Monday, October 06, 2014

I know

The other night I was The Biggest Loser and one of the contestants brought up how guilty he felt that he hadn't had one more chance to tell his mom that he loved her before she passed away.

My immediate reaction was, she knew.

I have two sons.

One says "I love you" every single day, sometime multiple times a day. The other has only said it on a handful of occasions. 

Do I think one son loves me more than the other?

Absolutely not. Hell to the no. And that is absurd.

I tell all three of my boys that I love them on a daily basis. It's just how I am.

Verbalizing it is how I express it to them. However, it is by no means the only way.

My boys show me they love me in so many ways.

When they give me an unsolicited hug.
Or a solicited one for that matter. They are boys and they are at an age where hugs are not necessarily cool.

When they need me to comfort them in some way. You could argue that is their need and not their love but if they didn't love and appreciate me, would they even want my comfort? I don't think so.

When they come home from school or a friend's house and they can't wait to tell me something. Or in Jack's case, he can't wait to avoid my questions with general answers. They may be great kids but they are by no means perfect.

When they wave from the sidewalk as they head off to school. Or give me the peace sign, in Kamden's case. It's our thing. 

When they clean toilets. This might be #1 on the list.

When they smile at me.

It's the simple things really.

And in that moment watching that grown son worry that his mom didn't know, I wanted to tell him, she knew.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This post has no name

After I posted last week, I instituted a new approach to help Kamden with his anxiety. I completely stole it from someone I follow on Instagram.  She's kind of famous and kind of like someone popular in high school (except that she seems like a very nice person) that I admire from afar. 

Anyway, it appears that they use a reward system to help fight anxiety. It got me to thinking. I was taking the approach that this was out of Kamden's control. What if we turned this around and taught him that he has some control over this?


This was after we made a decision, a hard one, to have him miss his best buddy's birthday party because it involved seeing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. He knew it would haunt him at bedtime, the bad guys, the fighting, etc. It wasn't an easy decision but we thought if we could avoid adding to his anxiety, it was the right decision.

So what did he worry about that night instead? That his friend would be upset that he didn't come to the party. *facepalm*

(Exhibit A: found on my phone - goofball)

I may or many not have lost my s--t at that point. My conclusion was that he was going to worry no matter what. I mean, sometimes he is just anxious about being anxious, for goodness sake.  

That's it, we have to take the power away from the anxiety. He had to take control.  So what better way to have a kid take control than by providing a reward? We must use a language that speaks to them. That in itself is a sad state of affairs but that's another post. I may write it too....helicopter parenting is failing us. I work with the adults it creates. Be afraid. Be very afraid.


We are now over two weeks into the reward.  It's $5 a night. His anxiety always hits at bedtime complete with dizziness and a look on his face, not unlike the one below, no wait that his deadpan look, not quite the same.

He gets $5 for every night he can fight the anxiety and go to sleep without excessive worry.  The "worry" involves coming into our room after we have all gone to bed upset about the anxiety du jour - examples include but are not limited to:  he has a major health problem (the same night he ran for two hours straight at football no, you are fine), something will happen to Mom and Dad (we are good dude, no worries), scary noises in his room (house shifting, car doors outside etc), school (pick random worry and insert here) etc.... lather, rinse, repeat.


(we ran a 5 km race a bit back, at least we ran some of it)

It was something new every night. Oh yeah, then there was my epic parenting fail.  EPIC.  It's possible this entire anxiety thing could be blamed on me.

I shouldn't even write about it here. Maybe. Oh what the hell. It's sort of funny. In a I suck as a mom kind of way.

This summer, we lost Jay's dad.  It was sudden and it hit Kamden pretty hard. He hasn't dealt with death yet in his young life except when my cat died and my parents dog which I think we can all agree is not quite the same thing.

One day, he came down while I was working to relay something that happened that he couldn't figure out. He was putting the stuffed animals he sleeps with back into his bed before he made it one morning. He grabbed one, leaving the other at the end of the bed. When he turned back around to grab the last one, it was gone.

He found it in his hamper.

I had no explanation and so without thinking (me? speak without thinking?  So out of character for me) I said oh maybe Granddaddy was messing with you.

I mean, I watch Long Island Medium, it could totally happen, right? And it would so be something in character for Jay's dad. One of his favourite words was buffoonery after all. 

(Exhibit B - buffoonery defined)

So yeah. Not a good thing to tell a 10 year old boy, in case you were wondering. About a month later, he came to in tears me as I was falling asleep saying maybe it's Granddaddy making all the scary noises he hears when he's trying to fall asleep. That was my first clue about the epic parenting fail. Yes, I am slow on the uptake.

After much reassurance and the use of the word buffoonery several times, I convinced him that his granddaddy would NEVER try to scare him. EVER.

Mess with him to make him laugh, absolutely, but the noises are just the house, or possibly his overactive imagination or its paranormal activity that I am too old to hear or something.... Oops. I went too far again, didn't I?  Kidding, I didn't say the part about the paranormal activity.  This time.

The are several morals points  here:

- I didn't cause the anxiety with my fail (it was already gaining its own momentum) but I did exasperate it exponentially
- he does have control or at least some control because we are well over two weeks without a late night of excessive worry. He is always a bit apprehensive at bedtime but we each have to think of at least two good things that make us happy before I hug him goodnight. That gives him something else to focus on. Take that,  "worry".
- he takes some awesome pictures that make me smile daily. See Exhibit A through C:

(Exhibit C)

I might be married to a human giraffe.

Now that's something to worry about.

(I take his anxiety very seriously. I may have made up this system of dealing with it but it seems to be working for now. I am also saving for future therapy costs as Plan B.)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Right Where I am Supposed to Be

I started the post last week when I was having a moment of complete gratitude. Then then the weekend hit and my feeling got unhinged. Monday was, well, exactly as one would expect Monday to go. The complete opposite of the feeling the picture below creates.

Summer, you  let old man winter push you around again and only graced us with your glorious presence for a short time. We made the most it. Fantastic smiles from time spent with friends and cousins in the beautiful sunshine accompanied by too many hamburgers, hot dogs and s'mores.  Perfect.

The summer included birthdays, Jack is now a teenager though still not overly acting like one (*sign of the cross*) and Kamden is 10.  Time flies.

Kamden is trying his hand at tackle football this fall. He was pretty anxious, as was mom, but it's going really well.  

This picture cracks me up. His face. White pants to practice on a grassy, muddy funny. Oh wait, no, that's a reminder to buy stock in a laundry stain removal company.

This boy of mine is a conundrum. So happy and easy going by day, by night, anxious and full of fear. That is the cause of my Monday blahs, this.

It's hard to watch him struggle.  In this, we are in new territory.  My arsenal of possible tools is quickly running dry.  We are in the process of seeking help but in what is typical of my style, I think, just one more day and we'll be through the worst.

It involves many peaks and valleys. All I want is my happy go lucky boy back.

Yesterday, if at all possible.

I am so very grateful that I am not doing this alone.  Also, what I wouldn't give to be back on that beach in Jamaica right at this moment. Oops, sorry, not being overly grateful, really, am I?

September has arrived with crisp mornings and falling leaves just in time for school. The boys were less than impressed with the arrival of the first day of school but have settled in nicely.

Grade 8 for this young man and grade 5 for his brother. As has become typical in the last couple of years, the first day of school photos have more outtakes than goodtakes but I kind of love it like that.

These two can make me laugh like no one else.




And that's what I will hold onto as we weather this minor storm because I am right where I am supposed to be.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

15-Love & 40-Love

I have been looking quite forward to my 40th birthday. I am not overly sure why but I think it's partly because I am pretty content with where I am in my life. And because of my new goal to practice regular gratitude, here is my listing on this my fortieth birthday:
Husband, partner, best friend and fantastic dad? Check.

Kids, that which I always knew I wanted. Check.

Extended immediate (think about it, it makes sense) family that's awesome. Check.

Career/job that I love. Check.

Financial security. Check. 

Good friends. Check.

Minimal regrets. Check.

There might be a few regrets but most are more like wishes that things could have been different. After 40 years, that's probably to be expected.

So here is to 40 years young.

To celebrate, Jay planned a nice dinner with a few close girl friends this past weekend. I am an introvert. A big surprise party is not my thing. This dinner? Perfect.


Jay acted as chauffeur so that we could all responsibly indulge in the adult beverages. The location was our favourite restaurant.  We indulged in (what we considered) expensive wine and an amazing 6 course meal. You'll note that there are not 6 courses pictured above.  I missed taking pictures of two of the courses. I was too busy laughing and eating and drinking.

As an aside, I am still dreaming of that scallop (top left). And I thought I didn't like scallops. Converted! I think I was like 12 last time I tried them so.... 

Oh yeah and there was the oyster choking incident.  Mental note, easy on the horseradish when you are going to try to let it slide down your throat.  Horseradish on the back of the throat = choking Kami. And those I still don't like. Similar to the clam slithering down my throat incident of 1985.

And that wine.  It was worth every cent.  

These girls.  Well they made my night. We are all super busy people and I am so grateful they could take the time to celebrate with me.  They might be gorgeous on the outside, but more importantly, they are beautiful people on the inside.


It was perfect.  Thank you Christie, Leah, Terry-Lyn and Michelle (who was there is spirit from NYC).

Jay and I are also celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary.   It's a big year.
He and I had our time together in Jamaica and after all these years, we still seem to really like each other.

I fully realize what a blessing that is and try not to take it for granted.

second round Happy Fifteenth Anniversary Jay! My only wish is for many many more.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Formal Gratitude

I just did a really quick trip to Vancouver for a work meeting and retirement dinner. I was dreading going because this past year, I have travelled more than I ever have in my entire life. And me, I am a homebody with a capital H. I was looking forward to seeing everyone because that's a no brainer but the plane rides and airport time I could do without.

Part of the day was spent in a workshop talking about uncertainty. There is lots of this right now as our profession goes through a huge change. It's one I support but it will likely mean changes for me professionally. I don't consciously feel like I am stressing about this but I have suffered more headaches the last 6 months than ever so perhaps I am subconsciously.

Anyway, that's not what this about. What I was reminded of during the workshop is that we can't focus on what we don't know but what we do. And when we choose to focus on something, it should be the positive. At one point, the facilitator asked if we practiced gratitude journaling. I didn't raise my hand but then later I realized that I do. I just don't write it down. I think of things all the time and I often post them on FB (which I have been avoiding lately but that's a whole other story).

Instead, I am going to dust this here space off and write down things I am grateful for on a weekly more frequent basis.

Here goes nothing.  Or something.  The verdict is still out.

1. Cherry blossoms. Where have you been all my life? Very glad they were still blooming when I got off the train yesterday. A photos was taken and sent to a good friend because this stuff has to be shared with those we love.  Also? The sun was shining and it was gorgeous out.

2.  The people I work with. I don't talk about my job here ever (because obviously!)  but I will make an exception here. I work with a group of people who believe in team work and believe in a positive, supportive work environment. I have experienced the opposite of that and I appreciate the current situation so much more as a result. 
3.  My job.  I don't think this is news. I work from home doing something I love.  I am here for my kids.  Enough said. The uncertainty, well, it will sort itself out. I have faith. (Headaches, you hear me?! Bugger off, things are fine.)
3.  Having a good hard laugh with a friend.  The kind that makes stop breathing and tears come to your eyes.  All he said was, "Do you  mind if I touch that?"  I don't know why we both laughed till we cried but we did.  That which he wanted to touch was a cast iron tea pot my tea came in at dinner last night.  I think perhaps both our minds hit the gutter there but sometimes, you gotta go there. Equally amusing where the befuddled looks of our colleagues as they somehow didn't find it as funny. 
4.  Friends that get you. That understand you when you are venting about things that might be slightly petty.  They listen, support and provide prospective.  
5. This quote:
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Theodore Roosevelt
 It really resonated with me. I will stop worrying about the judgement of others.  The reality is that I am flawed and human and imperfect and people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.  Myself included. 
Next up, my fortieth birthday.  Can't. hardly. wait.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Jamaica - A Second Honeymoon

In May 2014, I turn the big four oh and Jay and I celebrate 15 years of wedded bliss. For Jay's 40th in 2010, we  hit Vegas. It was great fun and the plan since then has been Jamaica when mine came around.

We planned to do an all inclusive for the first time ever. It really was a second honeymoon. Given that we went to Disney World for our first, I think it was appropriate that we hit an adult only resort that had food we so wouldn't have eaten back then. We ate at McDonald's on our first honeymoon.  More than once. Our tastes?  They have matured. I am not sure we have so much but hey, a least something has matured.

We ended up in Ocho Rios at the Sandals Grande Riviera.  Naturally they have photographers wandering the resort always ready to pose you in laughable style.  You will see what I am talking about later. The one above is one of my favourites.  Of course we got suckered in and bought them all. We got a free bottle of rum out of the deal so at least there is that.

After dinner, on our first full day, we found the gym and did some weights. We like working out, so while on a vacation with no obligations, responsibilities or well, you know, kids, we thought we would try to fit it in.  The next day, we noticed there was a circuit class at 2pm and thought we would check it out.

Enter Adrian, a Jamaican ex-military man turned personal trainer. That circuit class? It started with 20 burpees and finished with us drenched in sweat and gasping for air.  In other words, awesome.  All 30 min (because we may have perished if we had gone any longer).
We tried the power walk the next morning and Adrian showed up again. Holy hills batman.  Power was an understatement.  We then hit every morning class we could for the rest of the week and Adrian did not disappoint. We felt far less guilty about the pina coladas and Bob Marley's we consumed in copious amounts the rest of each day. We were gone 7 days and worked out 6 of them.  I call that a win.
As you can see, the scenery was horrid.  It was so hard to lay on the comfy beach chairs (with cushions!) and stare at this in the gorgeous thirty degree heat, I tell you.  It's a tough life.
After our days on the beach or by the pool, we would head back to our room and get dressed up for dinner. I wore every summery dress I own. Some of them, for the first time because well if you are familiar with SK, you know that summer is a state of mind rather than a season most years.  
It was fun and the food, as I mentioned was quite elegant. The restaurants were all themed, Italian, Caribbean, Chinese, Japanese teppanyaki (cooked by a Jamaican chef, now that was quite the experience), French and seafood galore.  It was all delicious. 
I was very worried about coming home sporting ten extra pounds. But this resort, and I don't know about other all inclusives, didn't have food everywhere. There was one breakfast buffet that was comprehensive and delicious.  There were only a few places for lunch, one being a really good buffet that was new each day and only a couple of places to get snacks. The snacks were very limited.   Nachos. We did that twice, then enough. 
At lunch we would cart some fruit, buns and cold cuts (the salami, oh damn that was good stuff - remember Klinger from Mash, I was channeling him) back to our room fridge for a snack while we got ready for dinner.  And we also packed a lunch for the plane by doing that - the two and half hour delay on the tarmac?  We were one of the few with enough food.  Never mind that the cold cuts had been out of the fridge for the better part of 6 hours by that point. We hadn't gotten sick yet, we had to live on the edge a bit.
The resort included tons of water sports and shuffle board. We played a game of shuffle board daily and discovered we are not very good at it. We did get mildly better as the week progressed but we think that may have been because we were playing at night most of the time. We likely just couldn't see properly and assumed we were getting better.
We did stand up paddle boarding once and kayaked once too. But it was pretty rough out on the ocean most days so it wasn't always available. Besides, it was hard to lift our butts off of the previously mentioned beach chairs. And it was really hard to hold a drink on the paddle board. I should know, I tried.  Kidding, but I did consider it.
We did two off resort tours. The first was a "Challenge" and by that they mean uphill on bike.  Um.  We live on the Prairies. He asked us if we wanted the easy or hard bike ride. When I got off my bike to push the damn thing because it was faster than riding it, I asked if this was the easy one.  He said yes.  It was a challenge all right.  It was fine, we liked it but it was hard. The concierge who booked it didn't warn us. Maybe we look super fit?  I feel for the next couple that unknowingly sign up for this!  May they rest in peace on that Jamaican hillside.
After the bike ride, we climbed a water fall. This consisted of the guide telling us where to stand to get as wet as possible while he took pictures with my camera.
That drink is the Bob Marley. Like his hat, you know?  I actually saw several locals wearing those hats.  I was wondering if it was for real or for the tourists. Much like the typical Jamaican expressions you hear, No problem, mon, Hey mon and my lady.  They actually did use them.  On the resort anyway which could be a complete fabrication, who knows.

Like most Caribbean countries, the poverty off the resort is quite astounding.  There were corrugated tin communities scattered here and there along the highway from the airport to the resort.  You hear about it but until you see it with your own eyes, it's not as close to home.  We really pondered if our coming and spending money at the resort was helping or making it worse. I know the resort employs many but do they get paid adequately? And the resort is not locally owned, you can bet your bottom dollar on that. 
I will also never complain about a pot hole again.  We have no idea what pot holes are.  Seriously.  We get one and we are all, can't the city fix that, I have to slow down once on my 15 min drive to work.  In Jamaica, you have to slow down once every 200 meters and swerve into the oncoming lane lest you leave half your car behind in one of the many ruts, holes are ridges that riddle the road generously.  I repeat, we have no idea.
This country is gorgeous. I really wish I could have gotten more photos off the resort but we were either in a bus swerving around holes that could fit a smart car or on a bike, zip line or river tube.  Trust me, it's beautiful, lush and amazing.
The people are also so warm and full of humour.  Again, I am not sure if that is a resort only situation since we didn't venture out unless on a resort sanctioned tour.  Regardless, they were lovely people and we felt a bit weird being served hand and foot. Sandals does not allow tipping which makes it even more amazing. I could not do that, I promise you.  Lazy North Americans eating and drinking and expecting me to serve them hand and foot?  Hell no.
The second tour we did involved riding a tube down a pretty tame river. It was refreshingly cool and shady and incredibly beautiful. I really needed a water proof camera.  Maybe for next time.
Then we did our first zip line ever.  It was a short, not very high, route because well, we have never done it before. It was perfect.
We both agree that there will be more zip lining in our future.
We splurged for a massage up in that hut on the hill with an ocean view and better yet, the ocean breeze.  It was worth every penny.
We also had a photo session booked for us when we arrived and we decided what the heck. We haven't done many photos just the two of us.  It was fun and we bought them all.  Naturally the shoot is free (cough cough included in the generous resort fees) but the photos are not.  We caved and bought them all, in electronic form.
Some are cute. Lots are of us kissing.  Why?  I don't look good kissing.  Does anyone look good kissing?
That one is okay. I guess it shows that we still like each other, even after twenty years together
This one could be titled, "White man (and woman) can jump" but I assure you it is more aptly titled, "Jamaican photographer works photographic magic to make ridiculously uncoordinated white people look good".  I promise you, I cannot jump that high in runners let alone wedges that I nearly roll my ankle on regularly while I walk on flat ground.
Which reminds of the time I fell in a bush.  Yes, in a bush.  No, I was not drunk. I wish I had been.  We were just leaving our room to head over to the chocolate buffet (unrelated: why was this buffet not a nightly occurrence?) and I was wearing wedges, not the ones pictured above, but another pair. Jay and I were chatting about something, I don't remember what now, and all of a sudden I am saying, "I am falling.  Into the bush." I rolled my ankle off the stupid wedge and into the stupid bush or hedge or lethal weapon to no one but Kami, freshly trimmed I might add.  I am still pouring peroxide on the cut that ensued because the bush (weapon) was clearly poisonous and now my cut is infected.
Oh and did I mention that at the exact moment I fell into the bush, a couple that had been on the tour with us all afternoon walked by?
Because Murphy is a total asshole.

Oh yeah, and at one point I had to explain to the photographer that I was too white to do what he was demonstrating without looking like, well, a total white person with all her rhythm housed in a hair on her left ankle.  He laughed. I meant it as a compliment. Damn those Jamaicans have rhythm, sass or whatever you want to call it.  Related: I would settle for being able to walk on wedges without falling into a bush.
And I will sum up the trip with this picture:

 It's better than the one I saw in the photo shop of a guy laying on the beach looking like he is eating his girlfriend whole. I wish I were kidding.

No problem, mon.