"Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

I know I said "blog like no one is reading" but it's nice to know these people are

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Hope Springs Eternal?

It's almost the end of February and not a spring-like forecast in sight. It seems like since they came up with the name "Polar Vortex" Mother Nature was so pleased she's letting it stick around a little longer. I haven't ridden or even seen my horse in over a month. I have settled into my mid-winter funk and have no intention of getting out of it until the thermometer reads well above zero (Celsius, that is). A couple of weeks ago I did hear a cardinal calling one morning and my heart leapt but the poor old thing must have retreated back into our cedar hedge because I haven't heard a peep since. Georgian Bay has been frozen solid for the first time since we moved here and although it opened because of the winds the other day it is ice-covered again this morning. I have also had to keep the house show-ready every week as we still haven't sold after six months on the market.  My Other Half is away for two weeks at a boat show and I think it is because he was around for most of January that I am finding it so hard to cope without him, of course the boys schedules are crazy and I spend far too much time driving back and forth to the ski hill which is resulting in a formidable gas bill. My Dad, as usual, has stepped in to help out and I will get a break on Thursday night and Friday when I am at our ski club's Ladies Day.

But I have been having a tough time coming up with good things to think about lately (especially as Downton Abbey has finished for another season) and have even tried writing them down when I do but it hasn't helped much. So this is what I have come up with thus far:

  • We all are in bed by 9:30pm most nights, that means lights out for the 11, 13 and 15 year old as well as my Other Half and I pretty much all at the same time. No. 2 Son always pushes it and wants to watch TV or read and now that we have finally weaned them off of us lying with them every night he can read a little after we shut our door. I used to consider myself a night owl but maybe that was only in relation to the morning person I sleep with. Now if I am up past ten I am a basket case in the morning. I really do believe that every hour before midnight counts as double. Boring but hopefully rather virtuous.

  • I have pretty much given up drinking as the combination of staying up late and having even two glasses of wine is lethal. Also, we have entered the era of having to drive our teenagers to and from movies and parties at all hours, although last weekend No. 1 Son took a cab home at midnight which, while costly, was worth me not having to get out of bed to retrieve him. I also have lost all my sense of taste since getting sick over a month ago so I can't even enjoy a good red anymore. Unfortunately this hasn't carried over into eating as I keep cooking things like rice pudding or chocolate chip cookies to see if I can taste them. I have also stopped drinking coffee and now am a green tea granny. Again, it was the fact that after getting sick I suddenly couldn't stand the taste of coffee but I still miss it.

  • We have been consistent in one area with the boys - all screens stay on the kitchen counter at night. No one, including myself and my OH have their phones in our rooms at night. Again, No. 2 is the hardest to police and No. 1 does have his computer in his room but he is so tired at the end of a day of training, dry land and classes that he can barely keep his eyes open and is often the first to put himself to bed.

  • I cook and we eat homemade meals 90% of the time and when we do go out it is to places that don't serve prepackaged meals. Our only fast food foray might be to Tim Horton's as a last resort. The boys, for the most part (No. 2 is again the challenge, no surprise) make healthy snacks after school and pack their own lunches every morning. We go through more eggs, bacon and tuna than is prescribed in the food pyramid but I make complete dinners and always have cut up veggies on the table. They all complain from time to time but I refuse to act as short order cook and prepare separate meals according to their whims. I am also forcing encouraging them to cook more things other than just breakfast or Kraft Dinner on their own.
So that's it, my list of good things for now. There are plenty of other things I would like to be able to add such as less yelling by everyone on the house, getting more exercise and finding something that excites me outside of the house. In the meantime I am spending too much time on line and watching reruns of the Gilmore Girls. 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Is this the Road to Pyeongchang?

We've had a tough go of it since Christmas. We're on Snow Day number seven and it doesn't look good for school tomorrow. The Arctic Vortex has had us in its icy grip for three weeks and with windchill temperatures in the -30C range. Buses haven't just been cancelled, the school has actually been closed for four day which hardly ever happens. My Other Half's drive to and from work has been a constant white-knuckler and I'm starting to understand why No.1 Son is in no rush to get his licence since turning 16 at the beginning of the month. The number of cars we've seen in ditches and spinning around in circles is enough to put anyone off from driving.

The front of our manufacturing plant, they've had to dig out the two doors to get in every morning.

But there has been some good times too despite all the wintery weather as we are, first and foremost, a ski family after all and the snow on the hills has been amazing.

No. 1 Son had a top ten finish in his first race over Christmas and then was discouraged by his results in the next two but that made his third place finish last weekend all the sweeter. He has worked so hard, both on the hill and off and no one deserved it more. He has another race tomorrow and is then off to Lake Placid on Sunday for some more training and then back for a CanAM series so fingers crossed.

Ben (on the right)

No. 2 Son has had and has been a bit of a challenge, to say the least, after coming second in his first race he had a set back, fracturing his T1 vertebrae over Christmas so he was off for three weeks but came back strong and finished in the top ten in his second race. At home it's been even more challenging as he approaches his 14th birthday. He is the master debater in our house and I can only hope he finds a career that rewards his verbal dexterity and single-mindedness. In the meantime he has been fortunate enough to spend lots of time with his grandfather who has infinite patience and gives him the attention he so craves.

Cam (on the right)

No. 3 Son trucks along at his own break-neck pace, still hating school and loving every moment outside whether on the hill, across the street at our neighbours backyard skating rink or mini terrain park. If and when we ever sell this house (and I'm not holding my breath with our evermore frustratingly-full-of-excuses real estate agents) he will miss his gang of like-minded boys in the neighbourhood. After conquering his fear that his torn ACL would hold him back he also had a disappointing first race which was a good wake up call for the boy who is used to winning everything. And he did come second in the latest race and is looking forward to his next one on Friday.

Griff (third from the left)

I hope the Arctic Vortex heads back up north soon, the dog and I are tired of being stuck inside and he really doesn't appreciate the snow up to his chest when he has to go outside and lift his leg. Now I'm off to the high school to do course selection with No. 3 and not quite sure how it is possible to have two almost high school age sons. No. 1 is the same age as I was when I met his father but no girls in his life (that I know of) so far which I guess is not a bad thing as his sights are set much higher than placing in a few races on the Niagara Escarpment. Maybe this is the road to Pyeongchang.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's the most difficult time of the year

I know that's a real downer of a post title but sometimes it feels that way. So much to do, all crammed into a month. It is as if we save up everything for Christmas, all the get togethers, gift giving, card sending and family time instead of spreading it out over the whole year. And the stress of spending too much money, eating too much food, drinking too much wine and getting too little sleep explodes all at once in a geyser of twinkle lights, reindeer and Holiday-themed made-for-TV movies.

I go into a pre-Christmas funk every year. It starts with all the ads on TV and the spreads in magazines about entertaining for the holidays (I hate saying holidays, we celebrate Christmas and so do all the people making the ads and spreads judging by the copious amounts of tinsel and pine boughs in them). It seems like everyone else is invited to a myriad of glittering parties that require new outfits and beautifully wrapped gifts and getting one's hair done. Not in my world.

I am waffling on whether to throw another Winter Solstice party, actually we had an "End of the World, So Say the Mayans" party last year and it was great fun. It lasted until 3am and all I did was fire up the fondue pot and the chocolate fountain. This year the Solstice is on Saturday, December 21st and I'm worried that there might be a lot of other parties that people are going to that night, parties that we aren't invited to (sorry, that's my pathetic voice coming out). It's just that the calendar is looking a little bare right now but maybe other people are waffling like me.

And being the child of divorced parents always makes for challenges. This year my sister heads west to Calgary to be with her in-laws and my brother is in Victoria and neither of our parents have ever gone out for Christmas for some reason. My Dad has a fiancée and that in itself makes things even more complicated, some of her family is here and they don't seem to be much for making plans in advance or including others which is fine but I can't imagine my Dad not being with his grandsons on at least part of Christmas Eve, morning or night. My Mum will be with us and Dad knows this and seems okay but I don't know about his fiancée. Hopefully they can work it out, I'm not getting involved, I just ordered a big turkey and will hope for the best. The boys will be chomping at the bit to hit the slopes on Boxing Day and then ski season beings in earnest with early mornings and lots of running from race to race. And to add to the general chaos, boat show season also kicks in right after New Years so my Other Half will be away for weeks at a time.

Sorry, this really has become a pity party, I always seem to have to get it out of my system before I dive head long into the fray. I've started my Christmas shopping and I am going down to the city for a dinner with my high school friends which should be fun even if it's on a Tuesday night and everyone has to go to work in the morning (there's that pathetic voice again). And I am joining S. in Florida on Saturday for  four days and although most of it is business I found a great deal on a lovely B&B for one night so it will feel a little more like a break to recharge our batteries before the Christmas chaos begins.

So it is beginning to feel a lot like Christmas and I know that's a good thing despite the Grinchiness I go through every year.

Monday, November 11, 2013

More Perspective

Too much going on and not enough time or energy to do it these days. It doesn't help that it feels like its been raining for over a month. Those gorgeous sunny Indian summer days are a distant memory. Now it's day after day of grey, brown and damp. Hard not to be down with three boys trapped inside every afternoon and weekend. I find myself doing way too much yelling while they bicker, watch too much TV and spend hours, it seems, on line watching ski videos. The snow can't come soon enough.

S.T.B.T. (Stupid Teenage Boys Tricks)

Number One Son is stressed as his school crams what normally take three months into six weeks but they leave for Maine on December 1st to ski til Christmas so I have reminded him that no complaining will be tolerated at any time.

Number Two will be lucky if he survives until he leaves for a week in Vermont on December 7th. He is busy at school with classes, volleyball and dry land training two afternoons a week. He, unfortunately, is not the most organized and when the going gets tough he would rather give up than figure out how to manage everything. He is so talented and smart but he makes things so much harder on himself and everyone around him.

Number Three is plugging away, counting down the days til he gets to ski. Unfortunately due to his knee injury we and his coaches have decided that he should not go on the trip to Mont Tremblant with the team to train because of the risk of terrible conditions which could potentially cause more damage and ruin his entire season. So he will be home on his own while his brothers are away and now it appears I will be away for part of that time too but I am hoping he can stay with his buddy across the street while I head south to help my Other Half at a boat show. If it works out everyone might just be happy for a few days.

It's hard to keep things in perspective. Juggling time and money these days is all consuming. The business is on the verge of major growth which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. My OH is up at dawn and into the new plant where everyone is working so hard to get things up and running again after the move. Scott leaves for Florida on Wednesday til Sunday for another show and my Dad & I will be representing the company at a fundraiser in the city Friday night, introducing out latest product to a very discriminating crowd. Saturday I hope to visit Ben's friend, H who was finally discharged from the hospital and will be able to stay at home and do his rehab as an out patient. He is making great strides in his recovery and we are all so thankful for that.

The team raising the flags at the new plant

Saturday night my Mum (aka Geeya) is hosting a grandchildren's sleepover with my boys, my sister and Mum's best friend's grandchildren. Wendy died 15 years ago and never met her two grand-daughters and so Mum promised that she would treat them as her own. Now their grandfather has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer and we don't know how long he has left so spending time together seems even more important. Of course, now that the kids are almost all teenagers the sleepover is a little more difficult with my boys less interested in hanging out with the girls but they all love going to "Geeya's" farm and maybe, fingers crossed, it won't rain and they won't be stuck inside the whole time.

The Grandchildren in their PJ's circa 2004

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


It's hard to imagine what it would be like to hear that your child has a brain tumour after a simple trip to the eye doctor and within 48 hours you find yourself at the Hospital for Sick Children, a place you always knew was there if you needed it but never thought it would be your son being wheeled into surgery. I learned about my former neighbour and friend's son's diagnosis the morning he was to be operated on. It all happened so quickly and anyone who doubts our health care system should stop reading the horror stories that are constantly trumpeted both here and south of the border and listen to the positive and quiet ones that happen here every day whether it be a life-threatening situation or not.

D and her son, one of Ben's oldest friends, experienced the terror of a diagnosis, emergency surgery to remove a 4cm tumour close to the brain stem and a week to hear if it was cancerous. It was benign, thank goodness and he will make a full recovery. But, once again, it puts everything into perspective as my family struggles day to day with sibling rivalry, homework drama, teenage angst and a small business on the very of becoming not-so-small.

H and my eldest grew up side by side, first skiing and then across the street from one another for the last six years. He is my fourth son, another brother to my boys, acting like one for better or for worse. His nickname was "Eddie" after Leave it to Beaver's Eddie Haskell as he was unfailingly polite to adults but you always knew he was up to something. This year his family decided to move back to the city and H went off to boarding school while my son also left their local high school to attend a ski academy. Being boys, I don't think they communicated much over the summer or while Ben was away in Switzerland and we found out about the tumour and surgery the day Ben was arriving home. Of course, because of Facebook, all the kids knew about what H was going through and my worry about how to tell Ben was for not. I don't think he fully understood the seriousness of what was happening to H but he kept asking to read the updates that were being sent by a friend of H's mother. We all worried that H would lose his luxurious head of hair (he did not, the surgeon only had to make a small incision on the back of his head) and if it was cancer what would happen next. Luckily that's not something anyone has to worry about.

We went down to the hospital to see H on Sunday with another school friend and his Mum and had a short visit. H got out of bed to go for a walk with his buddies, trailing an IV pole and talked quite naturally and Ben, who had earlier asked me, if it was such a great hospital for kids, why they didn't have anything like a basketball net, now understood what it had all meant.

Soon H will be moved to a rehabilitation hospital and is expected to make a full recovery. He may or may not go back to boarding school in January and he won't be back on skis for a while but he will be fine and his very droll sense of humour has already started to return. Ben has made it through his first full week of classes after seven weeks in the Alps and life is settling down once again.

I haven't felt like blogging for a long time but it seemed like a natural thing to allow me to express my fears and feelings swirling around. I have said before that as the kids get older the challenges get more serious and it has never been truer. I have missed writing and even though I know my blog title has never been truer I think I might get back into a routine of writing. We'll see.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer so far ...

It's only week two for us but so far it hasn't been too painful. Packing up to head out to a friend's cottage this afternoon, I finally get to be someone else's guest for a few days! Then next week we are taking Numbers 2 & 3 on a boat delivery to CT with a stop at an amusement park. No. 1 is hard at work in summer school and seems to be liking the work at your own pace environment. They are given a unit per week to work on, ask any questions and then they are tested on Friday. He will start his English course at the end of August, reading Lord of the Flies and A Midsummer's Night Dream, both of which I actually have my original copy of, marginalia and all!

Here are a few of the the very few photos I have taken (all on my iPhone) mostly because my children run screaming every time I try to take a picture and also because I haven't bothered to drag my SLR camera along with me anywhere. But I am taking it with me on this trip and I will again next week, in hopes that there isn't a gaping hole in the photographic evidence of my children's pre-teen and teenage years which they will be sure to reprimand me later for.

Last Day of School Cookout at the Beach

A flower box makes the peeling paint of the boathouse look charming, don't you think?

Hard at work on a new bridge to our cabin

Mountain bike riding 

The Outsiders circa Grade 5

No. 3 Son with his ski racing idol who graciously allowed him to hold the Crystal Globe. 
The trophy for being the best ski racer on the planet!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How are things with you?

Only three weeks til school is out. I know that for many school is already over but up here we push it til the end of June and still it's too soon for me. And I am feeling exactly how Jen feels in her blog post "Worst End of School Year Mom Ever." Right now I have two on the bench and we're not sure what is going to be happening with either of them this summer. Number Two Son hurt a growth plate in his ankle jumping up to head the ball in soccer last week. A very common injury and we see an Orthopaedic specialist tomorrow and, fingers crossed, she will say that it just needs a few weeks to heal. He's on crutches and missing out on both soccer and rugby. The former he just started playing and was the sport in which, I thought, he was more likely to get hurt. So he's hanging around, spending too much time on various screens. He is supposed to start a Mother's Helper job looking after three little boys a couple of days a week when school gets out and has a trip out west with my Dad planned. Not sure how either of those things are going to work if he can't walk.

Number Three Son is still waiting to find out what is happening with his torn ACL. We finally got the appointment with the doctor who everyone says we need to see at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto next Monday. There are various scenarios, none of which make me feel any better.

  1. He has to have surgery and it happens soon which is good because we want to give him as much time to recover before ski season but it's bad because then he won't be going to camp in August and will spend the whole summer on crutches or with a brace on his leg while it heals.
  2. He can't have surgery because he is so young and they don't want to risk injuring the growth plates on the bones that they have to screw into to repair the ACL. Some people never have it repaired but those people don't live to ski race, run and play soccer. If we have to wait, which I'm hoping won't be the case, he will have to wear a brace for activities and probably won't be able to  do anything at the level he would like.
  3. They decide to wait to do the surgery because either we can't get him in or he won't have enough time to recover before ski season which means he still will have to wear a brace and won't be able to compete full out which is the only way he knows how to ski.
None of the above are great scenarios but I guess we're lucky to have options, a great hospital relatively close by and don't have to worry about having to pay for it. Now if I can just figure out how to pay for No. 2's braces which go on in a month.

Number One Son is counting down the days til he gets out of grade 9 and can move on from a very disappointing first year of high school. He will have five days off after exams before his summer classes start. He will be in class 8:30am to 1:30pm and then spend the afternoon doing dry land training in preparation for ski season which will start for him at the end of August in Switzerland. He is going to a ski academy nearby and they train for six weeks over there then come home to work on school before they begin skiing again next winter. He is very excited and motivated and I only hope he stays healthy and strong (touch wood).

In the meantime, our business is in its busiest time and my Other Half is up and gone at dawn or on the road. He is stressed because business is booming and he is moving to a new facility which is all good but as he says, "It would be a lot easier to do without customers and employees to deal with."

Oh and we have our house on the market, have bought a lot to build on and are in the beginning stages of designing a new house. So while all of this is going on I have to keep this house in show-ready condition all the time and consequently I spend most of my time flushing toilets, picking up wet towels, cutting the lawn and cleaning the pool. Normal stuff made all the more stressful by the thought of someone coming by during the day when I have left the house without checking the above mentioned things.

Right, have I missed anything? Oh yes, my Dad announced on Mother's Day that he was getting married. To a woman he has been seeing for less than two months. 

How are things with you?

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