Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Good Morning, Sunshine!

The sky has started to lighten up around 6:20 a.m. and I have been opening up the blinds and welcoming it into our home at the same time.

The snow is melting, there are puddles aplenty and mud can be found with every step you take. 

It is coming. 

Spring is in the air.


P.S. Working weekends are zapping what little energy I have these days. I am still feeling incredibly wordless. I think I am going to go park myself in a sun beam today and soak up the last day of March and anticipate flipping the calendar page tomorrow morning.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Keep it Simple

I think I found an alternate way of living if the whole Bed & Breakfast thing never comes to fruition. Living in a "Tiny Home" looks like a perfect alternative.

I can see it now. If my life ever evolves to two-day weekends again, I could set up a Tiny Home on the Prairie somewhere, nestled in some place close to my roots. Wouldn't it be nice to live back on our family's home place?

I would move only the necessities of living out into that little weekend oasis and discover how much I could live without.

The simpler, the better.

I think the weight of owning, maintaining, replacing and eventually discarding too many material belongings is weighing me down.

I love this statement:

It is truly remarkable how little I actually need to be content. I’ve been testing the boundaries of this, and have found for myself, the more that I own and the more that I want, the more burdened I feel. The conscious choice to live with less, for myself, is akin to freedom.” ~ Natalie Pollard (http://tinyhousefor.us/tiny-house-spotlight/she-found-freedom-and-comfort-in-a-tiny-house-on-a-homestead/)

Of all the House Hunters episodes I have watched, it is the episodes on "Tiny Homes" that peeked my interest the most.

I want to live a simple life, close to my roots and disconnect from the addictions of television and the internet.

It is a life my son and girlfriend are presently living, in a "Small Home" about 45 minutes out of the city and somewhat centrally located between several small towns.

They don't have satellite television or an internet connection. They live simply and it sounds as though my son is very much enjoying "keeping things simple" which is necessary due to the small square footage of their home.

Life feels so very heavy right now. Half of that weight is in the excess I must cull from our home. Maybe the key to deciding what I can live without, is in thinking "tiny".

I may need to hold onto whatever is required to run my daycare in the present moment, but that doesn't need to infect all other areas of our home.

Keep it simple. Within my heart, my home and my happiness. The best things in life aren't "things"...

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Excesses of Life are Weighing Me Down

My need to purge is huge.

I feel like I'm walking around carrying lead weights but in reality I am walking through the mire of the excess I have collected within our home over the course of the past sixteen years or so.

Ever since I opened my daycare, I have had a hard time throwing or giving things away. "This" might be handy for a craft; the kids could use "that" for play; "the other things" all just got piled up in closets, cupboards and rooms.

It is no longer just about the daycare.

Excess has crept into every nook and cranny of our home. It is stalking me, mocking me, telling me "You don't have the power to get rid of me!"

The kitchen cupboards contain items that have been collecting dust for a minimum of five years. What is that saying about "If you haven't used it in a year, get rid of it?" I think I need to paste that statement onto the kitchen wall and get busy.

The laundry room is an area where underused artifacts go to die. Yes, it is a place where seasonal storage happens. But what about all of those other shelves of "stuff". It is time to go and have a look.

Dare I mention the garage?

My Second Son cleaned out the garage at least a half dozen times over the course of the four years he lived here. He moved out nine months ago and the excess has gone forth and multiplied in his absence. I don't think I have anyone to hold accountable except for myself.

The drawers, the closets and the spare bedrooms (we now have three of those) are full. We have too much stuff!

Don't even let me get started on the computer.

I have not gone back and deleted 99% of what I should have worked on, printed off and then discarded. It takes a few extra minutes at the time. But now?? It is taking up about 431 GB out of the 931 GB available to me. There is still lots of room left.

Isn't that what it all boils down to?

Where there is excess room, there comes the ability to fill that space items that could otherwise be donated, sold or thrown away.

We have 2000 square feet (not including the garage) of room for two people, two cats and a daycare family of four. I believe I could say we have filled the house to approximately the same ratio of used up space on the computer. There is still lots of room left but there is a lot that could be deleted and never missed.

I don't have an excuse. Oh, I'll definitely come up with one. "I work weekends"; "I have no energy or enthusiasm for this at the end of my daycare day"; "I don't know where to begin" ... but the truth of the matter is I am simply overwhelmed.

I'm looking at the entire house, garage and playhouse (yes, we have a playhouse filled to exactly the same free-to-used-space ratio) and I don't know where to start. I am like a child who has been told to clean up their room after they can no longer see the floor.

It is too big and too tall and too wide to handle in one sitting.

One step at a time.

I know exactly where to start. It is in the living room. I know what I need to do. I need to turn off the TV!

The television set in the living room has destroyed me. It is self destruction. I know. I am fully accountable for this. But I turn on the television set, knowing full well that it sucks the energy right out of me.

It is time to turn up the music and turn off the TV. It is time to tackle this monster. One small cupboard at a time.

To be continued ...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

More of the Same. Please??

Okay world, STOP IT!!

Stop changing! Please?

I am a girl who loves her ruts. I would purchase my shoes, jeans, pajamas, under-things, purses, strollers, cardigans and my most favorite tops in bulk if I could afford it.

Each and every time "one of the above" wears out, I run to the store to see if I can find its clone to replace it.

Last week, I noticed a few of those items needed replacing.

My bunion is wearing a hole in my only shoes that fit and our double stroller has blown a tire.

I went to Walmart to find some replacement shoes. Nothing. I couldn't find "my" shoes anywhere on the shelves.

I started to hyperventilate.

I searched Google the following day and could find my shoes, but not in the wide size. I took a long, deep breath and convinced myself I could manage with my holey shoes. Summer and sandal season is coming.

Then I started searching for a replacement double umbrella stroller. I searched high, I searched low. I looked online, I phoned, I checked the stores I knew to check. New, used, anything!!

Eventually I settled on this:

Instead of this (much superior choice):

I took "Buggy #1" out for its maiden voyage yesterday. It was awful!

It didn't navigate the curbs like my tried and true side-by-side version. The rear passenger couldn't see what was coming up ahead so there was much squirming. My little walker, who walks alongside the stroller tired of walking after a block (she has been known to walk for miles). Perhaps it was her new rubber boots to blame. I blamed the stroller. I blamed the stroller for everything. 

Then we got home and it took a while to get my rear passenger out of his seat. All I could think of were wet, muddy, sandy shoes after playing in the park, with no where for the dirt and grime to go except in the basket directly underneath them. Then, to have to navigate those very same dirty shoes up and over and through the seat of the stroller?!

So I went on a desperate search for my tried and true side-by-side umbrella stroller. This time I searched the entire continent of North America. 

I am happy to say I found this little baby and ordered it this morning:

For a mere $45.00 USD (plus shipping costs of $52.31, plus import charges of $8.38, all in US dollars), converted to Canadian dollars, this perfect side-by-side umbrella stroller will cost me around $135. It will be worth every penny.

I returned to Walmart last night and was delighted and relieved to see they had restocked "my" shoes. I picked those up as well.

Now the only trouble I have, is I just found out that my favorite vet in the world has returned from her maternity leave and I tried to book our cat's annual check-ups and shots with her. Only she has a revised work schedule (Monday to Friday; 8:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and I can't make it there during her working hours.

She is an amazing doctor. I trust, admire and respect her. She is one of a kind and goes above and beyond the call of duty.

If I can buy a cheap stroller from the United States and pay almost triple the asking price to have it delivered to me in Canada ... do you think I can ask for time off so I can take my cats to the best veterinarian I have ever known??

I like to know what to expect. Sometimes, we have some control over that. Sometimes we don't. After a winter of feeling like much was out of my control, can you blame a girl for wanting to control everything she can? 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Variable Cloudiness

The world has felt like so very many shades of blue since I turned the calendar page and found myself in 2015.

I lost my rose colored glasses and this new pair with a hue of blue was not a good fit.

I tried to adjust my focus and figure out how to make them work but no matter what I did, I could not see through the blueness.

I appreciate the perspective I got as I walked through my days. I got to "try on some new shoes" and walk a few miles in them.

The shoes did fit, because they were mine. But I didn't like the way I felt in them. Blue suede shoes are not for me.

My entire world felt 50 Shades of Blue. I lost my joy. Little things didn't matter in the way they used to light up my world. 

I couldn't invite people into the darkness with me. I didn't have the energy to try. I didn't want to be around anyone. I just wanted to burrow under the covers of "blue" and feel what I was feeling until I did not feel it anymore.

Waking up in the morning was hard. Oh! So! Hard!

I went through the paces. I found comfort within family. Blanketed in the comfort of family, the hues of blue lightened. I thought I could get used to this shade of powder blue if I had to. But it was hard when they weren't around. 

One day turned into the next. Some days were navy. Others were teal. There was a splash of periwinkle. No matter what color the day was, it was haunted by a tinge of blue.

I couldn't shake it. 

I am not exactly sure how I would have managed if life would have happened any other way. I know I would have been okay. Eventually. 

But as life would have it, those blue tinged glasses were tossed aside a few days ago. I can see clearly once again.

My lenses are clear now. It is much easier to focus. They aren't rose colored but that's okay.

I wouldn't mind a pair of rose colored glasses to wear some of the time. Perhaps one's eyesight gets skewed when you look through them for prolonged periods. 

Life is a little of "rose" intermixed with "blue". Add a shot of clarity from time to time and I think you may end up with a shade of purple, depending on the hues of each color tossed into the mix.

Real life is hard some times. But it isn't always hard.

Real life is easy some of the time. But it isn't always easy.

Real life is tedious, repetitive and many shades of gray.

Real life is many shades of confusion, sprinkled with lessons, heartache, joy, ecstasy and contentment.

Real life is every shade of the rainbow. It is never black or white.

My life is feeling a like a shade of lavender today. It isn't all roses and sunshine. But the shades of blues are lightening. 

Sunshine and blue skies are on the horizon. Clouds are in the forecast. Presently "A few clouds"; "Variable cloudiness" later this morning; followed with "Sunny with cloudy periods" this afternoon; and "Variable cloudiness" throughout the evening.

That's life. It changes like the weather. Thankfully our weather does change. I was ready for a change...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And Then She Called Me ...

The phone rang just before my daycare day normally draws to a close. By some miraculous fluke, not only had all of my daycare children gone, but I had just returned from a walk to the mailbox and our supper was in the oven. The house and my mind were quiet when she phoned.

Mom hasn't called me since before January 9th. I've been the one lifting up the phone and dialing it. She has had a lot of company since that time. I went out to see her twice myself. I've been writing and calling and visiting and writing and calling.

I finally ran out of things to say. Not only to Mom, but to the world in general. I ran out of words.

When she called last night and I was the one to pick up the phone and simply say "Hello", all was right in my world again. This is the natural order of things between me and my mom. I write. She calls. That's the way we roll.

Not lately though. Yesterday was the day it changed.

Yesterday was the day we received the results from Mom's pathology tests on the mass they removed three weeks ago. They all came up benign. She has to go for one last follow up appointment at the cancer clinic and (as her doctor told my brother), "Then we're done with her".

Ever since the word "cancer" was tossed into our world, my center of gravity has been askew.

This has happened before. When my strong, feisty, invincible mom sheds here superhero cape and reveals that she is a mere mortal underneath her brave exterior, my knees go weak.

She is going to be 87 years old in eleven days. I know she won't be around forever but it is still hard to see my strong and vibrant mom travel some of these roads she has never seen before.

When I saw her number on our call display last night, my heart rested. I felt my world shift to a more familiar spot.

We can go back to the place where I write to her and she phones me. Where she phones me!

This equilibrium is what works for us. It's a two way street. The yin, the yang, the give, the take, the I write you, you call me balance is going to shift back to the way it was.

I ran out of words.

The moment I heard her voice on the other end of my "Hello", I realized why I had been feeling so wordless. I had been longing for this day all along. The day where she called me to talk about what she wanted to talk about.

Let the words start rolling again...

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Been a Long Winter

There must be an overwhelming amount of words bottle-necked up in my head somewhere. There is nothing coming out so I am just going to try and flush them out. My silent brain is scaring me. I hope it is not empty.

So I shall purge and release. You have been warned.

I just wasted another weekend.

Sure, I worked on Saturday. I suppose earning enough money to pay for my Kijiji shopping last week is worth something.

Yes! Kijiji shopping!! It was a highlight of last week and I didn't even share it.

We (my daycare family and me) have been loving the gorgeous weather lately and spending a great deal of time outside. I knew winter was scheduled to return and I was trying to think of a way to prolong our outdoor activities and fun once the temperatures took a dive and the snow returned.

And I found this:


We already had the picnic table but the playhouse is new. It took hours to scrub it down and my son was happy to grant my wish and assemble it for me. We had the "big reveal" here at daycare on Friday afternoon.

The kids were thrilled and so was I. I simply cannot wait to spend hours upon hours outside, soaking up the sun.

I have officially worn a tire off of our double stroller. We went for a nice, long walk one of our pre-spring days last week and the tire fell off its rim at least a half a dozen times on our way home.

I MacGyvered a fix. I took the tire off the well used, front/left rim and exchanged it with a tire in the middle. I then used electrical tape to try and convince the stretched and worn tire to stay where I need it to stay, so it doesn't wreak havoc as the other eleven tires do their job.

Isn't it amazing that one tire out of twelve can render a stroller immobile? Hmmmm.... I wonder if I have a loose tire somewhere within my broken brain. Maybe that is my problem.

Anyway, I don't have a lot of faith that my MacGyver skills will take me through the upcoming spring, summer and fall. We do a lot of walking. So I checked out the prices of double strollers (at least what I could find online). They are ridiculous.

So eventually I found this on Kijiji:


After several hours of scrubbing, it is now fit for human passengers. I was embarrassed for its previous owner. Who would ever consider putting children in something so dirty, let alone selling it in its as-is state?

The bottom basket is worn out on the bottom (I assume from over loading it and having it ride along the ground?), the back tires feel a little wobbly and I am not quite certain how we will make this work for us. But where there is a will, there is a way. So we will manage.

For $50.00, we will be back on the road again. Once our last blast of winter melts.

Aaaack!! Winter! I knew it wasn't over but I wasn't expecting wet, heavy and drifted snow. It took over an hour to shovel. It wasn't even nice outside. The wind was blowing in my ears, I had to pull out my heavy duty winter snow-shovelling mitts and I didn't even unzip my jacket due to overheating from exertion. It wasn't even nice outside.

I just checked the forecast and it looks like we can expect another 10 cm of snow tomorrow. Winter isn't going to last much longer. We can do this. Thankfully the daylight hours are increasing. Minute by minute, our days are outlasting our nights.

I need daylight and sunshine. It has felt like a long winter. I finally understand why the birds fly south for the winter. I think that is what I want to be when I grow up. A snow bird.

Winter can be hard. But it is behind us now. We are officially into spring now. Winter, give it your best shot because this is your last chance! 

Mind you, here is a picture of "Slushy, the Snowman" from April 29th of last year:


But here is a picture of "Slushy" the next day:


No matter what winter has in store for us, it will soon be nothing but a memory.

I can't wait.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Dry as Melba Toast

I have hit a wall. My idea well has run dry. My thoughts have evaporated into thin air. I am empty. Depleted. Used up.

I wake up in the morning and wish for nothing more than the day to be done and to be climbing back under those covers.

Darkness, quiet, emptiness. It is what I crave and what I feel.

Why is it so dark in here?

I am looking at my life and wondering how many things I can "quit" and still sustain myself financially.

Has writing under pressure been to blame? I have been counting on my writing reserves to carry me through this desert storm. I read what I have written in the past and I find it dry and uninspiring to me these days.

What is missing?

Passion, dreams, sunshine. That is what I am not feeling these days.

Why?

I have holed myself up into my fortress of solitude trying to replenish myself. It isn't working.

It has been a long, cold, dark and dreary winter. I haven't been rolling with the punches very well. I glanced at some of the "cat posts" I have written lately and I'm not here to write about our cats again. I am here to say that writing about our cats is my coping mechanism. They are my "light" on a dark day. They don't demand anything from me and I get great pleasure from watching their antics and musing over their unique personalities.

It is like staring out into the ocean. I have needed a place where my mind is not busy thinking, planning and scheming. I have needed to coast through some of this endless winter.

I don't know exactly where "this" began.

I am a great lover of light. Losing daylight hours in September has been hard these past few years. It has felt like watching an impending car crash in very slow motion. I see it coming and I know there is nothing I can do about it so I seem to have created this bigger than life dread over the impending darkness.

This past fall, I thought I had the best plan of all.

I was in the end stages of a huge writing/history collecting project which was fulfilling and satisfying on every level. I was exhilarated to finally put a cover on it and call it a book. Success, hoopla and celebration filled my mind as our daylight hours started to decline.

I jumped straight from the book project, into full throttle family reunion planning mode. I was in contact with almost every one of my cousins, aunts, uncles and my immediate family. It was an intoxicating time. Planning is a little bit exhausting but the contact with my family breathed life into my soul.

One month after our nights became longer than our days, I was flying high. Our family reunion was a success on every level.

This is often when I fall flat on my face. The exhilaration levels are often followed by a crash of epic proportions. It never happened.

Christmas projects and concern over a close family member who was not doing well diverted my energy and attention. I kept doing the "next right thing" and that took me through and beyond Christmas like a pro.

I was already predicting the letdown after the holiday season, so in a pre-emptive move, my sister and I booked a purely frivolous weekend trip to Las Vegas to see "Dancing With the Stars - Live". We were to leave February 6th and my brother and his wife were going to join us.

On January 6th, I sent a "Do you realize where we will be ONE MONTH from today?" text to my siblings. I was on a roll. It was the beginning of January and I was sailing through this thing called winter like a champ.

Then my perspective on life changed on a dime.

On January 10th, my mom went to the doctor and according to the results of her ultrasound she had what appeared to be cancer.

My world became very dark.

The crash that never happened after the high of completing our family's book project and the reunion that followed? It finally arrived.

I tried writing my way through. I tried talking my way through. I tried sleeping through it. Nothing worked.

Life just had to happen in its own way and in its own time.

Mom went through surgery like a pro and we are presently waiting for her pathology results. But her doctor's words were comforting and positive. I don't feel over-the-top worried any more. I simply feel numb. This is my mom we are talking about. The ground beneath my feet starts to tremble when I think too hard about the fact that she is not entirely invincible.

Life goes on. Mom is healing well, sounding strong and encouraging. Sunshine and an increase of daylight hours are returning to our world. Blue skies and mild weather are brightening our days. But I am still lost somewhere.

I have holed myself up in a place of quiet and solitude as much as I possibly can. I've gone through this cocooning process before. I retreat from the world when it hurts too much to be a part of it. When I emerge, I feel transformed and life feels full of wonder and possibilities again.

I'm not quite there yet but the sunshine is working its magic and I think it is on its way.

My thoughts and words have been silenced. I hope they are all bottle necked someplace, somewhere in my brain. I have been fearful of letting my fingers fly across the keypad because my thoughts feel so toxic.

So, I have written about our cats instead. Or my daycare stories. Or (most recently) nothing at all.

Sunshine and rainbows aren't always visible behind the cloudy and overcast days. Both sunshine and happiness feel so elusive when you cannot see and feel it. You know it is there but it is lost in the darkness.

That is when I turn to my cats to help me see the light that shines through the endless "night". There is something about that purr in my ear that transcends all and touches me in a way that even music cannot penetrate on the darkest of days.

Here is a sampling of what makes my heart purr during the darkest days:

video

This is Junior Cat, our cat who is afraid of everything, working on overcoming his fear of children and has been trying to earn the title of Daycare Kitty that Senior Cat has worn proudly for the past 14-1/2 years. I think Senior is whispering little tips into Junior's ear because Junior has come a long way this past year and a half. He now approaches the kids when they are still and quiet. 

The other day, as we sat and watched "Toy Story", Junior came up to one of my "Daycare Daughters" and begged her to pet him. She was only too happy to oblige.

He is actually purring very quietly in this video. You have to turn up the volume and really listen for it. You can only hear him at the end. But he was purring the whole time.

Life is like that sometimes. You really have to watch and listen for it, but the good stuff is usually sitting there waiting for you the whole time. You just have to "turn up the volume" to hear it...

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend News

It was a weekend of many things.

A brand new experience. I walked into a brand new door, not knowing one soul and felt sixteen again.

Then I blinked and realized I was the oldest person in the room. But at that moment, I think I felt like the youngest.

"This is what I need to do" I thought to myself. I need to scare myself silly and do hard things. This is the way to stay young!

Then I walked out the door and thought "I am not really inspired enough to return ..."

I woke up the next morning and had a stomach flu that came out of absolutely nowhere.

The only person I know, who has been sick lives 500 km away and I just talked with her on the phone for a few minutes the day prior.

Darn phone lines! Who knew you could catch a flu over the phone?!

I suppose feeling badly gave me the excuse I needed to sleep for a day. That is what I did. Then I slept the entire night following. And it was good.

Which gave me one day to do all I had planned to do all weekend. And surprise of all surprises, I did what I set out to do.

Income taxes for "four" are all done, except for the final once-over before I call the job complete.

I washed the living room blinds and windows. I washed the screen door windows. I washed the outside of the kitchen window.

Then I cleaned under the fridge, to complete the survey of how many cat food pellets my Super Cat, Wayne Gretzky scored under the fridge. Final tally? Stove - 19; Fridge - 6. The stove wins. Yay!!

This was followed by a quick grocery run and picking up supper to finish off the night.

Groceries were easy. Supper? I should have cooked.

I now a souvenir from A & W. When I read the sign they did not have French fries, nor did it appear that they were taking take-out orders via their intercom, with signage posted all over it, I backed out of the drive thru. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

C-R-U-N-C-H!! 

It sounded awful. I couldn't look. But I could drive.

I drove home and tentatively took a step out of the drive's door to see how much damage I had done. Amazingly enough, nothing appears to be bent. I do have a fair little bit of bright orange paint on the driver's front fender though.

Full of relief, I came inside, unloaded and unpacked the groceries and heroically set off to hunt down some supper despite my first near catastrophe.

I survived the weekend. And so did our car. I did very little, then I did quite a lot. I guess that equals success on some level.

Why do I not feel ready for a Monday then?

Friday, March 13, 2015

One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

I have no idea where this day is going to go but if it continues to go the way it has, since I woke up this morning, I think I may end up in yesterday.

Did you ever have one of those days where you think you'll get up with the alarm so you can do those "impossible things" before your workday officially begins?

Me too!

Today was the day I was going to those hard things before my daycare day walked in the door. I was going to wash sheets, send off my columns, troubleshoot the Leap Pad and be ready for my day before 7:00.

Spoiler alert. It is now almost 10:00 and I have accomplished only "one of the above".

I went to my Excel spreadsheet where I track all of the columns I have written, sent and I have linked this information to my Word documents so I can quickly click on a link and read the attached article.

I tried that this morning and it sent me off into a Netherland called:  "C:\Users\Colleen\AppData\Roaming\AppData\Roaming\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Excel\Yoked.htm"

I tried all of my usual troubleshooting skills and ended up feeling a little ill. Kind of like maybe we (the computer and I) caught a bug.

I googled and eventually I ended up redoing the entire workbook on a brand new Excel file. It took forever but I thought if I didn't do it before the kids arrived, I would not get back to it. So I persevered.

In the meantime, I closed the original spreadsheet. When it asked if I wanted to make changes, I said "No". And I went on my merry way.

I worked and worked and finally finished the job. 

Then I reopened the original file. And it worked just fine! The computer had restarted itself after some updates and my Excel file was saved as a repaired file with this perplexing linkage problem. All I had to do was close out the program without saving and then reopen it.

I wasted a good hour doing something that should have taken only one minute.

Excellent usage of time, wouldn't you say? 

When I tried to reread the articles I wanted to send. My words sound dull, lifeless, worn out and overused. I can't find one thing I've written that feels worthy of sending out into the big, scary world. I am stuck.

So I moved past that and thought I may as well try to figure out what I couldn't fix yesterday, after I bought some new games for our Leap Pads and couldn't "sync" them onto both Leap Pads.

It took two phone calls, several more attempts of "rinse and repeat" after the Leap Pad technician told me how to do what was impossible for me yesterday and while I was on the phone, one of my daycare charges peed all the way to the bathroom within fifteen minutes of just "going".

Aaaack!!! I couldn't even manage to effectively take my children to the bathroom! "I'm all done, Colleen" was her refrain when she supposedly "went" right after breakfast.

Just like my Excel spreadsheet troubles, something that should have been taken care of in one minute took at least twenty minutes of blotting and scrubbing the path of urine out of the carpet. From the middle of the living room, all the way to the bathroom. Perhaps it took a half hour. I don't know. 

I just know I have been spinning my wheels all morning.

But I'm headed to a better place than I was when I started. I have learned several lessons as I sat here and spun my wheels.

All I can think is, "Is it yesterday yet?" I would really like to retry everything I did this morning with all I have learned along the way.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Time to Live Up to My Reputation

I could not have felt more humiliated and sheepish had I been cut down to the ground with accusations and words spoken in anger.

What cut so deep?

A meaningful and heartfelt compliment which I was not worthy of receiving.

All week, I have been honing in on the "source" of my challenges during my daycare days. One little two year old who needs constant monitoring has depleted me.

He hits, pushes, kicks and overpowers the others on an ongoing basis. All day, every day.

I have done absolutely everything I know how to do.

I catch him in the act so he knows exactly what the offending behaviour is. I have timed him out. I have held onto him and not let him join in on the play. I have grabbed the offending hand, foot or whatever limb has connected with another child, held onto it and told him he must be "gentle and kind and caring".

There is a disconnect between what I am communicating and what he hears. He knows he is doing something wrong but he doesn't understand. He is becoming more and more frustrated (as am I).

I have been spinning my wheels and at a loss.

I know I should talk to his mom about his behaviour but yesterday was not the day.

She came home from a tough day at the office feeling absolutely awful. Her little bundle of joy and energy ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug. He then grabbed her face in a loving manner and I didn't really fully understand what transpired between them until she explained.

Every time he is rough with her, she gets down on his level and holds onto his cheeks while looking directly into his eyes and talks to him. It ends up with him lovingly holding onto her cheeks and reciprocating the gesture.

Her method of teaching him is not working any better than mine but at least I know she is aware of his rough and tumble behaviour.

Then (this it the tough part) she just about melted into a puddle on the floor when she told me how grateful she was to have found "me" and my daycare.

She said she has heard horror stories from other moms about their daycare situation and she is over the moon grateful she has "me".

"Me???", with all of my imperfections, who has been bad mouthing her child in my head (and out loud) all week? Me?!!!?

I try. Each and every morning I wake up, ready to face a new day and start with a fresh slate. If that doesn't work, we reboot and restart the day. All day long. After breakfast, we will start anew! If that doesn't work, then after nap time. Or tomorrow.

It is never too late to try again.

That is exactly what I will do. Today, tomorrow, next week and for as long as I am entrusted with these little people.

I'm as stubborn as an ox. I will not be outsmarted by a two year old and perhaps that is exactly why I feel so frustrated. It is a whole new world of children out there and I need a whole new book of tricks to find my way through.

It is time to live up to the reputation I have worked so hard to build.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Am I Too Close to See the Truth?

Is it a good thing when you don't see what is before you because it happens so slowly and gradually?

My Second Son stopped by yesterday afternoon. Senior Cat heard his voice and eventually ambled up the stairs and sat before him.

My son didn't realize what an honor it was, to have attracted Senior's attention and roused him out of his regularly scheduled afternoon napping period.

I was touched by Senior's attempt to be social but my son was aghast.

The last time he saw Senior Cat, he was a little plumper, his hair was a little fluffier and he was a little more limber.

My son made a comment to the effect of me being too close to the situation and not seeing when it is time to let go.

I immediately started defending my decision to keep doing what I can for our ailing kitty.

He is still eating and drinking. He is still socializing with us. He isn't sleeping all of the time.

Granted, he is eating much less and does not weigh much these days.

He doesn't socialize as much as he used to. But he comes up to me at least twice a day and sits at my feet and breathes (loudly), so I can pick him up and snuggle with him for as long as he chooses (this explains the lack of new posts lately, because he tends to appear at my feet in and around the time I am often ready to sit down and write a post).

His hair is still looking shiny and healthy but he has lost the hair around his "wrists" (again) and his tail looks quite gangly (it has looked this way for quite some time).

He moves about very slowly but he can still jump onto and off of the love seat (one of his favorite resting spots).

I watch him ever so closely, for signs of discomfort and cues that his condition has changed. We have Junior Cat to compare and contrast him to. Senior is by no means keeping up with his young partner in cathood, but he appears to be comfortable holding onto his throne as King of the Cats within his domain.

My son left and echoes of his words remained. Am I missing the obvious because I it is happening so gradually?

When is it time to let go?

My heart ached at the thought of Senior's last trip to the vets one day in the foreseeable future.

We have never had a pet with us this long. Senior is fifteen years old and has lived with us since he was about nine months old. He is a huge part of our family dynamic.

I have been afraid of this day for quite some time now. I thought I was worried about my youngest son's reaction to this loss.

But I think it is my own heart that I'm protecting. My little black kitty and I go back a long, long way and he is a huge part of our little family.

I honestly can't imagine the day when we have to take that final drive together.

I'm not ready. He's not ready.

He's still eating! He is still socializing! He curls up into a tiny ball in my arms and licks my face because (I think) he cares for me in equal proportion to how I feel for him.

We aren't ready yet.

But I'm afraid of missing the obvious because I am too close to the situation. I'm not seeing things clearly because I see him each and every day.

Then again, because I do watch and observe and take note of the smallest nuances each and every day, I do believe I will recognize when it is time to let go.

Just not quite yet. I must memorize his purrs. Here he comes now.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Cat Conspiracy

A recent burst of kitchen-cleaning was spurred on by a little conspiracy Junior and Senior Cat seem to have figured out amongst themselves.

Senior Cat hasn't been interested in his special renal cat food health diet lately. It started in and around the time I started going away a little too regularly. My Youngest Son fed Senior cat treats instead of the soft (renal/health) cat food after giving Senior his pill. Soon thereafter, I noticed Senior didn't really enjoy his soft food any more and he wasn't eating the dry (healthy) food very much either.

One day I caught Senior Cat downstairs sneaking Junior's special gastrointestinal diet cat food (which won't hurt him, it just won't help him either) with a guilty look on his face. Soon thereafter, Senior's hard food started disappearing again so I thought he was nibbling away on it when I wasn't watching so I was pleased.

One morning I heard an enthusiastic game of Cat Food Hockey taking place in the kitchen. Sure enough, Junior had found one of Senior's healthy cat food pellets and was handling it with the grace and finesse of Wayne Gretzky. So I took the "puck" away from him and went back to my business. Then I heard it again. I stopped the game again. And again. And again. And again. And again!

I had to put a bowl over Senior's cat food to stop Junior Cat from sneaking out more "pucks" to play with.

This happened every morning for about four or five days in a row. Throughout this time, I found a few cat food nuggets under the mat at the back door. The mat must have been the "net" and when Junior scored a goal, he would just go back and grab another puck.

Yesterday morning, I thought I'd quickly sweep the kitchen floor and I found six cat food nuggets. I pulled out the drawers where I keep paper, etc in the kitchen and found two more. I fished under the baseboard in the kitchen and found another two. Then I pulled out the stove and found nineteen more!

This is when I figured out there is a Cat Conspiracy going on behind my back.

Not only has Senior Cat been teaching Junior how to snuggle (after 1-1/2 years with us, Junior Cat has finally figured out the fine art of resting atop a human) and being a bigger support to Junior than we ever realized (we took Junior Cat to get his nails clipped without his senior partner in cathood last week and Junior was very stressed without his best black cat-buddy in the cat carrier with him - I think he thought THIS was the time we were going to drop him off somewhere and abandon him), I think these guys have been whispering to each other when we haven't been looking. I can hear it now:

Senior Cat: I can't eat another bite of this Health Food Diet. Junior, will you eat it for me??
Junior Cat: (very enthusiastically) Okay!!
(Junior tries a bite and spits it out in disgust. Then bats it away so he doesn't have to look at it)
Junior Cat: That food is disgusting, but I can brush up my paw-handling skills with these things. Every time I score, you score! They'll think YOU are eating this stuff!

Thus, the game of Cat Food Hockey was born.

The fridge is too full to try and move it today. I'll wait until our milk supply is depleted and then I'll clean under the fridge. If there were nineteen nuggets under the stove, do you care to wager how many will be under the fridge??? I am certain you have time to guess before I get the fridge moved.

Hey!! Do you hear this?!?? I am cleaning under the stove and fridge! Not only have these cats conspired to make me think Senior Cat is eating his healthy cat food, they are tricking me into house cleaning!!!

Ahhh, it all makes sense now. That explains all the throwing up on the carpet. Hmmm. These cats are getting a little too smart for me.

Not only did this Cat Conspiracy move me off the computer chair, it got some nonsensical words flowing again. I'll take it!

Outsmarted by my two black kitties. They not only helped me do some housecleaning, they helped me with my writer's block. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Looking For Solid Ground Again

I'm waking up empty these days. I believe I'm losing my ability to write so I am just going to let the words free fall this morning and see what happens.

I had an unexpected day off yesterday. And I spent 95% of the day sitting in front of the TV watching Telemiracle.

I have gotten to "know" Jeffery Straker and Andrea Menard up close and personally, thanks to a dear friend who introduced me to the wonderful world of house concerts.

Add that rather impressive line up, to the fact that my great niece, my niece-in-law and her sister sang at the Telemiracle and that was a good enough reason to sit still with the day and just take in the good will, incredible stories and outpouring of love and generosity from the people of Saskatchewan. From 9:00 p.m. Saturday night until 5:00 Sunday morning, $4,312,457 was raised.

Amazing things happen when people dream big, spread the word and ask for a helping hand.

The key is in the dream. If you don't dare to dream, you don't witness the miracles that can happen by stepping out of what is comfortable.

The fire in my heart hasn't died but it certainly needs to be stirred up and needs to be fed some oxygen.

Oxygen. That is key.

Breathe in deeply. Hold it. Exhale slowly.

It's good for your lungs too. But just as importantly, I believe it is good for your brain and quality of life.

Inhale the day today. Dare to chase a small dream. Make a game of chasing a few impossible dreams.

I am talking to myself here. The dream centre of my brain is out of order and I need to fix it. I am not certain where to begin but I thought I'd let my fingers do the talking and see if I can find a road map out of this place I'm in.

The key is in the dream. When I stop dreaming, I lose the essence of who I am. I need to find that part of myself so I can reroute my thoughts and get the heck out of this place I've been visiting lately.

That is life. The ebbs and flows. The highs, the lows. The good, the bad, the sad, the scary.

Why did I emphasize the negative in that last sentence?

I can tell my thoughts are struggling to find the positive. That is not who I am or where I want to be.

I know I need to focus on gratitude. That is the beginning of the road to positivity. Once I'm on that road, only good things can happen. Well bad things can happen too. But one tends to roll with the punches better if you start out on solid ground.

I'm looking for solid ground. I know it is here someplace. And I know it starts with me.

It is a new week. Anything can happen...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Little Story About Gratitude

Purge first. Ponder later will be the theme of this post.

First off, this post should be all about gratitude. I spent three full days wrapped up in all things family and we are all so relieved and grateful Mom's surgery is behind her.

My spritely 86 year old mom (she will be 87 in four weeks) bounced back from major surgery like a super hero. She has been home a few days now and presently, both of my sisters are with her.

I talked with Mom last night and she sounds as grateful to have company in her home, as she is to have a little assistance as needed until she is feeling a little more independent.

She has surprised and amazed us, each and every step along this journey.

Her motto all along the way has been "Whatever will be, will be".

From the moment she heard the word "cancer" tossed into her arena she outwardly displayed the essence of deciding not to worry about it until she knew what she had to worry about.

How in the world could this be? Mom has been a worrier ever since I have a memory. How could she not be worried?

She quietly mentioned that she would go for surgery if it was an option open to her. And that is exactly what she did.

My sisters and I arrived the eve of Mom's surgery. In retrospect, I can see how worried Mom was that night. I didn't fully comprehend it at the time. She was simply quiet. She didn't have a lot of words or energy to spend on socializing. I don't know for sure, but if I were to guess, I would say she was gathering her strength to get through the next day.

And that is exactly what she did.

Spoiler alert. Grey's Anatomy does not set a good example as to what happens to the family waiting in the wings when a loved one is wheeled off to surgery.

We waited in the waiting room of Mom's permanent home for the duration of her hospital stay. When we asked how we would know when she arrived, we were told "You'll see her come in. They have to wheel her past both waiting areas here."

What!?! I was incredulous. You mean we were supposed to go and peek at those who wheeled by, in case it was our mother?

The first few cases were easy. Wrong hair color. Wrong this or that. Then came this person with only their arm showing, holding their head in a "my head feels funny" kind of way. It didn't look like what I thought Mom's arm looked like, but it was certainly her gesture.

Thankfully, since we had made our presence known, the nurses advised us that it would take about ten minutes to settle Mom in and they came to call us when she was ready.

Mom was very groggy at this point. There was a nurse in the room arranging IV's or something. "Who could tell us about Mom's surgery?" The nurse was not allowed to tell us anything due to rules about confidentiality. She said we would have to talk with the doctor. "He makes his rounds in the morning around 7:00 a.m..."

What?!? Where is the doctor that comes out to the waiting area in his scrubs and advises the family what transpired? What do you mean we have to wait until morning?!!?

"Oh, and the doctor usually comes by to see their patients after all of their surgeries for the day are complete. That will be around 4:00. You can wait to talk to them then if you wish..."

Okay. That makes more sense now. But still! They wheeled Mom off at about 9:00 a.m. and the doctor didn't make his way to Mom's room until close to 5:00. Yes, I know it was a much longer and harder day for the doctor, than it was for us. But it felt like a very, very long wait.

We stopped in to see Mom one more time before we expected the doctor's arrival and she was already 100% better than she was in her groggy state. But the best was yet to come.

By the time we made our way back to Mom's room before the doctor's anticipated arrival time, Mom was in fine form.

She was saying (what seemed to me) all of the things she wanted to say the night prior but didn't have the words for. "You forgot to take those egg cartons home, the last time you were here...".

Once again, not exactly what you would expect to hear on an episode of Grey's Anatomy but what it told us was that Mom was back and firing on all cylinders. And she was grateful and happy we were all with her. And that she was here with us.

It was then, and only then, that I realized just how worried Mom had been about not waking up after her surgery. She didn't say it in words but she screamed it from the rooftop in every other way.

She had us laughing and she entertained us. She was one part medicated, one part relieved and a whole lot grateful.

One nurse came in and found the source of the laughter that must have been ringing down the halls. "So this is where the party is!" she said in a way that didn't make us feel like we were in trouble.

Mom's doctor came in shortly thereafter and the party continued. If only Mom and her doctor could have heard what the other was saying, they would have cracked each other up. Between the doctor's quiet voice, Mom's struggle with hearing and Mom's raspy voice which doesn't project well, we interpreted (most of) the conversation for them. More laughter ensued.

The doctor came bearing news wrapped up in hope and optimism.

They found what appears to be cancer. It seems to be contained within the mass they removed. Visually, it looks like the better kind of cancer to have. He filled us with the hope that the cancer would not return until beyond Mom's life expectancy. Then he gave her the evil eye and said, "But with you, we just may have to relook at that! You will probably live well beyond 100!"

We will find out more when the pathology results come back in two to three weeks. By that time, Mom should be healing well and we anticipate that she will feel better than she has felt in a very long time.

The mass was huge. Larger than a football. We didn't ask what it weighed but I have the feeling it was like carrying around a full term baby, for who knows how many years, at the age of 86 (and 11 months).

The hospital staff were amazing. Mom is a pretty easy patient and quite determined not to be a typical patient in any way. When she went for her first post surgery stroll with one of the nurses, she said "You can walk beside me, but I am not going to hold onto you!"

Mom got her hair colored the week before surgery, even though it was the last thing in the world she felt like doing. She was going to go into this looking her best (even when she was feeling her worst). Sometimes I think these little things boost your spirits in a way that defies logic. Mom was certainly not going to head off into the unknown looking or acting sickly! Sometimes we live up to the way we think and if a trip to the hair salon does it? Go for it!!

It has been a worrisome time.

Even though the doctors at the cancer clinic said and did every single thing absolutely "right" and in a way to alleviate the fear of the unknown road ahead of us, I know I have been carrying around the weight of Mom's worries on my shoulders. I knew I shouldn't worry because worry is a waste of energy. But it was a burden I was glad to carry if I felt like I could do it for Mom.

I know she carried this load very much on her own. She acted "the mom" in every sense of the word, all along the way. She didn't want her children to worry over her. She consoled me more than I consoled her. Because when I tried to say what I thought were the right words, that worried her even more. She was a parent every step of the way.

Even now, she is strong and mighty. In her post surgery haze she asked the doctor, "Will I be thinner now?" And when she was reassured she would be and also that her back pain would have been directly related to this huge mass she had been carrying her instant retort was, "So will I be taller too??"

Yup. That's my mom. Strong and feisty. And something tells me she may be a patient the hospital staff remembers as she set out to defy anyone's expectations.

"Going in one more round when you don't think you can - that's what makes all the difference in your life." ~ Rocky Balboa

[Insert the "Rocky Theme" here. That is my mom.]