Friday, May 25, 2012

We don't have an Anniversary....

We don't have an anniversary.

Why? Because we can't agree on when we started dating. Kyle says its 3ish months earlier than I do.

But then again, does it matter? We know we've been together about two years. The months, days, and minutes are incidental to us, as somehow, without ever talking about it we have ability to look forward and move forward, we spend little time looking backward.

Even on the roughest days, when work issues or family frustrations are building, he's there, catching my back being an amazing stepdad to our kids, being an unprecedented spouse to me. So much so that I loathe to even call him 'step'dad as to  me a dad is someone who loves the kids. Period. I have multiple mother's who carry me. And my kids are going to have lots of aunties, mommies, daddies, uncles, grandparents, and just all around family in their lives because THAT is how life is.

We've also never had a fight. Not one. We often disagree, but somehow from the onset of us, we've always known how to communicate and talk through our disappointments, frustrations and annoyances. It has changed the way the kids communicate with us as well. The yelling and fighting has diminished exponentially as they are learning, through our example, that yelling isn't actually a real form of communication.

I have an unshakable confidence in us. Which is both scary and wonderful. I've had both male and female friends comment that they want a relationship like ours. And they're right, they really, really do! My wish for them is that they find it. The light, the laughter, the love that we have.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How do you forgive?

This isn't something I would normally post publicly, but today I'm breaking my own rule.

For those close to me, you've watched me, and now us, do battle with the kids father, and as a result my biological family, for the last 3 years.

In the midst of the storm we are attempting to provide a stable and loving home, and despite our different approaches in parenting. Its an effort that they haven't made easy for us. In fact, my father is the only one who has shown any truly concerted effort on that front, a small thing, but I appreciate it.

Recently he accused me of not caring about the children because I wouldn't arbitrarily pay for an optional, cosmetic, medical 'thing' for one of our kids. He didn't ask, he dictated the amount, via a text message, and then publicly and privately berated me for being a bad parent when I didn't happily jump on board with his plan. The accusations were so ridiculous that I, yet again, didn't dignify them with a response.

The truth is that I rarely give them the power to hurt me any longer. But what I struggle with now is HOW to address this. People say to me things like "ignore them", "by acknowledging it you give them the satisfaction they were looking for", "look the other way" and "they can only hurt you if you let them". The question I have is this:


My lack of response to his vilification of me has manifested itself in yet another round from him and my biological family of passive aggressive behaviour that has, this time, hurt my children. This Mother's Day, my family and ex (all of whom were well aware that we were traveling and that the kids were on their own) chose to celebrate to the exclusion of my children. Four wonderful kids, who never asked for any of this, spent Mother's Day home alone. No one called them. No one said "Hey guys, what are you doing today? Why don't you come spend Mother's Day with your Grandmother?"

How do I ignore actions that hurt not just me but are aimed at the kids? They can say that it's not, but when your ex spends Mother's Day with your mom, knows you're traveling, but deliberately excludes your--HIS--children, HOW do you ignore that? How do you love in spite of behaviour that is intended to hurt and provoke? How do you forgive this?

In our home, the one that Kyle and I share, are four wonderfully happy children, with a full fridge and a plethora of family by choice who will stand for them in the event that we cannot. They are all enrolled in lessons, and sports, and our oldest now is working at her very first part time job. They're good, smart, loving kids. They are so blessed to have not one, but two men who love and care for them. Be filled with joy and gratitude for this!

The only thing I can think to say is this:

Which is the real issue, isn't it? 

They say the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. 

Kyle and I have created a wonderful love filled, rule filled, beautiful home for the children. They are expressions of that daily. And I'm grateful that my Ex is my Ex, because without him there would not have been them, and I would not have the incredible, beautiful life I have today.

If there were every anything that I wish would be heard it is this:

I'm a good mom. Kyle is a great dad. We're not perfect but we're doing the best we can. And, you all, have the opportunity to be a great and positive influence in the lives of the kids too. Focus the positive on them, not the negative. They're allowed to love more than one person, remember that. Hurt me all you want. But DO NOT do anything like this to them again. EVER.

Any worry you have of losing them, is of your own accord and action.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Wanted: Parenting Advice or a kennel...for the kids...

Today we're facing a parenting conundrum. One kid says one thing, the other says another thing, and we are being left to disseminate the truth from the pile of stories we've been given.

The oldest assures us that life would be better as an only child, and we should just keep her.  The youngest one seems the most open to change and discipline, so I like the idea of keeping him. The two in the middle just want 15 minutes of our time...we are a family.

So the question becomes...HOW do you figure out the truth when multiple stories are being told? Which child do you discipline and how severely? The issue we are facing is not a new one. The disappointment in our oldest child is palpable, as she knows better.

I've yet to find a parenting book that says I *CAN'T* duct tape them to the wall...yet some sensibility in me says I *SHOULDN'T* do that. Why can't the kids know the different between these things?

Tonight we'll get home and deal with an old problem, yet again, but something isn't working and we've no idea how to fix it. We don't know how to teach our children how to respect (and not touch) what isn't theirs.

I had a healthy fear of my parents growing up and some lines just would not have been crossed. Why is it that my kids don't seem to have the same respect? I've tried to instill in them the same beliefs, morals and ethics. Yet, we keep finding ourselves having to deal with this same issue.

My kids often feel like they have 'less' than their friends because I won't simply replace toys (or bikes) that are misused or broken. They don't get designer things often, and have to work to earn what we buy them beyond the basics. I don't keep flats of pop, or boxes of chips in the house, those are treats. They have chores after school every day that they are expected to complete. They have consequences, and they know it, to not living by the rules of our family.

Yes we have internet and cable, a base package but we have it. The PS3 belongs to Kyle and usually is locked away so they can't game all day, but when they've earned it. Neither of the boys have a DS or other hand held gaming device. Neither of the boys have a cell phone.

Both girls have iPod's but Danika's is second hand and they both had to earn them.

I FEEL like we are doing things right for them, but then I have to ask myself WHY, if we are bucking so much of what is societally the norm, are we having this issue with them? WHY is parenting so fricking hard!?!?

For my babies--they're gonna hate this!

This year I missed Mother's day, because I was in Mexico. So instead I get to torture my children via blog! YAY ME!!! Sorry kids, I know you're going to hate that I said all of this publicly but it's my mumma prerogative!

Luckily, for me, they got to spend Mother's Day with an absolutely fabulous woman--my Mother-in-Love, Wendy. If her kids are any indication of the kind of mom she is (and I believe that they are!), then a) mine NEED as much time with her as she's willing to give and b) so do I!! I'm so grateful to have you in our lives and hope that the monkey's didn't drive you to distraction. Thank you so much for being a great mom, and a wonderful example for all of us. Someday, when I grow up, I hope I'm at least a little like you to them. Thank you so much for staying with them and making our travels easier because we knew they were being loved.

Arianne, you are such a great kid. The last few years you've done battle beside me more often than not, and it hasn't been easy. But watching you turn into the cool, funny, smart young woman you have makes my heart SING with joy. You play all irresponsible and lazy, but you work so damn hard, and I'm super proud to be YOUR mum.

Danika, what a beautiful sensitive girl you are. When you come snuggle with me or do acts of kindness and helpfulness to make things easier, I couldn't be happier to be your mama. You are such a brilliantly smart girl and I know that you are going to do amazing things with your life, and I am super proud to be YOUR mum. (and I'm really glad you weren't broken! I'm sorry I wasn't there to give you cuddles and kisses.)

Aidan, my wonderful fair haired boy. You are such a smart young man, with such a sweet soul. Whenever I see your kindness come out because of injustice or someone doing something wrong, it makes me fill with wonder at the marvelousness of you! Someday you are going to go about your quiet way of being a wonderful man, and dad, I can already see that in you, and it makes me super proud to be YOUR mum.

Justin, my little sweet imp. You are so mighty in who you are, battling for position amongst your siblings. Your willingness to help and make things right when you are wrong or have wronged someone shows me everyday what a big boy you have become. Someday soon you won't give me snuggles or kisses or cuddles like you do now, and I'll miss it so much. Your darling loving ways make me super proud to be YOUR mum.

We both love you from here to the moon and back....I promise to always try and be the best Mum I can be forever and always...and I'll always let you lick the beaters.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things I learned in Mexico

Some days I feel like the most blessed girl on the planet...actually it's most days I feel like that. Getting to spend my life with someone who shares my adoration for travel and adventure doesn't hurt either.

While we were in Mexico I learned a few things.

1. Being disconnected from the world, makes me much more connected to those around me. I spent 7 days getting to know some really great people, laughing lots, and falling a little more in love with my sweetheart. I need to disconnect much more often.

2. While the all-inclusive was nice, and not having to carry a purse or worry about what things were costing was fun for a few days, it truly took away from the experience of being in another country. In the past, I've come back speaking more Spanish and feeling like I know something about the culture and country I was in, not so this time.

3. Not every human should wear a bikini, and as a result of this knowledge, I now have very few body issues based upon the *ahem* "lovely" scenery we were subjected to. Seriously, I get that you're European, but do you have to show me HOW European???

4. WEAR SUNSCREEN--Dear 50 year old woman by the pool who looked 65, thank you for the lesson.

5. I LOVE rappelling, cliff jumping, and zip-lining. I DO NOT love fishes swimming near my feet, stingray's or iguanas.

6. Cenotes are the coolest things ever, especially when you rappel in!

7. I'm a food snob--and all inclusive food sucks after 7 days. And the novelty of free booze wears off around day 3. True Story.

8. Being seated beside the drunkest guy on the flight makes for the longest flight ever. Don't be the drunk obnoxious guy. Thankfully Kyle was there to talk me off the ledge!

9. Carrying a veritable pharmacy of stomach aides, and pain killers makes you really popular at a resort!

10. Traveling with the person I love and being understood really truly matters. It's hard to not be feeling well, or being drunk with fatigue at the best of times, but when you're traveling with stupid people (not our group, but the rowdy drunken group who was on our flight), having someone who will take over, or just put a reassuring hand on your shoulder to keep you from snapping is something to be grateful for. It makes life wonderful and traveling so much fun.

I've also learned that to fill my soul, I need to get on a plane more often, and that my kids need to learn to love to travel too. Today, in spite of some of the lessons I learned, or maybe because of, I feel blessed, loved and relaxed. Now I just need to find a way to make work coincide with my desire to travel, my need for adventure, and my love of food!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wearing the Big Girl Panties

A couple of days ago a dear friend told me to put on my big girl panties and power through like I always do. He said this when I was feeling down, overwhelmed and frankly a wee bit sorry for myself.

Because he's known me since our teenage years, known much of my journey, and is someone I really respect and as I've watched him build an veritable empire from nothing, I did exactly that!

I blogged a few weeks ago that I've been struggling with making some decisions in an area that usually comes easily to me. I'm realizing that the decision is already made and the answer wasn't what I wanted, but instead is potentially something MUCH better and way bigger than even in could have conjured up by myself.

The problem is that it means abandoning the 'sure thing' to pursue something slightly different yet with the potential to be so much more. It means risk. Risk is scary.

I'm a control freak. (I know, it shocked me too!) Risk is scary (I think I'm repeating myself!)

Luckily I am surrounded by people who are great builders and leaders, who are encouragers. There is a great difference between someone who builds up and those who tear down. The latter THINK they are leaders, but the former truly are.

The wise voices of many I trust speaking into my life have brought this to the tipping point. The question is now: Do I go for it?? In the next 7 days we'll be in Mexico and I'm sure stepping away from the everyday is going to bring clarity, but right now, the picture below encapsulates where I am. Wearing my damn big girl panties, Richard.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Grand Gesture

Lately there has been much talk around our house about "THE GRAND GESTURE"...

You know, the gesture that every woman waits for, and wants from her man.

The reason we're all talking about it right now is that I have a dear friend who is planning a mini movie of "The Last First Kiss" for the woman he has recently begun dating. We are working with him to capture their first meeting and kiss on film and create a mini movie.

I know MANY of my lady friends are sighing right now a "...sooooo very romantic!" sigh.

This begun a discussion in our house, when we were in the midst of planning, and our oldest daughter asked Kyle what his grand gesture was.

He immediately stated moving here, from "the coolest city on the planet" to be a step dad to four great kids and a spousal equivalent to me. He then went on to add planning a spectacular surprise 40th Birthday Party for me.

These ARE great things. And don't get me wrong, I do appreciate them more than words can say. But what he doesn't know is that what he did for my kids these last couple of weeks was probably the grandest of gestures.

You see, I've only now in this chapter of my life begun to enjoy things like my birthday and valentines, as he doesn't let these moments go unnoticed. But the big one for me was Mother's day. My ex would never facilitate anything for me for mother's day always claiming the mantra of "she's not my mother". I did everything to ensure our mother's had flowers or brunch, but rarely if ever was something done for me. For 15 years I dreaded every "special occasion" as hope would rise against my best efforts to keep it at bay and then be quashed by disappointment.

And then came along this wonderful thoughtful man.

Two weeks ago he took the kids on a "Sunday Adventure", and yesterday, because we are leaving for Mexico on Wednesday and won't be here for Mother's Day, the kids gave me what may be the most wonderful thing I've ever received. Our oldest daughter conspired with him, and instead of the cursory "no" she's so used to when she presented the idea, he made it happen for her. The looks on their faces watching me open up this lovely gift will be a precious memory for me forever.

What Kyle doesn't realize, and in the hullabaloo of life what I often forget, is that everyday with him is filled with Grand Gestures. Its the sum totals of all the moments: when we stop in traffic and he makes faces at me because I'm not smiling; when he holds me because I'm being irrational and scared; when I wake up with arms wrapped around me; or fall asleep with him cuddled up; when he makes sure everyday that we all know we are loved.

My life is a symphony of grand gestures because he shows up every day to our relationship and shows me love in action.

Here are some pictures of one of the most beautiful gifts I've ever been given--A book of my children:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Its just plain wrong

I love this picture. It goes so far beyond homosexuality, its about Christianity as a whole and those who hide behind God as a means to promote their own intolerance.

There is a story floating around the media right now about a NC pastor who made a statement to hit your children if they appear to be gay. He's now retracting his statement, saying it was a joke. However this retraction only came because of all the public uproar. And I fear he wouldn't have deemed it a joke had the outcry been supportive of his statement.

I don't want to post a link to any of the talk shows or media who have covered this because I think it gives too much credibility to this guy and people who share his view. Thankfully I've met many great people who also happen to be Christian's in the true meaning of the word.

It is truly my belief that Jesus was probably a pretty cool guy with a great sense of humor, deep seeded empathy, and love for humanity.

He spent his time hanging out with what would dub the 'dregs of society' and created a following bigger than anyone in history with his philosophy of love through action and compassion. My belief is that Jesus would have been ashamed of this man and his statement. And my belief is that instead of dismissing it as a joke, this man needs to seek forgiveness. We also need to forgive, clearly his intolerance is borne of ignorance and it is my hope that he will learn from this. Learn love. Learn Compassion. It is also my hope that from all of this he will teach the lessons of love, forgiveness and compassion that he learns from this.

That is what Christianity is really about. I'm grateful for the living examples, in many different and varied faiths, of this in my life.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Third Avenue United Church NOT a historical site??

I don't understand religion as a business. I understand that today society as a whole has progressively walked away from the church, and so attendance and tithing is down to critical levels, but to simply dismiss one of the only truly beautiful buildings in downtown Saskatoon as not being able to be designated in order to not limit a prospective buyer for it seems irresponsible.

Were churches and clergy at one time not charged with keeping historical records? Isn't the influx of attendees around Easter and Christmas a product of legacy and tradition?

Maybe its because I grew up playing on the ruins of my ancestors in the neighborhood near my grandparent's home in New Delhi, India. But I've always had a healthy respect of what came before me. More so as I now have children and as I've grown up.

The fact that a religious organization would summarily create an obstruction to the congregation's attempts to save their church is sad. And it's not just because this has an effect on people I know. But because of the way they have dismissed the designation as an option, in order to ensure a financial transaction down the road. They can dispute that as much as they want but their own statement is indicative of this.

This is why I do not believe in religion. I believe in Faith. Religion destroys. Faith builds. How can it even be considered that a glorious building like this could be taken over to condo's or office space?

We don't go to Europe to see slick glass buildings. We go to experience longevity, and roots and beautiful architecture that we have so limitedly here. It would be a shame to see what little Saskatoon has to offer in terms of architecture and history be lost to a bad decision.

John and Rosanna, may your faith carry you far and build up what others are trying to destroy! I know you have our support.

Has Panache, Lacks Grace

I think this image is amazing. Simply because the feat of looking like this, whilst engaging with a pole and not falling on her head is something I'd love to do but fear I can't.

You see I have this issue with clumsy. I fall off things, walk into things, trip over things, and am generally a walking billboard for the work "OOOPS!" Inanimate objects ALWAYS jump out at me and attack!

Kyle can attest to the fact that I've generally got at least one bruise on my body at any given time, the origin of which I've no clue.

For a girl who danced for many years my clumsiness has always plagued me. At age 15 I nearly danced off the front of the stage at Centennial Auditorium. In recent years I once, while texting and walking, walked my son into a shrub. I had a very unimpressed 4 year old out of that one.

But I see images like this and they inspire me one step closer toward becoming the best me EVER! So far if this year is any indication as to how 40 is going to be, then I'm all over this decade! If I don't fall down a set of stairs, or (more likely) smash my self falling off a curb first!

I choose to believe that what I lack in grace, I make up for in charisma, style and general overall panache!!!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Pavement Therapy

Pushing toward my goals is proving harder every day. The hurdles that life is throwing up in front of me at every turn seem discouraging but I can't help but wonder if they really are a discouragement?

The fact is the restlessness I've been feeling professionally may grow into the best decisions of my life, and I find that SO exciting and nerve wracking at the very same time. This along with some personal matters are creating a wee bit o stress in my life.

So this morning I took it to the street. I had a crappy run, and maybe that's because I was distracted by all the thoughts in my head. I ran 3km in nearly 30 min...VERY SLOW even for me. But at the end of it I felt better, stronger and smarter. During that 30 minutes of 'me' time I focused on the things I can fix. The things that need fixing but that I have no ability to fix. And the things that were TRULY important to me.

My perspective is changing. My steps toward my goal of running a 10km run on May 27, which leads to the QCM 1/2 marathon this fall, are a little closer all because I stepped out that front door this morning.

The restlessness continues, but at least I am a step closer to realizing my dreams.