"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

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lost & Found

I never lose things, at least not important stuff like wallets or expensive jewelry and maybe I am tempting fate by saying this but recently I did lose a necklace that I love. It was made by a talented friend of mine and when one of the pearl beads fell off she offered to fix it. She gave it back to me and I stuck it in my ski jacket pocket and promptly forgot about it until I wanted to wear it and couldn't find it. I looked in my coat pockets, in all the nooks and crannies in the car (don't even want to mention what else I found there) but to no avail. It was gone. Finally I was about to confess to my Other Half who had bought it for me as a Christmas present when a neighbour asked me if I had one of Katie's necklaces. I said yes and she said that she had found one on her front porch. At first she thought it was hers as a group of us had been to a jewelry party and had bought the same design but hers was still sitting on her dresser. Luckily she thought of asking everyone who had been at the party. I must have dropped it out of my pocket one day when I was taking her dog and mine out for a play. Of all the places it could have fallen out thank goodness it was there.

Of course my tale of lost and found is nothing compared to my sister's one of dropping her school ring on a portage in the middle of Algonquin Park and having it returned to her a month later back at her camp.

Have you ever lost something really important and then unbelievably found it later?

My Eight Year Old is Dating

All week Number Two son has been saying things like, "Mum, I need to tell you something." To which I reply, "Yes?" And then he says something like, "Oh nevermind." So I just go on about my day. Finally last night we were in my bed, when he finally gave up on reading and insisted on leaving his Junior James Bond Book on my bedside table which was already covered in my books, mugs of tea, the phone from downstairs and the toenail clippings left behind by Number One's self pedicure. He said that I was to read the note in the book after he had gone to bed but then would I come in and see him once I had read it. So off he went to bed, I continued reading my book ( Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortensen, an amazing story) and every so often he would call, "Have you read the note yet?" Finally I opened a tiny piece of scrap paper and on it he had written in tiny letters, "M. M. is dating me." I couldn't help but smile but I composed myself and climbed into bed beside my little Romeo and ask what the note meant. He said it meant what it said, I asked if it meant they were friends and he replied that yes they were friends and that he didn't want to talk about it.

Guess I'll have to watch out for the little hussy this weekend on the ski hill. She had better not break my baby's heart.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

How do icicles do this?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 12 - Another Snow Day

Where is the justice in the fact that in the 12 days that my Other Half has been away we have had four - count 'em - 4 Snow Days?! I would say that three of the four have been pretty lame excuses for cancelling the buses. Why in my day the buses would only be cancelled if the snow was up to the second floor windows, if the ice had brought down the power lines or if my mother decided she could stand to have the three of us at home (then she would tell us the buses were cancelled. Of course, now my kids just go on line to check).
I have to admit that a part of me is happy that I didn't have to make lunches this morning, that it is 9:15am and I am still in my pj's. But it is only 9:15am and the day is stretching out in front of me like a the last mile of a marathon. In fact, I feel like I have run a marathon. 12 days as a single mother, two weekends trundling back and forth to the ski hill and the hockey arena with skis, skates, lunches, the dog and a rowing shell (it was a donation for a fundraiser) and more than a couple of bottles of wine. We made it, everyone is healthy, everyone is still alive and the house is still standing.
So far the boys have ignored their breakfast, cut up my Vanity Fair magazines to make "bobbleheads." This entails cutting out big heads and gluing them onto to paper with small bodies. That craft project lasted exactly 4 minutes before they were off to the basement to make an Obama Mii to play with on the Wii. (As I mentioned in my last post, everyone here in the north was very much taken by President Obama's visit to Ottawa, including my three Obamamaniacs.)
Of course, there are six more hours to go until Dad pulls into the drive and my time in Single Mom Purgatory is over. The plan for the next six hours? Let them play Wii until the fights break out. Send them outside to start shovelling the driveway, "If you don't Daddy might not be able to make it home." Send them across the road to skate on our neighbour's rink. Make a lemon meringue pie for the Welcome Home dinner and force, I mean, encourage the boys to make a Welcome Home banner.
Wish me luck!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Mr Obama Goes to Ottawa

So that's what a leader looks like. Unfortunately he's not our leader, the stiff looking man next to him is. I used to believe the old saying that a country gets the leader they deserve. But if that is true then I rise on a point of order. While the last American administration (which the voters elected twice) ran the country into the ground, letting the banks and big business run amuck, financing a unwinnable war and promoting xenophobia, Canada was quietly paying down our national debt, taking in more refugees than ever before and going about it's business as a responsible member of the new world order. But now America has a charismatic new President who inspires billions of people the world over to have hope, to believe in change while we Canadians are stuck with the same old tired bunch, plodding along, recycling the same old tired policies. I'm sorry but what did we do to deserve this?

I watched Mr. Obama's visit to Parliament Hill yesterday and was surprised by the level of excitement it brought to stuffy old Ottawa. But even Mr. Obama's shining star couldn't rub off on Stephen Harper, our pedestrian, mediaphobic and completely uninspiring Prime Minister. For the last eight years, we Canadians took solace from the fact that we could look down on our neighbours to the south and sadly shake out heads and tsk, tsk as George W. forged a path of destruction through every facet of American society. But now we are the ones stuck with a right wing (by Canadian standards anyways) leader who will barely lower himself to talk let alone, listen to Canadians and when he does he repeats himself. Word for uninspiring word, first in French and then in English. What's the point of similtaneous translation or even that some of us that can understand both of official languages, if you just say the same thing twice. It doesn't make it any more meaningful.

The chances of an Obama-like leader rising up through the mire of Canadian politics is so remote that even the most optimistic of glass half full-types aren't holding their breath. In the meantime we can only hope that Mr. Obama succeeds in his rather daunting task of reinvigorating the American economy because that will help us all. Canada is the US's largest trading partner (which apparently was news to the Fox broadcaster covering the visit yesterday) and while I know that this six hour visit was purely symbolic at least it happened, unlike when George W. visited Mexico on his first foreign trip, snubbing Canadians and setting the tone for his administration's interest, or lack thereof, in anything north of the border. I just hope that Canadians will demand more of our leaders and force them to lead not just ride on Mr. Obama's coat tails. I certainly don't want to have to tell my children that they should sew an American flag on their backpacks when they take their first trip to Europe. But I am glad that my American friends can once again proudly show their flag when they travel, thanks to their new President.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day 6 and the Piles are Growing

I am a Piler. I make Piles. Piles of clothes on the chair in my room, piles of school forms and mail on the counter, piles of books on my bedside table, piles of papers to be sorted on my desk. Normally when my other half is around I sort and purge regularly so that none of the piles end up taller than our six year old. But with the Other Half away for 12 days the piles are are growing precarious.
The pile on the kitchen counter has resulted in one phone call from a teacher asking whether Number 2 son will be going on the cross country ski trip day after tomorrow. Of course he is, I was getting to that form. Then my dear husband and business partner called with a question about a customer's order. I know that piece of paper is somewhere - in the pile. The problem is that now there is more than one pile on my desk and when the piles start to reproduce I know I am in trouble.
The pile in my bedroom and the laundry pile in Number 1 son's room can be rectified easily by doing the laundry but then I am really only trading dirty clothes piles for clean clothes piles and we all still have nothing to wear. The pile on my desk is the biggest problem, if I don't get through it before Monday then my Other Half will know that I have spent far too much time blogging while he was away and not enough time working. That is the downside of being married to your co-worker as I am finding out - there are no secrets, unless I can hide them in one of the piles.

Days 3, 4 & 4 - Happy Family Day

I just finished writing a long email to my sister-in-law who was on Day 9 of kids home sick and I am on Day 5 of 12 with my other half away. My email subject was "Cid's Perfectly Horrible Very Bad Day" My 3 boys had been tag-teaming me on who could be the most obnoxious, unhelpful and downright mean all weekend. They all got the prize. I barely survived the long weekend with Monday being the second year of "Family Day" in Ontario. How ironic that while I was supposed to be celebrating with my love on Valentine's Day and then with my children and their father (who is, in fact, the same guy as my love) on Family Day, I was barely keeping my head above the depths of the Single Motherhood ocean. The entire weekend revolved around the boys. But then what weekend doesn't? They had to be at the hill for ski lessons, they had to be fed constantly, they had to have their skis sharpened and waxed for their races (not in any way shape or form part of my job description) and they had to have their friends over and their friends' parents which was a nice diversion but by 9pm on Sunday night I was so damn tired all I could say to my guests was, "there is another bottle in the fridge, I have to go to bed now."

But as my mother always said, there is nothing that can't be made better than by a good sleep. Actually my mother never said anything remotely that corny but it is true. I woke up Monday morning to the sun shining in (finally the days are getting noticeably longer) and my guests making the kids breakfast.

At least the weather smartened up and the sun shone all day and we were all able to sit out on the deck and eat fondue and drink beer while the kids skied their faces off.

I guess what I have been trying to say in a very round-about way is that we have to remember we are not alone in our little worlds of motherhood. Somewhere out there someone else is cleaning up barf for the umteenth time, screaming for them to stop fighting and pouring another glass of wine and ignoring the crash from the playroom. Once again I say, thank you to all you other bloggers out there sharing your tales of woe and wonder and leaving me encouraging comments. Only 6 more days to go.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Day 2 - I slept alone for the first time in a long time

Not that my husband has never gone away before but inevitably when he does I end up with another little furnace in the bed beside me. One of the boys (they seem to have some sort of unspoken schedule for this) waits until he knows his brothers are both asleep and then hightails it into my bed knowing full well that I won't kick him out because I can't be bothered to get up and remove him. So I put a pillow down the middle and appreciate the fact that having another body in the bed does allow me to sleep without socks on in the winter.

The poster on the left was one originally printed in the UK during WW II to be put up in the event that the Germans actually invaded. It pretty much sums up my goal at home which, like most goals, is great in theory but will probably never be achieved.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Day 1 as a Single Mum

Day 1 - My better/other half left at 6am this morning. He was up at 4:30am, ergo so was I. Couldn't get back to sleep, the wind is howling outside blowing away what is left of the snow. Spent yesterday afternoon pooper scoopering. When our puppy first started going straight out first thing in the morning to do his thing I thought I had won the canine jackpot, I rarely even took a baggie along for walks he was so regular and of course the snow started falling back in November and didn't stop, covering each layer with a fresh blanket of white. Now I am paying for all those easy walks, our backyard is a minefield of dog poop and the rest of the world looks just as depressing. All grey, brown and covered in litter. The snowbanks are solid cement and about the same colour, I finally turned off the timer for the Christmas lights outside, they don't look as cheery in the fog.

It is only mid-February, winter has a long way to go in this part of the world. There will be no blossoms poking up anytime soon. I just wish this thaw would just move along so we can enjoy some spring skiing, lunch on the deck at the hill and sun!

It's going to be a long 12 days with the boys if we aren't skiing on the weekends and they can't play outside because of the mud and doggie do. Spring is my least favourite season around here, we never get the mild air and soft hints of green, no cherry blossoms gently swaying in the breeze. It goes straight from frigid to soaking wet to hot and humid.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

If Sylvia Plath had been a Blogger

And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. ~Sylvia Plath
I think that quotation (which my sister-in-law sent me, thanks Beth) from a woman who struggled and suffered for her writing, ultimately killing herself at the age of 30 sums up why we blog. Who knows maybe there will be fewer cases of depression, even suicide if we can all get it out of our systems on line. I have noticed that some bloggers even call their blogs "therapy" or joke that blogging is cheaper than seeing a shrink. There is also, of course, the added benefit that you realize as you explore other people's words and images that you are not alone. There are other mothers out there who yell at their kids , others who are stuck in a job they don't like, who have friends who let them down and many with far more serious problems.

It is, for me anyway, like the old idea of the coffee clatch, women (and now men are able to join in) getting together to bitch, to commiserate, to sympathize and to support one another. People from all different backgrounds, geographic locations and life experiences are able to come together and I, for one, find this new world interesting, sometimes bizarre and in the end, very comforting.

When I read about other bloggers meeting in person or even when I read the banter that goes on between people in their comments (I have not yet ventured on to Twitter, but I am sure it is even more fun) I feel a part of something that is so much bigger than each one of us sitting at our computers trying to balance family, work, life with the need to write and share.

I know there are many who think the whole blogosphere is strange and a huge waste of time. But it is obviously filling a very great need for so many people. It provides a voice to mothers, political junkies (and combinations thereof) and so many, many more.

Some might say suggesting that if Sylvia Plath had only had a blog she wouldn't have taken her life is rather presumptuous but it is something to think about. On my darkest days I can read what someone else has written and it can make me smile or at least lets me know there are other intelligent, eloquent and downright hilarious people out there blogging as if their life depended on it. And I know that some days my life does.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Random Blog List

When I look through my blog list I can find no common denominator. There are blogs for mothers, for Americans living in Canada (which I am not), artsy blogs, wacky blogs. I could add more everyday. I think that is why I like reading random blogs I find on other people's lists. You never know what you are going to get. It opens up a whole world that I would otherwise have never been a part of or never would have know existed.

Some are inspiring, some hilarious, some downright bizarre but they all exist out there in cyberspace and they come from a person sitting alone at his or her computer putting fingers to keyboard just like the olden days when people put pen to paper. How quaint, we think but not so very different. It gives the average person a chance to vent, to rant to praise, to be heard. I love the photos, the recipes, the clever names, the random links to other blogs and websites. I can get lost for hours (unfortunately, for my family's sake) but it also keeps me sane in the depths of winter, at home, working on trying to figure out why it is so hard to get boats to Boston in February.

It makes me feel like I am writing again since I gave up keeping a journal years ago and I haven't written professionally since before my kids were born. I wish I knew how to make my page look more interesting but I am learning and experimenting and maybe one day I will have a custom-designed blog that really reflects who I am. For now my words will have to do.

I loved this comment one blogger attributes to her husband. "Blog like no one is reading." That is my blogger mantra.

The Last Shaker

The photo of the monument in the graveyard at the Shaker Village in Sabbathday Lake, Maine is one I took last October on our way home from a trip to New England. I first saw it on a drive through the state 15 years ago and I laughed so hard my husband thought I had lost it. See, the Shakers didn't believe in procreation, they thought God would take care of that minor detail. Needless to say there are only 4 elderly Shakers left and one gravestone in the cemetery. I have driven past the village a few more times since that first trip and it still kills me.

Seeing that lonely stone kind of sums up my philosophy, "Don't count on anyone else to get you through life."

Monday, February 2, 2009

I am not a Hockey Mom

Let's see, where do I begin? Our eldest son began playing hockey last year after we promised him he could when we moved out of the city to a small town. At first it was great. He met lots of kids and we met their parents. Everyone was very nice and seemingly quite sane. It was the local team, so not too much pressure and everyone, even myself, was happy. Then came the second season. First Number 1 son decided he wanted to play goal and the coach said he was very capable and that they would give him lots of support. Then he was asked to play on the rep team. We said no but the coach persisted. I was worried that it would be too much pressure for a kid who can be very hard on himself, my other half agreed. We said no again but the backroom politics of minor hockey conspired against us and the boy who would have otherwise been the goalie was not going to make the team so they asked us again. We talked as a family and agreed to try it for this year, as long as it didn't interfere with skiing and our other sons weren't hauled around from arena to arena too much.

Biggest mistake ever. All that I had ever read or heard about minor hockey and hockey parents is true. It is crazy. From the beginning, there was politics, there was yelling, parents were banned from the arena and the change room. My poor husband was asked to be the liason for the coaches as the parents were no longer allowed to talk directly to the coaches! Things went from bad to worse, Number 1 son took every loss with a quiet grace that amazed me. While he faced 30 or 40 shots on goal each game his teammates couldn't score more than once or twice. They were at the bottom of the league, parents blamed the coaches and when they got tired of yelling at them some turned on their own kids. I stopped going to the games, I couldn't stand the yelling, it was embarrassing to sit with them. The kids soldiered on and to add to their woes they had all their practise time cut to play more games. What kind of sport has nothing but games and no time to learn and practise skills?

In ski racing the kids practise 6 hours at least two days a week, 10 weeks a season and race 5 times. They work on their skills, have fun with their friends and cheer each other on. Parents are nowhere near them when they are careening down the hill and although I know there are bad ski parents out there, most of the time we don't see or hear them. The coaches are paid professionals even at the beginner level, not parent volunteers and for the most part, parents stay out of it. In hockey I know it is difficult to get ice time, there are only so many rinks but why aren't there fewer games? These kids are 10 years old, they need to learn skills, especially the ones whose parents think are going to the NHL. What they don't need is to be demoralized on and off the ice week after week.

The final injustice to our son's team is after they lost in three games straight to the number 1 team in the league they have now moved on to the next round against ... the same team! I know there are lots of people who believe in miracles, especially those related to sports. I am not one of them and I am not looking forward to seeing my son play his heart out only to watch his team flounder yet again becasue they have no practise time.

I know that there is so much to be gained by playing a sport - being active, being a part of a team, learning skills you can enjoy for a lifetime but if all they do is play games that sends a very different message about sports. One I don't need my sons to learn.
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