Did I say that out loud?

Thoughts and musings of a mom

My heart will go on…

Dear John Pepsi,

I have loved you for so long.  I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t love you.  You have been with me through the good times and the bad, the happy and the sad, and of course, the downright ugly.  I will hold all of these memories so close to my heart.

But life brings with it many changes.  They tell me that I am the one who needs to make the changes in my life.  They say that I need to break it off with you, that I need to drink more water.  I tried to tell them that you give me energy.  I told them that I didn’t care about your reputation.  I was not afraid to be out in public with you.  I was not ashamed of our relationship.  They tell me that your sweetness will wear off, and that soon, I will see the truth of our relationship.

Perhaps ignorance has been the bliss of our relationship.

I have found us drifting apart lately though.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  I can’t change you, nor would I ever want to.  You are perfect in your own refreshingly, sweet way.  Please stay the same.

If you ever see me out in public, know that it is breaking my heart, but I need to avoid you. You may not see me in restaurants and convenience stores as much.  I may need to avoid your aisle in the grocery stores too.  It’s better that way for the both of us.  I’m not that strong.  I am weak.  You are my kryptonite.

You deserve to live your life, the life that was intended for you.

What I wouldn’t give to have you here, beside me, right now.  But it’s best that we cut this relationship between us off right now.

Maybe after the pain has lessened, we can hang out again from time to time.  I would like that.  But understand, it may be too much right now.

Sincerely,
C

P.S. If, under any circumstances, you ever see me with tomato juice though, know that something is wrong.  It will be a sign that I have joined a cult.  You can join forces with Coke, if necessary, and aid in my rescue.

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Resolutions Version 2017

Every year, I try my darn tootin’ hardest to create a new and astonishing list of resolutions that will rock my world.  And every year, I put more effort into creating the list than I do actually keeping any of them.  Whatever.  So, without further ado, I present to you Christy’s New Year’s Resolutions Version 2017.

1) Eat clean.  Wait!  I already eat clean.  I wash my hands right before I eat half a box of KD.  Therefore, I eat clean.  I am so going to crush this.

2) Convince Ganong’s Chocolate Factory that they should bring back the vanilla cream drop chocolates that they used to carry in their Red Wrap box.  In the words of Sinead O’Connor, nothing compares to you.  I do not have a plan of action for this endeavor yet, but stay tuned.  

3) Make sure I always have soap in my soap dish, clean underwear in my drawer(s), and 400 rolls of toilet paper stockpiled in my basement.  I usually do ok here, but when a girl’s got to wear her Wednesday undies on a Monday, it may be the equivalent of not forwarding on those chain letters that your great aunt Gertrude emails you 5 times a day because she just got the internet and her first email account (in other words, unnecessary certain doom).

4) Read more.  This means, of course, that I may need to not binge watch British detective programs on Netflix so much.  I know reading will make me a much smarter person, but so will throwing in a few British phrases occasionally into conversation.  Hey mate, I’m so knackered because I haven’t slept in a fortnight (my luck, I probably just swore and didn’t realize it).

5) Stop putting 2 spaces after every period when I type.  Who am I kidding?  I.  Just.  Can’t.  Do.  It.

6) Give up my magazine subscriptions. Contrary to what I believe, I will not be less of a Canadian if I don’t read Chatelaine and Canadian Living every month.  

7) Have more company over.  My husband and I used to be really good at this.  Now we suck.  I think people still like us, but we need to make the time for this.

8) Incorporate as many song lyrics into everyday conversation as I can (without getting fired or divorced) because deep down, don’t you all believe that life needs a soundtrack?  

9) Get the front step stained.  We’ve lived here for over 8 years.  It’s time.  Enough said.

10) Eat all of the contents of my freezer.  The stockpile needs to be depleted.  Anyone up for a few turkey dinners, served with a side order of hamburgers and something that may have been shot in someone’s back yard (legally)?

Of course, I’ll work on being a real healthy, kind and all around wonderful person too in 2017.  But hey!  Rome wasn’t built in a day….or a year.  Or least, I’m fairly certain it wasn’t.

Oh, and I’d really like to sing backup for Meghan Trainor…you know, if these other resolutions don’t work out so well.

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The little brown bird

I stood at the front of the room, waiting for their answers.  Each reply was true to tradition.  A witch.  A superhero.  A princess.

And then the tiniest student in the room softly spoke her quiet response to the annual question of what each child was going to dress as for Halloween. 

A little brown bird.

No flash.  No pizaaz.  No bright lights or dynamic colours.  Just a simple little brown bird.  A breath of fresh air on a day that places value on the extremes.

Years from now, will we remember the little brown bird?  Or will we only reflect back on the outstanding, the attention seekers, the more obvious depictions of that day?  

And do we live our lives as the simple little brown bird? 

Or are we the posh princess, making demands, desiring the necessity of others to fulfil our wishes? Are we the wicked witch, making life miserable for others, seeking to make others look bad for our own benefit?  Or maybe the superhero who comes in with the slick costume and almighty powers just in the nick of time, saving the day?

I want to be that person who remembers the little brown bird.  That quiet one in the back row, the gentle spirit, the one who walks while others are running.  The one who doesn’t loudly announce their presence, but whose smile lights up your part of the room.

The one who is always there,  perhaps even hidden, but open to the world around them, watching like the little brown bird.

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The Let’s Be Realistic Resolutions

Fall 2015 338 COPY AWell, it’s that time of year when I should reflect on the past and look forward to the future. In my 40+ years on the face of this earth, I think I’ve had one New Year’s Resolution stick. I’m happy to report that I am a master tooth flosser, thank you very much.

So this year, I decided to create a new list of resolutions for myself. A much more doable list. No losing 136 lbs or learning to sky dive for this girl. No starting a new company, reading all of Shakespeare’s works, or traveling to exotic locations. There will no cooking with leeks, running a marathon, or learning how to speak 4 new languages.

Instead, I will….

*Shower every day. At least once. Unless of course, I’ve been really, really sick and I need a doctor’s note for work, in which case, I won’t shower because if I’m sick, I’m going to look and smell the part too.

*Never go to Walmart in my pj pants. Maybe the top under a zipped up jacket, but NEVER the pants.  This resolution does not apply to grabbing the Walmart flyers at the end of my driveway.

*Refuse to take up smoking this year. Or going to bars. Or smoking in bars.

*Give up pop. Yeah right, who am I kidding? I just discovered Cherry Coke at the Walmart.

*Always use my right hand when I am writing with a pencil. Well, because I’m right-handed.  (I suspect I will nail this one.)

*Look for new ways to incorporate cream cheese and sour cream into my cooking.

*Laugh more.  It’s the best medicine and if it keeps me out the doctor’s office smelling like I haven’t showered for a week, that works for me.  And probably my doctor.

*Try to learn to ignore certain sounds that I find incredibly annoying, even if it means I am a genius. Like gum chewing. OK, let’s be realistic. Can’t we just rid the world of gum chewing?

*Remember all of my passwords so I don’t have to create new ones every time I order pizza or buy new shoes.  Every.  Single.  Time.

*Watch more Netflix documentaries. OK, that made me laugh.

*Try to lower my blood pressure when talking about politics.  I will therefore not go into politics.  This also means I will not read the CBC/CNN comments under news articles…very often.

*Eat more fish. Like bacon wrapped scallops.

*Ride a unicorn down the street to the bank and deposit my lotto earnings into my account. OK, a girl can dream, can’t she?

 

I suppose I should make another list that will miraculously make me healthier, but in the meantime, maybe I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing, and tweak that a bit.  Or a lot.  A whole lot.  A real whole lot.

 

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As you step off the bus at school this week…

Changes Taking Place

My child,

May you seek guidance from those with true wisdom.

May you laugh where there is humour, not harm.

May you listen when someone needs your shoulder.

May you be a light to those who struggle.

May you find a peace within that radiates through you.

May you remember the difference between right and wrong.

May you fight temptations and win each battle.

May you be a blessing to those who surround you.

May you be a friend to the friendless.

May you be quiet when silence is required, but a voice when you need to be heard.

May you respond with love and a gentle strength.

May you learn of all of the beautiful things this wonderful life has to offer, but keep a childlike innocence within your heart.

May you be open to correction.

May you treasure true friendships.

May you realize that though you have the world to explore, it does not revolve around you.

May you be thankful and respectful.

May you enjoy simple moments.

May you continue to seek God.

May you know that we are always here for you as you journey through this life.

This is my prayer for you throughout the coming days. Be blessed and be a blessing. I love you.

Now rest, for tomorrow you will do great things.

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Tax Time

In honour of another tax season coming to an end, I thought I would share with you a little tale of my taxation woes.  Now before you become all concerned that I’ve been avoiding taxes for the last several years, let me tell you, no, that is definitely not the case.  Revenue Canada knows about every penny (or should I say, nickel) that we have ever earned.  In fact, most years they like to ask about it at least twice.  I swear we’ve been audited more times than our federal senators.
Several years ago, way back in the day, my husband used to complete our taxes for us by paper and pen.  The first step in the process was to go to the local post office and acquire at least 7 or 8 income tax packets.  Yes, two are really what’s necessary, but (lots of) mistakes happen. So on this one particular day, after being married for a couple years and receiving the same general return from the government each year, I figured we would be in the same boat yet again (and no, I don’t mean up the creek without a paddle).  The following is the exciting and thrilling play-by-play of my husband and I doing our taxes 90s style (more my husband, but I play a nice supporting role here, just staying out of his hair).
Husband goes upstairs to complete taxes.  I work downstairs on stuff (ok, maybe I was just watching tv, my memory is a bit foggy on that detail.  It was before we had children, so I really might have just been watching tv, it’s completely plausible).

Husband comes downstairs: “We owe $2000 to the government.”

Me: “There is no way that is true.  Go back upstairs.”

Husband retreats.  A little while later, comes back down the stairs:  “We now owe the government $500.”

Me (keeping in mind that my financial goal in life was to make over the Basic Personal Amount in one fiscal year, which the government kept raising, much to my chagrin): “Go back upstairs.”

Husband again retreats to his paper and pen, and by this point, nearby garbage can.  He comes back down the stairs for the third time.  He almost appears ready to give up: “The government now owes us nothing, we owe them nothing, we are even.”

Me (still working on something very important probably): “Go back upstairs and don’t come back down here until the government owes us something.”

(A little while later.  Insert theme music to Jeopardy here). Husband returns for the final time: “The government now owes us $2000.”

Me:  “Good, you’re done.”
Fortunately the government agreed with our final copy that was signed and mailed to them, and we received our precious return.  Now in the years since, my husband (fortunately for the sake of trees everywhere and global warming) has discovered the concept of e-file and it appears to be a less cumbersome process.
Now, looking back on it though, why would I ever question the number of audits we have received?  Things that make you go hmmm.

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You’ll be home soon

Tears were beginning to flow down her cheeks.  I hugged her.  Tightly enough to let her know that I love her, but not enough for her to know that I really just wanted to take her back home with me.  I saw the anxiety wash over her, as she listened to the other girls’ chatter, refusing to look in their direction.  Eyes fixed on me, pleading.  Her words whispered, her stomach knotted.

Maybe she wasn’t ready for this.  Maybe neither of us were.

But this would be a good thing.  A weekend winter camp would be a great introduction for her, just two days separated from mom and dad, far less than an entire week in the summer.

So here I sit tonight, praying that pure exhaustion washes over her and allows her to sleep through the night, away from her mother’s safe and warm embrace.  Knowing that tomorrow is a new day, and that the next time darkness falls, she will be snuggled in tight beside her mother, trying desperately to vividly recall every moment of her newfound independence.

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Location, location, location

I have this incredibly annoying habit of allowing others to rent out too much space in my head. It’s not like they care to be there, and in fact, they probably don’t even realize that they have such a fabulous rental property. Folks, it really is all about location.

There have been several renters in my head throughout the years. Some have made the news lines on CNN, while others try to live more quietly in more spacious surroundings out of the spotlight. But somehow, each one of these renters have quietly snuck into my head, and occupied it for far too long, wearing out their welcome.

Each situation is different. But every time, I do the exact same thing. I allow their perceived trash to pile up inside my head until I make it my own. I mull over it, picking up each piece and seek to find the mistakes. Many imaginary conversations take place in my rental property, and in them, I am the winner, the righter of the wrongs, the giver of “necessary” advice, the judge.

Eventually, I open my mouth and I begin to complain about my occupants. Maybe not outright at first, but a knowing look, a rolling of the eyes, a snide comment, a tinge of sarcasm. Sometimes a brazenness follows and the words spill out, the words themselves not necessarily nasty or hurtful, but the tone, the casualness, and the implications are all there. Laying there, pained and prideful.

But eviction notices must be served. I need to take each unwanted occupant, throw them out of my head. Yet, not out onto the streets. No, I need to send them to my heart, where I know, with prayer and patience, because it really is me who has the obstacles, they will change ME for the better.

And then, when I’m ready, I will move on.

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Somewhere down the road

This weekend my husband and I went to a beautiful outdoor wedding. The weather was perfect for the end of September, with just the right amount of warmth from the sun and light breeze for the occasion. The festivities were set right on the water, with the guests sitting on wooden benches nestled amongst the trees beside the winding path down to wedding altar.

The gorgeous bride was in the youth group my husband and I ran many moons ago, as were her sisters and friend who were three of the five bridesmaids. The minister was my husband’s best man in our own wedding 18 years ago, and his wife was my first roommate in university. This all made for a delightful afternoon of reminiscing and celebrating the future.

If I were to segment my life into different periods, I think I would do so based on the places I have lived throughout my time on this earth. The period lines would be somewhat blurred as well, as at times, I have travelled only a few miles up the road to live in a different dwelling. We have lived in our current home, having moved 30 minutes into town, for just 6 short years. As newly weds, we had lived double that amount of time in the small community in the area where we attended the wedding.

On the way back home from the festivities, we took a little detour, looping around where we used to live. The big, old red house had changed. It was not the same as when we lived there. Landscaping was being completed and renovations were changing the blueprint of the house we used to call our home, our first home, the home where we brought both of our daughters after they were born.

We also drove by our former neighbour’s house. It was empty now as she had recently passed away, and her husband 6 years prior. They were dear friends to my husband and I as we were just starting out on our new adventure of home ownership and parenthood. Many an evening we walked down to their house, made ourselves at home at their kitchen table, delighting in her cooking and his stories. And oh, the stories that were told. The true gift of hospitality.

We also stopped by two other neighbours’ houses to discuss the nearly completed moose season and the upcoming deer season. Both homes of the parents of former youth group members. More memories of Friday evenings spent in the gymnasium in the local elementary school. Youth, freshness, laughter, love, and a longing to draw each of them closer to God.

Changing gears in our conversation, on our way home, I chatted with my husband of a funeral we had attended a couple years ago. The man had been a mentor and confidante to my husband in those years. He knew what life was like for us when we were first married and for my husband previous to our marriage, as we tried to forge ahead through years of youth ministry. As I sat in the church that afternoon, I was overcome with emotion as people walked in for the funeral service.

People from those years sat down, sang, listened to the words of reflection, grieved and celebrated a man whose life was a testament to his dedication to his family and God. I had looked around and saw some of the same faces I thought would some day be at my own funeral, if I were so lucky. I grieved at the loss of this man, but also the timeframe in which these people were all encapsulated. I wanted to go back and relive the happy moments just for a little bit, and hold onto them tightly.

But I know time goes on. We grow older. And so does everyone around us. Circumstances change. We roll with it. Jobs change and babies are born. More tears. More laughter. There is death. There is life.

Sometimes I long for those days that seemed longer and less hurried. At times, I grieve for those days, those moments, those celebrations, even the routines.

There are moments I regret in my 40+ years on this earth, but not the houses and communities we made home. I have made mistakes. Each has been a lesson learned. And each new period brings me quietly to the next, watching our own children growing up now, watching their futures unfold.

Even as I stray, God has guided me on this road.

This road just 30 minutes into town.

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A little human

photo

My youngest daughter’s favourite song lately has been Only Human by Christina Perri. She loves to belt it out from the second row in our van whenever Mommy is in charge of the music. There is a line in the song that goes like this…

I’m only human
Just a little human.

I have chuckled at this line before because in my mind, I always thought, “What was the other part? Just a little human, but a lot werewolf?”

But then one day, instead of joining my daughter for an incredibly loud duet, not necessarily enjoyed by all within the near vicinity, I really listened to her. She really is just a little human. A child.

I had always thought the song was about a relationship between a couple, where obviously this woman was not appreciated for who she was, someone who took on the weight of the world in order to keep the peace and maintain the relationship.

But then I realized that the lyrics could easily pertain to the relationship between a parent and a child. One where the parent did not see the pressures placed on their child.

This past week, my family got away for a night away, staying at a hotel. The following morning at the all inclusive breakfast, I saw a child who had a shirt on that somewhat disturbed me. On the front of the shirt was written something to the effect of “You don’t practice to play back up.”

I admit it. I normally root for the underdog. That team, competitor, player whom others just don’t think has what it takes to win first prize. That guy sitting on the bench, ready to play, ready to recite his lines. The back-up.

But there needs to be a back-up. Not everyone can or will win first prize. Not everyone is going to be on the starting lineup, get 100% on every test, meet our every expectation, aspiration and dream.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with allowing our children to play for fun, learn at a different pace, relax and enjoy their childhood. Maybe even fail at something, experience disappointment.

Now before you automatically slap a slacker parent label on me, realize this. Yes, we do practice to become better. That is how life works. Without hard work and determination, going to the starting block is pointless. And yes, there are children who thrive on being involved in every activity going, pursuing academic endeavours that go beyond the clutches of their classmates, never taking time off. But not every child is like that though.

Do we need our children to be number one all of the time, make every team, win every contest, play every sport, be in every organization, play, band, and so on and so on? No, WE don’t need it, and neither do our children. Expose your children to different activities and hobbies, but know their limits and yours.

With this new school year just around the corner, as a mother and teacher, I want my children and students to be on that starting block, working hard and learning new things. But if it takes a little longer for them to complete the race, that’s ok. They don’t need that added pressure. I want them to know that I am there for them. And if they need a time out or a break from it all, that’s ok too.

Because after all, they’re just a little human.

 

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