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Helping Our Small Humans

Change is great. Change is healthy. Change is good. These are the things I keep telling myself because if I don’t I will spiral into a pool of self-pity and sorrow. Okay perhaps I’m being a bit dramatic, although, our writer-reader relationship has probably evolved to a point where that doesn’t surprise you.

The Brown household has been feeling the pressure of change in these last few weeks and despite my valiant attempts at embracing it all, I find myself withering fast.

Jamie and I are having to work double time at the shop hoping to have it ready for production by early May. However, even that seems to be a long shot now as there continues to be issues popping up left right and center. This in turn leaves the poor children dangling helplessly over the precipice of neglect and abandonment. Again, with the dramatics.

We’ve enrolled them in an afterschool program which I am positive they will love, however it hasn’t started yet. So we’ve been doing what so many Ma and Pop shops have done since the dawn of Ma and Pop shops. We haul our small humans to the Panini factory and they hang out there until we are done our work. Lars definitely has it better as he is in full days of class so it is rare that we need to bring him, but Soph is still in kindergarten which means only half days. Every morning Jamie and I load her and approximately 700 teddy bears into the car to make the journey across town to work.

We then toil away with whatever is on the chopping block that day while Sophie interrupts us every five minutes. She is very good about keeping us in the know when it comes to her hunger or her boredom or when something smells slightly strange in her general vicinity. Occasionally her left toe is bugging her and when it’s not any of that you can be sure that some other peculiar five year old woe has hammered down upon her.
It pains me to say it but we can see the agitation in her everyday life. She is ornery and short tempered. She continues to try haggling with me for mere sport.

“Mom, I will clean my room if you give Sleepy Bear a birthday party tonight. With cake. And presents.”

“Umm first of all that bear has had like ten birthdays already this year and secondly you will clean your room so it doesn’t develop an army of bug creatures from all of the filthy clothes that are peppered around the place.” This is just one example of our bartering conversations.

Oh and the tantrums. How could I forget the tantrums?

There we were in the parking lot of the school while she was screaming louder than I’ve ever heard any human being scream. Her little face was nearing purple while tears streamed down her cheeks.

She was perturbed that her brother had gotten into the car before her.

As the child stomped her feet on the pavement I reimagined the song Hello, by Adele.

 

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As the lyrics swept through my skull I started to think. I knew that these temper tantrums were stemming from somewhere. Sophie wasn’t inherently angry like this—no kid is.

Other Moms were walking past the spectacle side-eyeing my dilemma. In that moment I felt like the worst parent to have ever walked those school grounds. Although I’m sure that most of them just looked at me with a sad pitying kind of stare. Let`s face it, we’ve all been there.

It didn’t take much to realise what the problem was. My daughter was simply missing me. She has never had to share me with a full-time job and that is a big challenge for our little family. So instead of threatening her with no ice cream after dinner. Or pulling out that notorious whisper-demon voice and telling her to get into the car. I wrapped my arms around my little girl and I hugged her hard.

I did say something into her ear as I embraced her, and that was that I loved her. It took a few seconds but she relaxed, melted into my hug and eventually told me she loved me back.

Change is great and change is healthy and it is good too but we must remember that change can only be all of these things if we take the time to help escort the people we love most through the difficult times.

 

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Embrace It

I’ve always believed that happiness equated to success. If you are happy, you are successful. No if’s, no and’s, no but’s. Joyfulness, without a shadow of a doubt, means that you are rocking this thing called life. The theory fits pretty snugly into everyday life. When we are feeling cheerful, we sit on top of the world. Nothing shakes us. We are firm in our resolve that if we can keep up this feeling of euphoria then all will remain right on this big ole sphere.

However therein lies the problem—we cannot be happy all of the time. Well at least I for one can’t. It’s exhausting. I have hundreds of moments throughout the day where stress showers down on me. Periods of heartache and disappointment from the many unforeseen experiences of everyday life. There are times when a myriad of emotions will whitewash me and I will be left with this astounding feeling of nothingness.

It drives me to believe that any emotion other than happiness means we are not doing “it” right. Right? Where did that idea come from? Why do I feel like I am somehow failing when I am anxious? Why do I expect some foreboding disaster to appear when I’m sad? Why do I liken any emotion other than joy with negativity?

When did it stop being acceptable behaviour to feel?

Lately I’ve been “feeling” a lot. Let’s start with my inability to decipher a scam phone call when it is right in front of me (humiliation/anger). Or perhaps we should talk about the fact that I’ve been procrastinating getting the kids into another after-school activity (guilt). What about how I’ve somehow managed to gain five pounds despite my new workout routine (failure). We are very behind schedule at The Hot Wire and most definitely will not be opening on our sought out date of May 1st (angst).

All of these emotions resulting in a gaping feeling of despondency. If only I could remedy these woes or simply push them away, all would be right in the world once more.

However I don’t think life works that way. There will always be sadness and anger and guilt and humiliation. There will always be those uncomfortable moments. If there wasn’t, I don’t think happiness would feel so good.

It doesn’t matter how many scam artists I dodge, or after school programs I cram down my children’s throat or even if I lose 30 pounds—there will always be something else.

Now I can see that this post is taking a turn for the melodramatic so I will shift.

We’ve established that there is and always will be a reservoir of emotions at the stem of our life, but the question now is what to do with that. Clearly allowing it to steer us into even greater emotional disparity is unwise, so what’s left?

Dare I suggest that we allow oneself to validate those feelings.

When we feel the crippling anger of being misled for example, instead of trying to push that emotion away what if we honour it? What if we were to spread that feeling out thin enough to wrap ourselves up in it? Allowing every inch of our person to understand what it was feeling. To give ourselves time to grasp why the anger was there in the first place. What if we embraced the “bad” feelings as closely as we do the good ones? What if we granted ourselves the time to work through our emotions rather than condemning them?

Let’s look at how we teach our children for example. When our kids get good marks in school or draw a fine picture we celebrate them accordingly. There is no time limit on this celebration, only an unbridled happiness shared by all. However when they are angry or saddened by something, sure we may allow them an allotted period of time to “get over it” but subconsciously we are willing them to move on and just be done with that emotion. It is unpleasant therefore it is unwanted.

This afternoon Sophie was upset. She was crying and feeling sad and there seemed to be nothing I could do to “fix it”. So I gave her the only thing I could, time. Later, I asked her if there was something she wanted to talk about and she replied, “Mom, sometimes we all just need a big cry.”

And you know what, I think my five year old is onto something. This life can be so chaotic and complicated and scary and mystifying that there is no possible way we could move through it with only a handful of emotions to rely on. We are a complex species thus our emotions will be vast—infinite. We should celebrate these sentiments rather than feel indignity over them.

It means we are living and that is as prosperous as it gets.

 

 

 

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A Letter To My Scam Artist

Dear Scam Artist,

I was on the floor sobbing when I passed the phone to my husband. You had just informed me that I was being charged with tax evasion from an incident that occurred in 2012. In retrospect I can see that it was in that exact moment that you fully committed to taking advantage of my dramatic nature.

2012—the year I self-published a poetry book that would never gross sales of more than one hundred dollars (in which I had already payed taxes on).  Yet because of the publication of that dammed book and the grief it has caused me in the past years when filing, as well as all of the legal jargon you were spewing at me and, of course, the mention of jail time I admit to falling victim to your cheat.

There I was crouched over the couch violently gagging at the idea that right now there were police officers coming to my house to serve me with papers and “arrest me on site” as you so casually put it. I suppose I should have clued in that this is obviously not how the world works but I’ve been watching a load of Doctor Who lately (so it didn’t seem THAT out of the ordinary) and when one’s mind gets set on an idea it can begin to believe some pretty radical things.

I hear Jamie tell you that I will not be going to jail. It just isn’t happening, he says. He starts to raise his voice but then stops. You must have said something that really scares him because now he is telling you we have children and that this is surely just one big mistake. I wonder if you ever paused to think about us as an actual family. Actual human beings that you could have potentially ruined. We are not just a number on a long list of conceivable dupes.

Literally minutes before I answered your call my husband and I had just received some very troubling news. Something that will affect our future with palpable impact. However you couldn’t care less about that. In fact I’m sure it made your game that much easier as we both were not in the right head space to realize that we were being had.

You continue telling Jamie you are about to dispatch an officer to our home. He is frantic and asking what he can do to make things right.

How could this be happening? I thought. Over a stupid little poetry book that maybe ten people read. You are claiming that I owe 4000 dollars in back-taxes. Could the book have been making money and the independent publisher just weren’t telling me? Fraud? Maybe this was an inside job (whatever the hell that means). The possibilities of cons were endless.

By this point my mind is spinning. You are still bantering with Jamie who seems to be back and forth on whether this is actually happening or not. I then realize that you haven’t even asked me for my SIN number. Doesn’t the CRA need that to divulge any information about your account?

I grab the phone from my husband and start screaming at you. You tell me that I will go to jail if I continue to speak to you like this. By this point I am so infuriated that I don’t even care. Take me to jail if you must. I will spend my five years in the pen plotting against you dear phone agent.

Finally Jamie comes to his senses when you ask for my cell phone number. “Well if you are the CRA shouldn’t that information be on her account?” He says. Then we tell you that we are going down to our local government office to set this straight. You say that we have one hour before you send the police to our door. I’ve got to say, great job for committing to the bitter end.

So what I’d like to say to you, my scam artist, is thank you. Thank you for causing me to dry heave stringy saliva all over my living room carpet. Thank you for pushing me to the point of screaming bloody murder at you while my daughter sat in the next room listening. Thank you for increasing that already cynical outlook I have on this world-weary planet. And thank you for making my day just that much crappier than it already was.

I do hope that this letter finds you one day and reminds you that the targets you victimize are people with worries and ordeals who are merely trying to move on with the daily grind, just like you. Except not at all like you, we have chosen legitimate ways to make a living. It’s probably time to rethink your life choices Asshat.

Looking forward to never hearing from you again. 

Ruthlessly,

Lindsay Brown  

 

 

 

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Fan Mail

I’ve been writing my blog, The Blogging Mama, for close to four years. I’ve been writing my column, Me Plus Three, for two. In my history of publicly writing I’ve heard things like, “you are so funny, and descriptive!” and “I love that you are so in touch with your emotions.” This last one is a little questionable, they may just be getting my irrationally unhinged personality mixed up with being “in touch”.

I’ve also had complete strangers message me saying that writing such intimate stories about my children for anyone to read is immoral and just plain bad parenting.

It startled me I’m not going to lie. The day I opened that message on my Blogging Mama Facebook page my heart stopped for a moment and my breath was taken away. Did someone actually think that my writings were hurting my kids? Like, screw you lady…is what I wanted to write back.

For about a millisecond I thought about quitting. But then an uplifting Taylor Swift song came on and my confidence came dashing back upon the crown of my stalwart imaginary pony. I told my friend Scott about this message I had received. Scott’s in the movie biz and has had his fair share of awful to unusual fan mail so I figured he’d understand my dilemma.

He told me to ignore it, that’s always the best way to deal with these types of people. So I did, I ignored it. Not only because it was obviously the right thing to do but also because I keep hoping that sooner or later Scott will introduce me to some famous people and when he does I can talk about how I too have to disregard “all” of the wearisome mail that comes piling in sometimes. I envision the famed folk talking a lot about their fan mail, it seems like that would be a regular topic of convo in that circle of peeps.

**I am imagining my friend Scott reading this and shaking his head right now.

The thought of celebrities has gotten me so off track I can’t remember what the hell I was talking about.

Ah yes that’s right, me, being the worst mother alive because I have gained fame (well that’s stretching it) and fortune (now that’s just going way too far) off the innocent stories of my small humans.

I guess it comes down to a waiting game of sorts. Right now Lars and Sophie think my job is cool. Lars is always asking what my blog is about and Sophie is closely following her Mama’s footsteps as a descriptive storyteller. She is amazing!

Perhaps in years to come the novelty of my writings will wear thin for them. Maybe they won’t enjoy me spinning these tales about their life and times. Of course if and when that day comes I will revolutionize my subject matter to some further newfangled theme.

The greatest writers all say the same thing and that is to write what you know. Well I know my children. I know them better than I know anything else and I love etching down their everyday lives into permanence.

It’s been over a year since I received that message in my inbox. Maybe the woman was just having a bad day and needed to take it out on a perfect stranger. Maybe she actually read some of my stuff and realized how incredibly hilarious I am and immediately felt terrible for writing such things to me. Or maybe she went on with her day never thinking twice about her words and how they could affect their recipient.

I wish I was the kind of person who could easily breeze over these types of situations, but sadly I’m not and probably never will be. They sting. They eat away at the depths of the soul (too much?) and sometimes in the still of the night I wonder why people needlessly aim to hurt others. It is a sad state of affairs but one that we have little control over. So I think the best I can do is stand up, be kind to others and keep doing what I’m doing with glitzy jazz hands.

Faultfinders will follow you to the ends of the earth. I’ve decided that I am going to take it as a compliment. It means I’m doing something with my life worth talking about. If these people want to chat about my comings and goings like I’m some sort of…CELEBRITY! Then I thank them kindly.

That means I’m just one step closer to that exclusive circle of legendary humans whom tête-à-tête all day about fan-mail.

WINNING!

 

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Being Kind & Kicking Ass

It was painting day at the Panini shop. As of right now I seem to be bathing in a slew of Panini’s so you will have to deal with yet another sandwich-store related rambling. We had decided to scrimp a bit in the paint department since our bay has outlandishly high ceilings. We didn’t want to be spending a small fortune on paint, so we chose the cheapest orange (The Hot Wire’s logo colour) paint we could find.

I was pumped and I just knew it was going to be spectacular!

However after the fourth application of paint I began to get a little perturbed. By perturbed I mean sobbing hopelessly on the ground asking the thin air in front of me why I could still see every damn brush stroke and flaw that this stupid bastard of a wall had to offer.

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I kindly asked impatiently pressed Jamie to go down to the paint store to ask them what we could possibly be doing wrong. I would have gone myself but lately I’ve been trying this “kindness” thing on for size and let’s just say I wasn’t in a particularly kind mood at that moment.

It turns out orange is one of the most difficult paints to apply. Right from the beginning this detail in combination with our super insanely cheap paint was a cocktail for the perfect disaster. These were the “expert’s” exact words to Jamie when he explained our painting plight.

Would have been nice to know when we were in there yesterday buying all of this contemptible orange paint—but yeah, okay, thanks for the tip Tips.

Things started looking up however after applying the fifth and final coat to the walls.

I was feeling good until I looked at the time to find that I had about seven minutes to get to the kids’ school to pick them up. Now if you know me, you know that this would have sent my emotions reeling. I had to get across the city in seven minutes or else I was going to be late. Me? Late? NEVER!

As I spotted my car I contemplated doing the whole jump and slide over the hood spectacle but envisioned myself simply body slamming into the side of it as a feeble alternative. I’d probably dent it up pretty bad and end up smearing the still wet paint from my clothes all over its white exterior too. It would be a mess. So I just walked around to the driver’s side instead.

I was making good time until that sweet little elderly woman cut me off.

“Be calm Lindsay, it’s just a little further. Stay calm.” I was on one of the busier city streets and the ninety year old was topping her motor vehicle out at a whopping 30 kilometers an hour. I had what was adding up to be a damned convoy behind me of angry motorists some of who were even flipping me the bird.

I was about to throw down some pretty creative language myself when I remembered my “Quest for Kindness”. Earlier that day my friend Janelle and I were talking about how we wanted to actively bring more kindness into our lives and the lives of others. I’ve said that before, but I actually meant it this time—I swear. So I curled down my middle finger and gently put my hand back on the wheel.

Eventually I got to school. I wasn’t even late…by that much. It actually killed me a little inside.

On our way home the kids asked to stop at the park. As much as I just wanted to get home and wash the remnants of that dastardly orange paint off of my skin I agreed because I’d rather them blow off steam in the open fields of the park than in the small confines of our car.

Moments after I sat down I noticed a few of the surrounding parents staring at me. Some of them were having full out conversations and I seemed to be their subject matter. The anger was rising and if I were in a bad 90’s movie I would have said something catty like, “take a picture it lasts longer.”

I was worn down from a wretched day. Sodden in sweat stained clothes and shitty orange paint. My hair was whipping about wildly as I had lost my tie somewhere in the midst of it all. I probably looked homeless. No wonder these assholes wanted to style a few verbal jabs in my direction.

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I gave them a friendly/awkward smile and a wave. They looked shocked that I had acknowledged them and that made me feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

Perhaps that’s why I then yelled in the grimiest of voices, “Come’n kids! Uncle Toenail gets out on parole today and it’s our turn to pick him up!”

And it occurred to me then that sometimes kindness can be as simple as giving the judgemental strangers on the next bench over something interesting to talk about.

The Birth of the Panini Shop

It started with a text message.

“What about a Panini shop?” My husband wrote. “We could bake fresh bread and make signature sandwiches and specialize in Panini’s.”

The idea sounded solid to me, but who am I to say? I’ve been known to think that an impulsive move to another province with nothing more than an oversized purse and a pack of cigarettes is a “solid” idea. The notion made me reflect on all of the amazing adventures I have had in my life. From finding friends and work in far-from-home cities to raising my babes with a man I can only describe as my best friend.

So when the thought of opening up a small sandwich shop was proposed, it took me about a millisecond to hop on board. How could I say no to an adventure I had yet to experience?

That evening Jamie and I hashed out some raw details of our plan. We talked about the fun stuff. Like menu ideas and themes for the place—all the while remembering that this is all hypothetical. It very well could be just another fruitless pipedream. The sad thing is as adults we’ve all had enough rampant fantasies to realize that no idea can be taken too seriously…Well, that is, until it can.

Months passed while the idea of the Panini shop sat idly in the backs of our brains. Of course we had everyday life to contend with so sometimes weeks would go by without us uttering a mention of the concept.

Sometimes in this life, in order to get our aspirations in motion a change is needed. Whether it is a shift in thought process or tangible movement to get the proverbial ball rolling.

One particular day I found myself thinking about mine and Jamie’s friend Scott and more so the location where he lived. He had gone to school in Lethbridge and now was living there quite comfortably. He was always talking about how charming the city was and when I thought about it almost everyone who I spoke to had lovely things to say about the Southern Albertan metropolis.

Now, I’m not a big believer in “signs from above” but this is weird guys, you’ve got to admit: that same day when Jamie got home from work the first words out of his mouth were, “You know I’ve been thinking and maybe we should check out Lethbridge to start up the shop.”

WHAT?!

Six months later I sit in our home in the city of Lethbridge typing fondly about how my family and I came to be in this place.

It was a miasma of real estate ventures, packing, planning and saying farewell in the months after. I still sometimes wonder how I made it out with all of my hair intact and a smile on my face. At the time it may have been the most stressful few months we’ve ever powered through—and I’m sure our nearest and dearest can attest to that claim. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, thank God for the good people in our life!

But all that is over and done with now. The new house has been made homey. Jamie is finally finished commuting back and forth between there and here and we’ve all settled into Lethbridge living quite perfectly.

Now it’s time for the scary part. The opening a business part. The taking the risk of our lives and laying it all out on the line part.

I didn’t realize I would have so many fears and worries when it came to my role in this endeavour of ours. It is a huge learning curve, something that will probably take some getting used to. Me going back to work: what does that mean for our family unit? How will the kids react to both Jamie and I working full time? Will we fall easily into our new-fangled roles of business owners? The idea is foreign and terrifying.

The reality of it all is quickly approaching. The bay has been leased, and renovations are in the midst. Soon The Hot Wire Panini’s grand opening will be upon us and life as we know it will change forevermore. It is almost as though the emotions of it all are too much for me to handle all at once. I have to think about it in pieces so not to overwhelm myself.

As I sit here and think in pieces about the beginning of our new life and how we got here my phone beeps telling me I have a text message.

As if he read my current thoughts, Jamie texts me, “Stop stressing, I love you and The Hot Wire is going to be amazing because it’s ours.” He’s right. I grab a beer and decide to join my husband in his man-cave garage for a celebratory toast.  Soon my fear is replaced by excitement and once again the Browns are onto the next thrilling chapter in this journey called life.

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A declaration of love: In regards to Facebook declarations of love

Ha! A good one from the archives…Moral of the story- post whatever the hell you like on social media!😉

Love your friendly neighborhood,
Blogging Mama

The Blogging Mama

A few weeks ago I came across something on Facebook. It was an odd something, and I shook my head a bit when I saw it, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what about it bothered me.

It was a Meme that said something along the lines of, ‘A relationship that is constantly bragged about on Facebook, probably isn’t a good relationship.’ I know it wasn’t those exact words, but I’ve been searching Google images like crazy and I can’t find the exact quote anywhere.

Maybe, that’s because the creator of this Meme realized it’s total bullshit and took it down- saving innocent lovers from the heartbreak of thinking they’re assholes for proclaiming their love on this SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORK.

Case in point:

Facebook is a social media outlet, therefore be prepared for social media. Such as people exclaiming how much they love their significant others.

Maybe I…

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Pressing The Button

The trek to school is a lot longer since we have moved into the new house. Before it was quick jaunt down the back alley behind our home—a minute and a half tops. This was nice because if necessary we could leave two minutes before the bell was to ring and still make it there on time. Of course that very rarely happened due to my obsessive compulsive need to be early for every event I’ve ever been involved in throughout the history of my entire life. It’s sort of a problem.

Typically, even with the convenience of our close living accommodation, my children were the first to arrive at school almost every single day.

Now however, it takes us about ten minutes to walk to their new school and there are some obstacles we must overcome while doing so.

The first time we hiked it, we hadn’t yet discovered the short cut. The treacherous journey took us nearly twenty minutes. We had to walk beside an increasingly busy roadway which did not do well for my nerves as Sophie continued to absentmindedly wander annoyingly close to the racing by vehicles. I must admit that I have done an awful job so far in preparing my children for the “real world”. For example, when I go grocery shopping, instead of bringing them along and teaching them something about food costs and preparation, I do my best to ditch the babes at home with Jamie or wait until they are in school. This is probably why seemingly normal aspects of life tend to astonish them.

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Which brings me to my next point.

Once we found the shortcut to the school, life got a bit easier. I wasn’t as paranoid that they were going to fatefully walk out in front of one of those speeding city buses. Not to mention it cut down our walking time by half! Plus there is only one busy junction we must conquer on this route which makes things a lot simpler. Or that is what I originally thought.

Apparently, the crossing button, is officially the coolest thing in the entire universe. Ever since having to explain that we mustn’t ever step out on the street without pressing the button Lars and Sophie have become infatuated with it.

I believe my exact words were, “We cannot go on the road until we press the button and the sign tells us to walk.” They may have read a little too far into that.

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As we approached the dreaded button this morning, Lars began running full bore towards the thing. My heart stopped momentarily because I envisioned the kid not being able to stop in time and haplessly running out into oncoming traffic. Will that lurking paranoia ever end? You know, the imaginings of horrible and awful things. Maybe it’s just a parent’s lot in life.

Anyways he was able to stop and before I could tell him to let his sister share in the pressing of their beloved he had already made contact. The BEEP-BOOP sound pitched high above us and we moved to cross the street. Well, at least Lars and I did.

Sophie had plopped herself on the sidewalk and was crying to the Gods above asking why oh why she was never granted the gift of pressing that God forsaken button herself. (Even though she had pushed it not even twenty-four hours before).

“Sophie what are you doing?!” I said halfway across the street. Lars was already on the other side and the anxiety was beginning to build inside of me. Three cars were now lined up awaiting our crossing. One kid on either side of the street and me stuck in the middle. Sophie wasn’t moving and Lars wasn’t listening to me as I stridently screamed at him to come back to the other side. I had to make a decision where to go because I surely couldn’t stay in the middle of the street. The look of the motorists faces were that of pure loathing. They hated me and my current awkward predicament.

I ran back to grab the girl child as I figured she had the highest flight risk.

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“Okay there, you can press the button.” I say as I pull her off of the ground, all the while keeping a firm eye on my seven year old who was halfway down the block by this point.

Sophie immediately turned off the waterworks and gaily hopped towards the crossing switch. She pushed it with a dainty finger and waited for her queue to move across the street.

I was still quaking with nerves and I had to wonder if our morning exercise was worth the years I was losing in mere stress over the event. We caught up with Lars and he nonchalantly asked what had kept us so long. I didn’t answer but instead told them that from now on, I think I will do the button pressing when it comes to crossing the street.

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The Toothpaste Predicament

My son has a certain way of doing things. He is stubborn and persistent and to tell you the truth he probably gets that from yours truly. The kid has a mind of his own and will most likely continue to do things in his own weird way. And it’s really never been a problem, well, until it was.

One of the small and seemingly insignificant things he does, is when putting toothpaste on his toothbrush he lays the tube on the counter horizontally over the edge while holding the brush directly beneath the nozzle. He then will lean his entire weight down on the tube, generating a magnificent surge of peppermint smelling sticky stuff onto his brush.

I have told him time and time again not to load his toothbrush this way since he is wasting paste, making a god-awful mess and not to mention annoying me to no ends. I have made him scrub away the caked on mess he gets on the counter, cabinetry and floor and I have showed him how to properly remove the toothpaste from the margins of its cylinder.

At the time he listens to my advice with knowing eyes and a complacent smile.

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However he rarely abides by my suggestions and when I am not glaring over his shoulder he continues to use his unconventional ways when preparing to brush his teeth.

This morning, like most mornings, I woke up and had the overwhelming urge to pee. I stumbled to the bathroom still half asleep, plopped myself down and let flow.

Maybe I saw the bright green gob of paste on the toilet paper out of the corner of my eye. Maybe I did not notice it at all. Or maybe at the time I simply did not care to comprehend what the effects of using that particular piece of paper would do to my poor nether regions. What I know for sure is that soon after, I experienced a kind of unease that no human should ever have to endure that early in the sunrise hours.

As I stood up it happened. The slight burning sensation commenced.

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I paused mid stance and thought, “Well that is rather uncomfortable.” But engaged in a little shimmy thinking maybe that would help.

To be clear that made it absolutely worse.

Before I could know what was happening to me, my entire front bum was encompassed with a burning awareness that would have made the depths of hell envious. I froze to the spot, wondering what in the name of Hades Torch was happening to my fuzzy peach. The tingle had evolved into a scorching attack of soft skin and tenacious pink flesh. It seemed to creep into every crevice of my cave of wonders, not missing a single cranny!

I let out a yelp and instinctually grabbed for my lady garden, but straightaway realized that that was a terrible idea. I’m not sure why the contact of my hand made my plight even worse but it did.

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It was then, as my entire hoo-haw was being consumed by the horror of this red-hot suffering that I looked to my right and saw the toothpaste container hanging guiltily over the porcelain counter. There was a gob of green toothpaste on the floor beneath the toilet paper roll…And slowly I began to put the disturbing pieces of this predicament together.

Without thinking I hopped bowlegged into the bathtub, cranked the cold water and began splashing soothing fluid onto and around my notorious V.A.G. Instant relief came to me and I began feeling a bit more relaxed. That was until I heard the doorknob rattling.

I considered the spot that I was in.

Legs spread as wide as the Grand Canyon, pelvic thrust towards the serenity that was the flowing cold water tap, and an expression of pure horror combined with an unsettling look of reprieve plastered on my face. I didn’t know who was on the other side of that door, all I knew was that I wanted NOBODY to see me in such a perilous position.

It was not my voice that next exited my person, but something else…Something from somewhere deep within me.

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A half-hoarse demented demon creature shouted in the darkest and most sinister way, “DON’T COME IN HERE! I’M BUSY!” I then continued splish-splashing the pacifying water on my Susie Q.

Finally the horror of it all had passed. Completely and utterly worse for the wear, I hobbled out of the bathroom.

I found my son.

I crept up close to him, leaned in so my words would hold a little more value and ominously told him that if he ever left toothpaste anywhere in that bathroom other than his toothbrush I would throw the thing in the garbage and he would never be able to brush his teeth again.

He nodded his head, his eyes were wide and I could tell he knew in the deep of his soul that something terrible had just happened.

To this day the bathroom has been kept incredibly tidy by the small humans I share it with. However I’m no fool, never again will I let my guard down and allow my velvet underground to fall victim to the dreaded toothpaste predicament.

Bedtime Struggles

There is this pivotal moment in all of our lives when we must sit back, stifle the urge to scream out in exasperation and simply give in to the methodical twitching that has currently taken over our left eye socket.

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It is the bedtime routine…No let me rephrase: It is in the aftermath of the bedtime routine and I am moments away from finding the closest underpass, befriending the patrons perusing the space and brown bagging a bottle of cabernet sauvignon with them simply to escape the lunacy that is Motherhood.

“It is an hour after your bedtime Sophie, you need to go to sleep.” This is what I say to my daughter who has been slumping around the living room for the last half hour. I think she thinks I don’t notice her.

The girl slinks closer to me as though apologizing in advance for the fresh hell she is about to radiate. She then places her lips about a quarter inch from my earlobe and says in a half whisper half scream, “I’m so hungry.”

What in the…I won’t finish that sentence as it is in no way appropriate for newspaper reading. I think you get the point though.

“You ate your dinner and you had desert there is no possible way you can be hungry.” I pause and look directly into her eyes which are unwavering in her quest for a midnight snack.

“HUNGRY.” She replies in that guttural, Paleolithic sort of way.

The eye twitch is coming back but I will it away by shutting my eyes tightly for ten consecutive seconds.

“What are you doing, you look weird.” I am attempting to ward off the insanity, I want to tell her.

I shove a piece of bread with butter into her tiny hands and tell her that will do for tonight. She looks greedily at it and moves back downstairs to her fortress of teddy bears and sparkly lip gloss. After a few minutes quiet erupts in the house and a cool shiver creeps every so steadily up my spine.

Now, you’d think that after all of my troubles with trying to get her to sleep, quiet would be a welcome change. But you see, you’d be wrong. At least not in a mothers psyche. Suddenly thoughts of my baby girl somehow forgetting how to chew and swallow food correctly flood my good sense. I imagine her choking on the bread and how she, at this very minute, could be coughing and sputtering and completely helpless down there. All because I carelessly gave her bread to shut her up and get her back into bed. It’s the ole ‘Bread in the Bed’ predicament.

So I make my way towards the girl child’s bedroom. All seems quiet upon first inspection. I can hear the soft snoring of Lars coming from his room which sort of makes my heart swell because at least I have one child who slumbers deeply throughout the entire night.

I pop my head into Sophie Anne’s Room. She is not on her bed—substituted for my daughter is a pile of ragged and torn looking bread pieces laying delicately atop her pillow.

I spot the top of the kid’s head behind her nightstand. She is crumpled on the floor and by the slump of her shoulders and the angled look of her head I can tell something is amiss. Before I can ask her what the problem is her head shoots up and there staring me in the eye is what looks like a war-torn Sophie. She wears crinkles of fret across her forehead and her cheeks are lined with a thick layer of tear streaked dejectedness.  “SLEEPY BEAR IS MISSSING!” She yells out in anguish. “HE IS GONE! GONE TOTALLY GONE!”

I look to my left and see the grimy leg of a bear wearing a familiar pink polka dotted jumper. He lays half under a pile of dirty clothes. I pick the thing up assuring not to hold it to close to my face because as much as my daughter seems to adore the ripe tang of the squalid plaything I prefer to keep my distance.

“You found him! Thank you!” She says as though he had been missing for years. I am about to tell her that if her room was cleaner Sleepy wouldn’t go missing, but instead I just smile.

At this point, after the night we’ve had, sometimes we parents need to recognise when to pick our battles.

Now, would somebody please buy me a bottle of wine and direct me to the closest underpass?

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Today I Choose Tacos

I was scrolling through Facebook the other day when I see one of my friends showcasing their yoga handstand for all to see. Now, I’m not going to lie, I sort of instantly found myself Facebook crushing, hard. Like seriously, who at 30 years old can actually do a handstand without the crippling terror of their own body weight combined with, hello, gravity working against them and crushing their oh so fragile neck into smithereens. It is a constant fear that dangles precariously in the back of my mind at literally any given moment when the mention of handstands, cartwheels or even a damn somersault for that matter comes up in conversation.

So yes when I saw this video so nonchalantly placed on her wall, I was pretty impressed to say the least.

And it got me to thinking, hey, I should really try to tone up the ole bod. After all I will be entering back into the workforce soon and I’d like to be sort of in shape for those grueling eight hour work days. I have a feeling I’m not “work ready” right now. I say this as I eat tacos at the computer chair and it’s 9 o’clock in the morning. And as the good lord is my witness I will never give up those morning tacos so I’m going to have to start counter balancing them with something.

My problem with working out is that I actually hate it. It’s just so hard! I always start off strong. Every day for about a week I will exercise, but then once I remember my total and utter hatred for the task I end up quitting. This is a problem for two major reasons. One, it really isn’t helping me in my getting healthy goal and two, I am setting a horrendous example for my children. I can’t just let them see me quit every little thing that makes break down crying from exertion. I must teach them that exercise is healthy and a necessary *coughevilcough* for a hale and hearty existence.

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Um…Ya, okay.

Therefore I have decided that if I am going to exercise I should really look into the different programs and explore what would fit my lifestyle best.

I do really enjoy jogging, although with the state my body is in at the moment it is more like walking and hopping into a job when I feel nervous about a dubious character approaching me. (It was an old lady walking her dog. She looked pretty buff from afar in my defense.)

Walking/sometimes jogging is something I enjoy but I feel like at this point I’m going to need to up the ante a little.

I began looking online for some workout videos and came across a particular hybrid yoga fad that is pretty big right now. It involves dance and yoga and some other pretty cool things that I think I could totally get on board with. Upbeat yoga? Yes please.

Look out Facebook friend, I will be joining you in news feed handstands in no time! I think to myself as I saddle up for my very first online class.

Now, never in my life have I been coordinated, not even a little bit. I fall down almost every day, usually while walking over level ground. But that doesn’t matter, it’s all about having fun while you work out. This is the money ticket, I can already tell.

It begins. A tribal beat pumps methodically out from my computer speakers and I find myself unconsciously moving to the sounds. I am squatting and bouncing and I imagine if an outsider was looking in it would seem as though I was doing some pretty unholy things to my living room floor. I am feeling fantastic.

Pretty soon I am literally the sexiest woman who has ever lived and I am yoga-ing and dancing in ways I never knew possible.

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That is until I catch a glimpse of myself in the reflection of the television. I don’t want to say I look awful because that would be cruel and self-loathing but I will say I resemble that of an uninhibited sloth attempting some sort of grimaced and lonely mating ritual.

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In every instance in the past, this mere sight would have turned me off of my new exercise endeavour, however not today. Because today I choose health! Today I choose to teach my children about sticking with it! Today I choose to make a difference! And most importantly today and every day henceforth I choose tacos!

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Sophie’s Bus Ride

There is a bus stop that sits directly outside our home. Ever since we moved into this house Sophie has been pretty much obsessed with it. She plops herself down in our front room window and simply stares out at all of the people waiting for their transport.

I have a sneaking suspicion my daughter may follow in my footsteps when it comes to spinning a story. She loves to create tales about the humans who pause in front of our home. However it gets a little awkward when said humans happen to turn around to see a big eyed, wild-haired five year old gazing intently into their soul. Some have even went as far to move on to the next stop. This infuriates the child because it has ruined her ability to finish her deeply thought out yarn.

Once she told me that the person left because he was about to “diarrhea in his pants” it was then I realized she has indeed taken after ALL of my literary skills.

So imagine Sophie’s surprise when I told her that we would be riding on that very same bus.  She was elated! I may have even seen a single tear of joy roll down her cheek.

Lars on the other hand shrugged his shoulders and said, “oh yeah, that will be cool” in the most unconvincing voice I’ve ever heard. Soph didn’t take any notice however, she just skipped away with Sleepy Bear propped under her arm while speaking to no one in particular about how splendid the bus ride was going to be.

My family had come for a visit and it was with them that we ventured downtown on the bus. As we waited at the same stop in which Sophie had been staring at for the last month I could see the anticipation growing on her face. Of course, as with most public transit the bus was a little late.

“Is it not coming!?” She cried to her Uncle Dustin after we had been waiting for a considerable amount of time. Just as he was about to answer the sound of the buses massive air brakes came whistling down the street.

 

“IT’S HERE!” She screamed as the doors opened. It was from that point until we reached the downtown terminal that Sophie was the star of this specific bus route.

The population inside including the driver could immediately tell that we were newbies at this public transit thing. If it wasn’t me asking how much we owed him for boarding, Sophie definitely gave us away when she organized a joyful twirl while walking down the aisle and saying, “it’s so awesome Mom!”

I like to believe the seven of us were more of a humorous attraction to our fellow passengers rather than a disturbance. We were quite vocal in our queries of which terminals or stops to get on and off of but everyone seemed to be very forthcoming with information and assistance.

Meanwhile the only one of us who seemed completely at home on the large means of transportation was Lars. As my mom said it seemed like “old hat” for the seven year old. He had plopped himself down on the seat propped an arm up on the armrest and sat idly by waiting for his stop.

“Lars are you enjoying the ride?” His Auntie Ashley asked him about half way to our destination.

“Yeah it’s alright.” He replied.

“What do you mean it’s alright?!” Sophie screamed, “It’s amazing!” Her gusto made everyone smile and I had a feeling that taking the bus downtown would end up being a regular occurrence. This was fine by me since I had been swept away with nostalgia from the time I stepped onto the vehicle. Before having the kids and moving back to our small hometown of Sylvan Lake I was a bus riding professional in the cities I wandered. It was surreal to be brought back to those times but now hand in hand with the children I never knew I’d have back then.

We had a great time exploring City Center and some of its eclectic shops and cafes but once again Sophie’s real point of delight was sparked by getting back on the bus to ride home.

There are days in this new city when I miss Sylvan Lake. I miss our friends and the easiness of hometown living. But experiencing simple yet extraordinary moments like we did on this day allow me to realize how much this new home of ours has to offer.

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Happy Valentines Day To You Too

As the kids made their way home from school, bellies filled with candy hearts and suckers made from red dye No. 5, I began to wonder about the inevitable. This being when they would finally realize that their father and I abstain from the remarkably popular holiday which falls on February the fourteenth.

I know what you are thinking; we’ve been getting the same accusatory statements for as long as our relationship has existed.

“Well he is just too cheap to do anything for you obviously.” Or “That’s just an excuse to be lazy.” Because apparently, the only people who are allowed to veto this day of cherub arrows and paper hearts are the singles that are loud and proud or the hipsters who tend to go against anything that falls into the realm of standard.

But the couples, oh the couples must celebrate—it is THE “Day of Love” after all.

Are you aware who Saint Valentine was? Because I wasn’t until this evening when I decided to write an article on Valentines Day and actually look into the man himself. It turns out he was not some horrific beast of a man that ripped out the hearts of the innocent to later feast on, like I had hoped—that would have obviously made for a much more attractive anecdote.

The year was somewhere around 270 AD, the place- Rome, and under the rule of Claudius the Cruel. During this time the emperor believed that there was a lack of soldiers because men were hesitant to go to battle while having wives and children at home. Which doesn’t make much sense to me…But who am I to argue with ol’ Clauds? To rectify this problem he placed a ban on all marriages and engagements in Rome.

A holy priest named (you guessed it) Valentine, thought this was downright despicable and secretly continued to perform matrimonies for the people. However it didn’t end happily my friends, spoiler alert—dude got caught. On February 14th 278 AD Valentine, later named a saint, was executed by order of Claudius the Cruel. It is said that while awaiting his execution he wrote one last note to the jailer’s daughter, as they had become fast friends in the slammer, and signed it, “From Your Valentine.”

 

…just like the ones that we hand out in elementary school! It’s all coming together now.

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Now please, if you still can’t get enough of this national card giving and chocolate binging day, please don’t let my catty and sarcastic remarks stop you.

I’m sure that at one point in history Valentine’s Day was a commendable idea. But now, here, I feel that the presentation of love should be more than that. What is so commendable about showering your spouse in red roses and special words because a date on the calendar told you to?

Love is about the deep sanctity of togetherness. It is finding yourself once again standing in a pit of obstacles and knowing you will make it through as long as it brings you closer to your person.  Love is not thinking twice about taking a chance on all of the things you hate about someone. Love is mundane and terrifying and exciting and usually pretty damn random too.

I simply cannot believe in allocating one single day to celebrating all of that. Shouldn’t that celebration exist each time you open your eyes to see that person you love sleeping next to you? (Drool and morning breath included!)

This feeling or celebration or whatever you want to call it should be present in each waking moment you know that there is another person out there who feels the exact same adoration for you as you do for them. Devotion is not made in a one-day-a-year offer so why should it be celebrated as such? It is the everyday splendours that reaffirm our love and keep a relationship strong and healthy.

If you celebrate Valentine’s Day for its true meaning and pay homage to the man that once sacrificed his life for young men and women to marry then I commend you! If you are using this day as a reminder to stop by the closest gas bar off your evening commute to purchase some cheap tulips and a card engraved with an even cheaper poem then please re-evaluate yourself before you devaluate yourself. Yep- that just happened.

For me, no amount of fancy dinners or cheese-filled cards can trump the spark that Jamie and I share each and every day. And if that is an odd way to celebrate our lives together…Well then, I guess we are just a couple of weirdo’s.

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The Crazy/Fun Ones Are Always The Best

So there I was, week two of being moved into our new home and feeling so lonely I could puke. A month before I told everyone and their dog that, “I’d be fine” and, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve got the kids and we will make friends lickity split once we get there.”  Turns out kids are crappy conversationalists and leave little time for socializing.

As the days pressed on, these two small factors began to drive me over the proverbial edge.

One evening Jamie was half an hour late making his usual bedtime phone call to the kids. I freaked. I actually may have momentarily lost my mind. I imagined him dead in a ditch somewhere because there was surely no other reasonable explanation as to why my husband had not answered any one of my twelve text messages. Not to mention why he was thirty minutes late in calling us—his loving family who missed him dearly—just no logical reason at all.

After calling his brother and texting about fifty other people to assure my text messages were getting through, I saw his picture pop up on my cell. He was calling. I answered in a fit. “I thought you were dead Jamie!”

He laughed. He laughed at my misery/psychosis and told me the restaurant had got slammed during the dinner rush and he couldn’t get off the line. However by this point it was too late for excuses.  Between snivels I heatedly explained that he shouldn’t laugh in this situation. I told him he wasn’t the one here in this strange place all alone with two children and knowing hardly anyone, so he just wasn’t allowed to laugh.

He apologized and I got over the initial hysteria that was building up in me. However when I hung up the phone I realized that if this was going to work I had to buck up and find some way to be okay with my husband’s temporary absence.

It’s funny how sometimes the most chance people decide to show up in our lives, exactly when we need them most.

The next day my Auntie Deb called me out of the blue to ask how the move went. Auntie Deb and I used to be very close when I was a kid but over the years and as life tends to do we had grown apart. However she is and always will be one of those fellow humans that once you reconnect it feels as though no time has passed at all.

After crying my woes to her and revealing my loneness resulting in temporary psychotic breaks my aunt told me she was planning to come down for a visit. She said that she too had once been a mother alone in a city where she knew no one- she felt my pain.

Auntie Deb has always been, well, Auntie Deb. Growing up she was the person my brother and I would be thrilled to go stay with because she is so carefree and fun-loving. She is outspoken and spontaneous. She is a little crazy (but in the most excellent way possible). Life was always chalk full of surprises when she was around. I couldn’t wait for Lars and Sophie to get to experience the jubilation this woman brings to those around her.

We all slipped easily into a routine while Deb and her funny pup Maggie were staying with us. The kids fell in love with the energetic Shih Tzu while Auntie and I stayed awake late talking about the old days and catching up on all of the moments we had missed in each other’s lives.

We went walking and I fell about a hundred times on the slick ice-covered sidewalks. Have I failed to mention to you how “graceful” I am in this slippery winter weather? And Oh how Auntie laughed at me. You know it’s a special kind of camaraderie when you are flat on your derrière from a fall and all you can hear are snorts of hilarity coming from your walking companion.

After that we decided to explore the city via car as to save me from another catastrophic nose-dive. We got lost and found our way again—and might I add, if you are going to get lead astray by anybody in this life you’d be lucky to by such a blithe human such as my Aunt. So despite having no clue where we were we simply laughed and ventured forward.

Sometimes, life will cut us a break and send a special soul our way to help us find our bearings and let us know that everything is going to be alright. It is for that reason I will forever have faith that there is something out there leading us in the right direction.

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I Wonder How

I wonder how we survived

Back

When

We didn’t swim

In a sea of Google searches and Wikipedia factoids.

I wonder how we survived

Back

When

We didn’t feel the need to publicly pick a fight

Over whom voted for whom

In the last hairy election plight.

I wonder

How we survived

Back

When

Life didn’t revolve around

Heart buttons and “Likes”.

I only say this because

I’m the worst of them all.

Trolling for fans the easy way

Writing only what the diehards want to read

Pleading for followers,

Beseeching for the almighty glorification

That I,

Have done something —worth praise.

I wonder,

How

Did we formerly sit and converse

Civilly when speaking about our difference of opinions on

Vaccinations or Donald Trump

(Or whoever his equivalent was in said time and space)

Surely we did not speak face to face

While lacing up our boxing gloves to meet in a ring

Of knowledge which came purely from our brains

And not a link

From some bogus website that was made to look entirely factual

For our ego’s delight.

I wonder,

How

We once lived in a place

Where we were not obsessed with being in the know.

Where we could absent-mindedly say,

“You know what, I have no clue.”

And continue on living our lives without that nagging

Need to Google the answer for our mind to read.

I wonder,

How

That could have possibly been.

Of course we are better off with these

Answers at our calloused fingertips.

We advance, we grow, and we progress.

And that is worth the fight. Right?

Yet I still wonder,

How

We did it.

How contented we could be

Without Instagram, Facebook, Wiki and Tweets.

How pleased we were perceived when not obsessing over

Celebrity eats.

How easy it seemed,

To respectfully debate face to face

Rather than brutally name calling

Behind our protective screens.

At some point in the game

Privacy was swept away

Replaced by insecurities and finally shame.

It simply amazes me,

The changes I’ve seen.

And I think of the transformational bullshit

Our elders have gleaned.

But I realize it’s perpetual

And we are not the last to

Have seen.

So consequently

I must foresee,

That one day

We’ll be perceived.

And now more so than before

I wonder,

How.

Distance and Hearts and Such

His voice cracks as he says goodbye to me. If he was some other person or if I didn’t know him better than I know myself I could have mistaken it for a bad connection. However that’s not the case. Hushed tears are now dribbling down my face but I try to keep my composure. I have two children in the basement who I can hear sobbing because talking to Dad reminds them that they still have another five days before he comes home. I have to be strong for them. I have to be strong for my husband, who is silently struggling. He is too proud to admit that all he wants to do is drop every last obligation and run as fast as he can towards his family. I have to remain steady for the humans I love.

This move has taught us a lot about ourselves as a family. What we can endure together and what we must suffer by apart. To give ourselves the best shot at this new future Jamie will have to stay working in Sylvan Lake on a rotational schedule until we establish our new business prospects here in the city of Lethbridge.

The first week wasn’t bad. We had some moments of doubt and a few minor meltdowns but nothing that doesn’t happen on the regular anyways. It was once the tough stuff started getting thrown at me, like troubles at school and “fix-it” jobs that I had no idea how to fix; I realized what I had gotten myself in to.

Ever since I became pregnant with a little lad named Lars Jamie and I have always been in it together. We do everything together. We cook together. We make financial decisions together. We raise children together. We will soon be building an entire business together. I colour coordinate our outfits on date night for the love of God! And many might feel the need to criticize our ridiculously codependent existence—perhaps with valid points. But it seems to work for us so I say, “do what makes you feel right.”

But right now, at this very moment, as I sit in our new home typing on this laptop that holds so many stories of our family I feel at a loss. It has been so 15 days since all four of us have been under the same roof. Typing it makes me feel vaguely silly since it doesn’t really sound like that long. It sure as hell didn’t sound like it would be that long a month ago when we were hashing out this master plan.

It is long though. It is too long for kids who are used to having Dad tuck them in nightly. It feels so very long for a wife who hasn’t slept a full night in fifteen days because every creek and crack of this new house startles her awake. And when she sleepily moves to hold her husband all she finds is a cold pillow. It is devastatingly long for a man who has just been told by his five year old daughter that she doesn’t want to talk to him on the phone anymore because it makes her miss him too much. It is just so damn long.

The children have now settled and Jamie and I have set in to a rather racy thread of text messaging (which I will spare you of). I find myself constantly giddy over the thought of my husband coming home to us. I daydream about the grin he will be wearing and how tight he will hug us as he walks in the door. I think of him asking Lars about his new schoolmates and getting Sophie to show him all of her new drawings that are fastened to the refrigerator. It makes me smile to think of how whole I will feel once he is here with us. And I wonder how other families do this on a regular basis.

Then it dawns on me. Nobody chooses this type of a lifestyle. There is no family unit that wishes to be separated from each other. But we all do what we must to survive in this world. We work away. We distance ourselves from our loved ones. We make sacrifices and go without to achieve what it is we truly desire.

Family is our most important entity and we will forever journey to the ends of the universe for their wellbeing. So once the tough stuff has been conquered and we are reunited with the people who mean the most all of the heartache and strife will have been worth it. And one day when we look back on these moments we will realize that it was the “tough stuff” that made this beautiful life that much sweeter.

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Lean on Me

This was a piece I wrote for Me Plus Three just before we made the big move. Now, the kids and I are in our new home (and settled in quite nicely by the way). However to assure that this transition went smoothly Jamie has had to stay behind to finish up a few more weeks of work. So needless to say I am very much missing my husband right now.

 

A moving check-list hangs on my fridge while I feel as though I am sinking into a bottomless pit of worries and stress. Damn stress is a nasty thing isn’t it? It can make a person crazy. It can make you sick and take away all of your good and common sense. It can make you do things you never would in normal day life.

I just drove Jamie to work this morning because right now to add to my delightful mood we are down one car. We are in the midst of registering the new-to-us truck but let’s just say there have been a few pit stops along the way. Anyways, as I was driving him to work a silent list of must-do’s usurped every corner of my thought process. I hear Jamie mumble something and I bark the word, “what?” at him.

“You’re in the wrong lane…This is a turning lane.” He again mutters because he knows how much I hate it when he backseat drives me.

“No I’m not,” I begin saying as I look at the road sign that hangs on the traffic light ahead of me. Sure enough I am most definitely in the wrong lane. Like seriously, how did this even happen? How thick can I be? Who forgets how to drive? There isn’t anyone behind me so when I get the green light I dart into the lane I need to be in all the while feeling like the greatest fool on the planet.

When the kids and I arrive back home I still have a looming checklist to get done and now I seem to be carrying around a newfound weight of self loathing. It sometimes seems like with every step of progress we make another twenty things come down on us. Life can be a major pain in the butt sometimes.

I sit down at my computer because even though I know I have little time to spare today, writing is the one thing that is going to get me through with a bit of sanity. There is a familiar sound coming from my phone. Jamie is texting me.

“I love you hun. Sorry I’ve been such a grump lately- we are doing okay and we are going to get through this stronger than ever.”

And he is right. We are going to get through this. There will be more stresses along the way. At some point or another I will probably lose faith again and the endgame will be difficult to believe in. I think about what we have accomplished thus far and I am so grateful to have my husband to walk beside me in this huge journey we are taking on.

“I’m sorry I almost killed us with my crap driving skills. Love you too sweetie.” I text him back. I can just imagine his smile as he opens this message up at work.

It is funny how a marriage works. When things get tough and one of us is finding it hard to cope it is almost a natural instinct for the other to stand up and find the strength to be a leaning post.

Whether it is a simple joke that needs to be cracked to lighten the mood or the words “I’m sorry” when emotions are running high. To me, this is one of the greatest strengths of mine and Jamie’s relationship—we know when the other really needs us.

There will always be disagreements. There will always be difference of opinions in the many ways of life. The pressures of stress will sometimes top us up with feelings of inadequacy and short falling’s. These are things we can be sure of. But the goodness will always outweigh these times.

Later that night Jamie and I cuddled up on the couch and put on our favourite show, The Twilight Zone. After a few episodes he hugged me and said, “You know, in fifteen years from now, when we are sitting on our private yacht in some remote tropical place, we’re going to laugh and wonder what we were so stressed out about all those years ago.”

“Yeah I think you’re right.” I replied.

“We’re a team Lindsay and when everything is said and done, it’s going to be you and me. There is no one else I’d rather grow old with.”

I wanted to say something but for once in my life I couldn’t find any words, he had literally said it all.

So instead I leaned into my husband and I kissed him.

Summer 61

Letters For The Past

January eleventh nineteen eighty six a baby was born. She was five weeks premature, had a skull full of thick black hair and even back then was a stubborn little bugger. This baby’s name was Lindsay Rae Sawyer (that’s me!).

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Thirty, can you believe it? It astounds me how quickly thirty years has come and gone. I can remember being a child and thinking about how my teen years couldn’t come fast enough. Once those hit it was pretty much a blur for an undetermined amount of time but once I pulled my head out of my you-know-what I found myself quickly nearing the terrifying twenties.

Turns out this age was way more fun than the teens because you’re legal to do whatever (well, mostly whatever) you want. For a time I took full advantage of this. These last ten years have taught me so many life lessons. I can honestly say, without a shadow of a doubt, my life has so far been exceptional.

And now my family and I have set off on our new adventure. The new place has been painted, the city explored and we have said goodbye to the house that had felt like home for so very long.

I think about the young girl who once stepped into that house, still only a child herself—pregnant and terrified for what the future held and I cannot help but smile. If only I could tell her that it would all work out. If only I could write a letter to the person I was so many years ago, explaining that this is exactly the way that life is meant to be. I would tell her to embrace every moment.

I would tell this naïve and scared person that raising an infant is difficult even in the best of times. However there will be nothing else she does in her life that is more important. Also take pictures; there can never be enough pictures of these moments in time.

I would tell her that despite being young she and her spouse will be strong. They will go through the toughest times she has yet to see in a relationship and only come out of it sturdier than before. And somewhere along the line there will be a realization. After all is said and done, once businesses have been built and entire lifetimes have been lived it always comes down to the two of them. Friendships will have come and gone and the children will be embarking on their own journeys—these two people who so long ago began a journey with nothing more than an infant and a pile of dreams will still be holding hands and venturing off into the sunset together.  It will be a romance that endures the ages.

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However I would also have to say that these next years will not only be sunshine and puppy love. There will be more heartaches and strife than she will know what to do with. Whether it is her parents, siblings, the children, in-laws or friendships—there will be upheaval. After all what is family for? There will be moments when this woman will assume that she will never again speak to some of those she has come to love. The heartache of the matter will be so grand that it will seemingly take up every spare minute of her life. She will discover herself downhearted and glum dwelling over what has went so terribly wrong to cause such turmoil in her life.

These times are painful but entirely necessary. They are there to assist us with the essential growth we need to move on to our next journey in life. And if it is meant to be the relationships we’ve broken will become mended bringing us closer to those we love.

Throughout a lifespan I can imagine how many times we think back and say to ourselves, “if only”. If only I would have said ‘this’ instead of getting angry. If only I could have told them I loved them once more. If only I might go back in time to tell my former self the lessons I have learnt.

Yet it is not really about the “if only” is it?

At some point or another we are all just a terrified person not knowing how we will possibly get through this next hurdle. I think that if we can embrace the scariness that is inevitable in life, we can find peace in knowing that one day it will be something we merely look back on.

And maybe uncovering this knowledge will not assist in comforting a young and scared Lindsay Rae Sawyer but it certainly makes me feel better about what’s ahead for a certain Lindsay Rae Brown and her family.

 

Welcome Home 2016

Another year has passed us by. I can honestly say that 2015 was a pretty big deal for the Brown clan. We learnt, we loved, we lost, and we decided to pick ourselves up and venture out on a limb.

Usually I am not a resolution type of gal; I am typically of the opinion that if I want to do something I will just do it. Why feel the need to resolve to be a better person? Perhaps we should all just actively be better people. However with that said I’ve gotten a taste of something wonderful and I would truly like to live with more of it.

Gumption. That’s right; my “resolution” for the year of two thousand and sixteen is to live with more gumption. Jamie and I have recently taken the biggest risk of our lives by selling our home and moving onwards. We are starting a small business. We are bringing our dreams to fruition.

There is nothing more exhilarating than to live bravely. To not constantly be held back in life by fears of inadequacy and the trepidation of failure. Sure we may fail, but there will always be something else to strive for. It took a long time for us to really believe in ourselves but once we woke up and realized that we are pretty intelligent people it seemed like a no brainer to go out in this world and work hard for what we want. What kind of a lesson would we be teaching our children otherwise?

I want to say yes more and no less. I want to take chances, calculated chances at least, and feel the excitement of doing anything that is new-fangled.

For so long Jamie and I sat on the sidelines waiting for our “opportunity” to be tagged in. Granted we learnt some pretty valuable life lessons, it still seems like wasted time. I don’t want to squander anymore precious time.

Perhaps living with gumption takes more work, for argument sake, let’s say that it does. It means having a certain kind of drive in life that doesn’t give up when times get tough and doesn’t cower when something scary comes along. It means that we must put ourselves out there and wait for the criticism to come rolling in. I have no doubt that it will. When anyone decides to live boldly, someone will have something to say about it. Living with gumption means to make decisions and stick with them. It means to always be moving forward with confidence and common sense.  It means living with conviction about your everyday choices.

That sounds like a life I’d like to live. For so long we have worried about what others were saying about our life choices we somehow forgot that it simply doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.

As far as I know we only have this one life, so I am here to make sure that it is the ride of lifetime. By doing so, by living happily and bravely Jamie and I will teach by example. Hopefully not just to our children but to anyone who wants to break free from the monotony. For anyone who wants to stop being shackled down by insecurities and self doubt. I so wish that by living today with as much gumption as I can muster, I will inadvertently possess even one individual to want to live in the same way.

It doesn’t matter if you are a banker, a writer, a laborer, a stay at home mom, a small business owner, a man or a woman, we are all simply humans. And in any case we all deserve fulfillment. Fulfillment is not something that will be dropped in front of us on a golden platter however; it is something we must work for. Sometimes it involves heartache and struggle. Sometimes it means we must work harder than we’ve ever worked at something before. Sometimes it entails sacrifice. But it will always take gumption.

So instead of calling this a New Year’s resolution, I instead will simply say I am going to press on with my resolve for fulfillment. This world can be a magically complicated place but when it comes to the quest for meaning within oneself that is something that is incredibly uncomplicated.

 

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Sometimes We All Just Need a Friend

It feels like it was many moons ago when I had a nervous little boy starting his first day of Kindergarten. Lars has always worn his emotions on his sleeve so it was painfully apparent to everyone in the colorfully decorated classroom that my son did not want to be there. He cried and asked over and over again to go home. However we persevered and the more he attended class the more he enjoyed it.

It is one of the important lessons of life: Anything worth doing is going to be difficult. It takes work and resolve to accomplish greatness. It takes determination even when the outlook seems grim. Success means having a healthy dose of optimism to back up your plans. It also helps to have support and a shoulder to lean on from the people we call friends.

I think it was a number of things that turned Lars around when it came to school but a big one was the friendships that he made in that first year of Kindergarten. There were two boys in particular who he hit it off with. As it happened the mothers of these boys also ended up being pretty spectacular human beings and just as the boys’ relationships grew into great friendships so did their mothers.

It is a wonderful thing when an acquaintance can blossom into something so meaningful over the course of only one year. I look at everything that has changed for me and my family over these last twelve months and I feel so thankful to have been blessed with Carla and Jen’s friendship. Just as Lars has found safety and comfort in his new friendships so have I.

I was having a bad day. The pressure of the move and about a thousand other everyday stresses had come crashing down on me and I felt as though I was drowning. Jen had picked up Lars from school for me and brought him to her house where she and Carla were having a play date for the kids. I figured it would be a good chance for me to get some packing done and try to de-stress a bit.

When I got to Jen’s house to pick him up I didn’t intend on staying and I certainly didn’t plan on breaking down into a blubbering mess in front of her and Carla.  But both of those things happened despite my best efforts.

One look of, “are you sure you’re okay” from Carla and every tear I was holding back and sob I was stuffing down came flowing out relentlessly. Before I knew it I was unloading on them every piece of anxiety I had been harboring and the worries that were weighing me down for what seemed like so long. I cried uninhibitedly, it was no doubt the ugliest of ugly cries and I didn’t give a damn. I told them how I felt I was failing as Mom because I couldn’t ease Lars’ anxieties about the move and how I didn’t know what to do about Sophie’s acting out lately.

Both of these women, who I’ve only known for a short time in the grand scheme of things, hugged me and told me that it was normal to feel this way. I spoke and they heard me. They listened to all of the junk that I had been piling inside of me because I didn’t think it was worthy of being let out and discussed. They allowed me to validate my feelings.

And I can never thank them enough for those few minutes we shared at Jen’s kitchen table that day.

Friendship can mean so many things. Perhaps we have friends whom we haven’t spoke to in months but just knowing they are there for us when we need them is enough. The relationships we have with our spouses are another type of inimitable camaraderie. The coffee conversations we have with our parents and the silent moments we share with our children. If we look we can unearth unique friendships everywhere.

As humans it is in our nature to find consolation in one another—whether it is to feel comfortable in a new school or to simply have someone tell us that everything is going to be okay. We talk, and cry and laugh and feel each other’s pain.  Friendship truly is a beautiful thing.

And in those quiet flashes of reflection we can truly realize how fortunate we are to have had these exceptional people slip into our existence.

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