R2 Says

13 Nov

A collection of the weird and funny things my middle son said over the summer.

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Out of all my sisters, Elvis is the dumbest.

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We’re supposed to meet Tarzan but I just don’t think he cares about the jungle anymore.

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Mom do you have freckles?

Yeah, some.

Gross. That freaks me out.

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Mom, I’m so proud of you for making new friends.

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Sometimes in the middle of the night, I go under the bed, grab my sister, and then we go outside to look for rainbows.

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It’s raining out. Freezing rain. Also known as, death daggers.

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Pigs are cuter than humans.

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I hate Gaston (from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast)! He’s a stupid F word. I’d use the real word if it was allowed in Canada.

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She’s a teenager who has a drivers licence. You know, THAT kind of teenager!

Imprinting

4 Nov

Will I ever learn from past mistakes?

Does anyone?

Ten years ago I knew my friend Jim was sick.  Jim was more than a friend.  He was a kind hearted, sarcastic, and hilarious father figure who was always checking up on me; he wanted to know what I was up to and what I was interested in.  

Jim started getting sick shortly after his retirement. I think it took quite awhile to get a diagnosis, but when a diagnosis was given, it was not good.  The prognosis was poor: it was just a matter of time.  

Jim kept the seriousness to himself and hid the reality from those he loved and who loved him back.  When I finally learned about the severity of his condition, he forbade me from coming to see him.  

If I could go back in time, I would just go knock on his door.  I would just go sit with him.

Five years ago, I knew my friend Lydia’s kidneys had failed.  She moved back to her home town to be closer to family and wait for a new kidney.  She was very sick but her humour and positive outlook were steadfast.  

We texted back and forth pretty regularly and made future plans to get together.  It was never the right time though.  I had little kids, she was too tired to even stand up a lot of the time.

I knew in my heart that Lydia would get her kidney.  After all, her dad got a kidney and it just makes sense that a younger person would get a kidney too!  But then one day I got a message telling me she was gone.  So suddenly.  Why did I put off seeing her?  Because I thought I had more time.

Two and a half years ago, a few days after my youngest was born, we learned that my gramma had three days to live.  I wanted desperately to go and see her but I had just given birth and I was so worn out, so body-weary and in so much pain.  

In July of this year, I was told about a friend named Kurt who received a terrible cancer diagnosis.  It looked bad but he was going to fight it.  

I waited a bit, as to not bother him or his family, then sent him a message to let him know I was thinking about him and wishing him strength and stamina and all that nice stuff you’re supposed to say to someone who is very very sick.  

We messaged back and forth about what I could draw for him (and his family).  He told me he needed to talk to the kids about it but maybe, in the meantime, I could make something “Han and Leia” for him and his partner Sara.

I ordered a print of a picture I had drawn of Han and Leia gazing at each other.  I told Kurt I’d bring it over to his house when the final product was delivered.  

It was delivered and I told him I’d bring it over very soon.  He told me to put some words on the print.  

I love you.  I know.

Classic Han and Leia.


Classic Kurt and Sara.

Then all of a sudden, he was gone.  

For over a year we (Kurt and Sara and myself and my boyfriend) continually made tentative plans to get together for dinner.  Then he was sick.  Then he was gone.  Why did we wait?  Why did I wait?

Because I’m busy.  

Because I’m tired.  

Because I’m always worried about bothering people.  

Because all of the above.

After I found out that Kurt died, I re-read seven years worth of Facebook messages.  It was awesome and heartbreaking: a story book of our friendship.

Kurt was (is) so funny and so kind; so silly and so helpful.  Our conversations over the years spanned the topics: babies, his graphic novel, babies, zombies, his family, my family, needing time away from babies, and more. 
Kurt and I were not especially close, but we were friends. We had good conversations, right up until two weeks before his death. Never a cross word was exchanged between us; he never had an unkind word to say about anyone.

When we spoke (in person and online) he really listened.

I’m going to miss him a lot.  I’m going to miss running into him, out and about, in our shared neighbourhood.

I’m grieving him and grieving for his family and closest friends.  My heart hurts for his wife Sara, his children, his sisters, and his parents.  And for so many more.


Of course he’s not gone though.  

Not really.  

He doesn’t have a body anymore, but when I see his kids smile, I’ll see Kurt smiling too.  When I look at my bookshelf, I’ll see his graphic novel and say, Hey Kurt, I see you there.  

He left his imprint on so many people; it won’t be leaving any time soon.

Will I ever learn though?

Will we ever learn?

Tell your loved ones how you feel.  

Go and see them if you can. 

Do it today and don’t delay.


Much love and light to a beautiful person: a lover and fighter in equal parts.

You belong among the wildflowers

5 Oct

My oldest son turned 9, the big kids started school, and then September just… disappeared.  

October drifted in, drizzly and grey.  A friend posted on my Facebook wall that Tom Petty was in critical condition after suffering a full cardiac arrest.

No!

The day flew by in a confusion of conflicting news reports.  Was he alive?  Was he dead.  When the official family/publicist statement was released, the uncertainty evaporated.  

Tom Petty died on October 2nd at 8:40pm.  He was surrounded by his family and friends and his band members as he passed into the great wide open.

What an odd feeling, to be so downtrodden and devastated by the death of a public figure.  I’m not his daughter or his sister or cousin.  I’ve never met him.

I wasn’t his friend.  But he was mine.

I remember it so well.  Grade 9.  Turning on MuchMoreMusic at my friend Sarah’s house.  It was Pop-up Video and Walls by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was playing.  A bearded forty-something, sitting with guitar in a blooming lotus prop.  


Some days are diamonds, some days are rocks…

It wasn’t a crush.  Ridiculous. 

It wasn’t a teenage fantasy.  Insulting.  

It was magic.

One of the pop-up bubbles said that Tom Petty was born in 1950.  I thought, while glancing at Sarah’s father’s immense CD collection, well, that’s kind of old… I wonder if Sarah’s dad has any Tom Petty CDs…

He did.

Damn the Torpedoes.  

Hard Promises.



Sarah’s dad let me borrow the CDs and I took them home and immediately transferred them to cassette.  Then I returned the CDs and wore out the cassettes.

Then I began the hunt.  

I slowly but surely gathered up all the Tom Petty I could find.  At that point, Wildflowers was the most recent Tom Petty solo release and She’s the One was the most recent Heartbreakers release.  I found it all, of course.  

What a time to be on the hunt for treasures.  Waiting to hear a song on the radio, waiting for a particular music video, picking up bits of news from the most popular music magazines.  

I had the Internet at my finger tips and yet, it wasn’t just instant gratification.  I’m part of the in-between generation, where I grew up without internet but it became a part of my daily life in my late teen years.  I understand what it’s like to be without but I also understand what it’s like in a world obsessed.  

I scoured eBay for all the old music magazines with any heartbreaker cover stories.  I perused all the second hand stores for cassettes, cds, and records.  I found out the news in both the cyber world and the real world of music magazines.   

I remember in late 1998, this kept popping up in magazines: 


I was awe struck when I realized and understood that my favourite band was releasing a brand new album.  

After my initial Tom Petty discovery, all the music I had collected was pre 1996.  Much of it from the 70s and 80s.  I’d categorized the Heartbreakers into music of the past.  The possibility of new music never even occurred to me.

It was truly a wondrous feeling to go into HMV when Echo was released and buy it with my own money.  

I can’t even pick a favourite Tom Petty album (How would I?), but that one?  Purchased on my own, as a teenager, with my own money.  Much like seeing the video for Walls play for the first time, it was a defining moment.

And brand new music videos to accompany the new album?

She went down, swingin’, like Benny Goodman…


I got a room at the top of the world tonight….


And more albums followed.  

And more videos.  

And one of the greatest days of my life: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers in concert.


And then another concert


And then another 


How lucky was I, to see my musical idol in concert not once, not twice, but three times?!

How lucky am I, that I can listen to any one of the Heartbreakers’ thirteen studio albums whenever I want?  

Or the three solo albums.  

The two Traveling Wilburys albums.  

The two Mudcrutch albums.  

The music videos. The documentary.  The recorded concerts.  The books.  It’s all there.  For me and millions of fans, whenever we want.

Through his incredible legacy, Tom Petty will continue to live.  Every time we press play, it’s going to playback.


How can it have affected me so?

It’s obvious now, isn’t it?

The soundtrack to my high school years and through four years of University.  The music that accompanied me into marriage, motherhood, and eventually, divorce.

What does a person do when experiencing great joy?  Turn on the record player.  What does a person do in times of immense grief?  Pop in a CD.  

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have been there with me through the best and the worst times. The songs are tied to specific memories and feelings.  

The words speak of universal themes, yet, feel strangely personalized.  The music appeals to the masses, yet, burrows it’s way into your psyche and feels as if it’s yours alone.

Joyful.  Mournful.  Musical accompaniment to life’s greatest tragedies and triumphs.  

Tom Petty.


I didn’t know him; I wasn’t his friend.

But he was mine.

Rest In Peace, Mr. Petty.  My heartfelt and sincere condolences to your wife, your children, your grandchild, your brother, your band, and to all who knew you and loved you.  

Thank you for the music.  

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And as usual, the rule for coming to see me:

Nine 

30 Aug

Dear R1

Today you are 9 years old.

Wow.  

I don’t know how you got to be nine when clearly I myself haven’t aged.  What a mystery!

Your 8th year brought a new school and a new school bus route and the challenge of making new friends.  I was worried about how difficult this would be for you because you already had such a great group of friends at your old school.  I’m pretty thrilled with the kids I’ve met though.  Grade 3 seems to have set a good foundation for the rest of your years at this school.


You struggled a bit with the work this year.  You were trying to learn how to read English and French at the same time; we had some tearful conversations about how you just couldn’t understand what was going on.  It had me questioning whether you should even stay in the French program or whether we should find a tutor.  But we kept trying and kept at it.  

This was the year that the reading really clicked.  You’ve made amazing strides with reading English and the French had improved a lot.  Your math skills seem to be good (I have no idea what you’re doing with the new math) and the teachers say you’re friendly and helpful and very social.  



For a 9 year old, you’re a bit small compared to the other kids.  You’re not very fast or athletic but that’s ok. You’re  funny and sarcastic and clever.  You’re also a know it all and bossy and pretty picky.  


You have a short fuse with middle brother (I’m trying to help you be more patient) but you have a lot of patience with little brother.  You’re so helpful and so good and entertaining little brother; you make him laugh and cuddle him and help him if he gets hurt.  

Your compassion for him helps ease my worries with regards to your impatience with middle brother. And let’s face it, middle brother can be quite trying. 


You’re so interested in Lego and star wars and Minecraft.  The big three.  You’re also pretty obsessed with some game called Clash Royal and now Zelda.  Then let’s not forget Plants vs Zombies and DC and Marvel.


We are gearing up for grade 4 now.  Here’s hoping for more improvement with your French and a bigger mouth (I know, right?) to fit all the adult teeth that keep growing in before the baby teeth fall out.

Here’s hoping for more patience with middle brother and continued growth in your compassion for and understanding of the world around you.  You’re very perceptive and you just “get” almost everything I explain to you.  


In your own words, “The world isn’t divided into black and white, mom!”  No, it certainly isn’t.  I love you so much, my first born, the boy who made me a mother.  I will always love you.

Down the rabbit hole

1 Aug

It’s no secret that I have a slight obsession with Alice in Wonderland.  I love the books, the Disney movie, and yes, even the Burton movies.

When I turned 28, I began planning my 30th Mad Hatter Tea Party Birthday.  And it was grand.

Last summer, I began plotting out a year of photo shoots wherein I would artistically document and explore my healing journey from a broken marriage.

You know, because I’m all deep and thoughtful.  Like Deep Thought!

I wanted my final images to be striking and interesting.  

I wanted the process to be fun and meaningful.  

I wanted to surround myself with my favourite people.

You’ll remember the cathartic burning of my wedding dress.

A close up look at the transformative power and beauty of tattoos.

And finally, an enjoyable embracing of girl power, saucily illustrated as super heroes and villains.

Today, in a triumphant return to my wonderland obsession, I bring you a journey down the rabbit hole.

Even though my obsession with wonderland spans decades now, I like to think it’s an appropriate metaphor for a variety of experiences.

Go to University, start a new job, move to a new city, get married, buy a house, have a baby.  These are all pretty standard life events for much of the population.  

No matter how much you’ve prepared yourself, you never really know what to expect until it’s happening.  Not even the most detailed books can prepare you for the madness and chaos that is parenting.  Or… no matter how in love you are with your new spouse, you’ll undoubtedly find yourself wondering how on earth you’re going to beat the odds and make a marriage work.

And loss.  

What a trip.

The loss of a child.  A job.  A parent.  A relationship.  

Nothing can prepare you for such a loss, especially when it comes out of nowhere and sucker punches you in the gut.  

And the heart.

And then you’re free falling, head first into the unknown.  It’s terrifying and weird and you refuse to believe it’s real.  

But it’s real.  

Falling unwillingly into the rabbit hole last year was one of the worst experiences and losses in my life.  Heartbreak, sorrow, loss of appetite, anger, all while walking around feeling lost.

But it doesn’t have to last.  Embrace the chaos.  Give into the madness.  Open your eyes and look around and you might like what you see.  

Wonderland is the new normal and it doesn’t have to be scary.

Photo Shoot Prep:

Location: The Chanterelle 

I interviewed Maelyn several months ago about The Chanterelle, a new downtown venue for weddings, parties, and other big events. I took a look at the brick walls and knew I’d be going back!

My initial visit was amongst drywall dust and table saws.  When we went back take our pictures, much of the construction mess was cleaned up but there was still a lot of work to do.  

Over social media today, I saw that The Chanterelle had a soft opening event over the weekend.  Likely there was food and music!  

The renovations are complete, the kitchen is in place, the decor is on point.  It’s absolutely beautiful and I hope I get to go back again very soon!


Photographer: Scott Hobbs Photography

I don’t think we need to delve too deeply into the details and specifics of my friend Scott.  We’ve seen his work before after all. 

I’m very happy to have shared these experiences with him.  He’s both talented and compassionate.  He’s professional and silly.  I’ll work with him again in the future.

Makeup: Ashley Meagher Makeup Design.  

My friend Scotia was unavailable so she recommended Ashley for this project.  All that did was make me have two favourite makeup artists!

The Players: My squad.  

Some people hate that term.  I don’t care.  I love it.  These are some of my people.  Todd, Devon, Jay, Shelley, Dee, Tracy.  

I love that they were excited about spending an entire afternoon with me as we made our own attempt at Wonderland.

Behind the scenes.  People like behind the scenes stuff, right?

The Professional Results

Here she sits, young Alice…





Who is this White Rabbit?



The Blue Caterpillar



Time for tea with the Mad Hatter and the March Hare





The Cheshire Cat is sneaky



The Red Queen can be temperamental




Uh oh…





Off with their heads, yes?

It’s ok.  We were all friends in the end.  I think…


Thank you to my lovely models.  Each and every one of you is beautiful and completely wonderful.  

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Thank you to Scott for also being beautiful and wonderful.


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Thank you to Ashley for your talent and excitement at our transformations.


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Thank you to The Chanterelle for being so kind, so helpful, and letting us come in before the renovations were complete.


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I wonder what our next project should be…

R1 Says

19 Jul

As my oldest passes into a more mature and aware stage of childhood, he’s less likely to say things that prompt me to do a coffee spit-take.

I’ve been writing down his delightful ridiculousness for over six years now.  I started when I was in the hospital after R2’s birth.  R1 came to visit and heard babies crying all over the maternity ward.  With his little mind-wheels turning, he cried, “Kitties!”  

In my hormone addled new-mom brain, I thought it was the cutest thing in the world.  

I used to go back, even months later, to read what I’d written down and laugh until I had tears in my eyes.  

I would print out pages of my silly kid’s utterances and mail them to my brother.  He told me he’d sit in his truck in the post office parking lot, reading the latest from his nephew, just doubled over with laughter and tears pouring down his face.  

I love the image of my very mellow brother sitting alone in his truck and laughing his head off.  He said a woman once knocked on his window while he was laughing to see if he was ok.

Without further ado:

Mom, Dora the Explorer is just so old school!
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Today went by so fast I couldn’t even memorize parts of it!

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R1: Give mommy some chips, R2.

Me: No thanks, I’ve got heartburn from all the crap I ate this weekend. Not actual crap, but junk food.

R1: Awwww, gross!!

Me: Not real crap, why would I eat real crap?

R1: Because you’re awesome!!

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R2: Only Canadians fart!

R1: No. Wrong. People from France fart. People from Syria fart. People from Finland fart. Everybody in the world farts, including Santa Claus.

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R1: My scrape is almost healed. No scab left except this little guy.

Me: What do you call that little guy, George?

R1: No mom. George died in the Great War.

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In Mario, you don’t actually eat the mushrooms. You smash your face into them.

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And this one.  Not adorable and not funny.  Just awesome:

Life isn’t divided into black and white, mom.

My oldest.  

He’s a know-it-all.  He’s bossy.  He thinks he’s one of the parents, uniquivocally ordering the younger boys around.  He finds joy in harassing his more sensitive and dramatic younger brother.  He relentlessly regales any listener with unending tales of Minecraft.

But he’s smart.  He expresses himself well, with an advanced vocabulary he began using at fifteen months of age.  He loves to laugh; we have a similar sense of humour. He is curious and excited.  He likes routines; he values punctuality and reliability.  

He’s starting to see the world in an intelligent and and rational way: he loves to be silly and use his imagination but he understands about hardships and suffering.  He knows people suffer and he knows we can sometimes offer help.  

He doesn’t think twice about seeing two women holding hands; he’s not phased about a little boy wearing a dress.  He knows that colours and toys do not have a gender.  He grew up immersed in the knowledge that everybody is different and differences should be celebrated.

He understands right from wrong but knows that life isn’t divided into black and white.  

Yes, there are so many shades of grey, my son.  I’m here to help you navigate.

My eight year old almost nine year old.  Where did the time go?

In a Year

15 Jun

Some people have told me not to put so much stock or value in the dates.  After all, they’re just numbers and why should I let these numbers have control over me?

Well…  I’m not sure what to say to that except…  Numbers and dates are important to me.  They don’t control my life but I’ve always enjoyed the passing of time marked by numbers and I’ve always enjoyed assigning significance to certain days.  

Such as today.

June 15th, 2017.  Mine and my husband’s 14th anniversary of being together.

Except not.

It would have been, but it’s also the one year anniversary of the end of our marriage.

It’s hard not to be sad on this day.  Last year I was so happy.  Thirteen years together and ten years married.  

We celebrated our anniversary with dinner and a movie.  

I was confident that the troubles in our marriage were secondary compared to our foundation of love.  I was still in love and really looking forward to making plans for the future.  We had been through so much together and we could undoubtedly get through a lot more.  

And now it’s been a year since my heart was broken.

A year isn’t enough time to get over some things.

Granted, I’m not in love with my ex-husband anymore.  That died pretty quick after the final death knell rang.

I’m also extremely happy with my current domestic situation: beautiful house, my three sons, and a man that loves me and appreciates  me and wants me.

If you know who you are, and you love yourself (check and check), a year is enough time to move on with acceptance and an open heart.  But no, it’s not enough time to let go of the hurt and anger.  Maybe next year.

So what have I learned in this past year?

Well, I’m still awesome.  Obvious understatement, right?  But I’ve been pretty surprised with how many people have told me how brightly my candle is burning this year.  Apparently I was hiding under a bushel without an identify of my own?  I don’t know if I agree with that assessment, but dozens of people have told me it’s like I just opened up and radiated happiness and positivity after my divorce.  Wow!  I’m both encouraged and surprised!

What else….

Maybe don’t get married at age 22. 

Do counselling before marriage to see if you’re both on the same page.  One of you might be confident whereas the other might be unsure.

Communicate with your spouse about everything.  As I’ve said before, I used to be cocky.  I considered my marriage to be superior to others.  After all, we talked about everything and everything.  We talked all the time.  Or I thought we did.

Never say never.  Up until last year I said I’d never get divorced.  I wasn’t lying to myself; I believed it with every ounce of my soul.  I’ll never say never again.  Anything can happen.

Some friends will desert you in times of life transition.  It happens.  Try not to be consumed by that and focus instead on the people who are still there.  Oh there were some amazing shows of support for me last summer, from some wonderful people.

Because some new friends will find you during transition as well, and they will become the best friends you’ve ever had.  Like brothers and sisters really.  Despite losing a great love, this past year has been more full of love than I thought would be possible.

That’s enough rambling for now.  It’s time to click off and get out of the city.  

I’m thrilled to be taking a special long weekend getaway with my amazing boyfriend.  New memories will be made on this strange weekend full of anniversaries and memories.

It’s Time to Move On

By Tom Petty

It’s time to move on, time to get going

What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing

But under my feet, baby, grass is growing

It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going

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Broken skyline, movin’ through the airport

She’s an honest defector

Conscientious objector

Now her own protector

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Broken skyline, which way to love land
Which way to something better

Which way to forgiveness

Which way do I go

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Sometime later, getting the words wrong

Wasting the meaning and losing the rhyme

Nauseous adrenalin

Like breakin’ up a dogfight

Like a deer in the headlights

Frozen in real time

I’m losing my mind

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It’s time to move on, time to get going

What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing

But under my feet, baby, grass is growing

It’s time to move on, it’s time to get going

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Been working non-stop on my side project (which is more like the main project now): People of Port Arthur by Eating Dirt.

Been working equally hard on my new art endeavour: Pop Art Prints by Eating Dirt.

There she is, one year post divorce. Self portrait.