Live, Drink and Be Merry…or Mary, if That’s Your Name

Last night, as I was finally able to sit in front of the fire with the dog on my lap and a glass of wine in my hand, Hubby made a remark that unsettled me. He commented on my glass of wine. Maybe I shouldn’t be drinking wine EVERY night, and since we’d be having wine on Friday, as our usual routine, I could skip a night. I think I froze in mid-drink and stared. The unthinkable statement made me blink in disbelief. SKIP A NIGHT?!
I don’t drink EVERY night…more like every OTHER night. I don’t drink to get drunk. IT’S A GLASS OF WINE FOR PETE’S SAKE.

wine and cookies

So, it got me thinking as to the conversations lately about enjoyment of one’s time while on this earth and taking care of your health so one can live a healthy and long life. If something happened to me, would I regret having a glass of wine last evening? HELL NO! I would have regretted NOT having that wine…that’s how I look at everything now.

If I skip something, will I regret it if anything happened? For example, if I chose to skip my work out on my scheduled day, would I regret it? Yes, probably, since I’m working ever so hard at keeping it up. If I skipped going to something I enjoy, would I regret it the next day? Yes. Absolutely…so no skipping stuff I enjoy simply because somebody else thinks it’s a bad idea, or somebody else isn’t really into it. I still do plenty for others. I hold down a full time job, take care of the house and make sure my adult and semi-adult children are eating and contributing to society. More or less. I try to make time for friends and family and enjoy others’ company. I try to dwell on the positive instead of the negative and keep things light. Don’t get me wrong, I have my days where nothing goes right and I seem to fall down at every turn, but that just reminds me I’m human and we all have our off days…it also makes a great post and gets people laughing.

We spend a lot of time working and being busy raising our kids and worrying about the future. I’d like to turn that around. Life is way too short to worry ourselves about something we cannot prevent, or something we cannot control. Take precautions, yes. Protect what you can, absolutely. Forfeit fun and enjoyment for the sake of being ‘safe’….no thanks. I’d rather have cocktail forks jammed in my eyeballs; or be forced to endure a lecture about the complexities of pencils than have a life void of enjoyment and fun.
So…did I have my glass of wine? You betcha. AND, I’ll have more tonight…and maybe tomorrow night. If I so choose.
Life is to live and enjoy. There is enough pain and suffering already in the world without adding to it. Yes, it is our duty as members of the human race to try to make things right by being positive lights in others’ lives, by inspiring our children to go out and do good in the world; make it better. Rise above our mistakes.
It is also our duty to enjoy our life, our friends and our family to the best of our abilities.
So, cheers friends! Enjoy….

The Pink Lady...yeah.

The Pink Lady…yeah.

There’s Calories in Air, I’m Sure Of It!

D2 suggested I try My Fitness Pal to help me with tracking my calories and hopefully shedding some pounds.  She set it up on my phone and set a goal for me.  The calorie counting at the top tells you how much you have to spend and how much you have used with every documented morsel you decide to tell it you have eaten.  I thought it was a great idea, since she has been using it for a week now and really is getting the hang of it.  I thought it would be a great mother-daughter bonding thing.

 So, I was using it today, the FIRST day, and already it’s yelling at me.  “I THOUGHT WE WERE WATCHING OUR CARBOHYDRATES?!”   “HEY, MORON, I THOUGHT WE WERE WATCHING OUR SUGAR INTAKE!”  “THERE’S SUGAR IN CHOCOLATE!”  “WE ARE VERY CLOSE TO OUR DAILY CALORIE INTAKE AND IT’S ONLY 10AM!”

I’m starting to think My Fitness Pal is really My Calorie Asshole Nazi and I’m not enjoying it.

I think I’ll put in that I ate three Big Macs and doubled down on a two litre of Coca-Cola and see if it goes into any spasms of outrage.  Maybe it will self-destruct.  Maybe it will automatically email everybody and set up a food intervention circle.

That would be great as long as somebody brings the wine…

The Middle in ‘Mid-Life’

It’s funny how our dialogue has changed from talking about what to do on the weekend or how the baby kept us up all night; to how we want to spend our retirement years and looking forward to not having to wake up to an alarm clock or a mundane drive to an office.
As we get older, it becomes more apparent that our priorities and responsibilities change. Our children are more independent and need us less. We have more time on our hands (most of us) that we once dedicated to our children, but now can dedicate to other perhaps lofty pursuits.
Our parents are now in their later years and require more attention and assistance. Considering retirement homes and long term care facilities for the people who raised us is both daunting and heartbreaking, however, a responsibility we all will eventually face. It’s the circle of life, people and we can’t escape it. (Cue Lion King music here) We will all go through it. We just don’t want to.
The struggle of having to take responsibility for yet another human on the long list of other humans we already look after seems exhausting. It really does. Depending on the medical and physical needs the person requires to get through a day, it can be an emotionally draining experience, for everyone. It’s frustrating and complicated and sometimes impossible to get the care in order. But it will come. And everybody will be settled. Until the next hurdle, when you get that call in the middle of the night that in the back of your mind you knew would happen only you were putting it away, hiding it and ignoring it’s nagging voice telling you to ‘grow up’ and put on your big girl pants because now she needs YOU, instead of the other way around. Dying is a part of growing old and a part of life. Saying ‘goodbye’ is the hardest thing about being alive.
The invite to my thirty-year high school reunion just went out a few days ago making me feel incredibly old. And like I want to hide behind someone’s skirt. I don’t recall the exact moment I got to this point; this time in my life where I have to take stock and see where I ‘ended up’. Wait. I haven’t ‘ended up’ yet. I’m still getting there…at least in my mind.
Going home is always bittersweet. It’s where I grew, up but not where I live. It haunts me and sometimes it’s like I walked in a dream. I think, did I really live there? Did I really have those people in my life? Did I really take a piece of old chewing gum that was stuck to the bottom of the table at the Fiesta Restaurant and chew it? I was like five, but really? Aside from the obvious ‘ewww’ you all just did, I didn’t always do gross stuff. I think. The stories from my childhood come in spits and spurts. From some of the stories, I take it I was a hoot to be around. I took out the old photo album the other day and took a walk with my family. I looked hard to see what was in the background; do I remember where the Christmas tree went? Do I remember the rocking chair I sat in every night and my mother would say I reminded her of Aunt Edith when I twisted my hair and chewed my finger? An aunt whom I never knew and I never met. I have a hard time remembering what my dad looked like. I have a picture of him I look at often. I study his face and try to picture what it was like sitting on his knee, or holding his hand as we walked down the sidewalk. I was looking at my son’s school picture and noticed his eyes have a downturned shape to them. So did my dad’s. My son looks like my dad. A realization I just came to not so long ago. When did that happen? The cottage in Rondeau  where we swam in a freezing Lake Erie and played games on an inflated inner tube bobbing beneath surface only to splash back up and try it again. The summer days my brother would go fishing on the Thames river and I would throw rocks under the bridge only to hear him say, ‘no, like this’ and proceed to throw a ‘skimmer’. I could never throw a ‘skimmer’.
I could spend a lot of time visiting the past. Looking at old photos, reading old letters…it’s all there. As I get older, I seem to want to visit there and try to walk in my parents shoes. See things from their perspective. Try to feel the heat from a 1970’s summer sun; remember the winter my dad had to get a ride on a snow mobile to get home from work; raising a family on a furniture salesman’s salary. I put the photos and cards away for another day and “put the past in my behind.” (Another Lion King reference, in case you missed it.)
The past is a great place to visit from time to time, and I admit to getting lost in the murky depths of memories. I eventually find my way back to the present and revel in how I got here. My ending isn’t written yet, but my middle is a pretty special place.
I think I’ll stay here awhile, if that’s okay with you….

My Dad and brothers Christmas 1972

My Dad and brothers Christmas 1972

The Power of Words

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore
I heard this quote a couple of weeks ago when I was re-watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and I knew I loved it and had to use it. I just wasn’t sure when or in what context. I do now.
A lot has happened, not just in the world, but in my little world. Free speech has become a focal point of conversation and not just in the verbal sense, but more in the written form of expression. Opinions, good or bad, warranted or totally off-colour, have been splashed all over the place. It’s as if people have lost all sense of common sense and simply spew whatever the hell they want and hide behind the phrase ‘Je Suis Charlie’. It’s like if you spread that phrase, it covers you from any backlash that may come your way. I disagree. There remains a sense of responsibility when writing anything and publishing for the world to view. That responsibility lies solely on the shoulders of the creators and the publishers. There is a responsibility at its basic sense, to the intended audience of your diatribe. You are responsible for your words and expression and how to portray your opinion without slander, prejudice or discrimination. At least, that’s how I see it.
Je Suis Charlie’ has become a theme song, an anthem; almost a patriotic stance on free expression of ideas and creative thought without fear of persecution and violence. When the men and women in France were slaughtered in the name of terrorists seeking some kind of twisted ‘revenge’ for portraying caricatures of their prophet, the world stood up and raised hands in rage and ire. A horrible tragedy that only exacerbates an already tormented world. The global environment took to their pages, took to the streets and took to social media proclaiming the terrorists have crossed lines not only killing innocent people, but also in thwarting the freedoms we hold near and dear; they have killed in the name of their prophet over animated caricatures. Ones they found offensive and blasphemous. The freedom to print and write and draw our opinions and publicly display those opinions is a right to all persons in a democratic society, offensive or otherwise. The option to object to the offensive material, to demonstrate and disagree is an option these terrorists decided to ignore. Instead, they chose violence.
The world profusely declared Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom to your opinions and views. Disagreement of those views is allowed, and welcomed. If we do not have differing opinions, we do not have valuable discussion and discourse on what is ethical and what isn’t, what is right and what is wrong and what is allowable in a civil society. Physically threatening the creators of the ideas, in the name of disagreement, is abhorrent and criminal. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ I will rant along with everyone else.
Just when I think freedom of expression has reached a valuable and justifiable position, I read an article like Pathetic in Pink. This article appeared in a local newspaper, The Northeast Avalon Times and has caused a backlash of epic proportions. Moms of little ‘white girls with blond hair and blue eyes’ everywhere, me being one of them, were appalled, disheartened and angered by the author’s words. They were spelled out paragraph after paragraph, denouncing the colour pink; the apparent ‘superiority complex’ that these little four year olds possess as they prance around in their convertible Barbie cars and princess tiaras. The author states, “I actually dislike little girls with princess wands and blonde hair. I react to them the same way I do when I turn over a log or a stone and find creepy albino bugs wriggling around underneath.” That’s right. She compared little girls to creepy albino bugs. She called the late Princess Diana a “suicidal, bulimic, pitiful, manipulative neurotic”. The late Princess publicly suffered from depression, a debilitating mental illness and the author’s description of a beloved Princess, while offensive, is ignorant as well. Princess Diana brought world-wide attention to the growing AIDS epidemic among children. Her charities continue to raise money and assist children in need in third-world countries and her memory is living on through her sons. I personally think Harry is a hoot. Not bad for a blond-haired blue eyed Princess.
After this article hit Facebook and the torrent of angered moms roared, the slightest of defenses arose, I believe from the author’s camp, saying this article was supposed to be ‘satirical’, and a column on modern parenting. I’m not laughing. Neither are a lot of other people.
Freedom of the press? This article was her opinion of how she views what she calls ‘princess girls’ and their ‘pinkness’ is repulsive to her. If she was trying to sway people to acknowledge that gender stereotyping is wrong and that children should not be compartmentalized into one single hollowed-out hole, but should be allowed to play and be who they are without prejudiced and judgment, then just say that. Why go on a journey of offensive language portraying CHILDREN as superior princess-wannabes who have ego issues and attitude problems?
I’m all for freedom to express your opinion in any form you like, but I’m also an advocate for objecting to those opinions and the freedom to disagree, peacefully. So I’m disagreeing. Strongly.
The author has refused to comment on her article and I find that disturbing. Were you aware the backlash that awaited you when you wrote this? Don’t hide behind a banner that was forged through bloodshed and say ‘Je Suis Charlie’…freedom to express my opinion. Where does the responsibility lie? Take some. When the opinion borders on language so offensive as to set off a firestorm of ire, I think that banner is waning a bit and there needs to be discussion. From both ends.
Je Suis Charlie lives on in all forms of expression and when we disagree, we are opening dialogue, inducing change and forging freedoms for all in the future, but it also comes with a responsibility. When you use the public forum to express your opinion, be prepared to justify and clarify. Take this opportunity to attempt to explain the intent of the article, instead of letting it stew in the collective conscience. Peaceful and constructive discourse is a cornerstone of democracy and just as the author has a right to her opinion, so do the public in responding and disagreeing if they so choose. I don’t hear anyone asking for a recanting of the article nor for an apology. I hear outrage, disappointment and a defense for pink-wearing, fairy-winged blond princesses, everywhere.
Words arecapable of inflicting injury, and remedying it….”

Family Time and Dog Farts

It’s not very often that we can gather together as a family, these days. With daughters working and going to Uni full time, and son also in his first year of high school and slightly employed (I say ‘slightly’ as he has secured a gig as a referee for some minor hockey games, but only on the weekends), our busy lives have prevented us from being in the same room for longer than fifteen minutes at a time. So when the opportunity presented itself for us to take a road trip to Nanny’s house Christmas day (a 4 1/2 hour long road trip), we surprisingly jumped at it. Turns out, the spontaneous let’s squish in the truck with an anxiety prone dog who should be taking Prozac and anti-farting medication was one of the better times we’ve had.
Why?
A short trip that entailed little in way of responsibility for any parties involved and virtually no expectations except that Nanny would be home and happy to see us. Yay for the latter, as Nanny happened to be out and we were waiting patiently for her return…but when she did show up, she was happy to see us. And we were happy to be out of the truck and away from the smell…ugh.

Our drive home on the open road...

Our drive home on the open road…

What?!  I didn't fart...that was the boy...I blame him.

What?! I didn’t fart…that was the boy…I blame him.

As fast as that road trip was (up and back home the next day) the time in the truck produced laughs, cuddles for us in the back seat, one spilled hot chocolate, a wandering dog who enjoyed licking everyone’s faces and some serious book time. Except for the dog’s flatulence and the tragedy of a hot chocolate downed on a Christmas shirt, it was quite a great ride home. One I think we needed in order to get that ‘family’ togetherness we have been lacking.
Since our spontaneous arrival at Nanny’s meant no Christmas turkey (Nanny had been invited out for turkey that afternoon), we postponed our dinner for a couple of days and invited Bestie and her fam. for the event. That meant, nine for dinner. Besides a runny bread pudding and less-than-baked cheesecake, the turkey was great and everybody around the table for dinner was amazing…
A nice way to spend Christmas.
New Year’s Eve prompted the annual Resolution Reformation and I cannot remember what I declared in Miss H’s binder of, what I am confident to be, intelligent and non-inebriated declarations of determined goals for the year ahead. However, after giving it some thought and a couple of prompts from Miss H herself in the forms of prolific quote and thoughtful email, I have decided to enjoy more.
That’s it really…smile more, laugh more and enjoy more. Fairly simple, really. I want to be able to enjoy the moments around me, the people who pass in and out of my life and the little stuff that we take for granted. For example, the quiet snowfall last night…I went out in my pj’s and took a few snaps, stood in the falling snow with my face to the sky and stuck out my tongue. I caught a few snowflakes and admittedly, a few questioning glances from neighbours, but I enjoyed the shit out of it. I got to linger in the peacefulness of a quiet night, the black sky darted with fat snowflakes falling gently onto my face and I thought “this is a wonderful night”.

Our snowy night...

Our snowy night…

That, my friends, is an awesome start to a new year in my books….how was yours?

When Life Was As Simple As a Peanut Butter Sandwich

There was no internet, or iphone or i-anything. We had jump ropes and played hide-and-seek. Lunches were packed in paper bags or plastic lunchpales. We had milk tickets and rarely drank pop. We played games outside like tag and dodgeball and tether ball. We went to the park and organized softball games or climbed the monkey bars. We played Red Rover in the space that belonged to the person who had the biggest back yard. We went swimming at Jaycee pool and walked a mile or more to get there. We rode our bikes, skinned out our knees (and in my case, my face), and threw a ball against a brick wall when we got bored. We climbed trees, made forts outside and chased butterflies. We went tobogganing in the winter, threw snowballs and built snowmen. We sucked on icicles (nature’s popsicles), chewed bubblegum until our jaws ached and dared somebody to eat a worm. We went fishing, threw rocks in the river and played truth or dare. We had sleepovers, went to drive-in movies and knocked on our friends’ doors to come outside. We ate dinner in under ten seconds, had summer jobs and after school ones, too. We walked or took the bus everywhere and hung out at the mall.
That is what childhood looked like.
Now it looks like this:
Talking is through a cell phone and it isn’t with your mouth, it’s with your fingers. Video games are played indoors. Jump ropes are for the ladies at the gym. Bike riding is for the people on TV or for people who don’t have cars and need to get to work. Organizing outdoor games is unheard of. What’s Red Rover? Climbing trees is illegal, I think. Balls are a part of a guy’s anatomy. Lunch is going to McDonald’s and coffee at Starbucks. A bagged lunch means you don’t have any money and it basically sucks to be you. Fishing is for dads on the weekend. Outside in the cold?! Maybe if there’s snowboarding or somebody has an ice rink in the backyard. Icicles are frozen acid rain. Snowmen are too heavy to build. Tobogganing means climbing back UP the hill. Ugh. Walking anywhere is dangerous. Throwing a snowball means you have aggressive tendencies and anger management issues and will require counselling. Truth or dare is played on the internet and is called Facebook. Hanging out at the mall still happens and the crew you hang with is the Bloods. Selling a ‘pip’ is not candy. After school jobs require a curriculum vitae and a multitude of references. A young person working through University or College gets a disparaging look from the instructor.
Generation gaps aside, there’s a big one here. We are to blame, but let’s not discount the kids just yet.
They work hard to get good grades, they work their part-time jobs in spite of adults barraging them with complaints and cynicism, they do their volunteer work, play team sports, take music lessons, and drive mom’s car to pick up the siblings at the after school tutoring program. They take out the garbage, do their own laundry, buy their books, pay for their gas, clean their rooms and feed the dog. They battle peer shit, try to side-step the drugs and the alcohol, tone down the drama on Facebook and keep their wits about them. They spend their money on i-tunes and at Starbucks, buy Christmas presents for their friends and remember birthdays. They know about the bullies and try to steer clear, defend their friends in the face of that mean kid in math and learn that as much as life sucks sometimes, they’ll always have that guy on Youtube to make them laugh. They love their parents and think they’re lame sometimes and they have no sense of humour at all. Home is a great place to hang out and eat everything in the fridge. Their bed is their refuge. They know a lot about fashion. They think they’re invincible.
So did we.
We are raising a totally different generation of beings. In spite of, or despite all the technological advances these kids are still producing ideas and generating a whole new set of problems…but maybe solutions too. Let’s not judge too harshly. Sure our childhoods were completely different, but so were the times we lived in.
They’re alright…
We three