if I had told you last year what my “real reason” was for not putting up my Christmas lights before Thanksgiving, which we celebrate in October, by the way, it would be that I never took them down. Why can’t we just let people do whatever it is they want to do, particularly with the inconsequential things like Christmas lights or coffee cups? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with Americans having to work right after their Thanksgiving so that someone can pay a supposed rock-bottom price for a new tv/sweater/sofa/whatever (let’s be honest, you guys created that mess), but how about we stop trying to dictate to others what the “correct” way to live is? If people want to decorate their homes for Christmas right after Hallowe’en then let them. If they don’t want to do it until the 1st of December, that’s okay, too. When I was a child, our tree didn’t go up until Christmas Eve. No one ever tried to tell me we were doing it wrong. Different cultures, different times, different customs, different people. We are all different, and yet we are all the same. Let’s be thankful for our differences and work towards living in peace and harmony as humans. No matter what time of year.

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So, yoga. You know, I started walking daily (3-5km) after my knee surgery last year. Then I added twice-weekly visits to my personal trainer at her gym (and actually worked out, didn’t just visit). Towards the end of the last school year, I thought I’d add a bit of yoga to my fitness regimen. I had tried it many years ago at the community centre and the instructor just about drove me ’round the bend, so I didn’t pursue it, but I figured I’d be in good hands at a new local yoga studio. I signed up for Beginner 1 and went once a week. At the start of the program, they go around the class and have everyone introduce themselves and say why they are at yoga. Most people have the same goal: to reduce stress and find some balance in their lives; mine wasn’t any different, I wanted to find a way to calm my mind, thereby allowing me to reduce my stress level and even sleep better. I did alright with the yoga poses, never pushing myself past my body’s limits but still working through the flow. (Me while doing yoga, all to myself, of course: Seriously? You want me to bend into a triangle and pull my belly button into my spine while taking a deep inhalation? Exhale? I’m still inhaling from the second-to-last breath! Uh, no. My arms don’t reach that far. Never have, never will. Cramp!! Feeling a little dizzy here. No wonder that breathing technique helps you sleep, it makes you pass out! You know what? David Gray’s Babylon doesn’t really work as yoga music. *with laughter throughout*) At the end of every session, you go into shavasana or corpse pose, close your eyes, and wind down. Well, if I closed my eyes, my mind just went racing through what I still needed to do that night, or what was planned for tomorrow. I wasn’t making any headway on the calming my mind aspect. I was better able to relax if I just looked up at the studio ceiling, although then what was running through my mind sounded like this: “Is the ceiling supposed to look like that? I wonder where that vent goes? Do you think those windows actually open? Wow, it really looks different from this angle!” So, yeah, since it was obviously going so well, I signed up for Beginner 2. Again everyone introduced themselves and explained what their “intention” was. When it was my turn I very honestly said, “I have no idea why I’m here.” Everyone chuckled and we moved on. Just towards the end of the first set of classes, I had started seeing my massage guy every week as apparently yoga was kicking my ass; my back was a mess, my shoulders hurt, my legs were tight. By halfway through the second set of classes, I was having some real pain in my left hip and knee, to the point where I couldn’t walk more than a kilometre without starting to hobble, and then would pretty well be out of commission for the entire day after my walk. It felt like my hip was being pulled out of joint and I couldn’t tell if there was a problem with my knee causing the displacement or if the hip was referring pain down to the knee. I went to my Dr., she ordered x-Rays of both joints, and then we met to discuss the results (which showed everything was fine). I told her how pro-active I’d been with my fitness endeavours, described my pain and where it was (very high in my quad), and at one point she stopped me and asked, “Did you say yoga?” Apparently she has heard of this before, even her own daughter complains of this pain after yoga, and she said to lay off the exercise and prescribed a course of anti-inflammatories. I finished Beginner 2 and haven’t been back. I didn’t need as many pills as thought, and my walking is back up to 5-7km a day, generally pain-free. I’ve since stopped seeing my trainer, lost 5+ pounds throughout the summer just from walking, embarked on and finished Beachbody’s 21 Day Fix (lost another 5+ pounds doing that) and have only had to see my massage guy once in the last 4 months. My conclusion: yoga is evil.

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