Sunday, 8 May 2016

Happy Mothers' Day!

Yes, I'm going to get all sentimental today so pull out the hankies. Everyone has heard me go on about my kids before but this is my blog so I get to say what I want, so there.
It's hard to believe that it's been almost 28 years since I first became a mom. Yes, Jess, you're that old. I never realised what a change four tiny little people could make to my life but I can't imagine who I would have been if I wasn't their mom. For the most part life with these kids has been trauma -free. Oh, don't get me wrong, there have been moments but in long run it's been smooth. You know, once Jessie got over needing me to sleep with her every night and her night terrors, Jenn learned boundaries and stopped climbing fences and disappearing, Jeff got over his colic ( at about 14 it seemed) and Greg became a more social, helpful human ( that was just this year but progress is progress ). Our kids share the same warped humour that I grew up with. I'm pretty much inured to anything they throw my way even if I don't agree. Like mom I'm allowed to make noises like a mother, state my opinion then continue to accept them for who they are.
 I think dad would have had fun with this bunch. Their quick wit would have meshed well with his. The nerd side of this family would have been a perfect fit for dad.
I am, of course, thinking about mom today but this is nothing new. Mom's picture sits in the livingroom reminding me to keep hanging in there. I remember her as someone who always had her shit together but if I look objectively back I wonder how she got through our early years when we had little money and dad was away most of the time. She raised us basically as a working, single mom. As I continue to go through some financial strife I'm blessed that this is happening when my kids are grown and they are unquestioningly pitching in. How the hell did we get through it all when mom had no support system? We never felt poor although I know we shopped at the bargain shops in the city. Us girls looked forward to being in different clothes from everyone else.
My kids poopoo their Scottish background but I'm sure the grit and inner strength of our culture is what has created a deep inner strength in all of us. We are born with the attitiude of just carry on and fight your way through. I'm so thrilled for Joy who has finally got some light at the end of her tunnel. She wanted to build a life in Muskoka and did whatever was necessary to stay there.  She has now achieved some breathing room and is enjoying herself. Dayle, my outwardly eternally cheerful sister continues to fight the good fight. Greg's health is on another down swing ( that's what I'm calling it because the Wolverine hasn't given up yet!) and she is by his side all the way. Like I said deep inner strength.
We three sisters are really pretty lucky. While we know that our children are wonderful because we were, and still are, perfect moms, it's great to see who they all are now and what they're contributing to the world.
So, to all of my children out there by blood or by choice know that you are loved. Thank you for letting me be your mom, it's a privilege.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Thinking while cooking

Today was my day off so I did the grocery shopping which refilled our meat supply. We have a lovely butcher in Cambridge, Dipietros, that has good meat at fair prices. We particularly like their breaded pork cutlets otherwise known as schnitzel.
Generally when I cook these it becomes a bit of a production because it has turned into a classic German meal. Those of you who know me know that I spent the last few months of high school as an exchange student in Germany. I was paired with a family that lived in southern Germany in the Schwarz Wald. I'm pretty sure everyone who was in school with me will remember Uschi. She became one of us, sad but true, very quickly. All the boys had a crush on her.
So, back to tonight's dinner. Schnitzel mit Spaetzle was a delicious dinner that we had a number of times while I lived there. Spaetzle are a Schwaben noodle or dumpling that is made fresh every time. Uschi's grandma was the resident expert at making them and cut each noodle by hand. I loved these things so much I came home with a spaetzle drucker ( spaetzle press). Between the noodles and the bread I managed to put on 20 pounds over there, which put me at about 125 in those long ago days.
I digress. I have started making fresh spaetzle and am becoming a bit of a dab hand at cutting the dough into the boiling water. This is very time consuming and my mind always wanders to Germany and my time there. I lost touch with Uschi years ago when my Jessica and her Sara were babies. I don't think she ever knew how much influence my time with her family and friends have had on my life. I was a shy 18 year old who didn't have much confidence in her linguistic skills. Gerhard, Uschi's boyfriend then first husband, patiently taught me how to comfortably speak German and Schwaben. The words still dance around in my head. This happens regularly when I cook tonight's meal. I look at my misshapen spaetzle and wonder if Uschi's Oma would approve. They may not be much to look at but they taste perfect.
   This is dinner. We always have the same combo, schnitzel, spaetzle and grilled brussels sprouts.

I often wish I had met Uschi later in life. I could have appreciated what she had to offer so much more. As it was we didn't have that much in common and she bonded more with Brenda than me. I was young and madly in love. I missed out on an offer to go to Italy at the end of the school year with Uschi's family because I HAD to get home. What a dolt. Since then I've never had the opportunity to travel.
So, Uschi, if by some weird chance you are out there and wander across my blog let me know. I'd love to know how life turned out.# UrsulaAuchPfeiffer, maybe this will flag to you.
Nonetheless, dinner was delicious and the memories were a sweet dessert.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Mid winter's dreaming

Have I mentioned before how great I think my kids are? Ok, I know I say it all the time. Guess what it's true. Yesterday the gang descended on the house, at my invitation, for pizza Sunday. Once a month I try to make sure we have these dates because in between it's mostly texts or radio silence. It was a gathering of the usual suspects with Arif ( who is actually one of the usual suspects) and Sanata. Nothing exciting happened, we talked about books ( sorry Alex I tried, I just don't like Game of Thrones) played games and ate pizza. My daughters who are delicate flowers suffered gut pains and food poisoning ( not from my pizza) but all had a good time.
I often wonder if my life revolves too much around my, now grown ,children but I then consider myself lucky that they want me in their lives. Sanata has asked me to teach her how to knit and we're making plans for her to come out, learn to knit and marathon Gilmore Girls with me.I laughed when everyone arrived because I was still in the bathroom making myself beautiful and both Jenn and Sanata barged in to give me a hug. It reminded me of the times my sisters and I would arrive home from college etc and head to the bathroom to catch up.
As we figure out what our family looks like as they make their own lives I wonder why modern North Americans have tried to move away from the natural inclination for families to live near each other or in the same house. We are exploring how to live closer to share expenses and just to be together. Mom used to tell stories of growing up with her Grandmother living in their house and from that generation it doesn't sound weird. With our striving, since WWII, to have more buy bigger houses and prove to each other that we've arrived we've lost a lot of the soul of the family. Why do we not turn to the elders in the family for advice and support? We have at least made the mistakes and hopefully learned from them. I've mentioned before how lost I feel without mom as at least a sounding board for my mad ideas. If you still have your parents try and cherish them. Yes, they can be set in their ways and perhaps give advice when not asked. It's not because they don't think you can do it on your own it's usually because they don't want you to suffer from mistakes they've already experienced.
Anyway, back to my kids. Quick update on their lives. Jess just got a promotion in a business I don't understand, logistics. Virgo that she is, she loves it! Keeping everyone organised and going where they're supposed to and wheeling and dealing for money makes her little heart beat fondly. Jenn's illustration renown continues to grow. We just have to make sure she comes out of her cave  and her head more frequently. Jeff is learning a new profession in IT. Will it be enough to challenge for the long run? That remains to be seen. Greg is finally seeing light at the end of the high school tunnel and is looking forward to programming in college. They're not curing cancer or solving global warming but they're succeeding where they're planted and this is enough.
Love you all near and dear. I'm proud of the whole motley crew of you. Our strange family, and this means my extra kids too, all are great, kind and funny people. I'm blessed to know you.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Thoughts on the days to come

I can't believe it's been four months since I last posted! This is a sign of how busy the fall has been. As you all know I rejoined Scholars Choice this summer. We rolled into back-to-school in August and the momentum kept up right until 5pm Christmas Eve. The company has changed it's marketing tactics and we had a sales events every two weeks. It's a grueling pace to keep up for three months. Constantly contacting customers and keeping the store prepared. Now we are in January. We have inventory this week and then, hopefully, a month to regroup and catch our breaths.

I've had a number of subjects floating in and out of my mind over this time period.You'd think I'd want to look back at 2015 but I'm working on staying positive and looking forward. 2015 holds very few positive moments for me. I look forward to things getting better, settling into my old normal and being able to look forward to the future instead of dreading what's coming next. Wow, such a positive outlook, lol.

I was listening to a documentary on CBC today about a writer who lived about the same amount of time as mom. She had taken life by the horns at a very young age then ended up involving herself in almost every important historical event of the 20th century. As I was listening I remarked to the boys
how amazing it was that she was brave enough to just do these things. I know I live a small life but when did I stop being brave? I'm not interested in being a history changer but I realised that for the past three years I have been constantly afraid. I've made a few decisions since mom's death that have affected my financial security and I keep waiting for the bottom to fall out of everything. This fear, I'm sure, is apparent to my kids and I hate what they're learning.  How does one get past this? I haven't figured it out yet but I'm determined to make it work this year.

There, dirty laundry aired, too much about me shared, let's move on.

I can't promise to write more regularly although I should. I think I'd like to work on some creative writing. This has never been my strength. Oh, I know I can properly form a sentence but I purposely studied maths, sciences and languages to avoid having to write essays. Having the freedom here to write about anything I want has given me a voice I didn't realise I had. So, we'll see if I'm brave enough ( be brave Nancy) to publish some creative writing on here. I have a children's book I've been playing with for years. Time to pull it out and see if there's something good there.

Dayle is always going out for a walk. I find walking boring but you have to walk before you can run and I want to be able to run again. You will not hear about my progress here because I hate looking for positive reinforcement for something I'm doing just for me. When I've made enough progress to please me you will know.

How did this turn into a piece that looks dangerously close to a list of resolutions. I hate those lists. What I do know is that if you put your plans, ideas etc in writing that gives them a concrete form.

And adding to the list. I started off the year by creating two new pieces of jewellery. One is actually a hanging for Jeff but they are both trees of life. I spend so much time worrying about everything that I can't focus on my creative soul. I have this lovely craft room and the cats spend more time in there than I do. I have some great pieces of fabric I've already made plans for. Get them out, cut them out and get sewing.

Put away the computer and read more. I'm tired most days once dinner is over. That leads to too much TV and screen time. Read, read, read. Head to our quite well stocked library and wander the stacks. Pick up anything that appeals and just read it.

I hope everyone has something to look forward to this year that brings them joy and peace. It doesn't have to be monumental and it most certainly doesn't have to be a resolution. Nat, Steve and the girls are looking forward to Disney World. That's cool. Think of the memories! Make a memory you want to look back on. Dayle and Greg create memories every day simply because they don't know how many more days there will be to make them.

Maybe that's my main goal this year. Stop being afraid and make some memories I will want to share with all of you.

As always love you all lots.