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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why Fix What Aint Broke....?

... Is what I imagine my kitty cat Wilbur was thinking after yesterday's events.

It was a perfectly sunny Saturday morning, and I had been out tomming all night long. (ah, what a night). I came in for a big breakfast before my daylong nap, and my person put my food bowl way up high out of my reach. She weedled and shoved me into some sort of plastic box with a handle and then we went for a ride. (doesn't she know that I don't like rides? Does she think I've turned dog?)

I swear that just this morning, I had a perfectly good set of testicles just hanging around. Absolutely nothing wrong with them. (testicle, testicle... wherefor art thou testicle...) When I woke up, there was nothing there but a sort of vacancy. An unusual breeziness. An ache.

Why would they call it "getting fixed"? They were never broken! All I know is that I started out perfect, and after I got fixed, I was all busted up and missing parts. This is soooooo messed up.

I'm going to have to go out and find myself some fig leaves or some sensible humans or something.

fixed. hmmmmph.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

How To Deal With The Annoying Jingle Jangle Heaviness of Money In Your Pockets/Purse/Bank Account

  1. Enroll your daughter in spring basketball. Write out a cheque for the privelege.
  2. Since this is not a school sports event, each game will involve a trip to the city. Each time at a completely new location.
  3. Don't ever get e-mails about the games. Rely on your daughter, her inbox, and whatshehearsatschool.
  4. Make sure that no one car pools. Ensure that your daughter offers rides to no one. Encourage her never to ask other players for rides.
  5. Own only one vehicle, and make it a van. That way you get to spend more money on gas.
  6. Try to get to the games that involve you getting to the city by 5:15. Even when you work til 5:30 and the city is 30 minutes away.
  7. this is great, because then you can pay your other daughter to finish your daycare day for you. That should help to lighten your wallet.
  8. Additionally, your child will be starving, so this is a great time to load her up on salt, sugar, fat, paper, and plastic at any number of drive-through locations.
  9. I really like the nights when the information is particularly succinct: Game. University of Manitoba. (I'm sure the place is tiny. I think we'll just drive over there and look around for a kid carrying a basketball)
  10. Park in a parkade. That way you get to use those annoying toonie bits that weigh so much.
  11. Check gymnasiums in two or three buildings. Ask gym desk attendents, but don't have too much information, such as: What the heck the name of the organization that you are playing with. It's more fun that way.
  12. Receive helpful information about which hallways to traverse, and where courts might possibly exist.
  13. Enjoy a convocation on your walk over to some other gymnasium.
  14. Remember that you never actually finished your degree. Wonder if you would be less stupid if you had finished. Wonder if it would help you find a gymnasium. Without grad caps.
  15. Rage on your way back to the parkade. Mentally plan to set aside some money for your child's unresolved life issues. (It all started back on that day when my mom couldn't find the right gym, and I never had my chance to really excel!)
  16. Consider stopping at Old Navy to buy your kid a bunch of clothes that she doesn't need just to have something new to feel guilty about. Fantacize about buying a lot of gin and menthols.
  17. DRIVE home instead. Fill up the tank along the way. Remember that it's time to pay for summer camp and that your other two kids need new running shoes.
  18. Begin to chew your cuticles.
  19. Notice that your wallet is considerably lighter.
  20. Now you know. These instructions can be used in any order whatsoever. They are fool proof.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Random-ness

Must say, it feels nice to spend two days enjoying the sunshine with the kiddies, and then spending the evening not thinking about when to squeeze in a few more minutes hours to complete a bag and get it posted.

A difficult decision to make, and a painful thing to release, but still it feels right. And delicious to take a little pressure off. Even pleasant pressure; as I love to sew. But the arms racing around the clock at a dizzying speed (even as my own arms race in competition) always makes morning come before I feel quite prepared for it.

But today-- my kitchen looks nearly prepared for the mania of morning. My living room is nearly devoid of toys. My bags are all posted. And for anyone living here in Hoo-Ville, I would suggest that you spend either Thursday or Friday over at the high school watching the drama that I've just come home from. Some of these kids really amazed me. Not to mention made me laugh my buttocks off. (*sigh* if only it were so easy.....)

It's wonderful to live in a small town such as Hoo-Ville. You'd be amazed what one can experience. Just last week we were at a Jazz Night just two blocks from our house, and I'd swear that I'd fallen right off the sturdy Bible belt and landed in New Orleans. Mar-Dee- Gras!! The high school jazz band itself was stellar- I couldn't believe their talent. And then a jazz soloist named Katherine Penfold; an amazing man on the keyboard and another male-type miracle worker on the string bass made music that made me want to weep. Seriously folks. All this in Hoo-Ville.

Yes, indeedy. The sun is shining in more than just one way. The freckles have come out; along with the rhubarb, the peonies, the strollers, and the smell of fresh cut grass. It seems the whole world has come back from the dead.

And I gotta say, it sure feels good.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Some of my Worst Things

are: being assertive; being decisive; and making phone calls.

These faults are particularily a nuisance when my children are having problems. Like say, when a daughter gets hit by a car and has chronic back pain that MPIC seems to have stopped believing; the physiotherapist doesn't seem to be alleviating; the chiropractor didn't seem to help either; and running, jumping, and falling seem to exacerbate. Which is why I felt rather frustrated yesterday when daughter came home from school early, short of breath, and in pain from attempting to run the 1600 meter race. The frustration only spawned into anxiety after spending two hours at the Pan Am Sports Medicine Clinic and having another professional give some more conflicting advice. Keep active. Run. Make it hurt. Keep it limber.

If I were decisive and assertive, I would have remembered at that point to remind the Doc that this was the very reason we had gone to great lengths to get his opinion on this day. That she has indeed been keeping active, and receiving treatment since that fateful February day. That the activeness was now causing her to feel short of breath. Pained in her back, ribs, and neck.

Here's a sampling of advice:
(please pardon me if I indulge in slight exaggerations or cynicism)
Chiro: "Please take these products that MPIC will pay for. A special pillow. A back brace. An obus form- a huge, unsightly chair pad to carry from class to class with you in school." (At the age of 14. In Junior High. Right.)
Then, please drive to my office roughly three times a week for eternity or until MPIC stops paying for it. I will tell you have you have scoliosis, although no one has ever noted this before. I will tell you how much you are improving because of all the hard work that I am doing. Then I will order you some more products for MPIC to pay for."

(hmmm. oppurtunist? Or am I wildly suspicious and untrusting?)

Physio:
Come back when you feel the need.

MPIC:
"You are going to physio too sporadically. We question whether you are following their advice. We think you are trying to "take us for a ride". We are putting on our resentful voices now and reminding you that it has been over a year and chiro and physio don't seem to be working. Maybe its our fault? Maybe we're not following their advice?"

Sports Medicine:
"Make it hurt. Ice it. Stretch it. Move it."

Okay, so we've definitely got the "make it hurt" part down. However, it doesn't seem to be leading to an alleviation of the symptoms.

The child's neck crackles and cracks like popcorn. She has dull pain from head to butt. She has headaches most days. Her neck is sore.

What would a decisive, assertive, phone-calling mama do?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yummy Stuff I Could Eat Every Day...

....and usually do.

  • crunchy peanut butter
  • Brian's mom's plum or apricot jam
  • french vanilla yogurt
  • seedy bread
  • cheddar cheese; sliced really thin
  • oatmeal cookies
  • black licorice
  • bread crusts (I'm not fussy. I'll eat your kids' bread crusts too.)

Optional:

  • Anything roasted. ie: cauliflower, potato, carrots
  • Anything with a bit of grilled cheese on it. Especially the crunchy bits.
  • soft things like ice cream or chocolate pudding
  • dark chocolate. Really dark.
  • seeds and nuts. All of them.
  • coffee beans

Stuff I could probably live without:

  • shrimp
  • curry
  • onions that still have any crunch left to them.
  • steak
  • rare meat
  • garlic cheese
  • smokies
  • meatloaf
  • chips. I like chips, but I could live without them.
  • wonder bread
  • all cereal containing marshmallow bits; coloured bits; stuff that squishes; or turns your milk an unholy colour
  • milk; for that matter. I like soy milk better.

This is a reciprocal exercise. I showed you mine, now you have to show me yours.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Who We Think We Wish We Were

Driving past a snowy, bendy creek late this winter, I noticed a pair of cross-country skiers winding their way along the frozen water's edge. I recognized in myself an old, familiar voice that reminded me that my ideal self loved cross-country skiing along the edge of creeks.

Here's the thing: I like the idea of that person. I like the package. I don't actually ski.

Which got me thinking about all the ways we berate ourselves for not turning out more like the picture we'd grown in our minds.

It's even more vague when there's no clear picture in the first place. I was never one of those kids who lined up worksheets in a row and played teacher all day long; or knew just what picture to draw under the caption: "What I'd Like to Be When I Grow Up". At grad when my smart and clear-minded friends headed off to university to pursue the carreers of their choice; I was pretty sure that my judgement day had come. No more hiding my lack of ability to become anything; anyone at all.

What followed was many years of jobs in a variety of caregiving roles; which I enjoyed quite a lot and felt largely competent in. At one point, I was working on a hospital ward with severely disabled children. I felt honoured to have been hired into this role; and valued my relationships with the patients.

But what stands out in my mind during this part of my working life is the afternoon that I got caught up sewing up a tiny quilt; just for the fun of it. I didn't want to go to work when it was time to do so. I just wanted to stay in my cozy apartment and watch the pieces of stripe and polka dot take on a brand new shape.

I'm not eighteen anymore. I'm in my forties, and I still find myself wondering what I would like to be when I grow up. Not that I'm unhappy in my current life. I think I'm well suited to where life finds me now.


But I'd like to be surprised by a lack of mundane in this life. By directions that thrill and amaze me. Challenge compacancy. Promote social justice. I'd like life to morph into continuously interesting directions and never relax into a predictable routine that is comfortable; but kind of boring.

Sometimes I feel like that seventeen year old grad, looking around and wondering.... what now? When will my stage manager show up and hand me a program or a flashlight or something?

In any case, I don't think I'll take up cross-country skiing any time soon, although I still love the image. I may indulge myself in daydreams of a huge room to spread out in; full of colours and patterns and books and papers and buttons and lots of sunlight.

But the who that I think I wish I were isn't discontent. And this dream of a large sunny work studio doesn't coincide with my picture of social justice; because I'm aware of how ridiculously wealthy I already am. And to afford a large peaceful studio would require lucrative work hours; which negates the whole "peaceful" part of the fantasy.

The who I wish I were is content. Grateful. Doesn't get bored, irritable, and grumpy. (Not even when there are roughly eleven and a half months of winter in the longest year of Manitoba history).

Maybe I should take up cross-country skiing after all.
In May.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lord, Help Me to Built a Healthy Child

By: Audrey Jeanne Roberts

For it is easier to build a child then to repair an adult.
Help me praise more than criticize, encourage more than nag.
Discipline, not punish, and model good behavior,
Rather than simply demand it.

Help me break the habit of automatically saying "No",when I could just as easily say "Yes",
and to remember a hug given before it's asked for is ten times more valuable!

Help me earn their respect as I lead a life consistent
with the principles I value.
Lord, give me the courage to teach them right from wrong
and help them discover their own special destinies.

Help me to freely join in their silliness, share in their laughter,
delight in their joys and keep their confidences.
Remind me daily to draw upon their own strength to heal their
wounds and comfort their sorrows.

Most of all, Lord, help me really listen for the hidden thoughts and needs
that often lie behind their requests and give me the key to their heart that
it may be opened wide to all life's wonders and possibilities.

(thank you Ruthie)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

More Thoughts on Mothering...

...On the eve of Mother's Day.

I'm not a gifts kind of a person. I mean that it doesn't mean a whole lot to me if some thing gets purchased from some store to commemorate a calendar holiday. I have a weird attitude about cut flowers- although I find them lovely to the eye, I can't stand that they are just dying away on my table, their splendor seeping away from them by the moment. Cards are nice; but they are even nicer when they come to you simply because someone thought it was perfect. Not the crapitsmothersdaygottagetacard kind of card.

So, it is odd, even to me, that I have Mother's Day on the brain this year.
But this year, I want to be appreciated. I want to be noticed. I want to be worth some effort.

I wonder if its' because I'm noticing the start of a new era in parenting. I've noticed the "Oh Mom------ You're SToooooooooooPid and annoying" expression popping up a little more lately. I've noticed that my innocent questions are more irritating than they used to be. I notice that its way more embarrassing if I want to be a parent driver, or a volunteer or some school activity than it was a little while ago. I've noticed that I am apparently getting more stupid, yet this somehow also involves the sense that I'm a little greedy with my "millions", and should hand out funds with a little less parental resistence.

I know it's normal. I also know that I have great kids.
But now I also know that adults have all the same tender feelings as kids do, and when offspring get snarly, it pinches at my heart. I want to be above all that, and not take their hormone-marinading reactions personally; but I also want my children to know that they have the power to hurt people with their words and reactions and I want them to practise "playing nice" right here at home. Start with their mama.

I didn't have a close relationship with my mother. She didn't tell me all the things I'd need to know to navigate those years, and all the years to come. We never talked about periods, boys, puberty, breasts, stranger danger, parties, love, emotions, expectations, or even what we loved about one another. I think my mother did the best she could at the time, and I have a great deal that I deeply appreciate about her. But. I don't have a role model of how to parent with open communication, relationship, and all the good stuff that I see glimpses of with my own kids.

I don't want to lose it.

Tomorrow is mother's day. I'm having my own mother over, and I hope I can leave her with some words that show her that I appreciate all she did for me. A safe home to grow up in. Hot, nutritious food. A green lifestyle. A purple bedspread.

I bet I hurt her too.
I bet I still do.

It's fragile and precious, this family thing.
I hope yours is happy. And when it's not; I hope you can find something to smile about anyhow.

Happy Mother's Day.

(I have some awesome pics of Sam and a card he made for me, but blogger hates me. It won't reply to my numerous e-mails begging for help, and it most certainly won't publish my pictures)

Monday, May 04, 2009

Mama Mia

Sometimes I really hate being a mom.

I don't mean that I hate being a mom, because I love it with all my heart. But when my heart feels like it is cracking and blistering and I'm supposed to be the mama who knows how to make it all better.... well sometimes I just hate that because I'm just a person. I've got my own owies and questions and places that could use a band-aid and a kiss. I could use a hand on my forehead at night and a prayer for the power of a loving God to flow through me. (I could also use a personal house-cleaner and laundress, but I digress.)

When my daughter worries about her friendsandtheirparentsandtheendoftheworldandifshe'llsleepthatnightandwillthefloodcome?andtestsandbrothersandherdadandwhethereveryoneinthewholeworldwillbehappyandokay...

I wish there were something that I could do or say that would settle her fluttering heart.

When the athlete-jocks at school tell my sweet and tender boy that they hope he just can't make it to the soccer game; I want to make everyone play nice. I want to show my boy a picture of his beautiful heart, and how vital it is for all the meaningful relationships he'll have in this lifetime. How soccer moves and swift kicks won't make him any more loving or kind or good. I want the world to stop looking at the outside, to stop valueing tough and smart; quick and independent.

Sometimes I just hate being a mom.
I hate that I won't teach them everything they need to know. Won't give them a perfect picture of a loving Father God. Hate that I get snappy and impatient- seeing them as extensions of ME instead of the beautiful separate entities that they are. I hate knowing that I'm going to hurt them, let them down, bruise their hearts. At times I'll expect too little. Set the bar too low.

But I will nurture my children.
I will value relationship over performance.
And they will break my heart.
I will break theirs.
And I hate that.

When my first daughter was little, I just wanted to be like Mother Bear on the television story "Little Bear". She was so patient and kind and never over-tired. She didn't overreact. She knew what lessons to teach; and which could wait. She was child-centred without raising a spoilt little emporer child. She laughed softly. Planned picnics. Baked cakes.

Well, my mother bear does come out- but not in that warm and cuddley, cartoon character kind of way. More like the ferocious bear who wants to give my childrens' friends a piece of her mind when they are being hurtful. More like feeling that I am capable of killing something with a single growl and sharp-clawed swipe. More like.... I'd like to find a nice dark cave and wake up when it's warmer and sunnier and life feels more optimistic.

Being a mom isn't all that romantic. It brings you in touch with your most base nature. Your shortcomings and hang-ups and wanna-be's. Plus you're not so old that you don't remember how it feels to be fourteen. thirteen. eleven. (six?) Their realities are just as valid and worthy of understanding and respect as your own. Which requires some maturity. And patience. And a lot of deep breathing.

So, sometimes I just hate being a mommy because I love it with everything that I am, and little else is as important to me as sending these people out into their lives with a sound and healthy, responsible and loving response to their environments. All these human beings; born of my womb- a skin and blood part of me, and not me at all.

(May the God of love move in and through me.
May I depend on that power and not on my own.
May our hearts always remain soft- and may we forgive ourselves and others.)

I've been told that the opposite of love is not hate but apathy.
As a mother I know for sure that I am not apathetic........

***

Sometimes I really love being a mommy.
When my kids tell me stuff that happens at school.
When my boy draws a hilarious cartoon.
When he tells me he loves me before he leaves for school.
When my daughter admits that her friends thinks she has a "cool mom".
When we all share a belly laugh.
When someone cleans up without being told.
When we apologize.
When all four giggle together despite themselves.
When we discuss anything.
When we sit at the fire.
When my daughter slips in beside me at church on Sundays.
When I observe them in their social contexts, and see what lovely people they are becoming.

There isn't a book in the world that could prepare a woman for what happens to her heart when it splits into one, two, three, four or more pieces; grow legs, and then walk around outside of her body.

The most marvellously wonderful frightening exhilerating frustrating rewarding experience she could never possibly imagine.

How I love it and hate it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Shhhhhhhh........


I hate to jinx myself or anything; but it's 1:30 in the afternoon of the day in which my house will be filled with adult merriment by 6:30 pm. All the children are sleeping!!!!!!!!!!!!! Or at a birthday party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you feel your walls shaking; that's just me doing the happy dance.