Seasons In The Sun

Wiping down the toy tonight, I got caught up in the enjoyment of a baby riding it. Momentarily horrified as it occured to me i may not have video footage of either child riding it:/ but still felt joy at the remembering. That rollercoaster of emotions led me back to the happy duty of making it nice for the next little one.:)

Hoping the mom who thinks she is buying it from me will spend that money on herself after I give it to her instead, maybe in a store that does great things for its community. #closetcoutureboutique

My family has been so blessed by the generosity of others, and I believe moms who help other moms are among the most beautiful creatures on the planet! Encouragement and a bit of a break every now and again are all any of us are asking for, so I get a lot of enjoyment out of being that person to somebody every once in a while. It’s humbling when total strangers open their hearts and tell you their story or offer a hand up. #mommiessupportingmommies

Next phase at home: storytelling and dramatic play! Sooooo excited to be making a puppet/dress up theatre…and the fact that it is my original design is pleasing to me:) I am glad I didn’t rush this project, and so thankful for almost an hour alonnnnne in the dollar store this weekend! Which enabled me to find the funky facade. I will post a quick tutorial but am still allowing the process to unfold organically!

Watching my eldest as she chooses her spots, works hard at post-secondary, and has a sweet boy by her side.  Trying to focus on it being about her…because it is. My happiness for her far outweighs any negativity I may associate with her upbringing, mom guilt, feelings of inadequacy,  or simply the yearning to relive so many precious moments with her. I always relied on her more than she did me, in ways. She saved me. 

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Goodbye to you my little one, you gave me love and helped me find the sun.

So bizarre, to be at both intense stages at once: goodbye sweet baby, goodbye sweet child. Please promise me you will love you,  as I do you. Amen.

An Angel

168719_10150129946161195_7401208_n(a Facebook note from 10 February 2011 at 14:51)

they say angels walk among us – well, sometimes they don’t walk.
sometimes they go whizzing past you in their wheelchair, laughing with glee at your startled reaction.

i met Gerard in such a fashion, in late 1992 or early 1993 when i worked at Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. i had just come out of my darkest days, after losing a much-loved and longtime friend to suicide. i was so far gone i didn’t even think i needed help – but Gerard knew otherwise, and i think he was sent my way for just that purpose.

we became fast friends; i loved his laugh and he told me i had a cute bum. not kidding! we would eat together in the food court, and he often visited me in the store. when i became pregnant and was so scared, he promised me everything would be ok. he said he would be my friend forever and wouldn’t let anything bad happen to me, that he’d always be there for me. and he has been.

he has always been very honest, whether talking about how having been born with Cerebral Palsy has affected him, how he has felt at any given moment, or if asked his opinion about something. i have never seen him embarrassed or angry, and his patience knew no bounds whenever i struggled to feed him, drive the van, or just understand him when he spoke. he would always berate me for being so hard on myself.

the level of happiness and compassion for others he demonstrated were always a source of inspiration for me. he never felt sorry for himself, and often took on the role of confidante and encouraging friend for me. prime example of this was when we took a trip to Vineland to an aviary (his passion is birds) on a snowy day in 2006. he had just gotten a new van, one that i had never driven – and i was white-knuckling it on highway 6 south in whiteout conditions. can you imagine being strapped into a wheelchair, the chair locked into the van with a heavy-duty restraint system, at the mercy of an inexperienced and near-panicked driver? well, Gerard took it all in stride. as a matter of fact, he calmly reassured me the entire way – and i relaxed to the point where we were cruising with the oldies blaring and both of us singing and laughing. he just had that effect.

Gerard should have been able to dance and run in the park with his dog Buster- all of the things we take for granted. his shiny energy and joie de vive make his limitations all the more heartbreaking. but he never complained. if he needed help, he would ask matter-of-factly. he trusts those around him at all times, sometimes to a fault. he has told me of incidents where his kind heart has been taken advantage of.

i really wish that somewhere along the line, a nice lady had seen that kind heart and taken it in her hands to hold. Gerard has had lots of friends, but i know he has always yearned for a true love.

his beautiful black lab Buster was a constant companion who brought him a lot of joy. when Buster was a pup, i met them at a park one spring day for a walk. i will never forget Gerard’s gales of laughter when i untied the dog from his chair to go for a run with him, and nearly had my arm ripped out of its socket as he dragged me through the mud! we laughed about it for years, and after Buster died we would remember that day so fondly.

despite all of the challenges he has faced, Gerard has always been upbeat and unafraid. and now that cancer is taking him away, i still can’t find within me the strength he has. i wish i had been a better friend. i hope he knows how much his friendship has shaped me into a better person. and i can’t bear to think of him struggling any more than he already has. it is just so unfair to me, that his later years were cut short and maimed this way.

i am thankful that my daughters both met him. Abby’s time spent with Gerard has taught her alot, i think. and while Bryce is too young to understand, when her eyes focused on his the other day i know a connection was made. some of Bryce’s expressions remind me of Gerard, actually.

and i guess that’s just another wonderful thing about him.
that while so much was taken away from him at birth, he retained some of the most beautiful qualities that babies possess; those precious things that fade quickly and forever.
Gerard never lost them – and i’m so thankful that he shared them with me.

She Shoots…?

(a Facebook note from 4 January 2008 at 12:48)

At times it seems like we are “on hold” “until” this or that happens…
when we experience feelings like envy, or resentment, or feeling hard done by.

I’ve always been a pro at feeling sorry for myself – ONCE I get in that mode, which thankfully is not too often. But wow sometimes once I get going on a tangent – any tangent, really – it’s hard for me to pull my head up and really take another look at things.

“Stick down, head up” is what my daughter’s hockey coach always used to repeat – and it’s good advice for life. I’ve had my head down for a while. And sometimes my stick is there, ready to strike at the perfect moment – but other times I forget what it’s there for, and sometimes even forget what game I’m playing. Next thing I know I’m swinging wildly, feeling inundated – only to look up and realize that everyone is looking at me and I’m not even wearing the right equipment.

Last night I felt totally exposed on the ice. No helmet, no protection – without my team. It was the worst I’ve felt in a long long time.

Today I can see the net, and I know how to move towards it. If I have to I’ll skate solo, and hope my shot doesn’t go up into the stands and hurt anyone.

Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day
A Facebook note from 12 November 2008 at 23:26

One of my favourite people of all time is Ted Scaysbrook. A decorated war veteran who was a staple at the mall every November. He stood for hours on end, always with a smile on his face, in full uniform, including his purple heart. But that is not where we met…it’s just the last time I remember seeing him.

Ted had been a staple in my life for many years; he was employed by the York Region school board as a janitor. He remains to this day one of the sweetest, happiest and most influential people I have EVER met.

You can ask most of my schoolmates over the years – Ted will be someone they can recall very fondly. He made a point of talking to EVERY kid he saw – he knew hundreds of us by name, and had nicknames for many that he remembered and used – for years after. I don’t know if his intention was to model kindness and love, or if it just came naturally. Whichever way it happened, to me he is probably about as close to an angel as I ever expect to meet.

The best thing about Ted was that he never had favourites. He treated everyone with the same amount of enthusiasm and interest; we were all special. I remember playing the Tin Man in our rendition of “The Wizard of Oz” in 1978 or 1979. My costume was made of sheets of Bristol board that had been spray-painted silver. I was unable to bend my knees in this getup, so Ted carried me up & down the stage stairs every time I was on – which was quite a bit! He was also there every night to provide the scary thunder sounds, using a piece of sheet metal.

People in high school would sometimes laugh at me when they heard Ted call me by my nickname – Squeak – but I was proud of my name. I was proud to know Ted.

Despite all of the horrors he must have seen during the war, he never wore it as a burden. Instead he used his life experience to help enrich the lives of others in thousands of small ways; grasping your hands in his as he lowered himself to look straight in your eyes and say with a big smile “How are ya today?”. His positive energy made it impossible to be anything but as happy as he was – even if just for that moment.

He was also never shy when asked about the war. He would tell you with tears in his eyes just how awful it was and how we should all work hard towards caring for one another instead of fighting. And he walked that talk every day.

Every year at this time I remember Ted and give thanks for not only his sacrifice as a young man, when he went off to fight for every freedom I have, but also for the gift of having known such a fine human being. He shaped me perhaps more than any teacher.

Yesterday’s Post

I meant to write this yesterday.

So for years as part of my memory-hoarding, I have collected rocks and shells. Actually a rock collection is one of the very first things i recall creating in life. My treasures were kept in an old purple and silver kleenex box tipped up on its end, under the sink in our downstairs bathroom. i loved the “marbly sparkly” ones…still do. we travelled a lot when i was a child, so having the starfish from a Bahamas trip in 1976 is pretty special to me:) (more about that trip later as it was very formative)

Keep in mind i have moved ALOT. Like 5 times in 6 years as just a small example of how often i moved. My rock collection that I started up again as an adult has been around!

A few years ago, i inherited someone else’s rock and shell collection…my dear brother-in-law Bruce it seems, the shared the same affinity:)

And as much of a wannabe-scrapbooker that i may be, what can you really do with ROCKS? i do have a few strewn about the home, including the worry stone Jen gave me and a few polished pretties i bought as talismans for my month-long trip to Nova Scotia in 2007. but i have never found anything that satisfies me as a way to honour them all properly. for the record, Bruce’s were kept separate for a period of time, but then they were blended into my collection and who knows which are which now:)

When the girls were babies (more Bryce than Maddie), they were encouraged to play and chew on the larger rocks and shells; we kept them in a dollar store tin with cute bunnies on the outside. they would get dumped on the playmat and rolled around, held in chubby little fists and drooled all over.

Bryce loves loves loves playing in her garden in the dirt. watering the plants, digging holes and filling them with water. yesterday was mild enough that we could get out and see what the thaw had uncovered out there, among the assorted dinosaurs, Hot Wheels and plastic shovels. i had thrown the remaining 20 or so rocks and pieces of coral into the garden for her; figuring i could keep an eye on them and she could explore their beauty.

As we were digging holes and chatting, it came to me. the perfect way to honour these rocks and stones. (nod to Chantal Kreviazuk) i started burying them at different points and depths, and will continue to do so as they get dug up. i will sit back and watch as my sweet ones play and dig and discover them all over again, just like i did and their uncle did.

i don’t think any scrapbook or shadow box would have the same effect:)

My Dirty Little Secret

i remember it like it was yesterday, how my addiction began. i was at work, my very first office job. i was a new mom, a single mom, working two jobs to make ends almost meet. (they never met)
my job was fairly stressful, as was my existence – but i had become accustomed to stress. little did i know i had over a decade of constant, intense stress ahead of me! but i digress…back to the problem i set out to finally reveal here tonight, once and for all.
the calendar was one of those “page a day” desk calendars, with the plastic base that would tilt it up just enough so that you could read it when seated at your workstation. it was tiny…smaller than a pack of smokes (i still smoked). pale pink, the pages thin, with pale lettering and pretty borders on each page. also on each page was an inspiring quote. each morning i would come in, rip off yesterday’s page and throw it in my recycle bin.
one day, i didn’t want to get rid of it. whether the quote had any special meaning to the date i don’t know, but the quote was one i felt compelled to keep with me. like a talisman.

being a new mom (Big Girl would’ve been 3), i had a gazillion photographs, and had already started to compile a good-sized collection of buttons-on-string necklaces and fingerpainted masterpieces, those lovely prized possessions that can make any stress go away just by looking at them. so when i saw this quote, on this dainty piece of paper, it made me think, “i could put this in a scrapbook”.

that was fifteen years ago.

i am here to tell you that after fifteen years of collecting and squirelling away every little personal momento and pounds of card stock and pretty embellishments, and after spending a small fortune on things like stencils, scrapbooks, photo paper, googly eyes and stick-on jewels, i am actually making an effort to bring it all together in some “crafter’s delight” homage to my existence on this earth.
i have the stub from every concert i’ve attended, a bajillion greeting cards given to me by those i love, newspaper clippings dating back to the mid-80’s, programs from my dance recitals, every report card and piece of artwork ever created by my firstborn, and lots of other silly things like – oh – fortunes from almost every cookie i’ve ever broken open. it is really scary.
not as scary as the fact that i have lovingly added to that by buying the materials to pretty it up! which is not as scary as the fact that i have spent hours trying to organize it, only to abandon the project because it’s too overwhelming, or i get sidetracked by something more immediately gratifying, like life.

in these 15 years i have moved 6 times. let that sink in for a moment. i have traipsed this crap all over the place, SIX times! that’s a special kind of crazy, let me tell you.
i have so many wonderful memories, waiting to be showcased – and i finally got smart. by starting with what is happening at present in my life, instead of trying to go back and recreate. i am going to relish and honour what is happening right now, and at the same time create a momento for my girls of our fun times. then once i’m in the mode and have confidence in my ability, i can reflect and remember the long-ago times without feeling guilt or trepidation.

it feels like a good metaphor for how i’ve decided to LIVE.

it’s in the details

So we are en route to my in-laws, and had stopped at a friend’s farm.

They knew we were coming but weren’t going to be home. Bryce loves cows and so they told Jeff where their feed was, and how to get them to come etc so that Bryce could have a cow experience. Very nice; all went to plan. They also left the house open so I could pee. I’ve been in there before, so knew my way around.

So I go in and I’m hollering “hello hello” just in case one of their grown kids was upstairs and would be freaked by some random toilet flush:)

Their house is lovely from the outside; lots of overflowing window boxes and ivy, old brick and a nice breezeway out back, where you enter. It is also surrounded by various projects in the works; a new garden path being built, old lawnchairs around a fire pit.

Inside it’s plywoood floors painted grey, pieced together with area rugs and some old but very comfy-looking couches, beside a storage area/mudroom. This is what I see when I go in the back breezeway door. Then walking ahead, kitchen on the left and bathroom on the right. The bathroom is big-ish; very high ceiling and large tiled shower area with a window but no tub. Laundry basket filled with clothes and a bottle of body lotion thrown on top, bottle of bleach next to it. Floor and walls need a wash but aren’t covered in grime, just dusty. Lots of crap around the sink; they use old Christmas tins (tall rather than wide) as toothbrush and brush holders, also dusty. Makeup bag on counter. Huge eyeshadow palette and hand towel left on closed toilet lid.

So. Obviously a lived-in home, no real pretty “form” to it inside. All function.

As I turn to go into the bathroom (still yelling hello in case), I look quickly into the kitchen. Then ruminate on what I glimpsed as I sit…

It’s something you would see on Pinterest…a quirky idea to add colour and fun. But because this house is so lacking things of this nature, I’m worried that instead it is there because it’s being USED.

It’s a simple flower vase in the centre of the table, and in it are 6-7 dollar store FLYSWATTERS in various colours.

As I exit the bathroom I detour to have a closer look, because I HAVE to know. Luckily, every one of them spotless!

So cute.

(this post has caps because it was copied from an email i sent while a passenger in the car)

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