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The Kids Are Winning

My beasts are great. I mean, I love them, but the time has come that they have finally revolted against the matriarch. I’d like to say I had no hand in that, however, I recall in perfect clarity a conversation from this summer when I basically told Finn he would do better in life by getting along with his sister; to attach to her coattails of crazy ideas and enjoy the ride.

So yes, it was bound to happen. They have finally bonded and now it is us against THEM.

They used to be mortal enemies. Finn has always been jealous of his younger sister and Wren has always been, oh how should I put it…basically zero fucks given. They have been like oil and vinegar since birth, each displaying an equal level of asshole-ishness to each other. It would start as soon as they got home from school, arguments over which show to watch, which toy Wren stole, what jerky thing Finn said in a whisper to his sister (I WISH YOU WOULD DIIIIIIEEEEEEEE). It made me insane…drink a lot of red wine.

But now…NOW…they like each other. Now they provide equal amounts of eye rolls when I ask them to do something. They feed off each other, trying to out do the ‘joke’, or lewd act they think is hilarious. Wren has taken to farting every 4 seconds because it puts Finn in a permanent fit of laughter. I won’t admit what Finn does for attention, but let’s just say it isn’t gentlemanly.

When I need them to get ready for school, typically they are unable to complete the most basic of tasks. Brushing teeth together results in constant twerking, toothpaste spits on the mirror, water like EVERYWHERE, and after about 15 minutes of this, neither is any closer to being ready.

No longer do my ‘strikes’ instil fear. Currently, when mom is pissed, they look at one another and laugh their asses off. They now share whispered conversations, plotting ways to get around my rules. They wrestle, they scream, they get absofuckinglutely nothing done unless I separate them with a locked door and even then they yell jokes and fart noises through the wood slab to garner one last giggle.

Troy told me last night that in order to raise a strong girl, you should raise a funny girl and I do agree with this completely. After all, I spent my whole life trying to make people laugh. Humour is my communicator, it is everything I value most in this crazy and depressing world. If you lose your sense of humour – my god, that would be the end for me. So while I am happy that my kids are loving life and Wren is becoming the court jester (aka asshole), I realize that this union between the two is the final nail in my control coffin. It will only get worse because they know how to manipulate me and they know how to win.

Sarcasm has already made it’s timely presence with Finn, which he nails 90% of the time, and once Wren gets that skill, well, it’s over for Troy and I. Which brings me to my solution. Well, not quite a solution, but our way to one up the kids because we will fight as parents to be smarter and better then the beasts we create. A favourite Hogan tradition is fast approaching next week, Oct 30th is Halloween prank day in our house. A day we pour red coloured milk, sew arm holes together in shirts, tape water spouts in the bathroom (I’m proud to say that Finn nailed that gaga), and try to one up each other. So prepare yourselves children, prank day is coming and you guys aren’t the only ones who can plot sweet revenge. Beware the zero fucks given PARENTS.

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To Be Fearless

I struggled with posting this…it’s super personal so maybe I ought to keep it in my journal and locked away. But I feel so fucking tired and maybe a rant is what it needs to become. With all the terrible things I read on social media, it is more important than ever to be open and at least start a conversation. A conversation on fear, self doubt, and even assault. A conversation that some day I will have with my daughter because I don’t want her to face the walls that I have stood in front of with no way to climb over them.

This morning Wren had a nightmare, crawled into bed with me, and immediately fell into a deep and peaceful sleep within seconds. I watched her and thought to myself, imagine being a 5 year old with zero fucks given about the world they live in besides eating copious amounts of cereal and watching Spongebob? Imagine being a fearless adult woman?

Wren has that personality that people notice…

Bold
Crazy
Fun
Wild
Strong willed (stubborn as shit)
And fearless

I think about her and myself and how different we are, well in some ways, but according to my mom I was exactly like her once. Covered in dirt at the park, wild hair, chugging down gravel driveways on my knees or plunging down hills in my yellow egg which in hindsight most definitely wasn’t safe.

Once upon a time I was Just. Like. Her.

So I think to myself, when did I cease to be that way? When did social anxiety, self consciousness, panic attacks jump on board to ruin that amazing view at life? I definitely didn’t have fear in grade 4 when I decided I didn’t have to go to school anymore, recruited a bunch of cronies from the school yard to ‘fake’ going to school and then run over to my house to play records and dress up all day long. It all went awesome until the school called my dad and asked him where I had been all week.

I ran a parallel with Wren who in kindergarten led a bunch of kids on a hunt for an unlocked door in order to free themselves into the world! Or at least to go play in the big yard with the big kids. Later she realized that sneaking on her own under the fence was much more conducive in her success at never getting caught.

I think it started around grade 5 when my teachers thought it was an excellent and fun idea to drag me in front of the entire school to measure my gapping height as the tallest student in elementary. Nothing says awkward like watching your peers snicker in awe at your beastly body covered in stretch marks because I grew tall so fast.

It definitely festered in academia, when I got the highest award for my Halloween story in 6th grade, the winner was to be published in the paper, and I still clearly recall being so proud of it, so excited for it. But even though I had the best mark, my teacher teased me, pulled me aside and said it was never going to happen because it was too ‘graphic’. So they published a lesser story and he told me to tone it down next time.

I even recall my 8th grade history teacher who called me out in front of the whole class for getting a 100%, and why couldn’t all the other kids be like me. As per normal pre-pubescent a-holes, I was then labeled the ‘nerd’ and ostracized to the point of deliberately submitting wrong answers so I wouldn’t be the best anymore. When I look back on it, I am so angry with myself for succumbing to that fear but when you are that young, and at a new school and desperate to make friends, being smart isn’t always priority #1.

Brains aside, around that age I became painfully aware of my body. In hindsight, I was not a huge girl, but I wasn’t skinny and I felt so much shame for myself. I purposely avoided all sports and abhorred gym class which then steamrolled into my hatred of food. As a teenager I starved myself, then prayed that I could just start bulimia which would be so much easier then limiting myself. I went on every stupid diet I could, but even when I was at my skinniest, I didn’t like what I saw. I looked tired and still felt utterly ugly.

It’s been 30 years and I still have a fear of food. Some weeks are better then others and I know the way I see things isn’t right. I know I can’t breathe a word of it in front of Wren. I know it’s wrong, but like an addiction, I can’t help myself. My husband can tell me I’m lovely and I’ll say thank you, but I’ll never fully believe it.

Jumping into my 20’s I started to come into my personality, figuring out who I was, and my sexuality came into play. Maybe I could be fearless once again. I started to date, I began to feel pretty…and then I was sexually assaulted.

And even as I write that line, I don’t fully believe it was not my fault. I still think, well, maybe if I hadn’t done this, or said that, or acted like that, then maybe it wouldn’t have happened. It caused me to fear sex, to hate it, to hate my body and nearly ruined my relationship with my now husband. I hated myself as self doubt and social anxiety grabbed me by the throat. I don’t talk about it, I doubt if my family even knows about it, but it happened and it has shaped my fears and is relevant to this story.

In my 30’s, the joyous panic attacks began. Debilitating anxiety that over took me whenever I left the house. I started working for myself, hated to talk on the phone, disliked large crowds, avoided large group activities, definitely no sports for me. My comfort zone became my whole life and when I left it, I struggled.

To this day, heading to a hotel or for a vacation will always result in panic attacks and anxiety that leave me exhausted and angry. Even this past weekend, sharing a cottage, close to home, with people I consider family had me jumping up on Sunday with a fight or flight mentality. I needed to get up and launch myself into the car before my brain took over and made me sick.

You might never have seen this side of me or you might have seen too much of this side of me. I try to suck it up as best I can. I don’t want to moan and complain. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer. I hate that these things loom around me. I see women that I admire, I see my daughter and how I want to be the best teacher for her. I don’t like being these things, but they are what I am. I want to be bold, and creative and jump into things feet first, but I also believe that in order to be fearless you have to be honest, which can be the most terrifying thing of all.

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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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Judgey is Sucky

So this morning I finished reading a book…and it was utterly unexpected.

The cover was naked and racy, the title mimicking the photo on the front so I thought it would be a silly sexy read that I really do love. I crave the escape of books in this genre. The easy push and pull of a new relationship, the heated looks, the whispers of touches that immerse you into their world with the awkward excitement of a new lover. It’s easy to be sucked in.

It’s not crazy intense, it’s not multiple books about middle earth in which you require a guidebook to figure out what the hell is going on. Sometimes you need a simple escape and book covers typically say a lot about what you’re getting yourself into.

But sometimes I am taken by surprise.

It wasn’t like that at ALL, well maybe a little, but once I was finished I stared at the cover for quite a bit. A whole bunch of thoughts tumbling into my busy brain at once and that is when I knew I had to write this out in a blog.

In the end, the book was a love story (plot shocker I know), but not a typical one that I was expecting. It was real and interesting and it took the entire book with years of friendship to happen. I realized that the cover was in no way reflective of how the book looked to me after I was done.

I’ll be honest, a lot of the books I read are smutty and I use that term with absolute endearment. I love the authors I follow, I think they are brilliant and I applaud the way they put themselves out there.

Christina Lauren, Penny Reid, Emma Chase…just a few that I count down to book release day. They mix humour, with characters that are flawed, but interesting. There is sex, but also relationships that are real and honest and not simply ‘Hey I like your boobs, I’m in love with you!’.

These are super smart women who love to write about love and sex and I am always in awe of the worlds they create. In real life Penny Reid works as a biotech researcher and Lauren from the Christina Lauren duo has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience…so like I said, they are SMART women.

Books provide my escape. I want to fall in love, I want to laugh, I want to read witty discussions and I want to be entertained. I don’t want to think about soccer practise, work deadlines, or the endless to-do list. So this book surprised me…and it also made me think.

To be honest I’ve been on the fence over whether I should still continue to write at all. Unsure whether I could let myself pursue it unabashedly and without fear that I will fail. Or knowing that judgement will happen regardless.

I know graphics, I know design, I have succeeded in this life, and I love it still. But when I write I feel inspired and excited. So much so that I would rather write then sleep. I would happily jump into another world that I can completely control for hours at a time. But I haven’t written in months. I sat down to write the second in the ‘Off Limits’ series, and I just felt blocked. I started to doubt. Began to tell myself to smarten up and maybe this is a waste of time.

I forgot about that feeling I get when I write.

I began to think that what I write is crap, so I held back. I stopped talking about it. I didn’t put it out there for anyone but close close friends to read. Friends, who I knew would like it. I started to think that I would be judged by my words or the cover. Like that book I just read.

I finished writing ‘Riley’ in November. I love this book. The few people who have read it, also loved this book. But I still hold back. I sit on it and start the cycle of depression that perhaps they were lying, perhaps it is a dumb thing. Perhaps I should make better use of my time.

I obsessed over how people would react to the book cover. Even though I designed it to be blurry and, I thought, pretty tasteful in relation to others that have naked dudes with girls’ legs wrapped around their bodies.

Would people start to think that it was something that I wrote about from experience? How I definitely must have had an affair with a young guy because that is who my main character is. Or maybe that I secretly want that to happen? I think about male authors and know that this would NEVER HAPPEN to them. No one would ever condemn a guy for writing a sex scene with a younger chick, not ever.

But this isn’t a feminist rant…not today anyways.

Would people make fun of it? Make fun of me for writing it? Would they say good job Kel, but then judge me as a silly mother who had better grow up and adult. It’s these thoughts that have silenced my blogs, my writing, as I continue to sit on something that maybe someone would actually like to read had they known about it.

It’s that line in the sand, that once I cross over, it’s out there. I mean, Finn happened to casually mention to his teacher, last year, that his mom was a writer and god love her, she googled me and found and bought my first book. I had no idea until she emailed me the most fantastic email to tell me how she loved it, that it was not her normal genre to read but loved it regardless and finished it within days. Now, this would be my young adult paranormal series, so it was out there, but again, it has no sex, no openly graphic scenes. So I stress thinking, what if his current teacher were to read my new book, holy fuck, what would happen then?

Someone once told me that I shouldn’t write things I’m embarrassed by and I am most definitely not embarrassed. I’m proud that I wrote it and I love my book characters. So much so that I have 2 more stories floating in my brain, waiting to be processed. But putting yourself out there, crossing that line. It’s a scary place.

I’ve never really cared what people thought of me before and I still don’t. I mean, not really. But this is the most ‘naked’ I have ever felt in sharing some of my art. Naked is a great word really. It’s vulnerable. It’s out there. I mean, my mother in law could potentially read this one day! The thought makes me sweat. But how else do we remain on the right path? And what is the correct path?

I’ve felt thrown off these last few months. I wasn’t sure I wanted to get back on that path. But when I think of my most happy moments, one of them is without a doubt finishing each of my books. Punching that last period and nearly crying with excitement. I think it would be a tragedy if I didn’t continue just for those gratuitous moments that I recall with perfect clarity. Even if no one but me loves them.

So.

This is me.

Standing naked.

Book in hand…and being proud of it.

Whew.

Kobo + Amazon

 

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