"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

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Long Live the Queen

The Wizard of Otin who really is a wizard of wiz if ever where ever a wiz there was ... gave me this awesome award and I love it.

The rules are simple:

1. List 7 things that make me awe-summm!

2. Pass the award onto 7 bloggers that I love

3. Tag those bloggers to let them know they are now Queens too (and link back to the Queen who tagged you)

So here goes - Seven reasons why I think I am the Queen

1. Because I told the book club I was when I started it and they all agreed

2. I love bringing people together (whether they like it or not) I am planning a party on the 16th to introduce my sister and her husband who are moving home from Boston to all the cool people we have met in our itty-bitty town.

3. I am the only female in our household, except for the gecko but I am not convinced that it is a she and apparently the only way to find out involves a probe.

4. I was the first grandchild on both my mother's and father's sides of the family and that made me a Princess from birth, so naturally I am now Queen

5. For my 40th birthday the gift I received the most of was ... crowns, of course. How well my friends know me.
6. I come from a long line of Monarchists (we Canadians love our royal family), woke up early in the morning to have crumpets and tea while watching Charles & Diana get married and did it again for Sarah and Andrew.
7. We are easily amused and I agree with Marie Antionette, "Let then eat cake."

So now on to the others who are Queens in my royal estimation:

Bitchin' Wives - she is the Queen of us MOB's, what with moving to England with her boys
A Day in the Life ... - she is the Queen of the burbs
Etc, Etc, Etc. - another MOB Queen
Sane without Drugs - she will always be my Queen after sending me "Big Balls"

Mama Goose - another MOB Queen (funny how many of us there are blogging. Coincidence? I think not)

Monkey Muck - He is the King of all of us Queens

Drowning in Kids - she is a single Mum and the Queen of all she surveys

Friday, June 26, 2009

Your Morning Smile

I was inspired (don't ask me why) by Mom 101's post "God, I am Freakin' Old" to dig up an old photo from 1982, my 16th birthday and first Formal (Prom). Yes, that's me looking oh-so-sexy in my "Little House on the Prairie" inspired outfit complete with high lace collar, full length taffetta skirt and matching cameo necklace hung on a ribbon. To really get my poor date excited I completed the look with Ma Ingalls up do!

Day one of summer holidays. Boys are watching cartoons while I get packed to go the cottage this afternoon! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We Need to Reboot

My children hate me and they hate each other right now. Apparently I'm a bitch, a "f**king bitch" to quote Number One Son. And I have been. We have all been very mean and said horrible things to one another. Father to son, son to parents, mother to son, brother to brother and mother to father. Why? We have been together, stuck in the school year rut and we have all been blowing up and yelling out of sheer frustration. You would be horrified at what has been going on in our house over the last month.

So I am shutting us down, hitting the power button, holding it for five seconds and then leaving it off for a few weeks while the boys are at camp and then we will restart. We all need a break, a time out from one another. The boys from each other, from their mother and father, from their everyday lives. They need to go off and be individuals - not sons, big or little brothers, students with home work and schedules, meals to eat and chores to do.

My Other Half and I need to be a couple again not just parents. I want to sit out on the deck and have a glass of wine in the evening, talk about grown up things and go for a skinny dip in the dark and sleep naked when it gets really hot. I want to wake up in the morning to the birds singing not fighting from the basement over which channel to watch. I want to try out new recipes for dinner, eat late and go out for drinks on a patio. I want to wear dresses and get a pedicure and and ride my horse.

I want the boys to swim and sail and eat lots of food that I didn't make and be silly and gross with their friends. I want to be surprised at how big they are when we go to pick them up, at how blond their hair is and how tanned and dirty and scraped their skin is. I want to hear about the huge snake they caught, the race they won and the tent that leaked. I want them to discover who they are outside our family which, like most families, at times can be suffocating. I want us all to take a deep breath and come back happy and together.

Monday, June 22, 2009

She would have been Thirteen

On June 20th my daughter would have been 13 years old. With the passage of time the pain has dimmed but I don't think the sense of "What if ...?" ever will, especially since I have been reading Maggie at Flux Capacitator's heart-breaking posts about her recent loss.

Samantha was born at 28 weeks with a heart valve that pumped in the wrong direction, I can't even remember the medical term for it now. As a result her heart was enlarged and had started to crowd out her other organs. We only found out because I had gone in for a routine check up and had commented that the baby must be sleeping a lot since I hadn't felt much movement in a while. They quickly hooked me up to a fetal monitor and began counting the number of movements per minute - way too few. I was then sent down for an ultrasound and that was when they were able to see her heart which at the 18 week ultrasound looked normal. I was told that they were transferring me to a downtown hospital and put me in an ambulance, I couldn't get a hold of my husband but told my mother what was happening, although I really had no clue. The ambulance ride was surreal, they made me lie on a gurney and I remember thinking that this all seemed like a bit much, that nothing serious could really be wrong.

I arrived downtown and was whisked up to see the doctor on duty who became my lifeline for the next 48 hours. My husband finally arrived and they assigned us a very young nurse who had only recently arrived from Newfoundland. We had to go across the street to have a fetal echo cardiogram at the Hospital for Sick Children and I found myself chatting away to this young woman, asking her how she was finding life in the big city and working at such a busy hospital. We still had no idea what was going to happen. The cardiogram was done and we went back to talk with the specialist who explained that there was very little chance that the baby would live to term and if she did (we knew she was a girl by now) that she would probably not survive the delivery and if she did that she wouldn't live for very long. Then they left us alone.

I don't remember what we said to each other or even how we came to the decision that they had recommended. I was to be induced and the baby would be stillborn. They hooked me up to morphine and started the intravenous drip that would make me go into labour. From that point on I was aware of what was happening but somewhat removed from it all. It's hard to remember what I was feeling, I have a much better recollection of how I felt after we went home. But later that night I delivered a 5 pound baby girl, she was wrapped up in a blanket and looked perfect on the outside, she had thick black hair, my nose and her father's tiny, perfect ears. When the nurse asked me if I wanted to hold her I couldn't. If I could change anything I would have held her.

We had to fill out both a birth and death certificate and make funeral arrangements. The only thing that happened that I will never forgive is when the anesthetist came in to remove the epidural she asked where my baby was. Later I wrote a letter to the hospital and suggested that they need to review their procedures for women who remain on the maternity ward after they lost their babies. After my experience so many people told me about their's. From friends to relatives who had never talked the tragedy of their miscarriages and stillborn babies. It is something that still very few share with others, although as Maggie's posts attest, it is so important to talk, even years later.

I know now that Samantha was never meant to be ours and that if she had lived we never would have known our boys. They wouldn't be the people they are. We talk about her a lot, my eldest once asked when he was about five years old, "Do you think you get old in heaven?" I replied that I didn't know and he said, "I think you get to choose your age because when I go to heaven Samantha will want to be old enough to be my big sister not a baby." I hope he is right.

I still wonder how different our lives would be if Samantha had lived - I wouldn't be the mother of three boys, I wouldn't look on in wonder at the little girls who sit quietly colouring when we are at a party while my guys run and wrestle and eat everything in sight. I know I look at those girls through somewhat rose-tinted glasses but I believe I am entitled to. Sometimes I wonder when people ask me how many children I have if I should say four, but then I would have to explain and that is too complicated. I am content that the boys talk about her and know that she was their big sister and a part of our family before they were born. We placed her ashes under a birch tree planted at the farm where I grew up. My mother doesn't live there anymore and we contemplated having the tree moved but I was worried that the tree might not survive the transplanting and I couldn't bear it dying in another location. Someday I will go back to the farm and see how much the tree has grown and think of how old Samantha would be and wonder again, "What if ...?"

Thank you all for allowing me to write this post, I haven't talked about this in a while and it felt like the right thing to do after 13 years. The boys finish school on Thursday and then we will head to the cottage and camp so I won't be posting regularly. I hope everyone has a wonderful summer and I can't wait to come back and do lots reading and catching up with you.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Camp List

Okay, so here is what I have to put together before Number One and Number Two sons leave for camp. They will be gone three and a half weeks, joined by Number Three who will be there for 8 days. The first year Number One went I stuck to The List like it meant the difference between my boy loving camp or living in my basement until he is 5o. Six summers later, I know better. So let's review The List, shall we?

1 Sleeping bag (light) for tripping (that's canoe tripping, not tripping over)

1 other sleeping bag for in-camp bedding and in case trip bag gets wet (I don't even want to think about how it might get wet)

1 30 litre dry bag to keep clothing and sleeping bag dry (so why are we worried about wet bags?)

1 single blanket for added warmth (Huh? My boys are furnaces in the dead of winter)

1 pillow (I send the oldest ones in the house, circa 1982)

2 pillow cases (do they get a reminder to change them?)

10 pairs of socks, please send dark ones (so you can't see the dirt? Anyways, it's a moot point as I have taught my boys never to wear socks with sandals)

8 pairs underwear (hmmmm, will they be reminded to change them when they change the pillowcases?)

8 pairs shorts (not likely)

10 t-shirts in dark colours ('cause what you can't see won't hurt you)

3 pairs long pants (learned not to send the zip-off kind, they only come home with one pant leg)

2 bathing suits (so they can wear the 8 pairs of shorts instead? My guys live in their suits, hence no need for the underwear)

1 sun hat, sunscreen, lip balm with sunscreen (to be worn as often as the changing of the pillowcases?)

3 lightweight long sleeved shirts (don't need 'em in the winter, so not much use in the summer)

2 warm sweaters (crew or v neck?)

2 pairs of pajamas (maybe this is where the t-shirts and undies come in)

1 government approved PDF (this is tricky, as some life jackets are sooo uncool)

1 two piece rain suit (I now have a half a dozen unworn pairs of rain pants in a variety of sizes, perhaps I will make a rain quilt)

2 bath towels (again, circa 1982)

2 pairs rubber soled shoes (burnable at the end of camp)

1 pair sandals (not to be worn with 8 pairs of dark socks)

1 pair swim shoes (tried to send these, never worn)

1 paddle (very, very important for cool factor)

Toiletries (nice thought that they might wash)

biodegradable shampoo in plastic container (but dirty hair keeps away the bugs, right?)

biodegradable soap in plastic covered dish (dirty skin matches the dark t's and socks)

Flashlight (the cool kids have headlamps)

Writing paper, pens, addressed envelopes (thank god for permanent stamps that might be mailed some year)

1 water bottle (maybe that's how the sleeping bags get wet)

1 toiletry bag (I have splurged on LL Bean bags this year in the hope that they will be used and return home)

All the above must be labelled, I figured out after Number Two Son started going that the labels should only be their last name, let the camp laundry figure out whose is whose. So I am hoping there is some good reality TV on for the next few days since I will be dusting off the old iron and board, if I can remember where I put them away after last year's labelling marathon.

But of course, all my careful labelling, folding and packing will be for not once they find the bathing suits, a couple of t-shirts and the sandals. The rest of the giant hockey bag will lie undisturbed by human hands beneath the bed until I dump the perfectly preserved contents into the laundry upon their triumphant and smelly return home.

And the only thing better than sending them off to camp is welcoming them home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

First Folder Tenth Photo

Thanks to Seriously Shawn for tagging me in this game of photo tag. I had to look up my very first file of photos on this computer and find the 10th photo. Now, I started taking digital pics a bit before this but we lost a lot of them in a terrible computer crash and as I still took lots of film way back then it wasn't as big a crisis as it would be today. (Note to self: BACK UP NOW!!!) So here it is, nothing too profound or inspiring, some of my favourite pictures are ones of just every day life. There isn't much of a story behind it but as some of you may have noticed I can tell a story about just about anything and here it is.

I can't believe how little the boys are in this photo, you can even see a is even a bit of a yellow sippy cup down in the right corner. This was taken just before Christmas in 2003 at our old house in the city. It seems like a lifetime ago when the boys were cute and cuddly instead of huge and a bit stinky. I think I am going through a little boy with drawl stage as mine become an 11 year old who doesn't want to admit that puberty is on the horizon and says health class is "just gross." An iPod-wearing 9 year old full of attitude and "Mum, that's stupid" and a 7 year old, small town white kid who wants to be a gangsta in the hood.

But there is hope, my sister and her husband finally opened the envelope containing the sex of their soon to be born child. Drum roll please ... First thing she told me was that it contained an ultrasound photo of the baby with something (whatever could that mean?) circled.

Yup, it's a boy. My niece will not be forced to abdicate her throne as Princess of the Cousins. And no shopping in the vast aisles of never-ending pink and funky girls clothes section of stores for me. It's still all dump trucks and Pokemon for the foreseeable future. Oh well, at least I can off-load all our "Mighty Machine" videos (if they still have a VCR).

Back to the Game of Tag. I'd love to see these fabulous bloggers' First Folder Tenth Photo.

Jill at Caffeine Court

Cyndy at Quintessential Procrastinator

Beth at BookEtc.

Karen at A Day in the Life ...

Pseudonymous High School Teacher (whose name I don't know, of course since she uses a pseudonym)

TGIWordless Wednesday

Sunset over Georgian Bay

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Making new friends

There was a song we sang around the fire at camp,"Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold." Never made much sense to a girl who prefers silver jewelry any day but I get that it is about making new friends.

You, my bloggy ones are like the friends I used to have. The ones I could call in the middle of the night to pour out my woes to. The ones who would hold my hair while I threw up and who even took out my contacts and my hoola hoop-sized hoop earrings when I passed out on the couch. I miss those friends, the pre-marriage (or in my case post marriage but pre-kids since I got married when I was 23 and didn't get knocked up for 9 years) friends who were always up for a night out, didn't matter what time we had to be up the next day. We haunted bars and clubs, partied with random guys from Australia or where ever they pretended to be from. We hitch-hiked home from downtown to midtown for god's sake and no one ever got hurt except for the occasional broken heel or unidentified party wound. We were gorgeous and funny and smart and had the world by the balls - we had fun.

Now fun is something that is scheduled, pre-arranged to take place without the kids. But even when we do go out and have fun we pay for it the next day with killer hangovers, faces that lost in the eighth round to gravity and kids who demand pancakes at 6am. I miss my Girls. I live a life of testosterone-filled wrestling matches and conversations which revolve around farts and penises and who is better, faster, smellier. My house isn't decorated as much as boy-proofed. The Benjamin Moore White Cloud paint that was painstakingly applied to every bit of the previous owner's knotty f**king pine has been chipped by either a light saber, the puppy or the impact some one's head.

But tonight I sat in a pristine white bath tub surrounded by scented candles, sipped a glass of chilled wine and read a Jane Green novel. But, of course, not at home. I had to escape and I was lucky enough that my Other Half realized I had had enough and told my father's girlfriend and she arranged for my "spa get-away" at their house. I almost cried when she lead me into the bathroom where she had a plate of cookies, a bottle of wine and vases filled with lilacs. Who am I kidding? I did cry.

And I have cried a lot lately. I don't know if it is a cliched mid-life crisis, pre-menstural or pre-menopause but any way - it sucks and my only refuge is here with you guys. Checking up on who has commented on my silly posts about Random Thoughts or the crappy weather or whatever I spew forth. Clicking on my favourite parent bloggers, fashionists or politics junkies is a respite from the tragic comedy that has too many acts and no intermission in sight these days.

And then today I had to drag myself outside to go to the post office and the lady behind the counter presented me with a package with my name on it. My name? Not the business. Not the family. Just me and I knew what it was before I even looked at the green customs form on the box. It was a box of "Cheetos Big Balls" from Sane Without Drugs. I had commented on her post about how much her boys loved "Big Balls" and lamented the fact that they aren't available north of the border. Lickety split she packaged them up with a few DVD's that my boys were over the moon upon receiving and it made my crappy, self-pitying day (I watched "He's Just Not That Into You" under the covers this afternoon on pay-per-view for god's sake).

That's why you aren't just like my old friends - you are the new friends I am so happy to have gotten to know over the past few months. The shiny, cool, sparkly silver ones who inspire me, make me laugh and shake my head in amazement. And despite the fact that I did finish half that bottle of wine in the tub, I am not drinking and blogging. Not too much anyways.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Crazy Eights

Haven't done one of these in a while and I'm feeling lazy, so here goes -

8 things I am looking forward to

- school being out

- not having to make lunches

- the boys all being away at camp for 10 whole days

- sitting on the dock at the cottage with a cold beer

- my sister moving back from Boston

- my sister's baby being born

- riding Jazz

- taking the boys to Victoria to visit their cousins in the fall

8 things I did yesterday

- finished the spreadsheets for our audit (yuck, yikes!)

- straightened my hair

- downloaded a bunch of new songs (I am on a bit of a Brit chick bender)

- had lunch with my Dad

- finally transplanted all the poor plants that were being crowded out in the garden and put down the mulch that has been sitting on the driveway for the past week

- tried to figure out our summer schedule to maximize my time on the aforementioned dock

- mailed another ridiculously shaped package (the ladies at the post office are starting to wonder what we really build)

- read far too many blogs. But in my defense, they were all really informative:)

8 things I wish I could do

- play a musical instrument

- work in a bookstore with no customers to interrupt my reading

- live in a village in the south of France

- take my kids to live and go to school in above village for a year

- write like Alice Munro

- figure out why Number Three Son is so grouchy these days

- spend more time at the cottage, life is changing, the days of nine weeks up north with the kids are over

- predict the weather, then we'd never freeze at soccer games

8 shows I watch

- The Mentalist

- Breakfast Television

- Lost in Austen

- The Daily Show

- The Mercer Report

- Being Erica

- Hannah Montana (with the boys)

- The Suite Life of Zack & Cody (ditto)

8 favourite fruits

- wild blueberries picked at the cottage

- local peaches

- local strawberries

- tomatoes picked from my garden mid afternoon (they are a fruit, you know)

- bananas (boring but they never disappoint)

- mangoes (love a mango daiquiri)

- lichee fruit bought from a sidewalk vendor in London (I thought they were the most exotic thing ever when I discovered them)

- plums

8 places I would like to travel

- New Zealand (on a bike)

- The South Pacific (by boat)

- Pacific Coast from California to Alaska (in a convertible)

- Queen Charlotte Islands (on a boat)

- Argentina (we're drinking alot of wine from there these days)

- the Nahani River (in a canoe)

- Ireland (on a horse)

- the Mediterranean (on a fully-staffed sailboat)

8 places I've lived

- Toronto (born)

- Montreal (studied)

- Vancouver (briefly, twice)

- London (in Holland Park and Wandsworth)

- Kennebunkport, Maine

- on a farm

- on the shores of Georgian Bay (currently)

- Algonquin Park (every summer for the past 43 years, give or take a few)

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

His future's so bright, he's gotta wear shades.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Random Tuesday Thoughts

I wish I knew why we are paying a parenting coach to tell us to "parent less." I guess when Children's Aid shows up because the kids aren't going school, there's no food in the fridge except Jello pudding and Cheez Whiz and I'm lying in the backyard with a sun reflector, a Bud Lime and a pack of Pall Malls I'll be able to show them the receipts.

I listened to the CEO of GM talk about the company's new beginning, a fresh start, a great opportunity for change (thank you Mr. Obama for this year's one size fits all phrase) blah, blah, blah. Who does he think he is kidding? First you run the company into the ground, building cars that pollute our air, that no one wants to buy, then you take billions of dollars in bailout money from the Canadian, American and Ontario governments (which means us Ontarians have been hit twice). You lay off thousands of workers, put thousands of pensions at risk and all you can do is talk about how great an opportunity it is to have a fresh start?! I'm sorry what about the rest of us who don't make $1,000,000 bonuses, who can't get reasonable financing to expand small businesses which have been run responsibly and employ skilled labour? All because the banks are cutting their losses and tightening everyone's credit? Except the car companies who are still able to offer 0% financing on 2010 cars that are exactly the same as the 2009's. (photo from Autoblog)

Is it ever going to warm up and be summer? Last night we sat in the freezing drizzle watching soccer listening to someone tell us that her parents had to shovel snow on the weekend only a few hours north of here. I want to sit outside and drink a cold beer and watch the kids swim and debate whether it is the heat or the humidity.

Number Two Son is on day two of three writing the provincial standardized tests. Doesn't seem to bother him a bit, in fact he asked me if we had a big pack of bubble gum. Seems his teacher told the kids they could chew as much as they like during the exams.

Does anyone else not want to take up golf? I seem to be the only one around who isn't interested in following a little ball around for hours and hours getting frustrated. A bit too much like chasing a toddler to me.

I love all the new music I am discovering on other people's blog. I will post a new playlist soon. Thank you for dragging me out of the 80's so I can listen to something other than Depeche Mode or Miley Cyrus.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Getting Outside, Again

It seems too easy to just download the photos off my camera from the weekend and then upload them ... et voila (anyone know how to get the accents to work on blogger?) a new post. But we had such a great bike ride yesterday despite the windchill of about 5C. Didn't dare put in my tomato plants after the weatherman's frost warning, so no gardening was done, instead we biked over hill and over dale, through the forest and down one of the steepest ski hills on the Escarpment. Number Three Son got to wear his favourite birthday present - a dirt bike helmet which made him look like an Evel Knievel Mini Me and our puppy was throughly pooped when we got home after chasing us for 3 hours.

Oops, did anyone see what that sign said?

Going down again

Too bad it's still too cold to swim.

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