Kid conversations. Or, Being schooled using a banana analogy

So, this conversation happened at my house tonight:

10 year-old: UGH! This banana has a HUGE bruise! Blech! *insert lots of gagging noises*

6 year-old: *insert hand gestures and adult tone of voice* Okay. I’ll tell you the story of how I ate my bruised banana. Ready? I opened my banana. It was bruised. I just it ate through it and didn’t say a thing about it. Not a word. And that’s how I got through it. Just eat through it. See?

My six-year-old is wiser than me again. You’d think that I’d be used to this humbling truth, but the fact is, I am not. It takes these moments in time, these overheard conversations to remind me that for as much as I think that I’m teaching them about life, it is they who are teaching me.

Because Miss Moon’s banana story is a lot like life. Sometimes, you just have to keep moving forward, not complaining about anything, and just get through it. Sometimes, it really is okay.

Like Miss Moon and Shia say, sometimes, you just have to do it.

It’s Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ Day and It’s Okay to Struggle.

For the people struggling with metal illness and mental health issues on a daily basis, today is about creating a safe space for conversations to happen, to take mental health issues out of the dark, taboo places and insinuate them into the general population. To create awareness. To create empathy and understanding. To educate and attempt to eradicate some of the stigma that plagues any illness that is not physical in nature.

And I have a theory.

I believe that we all struggle with mental illness and mental health. Every single one of us. Depression, anxiety, addictions, narcissism, social dysfunction, phobias, compulsions, delusions, we all have something. Some of us battle daily. Some of us battle once in our lifetime. Some of us are triggered seasonally. And some of us completely unaware that we are suffering from an actual illness and think we’re just fine, but can’t explain why we do, think or say the things that we do. Not understanding why some things just keep on happening ‘to us.’ Some of us struggle our whole lives and some of us struggle with mental illness and health during various phases of our lives. The point is, no one gets out unscathed. This effects us all.

And that is okay.

It is okay not to be ‘perfect’ and have it all together, all the time. It is okay to need a little (or a lot) of help. It is okay to need medication, therapy, comfort, and to retreat to regroup. It is okay to not be strong all of the time and really, sometimes we are the strongest when we are the most vulnerable.

I am very aware of my imperfections, issues and struggles 365 days a year. The older I get, the more issues I realize that I have. And that is okay. We are all imperfect. We are all in this together. If I see you struggling, I will offer whatever help that I can. Be it an ear to listen, advice, chocolate, or, if we’re really good friends, help hiding the body.

My door (virtual) is always open (I’d keep my actual door open, but last time I left the screen unlocked a racoon walked into my kitchen and stole the cat food, so I keep things pretty Fort Knox’d now). If you’re feeling like you’re the only one who yelled at her kids, didn’t do mothering perfectly, fed her family whatever was around, screwed up at work, ate too much or too little, are overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on you – for your time, you attention, your affection, for your YOU – you are not alone.

My door is open. So for this Bell Let’s Talk Day, and everyday until the next one, Let’s Talk. 

#BellLetsTalk

Transition pains and birthday wishes

Lucky me. The New Year and my birthday conveniently occur with only five days between them. This means that I have barely the time it takes to eat a cheesecake before beginning (and failing at) New Year initiatives and deciding (and failing at) birthday initiatives. So, while earlier I blogged about my objectives for 2017, now I find myself trying to put words around more personal objectives and meanings as I pass into yet another (early) year of my 40’s.

It is my birthday on Friday, so the time to get this done is now as short as my skirts once were.

Turning 40 did not hurt. To be honest, it was painless because I did not (and do not) feel it. In my mind, I’m still the deranged, scattered, dippy teenage girl I was (except now I have a credit card, a car and a bunch of kids to drive around). Until now, I don’t think any age has really struck a chord with me. But this upcoming birthday has been bothering me, and I think that I have finally figured out why.

It is because this year, I feel very much like I am on the cusp of a brand new chapter and a whole new way of defining and living my life. And that is terrifying and exciting, devastating and energizing, mournful and celebratory, all at the same time (this may be a side effect of my basket case mental health status).

I have always prided myself on being smart and certain. Not muddled, not confused, not unsure. But muddled, confused and unsure is where I have been residing lately, during this ‘life’ changing of the guard, so to speak (and no, I’m not menopausal, thankyouverymuch).

This birthday is a milestone for me. It’s not a traditional milestone, it’s not 40, 45 or 50, but then, rarely in my life have I done things how and when I was supposed to. Chalk it up to a potent combination of the ‘nature and nurture’ forces from which I was created.

This year will be the year that I finally lay to rest my belief that ‘one more baby’ is reasonable, possible and ‘right’. This year I lay to rest my belief that my life circle and purpose is incomplete without mothering one more child. This year I move forward knowing that I have five beautiful, healthy, wonderful(ly infuriating) children who depend on me to help their worlds make sense and who also need me to  love them, protect them, feed them (possibly the most important item on this list), and mother them. Alas, this is the year that I stop thinking of my body in terms of its function and ability to produce and directly sustain the life of another and start thinking of it more as the irreplaceable, important and worthy entity for the sake of MY survival. To sustain MY life. Because my survival matters too.

Change has never been my forte. I am a planner, perhaps a bit of a control freak (as much as hippy-dippy and control freak go together, that is). I’ve been told (more than once) that I do not shift gears very easily or quickly, and as much as I dislike the sound of that or what it feels like it means about me, I have to begrudgingly admit that it is a true statement. I like things done my way. On my schedule. And I’m not terribly good at trilling “plot twist” and moving on when presented with an unplanned-for idea or event. But I am working on it. My personal goal for this year is to be better at plot twists and plan changes. Oh, I’m not giving up my lists, but this year their role will shift from that of an unforgiving dictator to more of a gentle guide for my days.

I’m looking forward to my birthday this year. I’m looking forward to doing the work that I need to do on myself, to be a different, if not better, version of me. I am looking forward to figuring out who I am and how I fit into this world now that my baby years are behind me and my future is still wide open.

~A.

This is the year

So, in keeping with my modus operandi, this post was slated to be published on the last day of 2016 and it is now January 1, 2017. To state the obvious, it goes without saying that I failed to achieve my final writing goal of 2016. Procrastination rules supreme, you can take the girl out of lazy but you can’t take lazy out of the girl, and all that. Moving right along (because enough about me being a slug), I am placing a fair amount of pressure on myself to achieve certain goals in 2017. I’m not sure that I would or could call them resolutions, but they are very definitely (hashtag-less) goals. Despite my joking and propensity for self-deprecating humour, I actually did accomplish a fair amount in 2016. As always though, I am left feeling as though I let myself (and everyone else) down.

And no, not because I’m still on intimate terms with the extra 40 (or 50) pounds I’ve been in a complicated relationship with for the past five years. Not because I have STILL not written a novella, novel or even a really great blog post. Not because I remain a low-wage earner. Not even because my house is still in a state of renovation and disarray, with no end in sight. No. I am left, here at the end of 2016, feeling as though I have let myself down because I know better and yet consistently do not do better.

I know that I should exercise (walk, lift, yoga, whatever), and yet I do not. I know that I should give up chocolate, french fries, Diet Pepsi, chips, meat, refined white flour, sugar and sweeteners and yet I do not. I know that I should be going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, rising earlier and getting more done in a day, and yet, I do not. I know that I should be writing every single day  and pursuing other creative and artistic endeavours and yet, I do not. I know that I should be ever patient, calm and serene with my children, and yet, I am not. I know that I should get those paint cans shaken (again) and get to painting rooms where it makes sense to do so, and yet, I do not.

You see? I know better and yet I do mediocre. I make excuses for myself. I’ll tell myself that I have a  lot to do, I have a lot on my plate with running the house, raising the kids, being a wife and mother, with working more and more hours outside of the home. And of course it’s acceptable that I don’t make time for myself or time to pursue what makes my spirit sing, you can’t make what you don’t have. Of course it’s acceptable that I burn the candle at both ends so that nobody, myself included, has a chance of getting the best that I have to offer. Of course it’s acceptable to take on more and more and more and to not acknowledge how overwhelmed or unfulfilled or unhappy I may be as a result. Of course it is.

Not.

So this  year, this year of 2017, will be a kinder, gentler year for me. A more accepting and relaxed year. No, I’m not quitting my family, marriage or work (going from low to no-wage earner is not an option), but I am going to work on actually (rather than just thinking about) making myself more of a priority and giving myself the time, care and attention that I NEED in order to be happy, fulfilled, healthy, and truly able to do better in all areas and give more to all the people in my life. Because the more I deny myself, the more that I am denying the people around me, which is counter-intuitive to my ‘healer and helper’ nature (stop snickering! I am very nurturing when I’m not being pulled in twenty directions at once).

So, instead of a list of resolutions (a.k.a. promises that I have no real intention to keep), this year I’m going to say ‘yes’ more and ‘no’ less. To myself.

How about you? What are your plans for 2017? We all have the same 365 days, what we choose to do with them is what will make the difference between having a year that we enjoy and celebrate and having a year that we merely survive.

~A.

Santa Claus Parades in the G.T.A. in 2016 – Updated

Updated – new, improved, and probably still completely riddled with errors and omissions. Meh.

2016 parades

Here’s my good deed for the year. I sure hope that Santa is paying attention because this actually took some WORK. But, of course, you should always check and confirm dates and times for yourself (all information is linked to an official page of one type or another) before bundling up your family and heading out. Because sometimes I tell lies.

Some of these parades include Christmas or Santa or Light Festivals. Make sure to check out the event page so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun. Listed (mostly) alphabetically, not by date.

Daytime/Earlier Start Parades:

Beach (Kingston Rd) – November 27, 2016 – 1:00pm

Bolton – December 3, 2016

Burlington – December 4, 2016 – 2:00pm

Cannington – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am

Etobicoke (Lakeshore) – December 3,  2016 – 1:00pm

Fenelon Falls – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am – 4:00pm

Keswick – November 19, 2016 – 1:30pm

Kitchener – November 19, 2016 – 10:30am

Lindsay – November 20, 2016 – 2:00pm

Maple – November 27, 2016 – 2:00pm

Markham – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am

Milton – November 20, 2016 – 1:30pm

Newmarket – November 19, 2016 – 11:00am – 1:30pm

Oakville – November 19, 2016 – 9:00am

Pickering – November 26, 2016 – 9:00am – 12:00pm

Sharon (East Gwillimbury) – November 13, 2016 – 2:00pm

Streetsville – November 26, 2016 – 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Toronto – November 20, 2016 – 12:30pm

Tottenham – November 26, 2016 – 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Weston Village – November 27, 2016 – 2:00pm

Whitby – December 3, 2016 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Night Time/Later Start Parades:

Ajax – November 26, 2016 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Alliston – November 19, 2016 – 4:00pm – 9:00pm

Aurora – November 26, 2016 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Barrie – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Beaverton – November 18, 2016 – 7:00pm

Bradford – November 19, 2016 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Brampton – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm

Flamborough – November 26, 2016 – 6:30pm

Havelock – November 19, 2006 – 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Markham – November 25, 2016 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Orangeville – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm

Oshawa – November 19, 2016 – 6:00pm

Peterborough – December 3, 2016 – 4:45pm – 6:30pm

Port Perry – December 3, 2016 – 5:00pm (website under construction)

Richmond Hill – November 19, 2016 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Schomberg (King City) – December 3, 2016- 4:00pm

Sunderland – December 10, 2016  – 6:30pm (scroll down the site, 4:30am is a mis-type)

Sutton – December 3, 2016 – 5:00pm

Unionville – December 2, 2016 – 7:00pm

So, there you have it. If you know of another parade that should be added to the list, send it to me, or leave a comment below and I’ll see that it’s added. (Unless my server deletes posts again. In that case, I’ll just start on the Easter Parade list and call it a day 😕).

Ho! Ho! Ho! Go forth and Christmas on, my friends!

A mish mash of our summer so far

This summer, like every summer before it, is flying by far too quickly for my liking. On the upside, we’ve been so busy enjoying it that I haven’t had time to breathe, let alone blog. But, this morning, I have carved out a bit of quiet time (thank you, Scooby-Doo DVD and card games!) so I’m hopping on here to share a quick peak into the first half of our summer through pictures with just a pinch of words on the side.

We hung around at home, jumping, swimming, going to the park
HomeJuly2016
We headed up to the cottage

Fire, fishing, and flowers. Not my usual 'F' words, but they get the job done in this case. ????????????

Fire, fishing, and flowers. Not my usual ‘F’ words, but they get the job done in this case. ????????????

The smalls went to Latvian Cultural Camp for a week
Tervete2016

Mr. K.B. and I checked out Vermont and Mont Tremblant (recommend both!)

The world's tallest filing cabinet? Yes, please! There were some other cool things about Vermont, but really, how do you top that one?

The world’s tallest filing cabinet? Yes, please! There were some other cool things about Vermont, but really, how do you top that one?

We hit the drive-in and a couple other movies
DriveInJuly2016

We said good-bye to toddler beds and hello to ‘big kid’ beds (don’t recommend)

Good bye race car bed ???? This is the first time in almost ten years that we are without a crib, toddler bed or any other baby-related paraphernalia ????

Good bye race car bed ???? This is the first time in almost ten years that we are without a crib, toddler bed or any other baby-related paraphernalia ????

We checked out Fenelon Falls car show and flea market
Fenelon2016We helped a fella win a bet with his girlfriend

We don't know what the bet was, but Mr. K.B. helped the fella win. But I'd say we were the real winners, wouldn't you? ???? When life hands you plastic flamingo wine glasses, you have choices to make, people. Choose wisely.

We don’t know what the bet was, but Mr. K.B. helped the fella win by taking the set of four home with him. We don’t know what the fella won, but I’d say we were the real winners, wouldn’t you? ???? When life hands you plastic flamingo wine glasses, you have choices to make, people. Choose wisely.

So, that covers July. I’m ready for the second half of our summer (and a nap!!) now, I just wish we could have a third and fourth half too. ????

They love me because I feed them. Meh. I’ll take it.

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. I was spoiled with breakfast in bed (adventures in the kitchen for Mr. K.B. and the smalls – so yeah, it turns out, waffle irons don’t live forever ????), countless precious and priceless home and school made gifts and cards, and even a much-needed and appreciated visit from my own mother. (Quick aside: Happy Mother’s Day, Mum! I’m sorry I was such a ????head when I was a teenager. It was definitely not you. It was me.)

And as the day came to a close, and I put my four youngest babes to bed, I decided to revisit some of my gifts and proclamations of love from the day. To my surprise, there was a common theme throughout, which, put simply was: “I love you because you feed me.”

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

So very, very Deacon ????

So very, very Deacon ????

I guess I have set the bar pretty low if, by merely feeding them, I have achieved “best mommy in the hole galixey” status.

One of the few times when I could care less about spelling ????

One of the few times when spelling does not count ????

Were they grasping for something nice to say or does the sum total of my mothering skills amount to short-order cook? Hmmmm. Could be worse, I say.

Mason design me my own Pokemon card. You'll notice that I'm still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.

Mason designed me my own Pokemon card. You’ll notice that I’m still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.????????

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food...

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food…

I tend to (over) credit myself with wearing many, many different hats during the course of any given day in order to meet the needs of my family. As it turns out, I can shelve the various hats or just trade them for a hair net.

IMG_2512

Paxton appreciates that I feed him healthy food. ???????? Poor kid. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

Paxton appreciates that I feed him ‘helthy food’. ???????? My poor Pax. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ???? I hope he's not coming down with something. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ????
Geez. I hope he’s not coming down with something. ????

So. This is my life. It may not be glamorous. It may not be jet-setting. It may not be the envy of those around me. But goddamn it, there is food and plenty of it (everyday even. Just ask my kids).

Is his depth equal than or greater than my ditz?

A brief, recent, and real exchange with Paxton, age 7 1/2 years.

Pax, while eating his lunch: “In life, you just gotta have a lotta patience.”

Me, half listening: “Hmmmm? Yes, yes, you certainly do.”

Pax, finished his lunch and while leaving the table: “Yup. A lotta patience. You sure do gotta to have it.”

Time skips a beat and I look up from the sink where I had been washing dishes while he ate and watch his little frame retreat from the kitchen and head toward the living room (otherwise known as the Lego Promise Land). Um. Huh? Wait a minute. I realize that I’m really not sure what he was talking about. Was he talking about ME and my life (with kids, house, work, husband, kids, you know, the usual) and in his uniquely Paxton way, gently reminding me to have more patience because he had noticed that lately I was running short on it or was he talking about life and people, in general? Um, what exactly just happened here?

To put it into perspective for you, I will share that when I was seven years old, my biggest revelation was that the Polkaroo was really whichever fella (in a ridiculous costume) who was partnered up with the girl host in that any given episode and not some separate entity and that was why, time and time again, said otherwise happy dude would bemoan “What? Polkaroo was here? And I missed him again?”

Well, frig then. Either Pax is wise and deep beyond his years or I was just a total dud at being a seven-year-old. I’m really hoping that it’s the former rather than the latter. Because having to admit that your decline began before your eighth birthday is just sad but bragging that your kid is a philosophy prodigy is just bitchin’.

So, there you have it. Another Paxism and another life lesson on this second day of Spring 2016.

#ThisLittleDudeTho ????

???? #ThisLittleDudeTho #MySmallsTho ????

In life, you just gotta have a lot of patience.

Paxton, 7 years 6  months.

Six simple steps to take after you quit trolling and scrolling Facebook

Okay. So. We’re taking  break from Facebook (or Twitter or Snapchat or Instagram or whatever (anti-)social media floats your burrito.

Argh. So what now?

einsteinshow

Einstein says…

1: Put down your phone, tablet or close your laptop. Just turn that shit OFF.

2: Look up, find a window and peak outside.

3: It’s fucking GORGEOUS out there. Snow, sun, rain, whatever. It’s ALIVE. Space for days and, depending on where you live and the window you’ve found to peer out of real PEOPLE to look at, meet, talk to, insult or ignore. Your choice. For reals.

4: Now, look around your home. Do other people live there? How are they doing? Is there anything you could do that would help them out, take out the garbage, shovel the snow, lend an (undistracted) ear to listen about their day? Once you’ve figured out who the other living beings are in your domicile, take a few minutes to re-acquaint yourself with their 3D versions, instead of the 2D digital versions you’ve become accustomed to ‘following’ or ‘liking.’ Practice looking each of them in the eye and smiling at them. It will be awkward and uncomfortable at first, but it’s like riding a bike, you’ll survive.

5: Now that you’ve discovered the other humans in your home, look around at your walls, furnishings, bookcases and the like. Any hints there as to what hobbies or interests used to hold your attention before the social media bug crawled under your skin and infected your soul? Are there real books, printed on paper collecting dust on shelves? Are there piles of Star Wars figures, abandoned mid-sort, just begging to be cleaned up and displayed? Maybe you have a tote or twelve of wool and yarn waiting to be needle-worked into swanky penis-warmers or those adorable areola showing breast-feeding beanie caps for newborns? No? Well, whatever you have, there is something REAL and TANGIBLE waiting for  you to rediscover your passion for it. So go and REDISCOVER it. Go now. I’ll wait.

6. Hi again. Okay, so now that you have turned off your devices, looked around the world, checked out the other life forms in your immediate physical vicinity, re-acquainted yourself with your home environment and rediscovered your hobbies, check this out: You can do this EVERYDAY. That’s right! It’s the original wash, rinse and repeat sequence. Instead of the time spent on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like, you can experience REAL people, conversations, adventures, laughter and drama EVERY SINGLE DAY, if you choose to. By not opening that app, typing in that URL or responding to that notification, you are CHOOSING a life free from the chains of a shallow, spirit-damaging, depression-causing, false drama inducing VIRTUAL world for the depth of real world living.

Congratulations, you win ????

❤️
~A

 

 

I am a little bit obsessed (or is that possessed?). Again.

I’m obsessed with way too many things, and unfortunately almost none of them are things that will make me skinny, rich or admired by millions. But obsessed I am, nonetheless. Today, my obsession is back in full force for homemade bread – the good kind, not the quicky no-knead bread (which is very tasty, don’t get me wrong, but is lacking in fibre and other nutrients due to its white flour base).

I find that there are so many things that I want to do, try, make, eat, wear, write, or otherwise experience that I get overwhelmed and default to doing nothing more than my ordinary necessary-to-keep-body-and-soul-together tasks. But then thankfully something always happens that kicks me in the teeth and spurs me into action again. This time, I simply went grocery shopping (ordinary and necessary) and while reaching for yet another loaf of bread to toss into the shopping cart, I realized that I was feeling quite annoyed at the thought of having to spend money on bread. Knowing that one store-bought loaf lasts exactly one day around here if everyone here has a sandwich for lunch or toast for breakfast. And on sale, the best I can do for a healthier bread is $2.00 a loaf which can easily translate into over $10 a week for bread alone and this is while 4/5 of my kids are still aged 11 and under. ????

And then my synapses woke with a start and began to fire on all cylinders. I quickly did the math and decided that I really do not want to spend over $500 a year on bread (and that is only for sandwich bread and does not include buns, rolls, english muffins, bagels, etc.) when I have everything that I need, including the ability, to bake quite lovely loaves at home with only the tiniest amount of commitment. So that is what I did. I baked bread. Twice now in the past two weeks. And I must admit, I have no regrets.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

Now get into my tummy before I switch back to a raw foods diet again. Nom, nom, nom.

And that, my friends, is how I live my crazy life just barely clinging to the edge of law and order. It is how I stay adventurous and just that little bit too fluffy and curvy in all the right places. Frugality and baked goods. Now you know my secret.

If anyone wants the recipe, I can totally post it. I bake it in the oven, but I’m sure it could work in a bread machine as well?

So far, this whole 2016 thing is off to a smashing start. I just refuse to be tamed, apparently. ????