Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful for the hard times and what they will teach me

We've been hit with a snowstorm about a month earlier than is the norm for this part of the country. I love the beauty of snow ... how it covers everything in a soft blanket as it sleeps, waiting for the spring. It sparkles and as my daughter keeps reminding me, it surrounds us with snow fairies that we can see only if we believe.

Despite all the beauty of winter I'm frustrated that my running outdoors season has been cut short by almost a month. I love getting outside and running. I was just starting to get past some of my injuries that started last April and seemed to plagued me incessantly, my body trying to explain to me something that is going on which I have yet to understand. I have a 5k on December 7th. It is the same 5k that was my very first ever last year. I want to do well. I want to kick ass at it. Not getting out to run for the next week makes me fear I am not going to do well.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I have all the fixin's ready for dinner. It will be just the four of us, again. It feels lonely. Another time of year when it is impossible for us to be with family. Sweet One is so absolutely excited about tomorrow and the fact that it is almost December. She can't say December without sounding like she is telling me the most magical secret in the entire world. I need to continue to look with her eyes when things are hard.

Ever since moving to this country I have always felt like Thanksgiving is a big celebration that starts off the Christmas season. In Canada, Thanksgiving is just Thanksgiving. That is our focus. But within a few hours of filling up on everything we are supposed to be thankful for, a large portion of the population down here will line up on the cold sidewalk only to barge into a store with their elbows out, fighting almost to the death for that next great deal. I saw neighbours returning home last year after a night of no sleep and a day of crowds. They looked like they had been hit by a truck! I don't really understand it.

When all is said and done, I miss my Dad. On December 15th he would have been a whopping 64 years old. Sure, we would have made jokes, but his candles would never set off the fire extinguisher. So maybe everything right now is all about that loss. Another year when he will be missing from the home of my siblings. A miracle might have happened that perhaps we would have found a way to mend the bridge and maybe he could have been missing from my home at this time of year, but I don't know. "...a miracle is just a shift in perception."

And so again I will take it all breath by breath. Learning to be compassionate and gentle with myself and trying to be open to the Divine Guidance I will be given so that I can see the beauty in all of this.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Lost voice

Singing always came very easy for me. Learning the notes was never a challenge nor was memorizing. Because of this I was always able to get away with a minimal amount of work. During my degrees, singing in choirs throughout the week also helped work on my endurance and so I never had to practice for hours on my own. The requirements for my degrees kept me moving forward and doing what needed to be done. But that was it.

At this point in my life singing has never been more difficult. It is the hardest thing I am trying to do. After 4.5 years of not singing I started up again. We've had a surrogate family since the day we arrived all those years ago and when patriarch passed away I had no choice but to offer to sing at his funeral. I felt something in my spirit and I couldn't ignore it. A nagging sensation came after me and I ran upstairs to see if I could perhaps sing the piece that was spinning through my head. When I realized there was something there I phoned our friend and offered to sing for her father's funeral. I phoned before I could spend any time second guessing my choice and scare myself out of it. I truly believe that this moment was one of spirit and not of me.

The whole process of getting the piece ready was interesting. Learning the notes wasn't an issue, the challenge was getting some degree of technique back. My voice was so out of shape but I kept working at it day by day with a motivation I've never had before. I'm thankful for it because I accomplished a lot. It wasn't brilliant, but it was damn good considering I hadn't sang in 4.5 years.

A few months later I took another chance. I auditioned for a community production of Les Mis. I didn't get the part I wanted and I wasn't willing to give up time and pay for babysitters for a lesser part. (I would have probably thought differently about it if I were in a bigger place.) The more the producer spoke, the less I wanted to be involved. The more the director spoke, the more I knew she was going to choose someone she already knew from another town. She wasn't ready to take a chance on a wild card. Despite all of that, I left that audition with an amazing sense of accomplishment simply because I put myself out there and spoke my truth. I believed in myself and it felt amazing.

Now I am trying to get my voice back in shape for singing classical repertoire and I don't really know what to do. My voice is pretty much exhausted by the time I'm done singing for 20-30 minutes. I've learned quite a lot of notes in a short amount of time but I'm struggling with figuring out how to get my voice to really sing. I have absolutely no endurance and so by the time I'm done my short practice I feel like I've gotten nowhere. The ease of singing in my previous years didn't prepare me for this. Each time I get myself into my little studio I am afraid but I make myself do it because I know I need to.

I am convinced that in the process of hopefully finding my voice again I am healing so much more of me that I can imagine even though at this moment I feel completely lost. Every once in awhile things go well and I have a glimmer of the freedom I once had in my voice but they are few and far between. I am trying to have faith, to trust the inner guidance I hear that is telling me to sing.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Chance of a Lifetime

When I was finishing up my Bachelor's degree and thinking about the next step, my voice instructor asked me if I wanted to pursue a career in performance. I remember saying that I never wanted to be the mom who isn't home for my kid's birthday.

A dear friend of mine is offering me a chance of a lifetime. Airfare, accommodation and retreat fees covered for this! Seven nights in Puerto Vallarta with workshops where I will care for myself in a way I've only ever dreamed of.

That's almost a week and a half away from my kiddos when I've never actually left them for any real time. The only time I've been away from the house overnight was when Little Man was born! My friend had mentioned this last April when she was visiting and I told myself I'd be stupid to say no. We've called my in-laws and they are very interested to see if they could make it work so they could come and stay while I'd be away. I asked the kids over dinner last night that if I had to go somewhere for a little bit with my friend, would they like to have Gramma and Grampa come to play with them. They said yes.

But the problem is that Little Man would turn 3 while I'd be away. And that makes it so hard for me to give a firm yes. I could pretend his birthday is another day so he nor Sweet One would ever know I wasn't actually there for it. But I'd know it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Red Dwarf Campion for my Dad

We arrived home a week ago. I've wanted to type and try to process all that happened on our two week trip that covered 3,512.1 miles but I haven't been able to. There was so much that happened. t wasn't the colossal gong show I had expected it to be. It was what it needed to be and there were many beautiful moments that I am holding onto dearly. (I'm now no longer afraid of long car trips with small kids!)

On the day that we buried my father I was surround by a family I had tried not to connect with for many years because connecting with them meant connecting with my Dad. And really, that never went the way I'd hope it would so what was the point? He didn't understand me or listen to me so why would they. But they loved me and my family. My sister and I talked about how we never felt that cared for and loved by extended family like that before. "Don't knock. This is your home while you're here. You need anything, just come in and take it or ask if you can't find it." That was what my Dad's youngest brother told me within minutes of arriving on the farm. Strangely enough, when I looked at him I saw my Dad looking at me.

My counselor told me that after we buried my father I might feel a sense of relief. But I didn't. I wanted to so desperately but it didn't come. I sat on the ground with Little Man in my lap only a few feet from the hole where the wooden box that contained the ashes would be placed. The headstone a few more feet past that. It was a short service but I cried through the whole thing. At one point the Pastor nodded to my brother who then took the box and placed it in the hole. I felt my entire torso start to shake and I thought was going to scream. I wanted to sob. I was in awe of my brother who could do that without falling down himself. I reached over and held the hand of my cousin who was sitting beside me with her son in her lap and I felt a little better. I sat there for awhile hoping that a wave of relief would come over me. My Grandma walked up to the headstone and said in a strong, even tone, "Well, goodbye my son. 'Til we meet again." I wanted to be able to say my own version of that but no matter how long I sat there, it didn't come. I think I was one of the last to leave.

For the rest of the day and the day after that we were surrounded by such a great love. I felt home in a place that I never understood. The farm was amazing. Sweet One spent hours each day running with her cousins and having the greatest time. Little Man was usually close to Big Love or I but he still had fun in his own way. We were taken out in boats, fed food and spent hours around a campfire. I thought that maybe as I was surrounded by his mother, and sister that perhaps I would start to feel a bit of peace.

I didn't want to leave the farm. I felt at home there in a way I never thought I would. We had to leave to meet with Big Love's family. My sister had left the farm a few minutes before us and it seems she had the same idea that I had. I left the kids and Big Love at the car and walked towards the grave. My sister and her family were saying good bye and so I stayed back and watched them. After they were done my sister stayed with me a bit and I tried so hard again to be able to say goodbye but I couldn't. I was scared it would never come.

A few days later as we started the five days back to where we live we stopped at the cemetery once again. This time I carried with me a Dwarf Red Campion. The kids were very excited to plant this for "Grandpa's Special Place". I felt like finally I found something I could do for him. I dug into the dirt that was filling the small hole and pulled out as much as I could to make room for this plant, threw in some food and then proceeded to plant it. The kids helped me every step of the way. We made sure the peacock feathers my niece and nephew had placed there remained standing tall, watered it so it could begin to grow and said our goodbyes. "I miss Grandpa," my Sweet One said. The four of us standing there, leaving kisses on the headstone. Together my little family helped me say my first goodbye. Finally, I felt like the first seed of peace was planted inside of me.
I'm not too optimistic but I really hope that little flower will bloom for my Dad every year.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

One year

It's been a hard few days. Today marks the one year anniversary of my Dad's death. Unfortunately, it's actually a three day even because there's the day he had his accident, the day we waited to hear about what organs he'd be able to donate and then finally, today, when he was taken off the machines.

I started a more lengthy letter to my Dad on Thursday but it just didn't feel right. Mostly because I didn't know exactly how I felt. One minute I'm ok, the next I'm crying during the warm up to my Friday morning run and sobbing during my cool down. I've spent the last few days trying to be gentle with myself and others.

I've had a few moments of peace and I've had some that are not. The final goodbye is yet to come. On August 3 we will be interring his ashes in a family plot in rural southern Saskatchewan. It is a very small cemetery where all of his family are or will be buried near the farm that he was raised on. We will make our way there through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota. On the way home we're going to take a slightly different route and go through South Dakota as well as Iowa.

I don't really know what to expect of this trip, just as I don't always know what to expect from my grieving process. But I do know it is all a sort of pilgrimage for me. Learning to let go of the hurt from a relationship where a father and his daughter could never find a way to hear one another, letting go of the guilt for cutting him out of my life, coming to terms with the fact that I will never have the chance to reconcile with him and that he never met my kids.

I'm learning to forgive myself. It is harder than forgiving him at this point. But I am learning so much. It seems that in some ways I am learning more from my Dad in his death than I did before.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Right now.

I need to learn to love myself. To believe in myself. To have courage in being who I am.

For many years I was taught that I could not trust my feelings. As an INFP, that's a pretty large part of myself that I am told isn't allowed to be heard. I'm starting to feel more and to take a chance in believing in it. Letting it show me more of who I am.

I've been self-abusive towards my physical appearance for many years. In my last year of high school, the day I stepped on the scale and it read 97 pounds was one of the greatest moments I had that year. Not good. I can tell you that I was probably 155 when I stepped on the scale four years later at the end of my Bachelor's degree. I was 130 just before I got pregnant with Sweet One, 135 after and now I'm sitting just under 140. All the running and pilates and yoga and chasing after children that I've been doing hasn't been helping as much as I hoped. Part of the problem was that I'd often eat out of boredom. So I started with and the first few days were hard but I think they're going to be ok. It is somewhat empowering to learn how much my body needs to be a comfortable weight (perhaps I'll even find my 'happy weight') and then to find foods that will leave me feeling nourished at the end. The foods I am putting in my mouth are quite healthy and I like that. (I also have a friend who has been doing this and knows that it scares me a bit so I'm sure she'll keep tabs to make sure I don't get stupid.)

I've been pretty angry over the past few weeks. It comes in flashes. I keep wondering if it is part of Kubler-Ross' stages of grief. I kind of hope so. Because that way I'll know that it will end at some point and I'll be better because of it. But I don't want it to cause any damage to my kids. It's always my kids. Every time I get mad and yell I look at them and remember how much it hurt me when my Dad would scream at me. How I promised my babies I would never do that. And now I do. But I can stop.

Less than a month until my pilgrimage. I have no idea what it is going to be like to travel so many miles with the kids, inter my father's ashes and then drive back. I hope I learn a lot.

I was sitting here, drinking my coffee and reading Glennon Doyle Melton's Carry On, Warrior. A friend and I went to see her in Pittburgh at a book signing and it was fun. I like her writing. While none of this is 'new', she writes honestly. Without holding anything back. With love and truth. To fully accept what she writes will mean that I have to fully accept myself. As I finished up this afternoon, something inside of me settled and said, "you will."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Go, Roughriders!

I'm not sure what I find more shocking, that I emailed ESPN customer service or that I had a personal response within an hour of my original email! Neither of this equals the surprise and excitement that Big Love shouted out when he realized that not only did we get ESPN2 but they were showing a CFL game and the Roughriders were kicking the Eskimo's butts! (He hasn't finished the game so maybe that has changed.) Big Love doesn't shout. And if he does, I look at him with a look of, "Is that the best you can do?"

Big Love's family pretty much all live in the capital of Saskatchewan. And they are all die-hard Roughriders fans. My Dad was raised in the very southern part of Saskatchewan and he, too, was a die-hard fan. I remember having fancy turkey dinners with the tv sitting on the kitchen counter so he could watch the game while we ate.

So thank you, ESPN2. You made the day for my husband who takes care of his family so well and rarely asks for something for himself. Crazily enough, I might even watch part of the game myself!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Unexpected days

I've spent a lot of time in the past few weeks yelling at my kids. Not because they deserve it but because every time something got hard I got angry. I thought a lot of it was because of the journey we have ahead of us to inter my father's ashes. That with my kids fighting bedtime, I was a mess.

Two days before Father's Day was here, my friend mentioned how hard it is. And I wanted to cry. I didn't think Father's Day was going to be anything for me because I hadn't made it anything for my Dad over the past few years. On Saturday, I had two lemonade and vodkas before supper. I loved the buzz. On Sunday, I just kept breathing and tried to make it through. The first hymn at church was one we often sang as I was growing up and I could hear my Dad's voice. I couldn't sing. Too many tears were ready.

Monday we started a project on our porch that I thought would be quick. Pressure washing away the paint on the ceiling of our porch and then letting it dry so I could start painting on Friday. That was not the case. There's been a lot of scraping. I hate scraping.

This morning I woke up and I was on the verge of tears. I'm sad. I'm grieving. It's an unexpected stage but it is still hard. I kept trying to put one foot in front of the other but I was stuck. I didn't know how I'd make it through with the kids. My feet have been bothering so I decided I'd load them up in the car and head north 35 miles to get some  insoles as well as play at a park that was near enough to the store. I didn't leave on time so that I could get back for nap time. But instead of getting stressed out, I let go. (This is my biggest lesson right now, learning to let go.) I stopped at a St. Arbucks, grabbed a fully-caffeinated latte and headed to the park. The kids played for an hour and I love drinking my coffee as they had fun. Then we got my insoles and headed to a fast food chicken restaurant-A for lunch. Little Man fell asleep on the way home and continued to sleep when the car was parked at home.

I usually plan things. I hold on to nap time with white knuckles so I can keep my sanity. But today, my sanity was found as I threw away the usual schedule and allowed myself to be sad. It's nice to be sad. It's easier to be angry but actually allowing the hard part, the sadness, through, then the healing can begin.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Another unwearable sewing project is the reason why I will feel like shit about myself for the next few hours.

So I got back to the shirt I had started a few days before my Dad has his accident. It is Simplicity 2594 view E. I was quite surprised when I pulled it out of the box because I had gotten further ahead than I had remembered. And it actually looked promising to me. Now because of when I had started it, it took a little emotional encouragement to get back at it. Once I did I was excited because I had high hopes that it would turn out alright. Not as perfect as this one but something I could add to my sad summer wardrobe (my daughter keeps telling me I need new shirts because I have holes all over the area where it rubs on my pants button).

The yoke totally got me. I had to undo the shoulder seams because I thought I messed up and so I just did what I thought might work out. But it didn't because somehow when I went to attach the yoke and do the top stitching, it didn't line up and I had to fold over some of the collar. Ok. I can deal.

At this point I put the shirt over me and because I didn't use a knit, nor did I cut the bottom three inches 2 sizes bigger than the rest, I don't think it is going to get pulled over my body. And then I think it is going to be much too tight around the muffin top.

The problem with each and every attempt at making a top for myself flopping, I start to beat myself up. I really want to be able to make myself something here and there and I know I need to keep working at it to get any better, but I feel like every attempt gets all fukked up! It's a waste of money for me to buy the material and never wear the shirt.

If the top part does end up being somewhat wearable, maybe I can add a zipper in the side near the bottom, but then that is going to be very stiff compared to the rest of the soft cotton material that I used. Why can I make such nice stuff for my kids and when it comes to attempting something for myself, it looks like shit?!

And yet, I still want to keep trying. There's a top pattern floating around on the interwebs that I might try. Maybe I'll have better luck with a PDF pattern than the ones I get from the usual suppliers.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sounds like summer

What I wish it was like:

Ahhh, summertime. The kids can run around the backyard while I putz in my garden, we can drink lemonade to our hearts' content, they can run through the sprinkler, I can sit and read my book .... all the wonderful simplicities that we can enjoy in our backyard.

What yesterday really was:

I want a fence. Just like last year at this time, I desperately want a fence. Then I wouldn't have to put up with so many kids using our backyard as theirs. Ok yes, I told the parents the kids could walk through so they didn't have to walk along the busy street but seriously, they're turning it into an extension of their own backyard. And seriously, kid. Is yelling the whole time actually considered communication in your house because it's been over an hour and that is all I've heard. A loud, guttural yell that doesn't make you sound cool, it exhausts me and makes me want to shove that football-with-a-tail-on-it down your throat. The kids jumping on the trampoline which is on the other side of the fence from you aren't yelling half as much as you! And really, if you're going to throw that damn thing over the fence, perhaps actually get it over the fence. I know it gives you one more thing to yell about and feel like your cool and perhaps actually getting the attention that you want. But if it ends up landing in my garden you sure as hell better not think that you are allowed to walk in it and stomp all over the little plants that are just starting to emerge. Great, here's comes neighbor kid. I can only imagine how many hours I'm going to have to spend involuntarily babysitting you once you're all done Kindergarten because rather than play with you themselves, your parents will tell you that Sweet One is outside and you should go play with her and teach her all sorts of nasty, spoiled girl ways to disrespect everyone else around you. Did you seriously just walk up to my daughter only to tell her that you're not going to play with her? I can see from the look on your snotty little face that you are doing it only for your own little power trip. Please let us be busy when it is your birthday party this year because I really don't want to have to spend any money on you nor socialize with your extended family that pretended we weren't there last year!

What I hope might happen:

That we will move. To a sweet area in a larger center where we can have a house with a fence. And that when it comes time to move, this house which I do so love, won't take more than a year to sell!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thought I should stop in

I haven't been here very much lately. Not a single post in May. It wasn't because things weren't happening because it was actually quite a busy month. The kids and I traveled up to Toronto to meet my mom for a few days and then near the end of the month my sister and her kids made it to our house. This visit was a big deal in my world because it was the first time my sister came to my house.

I'm not sure why it is but when I'm visiting with my family there is so much that happens for me emotionally. With my mom, it was learning to let go of the mother I often wish she would be and know that I am still ok if she is unable to listen to what I'm saying. With my sister, well I can't sum it up into a little sentence but I do know that I started the visit out feeling like I desperately needed her approval for so much but it didn't end that way. I really loved having her here. The week ended too quickly.

Now I'm stuck in the stage of kids who will go to bed perfectly one night and then they spend a chunk of time the next talking to each other. Right now, Little Man is calling his sister over and over. Sometimes in the morning Sweet One tells me that she snuggled Little Man so that he could go to sleep. I absolutely love it. She is becoming incredibly protective of her little brother. Just the other day he was almost knocked over by a 5 year old on his bike. It took her very little time to be by his side with her arm around him to make sure he was perfectly fine. If there is one thing I hope to do as their mother is to teach them to care for one another.

Now my focus is on trying to get a few things done around the house and prepare for our road trip. We will have close to 30 hours of traveling (in one direction) to get to the place where we will bury my Dad's ashes. We're driving mostly because it is much cheaper than flying and also because we thought it might be fun to see the sites on the way. Also, if the kids get restless, we can just get out of the car and go explore something. We'll have 6 states to check out as we head west and then return. It could be very interesting! Our furthest point west is going to be Mount Rushmore. I was there once a long time ago with my family on one of our trips.

So nothing too exciting but still a lot in my world. Now to get the motivation to get some work done on my damn porch!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

9 months later

A week ago when we were at our Saturday place for cinnamon buns (a local artisan bakery which we love), I saw a photo on the wall that came from the next door art store. It is of a bit of a dark 'spot' in the trees. Like a quiet place one might find to go and sit. Rays of sunshine are making their way through the branches to light to it a little at a time. I fell in love with it. I've never felt a connection with a photo the way I do with that one. It was on my mind the moment we walked in the store. To say it spoke to me sounds cheesy but that is absolutely true. I felt deep down that I needed to have it. It was $175. I didn't have the money for it but I couldn't take the risk of it disappearing.

I went next door and spoke with the store owner. I told her something was drawing me to that picture and that I wanted it but I didn't have the money right. She told me for $5 down, it is mine and I can pay as I can until I reach the total. No time limit. "You should have an emotional experience when you buy a piece of art."

I nearly cried. I had no worries about committing to the price. (That was quite surprising in itself!) She let me take a small sold sign to place on the picture and I couldn't have been happier. Something in that picture speaks a truth to me that I am only beginning to understand.

I got home and was glancing through Facebook. Sweet One said she wanted to see "that picture". I pulled up my profile picture, saw my father holding me at about 1 year old and both of us completely covered in diaper cream. I looked at the date in the lower right corner of my computer. 9 months ago today he died.

So much is churning inside of me. One thing is somehow connected to the next. I'm singing again, I'm finding beauty in things I see. But most of all, I'm learning to trust my inner voice.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Starting 35

Yesterday was my 35th birthday. I wasn't looking forward to it. I was stuck in a funk for too much of the day. Thirty was exciting because I was looking forward to getting pregnant (and strangely enough I ovulated on my birthday and had a positive test a few weeks later!) and I saw so much ahead of me. But with 35, I'm done having babies and I really don't know what is ahead. I've been working through so much over the past 9 months and sometimes I have moments of peace but there are a lot more moments when I feel like I have no clue.

Yesterday morning I ventured out into the rain to go for my run. It's been rough getting back to running since the snow has melted, dealing with a hip injury, and I really wanted a good one. When I got to the trail the rain stopped. The run felt ok. Near the end the sun peaked out for two songs. It was the first time I was actually hearing the lyrics in a particular song and this is what I heard:
You've gotta learn to let things go
Start living without fear
Be willing to fall down, there's so much love here
Believe in what you feel
Relax and know that love, will set you free my dear
Jann Ardne's lyrics spoke to so much of what I'm working through right now. I couldn't ignore it. Then when it was over, the clouds covered up the sun and I didn't see it again for the rest of the day.

Today I started singing while I was washing the floors.  It felt somewhat free and easy. I had no choice but to run upstairs and see if I was close to the appropriate key or if it would be higher and therefore much harder to sing. But it wasn't. I was only a semitone off. I phone a friend of mine who just lost her father and asked her if they would like me to sing at the funeral. She started crying and said they would love it. After 4 years of not singing, I'm jumping in with both feet and it feels good. Terrifying and exciting, but completely right.

I got an email today from the director of Residence Life at the school I did my undergrad at. He told me of how he had been thinking of me and a solo I sang a long time ago. The title of the song was "Behold! I make all things new". His son had lost his wife unexpectedly (neither of them would even be 30) shortly after my Dad died and has found a new love. Some beauty after a hard time. I don't usually get emails from this man but to get one today with all those words, well, I can't help but wonder.

I really don't know what is ahead of me but I'm going to try to stay open to what is around me and learn what I can. It could be quite good!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Let go

Everywhere I turn I am being told I need to let go. It is the only way to move on. "The work happens in the let go." I don't know exactly how to do it right now but I'm finding my way, step by step. It's hard. It's terrifying. But during my 35 miles drive home after an appointment with my counselor, I felt a peace that I don't feel that often. Being an INFP, when I can feel something it is my truth. So I take a moment to breathe it in and let the feeling permeate my body. Right now I am where I am supposed to be. It's not the easiest place but there are moments of beauty and light. I believe that when I am through this part of my life, things will be better. I will be better. And it will be worth every moment.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

What's next?

At the end of a long day of traveling we found ourselves in a strange city. While neither of us had ever been to Seattle, save driving from its airport to a hotel further north, it didn't make us nervous. Cities make sense to me. The mass transit, the buildings, the people walking and cycling. I loved it. Little Man was strapped to my back while I pushed Sweet One in the stroller and Big Love hauled the suitcase behind him. At least my cargo sang at the top of her lungs for most of our trek!

I want to be living in a bigger center in the next few years. Right now ourr life in a small town with very small housing costs is manageable but I worry about whether or not we'll be able to manage it. (Yes, one day I do want to go back to work but the idea of what to do and how to make my skills appealing is another post in and of itself.) I see the people walking down the street, I read blogs of young families figuring out their owns lives where they live and I can't stop wondering how we all end up right where we are. I look at lovely houses and gardens with children playing in them and try to picture us in their place. I'm excited at the idea of figuring out how to get where we want to be but also scared because I really have no idea what our options might be. Or even if it is going to happen when I'd like it to happen. (We originally thought we would only live here for 5 years. This July it will be 7!)

Maybe that's my problem. I have no idea. There's no equation that will help me understand why one person lives in a wonderful city while I am in this wee town. We need to take the steps necessary to see where our next stop is but there are moments I'm afraid it will never happen.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Two Zippered Pouches: One for an Innotab2 and one for food

In six sleeps we will wake up earlier than the sun and hopefully be out our door, on the road to the airport, by about 6:30. We have a nearly two hour drive to the airport then we hop on our first flight that will take us to Washington. Then the fun beings as we board plane #2 and arrive in Seattle, WA 6 hours later. We'll grab a hotel and then be on the Clipper the next morning. 

I'm not really looking forward to this trip. I'm worried that I won't get any sleep and I'll get glared down by my MIL more times than I'm comfortable with. On the other side of that, I'm hoping I'll grow up enough to just let go without putting negative expectations on it and try to enjoy myself while my kids get to spend some time with their grandparents and aunt and uncle. Sweet One is absolutely, completely excited about this trip. Yesterday after Preschool her teacher told me she was a little out of sorts because she was so excited. This is the first time we've ever been told she was out of sorts by her teacher.

So for the past few weeks I've been trying to figure out a way to keep our packing as minimal as possible. Since we need to hop on public transit to get to the hotel we are hoping to only take one real suitcase, a purse and bag for me and one backpack per kid.

In terms of entertaining the kids, I have loaded up a number of movies onto a couple of SD cards so that they can watch them with Sweet One's Innotab2. The fact that I can use an SD was one reason I chose it over its competitor. She got it from her grandparents for Christmas and I'm hoping it will save our sanity this trip. One problem in terms of trying to pack light is that the case I bought for it is rather large and would take up pretty much her whole backpack. So I searched and found this tutorial at So Sew Something! and figured that I could add a few pockets and padding to make it work for the Innotab2.

I'm using a 12" zipper and have cut my main pieces at 10" x 11". The smaller purple pieces are for the pockets and they are 2.75" x 6". The large purple pieces have a piece of fusible fleece attached to the back as do 2 of the 4 smaller purple pieces.


To make the pockets I took one piece with fleece and one without, put the right sides together and sewed around 3 sides. Then I flipped them right side out, turned in the bottom edges and sewed it up shut.

Then I eyeballed it and sewed one pocket on each piece of the lining fabric. (My thinking was that the pockets would be opposite each other and then hopefully the Innotab2 would sit in between them somewhat.)

From this point on I just did as the tutorial at So Sew Something! instructed and it came together very quickly.

It ended up a little wider than it needed to but it is not nearly as thick as the other case. Sweet One will love it because I made it out of her "absolutely favorite colors!" (Anyone else's kid in love with Charlie and Lola?) The pockets each hold two game cartridges and slide in very nicely. While we can't reach down into them to get the bottom cartridge, they slide out very easily by placing a finger at the bottom of the cartrdige and pushing it up and out.

 A few days ago I had actually made one other pouch with the same tutorial. Before putting it together, I basted on a piece of Insul-Bright to each of the outer fabric pieces. Then I continued on as the tutorial told me to and I now have a pouch that will keep some portable yogurt and cheese sticks cool since we'll be in the air for both lunch and supper!

In the end, if all my efforts to entertain the kids and keep them fed still leaves them with the urge to scream at the top of their lungs for much too long, I'll never have to see anybody on the plane again! And I've also heard that it goes a long way to buy the person in front of us a drink or snack pack if our kids are kicking their seats a bit too much.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A weird dream

Two mornings ago I was having a weird dream moments before the kids woke up. It's sort of stuck with me because I found it quite weird.

I was watching the news (which I never do anymore) and the station for the nearby larger center had a story about a group of homeless people who had created a beautiful and moving light display. I'm not exactly what it consisted of but I knew that my first reaction was that if it was supposed to be as inspiring as the coverage was saying then I absolutely had to go. When I got the kids napping I left. I went to the display. I didn't really care that I left my children at home alone because it was more important for me to see something that would provide me with a spiritual experience. When I arrived home, Big Love was back from work because I had been gone much longer than I imagined. I had no explanation. I was confused at why he was mad but the guilt hadn't started to set in yet.

Then I woke up.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Maybe she knows what lies ahead

Sweet One has been talking about moving a lot lately. We don't really talk to her about it so I'm not sure exactly why she is bringing it up so often.

"Mum, see that crack on the wall?"
"That means we have to move one day."
"I thought it meant I have to fix it."
"No. We have to move."

As I was snuggling with her just before she went to bed, she talked about taking the things in her room with her when we move. I told her we'd like to move one day because then it won't take so long to go and see her Grandmas and Grandpas and her cousins and all the rest of our family.

We have flights booked (thanks to our credit card rewards) to go to the in-laws in March. We'll fly out of the closest large airport (almost a two hour drive from here), fly to Washington and then to Seattle. That last leg is just under 6 hours. It is so far. We'll stay the night in Seattle and then we hop on a passenger ferry for just under 3 hours and end up in our destination. It is so long.

So each time that Sweet One mentions wanting to move I can not help but hope that it is a sign that the universe is working on it for us. That our hope of being somewhere new in the next 2 to 3 years will become our reality.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Another smoothie, please

I just finished Dr. Oz's 3 Day Detox Cleanse. There were moments when it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and then there were some moments, like when I was trying to prepare my lunch smoothie and I had two crying kids who also needed lunch and my head was a little dizzy because I needed to ingest something, that were a little crazy!

I went for a jog on Wednesday morning and that was my first day. Not sure if that was a good thing or not as I'm usually quite hungry after a jog, but I survived. Friday was definitely the hardest. But that could have also been because Big Love was home and I didn't need to power through the day as much as I do when I'm on my own with the kids.

When I look back at it, 12 smoothies in three days is a lot, especially when the lunch one pretty much filled up my entire blender! Little Man wanted to taste them but quickly determined that they were 'yucky'. They really didn't taste that bad, and the supper one would tasted even better if I would have had access to ripe mangoes. (But really, mangoes are not local and I live in a rural town. What do I expect at this time of year!)

I think I learned some things about letting a difficult moment pass without freaking out, taking an extra breath here and there, and trying not to lose my temper simply because I'm feeling a little miserable.

Another smoothie first thing, a beautiful morning for a run today and I'm ready to get back to solid foods!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday Surprises

Sweet One had an amazing time at her birthday party. The cake didn't fall on the floor like last year, she and her friends had fun running around and playing in the church's gym, she got spoiled with an official Disney Tangled dress complete with a braided headband, an official Tinkerbell dress (which she is wearing as she watches Secret of the Wings which her uncle gave her) and more things that she is loving. Today is her actual birthday and so we had a special waffles and strawberries breakfast and some more gift opening. Yesterday we opened just the ones from friends at the party and today I'm trying to spread them out throughout the day! We'll end with dinner at Wendy's and home for more cake and ice cream.

Along with all of Sweet One's surprises, I got my own today. I had just finished working out in the attic and decided to look for my diamond a bit. The whole time I thought I was wasting my time but I checked one more spot and there it was, sitting on a floorboard, shining a wee bit! It's been a very good day!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Meaningful possessions

I've been reading Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin. I read about it somewhere and put it on my amazon wishlist. On Christmas Eve, I found it in one of the boxes from my sister that I was instructed to "just leave the goddamn box sealed until the 24" and then wrap the contents up. I wasn't too excited but the moment I started reading it I changed my mind. I'm reading it slowly, trying to think about the things I've read and actually remember them. (I'm not one who can easily remember details from reading, I'm better at big pictures.)

I'm slowly making my way through Chapter 1 which addresses possessions and simplifying. She challenges the idea that having less things around us will make us happier because for some people, these possessions mean much more than simply their physical value.

From my point of view, my sister has a lot of things. Many of them I really like and often find myself wishing I had. When we were visiting this summer she had a coffee cup that was shaped like a Starbucks take out cup and it looks like a black piece of paper with circles cut out were placed on a white mug. I loved it. When I was leaving she gave it to me. It didn't mean much to her but i use it every time I sit and have my coffee at home. I love it. The energy and story behind this mug, despite its simplicity and that my sister probably hardly gives it a second though, means a lot to me. I'm reminded of my sister each day and I get to hold something that she held even though she is many thousand miles away. So possessions are important to some of us.

Shortly after lunch today I turned on Olivia for the kids. I stood there watching them for a few moments and, as I so often do, I rubbed my back with the back of my left hand. Something hurt. I was a little surprised. When I brought my hand in front of me the diamond was missing in my engagement ring. I had cried. I'm extremely sad about it. It feels like such a bigger loss than just a stone. I imagined having it for many years even though it wasn't grand or fancy. Big Love chose it because it had a lot of color in it - sometimes I could see a bit of a rainbow inside.

My sister had talked to me and told me that Dad was talking about coming back to Canada for Christmas. (He was living in Norway at this point.) It was always very stressful to have him in her house for two weeks straight during the holidays and she had asked me to try and dissuade him from doing so. So on a Saturday while on my way to choir rehearsal (I used to sing in a professional choir) I was talking to him on the phone. Because even then our relationship was strained I would often talk to him at this time because then I had an excuse to get off the phone. We were talking about him coming for Christmas and I told him that he may want to hold off on a visit because if things went the way I was thinking they were, he'd need to come in the spring or summer for a wedding. Big Love was at my apartment when I got home about 5.5 hours later and with a little bit of nervousness in my voice, I asked him if it was ok that I told my Dad that. Big Love looked at me with big eyes and calmly asked, "Do you think it is ok?" I said yes and then he reassured me that everything was fine.

I found out a few weeks later that while I had been at rehearsal, Big Love was out buying my ring. He was so nervous he made a few laps around the mall before he actually went into the store. After buying it, he was so nervous/excited that he walked home to his apartment rather than taking the bus (the walk could have easily been an hour). Then he put it away in a safe spot and hopped on the bus to come to meet me at my apartment.

This diamond is so much more than just a diamond. I can not even think of all the things that it symbolizes for me. I have cried and I just feel sad. I really want a little miracle to happen and it show up but I don't have my hopes up. It doesn't seem plausible. It also isn't plausible that we'll be able to get a replacement in any foreseeable future.

(This post has rambled a bit and I'm sorry, but I felt I needed to get something out somewhere!)

And now I need to find the energy to prepare for Sweet One's 4th Birthday Party tomorrow!