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.

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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!

Emotional 

13 Apr

It’s impossible to deny that this past year has been an emotional roller coaster, both for myself and for the children.

My emotions have been up and down (which I’ll probably be writing about very soon) but aside from a few intense meltdowns last spring, I’ve been pretty good at staying calm and channelling my anger and hurt into positive and healing activities.

It’s harder to do that when you’re a kid though.  

R1, as the oldest, is quite logical and routine/rule oriented.  He told me once that he is fine with how life is going right now.  He thinks I’m the best mom in the world and there’s only one thing bad about me: I’m bad because I didn’t want to be married anymore.  

I told him very calmly and truthfully that I did not want my marriage to end.  He said he thought it was my choice and I told him it was not my choice.  I’m not going to lie.  

He accepted that answer because it’s the truth and R1, while in possession of a great imagination, is not prone to magical thinking in the face of life transitions.  A lot of kids engage in magical thinking, for example, if I do this, then mommy and daddy will get back together.

R2, as the middle child, is extremely emotional and feels everything so deeply.  

Several times a week he says to me, “It’s stupid that you aren’t married anymore!” or variations on that theme.  He cries about it pretty frequently and continually asks me when Daddy and I will get married again because he wants us to have another baby.  

Talking to him about this stuff calls for a different approach than it does with R1.  R1 requires basic facts; R2 requires platitudes of undying love and professions that we will all be a family forever.  He begs me to let him live with him forever and ever. Of course I say yes.

R3 is just R3.  He is sad when his daddy leaves the house, but overall he’s pretty happy just to be with his family: a whole bunch of people who love him madly.

Three little boys and three little spirits that need building up and reinforcing.

Yesterday, when the big boys got off the school bus, R2 was crying.  I thought R1 had said something rude to him (as frequently happens) but that wasn’t the case.  

When they got inside the house, R2 painstakingly described to me the horrible scene that had just unfolded on the school bus.  A little boy told R1 that he was stupid and R2 was completely shocked and horrified that someone could possible be so mean to his big brother.  

He said, “So-and-so said R1 was stupid and that made me so angry…BECAUSE I JUST LOVE MY BROTHER SO MUCH!” Followed by a torrent of fresh tears.

R1 and I both told him that it’s important to remember that we are a wonderful family and we are all special and amazing.  Insults from other people are very upsetting but they have no effect on how amazing we are or on our love for one another.”

The tears on his cheeks.  

His sad watery eyes.  

His red little cheeks.  

Such strong emotions about the big issues – like mom and dad’s divorce – and littler issues – like that boy called R1 stupid. 

Do all issues, regardless of size, seem equally huge to R2?  Or does the one big issue (the divorce) make all the littler issues seem even bigger?

He can’t articulate much beyond the fact that he’s sad.  What else can we do beyond continually reiterate our love.  We are a family and we’ll get through the big issues, as well as the little.  

With tears yes, but we will get through.




Disgusting Milestones, take two

31 Mar

Several years ago, I wrote about gross things that will happen to you after you have kids.

No matter how careful you are, or how vigilant you are, you will still get pooped on, peed on, and barfed on.  You will encounter the most disgusting things imaginable and…you won’t care.  

Yes it’s disgusting, but it all comes with the territory.  Pregnancy and childbirth are actually great ways to kick-start the disgusting journey of parenthood.  

If your child is coming to you via adoption or surrogacy, you should do something super gross to prepare yourself for the nastiness of the years ahead.  Like….mud wrestle an octopus or let a hippopotamus spray poop on you.

Let me recap the milestones I wrote about before: 

The first time your baby pukes/spits up all over you

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 The first time your baby poops all over you

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The first time your baby pees all over you

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The first time your baby pees into your mouth

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The first time you (accidentally) injure your baby

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The first foods splattered all over the walls, floor, and everything else

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The first time you trip over a full potty

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The first time you stay up all night with a sick kid

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The first booger you get handed

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The first time your kid wipes his slimy face all over your shirt

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The first time you unknowingly leave the house with spit-up running down the back of your shirt

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The first time you leave the house with someone else’s poop smeared on your pants

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The first time you lick your thumb and wipe your kid’s face in an attempt to remove sticky grime.

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The first time your child laughs at you as you step out of the shower

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The first time you scoop poop out of the bathtub with your bare hands.

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The first time you take a peak down your child’s pants to see if he needs a diaper change and you come away with a handful of shit.

All those things have happened to me.  And I’ve been ok with everything.  Yes, grossed out and annoyed, but mostly ok.  

But one thing actually never happened to me, the grossest of them all!

My first two kids never, not once, took off a full poop diaper.  I anticipated it.  I heard horror stories.  I waited and it never happened.  Praise the lord!

But then today.  Ohhhhhh today.

I put my littlest R into his playpen while I had a shower, as I’ve done hundreds of times.

Who could have forseen the horror that awaited me?  After all, he’d already had two full diapers in the early morning!

When I got out of the shower, I got dressed and brushed my hair then wandered into R3’s room to see how he was doing.  

Alas, he was naked.  

My first thought was, ‘Oh how cute, look at his little butt!  Darn kid knows how to take his pants off now!’

Buuuuut then I saw the tell-tale brown smears on the playpen. Aaaand all over his body.  

And the smell!

You’d better believe he went right into the bath!  He wa in the tub before he knew what was happening!

Was it too much to ask to make it through all three kids without the shitty diaper explorations?

Yes, apparently it was!

Kids are disgusting!

Girl Blogger

23 Mar

I’m still neglecting this space. 

It’s the whole, having-three-kids and having-a-new-love in my life that are occupying a lot of my time these days.  Naturally.

I’m also having so much fun with my not-so-side-project, People of Port Arthur.  Have you checked it out yet?  

It will likely be more interesting if you live in Thunder Bay or you’re from Thunder Bay.  I love talking and I love learning about people; I’m having so much fun introducing readers to the people I meet on my daily travels throughout my part of the city.  

It’s my own little Sesame Street.  

These are the people in my neighbourhood…

Now remember, if you don’t live in or work in the Port Arthur half of Thunder Bay, you can still be featured.  It’s not a hard and fast rule, it’s just a lovely little bit of alliteration (PEOPLE of PORT ARTHUR) that appeals so greatly to me!  Plus, I am not a frequent visitor to the southernmost areas of our city.  

If you see me out and about, you’re welcome to approach me and ask for a feature on People of Port Arthur.  I have a backlog of people so it wouldn’t actually happen immediately.  But it would happen eventually!  

However, if I’m with my kids and they’re screaming or running into traffic or punching each other, it’s best not to approach unless you want an exasperated eye roll for a response.  You know, you gotta feel the room.

Another little pastime that’s been consuming my hours is a new art endeavour.  

Pop Art Prints by Eating Dirt.  

It’s something fun and creative that has the potential (through commissions) to earn a bit of pocket money.  And by pocket money, I mean grocery money.

So!  Despite my neglect, it was really nice to see this article in The Argus today!


First there was Amanda Bay of Bay Awesome: 


Then me:


And Sabrina from ArcticSabrina:


Each blogger had a lovely description following the picture.  It was interesting to know that someone out there considers me a badass.  Me?  Little old me???  I think I’m pretty strong and resilient so I will take that badass label and wear it proudly.

I spend a lot of time writing about other people and I’m pretty good at writing about myself with honesty and objectivity.  It’s interesting, a bit surprising, and humbling to read what someone else has written about you.  

Thank you to the author, Leah Ching, who used such kind words to describe me and my fellow girl bloggers.

One thing is definitely for certain: I’m in great company, here in Thunder Bay.  I’m lucky and blessed to know so many creative and talented people and even luckier to be counted in their numbers.

Thank you readers for continuing to come back.  I may not write as frequently as I used to, but I’m not going anywhere.

Six

23 Feb

My middle son is now six years old.  

Yesterday morning I woke him up by singing happy birthday.  Then I said to him, “Do you know what I was doing six years ago at this time?  Arriving at the hospital, getting ready to push you into the world!”  He smiled a shy smile and hugged me and said he loved me.

He’s such a sensitive child, so full of love.

Later in the evening, shortly before bed, I was showing him old videos from when he was a baby.  I looked over and tears were pouring from his eyes and he said, “I just love our family so much!”

He’s been having a rather difficult time at school these days.  Lots of talking back to his teachers and refusing to participate in activities.  

Last year he loved school so much and he loved pretty much everything about the school routine.  I know some kids don’t thrive in a regimented routine oriented day, but he was loving it!

I worry because I don’t want attending school to be torture for him.  The stark contrast between this year and last year leads me to believe that he’s not adjusting to all the big life changes of the past year quite as well as I originally thought.

At first I thought he was crying sad tears in response to the old videos, but he assured me they were happy tears.  I told him I cry happy tears too sometimes and that both happy and sad tears are ok in this family.

As my little guy gets bigger, I can see that the outside influences of peers and media are having an effect. We all want our babies to stay in bubbles to an extent.  Generally speaking, the bubbles of family life keep our kids innocent. It’s difficult sending them out in the world because that is where other influences are.  

With my little R2, I worry that the other influences will have an effect on who he is.  He can be whiny, he can be stubborn, and he can throw some pretty huge fits.  He tells outlandish stories that we know aren’t true, and he doesn’t like doing things if it isn’t his own idea.  

But he’s so imaginative and creative and he loves fiercely and deeply.  He’s interested in a huge variety of topics and, so far, he’s very confident in expressing his own personal style.  I feel like his love for people and the world could be a good lesson to many of the people in charge these days.

I’ve gathered up my favourite pictures from R2 at age 5 (until his sixth birthday yesterday) and I feel like a lot of these pictures perfectly showcase this wonderful child and his strong personality.

R2 hates going to bed, most food, when his brothers bug him, and going to school.  But he loves almost everything else.

Honourable mentions to:

Barbies, My Little Pony, Minecraft, candy, animals, people, his family,  going to Gramma’s house, going to the record store, going shopping, stickers, sparkly things, cars and trucks, and babies.


Look at that brand new six year old!