Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The family that eats together....

One of the many things I miss about my mom is her cooking. 

Since her passing, I realize now just how much I took my mom for granted over the years -- and the void her passing has left is insurmountable. 

What I wouldn't give to be able to walk into my mom's kitchen again and take in the smells and flavours of another perfectly homemade meal, just one last time.

My son will never know the joy of eating one of her meals, and my daughter is already beginning to forget them as well. She remembers that she loved eating at Nonna's house, but she doesn't exactly remember why.

I feel compelled to keep my mom's memory alive for my kids, not to mention my Italian heritage, which sometimes feels as though it died along with her.

And though I routinely cook some of my mom's meals for my family -- which are tastier than many dishes you'll find in upscale Italian-ish restaurants -- I also wanted to create something more permanent. Something that my kids could physically see everyday.

While it's important that my kids remember their Nonna, it's also crucial that they maintain a connection with their paternal grandmother, who lives two time zones away in upstate New York.

And so I created this:


Another Pinterest success story: 
Framed, hand-written recipes from loved ones.


In the frame on the left are two of my daughter's favourite recipes from my mom: banana bread, plus Mostaccioli, which is Italian gingerbread.

And the frame on the right contains my mother-in-law's infamous (and always-in-demand) recipe for sticky buns.

The best thing about these framed recipes is that they're both handwritten by my children's grandmothers. This personal touch is exactly what my kitchen -- and my family -- needed.



Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Beautiful Boy

In his two-and-a-half years of life, my son has visited more emergency rooms and met with significantly more specialists than has his six-and-a-half year old sister.

These aren't exactly stats that we're proud of, but here are just a few of the "highlights".

- He required multiple ultrasounds when in the womb because doctors were worried about his short femurs.

- He was briefly hospitalized at 6 months of age.

- He chipped a front tooth on one of his (daily) falls.

- He suffered from speech delay and worked with an Early Intervention Specialist last year.

- He climbed out of his crib last December and semi-concussed himself when his head hit the ground.

- And in January he woke up one morning with a significant stutter that's never really gone away.

Some days the stutter is barely noticeable, but on other days he struggles with EVERY. SINGLE. WORD.

Those are the days when he starts to speak but then stops and instead buries his head into us, refusing to say anything more.

If you Google sudden stuttering in toddlers, you get every response from "It's nothing" all the way to "It's a brain tumour."

Naturally, we panicked.

So far the doctors and specialists aren't too concerned, though, but we're still actively learning how to deal with the stutter and to help him (hopefully) grow out of it.

If this does end up being something he struggles with as he gets older, I have no doubt that the Mama Grizzly in me will want to throat punch the first person who bullies him because of it.

(Just kidding. Sort of.)


Regardless of all these setbacks, our Little Mister is smart and beautiful and perfectly mischievous, like all other little boys his age -- hence the daily falls and the climbing in and out of potentially dangerous situations.

And, when I hear about other little ones who are sick -- and I mean REALLY SICK -- I'm reminded that these struggles we've faced are really nothing at all.

And I'm also reminded that things can change literally in an instant.

The family is this video lives next door to my sister, and their whole world changed overnight.

This little boy is only eight, but he's faced so many challenges in his young life, and he's desperate to find a bone marrow donor to help save his life.

Unfortunately, no one in our household falls within the 17-35 age range required for the screening of potential donors, but hopefully others reading this are eligible and will get tested.

The great thing about this registry is that, once you've been screened, you remain in the system until the age of 60 -- so the potential to save lives is there for years.

I can't imagine what this family is going through in their search for a donor -- and I hope that my family never has to go through anything similar -- but I know that the possibility is always there for everyone.

Life is so precious, and it really can change in an instant.





Saturday, March 4, 2017

Walls of Art - Part 1

Since we installed some new cabinets around our kitchen window, the artwork we purchased from Lori Frank back in 2015 had to unfortunately be moved.

In doing so, we decided this was the right time to add to our collection, so we met with the artist one afternoon in February and purchased two additional prints from her: The Leg (short for "Legislature"), and Valley Below, which is another print depicting MacKinnon Ravine from another vantage point.




I love all of Lori Frank's pieces, and I've already identified two more that I'd like to purchase for this rapidly-growing art wall at our back-door entrance.

All of her reproductions are very affordable, and we should all be doing our part to support local artists.














Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Progress - Part 3

During the time that my nephew and his girlfriend spent at our house assisting with renos, we brainstormed some ideas to better use the space in our kitchen to offer us some more counter space.

And, last night, my nephew delivered by installing these dowels above our (Habitat for Humanity Restore) sink so that we could place our dish strainer up there and get it off the counter.







It's definitely true that you should live in a place for a while before you attempt to renovate. We've lived for seven years without any counter space, so we were more than ready for this brilliant hack. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Progress - Part 2

The thing with home renos is that, once you start one project and have marginal success, it makes you want to keep going.

So, once again, back to Pinterest I went.

This time I inadvertently stumbled upon the following photo, and I became so smitten that I logged in everyday to stare at it and fantasize about how this look would work in our kitchen.



But rather than being stalled at the fantasizing part of my dream, we actually went to work and made this one happen.

We bought cabinets and countertops from Ikea, as well as various other discounted odds and ends that my nephew (an apprentice carpenter) used to custom build a bench (with drawers!) for us.

And we purchased some new tiles and a sink from our local Habitat for Humanity Edmonton Restore, which is my absolute new favourite place to shop.

In the end, it cost us approximately $4500 (the bulk of which was labour from my nephew and his girlfriend) to update our kitchen and main bathroom (including linen closet). And we couldn't be more pleased with the end result.


Pinterest success story: NAILED IT.


Yes, I copied the original Pinterest photo down to the detail of selecting (the dreaded) clear glass-front hanging cabinets. The pressure's on for us to keep them tidy.



I still need to mend the curtains that are hanging at the window, as well as find some way to sew a seat cushion and backing for the bench, but we're otherwise complete.

(Note: the cabinet on the far left is the 80's style pantry that we painted.)


So while our home is still an over-stuffed cesspool of clutter, it's at least now an over-stuffed cesspool of clutter with personality.

And, like everything else, it's still a work in progress. Thanks to Pinterest.





(As an aside, yes, that's my daughter in the photo above, and yes, she was up way past her bedtime working on her music composition homework. Why? Because we left it to the night before it was due, of course. Just keepin' it real, yo.)


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Progress - Part 1

I've had a love-hate relationship with Pinterest over the last few years.

Love - in that it's my go-to site for virtually everything.... and hate - in that it depresses me to see all the beautiful (fill-in-blank) that we can't afford.

(Here's looking at you, heated in-ground pool.)

When we first purchased our home seven years ago, we were just excited to have a place that was our very own, and we embraced all the flaws that came with living in an older house.

But it reached a point where I became miserable each time I stepped into our kitchen, so I spent the last year or so searching Pinterest for ideas on renovating a split-level home such as ours.

This open-floor concept is something I fell in love with and decided that I wanted for our main floor.


However, once I started getting quotes for the cost of tearing down walls and installing beams, etc, I immediately became disheartened to admit that we couldn't afford this new look. At best, all we could do was tile our fireplace to look like the one in the photo.

So back to Pinterest I went.

The first (more affordable) thing that I stumbled upon was the Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations kit.

Realizing that we couldn't even afford to replace all of our kitchen and main bathroom's cabinets -- let alone tear down walls -- my husband instead purchased this kit for just under $100 and immediately went to work on giving them a facelift.

I'm not going to lie, he worked day and night for weeks to pull off this enormous feat, but the end result was magnificent. We also added some new nickel handles to all our cabinets -- which unfortunately cost us more than the actual cabinet makeover did -- but it was worth it to add some style to our home.



Note: this is neither my photo nor my kitchen, but these are the same type of cabinets that we have for our kitchen, pantry, main bathroom, and linen closet.
(We also have them in our laundry room, but we left those alone since I'm not bothered by them down there. At least not yet anyway.)




This photo, however, is my own. 
It was taken in a corner of our kitchen, after my husband finished painting and reinstalling our 80's-style cabinets, but before we (painstakingly) installed the nickel handles. 
(And yes, I made sure my daughter watched in awe as I used a power drill and hand-made jig to install some of the handles myself.)



So as you can see, it wasn't necessary for us to spend thousands on new cabinets after all. All we needed to do was paint them and add handles, all for less than $300.

Pinterest win.



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Another Year

1) What did you do in 2016 that you have never done before?

- Visited St. Maarten.

- Began the process of KonMari-ing our home.

- Went away to Sparks camp with my daughter.

- Started a bonefide skin care regime. Finally.

- Became certified in First Aid / CPR.

- Took both kids to Hide'n'Seek Indoor Playground BY MYSELF...... But will never, ever do that on my own again, given that it was a parental nightmare trying to keep track of my toddler.







2) Where did you travel?

Cruised the Caribbean again, sailing out of Ft. Lauderdale and then visiting Haiti (2nd time), Puerto Rico (2nd time), St. Kitts (2nd time), and St. Maarten (1st time to both the Dutch and French sides).

Also attended a family wedding in Banff this summer.



3) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Surviving four straight months where my husband was only home one weeknight a week, thus leaving me to handle all child- and home-care responsibilities on my own.

(Related: Single parents everywhere -- I salute you, as it sure ain't for the faint of heart.)





4) What was your biggest failure?

Everything about this year has been a constant struggle. I've spent the entire year just trying to keep my head above water to make it through one day at a time.





5) Did you suffer illness or injury?

Pneumonia wiped me out this fall. I was too busy taking care of everyone else, and something in me had to give.



6) What things / people disappointed you the most?

Same as always - just people in general, myself included.

And also the American citizens who voted for Trump.



7) Where did most of your money go?

- Mortgage
- Renovations
- Daycare / School



8) What did you really get excited about?

After several sessions with an Early Intervention Specialist, my boy is finally talking!

(And now it's nothing but non-stop talking and singing and repeating every little thing he hears.)



9) What song will always remind you of 2016?

Humble and Kind, by Tim McGraw



Burning House, by Cam



My Church, by Maren Morris






Honorable mention goes out to Eric Church. His entire album (Mr. Misunderstood) is fabulous. It's a mix of country-rock-blues, and I've been listening to it on repeat for hours while at work. Certainly worthy of all the awards and accolades it has received.




1) What do you wish you'd done more of?

Been more physically active.



11) What do you wish you'd done less of?

Stress-eating.
Shouting.
Nagging.
Obsessing over things I can't change.



12) Favourite film this year?

Don't really have a favourite film for this year, but my new favourite show is American Housewife.



13) What was the one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Good health for me and the people I care about, including my Zio and Zia, who are my mom's last remaining siblings.

My Zio is 87 and was admitted to hospital last month for various ailments. I took time off work and spent days with him there, in addition to going back in the evening. Mercifully, he's back at home now, but it breaks my heart to know that this may be the beginning of the end.

His older sister, my Zia, is 90 and was diagnosed with cancer in July. She's currently waiting for a bed to open up so she can receive palliative care.

The final days of life can be so cruel.



14) What kept you sane?

Re-creating some of my mom's best Italian recipes.

This is a photo of the final jar I had left of my mom's homemade sauce, made from the tomatoes that she and my Zio grew in the garden.


The realization that this was the end of that legacy completely broke me. And the thought of having my kids grow up not knowing the delicacies of their Italian heritage was disheartening.

So, with the help of An Italian-Canadian Life, which features some true Calabrian dishes, I embarked on a journey to re-create some of the meals my mom used to prepare for me each day.

I only wish I had started doing this alongside her when she was still alive.



15) Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy the least?

Still respect everything that Michelle Obama and Andrew Ference represent.

And still loathe (with every passion of my being) everything that Donald Trump represents.





16) What news story fascinated you the most?

The only good thing to come out of the recent US Presidential Election was all the "Jobama" bromance memes between Obama and Biden.

I admit I laughed a little too long over this one.





17) What sports moment did you like the most? 

The fact that this was an Olympic year was enough in itself to make me happy.





18) Who do you miss?

My mom, still, and always.



19) What do you look forward to in 2017?

More sleep, less stress, and a happier household.




Monday, November 7, 2016

Favourite Things

If I had Oprah's disposable income, I'd go crazy making people happy with all sorts of purchases.

Maybe not so much with material items -- as I find that most people already have more than they know what to do with -- but moreso with things that they actually need.

For example, I, myself, would love it if Oprah could come along and pay off my mortgage. (It would involve just petty cash for her really.)

That being said, I most certainly do not have Oprah's disposable income, and I'm not about to go off on any spending sprees in the near future.

Rather, all I have to give is some unsolicited advice with the hopes of improving the lives of those around me.

So here is one of my new favourite things: the TV show American Housewife.

Everybody needs to check out this show on Tuesday nights. It stars Katy Mixon (best known for her roles on Eastbound and Down and Mike & Molly) as well as Diedrich Bader (who has seemingly appeared on everything but is best known as Oswald from The Drew Carey Show.)

Watch this trailer and tell me it isn't fantastic:




This woman is my spririt animal, and this 30 minutes of TV is what I most look forward to on Tuesday nights.

And, like with me, your lives will be better off for having watched this series each week. Especially if you choose to watch this tomorrow night instead of that other thing that's going on in America all day tomorrow.

You're welcome, America. You're welcome.


Friday, October 14, 2016

I don't always get sick, but when I do.......

Guess who has pneumonia.

That's right. THIS GIRL.

And it's kicked my ass, considering my bronchitis-like cough began in August and hasn't let up since.

(Related: I think I have abs again beneath my kegger.)

Being sick for the last few months has completely wiped me out. It escalated over the weekend to full-blown pneumonia, so my doctor took me off work this week, which has been a real blessing.

For starters, I've been completely stress-free in that my colleagues are having to deal with my workload instead. And, for once, I don't feel guilty about it at all. (I needed this rest, yo.)

And, secondly, since I've been home alone during the day, I've finally found the time to clean up the laundry room -- a task that I've been asking my husband to do for months. MONTHS.

Yes, even with pneumonia, this woman was able to accomplish something in 1.5 hours that an ordinary man couldn't accomplish all year.

Ahem. Draw from that what you will.

Ba-Dum-Trump.






Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Busting the Bully

I always knew my children would eventually encounter bullies while in school, but I didn't think it would be happening so soon.

Two weeks into the new school year, and I've already had to contact my daughter's teacher about a bullying situation in her class.

My daughter usually enjoys school, but the other day she asked if she could change to a different school because of something that happened with another student in her 1st grade class.

She mentioned that a boy who sits at her table had been bothering her a lot (making mean comments, drawing on her things, etc). And apparently the other day he said, "My entire family is going to kill you."

He also told her that he could call 911 and have the police come to our house to shoot her.

I know that these are young kids, and young kids say all sorts of things without really understanding the consequences, but this was obviously really scary to my daughter.

I'm convinced that something must be going on with this boy outside of school. This is probably his way of lashing out, and I do truly feel bad for him. But, at the same time, I don't want my daughter to be sad or scared at school.

She said that she didn't do or say anything to provoke these comments from him, and I of course believe her. Regardless, his comments were threatening, so the teacher immediately had this boy moved to a different table.

This has solved the problem in the short term, but it's obvious to me that this boy needs help. He may be small and relatively harmless now, but he won't stay this way for long.

What happens when he's in 5th grade and becomes a physically intimidating presence as well? Or when he's in junior high and has upped his game to involve cyber bullying? The future frightens me.

With regards to my daughter, I've advised her to go to her teachers immediately if he bothers her again -- but, beyond this, I'm not really sure what to tell her.

On the one hand, I do want her to speak up and let him know that his comments are not okay..... but I don't want things to escalate with him. And I don't think that just having her ignore this boy is the right answer either.

Essentially, I don't know how to handle this, and I'm open to suggestions. Has anyone else had to battle the classroom bully with their kids?



Thursday, April 28, 2016

Shoulda, woulda, coulda





It's true. Aside from the paid writing assignments I've had to submit, I've been negligent in the writing-just-for-me department.

But my husband's been working four nights a week, plus every other Saturday, for the last four months, thus leaving me do the whole kid-rearin' thing on my own for much of the time. As such, free time for just me has been non-existent.

For this week, though, he's home during the evenings, which means I can go back to ignoring housework and meal times for the kids.







Sunday, January 24, 2016

"Watching X-Files with no lights on... I hope the Smoking Man's in this one."


This is the show that saw me through high school and university.

It inspired me to continue studying the sciences when all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and believe that I wasn't smart enough.

My husband and I have spent the last year binge-watching every episode of every season, including both big-screen movies, all in anticipation of this event.

Tonight, The X-Files returns for the first of six precious episodes.

And it feels like the return of an old friend, picking up where we last left off.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Small victories

My son, once again, spent the night in the ER last night.

My poor little man has had a rough go of it in his first 19 months, which, of course, has also taken a toll on our household.

And so I'm home from work today, trying to care for my boy while also attempting to catch up on some sleep.

It's no secret that I'm a stress-eater, regularly turning to comfort foods when I'm feeling overwhelmed, and I admit that I was THIS CLOSE to hitting the McDonald's drive-thru for a breakfast meal this morning.

But I've sworn off of fast-food for at least this first month of the new year, and so I stopped myself. I realized I wasn't even hungry and was instead turning to food because, well, that's what I always do.

And so this time I didn't indulge.

While this may sound ridiculous, for me this was the first small victory I've experienced in a while.

Here's hoping I can ride this momentum through to the next challenge that life will undoubtedly toss my way.




Thursday, December 31, 2015

One year

1) What did you do in 2015 that you have never done before?

- Broke my ankle while out on a walk with the kids. Spent the next little while cursing my crutches and cast.

- Became a landlord. Hated it. Had the rent-dodging family evicted, complete with the use of a bailiff. Will now have the pleasure of dealing with a collections agency in the new year.

- Was published in a couple of magazines put out by the Edmonton Journal.

- Participated in a Fear Factor food competition at the annual Halloween potluck at work. The smoked-duck's neck is what did me in.



2) Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make any more next year?

No, and no.




3) Where did you travel?

Flew to Kelowna and then visited the Kootenays of British Columbia for a family wedding in May.



4) What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Went back to work full-time and didn't end up losing my mind. Although the latter remains debatable.



5) What was your biggest failure?

The debacle surrounding the rental of my mom's house via the use of a management company that required me to micro-manage them every step of the way. The entire process cost us thousands of dollars and has exponentially increased my homicidal tendencies.

Oh, and I also failed at this:




6) Did you suffer illness or injury?

As mentioned, I broke my ankle in late spring. The bigger you are, the harder you fall... and the further the resulting setback becomes.



7) What things / people disappointed you the most?

Just people, in general.

I'm disappointed that my work doesn't allow for enough flexibility when it comes to dealing with personal, life-altering issues.

I'm disappointed that the management company I dealt with screwed us over in every way imaginable.

I'm disappointed that people will lie and fake illness in order to get out of contracts.

I'm disappointed that there are only 24 hours in a day, which is certainly not enough time for me to achieve such basic tasks as preparing dinner, getting enough rest, or spending quality time with family.



8) Where did most of your money go?

- Mortgage
- Renovations
- Daycare / School
- Lawyer Fees



9) What did you really get excited about?

Having a clean house. The feeling lasted all of 10 minutes before the place was destroyed again.



10) What song will always remind you of 2015?

Thinking Out Loud, by Ed Sheeran
Hello, by Adele



11) Compared to this time last year, are you:

- Happier or hardened? Hardened.
- Thinner or fatter? Fatter.
- Richer or poorer? Poorer.



12) What do you wish you'd done more of?

Been more physically active.



13) What do you wish you'd done less of?

Screen time, even though much of it was work-related.



14) Favourite film this year? Least favourite?

Really enjoyed That Sugar Film (for being such an eye-opener) and Identity Thief (for my love of Melissa McCarthy, Jason Bateman, and Robert Patrick).



Didn't really care for August: Osage County. The acting was well done, but the movie itself was meh.



15) What was the one thing that would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Good health for me and the people I care about. Plus having good renters would have done wonders in terms of keeping my cortisol levels in check.



16) What kept you sane?

As much as it gets in the way of just living life, my work has kept me sane in that it's been an escape from the life that has been challenging me the most.



17) Which celebrity / public figure did you fancy the most? Fancy the least?

Same as last year: Andrew Ference, the (former) Edmonton Oilers captain, has such a great perspective on life, and he makes me want to go out for a jog or something.

On the other hand, it's mind-boggling to me that someone like Donald Trump can have so much power and influence. 'Murica.



18) What news story fascinated you the most?

The day that Spider Mable united a city was truly remarkable.



19) What sports moment did you like the most? Hate the most?

Jose Bautista's bat flip is something we'll remember for a long time.




That the Mets lost to the Kansas City Royals is something we'd like to forget.




20) Who do you miss?

My mom, still, and always.




21) What do you look forward to in 2016?

More sleep, less stress, and a happier household.



Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Perspective

So my son was back in hospital earlier this week. Luckily his bloodwork was normal, and he didn't have to stay long and was just treated with some IV fluids, but it was still stressful on all of us.

This incident took place a year to the day when he first became sick last December, and we had even joked about it before this latest ER run. It seems that we jinxed ourselves, though, because there he was, back under the care of Nurse Emma, who's come to know my boy by name.

Yeah, we're that family that's spent a little too much time in the ER.

I can joke about this now, only because my son recovered and is back to his usual bouncy, wiggly self again. But that moment always exists when I think to myself, "What if he doesn't recover?"

It's horrifying to think about, and I know I wouldn't be able to carry on if something serious happened to either of my kids.

The only thing that terrifies me more these days is the thought of something happening to either myself or my husband, thus leaving the kids to grow up without us.

While on a play-date yesterday with one of my daughter's former daycare friends, I learned from his mom that another of the moms in our circle has been going through chemo treatments this year.

And now I just can't stop thinking about her and how she must be handling each day. Like me, she has two young kids, a boy and a girl. And they are her world.

I messaged this other mom today to see how she's doing and to offer some assistance, and also to set up a play-date in the new year for our kids to run around and tire each other out while we adults get caught up. She sounded upbeat in her message back to me, but I just can't shake this feeling of dread.

This news is just so devastating and, unfortunately, a sober reminder that life can change in an instant.

Hug often. Live life. And, if blessed with longevity, make your moments count.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Barely above water

Valentine’s Day 2011. My husband took the day off work, not so we could spend some romantic time together, but rather to help me dismantle the Christmas tree and decorations. I was eight months into my maternity leave at the time, and the thought of doing this task by myself was so daunting and so overwhelming that I was immobilized, and I consequently left our Christmas relics set up for several months.

This is when I realized something was seriously wrong with me, and I needed to get help.

The real me has been described as a borderline Type A personality – I maintain a daily To Do list, and I get anxious and impatient if I’m not able to achieve my tasks in the time frame I’ve set out for myself. So, leaving the Christmas tree set up until Valentine’s Day? That’s not the real me. The real me would have had everything disassembled with military precision and placed into storage no later than the first week of January.  

But it wasn’t just the Christmas decorations that overwhelmed me. It was everything. I was barely able to shovel snow, I almost never had dinner ready, and our living room was turned into an obstacle course of laundry baskets and baby toys.

At the time I thought I just hated being a mom. Yes, I loved my daughter, but I certainly didn’t feel cut out for being a parent. There was no going back to the way things were before she was born, though, so I figured I just had to tough it out and adjust to this new routine. Things would sort themselves out and get better once I eventually got the hang of motherhood, right?

Sadly, no. This was made very clear when my husband – who is usually mild mannered and not at all bothered by clutter – became so fed up by the Christmas tree that he took it upon himself to finish the job I couldn’t even start.

Later that week, when I was finally able to muster up the courage, I booked an appointment with my doctor to discuss the possibility that I might be dealing with postpartum depression.

---

The above is an excerpt from a piece of writing I submitted years ago for a book celebrating motherhood. 

My submission was declined, which I think is a real shame given that so many parents seem to be facing their own challenges, just struggling to make it through the day, much like myself. 

The current issue of Today's Parent magazine also touches on this subject, as they often do, which is a credit to them since they obviously realize how prevalent this issue has become.

But as for me, things have mercifully improved, at least in terms of this year's Christmas tree. I normally like to leave it set up until Epiphany, but we somehow managed to place it back into storage just yesterday. 

Which, for me, can be considered nothing short of a Christmas miracle.




Monday, December 7, 2015

Reluctant mommy

My 20-year-old self would be horrified by this post.

Once upon a time, when I was young and fearful of what I anticipated to be my lack-of-a-successful-future, all I truly wanted in life was a family that loved me.

Mercifully, I've been blessed with just that -- a husband who loves me unconditionally, and two kids that are still young enough to think I'm pretty cool.

So then why am I so miserable? And why do I not-so-secretly hate being a parent some days and instead dream of a land where I can live alone and only have to take care of myself?

At the risk of sounding whiny, I'm tired.....  every day is like groundhog day. And it's sad that my goal most days is to just be able to use the potty in private, without my daughter using her barrette to pick the lock and walk in. (True story. She does that regularly now.)

I look upon single parents with sheer bewilderment. How do they do it?

But I also keep reminding myself that it won't be like this for long, and one day I'll yearn for these simpler times when my kids are small and sweet and want nothing more than to spend time with their parents.

They're only this size today, I keep telling myself.

And one day I'll miss all of this.


It Won't Be Like This For Long - Darius Rucker


You're Gonna Miss This - Trace Adkins

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cowardly violence

"What did you learn at school today, Marina?"

"I learned to stay really quiet during a lockdown."

My daughter's elementary school held a lockdown drill on September 24th, in which students learned everything from locking doors and closing blinds to putting their feet up on the toilet seat if they're using the bathroom, so that no one will see them during a real lockdown.

"But the bathroom is not a safe place to be during a lockdown, Mama, because the bad guys can still crawl under the door and find you."

We're grateful that the school is proactive in these lessons, in the same way that they rehearse for fire drills, but we obviously hope that our children will never have to put any of these lessons to use.

Exactly two weeks after this drill, though,there was another school shooting in the US, this time at an Oregon college campus.

Populated areas like schools and campuses are such easy targets for gunmen, simply because there are a lot of people located in one area..... which makes their act of violence even more cowardly.

Given that both my husband and I work at local post-secondary campuses, it's vital that we, too,are prepared for the worst.

The below dramatization was put out for staff and students. And, frankly, I think this is a video that everyone should watch, regardless of their place of employment.


And while I think it's wonderful that these lessons are being put forth for school children and adults alike, it's still deplorable that nothing is being done to change gun legislation.


Birth control?
BAN IT!
Abortion?
BAN IT!
Gay marriage?
BAN IT!
Guns?
Look, banning things never works. People will find ways to get them.

(Posted on Twitter by Nick Martucci, August 4, 2015)




I'm not an expert on the legislation of firearms in North America, but I think it's become pretty clear that, if we continue to do nothing to prevent these acts of violence, then they will only continue.



Saturday, October 3, 2015

Parenting fail

To paraphrase John Denver, some days are diamonds, while some days are stones.

And today was a great, big lump-of-coal-kind-of-day for us.

My husband and I are growing increasingly frustrated with our daughter's behaviour, both at home and at her music class. While her teachers at school and day care comment to us that her behaviour is exceptional with them, it's the complete opposite when she's with us.

Today was an abysmally horrible outing for her with my husband at music class, and we're both horrified by what transpired. And, because our daughter repeatedly shows no true remorse for her disrespectful behaviour, we had to come down hard on her today and not allow her to attend a friend's birthday party this afternoon.

And, with our punishment, came nothing but more drama and bad behaviour from our daughter.

To clarify some things here, this was not an easy decision for us. Not only did it punish our daughter, but it punished the birthday girl, too, as well as us parents who were actually looking forward to spending time with other adults.

In the end, nobody won, and everybody lost out today.

The thing with consequences for children is that there needs to be a natural consequence that fits the offence. For example, if a child refuses to do homework, then they fail the class. Or if they don't clean up their toys and something gets broken, then the natural consequence is that they can't play with that toy anymore.

We absolutely did not want to miss out on this party today, but we felt we had no other feasible option. Our reasoning was twofold:

1. Until our daughter can show us that she's capable of behaving properly at music class, then she shouldn't be allowed to go to other outings where her behaviour may come into question as well.

2. She wasted that entire hour of class today and, therefore, we needed to make up the lesson again somewhere today. Meaning that, while her friends were together and having fun at the party, she would be home repeating her music lesson.

All of this reasoning made sense to us at the time, but now my husband and I feel absolutely remorseful for not allowing her to attend the birthday party. We just don't feel like she learned anything from this, and instead we fear that she'll grow increasingly resentful of her weekly hour-long lessons.

Plus, the absolute devastation she felt when we told her she had to stay home completely broke us. Truly, our daughter lives for birthday parties with her friends, and she was an emotional wreck for the rest of the day at home.

The amount of guilt my husband and I feel over this is staggering. We wish we could have a do-over of the events that transpired after her class..... but, then again, we truly don't know what would have been a more appropriate consequence for her today.

This isn't the first time she's acted up during class. In fact, it's her usual behaviour when we go there, but it seems to be escalating each week. We've tried everything, and nothing has worked. (FYI - just having her quit going to music class is not an option, so we have to try something else.)

To be fair, she's not the only child who has difficulty making it through this class. There are only two other children with her, and each of them have had their moments. The teacher has conceded that the class is probably moving too slowly for these kids and that they're bored and can't sit still for the entire hour (or even a portion of it.....).

Maybe we can prevent this bad behaviour by adjusting the structure of the class, or even just switching to private (rather than group) lessons. And maybe she'd be better off if we, the parents, were not in attendance so that it could be just her and the teacher. I guess that's something we'll have to explore in coming weeks.

But the issue remains that we still need a better way of dealing with our daughter when she misbehaves like this right now.

I know I'm going to regret this, but I'm essentially here now asking the internet-world for parenting advice. I'm at my wits end, so come on and take your best shot at me.

What would you do if your five-year-old was repeatedly disruptive and disrespectful during class?

(I'll just be sitting here drowning my sorrows in some Girl Guide cookies while you guys tell me everything that I'm doing wrong as a parent.)