Gratitude

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year

I have been here typing away since 2010. At the start of every new year, I usually make a list of the things I learned and the things I want to achieve for the new year. I decided a while ago that I want to just see how the year will unfold without any predetermined goals or items I need to cross off my list. I have one goal for 2019, and that is to make more memories with family.

I have no idea what that is going to look like, but I have a feeling moments and opportunities with show themselves without me manipulating situations to fit my list. I have general thoughts about things to do, but we will see what happens. 2019 is shaping up to be an expectation-free year for me.

Self-awareness and reflection are key components of my growth. It’s important to look at my actions and learn from them. Everything is a learning opportunity, and I like to think about how I could have done something better, behaved nicer or examine a missed opportunity. Many changes happened over the last twelve months. Some things were horrifyingly terrible and hurtful, and some things were so completely wonderful I don’t want to forget. I think I have learned from the lines I drew in the sand, behaviour modifications and decisions. I will still reflect and continue to learn, but thinking about what I am grateful for is more important.

  1. New Friendship. In January I prayed for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I thought it might be someone I was already friends with and we could take it to the next level. That didn’t happen. What did happen is something so unexpected I am overwhelmed with gratitude. A new person entered my life, and we have deep and meaningful conversations about books, circumstances, spiritual connections and guidance. We help each other navigate complicated situations. This person is a gift.
  2. Synergy. Way back in the days of University in the ’80s (not to be confused with University of my 40’s) I was working on a project where we needed to achieve synergy with the team. It didn’t happen, and I said so. We were docked marks which annoyed me because I was honest. They were actually marking us on how we gelled as a team, not on the work we did. I was so angry. I didn’t believe synergy was something contrived. I still don’t. You have it or you don’t. My first teaching experience I worked with two other women and we just connected. Our planning was legendary. I naively thought my professor was correct. That this level of connection was always possible. The 1990 planning team was euphoric. It was an excitement about the work. I felt like it was my calling. It was magic for one year. Fast forward to 2010, the last time I taught in a classroom. I never found that same connection ever again. I was able to work well with others but I didn’t achieve that same feeling. I began to hate the people and the work. I left. I went back to school and changed careers. I never expected to have that same connection with staff. I just did the best I could and kept moving forward. I had a taste of something close in the job I have post graduation. The guy I worked with was a genius and I loved working with him. Our planning was creative and fun but our hands were always tied. It was close. Then I moved on again. Seven months into my new position I figured I wouldn’t stay long. I was alone. I didn’t have anyone to throw ideas around with. Then a shuffle happened and I found myself sitting next to someone who was also alone and wanting more. We began talking and sharing ideas. Suddenly I was back in 1990 and found that synergy again. I not so naive this time that I will have this forever. People move on. But I will be grateful for it as long as it lasts.
  3. Doctor Nurse Surgeon Angels. My son was injured and bed-ridden for two years. He suffered and thought his life was over. He was misdiagnosed and was told he would have to suck it up. My husband was training for a marathon with a friend and was talking about our frustrations with our son’s situation. She said she had been to a conference where the surgeon talked about this type of injury. She gave us his name in October. By April my son had a diagnosis and a surgery date. In post-op, he said he was pain-free aside from the surgical pain. He could tell it worked and walked. He climbed stairs 4 hours after surgery and never looked back. He has his life back and has made a complete recovery. His future is bright.
  4. Angels. A few times I had experiences where I couldn’t explain what had happened. Yet it did, and it was miraculous. Angels.
  5. Health. 2017 was bad. BAD BAD BAD. My daughter calls it the time I died. I didn’t die, but I was damn close. My doctor figured it out. We have a plan and its working beautifully. I have had a temporary slip back into that dark sickness again. Only this time I recognized it earlier, I sought treatment immediately and am recovering quicker. I am so grateful I understand it better. I have a lot of life to still live plus I want to meet grandkids. I will be an amazing gran or nan or oma or lola. Whatever, I will be great at it when it happens way down the road. I have lots to be healthy for.
  6. Bake-off. I had stopped doing things that brought me joy. Why did I do that? That was the stupidest thing I ever could do. I love to bake, and I love to eat baking. There is a lot of pressure to look a certain way.  I am telling you this, fuck that. My Great Grandma lived to be 99. She ate whatever the hell she wanted from cookies to jellies. Eat the damn cookie. Lick your fingers. Enjoy that glass of wine. Moderation is key. Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith got me baking again. I loved every second of it, and I ate the cookies. I am thinking about all the voices who told me I should be… I needed to be… Here is what I learned: I need to do right by me. This is my life, not yours. I don’t care what you think. I am over you. The line is drawn. My life is peaceful and happy, and I have cookies.  You can continue to be angry just stay out of my yard.
  7. Siblings. I am the eldest. I don’t have a memory of being an only child. I usually spend my birthdays alone doing fun things. This year I invited my brother and sister over. It got me thinking about the shenanigans we got into as children. We talked about it and laughed. I need to do that more. I went to visit both of them over Christmas. Big hugs from both of them. More hugging is important. I am going to have them over, and we will do stupid stuff like operation or monopoly or beer pong.
  8. Captain. Me and my pal the dog went on epic adventures this year. He barked at bison, saved me from a raging river, pulled me up an icy hill and ate snacks while I ate dinner. He looks after me and is always gentle with me. He nips at my hubs playfully but never with me. I get loving kisses. He is the best thing to happen to our family.
  9. Ocean. I stood in the ocean and let the stresses wash away. It made me cry.
  10. Skype. My parents live in Europe for part of the year. I chat with them more when they are overseas than when they are home. I like feeling connected with them and am excited to see them when they come home. But I never feel like I can see them when they are home. There are lots of demands on their time from others, so I stand back. I am not going to do that this year. They are my parents. This is my line.
  11. Wildlife. I have travelled to Whistler, Vancouver Island, Jasper, Banff, Southern Alberta and Vancouver. I asked the universe to show me an abundance of wildlife. I saw two orcas swimming across the Georgia Straight. I watched a mama, and her three cubs eat tender grass in the spring up at Whistler. There was an abundance of whales, bears, elk, bighorn sheep, coyotes, eagles, hawks, sea lions, harbour seals, deer, mountain goats, moose and wolves everywhere we went this year. Those creatures are always the highlight of any year.

 

Make the most of what you have. Gratitude brings more great things into your life. Let the anger go and be grateful for what you have before its gone.

Happy New Year friends!

Disneyland

I am dreaming of a vacation.

My mom and I have been tossing around the idea of a vacation with her, dad and me. No one else. I want a memory of just the three of us. No stopping the car to let my brother out for a run. No having to share a seat with a sister who hogs all the cuddle time with mom and dad. No grandmas tell us where they want to eat. Just me, mom, and dad on the kind of vacation we have never had before. But I also want a vacation together that we have had before…like Disneyland. 

I began going to Disneyland at the age of six. I have been upwards of 30 times to the various parks in the United States and France. This may seem surprising to many who know me but it has been years since I have darkened the doorstep of any Disney Park, years. My last few memories were tainted by situations and relationships that needed to be purged by me. Moving forward I will spend future Disney Park time with family. I want to recreate my first memory and make new ones. I want to have a great memory of the parks with my children and my parents. So I think this year will be that opportunity. 

My best memory of Disneyland when I was six was sitting on the corner of Main Street with my dad. We were holding spots for my mom and brother. They were shopping at the Emporium for warm sweaters for us. It was August and the evenings become cooler. We were waiting for the Main Street Electrical Parade. It was that parade’s debut that summer. A fun fact that I only know now because I am a fan. I was oblivious of that fact as a kid. 

Mom came out of the shop with grey sweatshirts with Mickey Mouse on the front. The park still sells that style only its called vintage now. We snuggled into the sweatshirts and munched on popcorn. We shared a box between all of us. I remember my dad being amazed by the lights and music. I was mesmerized. 

Fast forward to the year I brought my kids for the first time and we sat on Main Street wearing newly purchased sweatshirts watching the Electrical Parade. We didn’t munch on popcorn we had dole whips and Mickey bars instead but we were enchanted with the parade. It was as magical as I remembered. The next day we met Pooh and Pigglet and my son was transfixed. He whispered secrets into Pooh’s ear and was happy beyond words.

My children are now adults and my parents are seniors. I am not that little six year old who had crushes on Robin Hood and Thomas O’Malley, now I crush on Spanish Mode Buzz, Bert and Ramone who likes it low and slow as he cruises through Carsland. We have all decided we want to have a family vacation together in our old haunt. We want to explore Galaxy’s edge, ride the Matterhorn on the Tomorrowland’s side at night, ride Pirate’s and Splash and maybe even sit on a bench on Mainstreet and watch a parade or two. I want to pop into the Emporium with my mom and buy sweatshirts for everyone because the evening is cool. I want to share with my parents the secrets I have learned and make my dad take a photo with his doppelganger Han Solo. 

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I want to be amazed by magic. It’s been a long time since I felt happy there. I am ready to get that back. It will be 47 years since my very first visit. There is a theme park where the parking lot used to be. Rides have changed and evolved but there is still a lamp above the firehouse on Mainstreet that I am looking forward to seeing again.  I can’t wait for 2019 and all the vacation magic it will bring. 

Peanut Butter

Who was the person that taught you to bake? I had many teachers. Mostly my mom was my teacher. Sundays were spent in a high volume extreme bake-off. We would make a list the previous week and then shop for all the ingredients. The list would include dinners for weeknights and several batches of tarts and cookies. You could easily find 20 things in the freezer before nightfall. Organization skills were my mom’s superpower. I take after her. I can knock off 150 cookies 4 dozen tarts and a pot of soup before noon.  Well, that was today. I drove home from a Red Deer work thing, called my mom and rolled up my sleeves to power bake. I was done by 1:00 pm and started at 11:00 am. 

Fast paced was not something that described my grandmother. She was slow and methodical. She did one thing at a time. Multi-tasking was not something she was interested in. Where my mom taught me how to knock off a lot of things to save time in the future, my grandmother taught me about relaxing as you do one thing. Both methods have a place in my life. I have to admit to following my mom’s method at work and at home the most. But every now and then a slowed relaxed baking session is delightful. 

My grandma made little step stools from mandarin orange boxes that were available at Christmas. We used them for sitting in front of the TV, standing to reach things in the pantry but I used it to raise me up at the counter so I could ‘help’ bake. 

My mom let me use tools like beaters, crack eggs and measure milk. Grandma never let me do those things, but she did let me watch. Mom let me lick the beaters or sample the batter. Grandma didn’t but I stole batter when she wasn’t looking. Mom let me open the oven door so she could put trays of cookies in the oven. Grandma made me stand back far from the hot oven. The experiences were polar opposite but there was one thing grandma let me do and that was to press cookies. 

Very carefully she rolled out peanut butter cookies on a baking sheet. they were all the exact same size and evenly spaced. It always looked as if she used a ruler to measure the distance for consistency. Once all the round balls were on the sheet, it was my turn. She had a set of glasses that my aunt thinks were duralux. Small juice glasses with a starburst pattern on the bottom. It was my job to dip the glass in flour and press the cookies evenly – not too hard and not too soft. When I made these cookies with my little gram, we used a fork dipped in flour. I pressed the fork into the dough, dip in flour and press again in a cross fashion. This was more fun than eating the cookies. I have been searching ebay and vintage glass sites forever trying to find that particular pattern. My aunt told me they shattered easily so maybe there are none left in existence? At any rate, in my mind’s eye, all peanut butter cookies ever made have that pattern.  I made some today using grandma’s recipe. Because I love you, I am sharing the recipe – and all the variations with you. This isn’t the Kraft Peanut Butter recipe that uses egg, sugar and peanut butter. My recipe has flour to make it a proper cookie with a subtle flavour of peanut butter because let’s get serious, too much peanut butter is too much is too much peanut butter and who needs that? 

Grandma’s Peanut Butter Cookies

  • 1 cup salted butter (does anyone use unsalted?)
  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter (smooth because my son always thought the crunchy part was bees – save the bees people!)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar – I use dark, not golden. 
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F
  2. Cream butter, peanut butter, and sugars together in a bowl; beat in eggs. (I use a mixer to get the right texture. Mix until it looks fluffy and is lighter in colour than when you started. 
  3. In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into butter mixture. Put dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour. (I sift directly into the butter mixture. I don’t usually refrigerate unless the dough is too soft and I can’t roll into a ball,)
  4. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and put on baking sheets. (I use an ice cream scoop and don’t roll) Flatten each ball with a fork (dipped in flour to prevent sticking), making a crisscross pattern. Bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about 10 minutes or until cookies begin to brown. (Forget the brown part – 10 minutes or until you can smell them.) One sheet at a time please!

This recipe makes 110 cookies. So I like to mix it up. The first tray of 35 is traditional with fork pressed method. The second tray I roll the balls in sugar then flatten with a flat-bottomed mug or cup. The third tray I add chocolate chips and drop without flattening. 

Pirate Cookies were a favourite of mine, to recreate those, mix 1/2 cup peanut butter and 2 cups icing sugar for a buttercream frosting and thin as needed with milk. Sandwich the cookies with the frosting in the middle. So sweet but extra decadent. Serve with milk and a splash of tea unless you are an adult, then its tea with a splash of milk. 

Comfort

Grey Cup Sunday came and went without any fanfare in my home. As a child, I spent the day at the movies with my mom and aunty taking us to the local theatre to watch Old Yeller, That Darn Cat or a multitude of other Disney movies at the Capilano Cinema. After the movie, we went back to my grandma’s house where the rest of the family was watching the game. Food was laid out on trays and plates for everyone to nibble. The adults had Black Lable or Lethbridge Pilsners in their hands while cheering for the Rough Riders or Eskimos. We would enter and would go to the closet to pull out the basket of lego or pencil crayons and build or colour until the half-time show where grandpa would call us for a roast dinner. The table was set up buffet style so everyone could get back to the game. I can still smell the spiciness of the roast and the aromatics of the beer bread. I loved his Sunday roasts. 

This was Grey Cup to me. Not a football game. I began watching football as I grew older and my team was in it every year. It was something that became expected, Edmonton would be in the game and would win…always. It was comforting. 

When I became an adult with children of my own, Grey Cup parties became less appealing. Edmonton was not in it as frequent. Managing children among non-child friendly events were stressful. Eventually, I decided to stay home with my kids and let the hubs decide if he wanted to go or not. Grey Cup Sunday became a day filled with Christmas baking. Both my children have commented to me how great it felt to have me in the kitchen with the cookie smells wafting from the kitchen and they were close by on the sofa reading or playing and sampling the food coming out of the kitchen. It was comforting. 

Now that my kids are adults and I can only tell you who is playing in the Grey Cup this year because it is in Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa – FYI, and I can tell you it is still the day I do the bulk of the baking. I make less because I don’t go to Christmas parties so I don’t feel the need to bring things to people’s homes. I made a batch of shortbread for my brother. A few mincemeat and butter tarts because on Christmas Eve it is a nice treat. Ginger sparklers and chocolate chip were the main event this year because I only make what my children will eat.  I may still make honey popcorn because it is my favourite, but I eat fewer sweets now than I used to but it is a great treat to mail away to friends to let them know I am thinking of them. It is always comforting when you know you have someone far away who thinks about you. 

It was a long week and I pampered myself with comforting things. I pulled out a book that I only read when I need an escape. I first read this book during Christmas break in University back in the day. I read it again when I went back to work after my kids were older and I hated every second of my day and longed for an escape. I read it again when I was in the hospital after having surgery and needed to get my mind off the pain. This book came out again this week to help me relax and transport me away to England where I like to think I want to live until I am actually there and remember I love it here in Canada best. Books so comforting to me. 

My daughter gave me a box of bath bombs from Lush last Christmas. I love a good soak in a hot tub with a book. Wednesday, my day started at 5 in the dark in a parking lot setting up for a work event. It was dark but surprisingly mild for a November morning.  By Noon I was done and went home. I was so glad I saved that last bath bomb. It was a Dragon’s Egg. It hissed and sizzled and stained my body blue. The fragrant steam relaxed me and I read my book for four hours, only moving to add more hot water. It was so comforting for me! It was the perfect way to end my day.

I have a teapot that my little gram used. When I think of her I like to make a pot of Red Rose tea and sip away from the Royal Albert petit point patterned cup. Sipping from the set she used always made me feel grown up and sophisticated. It is a ritual I share with my kids and hopefully one day any grandchildren I might have. Tea Parties are a guilty pleasure of my childhood that I still indulge in today. I am happy to share this ritual with anyone who is interested. Cookies and tea are my favourite comfort food. 

One of my best pals lives in California. They celebrated their birthday this week and I called them to say ‘HEY! You are old now!’. I find long newsy phone chats comforting. My mom called this morning from England and we video chatted. I saw my dad and my daughter hopped on the call. We caught up on the weekly things and reminisced about older things and then we made plans for future things. My dad misses family rituals and I think I will recreate Christmas breakfast for him when he returns because it isn’t about the day, it’s about the event itself. Sweet and savoury with coffee and juice is how we always ate breakfast Christmas morning. We don’t know when that will be because they decide last minute when they will be home. But when they do arrive, Christmas breakfast will be waiting because it’s comforting for my dad. 

I think that is what relationships are all about. Finding comfort in our day to day and enjoying it. 

Bear Grease and Gingerbread

Nostalgia is hitting me hard and I find myself thinking about the good old days. My Little Gram and my Grandpa W. have been in my thoughts a lot lately. I think about visiting them and where they would sit so we could talk. I now own the sofa my Little Gram would sit on. I would sit on the floor playing solitaire or at her knee while she taught me something important, like counting to 100 or a new card game or even just telling her about my day. She always had time for me. Even when she was sick in bed, she would hold my hand and listen to me talk. She was one of the absolute best people in my life. She taught me to take the time to be present with the people who mean the most to you. Be kind, be polite and always say yes when asked if you have a minute.

When I think about Grandpa I can smell ink and tobacco. I think of flannel and some made up story he was trying to convince me that was true. I knew when he was teasing me because he would smile like he swallowed a canary and his eyes would get all sparkly. He taught me about making great kites and how to identify birds. He made things so extra. That is a trait I get from him. If you want a shed, make it an edifice. If you make a birdhouse, make it a condo. Go big or go home. Add details that are hilarious and creative. Hide Easter eggs that only you know about. Do nice things for yourself because you deserve it.

Since I have been on this nostalic kick, I have been reviving recipes from my childhood. I made meatloaf and goulash. I think about fried macaroni in bear grease because grandpa said it was good. I pulled out my gram’s Ginger Sparkler cookie recipe. My uncle called them Molassios but he was wrong, they were Ginger Sparklers. The first time I saw the recipe it was in a faded and yellowed cookbook from the 30’s. It was a publication Robin Hood flour put out. Gram made these cookies every year at Christmas time and I can tell you they are the best when dunked in tea. I made a batch last week and they lasted 3 days. They were the very first cookie I ever made for my children. My son loved them and could eat an entire batch in one sitting. He prefers chocolate chip to these, but he never complains when these cookies fill the jar on the counter. One bite of these cookies and I am back having a tea party at the big round table at my gram’s house on Evergreen Street. I would go there after kindergarten and we would have tea and cookies. Sometimes digestive biscuits and cheese and sometimes ginger sparklers. The conversation was always divine.

Because I love you, here is the old Robin Hood flour recipe. If you love yourself, only use butter, not shortening or margarine. This recipe doubles well and freezes beautifully if you need to hide them for Christmas.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) butter
  • 1 cup (250 mL) packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (50mL) molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups (500 mL) Robin Hood  All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) ground ginger
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) baking soda
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cinnamon
  • ½ tsp (2 mL) salt
  • ½ cup (125 mL) coarse sugar
  1. reheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add molasses and egg. Beat well.
  3. Sift flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture. Beat until mixture is well combined.
  4. Roll dough into 1” (2.5 cm) balls. Roll into sugar. Place on prepared baking sheets about 2” (5 cm) apart.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes ( I bake for 10 minutes to get the perfect chewy/crispy combination) Cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets; transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. (Or eat before they cool – warm cookies are a gift!)
  6. Dip in Red Rose Tea (steeped for 4 minutes) with milk for the authentic Little Gram experience.

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Plan A revised

img_2478It was a tough week for me.

My baby girl became an official adult. Work stress is beginning to feel like burn out. I’m too tired to relax and have fun at night. I am ready for an extended couple of days off but that is not around the corner. My usual stress decompress was missed last week and I fear it may be missed this week too.

I blame the burbs. At the time I moved in to the burbs I felt it was important. I chose my home based on school district and individual schools for my children. Living in the neighbourhood of the preferred school just made it simpler. Studies showed that schools where families have the same values about education helped promote secondary education for your own children.

Here we are with two adult children and no one remotely considering University …yet.

And I have no one to blame but myself.

I went back to school at the age of 43. Proof that school will always be there.

School is over-rated. AND ridiculously expensive.

I loved it for the most part. But I also discovered that what I loved about school, I can achieve on my own without the cost. I plain and simply love learning. I love research and I love solving problems. Non of this is education institution exclusive.

Both my kids are headed down an non-traditional career path. When you throw in conventional education, it suddenly alters the course of where they want to go. Now that they are both adults and understand responsibility, they know what needs to be done to get to their goal. I have stepped back and watched it happen before my eyes. I am there to catch them, but mostly they know where I stand. They often hear me say, “I do not care what you do as long as it isn’t hurtful to others and it productive to you and not self-destructive. Choose where you want to go and NO PLAN B. You can’t give your Plan A 100% focus if you have a plan B”

Plan B’s are for when you outgrow your goal and need a new path. I have had many paths. There is always time to reinvent yourself. I am living proof. I often defend my children as fiercely as any mother bear. “This is their choice. What worked or didn’t work for you is not our concern. My children have their own goals, their own life and their own mistakes to make. You have your own children….go be their parent.”

So with that said – my plan A is done. I need a new plan. I hate the burbs.

I want to live in one of two places. Either Edmonton’s River Valley or really close to it because that is my playground. Or I want to live in Vancouver because it is my other playground. I love both equally and have a magnet pull to be there. But my house is still full of people who need my support for a while longer.

I feel restless today. Usually that means heading to the valley with my dog and wondering around in nature because even though it is in the middle of the city, it feels like the middle of no where. I live 25km from the river valley. I need my car. My son is at work and has my car. I know everyone is thinking, “Why can he take the bus?” He can, but we live in the burbs in the City of Edmonton. It has THE WORST TRANSIT SYSTEM IN THE WORLD! a 2o minute drive to his place of work on a Saturday is the equivalent of a 2 hour one-way trip on the bus. So I let him have my car. My dog won’t go in the hubs car. He just won’t, 75lbs is a lot to lift into a car, so I won’t force him.

I want to live and play in my playground. I have earned that. This is now my new Plan A. I have no use for plan Bs

Dear Universe, I ask that you help me figure out how to move to the Valley or to Vancouver by Summer 2017.

I want to live surrounded by trees.

I want that peaceful feeling I get when I sit on a bench overlooking water.

I just don’t have that here in the burbs. I no longer feel like this is my home, its just easy.

It is easy because I don’t have to do anything. It is easy because it is familiar. It is easy because it is the same. Easy does not mean awesome. I have never been that girl who was satisfied with just good enough.

I do not need a big home. I do not need STUFF bursting from my closets.

I need a window, sunshine streaming in my room, a comfortable chair, a coffee pot and a shower that is roomy, a bed big enough to stretch and a short distance to my playground.

I have created a space that was nurturing and homey for my children. They are now grown. Now it is time to look after me. My plan is in place, and now I need to take the steps to get there.

Plan A it is.

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Fire!

A year ago, my parents sold everything and decided they would spend my inheritance and travel the world. We track their travels an a page called Postcards from Everywhere. Its been fine. They have a home base set up at my sisters new Dynasty/Dallas Epic Soap Opera type home. The sister lives 1.5km away from me. WAY farther than before which was 1.5 blocks. They are super happy. We refer to my parents as ‘foreign workers’ who live in the basement suite and make the dinners and tend the garden when they are in town. Soon they will be back on the road living in Kent, England for the summer.

I have become accustomed to not calling or texting my mom because she doesn’t answer her phone anyways, so I text Sister who then gets mom to call me. Its like I have become the centre of attention again. Its awesome. AND the best part is Sister gets the help calls…not me. So I win!

I didn’t expect to feel so lost yesterday… I’ll explain.

Saturday morning at 4:00 AM MST, my parents old home burned down. It was gutted. Nothing is salvageable. It was a couple of blocks away from me. My parents lived there for 15 years. It wasn’t my childhood home, but it was the home of my kid’s grandparents. The home they would go to after school for milkshakes and cookies. They home we hung out at for Christmas and Summer BBQs. The home where my puppy like to visit because Grandpa gives great ear rubs.

I received a text from my neighbour saying, “Please tell me your parents no longer live in that house a few blocks away”

Nope…Wait…Why?

We had heard on the news that a house near the park burned to the ground. I had thought, “I hope no one was hurt” but because it didn’t effect me, I was fine.

I felt the need to go and drive by. We drove past the house and I was stunned. I told the Hubs to stop because I had to get out. I stood in front of the house and told the Firefighter that my parents used to live here. I was in shock. I couldn’t process what I was feeling. I wandered around outside the temporary fence investigators put up, covered my mouth and just stared.

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It was surreal.

I swear I saw ghosts of Christmas Past wandering around through the rubble. I saw my kids run through the house and their giant cousins chasing them. I saw my parents sitting on the front porch. I saw my niece and Chatter Box sitting in the kitchen window decorating cookies.

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I didn’t know how to process what I was feeling. It was final now for me. It was no longer my parents home.

I went to my Sister’s home and shared the news and photos. Sister was stunned like me. My mom seemed okay…. it wasn’t her’s any more. Dad said he didn’t know how to feel.

But still…

I posted the photos on Facebook. I received a lot of lovely comments from everyone. But really…it was just a building that my family had no claim to anymore. Why was I sad?

Then my mom wrote something that snapped me out of my dazed and confused feeling,

“Actually I was relieved when I saw it burned. The new owners never looked after the yard so I can only image what the inside looked like. For some odd reason it feels better having it destroyed than abused.”

There you have it. None of us would drive by it because it was upsetting to see how those people looked after it. Sure it was their home, but they did not have the same values as us. No pride in their home. Thats fine, it was theirs to do with as they please. We just didn’t want to see. So we traveled a different way.

I have come to realize that I am melancholy for a different reason. My children are no longer small. Everyone is growing up with girl friends and boy friends and careers and life plans. I don’t want to hold onto them as little beings. I love that they have become amazing adults and have made great choices for their future. I love that they are so independent and our family moves together through the future independently, yet come together to celebrate success and support each other is time of stress and sadness.

My family is safe and sound. That other family needs to rebuild. They will somehow figure it out. We all do in the end.

Like a Boss

My Parents came home yesterday. They sold everything and left for Europe for an undetermined amount of time. They aren’t really home, they are visiting.

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I hadn’t spoke to them in 106 days. Apparently I am bad at email. My sister emailed my parents 104 times. That is 1 for everyday they were away except for the 2 she was on the plane to England and didn’t email them because she was sitting beside them.

Apparently that makes me a bad daughter.

I’m better at texting.

This was the first time since the ‘DARK TIMES’ that I had been separated from my parents.

  1. Yes I am 47 years old
  2. No it doesn’t make me an insecure baby
  3. I do not have a dysfunctional relationship with my parents
  4. we just actually like each other.

I haven’t felt like crying so much since my parents left in July, 106 days ago.

I called my dad this morning and I instantly cried. Damn I missed them. It’s not even like I am the favourite child. That would be the sister. And rightly so, she takes care of them in ways I just don’t. Then the next favourite would be the brother. He is dependant on them in ways I am not. As a mom, I know there isn’t a favourite, they just like each of us for different reasons. I happen to be the most independent of the lot. I keep to myself, hold my problems in and try not to worry anyone. I took care of everyone when I was younger, now I let my sister do it because she loves it, I just did it out of a sense of obligation. I have a hard enough time taking care of myself and my offspring. I have learned a long hard lesson about self-care that I need to be cognizant of. People call it selfishness, I call call it survival. I always seem to be on the brink of disaster and I manage to hold it off.

That gets exhausting and it is exhausting talking about it.

So, I didn’t write about it. Mom didn’t get to hear about my days or the weariness in my bones, or the times I felt like I was a total an utter failure. As a mom, I know she wanted to hear those things….but I don’t do that. I don’t share. It’s easier to stamp the feelings down and swallow them.

After lunch, I packed up the FamJam and we drove out to my Grandmothers where my sister and my parents are currently living while my sister’s home is – for lack of a better word – being finish. My parents will have a home base/in-law suite where they can have a home base while they travel the world being gypsy hobos.

I walked up the steps to the house and right into the arms of my daddy. I cried inside where no one saw. I stuffed the tears away because I didn’t want to be teased or have my emotions get in the way for visiting. I didn’t want it to be about me. I wasn’t the one who left. I wanted to hear about them.

We stayed all afternoon and caught up on their zany adventures. I learned a lot of things about my parents.

MOM: The Woman who faced her fears until Hell Froze Over

  1. She went topless on the Mediterranean (My mom has always been modest to the point almost to the level of Prudish)
  2. She drank beer AND Scotch (Alcohol always scared her and for good reason)
  3. She smoked a cigar
  4. She likes my dad – and not because he is her husband. They spent 106 days together ALONE and enjoyed their time together. They have been a couple since they were 14. Liking each other is an important part of that.

DAD: The Man who doesn’t give a crap about what people think

  1. He sat on a bus tour and gave people hell for being late – they never showed up late again (Who else has the balls to call people on their shit?)
  2. He naps whenever he damn well feels like it…and like a boss (In Kensington Palace he was bored, so he laid down on the sofa and slept…in the palace… In London)
  3. If he thinks something is outrageous, he says so. (I always thought I took after my mom, but really, I am like my dad. People annoy me and I call them on it. Just like he does. I also expect people to call me on my shit – I respect them if they do. I think they are weak if they don’t)
  4. He likes my mom. They laugh together and have a good time. He lets her baby him and he humours her by letting her plan everything. Compromise is important.

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I also learned my siblings and I are more alike than we are different.

My sister wore a fancy hat on the plan home because she didn’t have a hatbox. She owned it like a boss. It wasn’t that much different from the time she wore a Sombrero home from Mexico because how else would you get it home?

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I am pretty much the same. I have learned that life is too short to waste time doing what bores you or is annoying or out of obligation. I am busy. I have very little time for my family. They come first. Everything else second. Don’t like? I’m cool with that. I cannot please the world.

As my dad is known to say, “If someone doesn’t like it, they can go down the street to find something they do like. Don’t break your neck trying to please because only you and your family matter in the end anyways.”

Amen Dad.

Welcome home, I’ve stopped crying now, so maybe we can hang out later.

MY NAME IS: yeah…not very popular

I lamented about Coke not ever putting my name on their can. I got over it.

Well, I pretended to. I went on holidays to Disneyland and searched high and low for my name spelled correctly on a SOMETHING…no luck.

I get home, check the mail, and I have a surprise package in the mail!

WOOOHOOO! I love surprises, except when I don’t and that is another story.  But this surprise came from New York via Ireland.

My running/book pal Tammy from Jibber Jabber went to Ireland and discovered a name plate with my name spelled the proper way! Here is proof:

 

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So mom…where ever you are, I am happy the Europeans – well – Irish folk, think my name is worthy of printing it and selling it.

I forgive you mom.

 

Thanks Tammy – you DO win 🙂