Saturday, July 28, 2018

Do They Still Make Straitjackets? And Other Things I'd Like to Order From Amazon

Do you ever wonder if your kids are trying to make you go crazy?

Example One. This morning. 7:03am:

Ellie: I want Rice Krispies with milk and honey and blueberries.

Me: (No caffeine yet, hobbling around like Grammie O, wondering what mornings will feel like twenty years from now) Okay. Rice Krispies, milk, and honey.

Ellie: AND blueberries!

Me: You want blueberries? Okay.

Meanwhile Benji wants his juice, but he says it now so it’s super cute even when I’m half dead, I mean, awake. (Juuusss?)

Ellie crawls into her old highchair (this started two weeks ago I’m not sure why) and waits. Patiently. No TV yet. No demands for TV. So far so good.

I wash the blueberries, pour the cereal and place the blueberries gently into the Rice Krispies so it doesn’t drop and make Krispies fly everywhere. I dribble some honey. Then I add the milk. 

Then I frown because you can’t see the honey anymore. Do I normally pour the honey after I pour the milk? Yes. Okay. Re-dribble the honey. Find her spoon. Peel Benji, screaming, off the gate across the stairs. 

Me: No stairs before breakfast!

Benji: WAHHHHHHHHHHH No NO NO NO NOooooo, Mommieeeee, nooooo.

Ellie: Where’s my CEREAL?? (Voice rising ten octaves on ceREAL!?)

Me: Here, here it is. Benji cut it out.

Ellie: (Wailing) I didn’t WANT blueberries!!!!

Honestly for a minute I’m like…am I going crazy? Did I make that up? WHAT IS REALITY!? OMG I’ve totally lost my mind.

And this is a pretty normal, better than average, morning with me and the kids. Where I’m wondering if I’m totally nuts and both kids are crying for no apparent reason.

Should I try getting them coffee? No, no that’s probably counter-productive.

Maybe I get up before Benji’s first morning ‘Mommmmieeeee!’? and have my tea then? So, 5:30am? You know what’s worse than hobbling around like Grammie O and wondering if I’m losing my mind? Being awake before the sun comes up. No, no, no. No. It’s unnatural. I struggle on…

Example B: WHERE: Girls Bathroom of Freebirds Burrito Restaurant 
When: Lunch time today

Ellie: (Points to the painting of Jimi Hendrix on the wall) WHO’S THAT?
Me: Jimi Hendrix. Famous singer. He died a long time ago.
Ellie: I think he’s in Heaven. Do you think he’s in Heaven?
Me: I hope so. I think he had a rough life.
Ellie: Yeah he’s in heaven because it’s for me, it’s purple and God knows that’s my favorite color.
Me: (Holding her steady on potty) Ellie I don’t always follow what you’re talking about but it’s always beautiful.
Ellie: Yeah, I think so too.

Her big thing lately is, ‘Did God make that?’ As in, “Did God make that scary black bird with bad eyes?” (Crows).
“Yes. Everything has a purpose, even the things we think are kind of scary. God made them too.”
“Did God make this dress?”
“No, man made that.”
“Did God make Benji?”
“Did God make Toby?”
“Did God make…the trampoline?”
“NO!” Wiping a massive poop form a squirming, flailing, screaming 20 month old while your 4 year old is trying out philosophy is really, really, really HARD TO DO.

Enter guilt. 

Hear me sigh, from the bottom of my toes as I finally tape shut his diaper and let him go. (No. Clothes are for overachievers. He’s got a diaper on he’s fine).

“Ok Ellie, basically it’s like this. Everything alive, everything beautiful or scary or awesome, God made. Everything else, everything not alive, we did.”
Silence from Ellie then squeals of laughter as I catch Benji mid-jump on Toby’s back.
“So, did God make this blanket?”

Cue me, knocking my head against the nearest wall and wondering how strong to mix my dinner time ‘Mommy-juice.”
Strong. Really strong.





Sunday, July 22, 2018


I am here watching the world and participating from time to time when the diapers are dry and the tantrums are only simmering and I have to say…what. the. heck people!? What is going on out there? 

As a person who has been through an abusive relationship in the past (Thank you, D) I have to tell you America (Canada this doesn’t concern you) Donald Trump is abusing us. We are in an abusive relationship with a gaslighter.

Ok this is a new term for me too, I just learned it about a month ago but basically it means someone is lying in a psychological attempt to manipulate you. To make you think you’re going crazy, because more important than your sanity is THEIR…whatever. Status, reputation, freedom, ability to cheat on you uninhibited, etc.

From Psychology Today:

"Gaslighting is a form of persistent manipulation and brainwashing that causes the victim to doubt her or himself, and ultimately lose her or his own sense of perception, identity, and self-worth. ... Gaslighting can occur in personal relationships, at the workplace, or over an entire society."

From Wikipedia:
"Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity."

When Donald Trump said he didn’t think Russia was behind the hacking in the 2016 elections while in Russia, and then 24 hours later back on US soil was like, no, I just forgot to add ’n’t’ to the word would. I didn’t mean why it ‘WOULD’ be Russia, I mean, why WOULDN’T it be Russia. See? Case closed.

He’s lying. 

He’s lying and he’s obfuscating and he’s gaslighting an entire country. America, you are NOT going crazy. He’s lying. And although you may still love him, love his maverick style and his immovable stance on what he thinks is right no matter the consequences, this is an abusive relationship. One where he does what he wants when he wants, then lies about it to keep us in our place. Lies bold-faced. Lies while he’s looking us in the eye. This isn’t ok. This is evidence of a sociopath.

Think of the kids America, and leave this person to lie (or hopefully not) to someone else while you start living a lie-free life. One where you don’t feel like you’re either going crazy or you aren’t sure what reality/truth really is anymore.

“We see the utter loss of shame among political leaders where they’re caught in a lie and they just double down and they lie some more.” Barak Obama.

I just don’t know what to say guys - nothing else seems to matter quite so much as shaking someone awake out of this unhealthy relationship. (Or any other, more personal ones).

I love you, stay safe, and you deserve someone who thinks you’re too important, too smart, too wonderful to ever lie to. At least, about important things. PLEASE lie to me and tell me I look good in those white skinny jeans ok?

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Living A Thousand Lives, or Chocolate Brain-Food, or Kundalini Says What?

Amazon Prime Day Tomorrow! No they didn't pay me for that. I'm just excited.

Also, I fell asleep reading to Ellie tonight. We read ‘A Moose’s Very Canadian Christmas’ and she asked me to stay for thirteen minutes. I stayed for THIRTY minutes because I fell asleep around the seven minute mark.

I worked at the studio today but everyone was home watching Soccer (or 'Football') and/or Tennis so it was sloooow.

Then I rushed home so Bill could mow the lawn and he wasn’t home. Then I started eating an ice cream bar because, hey, I was alone in my own house and that NEVER HAPPENS. 

I had four bites and I heard the garage door go up. I shouldn’t have spent the first 17 minutes running around with my hands flapping in the air singing giddily “I AM ALOONNEEEE, WHEEEEE!”

Then I shouldn’t have spent the next 12 minutes going from the freezer to the fridge to the pantry trying to decide which unhealthy treat I wanted to indulge in by myself. Chips? Chocolate? Ice cream? What treat would give me the most YES bang for my ‘I get to eat alone’ buck?

Croatia lost. Serena lost. And my friend Lorna left to go back to Canada Saturday so there’s that. Kind of a crummy weekend, eh?

But I’m reading a new book. (Success and the Spirit if you must know.) I might be doing an intro to Kundalini yoga workshop in the fall and I am SO EXCITED! I bought three new books. One is coming allll the way from Russia. Why it’s only in print in Russia mystifies me also. It isn’t here yet. Will it smell like Russia? What does that smell like? Fur and vodka? 

But the book I’m reading now (Printed in New Mexico…much closer) has some printed lectures from Yogi Bhajan and some history about Kundalini yoga and where it came from. (Indian dude named Guru Nanak in Northern India/Pakistan, about five hundred years ago). If you must know.

He was a pretty revolutionary little guy for the time. Saying women should be educated alongside the men and your caste shouldn’t limit you from searching for happiness in whatever job you find it in. Bold. Scary stuff, eh? Also that it doesn’t matter what religion you identify with, you deserve respect, dignity, and help if you need it. 

Clearly I identify strongly with this. I’ve met kind, charitable, Muslims, Jews, Christians and Sikh’s. Each sincere in their faith, each earnestly seeking closer communion with God, and striving to be the person God wants them to be. Is it a little scary talking to someone about their faith when it is completely new territory for you? Yeah. Sure. Of course. Is it also interesting, humbling, and right? Yep.

Anyway, I've gathered two main ideas I am sharing below, filtered through my own soppy brain. Sorry. Time is short, gotta speed this up:

1) God wants you to be happy. Life is not set up for us to suffer.

2) Most people live (to varying degrees) to impress other people. What if you focused on impressing yourself? (Ba ba baaaaaa)

These two are direct quotes from his lectures:

“Life is demanding. Don’t drift. Be something.”

“To be human is to be successful, and to be successful requires that you share and uplift others.”

Eh!? Anyone out there make T-shirts? I need these on a T-shirt. Maybe just the first one. I don’t want people stopping and staring at me long enough to read the second one.

The second chapter is called ‘The Purpose Of Life’. I know. Doesn’t that seem like a final chapter kind of thing? Or a first chapter kind of topic? H-E-A-V-Y.

Luckily for me Lorna left me some books to drop off at the library bookstore for her. Lots of smutty romances, and YA fairy stories so I can alternate between this and ‘Sara - part human, part pixie, ALL in love with the rogue knight from the Under-Realms.’

Right? Momma needs chocolate ice cream for the brain too.

Oh and the kids are fine. Benji’s cutting his two year molars and Ellie is feeling anxious about it.

Toby’s back is sore but he’s doing fine as long as I can keep away the mini demolition man (Benji) from leaping gleefully on his back and scrunching his fur painfully in his tiny, tiny fist.

Some bumps, some bruises and scrapes but everyone is alive and growing taller by the second. Anyway, gotta go. I’ve got a stack of yoga poses to investigate and another fairy-vampire romance to read.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” George R.R.Martin.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Friendship eh? Or, Why Is Everyone Leaving Me!? Or, Is It Too Late To Join The FBI?

I’ve got a sink full of dirty dishes and a basket overflowing with clean clothes to put away. There’s (always) toys to pick up and the cupboards are a cluttered mess only one stage shy of total and utter chaos.

But I am sitting here in the near-dark, only the steady glow of my laptop and the flickering flames from my new candle (Havana Nights!) and I am happily typing.

A hot mug of ‘Slumber Nights’ tea, headphones in, listening to Mozart Symphony No.8 in D major and all is right with the world. All is right with my messy, messy world. Oh and I’ve got toothpaste in my hair from Ellie. Yippie, mom-life.

I just finished reading the novel ‘The Crooked Staircase’ by my favorite author Dean Koontz, which is the third installment of his Jane Hawk series and I read it in less than 2 days. 

Because…Jane is my hero. Rogue FBI agent, pianist, mom, and all around bad-guys worst nightmare. Love. It. 

I don’t have the mental fortitude to research a book like that let alone come up with all the twists and turns it takes to keep a generation like mine interested for more than three nanoseconds but I am very happy Mr Koontz does/is.

I read the book on the drive to Houston for my ‘birthday stay-cation’ and I read it at the pool, then I read it after the kids went to bed, then before they woke up, then all the way back.

Is it too late to join the FBI? Then go rogue and kick butt from here to Albuquerque? 

Ah but what I REALLY want to do is just read about it, curled up in my comfy chair with a hot cup of tea even though its 95F degrees outside. Is there anything better than a really good book? One that makes you laugh, and cry, and want to be a better person? One that takes you away from the mundane into a world that sparkles, terrifies, and enlightens?

I have good reason to want to escape into a book lately so it was perfect timing. Some family friends have moved to India this week, and I’m losing another Canadian friend back to the wilds of Toronto next week. People are flying the coop left and right.

A lot of change this season for me and my family. Bill’s job will be changing soon. Benji is starting a Mommies Day out program, and other imperfect situations I will be happy to talk about once I’ve resolved them.

But I’m practicing my three thousand year old ‘Here-Now’ philosophy and my two-thousand year old ‘Be-Still’ (and know that I am God) advice. 

I’m not waiting for things to be perfect to enjoy my life right now. I’m not waiting for someone to rescue me from boredom, or drama, or whatever is chewing at my peace of mind at the moment. 

I actively look for the joy. If I can’t find joy I look for peace. If I can’t find peace I look out my window at my Willow tree, tall and droopy and beautiful and I am reminded of the fragile beauty I am immersed in every day. 

No matter what is happening there is something that reminds me the world is not bent to darkness but to light, not to grief eternal but soothing hours of loneliness broken by bright friendships, kind souls who journey with us for a long time, or a short time. Life isn’t perfect, but it sure is beautiful, and I’m grateful for the time I did have (and maybe will again) with friends new and old.

“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. Marcel Proust.

And in these divisive times, a quote from good ‘ole Tommy-boy:

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend. Thomas Jefferson.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

You Are The Boss. Really. I know. I'm Scared Too. Not for you, for me. I'm sure you'll do fine.

First, HAPPY CANADA DAY you crazy timbit-eating, toque-wearing, beer-swilling-God fearing-moose-respecting people you! I miss you, I miss PEI in the summer and Parlee Beach in Shediac on a lazy summer Sunday afternoon. 

I miss shopping at Masstown market and stopping in Aulac at the Big Stop for lunch. I miss hiking in Fundy and biking next to the Petitcodiac River. I miss beavertails and Canada Day cake at the Royal Bank. Happy 150 years guys!

So back to reality right now, we found out last week that my life isn’t perfect. Was anyone shocked? Was anyone surprised? Did anyone wonder if that means their own imperfect life is more or less on par with everyone else’s imperfect life? (It is).

Did you ever wonder what you would do if you got everything, I mean absolutely everything you ever wanted? Your kids never have a tantrum. The chocolate bar you hide in the bathroom pantry never runs out. (Is it just me that does that?) Your husband always 100% adores you. Your dog never wants outside JUST when you sit down for the first time all day.

Your bank account always holds the exact right amount of zero’s after it. You vacation where you want. You have dinner dates with fascinating people every week. Your job is fulfilling and just the right amount of challenging. You’re the boss of your entire life, you decide when, and where, and why.

And it’s true, isn’t it?

Let’s take a minute to let that sink in. You. Are. The Boss.

I’m taking that moment too. I’m the boss of my life. Doesn’t it feel…exhilarating? Terrifying? It’s juicy. It’s one of those abstract concepts that when you really bite into it you feel…everything. 

Like a delicious juicy orange zinging with orangey flavor, and the juice dribbles down your chin and you rush to get a napkin before it drips on the floor you just scrubbed and, oh, it’s SO GOOD.  Realizing I am the boss of my own life makes me feel juicy.  Overwhelmed, joyful, amazed, incredulous, terrified and at peace all at once. It’s like a roller coaster for my heart. 


We go UP - I fall in love and get married and we have kids and we’re a FAMILY. JOY!

We go DOWN - he isn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. The kids seem to exist only to point out my many (up to now) ignored flaws in my own personality.

Choice time.

Do I fall back on the old modes of parenting and…wifeing? That’s a new word I just made up. Wifeing. Those worked for my parents. I turned out more or less ok.

Or can I take the fact that my mom was aware enough to know that HER mom didn’t treat her how she wanted to be treated as a child. She wanted more love. So she gave me (and my brother) more love. Simple. Beautiful.  

Because Mom remembered, and was aware, and strived to do better than her mom (A wonderful, sweet, God-fearing, lovely woman. With flaws like us all who didn’t get what SHE needed when she was a child) and so I am making a choice to listen to my own heart, and try to do better too.

Some people may look at my life and see success. (Snapshot - an employed husband, two healthy, sweet kids). Some see failure. (She doesn’t WORK? What does she do? What is she contributing to society? To her own retirement savings?)

But I’m learning that what matters most is what I see. Two flawed people with the same goal. A happy, healthy family. A life lived with purpose. With meaning. With striving.

At the end of the day I want my own children to be whole, and resilient, and never, ever, not for one moment, wonder if anything they do would ever make me not love them so much it could crush the whole planet.

I don’t have a quote today, I have an injunction. A command. A challenge. Go love your kids so much you crush the planet. Then move on to anyone else in your orbit. Live your best life. Why?

Because...YOU'RE THE BOSS, LADY! (and man, to that one guy who reads this blog). You Are The Boss. Scary, isn't it?

The Brothers Cuomo

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