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.




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.

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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.