Life: Open For Business

So going back to work has been a bit of a learning curve.

You know, I really didn’t think it was going to be that difficult to get back into the swing of things. I imagined I would breeze in there all like, oh yeah I’m Queen Bee of working and moming and I am the master of both my domains!

**followed by exaggerated maniacal laugh. **

Except this is not at all how it has been going.

Every day I drag my tired screaming body out of bed and wonder what the fuck I’ve gotten myself into. I think about how easy my previous life was in comparison. I fondly reminisce about all of my worry-free days of stay-at-home mom-ery and I fawn over those memories with longing.

However after a cup of coffee, I punt myself back into reality while I slather on some mascara and get on with life-as does every other person on the planet.

I do the mornings at the shop while Jamie does the long afternoons. I can’t complain. Jamie typically bests my nine hour shifts by two or three hours more each day. He almost lives there. But I do complain, a lot. Not about the fact that I’m tired and I am having a difficult time getting into a routine—these things will come. I complain about the tiny, minuscule things I miss about the ‘before times’.

I miss Sophie’s haphazard and dazed look when she awakens and trudges her way upstairs in search of cereal. I miss the way Lars would hide around the corner of the kitchen only to yell, “GOOD MORNING MOM!” as loud as he possibly can in those wee hours as I myself would be trudging into the kitchen. I miss Jamie rolling over still half asleep, putting his arm around me and whispering that the kids can wait just five more minutes as he nuzzles his cold nose into my neck.

These are the little things that I complain about not getting enough of anymore. And although they are small, the price seems like a big one to pay.

Aside from the mom-things that have been effected, there are a few other aspects of this new life that are quite daunting.

Let’s begin with the fact that Jamie and I are business owners! Do you know how different that is than being an employee?! When I worked outside of the home I always considered myself a pretty star wage earner. I’d show up early and stay late if needed. I went the extra mile. I was always friendly and courteous. I was one hell of a trainer when necessary. And I felt like I treated my position with as much respect as I would if I owned the place.

Except I didn’t. Not. Even. Fucking. Close.

The truth of the matter is, one doesn’t know what it’s like to be a business owner until you are, in fact, a business owner. Before, I never understood exactly how much was on the line if something (anything) happened to screw up. You don’t realize what one bad review of your company could mean. You have no clue how completely and utterly accountable you are until it is only you, you have to answer to.

We’ve done well thus far but the sneaking knowledge that our entire future is riding on this venture is always weighing in the back of our busy minds. It’s a large burden to bear to say the least.

So there’s that.

And about a hundred other things that continue to make me look back on the days before The Hot Wire, before moving, before everything changed, with fond recollections.

How easily it would be to slip back into those days of carefree living.

That is, until I dredge up how ‘carefree’ it wasn’t. Perhaps before the Panini shop (which now feels somewhat like a lifetime ago) we may not have had such *pressing* (see what I did there) issues but we did have issues none the less. We felt like we were standing still and not progressing in the life we were living. We felt like we were teaching our kids to sit and complain about all of the woes in life rather than going out and doing something about it. We felt lost because we simply weren’t doing what we were meant to be doing. We didn’t feel in control of our own lives and there is actually nothing worse than that kind of a thing weighing you down.

Now, those feelings are but a mere story of how we started on this current journey.

I think anywhere we go in life there will always be the learning curve. There will forever be challenges and worries that we aren’t doing right for ourselves and our family. There will be doubt.

It doesn’t matter how far you move, what new challenges you face, there will sometimes be moments of suffocation. There will always be moments of victory. I don’t think any successful human being can have one without the other.

So whatever it is you are doing, keep doing it. Keep trying the new. Keep yourself on your toes. Be scared and excited and thrilled by anything. And do it every single day.

Life is weird and uncertain and totally terrifying at times. But at any given moment it can also be very very magnificent.

 

 

2 Cent Saturday

 

Some days I can do three loads of laundry, make a pancake breakfast, and get a week’s worth of writing done all before nine a.m.

Some days I find myself huddled in the corner of the bathroom with a bucket of Nutella attempting to scarf it down as fast as I possibly can without the offspring locating my whereabouts.

It’s all about balance you see. It’s about having the ability to discover what kind of day you’re going to have before it has even started. Will it be an “I am Wonder-Mom” kind of day? Or, more likely, will it be a pajama pants because you can’t even bring yourself to squeeze into the yoga pants kind of day? It’s about accepting the plight that is parenthood and giving into it gracefully.

Because when it comes down to the nitty gritty we can’t do the Wonder-Mom thing every God-damn day. Well not without a vessel of Valium and about thirty-five martinis that is. And you know how the Granola Moms frown upon that these days. So we are left with having to accept that some days we just can’t do it all.

It is either one or the other—slobby do-nothing Mom or Wondrous Wonder-Mom. Black. White.

Or at least that’s what everyone’s been telling me.

There is this strange mentality that I’ve noticed popping up lately and that is that everything seems to have to be all or nothing. Perhaps it has always been like this and I’ve just been too wrapped up in myself or apathetic to notice. But I’m noticing now, and it’s weird and makes me feel uncomfortable.

As parents we seem to categorise ourselves into these sections. Like “hover moms” “free range parenting” “no preservatives” “McDonalds parents” and we hang on to these stereotypes like they were our first born child.

Let’s get real here people. I try my damnedest to feed the Lars and Soph clean healthy food, however when I’m pressed for time or simply having a PJ pants kind of day they are getting a big ole box of KD with extra ketchup. I let my kids play in the backyard unsupervised because I’ve smashed “stranger danger” into the farthest depths of their brains. However I still go and check up on them every single night before I turn in to assure they are breathing. I’ve been doing this for eight consecutive years now and in all honesty I can’t see myself stopping any time soon.

Picture this if you will: me, sneaking into Lars’ apartment when he is 25 years old and stealthily popping my head over his bedside to investigate whether or not he has breath sounds. It will be when I ever so gently place the small mirror I’ve brought (because I like to think ahead) over his mouth to see the breath in question that his girlfriend at the time awakens. Resulting in extreme awkwardness. For them.

Motherhood is weird and poor Lars will never be able to keep a steady relationship with my crazy shenanigans.

I think as a society we need to expel this notion that when it comes to parenting there is only wrong or right. In most cases at least. Obviously some things are just downright wrong and some things are gloriously right. Like Tacos.

Ain’t nobody gone tell me tacos on their wrong list.

Ahem, Oh look once again I’ve been sidetracked by the fabulous thought of tacos.

Anyway, it’s the ego’s downfall that we are constantly at war with each other over issues like which parenting methods are best and what colour a dress on the internet is-I don’t know why I’m still on that, it was like a million years ago.

If we could for one moment set aside those big pulsating ego’s we could see that in most cases there is a middle grounds that we can all come to reside in and be overall contented with. And if there isn’t? Then allow your self-image a few moments of humility and try to see something from another’s point of view. The stubbornness we exhibit does not progress us as a society. We stay stagnant at an impasse because none of us can agree on what’s best.

If we open ourselves up we may learn a thing or two, moving forward into new potentials.

Or, you know, just go sit in the bathroom and consume copious amounts chocolatey Nutella, whateves.

Yet Another Post About the Infamous Sleepy Bear

 

As mothers we stress. I think it must be something in our chemical make-up. If I told you how many times a day I find myself getting all worked up in the feels about some random thought…Well, I just wouldn’t tell you because it’s embarrassing.

Jamie is a stress-case too, which you would think would make things super awful pretty much all of the time with us both riddled with anxiety. However that’s not the case. My husband is an entirely logical man. He looks at the world through rational and balanced eyes, which is one of the hundreds of reasons why he is so good for me.  So when Jamie stresses he stresses about issues that are right there in front of him and how to fix those things that need fixing.

I stress about different stuff. The stuff that has no real value in this day to day life because if it were to happen it may probably change the course of history as we know it. I stress endlessly about zombie apocalypses and how I would save my brood from an undead army. I stress about that time I said a snappy comment to that cashier and she looked like she was about to cry. I stress about make-believe conversations I might one day have with my arch-enemy. Then I stress about the fact that I actually have an arch-enemy.

I stress about what the hell would happen if we ever lost Sleepy Bear.

This last thought hits a nerve. That bear is Sophie’s world. Literally, her entire existence revolves around one grimy disgusting bear that wears a pink and white polka doted hat.

I’ve tried to teach her that we shouldn’t rely so much on physical things to make us feel happy and content. It is our loved ones and our inner happiness that truly keeps us satisfied. Whenever I say this she just looks at me with a blank look and squeezes the bear tighter as if I am about to yank him out of her little grasp right then and there.

Last night as I was tucking her in I asked her if she was enjoying her new after school program. She said she loved it but she wanted to bring Sleepy in her backpack tomorrow.

“I don’t know if they let you play with toys from home there sweetie.” I said to her thinking that a little time away from the bear may be good for the kid.

“That’s okay I will just have him in my backpack.” She paused but then realizing that I needed further explanation continued, “Mom, I just feel better when Sleepy is with me. Even if I can’t play with her I just like knowing that she is near me. She’s like my kid.” The frankness in her voice was beautiful for a child of five years old and in that moment I had two emotions punch me in the gut.

First, pride. Pride that my little girl could so eloquently explain her love for the small stuffed bear that she holds so dearly. How amazing it is that she can open up to me and effortlessly describe her feelings when it comes to her plaything.

Secondly anxiety. Which brings me back to the stress of losing the damn thing. She referred to it as her kid for the love of God!

And so there it is, just one more random thing to get pushed into my already crammed brain when it comes to things that keep me up at night.

I think life would be a lot easier if I was a normal stress-case and worried about typical things like money and the economy and whether or not Trump is going to one day take over the world.

Whatever type of stress you have it can be a really scary thing. But I think the answer to all of it remains the same. Confront it head on, let it know you won’t be scathed and move forward with confidence.

 

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.

 

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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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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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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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.

 

Changes, Happiness and Feeling Alive

20150724_212817As I walk Lars to school this morning it hits. A foreboding magnitude begins to press down on me and the looming feeling of fright is palpable. However there is nothing I can do about it since I’ve played my own key role in this massive turn of events. The only way out is to travel forward.

We’re moving. Even writing it seems surreal. We are moving to a new house, in a new city, a new school district and an entirely new place. We are venturing into unknown territory with two small children and a brain full of hopes and dreams for our future. It is the most terrifying thing I have done since bringing my two small people into this world.

As I write this at my usual spot I look around at the backdrop. I am sitting in the same kitchen we sat in with a three day old Sophie as we watched Lars blow out a wax candle shaped as the number two. It is the place where Jamie proposed to me, right here on the kitchen floor while baby Lars played in the living room below. It is the home, where in the last eight years there have been countless arguments, ridiculous nights of merriment, and so many moments forever sealed to memory. It is the place where Jamie and I have created a family.

While I am walking hand in hand with my son I quietly think about what will soon be changed. They will be attending a new school which means making new friends and building new relationships with teachers. It means saying goodbye to the people they have grown to love here. It means more change than any of us have ever dealt with as a family. It is damn intimidating.

Intimidated—that is the perfect word for how I feel right now. Will I be strong enough to assist my family emotionally in this move? Am I forthcoming enough to make the new friends I know I will need in this unfamiliar place? Will I be collected enough to stand confident even when both Jamie and I experience moments of self doubt? Yes, in the deep of my soul I know the answer is yes to all of these questions. But the intimidation still lingers unremittingly.

I can feel this lump in the back of my throat each time I think of driving away in our moving truck—towards the indefinite. I have never been as afraid as I am in this moment.

And it makes me feel undeniably alive.

This is what we live for. We are put here to make advancements, break barriers, and do something (anything) out of the ordinary. Progress cannot be made by keeping stagnant. This is how Jamie and I came to our conclusion that it was time for us to move on. We want to teach Lars and Sophie that although new endeavors can be daunting, they are essential for growth and fulfillment.

The morning is foggy as Lars and I walk. He grips my hand a little tighter.

“Everything okay sweetie?” I ask.

“I’m just really scared of the fog Mom.” He replies. “We can’t even see to the end of the alleyway. I don’t like not being able to see what’s ahead.”

His comment makes me think about how unclear our own future seems. I realize that this hazy alley behind the only home he has ever known mirrors the anxieties I have been feeling in regards to our move.

“It’s normal to feel scared when you can’t see what’s ahead of you Lars.” I give a gentle squeeze to his hand. “But we know that we have to get to school right?”

“Yeah.”

“Then we’ve got to move forwards. See, as we walk, the fog seems to fade away and the closer we get to the school the easier it is to make out. Fog isn’t that bad when you think about it, you just need to move slowly and carefully through it to be able to see clearly again.”

“You’re right Mom and it makes it better when I have someone to walk with.” He said.

Foggy areas are worrisome; one could even call them terrifying. But when you have the people you love holding your hand reminding you that there is clarity on the other side it all of the sudden doesn’t seem so scary.

 

 

 

A Bit of Quality Time

Sometimes our lives get busy. Lately there has been a bit of an upheaval in the Brown household and our routine and schedules have been thrown for loop.

Unfortunately at this time the disruption is something that cannot be avoided. So I’ve decided to embrace it. Sometimes when unexpected change comes upon us the best thing we can do for our family is to show them how to roll with the punches.

It occurred to me lately that I’ve been so wrapped up in the “big things” that I’ve let the truly important stuff fall to the wayside. The best thing for my babes (and me for that matter) right now would be to make up for some much needed quality moments together.

Sophie and I set out on an early Tuesday morning and ended up having more fun than I think either of us anticipated. Our first order of business on that brisk November morn was to visit the lake and go for a, “beautiful autumn walk” (Sophie’s exact words). Sophie gathered all sorts of nature-stuffs; from dried colorful leaves to funny looking rocks to pieces of bark with moss growing off of it. We placed all of her goodies into an airtight container in which she was to bring for show and tell the next day at school. With every treasure that we stumbled across a bigger smile grew on my daughters face, allowing my joy to surface too.

We then took some time for a little park play. Sophie sat me on the car shaped jungle gym and asked where I’d like her to drive.  I told her Mexico was nice this time of year. She agreed and we took a left then a right and then went down a very long and winding road and in virtually no time at all we found ourselves in sunny Mexico. I asked her where she got her superb drivers training from and in true Sophie fashion she answered with a reasonable and matter of fact reply.

“Well of course Mom, I got it from the dollar store. Don’t you know that you can get ANYTHING there!?” And once again I think my frequent perusing of our local dollar store may be rubbing off on my daughter.

Lars has entered into a different kind of age where nature walks and pretend car rides to Mexico just don’t seem to cut it anymore. Sometimes I wonder if he is growing up too fast. I worry that the allure of video games, tablets and technology has jaded our children in a way that we never were. Maybe this is true, or maybe we just need to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to raising our children.

I asked Lars what he would like to do while we spent some time together. To no surprise of mine he said he’d like it if I watched him play Angry Birds on the tablet. I met him halfway and offered to watch for half an hour if he’d do some reading with me afterwards. He seemed happy enough with this decision.

“You see Mom; if you just pull the slingshot back like this and aim right here…BOOM! OH YEAH! See that Mom I totally nailed it!” The kid’s pure enthusiasm over what he was doing gave way to most all of my reservations about the games. He is so confident when playing, I can see it is an outlet for him and that is most definitely okay in my books.

After a very in depth look into the world of Angry Birds we found a few books to read. He read to me and although we read daily I still am baffled at how far he has come.

Somehow we got on the topic of the Harry Potter books and how my mom (Granny Colleen) used to read the series to me and Uncle Dustin every night. I explained that it was a book about wizardry and a school of magic called Hogwarts. Immediately Lars was hooked, and just like that we found ourselves another “something special” to bond over in his growing years.

I think it is natural for our lives to sometimes become heavy with all of the “big stuff”. We are all human and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the daily grind. What’s important is taking the time to find the perhaps small, but extraordinary, moments that we can one day look back on and contentedly say, “what wonderful times we’ve had.”

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The Truth About Bullies

A long time ago, back when I had a toddler and an infant, I was at the park with the two of them. Park play was a lot more difficult back then because I had to be right beside them in pretty much everything they did. Well, perhaps I didn’t but I was kind of a hover-mom back in the day.

Anyways there I am at the park with my almost four year old and my almost two year old. I am pushing Sophie on the baby swings when I notice Lars trying to play with a kid a little older than him. Back then Lars wasn’t as reserved as he is now, so even though the kid clearly didn’t want anything to do with my four year old, Lars was persistent. Funny thing about kids, they don’t really have that insecurity thing going on. I was about to tell my son to give it a rest and come over to the swings with me and Soph when the kid up and pushed him to the ground and began to scream at him that he didn’t want to play. This invoked a white hot rage in myself that I was not actually aware of and for a split second I envisioned myself in a jail cell due to punting a seven year old to next Thursday.

The kid’s mom had witnessed this too and went over to discipline her child, rightly so. Thank God she had seen the spectacle because if I were to have to tell her that her child was the little shit weasel that pushed my son, I probably wouldn’t have been tight-tongued about the issue. No amount of censorship could have stopped the atrocity of words that would have exited my mouth. Admittedly I go sort of ballistic when somebody comes after my own.

After the park incident Lars was a lot more cautious around strange children, never again running up and worming his way into a game of tag. In a way it makes me sad, and I wonder if the bully at the park that day took away a little piece of Lars’ Larsness. Nevertheless it is something that every child will probably endure at some point in their adolescent life, the hard truth is, there are bullies around every corner.

My dad has taught me many things over the years but something that has always stuck is that family must stick up for one another. Maybe that is where the deep seated anger came in when I saw my son being bullied. Maybe it was simply a primal motherhood instinct that I experienced. It wasn’t the first time I’d witnessed a family member of mine being tormented and it wouldn’t be the last. Sadly children aren’t the only people who get picked on by their peers. And each time I see someone I love being hurt by another I can feel that familiar anger begin to bubble.

A girl I know who is much wiser than her years once told me that she feels sorry for the people we as society deem as bullies. Me, being the hot headed person that I am, disagreed with the statement as soon as it left her lips. How could she feel sorry for the browbeaters of this world?

Just hear me out, she said. These people who try to damage others by physical hurt or name calling are so unimaginably broken in their own lives that they must project that misery upon the other people, the happy people.

She was right. It is so obvious and I’m sure that deep down we all know why bullies walk among us and how they’ve been created. The truth is we don’t want to admit it because it is so much more satisfying to meet hatred with hatred. Understanding takes work.

One day in the future I or another human I love may feel the oppressive hand of bullying once more. I will want to retaliate. I will want to meet hatred with hatred. I will want to stoop down to that level of name calling and crudeness.

However then I will bring to mind the words of my friend. I will recall the happiness that is experienced everyday in my family. The absolute love we have for each other and the euphoric feeling of togetherness that we share.

In the end, once the initial anger has flit away, all there will be left to do is feel sorry for the unhappy people. And then maybe we can begin to spread joy and understanding to those who need it most.

Siblings? Yeah, they’re pretty great.

Today I walked into the kitchen to find Lars gently brushing Sophie’s hair. They were concocting a plan to meet up at recess later that day.

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“When you come outside go right to the twisty slide Sophie!” Lars was getting a bit frustrated from Sophie’s inability (or blatant refusal) to recognize what slide he was talking about. As they nattered at each other I couldn’t help but think back on a time when my own brother and I used to be an oddly unbreakable force.

Dustin and I were close, there was no denying it. We were stuck together on acreages our entire adolescent lives. That’s bound to make two people learn to enjoy each other’s company. Dad worked the oilfields and was gone frequently while Mom was left with two kids and acres of open land. We only had one vehicle back then which Dad usually took to work. So more often than not when I say we were stuck out there, we actually were.

We made due. We journeyed through the back forty’s wood and made blanket forts out of Mom’s plentiful collection of crocheted blankets. We had secret languages that weren’t languages at all but somehow we knew what the other meant. There was always an inside joke being created or chuckled over. And because of all of our cryptic laugh attacks due to nonsensical sentences, people often thought of us as a little strange.

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I can’t imagine why…

Did I care what people thought? Nope. Well, not until I did I guess.

There comes an age in every young person’s life when they begin to take notice of what the other humans around them are saying. We start to recognize when people are talking about us. We begin listening more intently and taking to heart the details in which others perceive. For some reason once this time in our lives comes to pass we begin deeply caring about what our peers think. We will do just about anything to assure that we come off as “normal” to the squad (as the kids nowadays call it).

It was a little after my thirteenth birthday that I stopped hanging out with Dustin so much. I wanted to be with my friends and according to them; it really wasn’t cool to have your kid brother tagging along to the beach with you. So with a heavy heart (that was masked by layers of blue eye shadow and heavy mascara) I told my brother to hit the road.

I wonder about the day when Lars will find himself too cool to hang out with Sophie. Perhaps because their age gap is only a few years apart it will never happen. Maybe they will manage to stay friends throughout those awkward teenage years. For their sake, I hope so. I know looking back I could have used my brother in those uncertain days.

Lars and Sophie are still sitting at the kitchen table, he has finished brushing her hair but she is still mulling over the complexity of her brothers plan. There is something so special about the way they sit and talk, almost as if they know what the other is about to say. Their conversation flows without the complications or worries that are often veiled in so many other aspects of this life.

Once again my thoughts are drawn back to my brother and I realize how special the sibling bond can be. There have been many moments when we have had that same uninhibited conversation. We will talk early into the morning around hazy campfires, recalling childhood memories that only he and I could possibly understand. What a wonderful thing to have someone in this world that can place a value on those early days in the same way you can.

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Lars flings on his backpack as though he’s been doing it for years and his sister follows suit.

As we approach Lars’ school doors Sophie moves towards her brother for a hug. “I love you Lars, have a good day.”

“Love you too Soph, remember, twisty slide at first recess!” He says then runs off towards his classmates.

As we walk towards Sophie’s classroom she looks up to me and says, “Don’t you just love Lars Mom?” I smile and reply in kind.

I am thankful that my children have each other. It is reassuring to know they have a friend in one another—especially for first recess meet and greets at the good ole twisty slide.

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The Never Ending Memoir of a Sleep Deprived Mama

“Jamie will you get up with Lars today?” My words float across our queen sized bed listlessly. For a moment I wonder if I actually have said them or if I was only thinking the sentence in my head. No, I’ve definitely spoken aloud as my husband lets out a groan and rolls over.

The garish nightmare that was my reality only several hours before comes raging back to mind. There I was in middle of the night cursing horrendously under my breath as I cleaned up popcorn smelling vomit. Just reliving this for even a moment makes my stomach curl and throat tighten.

Sophie had fallen asleep fast, this should have been my first clue. However I was more concerned about Lars and his “ear ache”. Do you remember six months ago when our darling son stuck that bead in his ear and had to undergo surgery to get it removed? Well it turns out this incident has caused a few psychological issues in the boy wherein he now is paranoid that random objects continue to get lodged in his eardrum.

It was ten o’clock at night and I was brushing my teeth when I heard the sobbing coming from Lars’ top bunk. There he is fanatically pulling at a very bright red earlobe insisting that there is something stuck in it.

“Well did you put something in there?” I asked.

“No but I think I can feel something!” Now if you need to know one thing about Lars it is that the kid is an awful liar. In the extremely unlikely case that he would shove ANOTHER object in his ear, there is no way he could spin a fib about it. So my next guess was that it was either an ear infection or it was all in his head.

I took him into the bathroom to get a better look and after a half hour of desperately trying to convince him that there was nothing in there I gave him some children’s Advil and sent him back to his room. This seemed as good of temporary solution as any, and as I lay down to go to sleep I reminded myself to check his ear in the morning before school.

It felt like I had closed my eyes for about two minutes when I heard the wailing of another child across the dark hallway. In a moment of selfishness I attempted to yell back to her, “What’s wrong?” The response was not that of any string of legible words but a dire sounding moan that was enough to shoot me out of bed.

“Mama” she said. It was in the liquid sound of her speech that clued me in to what was about to happen.

NOOO— I thought to myself.  I seemed to be slow motion running into her bedroom when I realized at some point in the last twenty seconds I had also grabbed the bathroom’s garbage can. I dove ever so awkwardly towards her to insert the can under her head. It was too late.

Oh how the scent still lingers at the base of my nose hairs. It tiptoes around that part of the brain that associates moments in time with certain aromas, certain stenches. I shall never eat popcorn again, and it saddens me greatly.

“WUGH!” That is the sound of me dry heaving while I cleaned up my daughters yuck. Last year we were wise enough to get our flu shots before the start of the sick season. Therefore the entirety of sickness in our home over last winter involved one bout of croup and a bead in the ear. This year however I dropped the ball and now as I was cleaning up half digested popcorn (why out of all things did I have to feed her popcorn the night before!) I was beginning to feel a sore throat coming on myself.

After I had fixed Soph up and put her to bed I checked the time. 1:30am. I fell asleep fast, but again was woken up by the distinct sound of yakking three more times during the night.

“Babe I need you to get Lars off to school this morning.” I say as I keep one ear open for the sounds of Sophie in the next room. Finally it seems she is sleeping soundly.

“Sure sweetie, everything okay?” I half hear him but am already falling fast into dreamland. I should tell Jamie to check Lars’ ear I think. Instead I allow sleep to take me. Somewhere in the far corner of my brain I know soon, “Mom” will once again be summoned, and so will continue the memoirs of a sleep deprived Mama.

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The Arrival Home

The house was dark and still when Jamie and I rolled our suitcases into the front foyer. As we made our way into the house all of its usual smells sprung to memory and I realized that even after a short week I had begun to miss this place. Or perhaps it was just the thought of the small people who lived here that had my heart skipping a beat.

Daniel, Jamie’s brother, was asleep on the couch. The hallway lights were turned off and I’m positive at that moment I had never felt quiet quite like that. The time was somewhere around eleven o’clock at night as I made my way towards the children’s bedrooms.

After all of these years of parenting, all of the frustrations and meltdowns, I really didn’t think a week long break would be that difficult to endure. And believe me I’m not complaining. You know, the sun, the sea, the amazing quality time that my husband and I got to experience in our seven days of childfree time was very much treasured.

It seemed however that so many of the activities we participated in while visiting the Mayan Rivera would remind us of our little darlings back home. As I snorkeled with sea turtles I could only imagine how elated Sophie would be to meet those massive sea creatures too. Or whenever Jamie and I would stumble over one of the hundreds of iguanas that roamed our resort we couldn’t help but think of Lars and how fascinated he would have been with the small reptiles.

Needless to say our flight home was filled with anticipation. We both couldn’t wait to give those first initial hugs and kisses to our babes after what seemed like a lengthy time apart.

As it sometimes happens we got a bit held up in our arrival back to Canada and found ourselves at home much later than we expected. Despite my efforts of “accidentally” waking the kids up by clumsily dragging the suitcases up the stairs and flicking on every light in the place, that evening they slept right through the night. Go figure.

I decided to unpack the suitcases that night, because well, I’m that kind of a type A human being. As I created a mountainous pile of beach wear that needed washing I wondered how the kids’ time away from us went. If you remember a couple of weeks ago  I had poked fun at the fact that they were so excited for us to leave that they couldn’t help but verbalize it in their honest adolescent way.

A major part of me expected that this is exactly what happened. I was sure they had hardly thought about us or our absence at all and they had had the time of their lives while we were away. But I must admit there was a tiny part of me that hoped we were missed.

The saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” I’ve come to discover is true in so many different circumstances. Here, I realized how our time away from the kids has made me appreciate their beauty and uniqueness in a way that I think we all as parents can sometimes overlook in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But I have to wonder if children experience that same kind of logic and reasoning when away from the people they love?

“Daniel?” Sophie called from her bedroom faintly. I rolled over to look at the clock, 6:30am. Jamie’s brother Daniel had tucked her in the night before and she must have forgotten that we were coming home.  I moved eagerly towards her room.

“Good morning my love.” I said.

“Mom?” She asked.

“Yes, sweetie, it’s me.”

“Mama, it’s you!” Tears began to immediately stream down my daughters face as she jumped out of bed and ran towards me. “I missed you so much Mom! I love you.”

I knelt down to hug her; I too was now crying because of this unexpected emotional response from her—the kid who usually is least likely to show this kind of sentiment. She grabbed my neck to pull me close to her, “I really love seeing your face right now Mama.” Lars then joined us from his room and we all moved towards mine and Jamie’s bed for a cuddly family reunion.

I guess it goes to show that distance certainly does makes the heart grow fonder and that is true for any age group.

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Worry “Warting” About Nothing at All

Well, it was finally happening. After years of me yelling in an enraged and demented voice, “I NEED A VACATION!” Jamie and I were doing it.

Jamie’s boss, aka: the most magnificent boss in the world had offered to take us to Mexico. Six months ago when the offer came up I was dumbfounded. I could hardly believe what was being proposed to us—a full week of sun, sand, multi-coloured beverages and relaxing in a way I haven’t even dreamed of since giving birth to my children. Yep, you heard it; this particular vacation was going to be child free.

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In all honesty the days leading up to our departure filled me with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to be sitting poolside in almost nothing but an excessively large wide brimmed hat sipping some kind of tropical beverage–that hopefully had far too much tequila in it–whilst the hubs and I heartily laughed about all the suckers still toiling away in the deep freeze of our Albertan fall.

(turns out fall isn’t that cold this year and I’ve suddenly turned into this old prude when it comes to nude beaches)

Maybe I was going a little too far. In reality as I prepared for Jamie and mines week away I was nearly soiling myself in fear that my darling children wouldn’t be able to cope without me. What if I’ve coddled them so much over these last seven years that anything more than a mere sleepover will send them spiralling down a self destructive path of sucrose overdose and tantrum overthrows? What if they miss me so much that some weird medical incident ensues and they end up becoming completely mute for an undetermined amount of time? What if…I should probably just stop myself now.

Of course I didn’t actually believe any of this would happen (or did I?) Probably not as it was going to be a combined effort from our friends and family members to look after our wee clones. And we felt so very gratified that we had such generous people in our lives willing to watch our most precious little people—while we get drunk on a beach somewhere.

This was the beach...It was FAB!
This was the beach…And it was FAB!

However this still didn’t prevent the constant worry that had pitted itself in the back of my brain. I’m sure that any mother feels like this when taking leave from her babes. I think about how Sophie still sometimes wakes up in the night because she is afraid of the dark. What would happen when she cried out for me and I was nowhere to be found?  Or what about when Lars gets one of his nosebleeds because of the dry weather? Would he keep his calm like Jamie and I have been teaching him? Or because of our non-appearance will he become overly upset? Thus creating a surplus of bloody tidal waves exiting his tiny beautiful nostrils.

There is also their calendar to think about. Luckily they aren’t in any extracurricular activities at the moment, but even their school schedules are quite involved. Will the babysitters be able to handle it all? Probably, once again I was letting my fears whisk me away.

Not to mention I had concocted a detailed ten page synopsis on how to live with the legendary Lars and Sophie. This included their usual routines down to the tiny quirks that I feel were necessary information for the adults who will temporarily be taking the place of Jamie and me.

But was it really enough? Will their hugs be the same as mine while watching that scary Scooby Doo movie? Will their taco Tuesday meal be as gloriously fun-filled as ours usually was? Will they know there is extra toilet paper underneath the bathroom sink?

As I wrote this heartfelt commitment of love about my darling miniatures, Lars sauntered up to me.

“What is your column about this time Mom?” He asks.

“I’m actually writing about when your dad and I go on our trip.” I say tentatively, assuming this will start a torrent of emotion to flow freely out of my oh so sensitive son.

“Cool! You should tell them that I am so excited for you to leave so I can have a sleepover at Uncle Dustin’s!”

His exact face when he told me this. How matter-of-fact of you dear son.
His exact face when he told me this. How matter-of-fact of you, dear boy.

And that was that my friends. Gone are the days of over-romanticizing my title as Mom. Hello beach lounging and tequila shots.

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Hotheaded People

Hothead: (noun) a person who is impetuous or who easily becomes heated and angry.

Yesterday the kids and I went for a walk to the park and in an effort for health and well-being I decided we would take the long route. As soon as we hit the fork in the path and I turned right instead of our usual left they both stopped and stood there dumbfounded. “Um, you’re going the wrong way mom!” Sophie said with blatant unease. I explained that I wanted to take the long way so we could get some exercise. What followed could have been a scene straight from the apocalypse itself.

There were devastating screams and horrendous moaning. There was “BUT WHY?!” and “NO NO NO” and even, “THIS CAN”T BE HAPPENING!” It was a sad ordeal to say the least. And it made me wonder where they both get this hotheadedness from.

Surely it couldn’t be me. Could it?

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A few months ago we decided to switch internet/cable providers. There were some great deals going on with our current providers rival so we took the opportunity and jumped ship. Everything was going great. The kids were happy with the new channels they got and I was pleased to have my beloved HBO back. Jamie was the only one who was perturbed because his faithful hardwired internet connection had to be switched over to WIFI which he claimed made the internet slower. I told him to stop being such a geezer and get with the times.

A few days later I received a letter from our previous provider stating that we still had rental equipment of theirs, including but not limited to their internet modem. It took me the better half of an afternoon to locate all of the random pieces that were listed as not ours. It was the modem that I found last.

Self admittedly I am rather dim-witted when it comes to electronics of any kind. That’s why we keep Jamie’s brother Dan around, he’s our go-to guy when it comes to technology in general (and we consider the 4 slot toaster tech savvy).

Unfortunately at the time Dan was nowhere to be found. So there I was idiotically gawking at the hookups for the WIFI and modem. I located the old modem but it hadn’t been sloppily tossed in an old box like the other items I had retrieved. It was sitting beside an unidentified device which had the new service providers name on it, the old modem’s lights were still flashing and it looked completely operational.

Well, I tell you what, any rational person probably would have investigated this a little more but not I friends, not I. I got the new service providers on the blower and before they could ask me for my account number I set forth on my tirade.

“Did you people use my old provider’s internet modem to hook up your service? This is blasphemy! That is rented equipment and I need to return it! What do you expect me to do after I give it back? How will I get online? How will I access the internet without a modem?” These were the actual words coming out of my mouth. “You had better get over here and hook it up properly because this is entirely on you!” I had only paused to catch my breath when the unfortunate customer service person who had picked up my call began trying to deescalate the situation.

“Ma’am I’m sorry you are having issues with this, but I assure you that it would be quite impossible for us to use your old service provider’s modem for our own use.”

"Is that is just what you want me to believe internet service provider?"
“Obviously that is just what you want me to believe internet service provider!!!”

“Well it’s hooked up, the lights are flashing! What do you say about that?” I went on for quite some time repeating much of the same argument because I couldn’t find any other points to quarrel with in my state of blind rage.

“Ma’am, why don’t you just try to unplug the old modem and see if your service is still working?”

I did just that thinking all the while that this was such a waste of my time.

I looked at the Google bar on my computer.  I looked at the unplugged modem. It finally occurred to me that perhaps the old modem had only been plugged into the wall. Silence and mortification followed as I quickly said, “Thank you, that’ll be all” and hung the phone up. I looked over to Jamie who was now hysterically laughing at my obvious faux pas.

“Who’s the geezer now?” He said between snorts.

Moral of this story: teach the kids that hotheadedness never pays.