2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 680 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 11 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Parallel Lives


As my daughter crosses the stage to receive her college diploma…

She sits at home recalling seven years have passed since she buried her babe.

I successfully gain a new contract. I am excited at the prospect of my company growing larger…

Her husband is fired after twenty five years of service.

My eldest child celebrates her twenty first birthday and moves into her first apartment…

She worries the new condo they have just purchased may now be out of their financial reach. They have already sold their home.   The condo is not ready.   They move into my house feeling very homeless.

My son earned a position on the rep soccer team. I am thrilled to see him outdoors and active. I proudly watch as his fitness and agility improve each week…

Her husband has Parkinson’s disease. His tremors increase with the stress of being wrongfully dismissed.

Games take us out of town twice a week. Carpooling, picnics and practices keep us busy…

They hired a lawyer. The appointments are endless.

We pack for our annual week at the cottage. My daughter arrives with friends in tow. We run to the water and get the floating dock. Everyone is feeling carefree and full of excitement Laughter and nonsense provides the perfect reconnection our family needs…

They move into their new condo. Just the two of them. It is quiet. They don’t know if they will be able to stay.

She is thankful for everything we do for them. She appreciates our help and support.

We are family. We are all we have. Each other and our parallel lives.

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Canada Day , July 1st: Time to Toot Our Horn Again


Love this post! Proud to be a Canadian as well.

Originally posted on mother of nine9:

As Canada Day celebrates its 147th birthday, I celebrate Canada’s triumphs. Next to the United States we might seem insignificant but remember,  looks are deceiving.

Last year, Maclean’s Magazine published a Canada vs. America issue proclaiming “99 Reasons Why it’s Better to Be Canadian:We’re happier, fitter and richer and our kids are smarter too.” You can read all the statistics in the July 8, 2013 edition of Maclean’s.

Of course I read this issue with glee. I am not competitive in my personal life, choosing to also praise and exhort others, but I have an ingrained, historically rooted compulsion to out rank the powerful country to the south of me. Perhaps it is a David and Goliath syndrome. Here is a list of why I love Canada, a handful of  the stats do come from Maclean’s.

Lyrics O Canada (English version)

I live in south – eastern ontario

O Canada!

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Firecracker Mayhem


Would love to see video footage! ha You have the best stories!

Originally posted on mother of nine9:

Since, they call this link at Create with Joy,Friendship Friday, – Anything Goes, I decided that this is the perfect forum to remember a hilarious  but messy day on our hobby farm.  Firecrackers in the hands of one father led to sheer mayhem at our house a few years ago.

We were barbecuing with a few other families. In the late afternoon, when the kids were getting restless and hungry, Pierre gathered the kids together, like he often did but this time he led them into the barnyard.

What did this fun-loving father do to amuse the throng of children who surrounded him?

Why he lit firecrackers and placed them in the middle of manure plops!

We all heard the squeals and roars of approval from the kids. Before we knew what was happening, Pierre was paying the kids who dared to stand the closest to the smelly, disgusting explosions.We…

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From school bus to street car.

Confidently, she climbed unto the bus, denying any and all attention or offers of help from the other bus users, simply by lifting her chin, averting her eyes and smiling a calm capability.  
I can recall that day as clearly as yesterday even though a couple of decades have passed.  
Today I chuckle to myself as I see the same confidence in that lifted chin and averted eyes as she gets on the street car.  My heart swells as the memory of her first day of school merge with today’s transit through Toronto.  Where has the time gone?  The cliche of yesterday’s generation has become my reality. 
Her fifth year birthday milestone left me feeling ill prepared.  I wasn’t ready to share her with the world.  I panicked, not sure I had fulfilled my checklist of things I needed to teach her in order to protect her from the world.  
I roll my eyes at this reflection.  If I knew then what I know now.  Just full of cliches today.
My life has become a cliche?   Yep.
She proudly showed me around her city.  We did it up; city bus, street car and subway.  She guided me with ease to her favourite spaces.  The weather was warm and sunny, further sealing our enjoyment of each other and all our sites.  
It is official.  My child is no longer.  A young woman she has become.  It has happened seemingly by magic.  A college graduate when I can still visualise her first step.  
We went to the theatre together.  I found myself watching her instead of the stage.  Her beauty is easy to melt into but it was her expression which held my attention.  She was fully engaged in the play, completely unaware of her surroundings.  She was in her element.  Theatre.  Her passion for that art is undeniable.  
An actor herself, having graduated from the theatre arts program, I know she aches to be on stage.  Perhaps, one day her dream will come true. 
In the meantime, she has landed herself employment to pay her way.  Now the hunt for her first adult apartment is under way!  Leaving her student apartment is something she looks forward to.  
Shortly, my daughter will no longer share the same address with me.  We will probably never live in the same town again.  How strange is that?  Incredible, but I am far from sad.  
Oh no!  I couldn’t be happier.  It is thrilling to see my child start her own life, make her own way and most of all be happy!  These are the years, albiet another cliche, to remember.  I know because I remember my freedom years very well thank you!   
As we hugged goodbye, I was overwhelmed with pride for my first born babe.  
She will be just fine.  She is having the time of her life.  
She has gone from school bus to street car in a blink of my eye.  
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Happy Birthday Bea.


Bea was in love.  Absolutely – head over heels in love with that bike.  Every day she skipped down to the village in order to see it.  There it stood in the window, majestic and royal, begging for attention from every passerby.  The sunshine bounced off the metallic purple frame causing the entire window to sparkle and shine.  Bea would stand and stare at that bike for a long time before she could drag herself away. 

One more day.  Her birthday was tomorrow.  Her parents knew how much she wanted that bike.  She had been talking about it for months.  Yet, there it was still in the window.  She would just die if she didn’t get that bike. 

It was agonizing for Bea.  She couldn’t even skip home, so heavy was her heart with worry.   She stopped at the ponds to have a little rest.  As she watched the swans swim with their babies her worry began to lessen.  Life was good now.  She was feeling so much better these days.  Resting used to be the way Bea spent her days but now she could skip quite a long way before she had to rest again. 

Bea leaned back against the tree and let the sunshine warm her face.  As the birds twittered above her head, she ran her fingers in the sand.  Before she knew it she had fallen asleep. 

Bea laughed aloud as the wind blew into her face!  Riding this bike was just as she imagined.  Freedom!  Bea desperately wished for freedom – freedom from poor health, from the need to rest, from the worried look on her Mom’s face.  Her brand new purple bike gave her this.  She rode around the village waving at all her neighbours.  They smiled and waved back, equally delighted to see Bea able to ride a bike again.  It was liberating to be moving so quickly and seeing others standing still.  This was a first.  Bea rang her bell to express the joy she was feeling.  Bea looked over her shoulder when she heard a second bell ring in response. 

Bea gasped in surprise.  Behind her there were bikes as far as she could see!  It was all of her friends!  They were waving and ringing their bells in excitement.  Bea allowed them to catch up with her.  She could see her cousins, her parents, her Aunt and Uncle and even some of her teachers all smiling and waving at her!  From each bike, a helium balloon flew above, bouncing in the wind.  Each balloon sported a photo of Bea! 

‘Wow!  My own parade!’ Bea giggled. 

Bea woke with a start.  For a minute she wasn’t sure where she was.  Realising she had fallen asleep, Bea decided to head for home before her Mom started to worry…again.  On her walk home, Bea recalled every beautiful moment of her dream.  The bike, how it felt to move so quickly and mostly how she felt when she saw all the bikes behind her.  Bike or no bike those people have always been behind her.  Bea knew she was loved by so many people. 

Bea hummed away as she headed for home.  She felt great.  She could walk again and she was loved.  Bea decided it didn’t matter what she got for her birthday.  She had so much already. 

When Bea reached her house, her parents met her in the driveway.  Bea started to apologize thinking they were upset because they had been worried about her, but they interrupted.

‘Get in the car Little Missy!’

‘Let’s go get that bike you want!’

Bea ran to them for a group hug!  It DID matter!  She really wanted that bike and she was going to get it! 


[In memory of H.B. Stewart, the story I promised.]

June 19,1992 – May 21, 2007

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Let’s honour our Moms.



My earliest memory is thinking she was the most beautiful woman.  I would watch her put on her liquid eye liner and her lipstick…she had a specific way of doing it and always the tissue blot!  I would ask to keep that lipstick kiss stamp. 

One Christmas her friend gave her a green Kaftan dress.   Mom cried when she opened it.  She believed it to be too extravagant of a gift.  When she wore it, she floated in the room.  I remember wishing for the time I could wear the matching gold glittery sandals. 

On my wedding day, Mom was stunning.  She looked incredible.  We talked her into the hat but she nailed it with her natural class and beauty! 

Funny, the first memories of Mom should be about her beauty.  I bet she had no idea how beautiful she really was.  The thing is, her beauty was holistic.  Her kindness and generousity was beautiful.  Her unconditional love and devotion was beautiful.  The way she made you feel when she lovingly brushed the hair from your face was beautiful. 

Mom not only loved being a Mom, she was really good at it.  Mom demanded respect straight up.  Everyone knew how Mom expected you to behave without exception.  People were happy to oblige.  My friends chose my house as the place to hang out although there were more rules there than their own home.  Mom was fare and giving.  She had a way of making people feel special. 

Mom’s greatest talent was being able to get ‘it’ all done, on time, without drama or complaint and always enjoy whatever it is she had been preparing for.  She was the hostess of all hostesses. 

Blessed with the greatest Mom, I was determined to be a great Mom too. 

Although I studied about being a Mom, read all the books, took child development at university and babysat all through my teens.  Nothing taught me mothering like Mom herself.  Prior to delivering my first child, Mom would sooth my parenting insecurities with, “you just wait.  You’ll see.”   Mom was referencing the indescribable, truly no words suffice, love I felt for my babe when I first saw her.  I was not prepared for that impact.  It was the same for my second child.  I was insecure about having enough love for two children.  Mom lovingly assured me, “you just wait.  You’ll see.”  The mother child impact was just as strong when my son was born.  Later I giggled at my ignorance.  Mom was absolutely right.  Mom’s have all the love they need a more for all their children. 

Being a mom is one of my greatest accomplishments.  For some reason, I always thought I would never have children.  My pregnancies were unexpected and miraculous each time because of this belief.  I loved being pregnant.  Although each pregnancy was very different, it was spectacular to have a person grow inside of me.  I documented every day in a journal.  I read every day about the development of my unborn child.  After each birth, the hollowness of my body would make me sad.  If only, I could birth the way I could carry I may have had more children!  (Easy to say now of course! Ha)

This Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling grateful.  Both my children are healthy.  My eldest, has grown into an intelligent, driven, talented, beautiful young adult.  She is independent and full of passion.  Her life is just beginning.  My ‘baby’ is becoming a young man.  At sixteen, his childhood is almost over.  He warms my heart when I see his kindness and compassion.  He is quiet and yet ever aware of his surroundings.  He learns quickly and shows respect easily.  He is growing by the second in his ever changing body. 

In my Mom’s memory, I will continue to Mother these babes to the best of my ability…even when they resist.  I am forever thankful to Mom for teaching me how to love and to be loved. 

Today I remember all  of the Moms who no longer have their babes and all the women who never became a mom when they so desperately wanted to be.  To you women, know each time you smile, support, encourage, accept or share a kind word with any child…you are a Mom. 

Happy Mother’s Day. 


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Peel back layers.


Maybe, it is because I chose to write it all down. Maybe, it is just where I am in life. Perhaps, it is because I can. Whatever the underlying reason is I have struggled this winter with all of it.
My perfect childhood really wasn’t so perfect and my adulthood came with a huge helping of suffering. Hindsight has revealed itself now that I have documented my memories and life stories. I have postponed an honest response to my life. Ironically, I am a genuinely happy person. People in all walks of my life have loved me for my optimism, praised me for my ability to laugh and needed me for comic relief from their own pain.
I cried more about the loss of my Mom this past winter than I ever have before. I didn’t come to tears thinking about how much I missed her, the tears were about the stories I wrote. I never cried when she was recovering from surgery or sick from the chemo. I was strong. It came natural. Mom needed me and I was going to do whatever she needed. She needed my strength. She needed my optimism and comic relief.
I controlled my true feelings even after she died because my family needed me to be ok. My children were very sad and they needed me to be strong for them. I needed to show them it was going to be ok. They needed my optimism and comic relief.
My sister was not able to fully mourn for our Mom either as her daughter continued to need her to be strong. Mom was big part of B’s life and helped with her care constantly. Now my sister needed me more than ever. I had to be strong for them both.
Then, when B died, I felt anything but strength would be completely selfish of me. My child had not died. I needed to be strong for my sister. She needed support not tears. She needed me to help her see it would be ok one day. Having nearly died herself a few short weeks before her daughter died, my sister was in need of all the strength I could muster.
This winter I cried from that pit of sorrow deep inside me. Sad movies have made me reach that spot over the years but I would never allow any further access to this pit. I was afraid. I was literally afraid to allow it to open. I was not sure if I was strong enough to close it back up. I have resisted any provocation for this pit to open involuntarily all this time.
Well, this winter it opened. As my stories brought my feelings to the surface, the pit door weakened. Tears involuntarily flowed down my cheeks to my typing fingers. But, when I was safely alone, when I knew I would not be interrupted, I would edit my work. These re-reads opened the pit for the first time. It was happening before I realised. I didn’t resist the flow. My stomach flopped and tightened and released all on its own accord. I sobbed and convulsed as I blinked and wiped my face with tissues, in order to keep reading.
Apparently, my pit was at full capacity. It took a lot of editing to release the pressure. These moments of emotional purging came and went as the opportunities presented themselves. Interestingly enough, as my pit emptied hollowness took over. Honestly, I felt like I was missing something after the purge.
A sadness settled in my heart and a quietness in my brain. Was I mourning the loss of the pit? How ironic is that? I was as close to depressed as I had ever been in my entire life. The long winter was a gift of time for me. I needed time to rest and re-evaluate. Perhaps, I had been motivated by the fullness of the pit. Lending myself out as hero, problem fixer and supporter kept me distracted and too busy to address the pit. I suspect I am a martyr. I don’t like saying that about myself because I believe a martyr isn’t a good thing to be.
Life. It is a wild ride. I stepped off the ride and paused. Found myself without a crisis. I laundered my superhero costume and put it away. I wrote it all down. All of it. The truth then set me free.
By the way, allowing me to purge my emotional pit was not as painful as I believed it would be. No one asked me to put my emotions away and prioritize their feelings instead. I did this to myself.
Spring finds me with less emotional baggage and a new internal strength.
Writing the stories down… BEST. DECISION. EVER.

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Responsibility. The dying character.



‘Tis the season of paperwork; tallying, collecting, discarding and shredding. I work very hard at being organized and perhaps one day I will actually achieve that goal.

As I gathered all the necessary documents required for income tax, I also purged through the rest of the filing cabinets hoping to make some more room. Honestly, the business of life uses an entire forest.

I came across many items I had not read nor even thought about in a long time.

One particular file made me tired just looking at it. Sigh. It was titled, “Complaint letters.”

What does that say about me? Who the hell has a file under that category in their personal filing cabinet? Even worse, why have I kept it for fifteen years?

When I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, I dreamed of being a teacher. It was my dream job. Instead, my degree skills were used to advocate. People actually came to me requesting my help with their letters of concern.

Advocating is a difficult act. Really. People throw the word around and even tell people, ‘you should do this,’ and ‘you should tell them that’. The truth is, it takes a strong constitution to go through the advocation process. And it is a process. The powerful people have gone out of their way to make sure advocates can be beaten down. The loops and valleys and policies and procedures are a trail of frustration, dead ends, fear and bullying.

It takes courage, faith and an unfaltering high expectation of people. I believed in the faith of humanity.

Responsibility is big in the teachings of grade school. Students are taught the meaning of the word and are expected to practice being responsible from Junior Kindergarten on. Ironically, in the adult world, the world we are preparing our children for…people, businesses, organizations, clubs and governments will go as far as they need to go to avoid being held responsible.

My daughter’s Grade One teacher was verbally and emotionally abusive with the students.

It took two years of advocating before our local school board would take any responsibility.

And I was alone. The soul advocator. Not one other parent, teacher, board member or community member was willing to take any responsibility. While I was encouraged, pushed and even admired, the fear of process was too big for the others.

If you have a school aged child, then you need to find time to get inside that school. You must get to know the adults who spend time with your child. The teachers also need to know who you are as well. Do not wait for a crisis before you meet your child’s teacher, principal or school supervisor. Take responsibility in your child’s education. Your involvement will positively affect your child’s success in school.

My daughter enjoyed kindergarten. Her teacher had tons of experience and was kind and patient with the children. I met the grade one teacher at the open house and in the school yard at time or two. She appeared to be quiet and kept to herself. Hindsight showed me the kids did not bother with her at recess, while the other teachers had little ones taking turns holding their hands.

AJ began arriving home from school looking tired. Initially, I explained her behaviour as the transition to full time schooling. Tired turned to sad and miserable. Conversations were all about her friends not wanting to play with her. I needed to see for myself. I went to the school unannounced at recess. I watched AJ run and play happily with the other children. I saw her announce, “Duck. Duck. Goose.” Immediately, her classmates organized themselves in a circle. My daughter was a natural leader. There was nothing going on socially to cause the demeanour I was witnessing at home.

I volunteered to read to the children. I was in a room beside AJ’s class. Two children at a time would come to me to read and then they would return and send two others. Every child came to me shy and silent. The classroom was silent. The children became emotionally needy on my next visit. One by one they would move their chairs closer to mine or sit on my lap or give my legs long hugs. Something was wrong. I started using part of our reading time to just talk to them. It is difficult to stop a young child from hugging you or sitting on your lap but I also knew the policies. I was sure to leave the door open when I was there.

My fourth visit, two little girls came to me holding hands and never let go when they sat down. There were no hugs or smiles. I began to read to them.


I was standing and staring at the wall that separated me from the classroom my child was in. I turned to look at the girls who were now hugging. I crouched down to them and asked, “Does your teacher yell like that a lot”. They nodded simultaneously. I looked back at the wall.  

This occurred twice more in the hour I was at the school. I escorted the children back to the class in order to look into the classroom. The silent children sat at round tables doing a craft. No one was talking. No one saw me.

It was the end of the day. I took AJ home with me. I was unsure how to discuss this with her. I didn’t have to. After supper, she lay on my lap as she had taken to doing daily and I rubbed her back. I noted a bruise at the top of her buttock. When I commented on it, AJ reassured me her teacher had not done it.

It all became very apparent then. Any denial I was attempting to rationalize this teacher’s behaviour with was gone. AJ told me the yelling was often, her teacher was mean and she hit a boy one day.

I went to the Principal the next day. I was the twelfth parent in to complain about this teacher. The principal’s, ‘hands were tied’, until she got a complaint in writing. I was the only parent willing to do so. With my letter, the principal had leverage to remove that teacher and place her in another class at the home school where the Prinicpal resided.

I was at the school the next school day. Tears burned in the back of my eyes from the minute I stepped into the classroom. The curtains were open, the sunshine lit up the small room and all of the primary decor the new teacher had put up over the weekend. The desks were arranged differently giving the students all of the space and the teacher’s desk in the back out of the way. I stood quietly in the back watching the students skip into the class and take their seats. They had met their new teacher on Friday and obviously he was trusted already. The students giggled and wiggled as they got into their seats and put on their shoes. His voice gently caressed the room, ‘I think I hear table six is ready to go’. That simple prompt brought the kids to task. The circle time began with date and weather. The children’s hands shot up in enthusiasm and their responses were met with smiling praise.

I choked on my tears. These six year olds had been so mistreated. These once sad, solemn children automatically found joy in response to the trust they felt for this new teacher. I knew I had witnessed abuse, I knew I was right to complain but until that moment I didn’t know how bad it had been. I was determined to protect all children from that abusive teacher. I was not going to stop because my child was safe now. I felt responsible to protect all children.

In the end, the abusive teacher was sent home with pay. She never taught again. It took endless letters and emails. I went as far as the teacher’s college. It was their investigation which force d the local school board to show some responsibility they had been denying all along. A school board member called me to caution me. Apparently, he was worried about me being charged with slander so he couldn’t help me. A teacher who understood the system, fed me next steps and names. He was threatened with union membership and losing his teaching license. Other teachers kept their distance from me to protect themselves. Some parents felt sorry for this teacher. Some parents thought I was wrong. The school supervisor and the board’s director knew me by name. Their responses were always generic and non specific. They couldn’t talk to me about it either.

The children though, their faces when I met them coming off their bus to tell them they had a new teacher…they knew. They knew right from wrong. They were joyous to be allowed to be a child again. They had no idea why that mean teacher left but, they did not miss her.

Those six year olds are now twenty. Not long ago, a group of them were reminiscing about their primary school. They had forgotten the name of that mean teacher and discussion about her was minimal but they all agreed the teacher who saved them that year was the best teacher they had ever had.

Responsibility gave them that memory.

To all of the hard working, dedicated and KIND teachers who spend full weeks with our children encouraging them to learn with enthusiasm…thank you.

P.S.  I shredded that file.  Purging complete.

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The Cemetary – A place of peace.



The weekend my sister’s daughter died,

We were not thinking about

The angry caretaker.

We were not thinking about

The provincial government’s promise.


Her babe deteriorated

As her degenerative disease dictated.


Became the most difficult hurdle.

She was just too tired

To be a kid and do kids’ things.

The time had come.


Five years after burying Mom

She had to bury her daughter, B.


We were totally unprepared,

For the message we received.

The angry caretaker,

Refused to allow,

Her daughter to be buried,

With our Mom as planned.


The angry caretaker was back.

The government had promised,

To take care of it.

Five years ago,

I had dealt with it,

I believed the angry caretaker,

To have been relieved from his duties.


I lost it.

All the sadness and anguish,

Pain and exhaustion,

I had been repressing,

Was birthed in response to this message.

It revealed itself as a rage from deep within me.

Emotion spewed from me,

I fell to the floor,

And allowed it all to come out.


With no inclination of holding anything back.

I yelled, swore and cried.

I scared my kids.

I didn’t once consider

Anyone else’s feelings.


I heard her calling my name.

She spoke calmly,

My temper tantrum ceased.

I had to calm down

In order to hear her.

My sister took charge.


With a tone of finality,

She announced

A different cemetery

Would be used.

She calmed me.

Her daughter had just died

And yet,

She had the solution,


She.   Calmed.   Me.


She promised she was ok,

With her daughter being alone.

She promised she was ok,

With her daughter not being with Mom.

She gave me permission to not try and fix this.

She gave me permission to NOT be the family advocate.


We all wanted B to be with Mom.

We were reeling in the pain of losing her.

She knew I had no fight left in me.

Because neither did she.

Mom and B had left this world

And took with them,

Any strength to advocate further.



After her daughter’s funeral,

We reburied Mom again.

We couldn’t leave her there,

And B needed her.

Mom now rests,

Beside her granddaughter,

As my sister had always wanted.

The gravestone marks their plot eloquently.


(The angry caretaker died the following year.

The government never followed through with my complaint.)




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