What is your on most eclectic mixed tape?

One morning this week, I had the house to myself. This is a rare and much appreciated happening. For the past two years, I’ve listened to audiobooks using earphones while cleaning and cookiing so as to not disturb or distract others in the house who doing homework or work-work or are maybe just slightly less interested in my literary choices than I (although why they wouldn’t be riveted, I haven’t the foggiest idea. I have excellent taste). On this particular morning though, I stumbled across a mixed CD that I compiled close to twenty years ago. And it is pure magic. The fact that the newest song on the CD is circa 2003, just adds to its wonder(fulness). I popped the shiny disc into the CD player and turned it way, way UP. The puppy did not appreciate the disruption to her nap time and routine. I just looked into her confused little face and shrugged my shoulders at her. I’m not a saint. I have no regrets.

What was this magic playlist, you ask? Well, buckle up buttercup, because this is a mix of the ages (or a mix for the middle-agers who refuse to give up their 20’s card? I dunno. No apologies).

The Ultimate (and Possibly Embarrassing, if I had that gene) Music Mix


1. Baby Got Back – Sir Mix-a-Lot – 1992
2. Wild Thing – Tone Loc – 1988
3. This Love – Maroon 5 – 2002
4. Come on Eileen – Doxy Midnight Runners – 1982
5. Valley Girl – Frank Zappa – 1982
6. Key Largo – Bertie Higgins – 1982
7. You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate – 1975
8. Stacy’s Mom – Fountains of Wayne – 2003
9. That’ll Be The Day – Buddy Holly – 1957
10. Three Rows Over – Bobby Curtola – 1963
11. Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini – Brian Hyland – 1960
12. It Wasn’t Me – Shaggy – 2000
13. One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer – George Thorogood – 1977
14. High School Confidential – Rough Trade – 1980
15. The Gambler – Kenny Rogers – 1978
16. Gasoline Alley – Rod Stewart – 1970
17. Lime in the Coconut – Harry Nilsson – 1971
18. Alison – Elvis Costello – 1977
19. I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred – 1991
20. Boom Shack-a-Lack – Apache Indian – 1994

I can’t even tell you how much I enjoyed listening to this oddball mix and how much I can’t wait to inflict, I mean SHARE it with my smalls when they get home from school. If the homework situation doesn’t allow for the blasting of music, I can wait until I have them trapped in the minivan. I’m just that kind of patient and giving parent.

Pitching hard for #MumOfTheYear over here.
~A.
xo

Combat-Mode Grocery Shopping and My Pathetic Need to Make Everyone Like Me (or at least pretend to).

For the past couple of years (read: COVID-years), Saturdays have been home made pizza/panzo and movie night around here. After I make everyone his/her dinner, I head down to Newmarket to do “the big” grocery shop at 2-4 stores, while my youngest four smalls (all now bigger than me) eat dinner and watch a movie with daddy.

This past Saturday night, I toured the first of two planned store stops, followed my list, and filled my cart. I had three free product coupons that I was planning to use, one for milk (mailed from the company because a bag of milk was sour long before the date on the bag, so I called to report it), one for Pringles (never buy these, but “free” is my tipping point) and one coupon for a free box of Special K. I was also price matching a few items, namely four loaves of Country Harvest bread (2/$5 at Giant Tiger, $3.49 each at No Frills). 

As I approached the checkout, scanning for an open cash, Lane 3 had the light on and no other customers checking out. I hadn’t seen the cashier who was standing behind the plexiglass barrier before but since she didn’t have a queue, I navigated my cart to her lane. I should have known better, but, no. In hindsight I don’t know if she was having a bad day, found my mask-wearing objectionable, resented having to lift the (5) 6-lb bags of apples I was buying (looking at mostly at Paxton for that expenditure), hated price-matchers, or just thought I was a jerk for wearing skinny jeans with running shoes (no argument here), but Grumpy Gertie (herein known as “GG”) was sour from the onset. She appeared to be annoyed when I declined to buy plastic bags and instead showed her the cooler bag stuffed with bags that I brought with me. Maybe she thought I was bragging? Considering my grocery cooler bag is half-torn from the strain caused by me regularly stuffing it beyond capacity with 4-5 bags of milk (20-25L) and forcing the zipper closed, it is hardly what I would lead with, were I trying to show off my bounty of riches. 🙄

Onward we push. Past the apples, through the cheese bars and the black beans (burritos this week, yum!), over the cucumbers (on sale, $0.69 each, yay!) and then, full stop. We had reached the lone bag of milk. She lifted the coupon from where I placed it on top of the bag and breathed out loudly. Almost as though she was trying to balance her chi or find her patience and resist the urge to thrash me. She looked at the coupon for a long time. An uncomfortably long time. I began to feel a bit warm, a mildly prickly heat down my back, despite the fact that I was wearing a lightweight shirt and long cardigan, no coat, and had done nothing more strenuous than lift groceries onto the belt. She looked up and off, far into the distance, perhaps looking to call someone? Maybe she was new to the job and was uncertain how to process this type of coupon? I was about to say something friendly and reassuring when she looked at me with barely concealed contempt, “can I see your i.d.?” This surprised me a bit, but since the coupon had my name printed on it by the company that mailed it to me, I unzipped my wallet “um, yes, sure. I mean, you shouldn’t need to, but it’s fine.” I showed her my drivers license, feeling my cheeks grow warmer. She looked like she’d like to spit on it, but she doesn’t. She scanned the milk into the system and then keyed in the coupon, just like any other coupon. I looked at the Pringles and cereal sitting, oblivious, on the belt and started to feel a bit sick. I’m not one who enjoys confrontation with strangers. With family I’m all over a good argument or debate and am willing to die upon whatever hill I have chosen as mine to defend, but with strangers I begin looking for escape routes at the first sign of battle. On this particular occasion I took a minute to remind myself that I had done nothing wrong, the coupons were legitimate and valid and I was not wrong for using them.

Breathe.

She plucked a loaf of bread off the belt. I showed her the competitor’s ad on my phone. She objected because I had chosen a raisin bread “Not this one. It’s not included. It costs more.” She looks triumphant. “Um, I think they are all the same price? $3.49? And they all weigh 600g?” My words splutter out, making everything I say a question. She scanned the raisin bread. $3.49 appeared on the screen. She scowled deeply and almost growled. She completed the price match with all four loaves. She doesn’t appear to have any issue with the packages of chicken breast that I had chosen, so I started to relax and feel a bit better. She reached for the Pringles. I handed her the coupon. She doesn’t make eye contact with me and spent the next two minutes reading the coupon, reaching out a hand for the phone and jerking it away again before picking it up. The Ghostbuster theme song played in my head. “Who you gonna call? Ghost…” Stupid head. Shut up. Ugh. I could almost see an angel and a devil, one sitting on each of her shoulders, arguing about what to do with my milk coupon. Another, younger cashier appeared beside her. Startled, GG scans the Pringles and punched the coupon value with her index finger held rigid. The other cashier asked to empty the garage and GG looked relieved. I wondered what GG thought the girl was there to do, was she worried that she was about to be told off? Maybe something like “just scan the lady’s groceries and get on with your life, GG!”? But, probably not and in any event, our time together was not quite done. There was still the matter of the cereal. 

She scanned the cereal and I handed her the coupon. “Another free one?” She’s barely able to push these three words out past her clenched teeth. “Yes, ma’am. Last one, I promise.” Smiling. I was almost certain at that moment that if she had a vaporizer and didn’t need her job, she would have ended me there and then. As it was, she didn’t and she did, so after she entered the coupon amount and told me the total, I paid and started to pack up my offensive groceries as quickly as I could.

An older mother and daughter pair were next to be served and while I packed my bags, I was mildly aware of the conversation going on between them and GG. It sounded friendly and congenial. They were talking about the 30lbs of apples I had yet to secure in my mess of cloth bags. I looked up, surprised because GG sounded nice and conversational but not surprised by the topic of their chat. It’s a given that my weekly apple and produce haul always elicits commentary, guesses and judgement from cashiers and other shoppers about what I’m doing with it all. Am I baking pies? Running a daycare or school? Am I a hoarder who can’t stop herself? I’ve heard just about every guess people have. I have given up trying to justify my shopping to strangers so I usually just smile and shrug apologetically and say “the apples are for one of my sons. He goes through about 30lbs of apples a week.” The shock value along usually gets me out of the conversation fairly quickly. This was the explanation I offered GG and the other two women that night. GG’s jaw dropped. Success! Instantly I could see she thought I was probably enabling some 700-pound grown man to eat himself to death. She didn’t say a word. I continued with “well, it’s better than endless bags of chips or junk food, right?” I sounded about as perky Elle Woods and I made sure to smile sweetly. GG let her mouth to close while ever so slowly she nodded her head in agreement. I loaded my final bag into the cart and began to push it towards the exit. I could feel GG’s eyes on me until I got outside into the parking lot.

My first job, as a young teenager, I was a cashier at IGA. I know what the job is like. I get it when you have customer after customer being ugly or unreasonable, taking frustration out on you over things that you, as a lowly cashier, have no power to change or control. Allowing those people to change the way you approach and serve all customers is a lose-lose situation. It causes bad feelings for the cashier and the customer. In that spirit, I hope that GG is having a better day today and that she can find some tiny morsel of hope or goodness that will help carry her through her future shifts. I will shop there again because they tend to have what I’m looking for, and if GG is working again next week, I’ll go through her cash again. Even if I’m price-matching or using coupons. And I’ll be friendly and ask after her day and wish her a good evening/weekend. If I do this every weekend, week after week, eventually she’ll like me. I just know it. And no, there is no end to my pathetic need to feel like people don’t hate me. It’s on my list to work on. Right after finding my six-pack abs and mastering the art of baking the perfect baguette (and yes, I’m aware that those two goals are counter-intuitive).

~A.
xoxo

When the long-awaited prognosis is “there’s no hope for recovery.” What then?

To set the scene, you’re at the doctor with a complaint. They diagnose the problem and your first reaction is relief (that you’re not crazy and it’s an actual ‘thing’) followed closely by a practical “okay, so what do we do about it, how do we fix this?” You’re given your options (there are usually at least a few) and maybe a plan is set forth to rid you of this issue, or at the very least, to deal with it. Disgust, fear, sadness, anger, frustration, depression, all of those feelings may come later, and none would be unexpected, depending on the diagnosis and prognosis.

So, that covers what may be a typical scenario, but there are other scenarios, aren’t there? Ones where the outcome is less positive, less reassuring, and far, far less okay.

You attend a hospital clinic appointment for a years-long issue (an issue which was, incidentally, discovered quite by accident when receiving annual follow-up for an unrelated and non-fatal condition). While the doctors have never been able to pinpoint or explain to you how you ended up with this very rare (you meet exactly zero risk factors), and likely non-genetic yet life threatening condition, you have so far endured years of treatments to manage the situation. All the while, never imagining that the mystery of the ‘why this, why me and how?’ will never be answered, but there is it. No answers.

It is while you are in attendance this latest appointment, that you ask the question “so, what can be done to get rid of this?” You are told, for the first time throughout the entire ordeal “nothing. There is nothing we can do for this particular problem.”
“Can it get bigger/worse?” You ask.
“Oh yes, it could.” Your clinic specialist physician says immediately.
“So, I’m a ticking time-bomb? The walking dead, essentially? Nothing will help? No treatment? No laser, surgery, medication, nothing will make this go away?”
“No, nothing. It could stay the same, it could change. We have no treatment options. Please make your next clinic appointment on your way out.”

Now, before I continue, this is NOT happening to me, my husband or my children. None of us are the patient in this scenario and I will not reveal the person’s identity out of respect their privacy. I am, however, a completely entangled and emotionally devastated ‘other’ receiving this news and I am, for the first time in my life, absolutely devoid of coping strategies or ways to either help the patient or myself to deal with the twisted rainbow of emotions, the paralyzing fear and grief upon hearing this news. If I can’t speak the words out loud, or even think them in my head without crying, how am I expected to deal with this?

What do you do when you are given NO hope? How do you cope with the news that not only is there no hope, there is no fight? There is no chance to over come, that no matter what, nothing you do or don’t do will have any impact on the outcome?

How do you prepare to be left? Knowing full well that everyone who is born, everyone who is in our lives will one day die, how do you prepare knowing that it may not be from very, very old age, but rather an unexplainable, unforgiving and untreatable malfunction from within? How can there be no hope?

I can deal with a lot and I have dealt with a lot. I have survived a lot and I will continue to survive a lot. What I don’t know, what I can’t figure out is how to deal with any of this without any hope. I can’t figure out how to survive any of this without even the smallest possibility that it’s all going to be okay.

This is all still new information for me and I am processing while absolutely losing my collective mind at the same time. My immediate rational reaction, to search for studies, treatment, other doctors, specialists, third, fourth, fifth opinions have been exhausted and now I am just broken and sad and trying so very, very hard to pull myself together. My being broken hurts everyone I love and I know that if I am not okay, then none of them are okay either but honestly, how am I going to fake my way through this one? How do I hold on to or even find any hope when I’m told in no uncertain terms that there is none and the only certainty is the loss of this most precious person from my life?

I am open to any and all suggestions, because I got nothing on this one.

~A.

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Have you had an Amazon package go missing from your front door?

Indulge me, please. This is going to be a wee bit of a meandering story, and I did not take pictures, (the reasons which I hope will become apparent as we go through this) and the content of parts of the story are not PG-13, so mind any young, literate humans in your vicinity while you read this.

Mistakes were made.

Today is a beautiful day here. The sun is shining, it’s 12C and it’s neither windy nor raining (it being a sunny day would not automatically rule either of the latter two conditions out), and so I decided to head outside for a walkabout. This would turn out later to be mistake number one.

Of note, I live in a relatively sparsely populated area, surrounded by forest and farmland. I believe that I can count on one hand the number of houses within a 15 minute walk of my home. It is beautiful and I love it. Unfortunately and for reasons completely unknown to me, other people like to drive around the area and dump various garbage as they go. On a typical day, I can expect to see littering the ditches and edges of farmers fields a vast number of fast food bags and cups, drink containers, beer cans, empty liquor bottles, construction waste and the like. Today was the same, but different.

As I was nearing the major cross-street in order to make the turn to complete the third leg of the giant block I was walking (it’s approximately a 2 km block), I noticed, in the ditch, an overturned Amazon box. It had clearly been there for a while, given how weathered the box appeared, but I could see that it still contained some of the plastic packaging Amazon uses to cushion their deliveries. I admit to having driven by this box any number of times over the course of the past weeks and not stopping. Today though, on foot, it occurred to me that perhaps this box had been stolen from someone’s front porch and if that was the case, perhaps I could help reunite that person with their package or at least give them an idea of what happened to it so they could have some closure (rather than just the blind rage I’m sure one feels when his mail is stolen from his front door). I decided to take a closer look. Mistake number two.

I stepped down into the ditch (luckily, not in a deep area of the ditch). The box was upside down, but open, so lifted the flap and saw something pink. Was it a children’s toy? It looked largish, maybe a toy pink head or something? Toys today are so weird. I lifted the flap a little further and lifted and saw a brand new-looking white USB-type cord, clear plastic bags (as most Amazon purchases are in when shipped) and more the pink item. It was not head. I had the wrong end of things. My mind quickly computed the situation and my hand let go of the box and I stepped back.

It was then that I noticed an open small black garbage bag wedged under a corner of the box. Protruding from the bag was an opened blue cardboard box with the word “Fleshlight” written in white lettering. No, that is not a typo. Needless to say, I did not touch the bag, nor investigate further. I stepped out of the ditch, completely grossed out just as a pickup truck, driven by an elderly gentleman rolled past. Ugh. My luck. Always my luck, I thought to myself. Well, I can only hope a) that he does not return to the site later to see what I was looking at and b) that he does not think that I was the one leaving that stuff there.

After the pickup truck turned the corner, I had another thought. I had only seen the bottom of the box. What if the shipping label was still on the top of the box? Without thinking further, I stepped back into the ditch and lifted the box enough to see the shipping label. It was still attached. The recipient’s name and address had been blacked out with a Sharpie marker. I was quite pleased to see that though, because I quickly realized that I really didn’t want to know who this box belonged to because SO AWKWARD. I’ve found things that belonged to other people before and have always been happy to deliver the news that I found their item and return it to them, but this? Ugh. I dropped the corner of the box again and stepped back out of the ditch, to resume walking.

I debated with myself about going back to take pictures, but asked myself why? Could I in good conscious post such pictures? Would a picture really make it ‘more real’? No, I decided. I really don’t want pictures of sex toys on my phone alongside pictures of my children, cat and cookies. Ewwwww.

In the end, I decided to come home and somehow impart the information to the locals, but also to use this incident as a bit of a platform to encourage some small change.

So, what do I want people to know?

First, if you’re local to Georgina and you have been unfortunate enough to have an Amazon delivery of male-oriented sex toys (large-size shipping box, but Amazon is notorious for using crazy big boxes for single, small items, so no way to tell how many toys the box once contained), your box and the remains of your order are in a ditch. If you’d like to retrieve them, message me and I’ll tell you where the ditch is. No judgement, to each his own.

Secondly, if you are local to or visiting Georgina and have the inclination to steal deliveries from private residences, (and I do not condone nor encourage you in this inclination) and you discover that the items therein do not meet with your approval or personal tastes, kindly either return the box to the house from which you removed it or if offended by the stolen booty that you feel compelled to dispose of the items, please use one of the town serviced garbage cans which are abundant throughout Georgina. These garbage receptacles can be found in all parks, town properties, and even a mere 3 minute drive down the road from where this box of treasure was found. Leaving NSFW-materials where children and families often walk and ride is irresponsible and reprehensible. Be better.

Thirdly, and perhaps finally, we all make mistakes. Some of us make bigger mistakes than others. Some mistakes we make are small. Some are embarrassing. Some are hurtful and some are innocent. Some are even illegal. Since whoever is stealing Amazon packages from homes has gone with the latter, I can only suggest that you limit the amount of harm you are doing while pursuing this misdirected choice. I do not pretend to know the who, what, where or why about that box in the ditch, but I do know that stealing is a big enough mistake without compounding it with littering and risking the emotional well-being of others, namely children. Do better.

Actually, no, there is one last thing.

This is not the first time that I have had the misfortune to see a discarded sex toys on the road in this area. The first time, a summer or two back, another male-oriented sex toy was laying smack-dab in the middle of the road baking on the tarmac and I could not, for the life of me, figure out who could possibly be driving around with sex toys in his vehicle and deciding that toy was suddenly so offensive that it must be immediately flung out the window and out of his life. I’ll likely never know (and I’m really super okay with that). But whoever you are, please stop. To you, noticing lack of subdivision houses may mean that no one lives here, but you’re wrong. People do live here. Animals live here. Families live here. So if you are unwilling to throw whatever you are tossing out your window into your own backyard (and clearly you are quite unwilling to do that, since you keep doing it here), then please do not throw it in our backyards either.

(This, of course, also goes for the (as yet unseen) person who walks around the area drinking beer after beer, and crushing and throwing the cans in the ditch or on the roadside every day. Bring a big and take your empties home with you, we don’t want them. Or better yet? Drink and stay at home).

So, while this is totally not a post about Easter, and is actually pretty icky when I think about it, I am going to just put this here because snuggly bunnies just make things better.
xx


P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx


Live update: I’m eating this plate of marshmallows

Live update:

I’m eating this plate of marshmallows for lunch because:

a) I’ve made myself sad writing a different blog post and like an idiot did so without first checking to ensure that I had any scrap of chocolate in the house;

b) the bag was already open, so I’m being super frugal by eating them before they go hard, stale and nasty (housewifing win right there);

c) because the kids are at school so I don’t have the set a good example for ANYBODY; and

d) today, until 4pm, this is what passes for adulting in my world.

Live update, Part 2

Just sitting here in the ‘wick, living my best life ya’ll. #SorryNotSorry #NotEvenABit

The marshmallows have been eaten. And I’m not even sorry.

And don’t even bother hatin’ on my Diego plate. It’s vintage, circa 2007, no chips or cracks and believe me, we have thrown this sucker around plenty. Beat that.

❤️
~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

The day when enough was enough, my girl came through.

This sign is now posted on our front door.

The sign reads:
“We are happy at our church. We don’t want to chage [sic] at all our faith.”

 

As is happens, my eight-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands after being sequestered once again, with her brothers and mother, in the living room, hiding from the JW’s who were knocking determinedly on our front door last week. I thought that I had the JW visits handled, but I was WRONG.

Yes, I could have answered the door (again) and told them that we are not interested in discussing their religion with them (again) but I did not. I was in my jammies, I was a hot mess without the ‘hot’ bit and I just did not have it in me to slap a smile on my face and be pleasant in that moment. So I hurried my youngest four children into the living room and read to them from a David Walliams book we’ve been reading together until I was sure the JW’s had left.

And that’s when it happened.

That is when my eight-year-old decided that she was done being pushed around and set about writing up and posting this notice in our front door. It is completely her own phrasing and spelling and I just love it.

I love it for how well it shows her spirit. I love it for the conviction in her faith and beliefs that she is not afraid to own and I love it for the succinct manner in which she expressed her message. I love that she was smiling and happy while still being quietly fierce while creating her sign.

I’m telling you the truth now, every day, at least one of my children reminds me that he or she is absolutely #Goals for me. And then, of course, one of them will scream, cry or smack one of the others and the pandemonium that ensues wipes my memory clean of that fact. So, I’m putting this here to serve as a reminder to myself.

My other smalls want to post their own signs as well, but I think that for now, we’ll just let this one ride and see what happens. I have never hidden the fact that I have only the loosest of grips on normalcy and if I start posting all kinds of signs on our front door, it will only be a matter of time before I’m setting up billboards on the front lawn and really speaking my mind. And trust me, nobody is ready for that day.

As for this sign? Out of the mouth of babes, my friends.

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

This morning was hard and I owe them an apology. A letter to my smalls

Dear Mason, Deacon, Paxton and Miranda,

First, let me start by saying that I love you all, beyond reason and measure.

Second, let me admit to you all that I am human, incredibly fallible and flawed.

Thirdly, allow me to apologize for my outburst this morning. I could give you a hundred reasons why, lay blame on the four of you and others in my life, and make endless excuses for myself, but I will not. At the end of the day, I, just like everyone else, am entirely responsible for my feelings, thoughts, words and actions. This morning, I did not walk away, breathe, pray and ask God for the help that I needed in that moment. I did not keep my voice quiet and remain in control of myself and my feelings. I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the chaos of my mind and my life and I brought you all along for the ride. And for that I am truly and eternally sorry.

I honestly do believe that as people, no one can “make us feel” or “make us do” anything. We have ultimate control over one thing in life. Ourselves. We choose our feelings, our reactions, our actions and our choices, and we always have more than one choice.

I promise to continue to strive to do better, to be better and to work harder to live the lessons that I try so hard to impart to all of you. Turn the other cheek, practice forgiveness and personal responsibility, be kind, always. Be kind even when, no especially when someone is not being kind to you. Think about what our purpose is in this life – to love, to take care of and be of service to others, to make our home, family and world a safer, better, more welcoming and loving place to be, for everyone and anyone who walks into (or out of) our lives.

I am enormously proud of each and every one of you, together with your brother Declan. The five of you, are collectively and individually, my entire heart, and are perfect both in your perfect and imperfect moments. Without you, there is no me.

You are, my beautiful babies, in three words, so wonderfully made.

Love,
Mummy.

If you need to know what love is, feel free to ask my eight-year-old. He knows the answer.

A friend on Facebook, who has a small army of young, adorable children, recently posted a list of questions to ask your kids, typical stuff like “what’s your name, age, favourite food, etc.” The last question on the list was “What does love mean?”

I do not usually do these with my kids and when I do, I won’t post their responses, but for some reason, this time I did ask them the questions, privately, without the other three listening in. And for the most part, their answers were not surprising, I like to think that I know my kids fairly well (well, except for finding out that my twelve-year-old believes that my favourite thing to do is wash dishes, but I digress). Overall though, their answers were not shocking. Until that last question, that is. Ugh. My heart is pulverized by the sweet, tender, kind, loveliness of it all.

My oldest small and my youngest both answered ” That you care about other people” and “that you care” respectively. My second youngest son answered “kiss!” with a giggle. And my youngest son, well, he had some thoughts on the subject and I took them down while he dictated. He propped up his head with his fists under his cheek bones, thought for a few minutes, then looked at me with his deep blue eyes, took his time and slowly answered:

How does my eight-year-old know and understand the answer to this question so completely,  but the people in positions of power, who are threatening to destroy every ounce of progress made toward equality and human rights over the last century cannot connect the dots?

For me, being one who is prone to great, big feelings, able to go from feeling great big happiness to great big sadness in a matter of moments, I needed to hear this today. It gives me hope. It makes me think that maybe things really will be okay.

#BeKindAlways

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off.

 

Are you kidding me? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Every now and then, I get a wake up call that serves to show me that what I had always suspected is true. Sometimes it’s an accidental wake up. Other times, I go looking for it. And sometimes, it’s forced upon me after willfully hiding from it forever.

It’s no secret that I have a long-standing fear and avoidance relationship with having my picture taken. I can sometimes take one of myself, and if I do, I’m usually surrounded (read: protected) by my children, but generally, as soon as someone wants to take my picture, or there is a video recording being taped, my anxiety begins to rise and I start looking for a way OUT. I could spend an entire post psychoanalyzing WHY I’m photo-adverse, but that’s not the point of this post, so I’ll leave that for another angst-filled day.

No, the point of this post is to say “what the fuck, guys?!? Why didn’t any of you tell me that I have gotten THIS far out of control and that I’m walking around looking like a frumpy, middle-aged, worn down and tired out sack of shit?” But that was too long for the title, so I’m just putting it out there now.

Seeing myself on video, without the protective shield of my children was painful, embarrassing, uncomfortable and just plain, UGH. The fact that the video was for a school assignment made it just that much more UGH because I had to share it with other, SIGHTED people

But, you know me (or, if you don’t, you’ll quickly learn that) I’m not one to hold a grudge (ha!), so I’m just going to take it from here and start turning this ship around. No more complacency in my own gluttony and sloth. No more convincing myself that I can eat “just one slice/square/cookie/tub of ice cream.” I can’t. My willpower and self-control is not that highly evolved yet and it is time that I take ownership of that fact and stop being a victim of circumstance and emotions.

So, that said, I’m also a realist in a  lot of ways. I know that the best way for me to fail is to completely swear off sugar, white flour, junk food, pizza, and desserts forever. So I’m not doing that. I’m going to take a more mindful approach to food and what my purpose is in eating whatever it is that I’m about to stuff into  my gob. I have found that more often than not, if I stop and really think about what I’m eating, why I’m eating it and what effect eating it will have on my health, both physical and mental, I can easily resist the urge.

When I was younger, my weight struggles were about vanity and appearances. Now that I’m older, my weight issues are about health and mortality and being fully present for my family. You see, I have this goal to live to be at least 106-years-old and to share a beautiful, triple-layered chocolate cake frosted with pink vanilla buttercream with my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and I am painfully aware that it is going to to take more than a wish and a prayer to get there. It’s going to take mindful, willful, determined effort, and only I can make it happen.

I am a mindless eater. Awareness is half the battle. The other half of the battle will be choosing to switch my modus operandi from mindless to mindful and I’m calling today day one. And I may call tomorrow day one as well. And I may call every day from here on out day one, because as long as I’m trying, I’m not failing. As long as I’m trying, there is hope. As long as I’m trying, I will, eventually, figure out my way through even the hardest of obstacles.

Yes, for some of us, even stairs are an obstacle.

 

It’s not about bashing men, so just stop it.

This is NOT a post bashing men by any stretch of the definition. I just finished reading an article, by Mark Manson, a fellow I started reading not so very long ago. His most recent article is an attempt to understand what has gone wrong for men and why, and it is a worthwhile, informative and entertaining read. Mark uses the right mix of humour and fact to get his point across to the reader. And the subject matter (the reality and meaning of being male in our society) is important for all of us to understand. It is as important to understand what has gone wrong for men as it is to understand the reality faced by women, children, the elderly, black, asian, Muslim, disabled/other-abled, LGBTQ communities, indigenous people, and every other ‘group.’

Read Mark Manson’s: What’s the problem with men? 
 
When I first became a mother, I was young and single and female. I did not know the first thing about the male psyche or experience that hadn’t been touted to me as ‘fact’ through the mainstream media. Since I was decidedly going to remain female, first hand knowledge was impossible, so instead I set about learning everything that I could about ‘boys’ so that I would be able to do my very best to raise my son to be more than just a ‘stereotypical guy’ who was only out for power and dominance at the expense of women and other less powerful segments of society.
 
My parenting goals now are different and focused less on gender similarities and differences and more geared toward encouraging all of my children, male or female, to be better people, kinder, more empathetic, inclusive, generous and thoughtful everyday. I want them to express their emotions, even the unpleasant ones in healthy ways, and to share their thoughts and ideas without the fear of being shut down. I want them to have the strength and confidence to encourage others to do the same, and, to always look within for validation and purpose rather than looking toward someone else, who is likely just lost, to lead their path through life.
So, that’s it for me today. I just wanted to share with ya’ll what has been occupying my mind while I procrastinate doing my homework. I hope that you give the article a read and share your thoughts – either here in the comments section or on the Twitter or Facebook pages. The older I get, the more I appreciate hearing all different points of view and ideas. The older I get, the more excited I am to learn new things about subjects that I was not that impressed with in my youth. It would seem that spending my childhood in school was likely wasted on me, although it did keep me off the streets. But honestly,  I am far more open to learning now than I ever was then. On the sunny side  though, I did learn how to read and write and do long division, so it’s not like it was a complete waste of time. ?
~A.