• We left the house!!

    We had a really great impromptu family day yesterday. Best of all, it was outside of my house. After 10 days of sickness, it felt so good to get out.

    S & H usually have ringette on Saturday mornings, and M is usually the one to take them. I hang out at home with P, who in the past has been a bit of a holy terror at the rink. When we tried to take him last year so I could see the kids play, he was running up and down the arena seats, sprinting down the aisles, making a mad dash for the changerooms and attempting to lick the water off the floors.

    It was not an enjoyable experience.

    We ended up bringing him a few weeks ago to try it again, and it was much better. He stayed fairly local and played with the toys he brought instead of running up and down the stairs. It was nice to see the kids play and not worry that P was going to break his head open on the arena floor.

    Lately he has been a mess every time M takes the big kids out without him. I was up and showered on time on Saturday, so we thought we’d have a family outing to the rink. Between the strep throat and Christmas the kids had missed games and practices and it was time to get back on the ice. It was a bit of a hustle trying to get all the kids fed, dressed and in the vanimal with their ringette bags, but we made it out on time. We got to the arena and hurried inside to see which change rooms we were assigned… only to notice how quiet the arena seemed. As the team names flashed across the screen, we quickly realized that ours was missing. M whipped out his phone to check the schedule… only to realize that there was no game scheduled that day.


    So, here we all were–up, dressed and out of the house with no where to go. There was something I needed at Dollarama, so we figured we’d make a quick stop at the mall down the road to get it. It wasn’t even open yet when we arrived, so we played in the hallways for a few minutes while we waited for the stores to open. The kids were excited to be there before it opened, and Dollarama is one of our favourite stores. We roamed around there for a bit, then decided we’d go see if Santa’s castle was still up since we were already there. The kids were SO excited to ride down in the glass elevator, and were spinning alllll the theories about why the castle was still there with no Santa.

    We walked a little further down the mall to let the kids stretch their legs, and found this hilarious little kiosk with motorized animals that you can actually drive around the mall. The kids beelined for them, and we decided to let them take a spin. It was quite possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen in a lonnnnng time. The kids were laughing and driving around, and everyone we passed couldn’t help but smile. I think the other shoppers enjoyed watching them almost as much as I did. For 10 glorious minutes they toured around, and S has already decided that she needs to go back for another ride on “her panda”.

    We found a little indoor play place down another hallway, and my big kids looked like giants on the equipment clearly intended for toddlers. From there we window shopped at the toy store, ran some more hallways and returned to Dollarama to pay for the three items that somehow got hidden in the stroller that we accidentally stole. (Oops!)

    We left the mall, made a few more stops then capped the morning with treats from Tim Hortons. It was such a simple thing, but the kids seriously had a blast. P basically pressed his entire face into his sprinkle donut and came up looking like he had multicoloured freckles

    After a week of being stuck inside with strep throat, it was everything that we needed. It felt so good to get out and, you know, be around other people.

    I’m really looking forward to having a week off without sickness. It also snowed today, so I’m also really looking forward to kicking them all outside to play bright and early tomorrow morning. (ha)

  • Sometimes, I Miss it*

    Do you remember what your life was like before Facebook?

    I can’t explain exactly why, but I’ve been thinking about this for almost a week and I can’t stop. I think my generation (or even more specifically, my age group) is kind of unique in that we’ve lived half our lives in one world (before social media), and the other half in another.

    Social media wasn’t really a “thing” until the tail end of my high school career, and I had already been married a year before a few friends told me I needed to join this new site called “Facebook”. Back then it was exclusively for college and university students, and you even needed an active post secondary school email to sign up. Even then it was really just a profile with your basic details and nothing more.

    Before that, it was MSN and ICQ. Myspace was around, but no one I knew ever really got into it. Everyone had a “page”, but the real social networks were the chat sites… where you would anxiously await the sound of the ICQ “Oh-oh” as someone logged in and sent you a message, or the ding of an MSN message coming through. It was nothing to have 10 chat windows open at once, shifting tabs back and forth like a pro as you had real time conversations with all your friends.

    Before that it was super cool to have a sweet Hotmail email address (or three) that you used to send emails back and forth. A few friends and I also had “anonymous” online journals where we would detail our hopes, dreams, crushes and heartaches.

    Somehow, it all felt so much more… interactive. In reality, with how social media is now, we are technically more “connected” to people than we ever have been before.

    …but at the same time it feels like it’s at an arm’s length. We are “connected”, but are we really “connecting”? Beyond a Facebook or Instagram “like”, are we actually interacting?

    I’ve pondered this before, but somehow it’s been rolling around in my head for a few days and I can’t stop thinking about it.

    I mean, do you remember what your life was like before social media? I know it was less convenient to get a hold of someone, but I also feel like the connections were more authentic. To know what was going on in someone’s life, you actually had to, you know, ask them about it. Have a conversation. Write an intentional letter. Make a connection.

    I don’t think I was less happy before Facebook, Instagram or any of the other social media networks out there, and I don’t think that I was lonelier either. If I’m being perfectly honest, I think social media can actually make people feel more lonely if they are constantly scrolling past happy pictures of friends or family together and they aren’t a part of it.

    I often wonder about the time I’d get back if I didn’t have social media– I find Facebook so addictive. I’ve been quite open about my struggles there, and lately I just keep asking myself why I’m even on it. It’s so mindless… I enjoy seeing the photos and updates, but it’s all littered between advertisements, youtube videos, articles and a host of other things.

    I just keep thinking back to the days of handwritten notes passed between friends (I still have a full binder from high school), long email updates to catch up with a friend, and spending hours on the phone reconnecting with someone you hadn’t heard from in a while.

    Mostly, the idea of letting go of the fear that I’m “missing” something if I haven’t checked Facebook in a while just sounds so appealing. I know it has made finding friends and connecting with people so much easier than ever before… but I also feel like it’s changed the way we interact with people.

    Sometimes I dream about just shutting it all down and going dark. I have a few friends who don’t use any social media and they seem really happy with their choice. I find it interesting. Intriguing. I don’t know if I could ever walk away completely–it has been very helpful for me at times–but I think about it sometimes.

    Anyway. These are my big thoughts for tonight.

  • My Word for 2019*

    I seriously debated whether or not to publish my last post.

    Actually, to be honest, I debated whether or not I should even write it. I knew it would be sad before I even sat down, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to put that “out there” on Christmas Day. In the end, I decided to write because I needed to write… and I’m so glad that I did. Immediately after I posted it I had a flood of messages and comments come in from some pretty wonderful people. It was an instant reminder that while I may have been without my big family at Christmas, I wasn’t alone. Thank you. <3

    I’m happy to report that the rest of the week has been much better. The kids are recovering nicely and my amazing parents drove down yesterday and brought Christmas to us. We had several hours of visits, snugs, new toys and warmth that I had so missed on Christmas Day. I’m still bummed about not seeing my siblings, but hopefully I can make that happen soon.

    While I was hammering out my feelings on the piano the other night, I started thinking about my word for 2019. Two years ago I decided to give up the tradition of making New Years resolutions or goals that I remember for three weeks then forget about until it’s time to make new ones. This in turn produces guilt over things not accomplished, which causes me to make strong declarations of commitment (again) to essentially the same goals which I will remember for about… three weeks. Repeat cycle.

    At the beginning of 2017 I decided to simplify and chose one word that I would focus on for the year. Something that I could think about and incorporate on a daily basis. That year, I chose the word BRAVE, and for the first time, I really felt like I accomplished some of the goals I wanted to because that word was always echoing in the back of my mind. It felt awesome.

    Last year, I chose the word STRENGTHEN. This one was harder for me. To be honest, it just didn’t hit home with me like brave had, and as I was reflecting on this while I played piano the other night, it felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. I went back and found the blog post I had written about it last year, and was actually surprised to see that I had accomplished more than I thought. You can see the entire original post here, but these were a few of my goals that I wanted to strengthen:

    my talents. More than anything, I miss writing and the piano. {WIN. Still working on the piano piece, but I feel like I’ve finally gotten back on track with my writing.}
    my health. I just passed the one month mark of no sugar, and I’ve already lost 7.5lbs. I want to keep eating better and get this body back on track! {This has been up and down for me. More on this in 2019.}
    my friendships. {I got to know some really phenomenal people last year, and had some pretty awesome memories made with some friends I’ve known for a while. It was a great year for this. <3}
    my skills as a teacher. {I completed my dual honours specialist, and dipped a toe in the water as I went back to work. I feel good about that.}

    So, it wasn’t a total bust. But I also knew I wanted something to make me push myself more in 2019. Something that would ring in my head for the entire year like BRAVE had. As I played and played piano the other night, it popped into my mind like an ear worm and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. I knew right away that it was what I needed.

    And it’s not one word, it’s two. 

    My phrase for 2019 is DO IT. 

    Here is my problem with just about everything: I am the best at thinking about doing something. I really am. I will think through every possible outcome and response, how others might react to something, or how I might react to something. I’ll think about how great I’ll feel when I actually do something I’ve been thinking about. All day long I have thoughts that pop into my head that I will think about, and they usually begin with the phrase “I should…”.

    For example:

    I should really do my stretches and exercises from my Osteopath.
    I should grab that pile of clean towels and take them downstairs to the kitchen.
    I should work out.
    I should eat better.
    I should message that friend I keep thinking about.
    I should start writing my book.
    I should put my phone down.
    I should get back into music.
    I should use social media less.

    All of these things are things that I know that I WANT to do. I think about them all the time. I’m just SO BAD at translating these thoughts into action. I spend so much time wishing I was doing them, instead of, you know, just actually doing them.

    So, for 2019 my word(s) are DO IT. Stop thinking about it, and just do it. I have so many things that I want to accomplish, and I’ll never get any of it done if I don’t make them happen. I’m just going to start trying things. I hope some will stick, I’m sure some won’t, but at least I’ll know that I tried. I started it today and I already feel like I’ve accomplished something.

    Well, that’s my word. What’s yours?

  • Not My Merriest Christmas*

    Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful day filled with family and friends… or at the very least that you got a good nap in.

    I was not at my best today. It was a hard day for me, and I didn’t try as hard as I should have… but let me explain a little.

    I mentioned earlier that S & H woke up with fevers on Wednesday morning. What I was hoping was just a 24 hour bug just wouldn’t go away, and after 3 days of non-stop fever I knew I had to get them seen. Luckily my doctor’s office has a urgent care walk in clinic on Saturday mornings, and after a long 2.5 hour wait we found out that they both have strep throat. So, my Christmas plans changed from light tours and family visits to antibiotics and movie marathons.

    I knew that we likely wouldn’t be able to go up to my parent’s house to be with my family today. I made a back up meal plan just in case and I got organized… but if I’m being totally honest, I didn’t mentally or emotionally prepare for it. Deep in my heart I hoped somehow that all the stars would align and the kids would be well enough to go.

    We had our little family Christmas Eve last night, just us. It began with me feeling badly about accidentally burning the Chinese food I made for M & I, and my still not quite well kids were fading. We watched the old Grinch movie together, read the Christmas story, sang Away in a Manger, then put out our plate for Santa. This year he got some egg nog (dairy free, of course) a muffin and a few carrots for the reindeer. The kids collapsed into bed and fell asleep almost immediately–even P, who is our chronic late night partier and liked to leave his room 103847 times before finally going to bed. M and I went to work playing Santa and Mrs. Claus, then spent an evening cozy on the couch watching our new show: Designated Survivor.

    The kids all slept in until after 6:30, so I actually had time to shower and get dressed before going down. They all lined up at the top of the stairs while M went down to check and see if Santa came. When they went tearing down the stairs to see their stockings it was… magic. S was beyond excited, and I think H is the funniest gift receiver in the world. Everything is amazing as he opens it. P hopped around and had to see what everyone else got, then proceeded to try and eat all the treats from everyone’s stockings. We opened presents, and I think the kids had a really great Christmas. M did most of the shopping for the kids, and he really hit it out of the park.

    As we were opening presents we noticed that P was coughing quite a bit. It was deep in his chest and his nose was running, and while he’s always a bit saucy, he was more irritable than normal. We hemmed and hawed for a bit, but finally over breakfast we made the call that we needed to stay home today. I knew in my heart of hearts that the kids just weren’t up for it, and if I dragged them out, I’d be doing it for me not them.

    Even though I knew it was the right decision, it was like something broke in me right then. I’m a little ashamed to say that I shut down and lost my Christmas spirit. My mom called, and it was so great to talk to her and my Dad, but I knew my siblings were all on their way and I wasn’t and it was really, really hard for me. I know I’m an adult now with a family of my own, and at some point this was going to happen… but I just wasn’t ready for it to be right now. I’m 33 years old, and this was my first Christmas without my family. I missed them.

    So, I went upstairs to “fold laundry” and had a good cry.

    I knew I was due–it’s been a long week. After a week of worry and not much sleep, I’m worn out. I wanted to go home today and be a kid again, just for a minute. It didn’t happen, and I was sad. So I cried, then I got on my knees and asked for a change in perspective to help me get through the day.

    I eventually came down and got to work–made lunch with the kids, tidied the house, read my book and eventually passed out on the couch. M quietly herded the kids downstairs to let me sleep. I was in and out for almost 2 hours… and as I lay there I knew that Christmas is what you make it. I just… I guess I don’t know how to “make it” on my own. I don’t know how to make it feel Christmasy and magical, but I need to figure it out. I was not my best today, and I feel like I took something away from the rest of my family and I feel badly about that.

    After we had the kids in bed, M went downstairs to clean up and I still felt a little adrift. So, I went to an old anchor that I’ve neglected for a long time… too long. For the first time in months I sat down at my piano and played a Christmas carol, trying to bring back some of the Christmas spirit I had lost earlier in the day. My fingers were rusty and hit every wrong key imaginable, but I just kept playing and eventually a cobweb or two fell off. I played through one book, and then another. I played for over an hour until my shoulders hurt because I’m so out of practice with my posture. As I played I remembered why I used to play–music gives me time to think and reflect. To get perspective. Earlier today I fell to my knees in tears asking for help to shift my thinking, and tonight I got it.

    I wasn’t at my best today. I’m sorry. It was a hard day and I missed my family… but in doing that I missed out on really seeing my little family right here. I was not who I wanted to be today… but I know I can be better tomorrow.

  • A Week Away*

    I took a little break.

    I didn’t mean for a whole week to go by, but it did and here I am, a whole week later. I haven’t gone that long without writing in months. I can already feel old habits creeping back in so I thought I’d better get back on the horse and get writing again.

    I was supposed to work today, but an hour after I went to bed last night I heard the kids door open and Miss S crept down the hall to the bathroom. It’s unlike her to get up at night, so I went to check on her. She wasn’t feeling well, and when I pressed my cheek to her forehead her skin was on fire. I got her some Tylenol and a cool cloth and tucked her back in, but I lay awake worrying for a long time after she fell asleep. I get so nervous whenever she has a fever. I know it’s irrational and fevers are actually a good thing, but I can’t help it.

    (If you don’t know the back story, you can read about it HERE. Her “blog name” used to be Ruby, but I just go by “S” now. It’s still my beautiful girl.)

    I was in and out of bed with her all night. She was restless most of the night, and between my worrying and going in whenever she woke, so was I. By the time my alarm went off for work at 5:45am, I was so done in. H woke up shortly after and crawled into bed with us, and I could feel the heat radiating off him. Sure enough, he was sporting a shiny new fever too. I called into work to cancel my day and declared it a “lay like a lump on the couch and watch Christmas movies day”.

    They’ve been sort of up and down all day as the fever comes on and recedes. When S woke up this morning, I could see the fever was back again. I checked her ear temp and saw she was sitting at 104°F. She seems to be responding well to meds and a cool cloth on her forehead so I’m trying not worry like an insane person. P seems largely unaffected so far, and all three of my toadies are currently having a sleep so that they can get their strength back (and mama can have a much needed breather). I should probably be napping too, but I just wanted a few minutes to eat lunch in peace and enjoy the quiet solitude.

    Part of me wishes I had tried harder to write this past week, but there was just no way I could do it. I was out almost every evening, and while they were all good things, it was a lot of things to have on in one week. My book club had our holiday get together to discuss our most recent book: Crazy Rich Asians. I thought I was going to hate it, but ended up LOVING it and can’t wait to read book two! Miss S had her school Christmas concert and she brought the house down singing Mele Kalikimaka and Santa Wears Shorts. I went into Toronto with some friends and went to see The Nutcracker, and it was… breathtaking. It was my first time seeing a ballet and I am now officially obsessed. Next stop: the opera.

    Then, on Sunday evening we had our Christmas Canata performance. I’ve been rehearsing with a choir for the past few weeks, and on Sunday we performed to the biggest crowd I’ve ever been in front of. The entire church was filled, as were the seats added all the way to the back of the gym. There were still people coming after the last seats taken, so we ended up opening up the back stage and adding more seats there… and then there were still people who had to stand. It’s hard for me to put into words what it was like to be involved with music and singing again… as we began to sing it was like my soul was on fire.

    And not to toot my own horn, but I think we sounded pretty dang good.

    I wish I could have written individually about each experience I had last week, but instead of writing about them… I simply lived and enjoyed them. I chose sleep instead of writing. And I’m okay with that.

    I hope not to take such a long break again, but this season is just so full of good things and I’m learning that try as I might, I just can’t do it all. So, even though I was supposed to work, I’m grateful for a “sick” day where I can catch up, snuggle my kids, watch Christmas movies and find a minute to write.

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