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!!

*

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.

*

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.

*

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

*

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

*

Broken skyline, movin’ through the airport

She’s an honest defector

Conscientious objector

Now her own protector

*

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

Which way to forgiveness

Which way do I go

*

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

*

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

****

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.




R2 says

29 May

A few more weird things my middle child has said over the past month…

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I want a weasel plant

What’s that?

A plant that you say something creepy and it comes alive

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Mom, the babysitter is here. Sigh…    I have sixty four kids.

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I think it was Professor Dinky who invented turnip seeds.

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Josepher Bumble is an evil guy. He puts cougars in jail. He will steal your brain and then steal your heart.

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I wish I could go to China.

Why?

I really want to see a meerkat 

Oh, well I think meerkats live in South Africa or around there…

The meerkats in China barf rainbows. That’s what I want to see.

*

This popsicle has failed me

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The meerkat falls from the sky. That’s the last rain drop.

Two Years

26 May

Dear R3

Today you are two years old.  

How is that possible?  

So much has happened in your short little life and you’re barely aware of any of it.  

Your life consists of a mom and a dad, two big brothers, two grandparents who love you, and some close friends.  Then there are relatives farther away who love you, but they’re not part of the every day.  You’ll remember who they are soon.  

Friends and play dates and toys and little adventures around the neighbourhood with mom; driving places with dad; going to gramma’s house.  Your world is getting bigger just as you’re getting bigger.  

It’s lovely to watch your eyes light up as you learn something new.  It’s lovely to watch your personality emerge more and more!

It’s been very fun watching you grow bigger over the past year too!


It seemed like, for most of the year, your vocal abilities were stalked on simple words like mama and no.  Over the last couple months it’s like your vocabulary exploded. I’ve been trying to write down your words as I hear them but it’s getting more difficult because there are so many!

No

Ow

Ewwwww

Mommy

Daddy

Rain

Todd

Cookie 

Baby

Mine

Moo

Woof woof

Meow

Napa (belly button)

Guck-guck -truck

Gucky- duck

Moy – more

Peas – please

Day-doo – thank you

Puppy dough – puppy dog

Noise

Where are you?

You ok?

Boys!

Up

Out

Guys!

Apple juice

Help!

Peety- pretty

House 

Ghost

Go!

Enny- empty 

Goobies 

We’re getting very close to that wonderful stage of childhood development where you can get your kid to repeat funny and naughty words and it’s totally ok because he won’t remember!


You love your brothers so much and are very concerned with where they are at all times.  You know they go somewhere most days and you love going to wait at the bus stop for them after school.  You ask them if they’re ok all the time and where they are.  You laugh at them constantly and your favourite thing to do is be chased by your big brothers.  You have a particularly special bond with your biggest brother because he is far more patient with you!



As you’ve gotten closer to age two, you’ve began showing a bit of frustration and a temper.  If you do t get to grab something you want or run somewhere you want, there are tears; some theatrics.  At this age, however, you’re still pretty easy to distract so the tantrums have been short lived.  I know that’ll change in the next year…


You do like to run, but you also like sitting still.  You love observing your surroundings before deciding to go and make a run for it!



You do like to climb and have even attempted to climb out the windows on the second floor!


February 15th, it was a case of strep throat for you!  Interesting because your oldest brother had strep throat at the same age.


You’re a pretty good eater thankfully.  You don’t seem to have a favourite food that I’ve noticed.  You eat most regular foods fine (nothing too fancy), though you do have a certain fondness for treats and candy.  I think I can thank your big brothers for that…





For the most part, you’re mostly in a good mood.  You’ve always been so smiley and relatively easy going.  It seems, as the third child, you’re just excited to be included in whatever anyone else is doing!



If you would just sleep better at night, life would be perfect!  Hah!  Just kidding!  But life would certainly be easier to deal with if I got more sleep!

But of course I still love you!  My wonderfully mellow man!



Happy Birthday to a wonderful two year old!

Mother’s Day

21 May

Mother’s Day was last Sunday.  I spent an enjoyable day with my kids (and my mom) and felt all the appropriate feelings of love and thankfulness that go along with mothering an adorable group of children.

This Sunday I’m cuddled up in bed watching bad tv, drinking tea, and there are no kids in sight.

Oh, except on my phone of course.  Because what mother spends time away from her kids and doesn’t end up going through the hundreds of adorable pictures she’s taken over the last few weeks?

Yeah, that’s me.

So let’s go on a Mother’s Day Adventure!






This year’s Mother’s Day honestly felt (and feels) so different from last year.

Last year I was scared and stressed and on the verge of tears at all times.  

In May I was hoping my marriage could be saved as it hadn’t ended yet and I was trying to stay postive.  I fluctuated between confidence at one moment and paralyzing heartbreak the next.

This year?  

Well it’s been eleven months of knowing that the marriage is over.  

Last year if asked who the most important person in my life was, I would have answered truthfully that it was my husband.  I always said that my kids came second to my relationship with my husband; that relationship had to come first in order to keep a strong foundation for the kids.  It’s amazing how things change in such a short time.  

I’m certainly not scared or stressed anymore.  The worst that could happen (in this kind of situation) has already happened.  I survived.  

Now it’s these guys; they are the most important.  Look at how lucky I am:


Not everybody wants to be a mother; not everybody can be.  Somehow I ended up being a mother three times over.  

It’s so challenging.  I feel overwhelmed and exhausted constantly.  To be completely and bluntly honest, if I could have looked into my future and seen a divorce after three children, I would not have had three children.  

That’s a thought that causes a lot of guilt.  I’m not a bad person for thinking it though.  I don’t even think it’s bad to put it out there in Internet-Land.  I’ll gladly tell my kids that when they’re old enough to understand how hard it is to be a parent.

But here we are, me and the three.  

I love them madly and they love me.

Little kids get bigger and little problems turn into big problems.  We’ll meet them head on and keep going.

Our Children

20 May

Over the past few years, we’ve watched open-mouthed as young black men have been gunned down in the United States.  

One was an unarmed father of five, selling cigarettes.  One was trying to walk home from the store.  One was a 12 year old boy in a park. There are so many others.  It was heartbreaking to hear about again and again.  Canada, as a country, grieved with the parents.  

We grieved from afar but also patted ourselves on the back because that kind of awfulness just doesn’t happen in Canada.  

After all, our gun laws are stricter.  

After all, we’re just so darn nice here.  

After all, we embrace multiculturalism and diversity.

We say sorry if we bump into each other; we tell each other to have a nice day, eh!

But truthfully, we are no better.  Not really.  We proudly proclaim Canada as the epitome of human rights, while ignoring the very people who were here first.  

2017 marks Canada’s 150th birthday.  150 years as an official country.  To many that’s a major cause for celebration.  For others it’s a stark reminder of broken promises, residential schools, missing and murdered indigenous women, reserves with never ending boil-water advisories, and dead children.

The children.  Oh my heart just breaks thinking about what their parents and family members have gone through.  Are going through. 

The past decade in Thunder Bay has seen nine teens pulled from the same river.

These are their names: 

JETHRO ANDERSON

CURRAN STRANG

PAUL PANACHEESE

ROBYN HARPER

REGGIE BUSHIE

KYLE MORRISOW 

JORDAN WABASSE 

TAMMY KEEASH

JOSIAH BEGG

These names are important.  

These young people need to be remembered.

Nine young indigenous teens, ranging from 14 years to 18 years old.  All of them were in Thunder Bay for schooling (or appointments) and far from home.  They were away from their families.  They ended up in the river.

Why?  Why did these young people end up in the river?  Were they pushed?  Were they drinking?  Were they alone?  Did someone push them?  Was it accidental?  Suicide?  Murder?

I have no answers and no solutions.

What I can do, however, starts at home.  I have three white (perhaps) heterosexual sons.  

At this point in their lives, they barely understand the concepts of racism and bigotry.  We talk about it in age-appropriate ways and they have a basic understanding that some people are treated badly because of their skin colour or where they were born, what they believe, etc.  They think it’s unfair. 

Like any parent, I worry about my children.  One thing I don’t often think about though, is whether or not my sons will be shot by police officers.  Or whether or not they’ll end up in a river.  

I mean, it could happen, but it’s statistically improbable.  I just don’t spend time worrying that my sons will get shot by police officers or attacked because of their skin colour.  Nobody is going to call my sons derogatory names becsuse of their skin colour.

This is my privilege.  

I recognize it; I own it.

I don’t know what the future holds.  But today I’m telling my almost nine year old about the young boy who was pulled from the river, like the many before him.  

I’m talking to him about safety and personal responsibility.  Soon I’ll tell him that if he’s in a scary situation, he can ALWAYS call me or his dad or his Gramma. 

I don’t know what happened to Josiah and the others, but I do think about the what-ifs.  Was he alone? Was he with a friend?  Did he have a cell phone?  Was he unable to call anyone for help?  Did he call and nobody came?  Was he scared?  Did he know he was about to die?  Was he even aware of what was happening?  

That poor child.  His poor mother.  

It’s so easy to look at this situation and dismiss it outright because it happened to someone else.  But that someone else is still a person.  He’s a son and brother.  He had hopes and dreams.  He had friends.  

Josiah was Sunshine Winter’s child but really, he was our child.  A child of Canada, of Turtle Island.  All these children are our children.  This country is hurting and has been for centuries.  

We can’t change the past, but we can work towards a better future.

The children are the future, we can’t let them down.

Let’s do this.

***

Resources if you’re interested in an overview of the current situation:

Fifth Estate Segment discussing police activity in response to the deaths of these teens.

Article about the most recent deaths causing concern about police practices. 

An article about the inquest launched into the deaths over the last ten years.

Super Girls

3 May

If you follow me on various social media platforms, you’ll have seen the bombardment of photos from my November 2016 Super Girls photo shoot.

In the same way that I wrote about my Dress Burning photos and my Tattoo photos, I’d like to now talk about Super Girls.

The concept began as I was attempting to put together some sort of Catwoman costume for Halloween.  

My friend Shelley had a Wonder Woman costume.  We didn’t have a set plan for Halloween festivities but I thought it would be fun if we could get a picture of us together, in our costumes!  

It didn’t end up happening because of scheduling conflicts, but I thought we could still get together and put our costumes on!

The original idea of a simple picture began growing and transforming into an entire afternoon of makeup, costumes, and photography.  At first I thought it would just be Shelley and I but then it became “and Scotia” and then finally, “and Diane.”  Naturally I asked Scotia to do makeup and hair and naturally I wanted Scott as the photographer.

This launched the third instalment of my journey to healing: Healing from Heartbreak through personal exploration and conceptual photography projects.  

In other words, some of my friends and I were going to put on sassy costumes, pretend to fight, and have someone take pictures.

A fun way to spend an afternoon?  

Of course!

The cast of characters?  

Let’s meet them.

Scott.  The Photographer.  From Scott Hobbs Photography.  Number 46 on People of Port Arthur.


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Scotia.  The Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist of Sweet Cherry Spa.  Number 26 on People of Port Arthur.  Also known as BANE!


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Diane. Professor. Cosplay enthusiast. She did her own makeup and hair here.  Number 72 on People of Port Arthur.  Also known as the Brunette Super Girl.


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Shelley.  Public health nurse.  Number 59 on People of Port Arthur.  Also known as the blond Wonder Woman!


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And of course, me!  Catwoman.  The blogger!



It’s amazing what a bit of makeup and hairspray can do!

The tireless photographer and his trouble-making subjects:

The basic story here is that Catwoman and her two friends,  Supergirl and Wonder Woman, were on a business meeting in downtown Port Arthur.  All of a sudden, Bane appeared and her objective was to take down the trio of heros (we’re working with the premise here that Catwoman flip-flops from good to bad and in this particular situation, she’s “good”).  

Of course there was some fighting and a few tense moments.  But in the end, good triumphed over bad.  









What a happy ending!  Supergirl rescued us!

A few one-offs:






There is no deep and mysterious meanings to the subject matter of this particular photo shoot.  

I think it’s all rather self-explanatory.

1. It’s important to have fun; you don’t always have to take yourself seriously.

2. It’s important to surround yourselves with friends.

3. Every woman (every person) is a super hero on the inside.  We are strong and resilient.

4. When the going gets tough, be your own super hero.

5. When the going gets tough, surround yourself with other super heros.

I’ve come so far on this journey of healing.  It’s been just over a year now.

Journeying through grief takes on so many forms when mourning the loss of a marriage.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still mad about it.  I am.  I likely will continue to feel anger for quite some time.  

But I’m stronger than hatred and stronger than despair.  I have so much love and laughter in my life. 

My friends are my super heros.  These friends, and so many more.


*serious heart hands*

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Keep your eye on this space because this isn’t the end of the photo-shoot fun.  Not by a long shot!