Nov 30

Bah Humbug?

The stuffing wasn’t yet cold on the American Thanksgiving dinner table when the Christmas juggernaut started barrelling toward us. I have to admit, I was pressured to put up the Christmas tree almost two weeks ago by two tween-agers who could sense the rubbermaid totes in the basement, bursting with festive cheer mere meters below their feet. Although I really don’t love the mountain of mess that the holiday brings, I do enjoy the annual adornment of the good old fake fir that I keep stuffed into a cardboard box and drag up for 3 months every year. Yes, I said three. Last year, I forced myself to take the bloody thing down before I left for Mexico. On February 10th. I am blushing a bit when I tell you this. Early in the new year I had jokingly posted a photo of christmas cookies I saw on display at Foodland. I thought perhaps the store might want to venture past 50% off since it was more than a month since Christmas, and the freshness of said cookies was likely in serious jeopardy. One of my friends reminded me that I was in no position to judge, since we were still watching TV around an 8 foot replica pine in my own living room at the time.

Let She who is without sin cast the first stone

So fine, maybe I like the pretty, shiny, flatteringly-lit tree to stay in my living room to keep me company until it really is way past the season. Whatever. Judge me.

After unwrapping a thousand fragile little ornaments, busting 5 in the process, and eating nearly a whole container of gingerbread boys, the tree was finally assembled and now sits proudly for its quarter-year of glory in our home. The kids danced about like tiny meth-heads, excited and justified in the official start of begging for gifts and self-control from their usual fighting and mayhem, lest Santa should see and banish them to the naughty list.
I swear 11 months out of the year I do not condone sweat-shop labour, but as a parent, I can get behind Santa and his little North Pole organization if it means that my kids try extra-hard to behave for a month out of the year.

My job as a mom means I have my own little dictatorship here at the homestead, so I declared that no Santa-list-making would be done until the bedroom sparkled. < insert evil grin > After a flurry of shoving crap under the bed and smoothing out sheets over lumpy beds, they were presented with the annual Sears Wish Book for their holiday perusal. I have to tell you, if you want to keep your kiddies quiet for an hour, hand them this catalogue, some scissors and glue, and find yourself a good book. I didn’t hear a peep from them, except for the occasional exclamation of joy over this toy or that one. Motherhood bliss!

This years crop of requests looks pretty innocuous. No weapons of mass destruction, no drums, guitars or saxophones, and nothing that will grow, explode or spill onto the floor in a million pieces. MOMMY SCORE! In the past I have purchased snow-cone makers that yielded one product (that was one hella-expensive snow cone, TT!), microscopes that have never been peered upon (so much for your love of science, O) and a karaoke machine that never came out of the box. This year, I am getting what’s on the damn list. Does it matter that I am likely contributing to the future body shame of my children by buying them dolls that have waists that are 1/10th the diameter of their heads? Maybe. What about the potential broken arms and legs that will be a direct result of a shoddily-built pink scooter? So be it. My children deserve the best I can provide, and damn it, I will be providing!

A huge holiday tradition in my own childhood home was watching some version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Maybe more than one version. Actually, am pretty sure I have watched EVERY version available to man at various times throughout my youth. My mom always assembled us at the proper time on weekends in November and December to watch whichever version was playing that day. Bless her soul, she is a Christmas nut. We love that she religiously drags out the Christmas gear on November 1st and has her entire home adorned in holiday cheer by November 2nd. We laugh and taunt her about it, but secretly we love that she is the heart of our family and always provides us with an amazing Christmas experience. My kids know that if they are going to learn about the proper way to celebrate and decorate, they are going to learn if from her, and not me.

My Mom's house at Christmas. Kidding. (not really kidding)

Therefore, it was no surprise at all to find the three of them holed up in her cozy den last weekend, watching the latest version of the Charles Dickens classic together, the first time for them, and no doubt, the thousandth time for my Mom. I smiled, and felt a very familiar wave of nostalgia rise in my heart, as I remembered all of the times my sister, brother and I did the same in our beloved family home for so many years. Of course, she insisted that they make room for me to join them to watch the much-loved finale, where Scrooge changes his surly ways and becomes the most cherished man in town. As always, I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes to see this beautiful transformation. No matter how many times I watch it, it always has this affect on me, and now, on my kids too. Another beautiful tradition passed on to be enjoyed by a new generation. It isn’t every day that you actually see the thread of family tradition being weaved in front of you, but I saw it that day, and it made me very, very happy.

The season has begun, as has the time to welcome family and friends, share laughter and love and traditions old and new. Here’s to a very merry season to all of you, and much love and joy.

Now, wipe the freakin’ tear from your eye, and get on with your shopping and decorating,

Mrs. B.

Nov 12

Sometimes I get choked up

Remembrance Day is one of those times. It’s the one day a year, where I sing the national anthem, look around at all of the people gathered to honour the fallen, and actually think about how everything in my life could have been so different. I think about that all the time, really. I am so very lucky to be where I am, with the people I surround myself with. This Remembrance Day was no different, well, except the first part.

Last week the girls asked me when I was going to BC. I told them that it was probably Friday, and they got a little whiny, then Yaya asked what time I was leaving. I told her it would probably be late in the morning or lunchtime. She got that sad look in her eyes and asked if I was going to miss her performance in the Remembrance Day ceremony at school. I told her that I would be there for sure, and I really meant it. It almost made me cry right there, when I came to the realization that she would want, or even care, for me to be there. It’s things like that, that really get me now. It’s one thing to have your heart filled with love for someone, but to have that returned, even in such a small gesture, means the world to me. I went to bed that night with a great big smile in my heart.

Now it’s Remembrance Day. O got herself up at 6:15 AM, so that she would be prepared for her performance. She was going to be a war widow, with two children, and she sure looked the part. We got them all packed up and took the girls to school, but forgot the camera. After a quick rip home, we get situated in the gymnasium, and await the ceremony. Everyone was getting set up, and some very mournful music was playing. A teacher explained that because of the somber occasion, there was to be no clapping after any performances, and I didn’t think that would be a problem; it’s a bunch of kids doing a Remembrance Day presentation. How good could it be? They don’t even realize the impact that these men made on our country, and the world, so how could they properly portray them in a school tableau vivant. Well, I was wrong again. From the start, it was all I could do to not clap. These kids were very good, and you could tell that they had practiced their parts well. It was so moving to see these little singers, actors and poets up there, giving it their all. I was so proud of them, but what really brought the tears to my eyes, was looking up at that little girl that wanted me to be there. I, of course, held back the flood, but what I really wanted to do, was to run up there and hug her until her ears hurt.

You see, I wasn’t just proud of her up there, I was proud of myself as well. I can’t explain it, but I felt this over-powering sense of self worth. Maybe other step-parents feel that too. I don’t know, but I’d like to hear from you if you do, because I don’t understand it. I didn’t raise these kids, so I can’t take credit for how good they are at anything, how smart they are, or how kind-hearted they are. They were like that before I came along. Maybe it’s because they see something in me that they love, or at least admire? I guess that’s possible; I’m not a psychologist. Well, not a licensed one, anyhow. When I looked over at Mrs. Birdman, taking photos of all the kids and their performances, I felt such deep adoration and respect for her. She was the main influence on those girls, all their lives. Don’t get me wrong. Their father is a great guy, and a great dad, but dads work a lot, and the moms are usually the ones who spend the most time with the kids. They are two well-raised girls, despite me, so I guess it’s just the phenomenon of step-parenting that gives me that amazing, fulfilled feeling. I thought that my life was complete with Mrs. B, but you add those two little sweethearts into the mix, and my cup runneth over for sure.

After the presentation at the school, we went to the cenotaph in Colborne, and remembered with a healthy gathering of townsfolk. Other than one lady that answered her phone during the two minutes of silence, it was a good ceremony, and there were many wreaths lain in memory. I feel great pride in my country, my fellow man, and myself on Remembrance Day. It’s not that I don’t feel that way every day, but that’s the one day, that no one asks what’s wrong while you are standing in the middle of a park with tears running down your face. I worry that the meaning will get lost on our young, as our parents probably worried about us, but I think if we continue to teach the importance of freedom to our children, they will remember, as we remember. At least I hope they do.

I’ll never forget,

Birdman

Oct 26

My other dad

As I write this, the man who raised me as a son since I was eight is on his way to the hospital. He hasn’t been able to swallow food or water for days now, and if something isn’t done soon, it can’t get any better. He doesn’t want us kids there right now, maybe he doesn’t want to inconvenience us, but it’s probably because he doesn’t want us to see what the cancer has reduced him to. I don’t think he understands that we don’t care about that.

You see, he grew up in a time when men were judged by their physical, mental and emotional strength, and you didn’t want anyone to ever see you in a lesser state. I’m so glad I don’t have to follow any of those rules, or I’d be failing miserably as a man. If I can’t go out fast, while stopping a stray bullet from hitting an innocent bystander in a driveby, I want all the people I love to be around me.

Long before the second bout, but after the first. Mom loves cameras

Since he was first diagnosed with esophageal cancer, some ten years ago, he was given months to live. He was pretty down about it, and had kind of lost that fire he had always had. That was until he went to Kingston. While he was at the cancer centre there, he got talking to a lot of survivors, and they all had one thing in common. They were fighters. They weren’t going to let it beat them. They wanted to live, and were going to do what it took to stay above ground. Continue reading

Sep 28

We have a winner

This was a pretty easy decision Stacey.

I was BBQing some burgers when I got home from work and avoiding the shrieks of an eight year old who has just realized that her doll has been thoroughly molested. I knew it was inevitable that I would have to witness some discipline tonight, shit was just getting out of hand. I don’t dole out a lot of punishment myself, and it’s probably a good thing, because I’m kind of old school that way, but I am at the ready to give a bellow whenever called upon.

This is a dramatization

Luckily the girls are very good and get along just splendidly, but every so often, they have just had enough of each other and things get heavy. I’m lucky(I think) that my lady is extremely patient when dealing with her children, and treats them like real people. Where I would probably just yell as loud as I could until someone paid attention to me. She calmly explains what is going to happen next and why the consequences that are happening, are happening. It’s actually quite amazing to me that fighting with your child until you cry out of frustration and eventually have a nervous breakdown, is not in fact the key to making children behave. (I am so sorry Mom, I love you very much) So with the TV and ipod privileges taken away, they both ate their supper and calmly asked if the could ride their bikes. I was thinking there would be no way that was happening, not after that display of childishness. When they were told that they could ride on the sidewalk until dark, I was a bit surprised and skeptical, but said nothing, because her methods have been working so far.

A little bit younger, but pretty frigging accurate

Twenty minutes later they arrived and explained that they had apologized to each other and went about the various studying and doll playing that leads up to getting ready for bed. Wait, this isn’t how it’s supposed to go. There was no shouting at them, no one got spanked, or better yet The Belt. Now that I think about it, they weren’t even grounded, or put to bed. I’m totally confused now because kids need to be spanked and yelled at once in a while, ask my Dad. I don’t understand these newfangled ways, but in the year we’ve been together they’ve seemed to work pretty good. I find it crazy that I am not talking to them like they are too young to understand the complexities of how life works. When they ask a question, I answer them like I’d answer anyone, and they seem to respect me for that. They are actually much smarter than I was at their ages, and a hell of a lot cuter. That’s saying a lot, because everyone said I was the cutest little fucker they ever did see, but that was a long time ago, when people drank more cocktails during the day than they do now.

C'mon I was cute. Right?

Please hold me in your arms,

Birdman

Sep 18

I Was So Frigging Wrong

A bit of a handful

I thought a better way to get back at the carnies would be to assail them with both little girls and two of their friends. Four girls between 8 and 10 should be enough to drive them nuts right? I didn’t have a chance to notice, because I was constantly trying to keep track of the four of them. Also, it turns out that carnies don’t pay attention to the rules that are written on their signs, and will allow children that are three feet tall to go on a ride that has a 48″ minimum.

I guess I shouldn’t assume that they don’t care. It could be that they are unable to read words or string those words into sentences. Yeah, that makes a bit more sense now.

As we wandered the fairgrounds, looking for the next ride, a young voice cried out:  “Look, a girl with no shirt on!”

I craned my neck in all directions, brimming with excitement, only to realize that she was talking about the top half of a buxom blonde painted on the side of one of the carny booths. Her hair was strategically placed to cover her ample breasts, and her come hither smile was most certainly making me blush.

I said:  “It’s probably a mermaid.”

I mean really…who wants to start explaining to a ten year old that some of the workers in a traveling carnival might not be the purest of souls?

She replied:  “Oh yeah, because not all mermaids wear sea shell bras. Some of them can’t find enough sea shells.”

 

That got me thinking , maybe that’s the reason my old neighbour out west never wore a bra either. Seashells are probably very hard to come by when you live on the Alaska highway.

Another thing I have noticed is that the carnies are a harder looking bunch than they used to be, what with neck tattoos and piercing of all known extremities becoming so popular these days. I was actually a little frightened to put these children into the care of someone who looks like he might be a striker for the Hells Angels by night, and run the Tilt-a-Whirl by day. Actually, if the Angels ran the midway it would be a much tighter ship, and probably a lot easier to find weed.

Speaking of weed, it’s harvest season and if there is anyone who needs confirmation on how good their crop is, just drop a bag off to the old Birdman. I will smoke some and tell you what I think of it. I will then publish your name, strain and prices on my blog, along with all of your contact info. I’ll also let you in on a little secret… The bigger the bag, the more I’ll like it. 😉

You are all beautiful to me,

Birdman