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BLESSED SILENCE…BACK TO SCHOOL BITCHES!

Hullo!

Welcome back Kelly! Why thank you, it’s been awhile. Months to be exact. Welp, who cares, no need for preamble, just get going. Done.

Yes, it’s been a long time, my reasons are long and plenty but let’s just persevere and get my most current thoughts on blog. Who cares about that boring stuff anyways, let’s talk IMPORTANT stuff. Important like first day of school stuff. YES.

As all parents are aware, today is the best day of the year. It’s great for many reasons, no more day camps. no more listening to ‘I’M BORED’ on continuous loop. No more scrambling to plan day trips/vacations, when really the kids would be just as happy getting 20 bucks and set loose in a dollar store.

I say this with absolute love for my kids…

I LOVE that they are back to school and I can listen to music instead of Monster High. I can walk the dog without having to coax the kids out of the house with bubble gum. I love that running errands will actually take me 30 minutes instead of 2 hours. I love that I won’t have to clean up disasters 5 times a day. I love that I don’t have to feel guilty for not doing sight words with Wren or working on Finn’s spelling. I should have done more, but screw it, that’s what school is for. All this will be starting today, so I just enjoyed it.

I didn’t plan on taking the summer off. But for personal reasons I did and it was the best decision I’ve made. I did some work here and there but for the most part I was a kid along side them and even though I am happy as fuck that they are in school today, I will miss them.

I’ll miss the mornings we all slept until 9:30 (every day). I’ll miss watching them try new things to impress me (Finn is an excellent breakfast sandwich maker) and Wren can well, um, dress herself? I jest, actually, she has grown up in the best way and perhaps I will spend a few times today watching her kiss her biceps while yelling JOHN CENA! on my instagram.

Sure there were days I wanted to strangle them, but once I gave up on trying to keep up with work, trying to write another book, trying to be the everything mom, it was SO MUCH BETTER.

I know I won’t get many more summers like this. I needed it. I needed to recharge my mental batteries. I needed to just spend the day cuddling and reading on the couch. I needed to run to the park while the kids biked and then raced them to climb the jungle gym type apparatuses like a boss (they are way more fucking scary then you think).

So while I spent each day with them, I made sure that it wasn’t ALL ‘summer of kids’. It was the ‘summer of mom’ too. I dragged them to nice restaurants which was probably the highlight for Wren (the fancy bathrooms impressed like nothing else). I made them go to movies I wanted to see…’ sorry kids, you’re too old for cartoons now, it’s the law’. We walked/biked everywhere and chores were a daily to-do. Helping make food, doing laundry, ten-minute tidys’, they had to work for it and they did amazing.

It’s no shock that my parental beliefs begin with not changing who you are for kids. Your life should never revolve around them. They come into your world to add to it, not take it away. Fit them in, carve out space for them, but for everyone to be happy, you all need to be flexible and easy. It has to be a group effort. I’m not a maid, a chef or activities director. If you’re hungry, eat something. If you’re bored, create something. If you want to watch TV, wait until mid afternoon when mom needs a nap. Nailed that one.

So as I think about the summer past, I am so thrilled I had the opportunity to spend it with them free of guilt and responsibilities…

I am ALSO insanely ecstatic that they are someone else’s problem now – see ya kids! WOOOO HOOOOO!

That look. I know that look well…

I escaped for a weekend away, sans kids to Wrigley Field.

Wren’s fav bathroom.

Elmvale zoo and those weird rabbit things.

Obstacle course Tuesday.

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Cliff Goes North

So this morning, I am stuck on my laptop, electricians poking holes into my walls, and I thought what better time then to finally tell the ‘Clifford Goes North’ story as per the many requests for more Clifford :) So let’s start with the preface that my dog has had an interesting life. Not like that cat who went from California to Guelph for 4 years, but he’s had A LOT of shit happen to him, or rather, he’s done a lot of shit to others. Hence the nickname Shit Pump. It fits.

A few things come to mind, but man, 12 years is a long time to be a Shit Pump and he’s managed to pack a lot in. Like the time he leaped on a woman in High Park, wearing a full length white wool coat, with mucky feet, or when he ate my leather shag rug and shit it all over Toronto. Or when I tried to cut his nails, hit the quick which caused a panic, and he ran through our entire condo, bleeding like he lost a limb, all over my beige carpet, white couch and new duvet until I finally caught him.

Or when he ate my hard wood floor and baseboards. Or maybe the time he tried to jump through a chain link fence and got stuck. Or when he ran through a burr bush, gathering so many thistles on his face that his eyes were sealed shut from his hair.

Or maybe the time he fell through the ice at Earl Rowe, which I obviously was equally as stupid, leaving Finn in a baby carriage and launching full boar towards the half frozen lake to rescue him…like I said, my life has been utterly un-boring since he came into my life. But I’m getting sidetracked. Let’s jump back to about 10 years ago…

So this one particular summer weekend, we had to go north for my friends wedding in Bracebridge. We, as amazing dog owners are, scoped out dog kennels and found a great spot on the east end to leave our dog. I dropped him off on a Friday and we headed out. A great weekend party plus we packed in buying our current house in Alliston. We had a lot to celebrate, so Sunday was rough.

At the kennel pick up, it was a little odd. I mean, he had on Clifford’s collar, but his hair was all short. He ran to us and it appeared to be our dog but doodles have a weird thing about all looking like twins and let’s preface again that both Troy and I were VERY hungover. But they passed us a dog and we took it. The entire way home, I kept looking back at him in confusion as our conversation went like this:

Why did they cut his hair? Why didn’t they tell us?

Maybe he got really dirty and had to shave him down?

Can we stop at Mc Dicks, I’m dying for grease.

Why didn’t Clifford jump in the car himself?

Maybe he’s tired?

Maybe he got hurt?

I need a nap.

Ok so when we get home, let’s let him lead and see if he knows his way into the condo. Yes! That will explain it all…

Again, let me say, we were both VERY HUNGOVER.

So we took the dog out of the car, and proceeded to our condo, which he completely went right to. So obviously we were like, oh of corse it’s Clifford. Let’s go nap.

But then this dog came with us upstairs and jumped on our bed.

Clifford never ever jumped on our bed.

Again, VERY HUNGOVER.

So we went to sleep, brains not functioning, but all through the night this dog (who still lay on our bed) stared at me. I recall waking and telling the dog to stop being a creepy stalker but it was weird.

The next morning we felt better, and were way more equipped to deal with the situation, so cue the tests. Could this dog perform all of Cliffords’ tricks? He fucking did. Then we took him for a walk and still, he KNEW WHERE WE LIVED. But the uncertainly remained so we called the kennel. The conversation went something like this:

So Clifford is acting sorta weird….

Right, so why did you cut his hair?….

Ok well, this dog’s hair is short…

Um, ok, I’ll try that….

BEAR!

(Dog named Bear, jumps up and runs over to Troy on the phone)

Oh shit.

So the next few minutes panic ensued. Where was Clifford? Is he ok? We are the WORST DOG OWNERS IN HISTORY.

Troy hung up and I freaked out. Poor Bear was like finally someone has figured out that I DON’T LIVE HERE.

Phone rings up a little while later from the Kennel. The conversation went something like this:

Oh thank god, you found Clifford…

Why did someone switch his collar with another dog?…

Oh, the other owner didn’t realize it wasn’t her dog either?

She’s up north?

She picked up Clifford right after I dropped him off on Friday…

So we were, in fact, driving up the 400 in our car while our dog was in another car behind us going up the same highway to Bracebridge too?

So he’s been at a cottage all weekend running off leash, swimming, and living the life at her swanky spot?

She’s not bringing him back until the next day?

Right ok.

Needless to say, this woman didn’t know the difference either, but to give us a little cred, our excuse was the hair…Bear was shaved down so it’s plausible that it still was our dog but cut by the kennel. She never once questioned that her ‘new’ dog had a big shaggy coat after just a few days.

We laughed, we exchanged dogs, she told us that Clifford never went outside the property line, that he enjoyed all the holistic treats and meds she gave him, that he swam and had the best weekend ever. I mean, he seemed happy to be home with us but I could tell he was a little annoyed to come back to city living.

Clifford turning 12 last week has had us reflecting on all his adventures and all the shit we’ve gone through with him (or put him through…cue prop photo shoots). We know his time is short, his limps are tough to watch, his attempts at getting up are harder, and his days are spent mostly sleeping, but he will always be the first ‘kid’, my co-worker for the last 12 years and my very best friend :)

(The best part of this story is the kennel not once saying they were sorry or refunding our money even though our dog only ‘technically’ stayed there for an hour.)


Clifford and Photoshop are my favourite pairings…


Always the good sport…I mean, you have to be to live with Wren.


My morning reminder that he wants a walk…cue the sock bandit.

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How Calvin & Hobbes made me (ME!) get emotional

This post is going to make Kristin laugh. I know, I expect the jabs to come soon. Aw Kelly, you’re going soft! But I can’t help it. I had a moment last night. A genuine top ten moment and as it nears 5:30AM this morning I’m laying here thinking about it and I need to write it out. Record the occasion.

Let me backtrack a second, like I always do. My son Finn is now in grade 3. I mean, he looks about as tall as a 10 year old, but he’s still just in grade 3. Reading is supposed to be a regular thing now, I see his other classmates crushing chapter books with a vengeance and yet Finn has never been jazzed over it. I’ve sat through countless PAINFUL reading sessions, choosing quirky books to get him at least interested in reading but he’s always done the groan and eye roll when I suggest we read together. And when he reads it out loud, it’s almost painful. That monotone voice he uses, just reading the words, not really getting the story.

Anyone who knows me, knows that his reaction will have me screaming in pain from the inside. Reading is beyond important to me. I run through about 8 or 10 books a month. I just prefer it over TV, and I love jumping into a new world for a few days, the book wraps up, I get closure and then I delve into another one. It satisfies my overtly non committal nature and relaxes my whirring brain.

I know it’s a possibility, I know I can’t force a love of reading on my kids, but it’s something I’m not ready to admit defeat to. I’ve begged to read Harry Potter to Finn, but he’s (GASP) not into wizards or the supernatural or anything of the sort (DOUBLE GASP). At least there’s Wren whose already has shown a fondness for monsters, so I’m hopeful.

Anyways, Finn’s never been that way, preferring watching cartoons over anything. So as he continued to read a chapter books out loud, a painful monotone retelling of a subject that even I’m bored of, I had to think. I had to come up with a new plan, this wasn’t working.

For either of us.

He still hated to read, and I hated to listen to it.

One night I watched a doc on Bill Watterson. Creator (genius) of the comic Calvin & Hobbes. It was a fascinating watch, due partly to the fact that I grew up reading and adoring these books. These books that I can still pick up, flip to a page and almost recall the strip. So this would be 10…ok…15…OK! 25 years later and it’s still relevant, still funny, still incredibly witty and astounding to me.

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The books belonged to my sister, which she still has, so I realized I needed to get some comics in here…stat.

My new plan unfolded.

We began to read 10 pages a night or so. I would read them, out loud, frame by frame, and obviously explain it as we went. Calvin isn’t a normal little kid, he’s brilliantly smart and understated. His imagination might be hard for a little kid to grasp in comic form, wondering why all of a sudden the strip is drawn from the Jurassic period. Or understanding the political references during G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy Girls) meetings in the treehouse. Finn would only smile at first, not truly figuring it out but loving the drawings and relationship between a boy and his stuffed tiger.

But eventually he started to giggle.

After a few weeks, he would carry around his 2 large books and ask me when we would get cozy in bed and read them together. HE ASKED TO READ (TRIPLE GASP).

As Seuss would say: my heart grew 3 sizes that day…

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I’ve decided recently, my kids watch too much TV, not that I care, I mean I grew up in front of the tube, and I turned out ok…relatively, but they turn into little A-Holes for some reason and I had had enough. Restricting the TV didn’t bother Wren in the least. Last week I took it away all week and when I finally put on a movie, she walked away to colour. Finn on the other hand was DEVASTATED. But after a few days, we came to a routine. We’d play cards (which was right up Troy’s alley), or lay in my bed with Calvin and start to giggle (this was my alley).

So last night was my moment.

I told him we would read out loud for 30 minutes and then he would do it quietly beside me. But as we sat and laughed together it was so much fun, we continued for an hour. Then it happened…

MY SON READ ON HIS OWN AND LOVED IT!

I picked up my kobo, but found myself peeking at what he was reading, smiling when he smiled. His lips moving over the long words, I mean, some of those are really hard words for a kid. I did have to explain what a tyrant was and why Calvin’s mom was being one, but after my dictionary lesson, he would smile and keep going.

So yes, I had my moment, I almost verklempt at the sight. It will be a top ten, ingrained, a flick in time that maybe I did something right as a parent (those are few and far between, it feels). I mean these are the times I will remember when he doesn’t want to hang out with me anymore, when he’d rather spend his night with his friends, when he leaves for university one day to start his own adventure. I will always remember last night. Cuddling in my bed, the snow falling outside, reading the best comic ever written, and laughing uncontrollably over a little kid, his imaginary tiger and decapitated snowmen. It was perfect.

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Don’t Forget to Remember, Canada

Remembrance day is tomorrow and I hope that we aren’t so anger fueled by our southern neighbors that we don’t stop for a bit and think about our own country. I get insanely nostalgic for this day, from birth to now as it holds so much significance. Adding to that, 8 years ago tomorrow, I gave birth to Finn, so it’s a pretty important date in the eyes of an 8 year old as well as to me. No less important, in fact it’s even more so as I reflect on this world and the things our ancestors went through to make it so amazing for my kids to grow up in.

Let’s backtrack for a second. I’m sure most of you know I was born into a military family. A base brat through and through for nearly 2 decades of my life. So much so that when I thought about my future I almost enlisted to remain in the military circle. See we moved every 3 or 4 years, we were far from actual relatives, we only had each other but I never once felt bad about that. In fact, I remember with such distinctness all those faces that were always popping by in civilian clothes but then seeing those same faces, dressed in their crisp uniforms when I woud visit my dad – Sarge – in his office. I recall very clearly spending some time there, but it could have been just a handful of times.

From the terribly painted hallways, an extremenely shiny paint, everything was always so similar, gleaming in this whitish paint. All furnishings had a purpose – utilitarian but always clean. From base to base, it remained the same, but then again maybe that happened for alternate reasons – maybe it was a way to make it feel familiar, so that you didn’t get homesick. You were there, after all, for more important reasons. It wasn’t just a job to many. It was a way to give back, serve your country, but to me it was all I ever knew. To me it was my whole universe, or so it seemed in my kid brain.

Those faces, I recall so many, and really it was the best life. THE. BEST. LIFE. I never felt strange always moving, it was part of it and every one I met, every new kid, was living the same life – we had free reign of the base, or again, so it seemed.

My favorite place to live was located in northern Alberta, close to the B.C. border. It was a tiny speck of Canada, the smallest base perched on a hill, neslted in Albertan trees and rough terrain. We woud ATV around the woods, play tennis in a court in our backyard and then they would flood it in winter to entertain us during all those frigid months. No one was worried about strangers taking us, my best friend, Erica, and I would roar around on bikes, playing spies, organizing wee baseball games due to the miniscule amount of kids – the ages ranging from very young to teenagers. We all had to play together as there was no one else but it was fine, no one seemed to be too bothered by it. We’d head to the Canex for 40 cent candy bars, and there was even a small theatre on base that showed all the best movies on Sundays.

As a kid it was amazing.

I don’t know if my parents would agree with that, I mean we had to live in a tiny trailer to start with. There was one channel and it was blurry at best. Although we did get our first VHS there which led to my obsessive watching of The Lost Boys to the point that I could recite it. Sigh, my first vampire love…

In order to get to town for groceries or a Zellers fix, my mom had to brave countless winter storms and always that winding hill going up the side of the mountain was a freaking nightmare. My older sister has since lamented on how awful it was to be a teenager there, I mean, parties in ‘Beaverlodge’ were impossible to get to and she had to deal with me all the time. Sorry Laurie, I love you!! But for a little kid, I just needed a bag of chips, Corey Haim movies and I was content. There would always be parties for the kids, it was extrememly family oriented. Military life was, in my mind, the very best way to grow up.

Sure I missed out on being close to biological family, but I also learned from birth to adapt. I could move tomorrow and be ok with that. I’ve lived all over Canada, my appreciation for this country is vast. It was tough but being forced into a new class every few years sure makes one self-sufficent, and making new friends was old hat. I didn’t have to sit with the same people for years, growing up with the same circle, I had new ones every couple years. Perhaps it makes me flippant about relationships a tad, I’m not sure, but it’s given me the ability to walk into a new place and quickly turn around a social life.

This isn’t saying that I don’t care about the ones I leave behind. I care greatly, I miss them all very much, but I can also see the possibilities of gaining new people to excite me, entertain me and add to my life. I view it as a gift. Something maybe my parents know about, maybe not. If you’re reading this mom & dad – thank you!

I feel so much fondness when I think of my life as a military brat that I actually physically miss it. During Air Show days I sometimes feel like bursting into tears. Not that I’m sad, but I just miss that ‘family’ connection with all those people in uniform. I wasn’t a solider, I didn’t do a damn thing, but I was there for the ride and I loved it. I was included and felt a part of something bigger, something amazing.

Every November 11, I attend the ceremony (well aside from that morning I was pushing Finn out), and again I’m close to tears. When I see the vets in their blazers, their medals displayed proudly, many with watery eyes, plus the men and women in their crisp uniforms, their shoes shined to perfection (I recall my dad shining his every single morning…like every day…I even remeber the box he kept with all his supplies, shining a mirror into his toes). Then I see the young cadets and their adorably perfect outfits, I can’t help but feel sad that I’m not one of them anymore. I feel like I should be able to walk up and share that bond like everybody on base had. No matter who you were,  you belonged and you were in it together.

When I think about my job now and how little I contribute to society, how these men and women devote their lives to our country and risk their lives in combat to keep our lives safe, I wish perhaps I would have chosen differently. Not that anyone reading this could picture my hair in such a tight bun, keeping the collars clear of hair and to code! Or see me running through physical training with 50 pounds of gear on, in the pouring rain. Or having to wear the same thing every day, or shoot a gun…although I have been thinking of taking up archery…

Regardless, I think about all of this every single Novemeber, I feel sad but so very blessed to have had that connection…and now I get to add a happy component to the day. I get to watch my kid beam with pride that he was born on ‘Poppy day’. I get to eat cake (Pokemon cake in case you were wondering) and I get to celebrate the day with my new family even though I will always remember my first one. The life my mom and dad chose, I will always be grateful for and I thank them for giving me that. I am also so so beyond happy that they are here for another Remembrance Day, their health still going strong :) They are so important to me and my kids, I just wanted them to know how much their sacrifices meant to me.

I also spend a few minutes of tomorrow looking up to my grandpa in heaven, thanking him for his navy service, and I ALWAYS blubber (espeically with my sister!) during the procession – darn those fecking bag pipes…

Happy Poppy Day :) Cheers mum and dad!

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Troy, (Sargeant Lawrence) Dad & Mum 

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Hunkering is Almost a Good Thing

I’ve not written in so long, I have no idea where to begin. I wanted to touch on my trip to Cleveland in August – the most magical city ever (no i’m not kidding!), back to school drama, my dance mom induction, so so much to say. And so I’ve put off posting in order to gather my thoughts and write something good and interesting but time is slipping and I’ve not written anything in so long I feel massive guilt and also like I’ve had to shut down that creative side of myself which is likened to a phantom limb, but perhaps that’s a tab dramatic so I’ll get to the point and stop talking about nothing.

I’ll start this post with saying it’s been an expensive summer. LOTS of outings, gathering, hosting large groups, a few flights out east, some ball games, a trip to magical Cleveland, visits to breweries, Sunday ball team shenanigans, I mean, I feel a little drunk thinking about the summer but you know I don’t feel bad for any of it. We decided in April when my mom’s health took a bad turn that we were going to do whatever we wanted this summer and suffer the consequence in September. That being said, we didn’t go into debt or anything but man oh man, there was no saving going on.

And so as September started we began the Hogan Hunker. Our friends coined the ‘hunkering’ term a number of years ago which basically means you buy only essentials and the cheap wine which let’s be honest, that’s the hard part. Back to Carling light and the dreaded drug store hair products. That was a hard one for me obviously.

Regardless, we jumped into September with the whole family on board, it’s time to HUNKER kids – yay! Wren is oblivious to money so really she was a non issue. Finn on the other hand was, to put it mildly, devastated. He spent 3 weeks this summer in PEI basically cleaning up every dollar store he could find, trapsing home with a suitcase full of garbage, so I put my foot down. NO MORE. No more useless spending on dumb things that break in seconds. Nope, September meant even HE couldn’t spend his allowance, and we could not, as a family, buy anything personal. No clothes, shoes, back to school shit. Nope. Hunkering.

We do this from time to time and I have to admit, I secretly love the challenge. I find myself moving things around my house and using them in new ways for a fresh take on an old item. I clean out my clothes closet, remove the junk I don’t wear and search out old accessories that I haven’t worn in awhile, trying out new things with them. September is also a great month to hunker as you can unearth all the fall shoes, sweaters and wraps that have spent the summer in the back recesses of your closet. It’s like you get a whole new wardrobe for free!

I also enjoy watching fashion vlogs to get ideas on new looks that I could achieve with my old clothes (I love this girl Jenn’s style!). I think it makes you see what you have with new eyes. Eyes that don’t continually search for things to buy buy buy.

It’s a great lesson for the kids, well except for the one blow out with Finn who walked off the bus in tears, chucking his scholastic book order forms for September with an exasperated ‘WHAT’S THE POINT! WE’RE HUNKERING! I CAN’T EVEN BUY BOOKS!’, flinging them at my face.

We live in such a consumeristic world, it is hard to hunker, I won’t lie. But it also forces us to realize how much we do have and how much we spend on useless crap that ends up in the diabetes donation bags anyways. I also discovered the Kid’s Closet second hand store scooping up all of Wrens dance shoes for like 4.00 bucks a pop.

I did not buy back to school clothes for the kids, no new lunch bags and Finn is perfectly happy trudging to the bus with an old Magna backpack from Troy’s work. Who says we need to buy hundreds of dollars of clothes in September? My kids didn’t give a crap what they wore on the first day of school. I know that will change, but for now, why indulge in a tradition that isn’t necessary?

So as September winds down, Finn has been asking when October begins with an allowance savings that is burning a hole in his pocket. I have banned dollar store stuff for awhile but I will take him out on Saturday to spend a little cash. He deserves it. He put in the work. As for me, I just might have to invest in some good wine as I head into a weekend with Troy out of town. With all the hunkering as well as a single parent weekend, I think I deserve it too.

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