Tag Archives: Mothers

A steel fist in a velvet glove

9 Oct

mom-quote

The fall is always a nostalgic time of year for me – schools get into swing, the leaves turn color and Thanksgiving weekend rolls around.  Contrary to popular opinion I am not a lover of Thanksgiving dinner. So much work and so many dishes for a meal that (for me) is underwhelming.   Mom and Dads’ kitchen is not particularly large and Mom (how do I put this) is rather, ummm, bossy when she is in there.  Mom is not a chef with papers, but boy she can handle herself in the kitchen just as well as Jamie Oliver, Rachel Ray or Mario Batali. This weekend it is just me home so we decided to keep it simple and not prepare a meal fit for a small country.  Over the years Mom has produced more food, for more people than Michelin produces tires.  On the topic of Mom and since it is Thanksgiving I will tell you about her.

My mother is an extremely capable, selfless and productive human being.  Last night we were invited over to friends of our family for dinner.  During our after dinner conversation Kathy (our hostess) said ‘Emilie, can you tell me if you’ve ever seen your mother just do nothing for a day?’ Honestly, unless she was down and out with some kind of an ailment I couldn’t remember ever seeing her just be lazy.  Mom was a nurse doing shift work until I was in grade 9 and after that moved to management where she worked Monday to Friday. It would be nothing for her to make us a gourmet breakfast, send us off to school with lunches all made from scratch (I often traded her homemade cookies for a can of caramel pudding or a Flaky- you always want what you don’t have), wash the walls, clean out a flowerbed and head off to a 12 hour shift at the hospital.  About 10 years ago Mom had to have her thyroid taken out.  The doctors said she had a very hyper thyroid (in overdrive), so finally we had an answer as to why this woman never seemed to run out of energy. After her surgery it took quite sometime to get her TSH levels regulated and so she felt tired and might fall asleep in the chair.  Very unusual.  My father (who could be described as being as laid back as a Saint Bernard) said he loved that Mom was exhibiting laziness as it made him feel human.  Fast forward to now, it seems that her natural determination has made up for her biological changes.  What this woman achieves in a week should be analyzed by productivity experts as I think she could teach them a few things.  One year Dad said he was going to get her a miners lamp for a gift so that she could continue working after dark.

I love how perspective allows you to see things more clearly.  At my age my mother had 4 children.  In fact, I am shocked that I was even conceived as mom had awful pregnancies with terrible morning sickness and many other complications.  Thankfully they went for a 4th and got me.  A few years ago on mothers day I took my Mom and Grandma out for lunch.  Mom said ‘thank you’ when we were done and I said ‘thanks for giving birth to me’.  To which she said ‘it was quite the strenuous affair, you were posterior’.  My 90 year old grandmother piped up and said ‘that is nothing you came out feet first Janice.’

On top of that a full-time job, a husband, a house, a massive property with gardens galore, and animals, she somehow managed to cook, pickle and jam it all, visit family, maintain friendships, keep a clean house, plan/host most any event happening in our lives, cart us around to our sports/after school bits, and keep my 3 gong show brothers in line. We always had friends over which meant she was cooking for more than 6 on a regular basis. She starts thinking about Christmas at least 11 months in advance – making quilts for each us or dolls for the grand kids.  Honestly, when I compare my days to hers it makes me feel a wee bit self absorbed… as I get my nails done and sip a latte.   I talk to Mom daily on the phone.  Sometimes it is 5 minutes and sometimes it is an hour. General gab about the day, what is happening at home, what we cooked for dinner and what is on deck for the next day.  Nowadays we are more friends than Mother/Daughter.

When I was a kid I didn’t look at my mother as leader – I looked at her as my mom.  As an adult I now see she has all of the attributes of a great leader – loyalty, patience, generousity, responsibility, determination, trustworthiness, supportive and selflessness.  When you have a great leader you are bound to be more successful in life.   On the outside she comes across as a total softie, but in reality she is a steel fist in a velvet glove.  Donald Trump should get an injection of her modesty.  In the words of Mother Teresa ‘if you want to change the world go home and love your family.’  Thanks for doing that Mom.

 

 

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The truth is…

22 Jan

Image

Seeing as I am Canadian I sometimes feel pressed to say that I like winter.  In truth: I hate it.  It makes me feel like less of a Canadian but I can’t hide it anymore.  As I type this post I am sitting in sunny Hawaii soaking in vitamin D and feeling fabulous.  I just received an email from my mother saying that a foot of snow is expected this evening and that today the local plough shed burnt down along with 3 ploughs.  Isn’t that bad timing?  I clearly remember being a kid and on the days that it was storming we would wait by the radio to hear if school had been cancelled or at the very minimum that our bus was going to be late.  This is the time in my life when my hatred for winter began…

I grew up in a community called Maryvale (the department of highways moved the sign once and for 2 years we lived in North Grant)  and where my parents house is we call it Hell’s Gates (original I know).  There is a weird combination of a small mountain, a 200 acre open field across the road and some kind of wind tunnel.  From November until March our entire life was controlled by the weather.  I remember waking up and thinking the bloody Apocalypse happened – our windows would be covered in snow, the car was buried in snow and wind howled like crazy.  Whatever plans I had that morning were at the very least delayed or even cancelled.  We would need to wait for someone to come and clear our driveway out and that could take hours.  After a few storms snowbanks would pile up higher than the roofline of our house.  So after waiting 2 hours, pulling on snow attire, warming the car up, and clearing the car off we would attempt to get out of the driveway (this was a whole other challenge).  My Mom would throw her aside her conservative ways – she would turn into Mario Andretti in an attempt to get out.  The end of the driveway was usually a total whiteout in both directions.  Someone would have to get out of the car and stand in a place where they wouldn’t get hit in order to see if any cars were coming.  The wind would be blowing so strong that this already hateful event was made worse. So, Mom would hammer the gas down, we would fishtail out of the driveway and spin down the road.  We would think Old Man Winter had lost his mind, however, when we got a mile over the road all would be relatively peaceful.  I can’t tell you how many people went off the road in the front of our house – we always had knocks at the door from forlorn travelers stuck in the ditch.  There was a few years when the military actually came in with some sort of a machine that blew the snow so high/far I think it ended up at the North Pole. The Department of Highways for many years put a snow fence across the road in an attempt to block some of the blowing snow. Waiting for the school bus was a brutal cruelty – it would get so windy and wild that my brothers (probably begrudgingly) had to hold my hands so that I wouldn’t blow away into the great white abyss.  Seeing that big orange school bus pull up was the most amazing feeling. We got so much snow at our house that we would jump off the roof of the house into drifts.  I think David lost his boots on one plunge and they weren’t recovered until the spring.  When we were kids we had so much fun outside – playing in the snow, jumping off the house, cross country skiing, but that was when I didn’t know what day of the week it was, I didn’t have to run errands, I didn’t cook my own food, I didn’t have to clean, I didn’t have to work – i didn’t have anything to do other than play. Now, all winter brings me is shoveling, a dog full of snowballs and cold hands and feet. 

Fashion is a big part of winter that is a challenge for me as well – salt stains make my blood boil, when I put on a pair of pantyhose/tights I nearly have an allergic reaction, my head is too big for most fashionable hats and I detest how pasty my poor legs become due to not seeing sunlight for 5 months.

The good bits of being a Canadian exceed my strong feelings about winter and thus I have not given up my citizenship, but I think we need to add another province to Canada (one that is sunny all year round) – let’s trade in our worst province for Turks and Caicos.  I would volunteer to be the first resident. 

Good Things Are Happening!

19 Nov

Once upon a time I had a boss named Wayne (no idea if he reads this or not) and he always said “Good things are happening”!  He was extraordinarily positive, had boundless energy and forced us to do push up competitions in our office.  He was a pretty rare guy.  I read the paper daily and most days I feel much worse when I finish it than when I started.  Recently I wrote a letter to the editor daring them to report on “the good things happening” in our province.  On that particular day the best part of the read was the obituaries; at least they told stories of love and the positive things people did with their lives.  Why do we need to hear about losers like Rob Ford, Kim Kardashian and Mike Duffey over and over again?

In an effort to focus on the positive I want to share with you a story which recently has impacted me.  I volunteer as a Doula. What is a Doula you say?  Directly translated it means I am a servant to a labored woman!  Basically I act as a support person to pregnant women who are in need of extra support.  The program I volunteer through aims to support: low income families, single mothers and new comers to Canada.  After returning from Africa in October I felt very impacted by my stay in Tanzania.   Shortly after returning I received our monthly list of mothers needing support.  On the list was a woman from Rwanda looking for support during the birth of her first baby.  I immediately contacted our coordinator and said I would be most interested in helping her.  We got all the paperwork done and shortly after I met “Sweet Marie” who has full of baby (due in only a few weeks) and her kind husband Tele.  Over the course of the next few weeks I learned so much about them; their journey coming to Canada, their culture, the distinct differences between life in Canada and Rwanda, and of course their excitement for the birth of their baby. They have no family living here.  It made me reflect on what it would be like for myself (or most anyone I know) to have their first baby – there would be showers, visitors, food offered and lots of general support.  All they really have is each other.  When visiting them I realized they were in need of many items for their baby.  I decided to post on Facebook  a request for anyone having baby items to spare to pass them over to me so that I could give them to this growing family.  What happened next amazed me.  I received (and still am receiving) so many items that I filled my car from top to bottom – Millie (my dog) had to sit on top of 3 boxes of diapers when I delivered the first load to them tonight.  When I showed up at their door Marie’s mouth literally dropped as if she saw a ghost and she started to cry.  I felt like Oprah when she would give viewers some crazy gift.  This wasn’t anything crazy it was basic baby stuff, but to her it was as if I showed up with a million dollar cheque.  

Last Monday the baby arrived after 4 (yes 4) days of labor.  I was able to support them throughout this as it was very much out of Tele’s comfort zone (men do not attend births in their country and he felt very nervous to be alone during the process).  Little baby Lina made her way into the world and my goodness is she ever beautiful. After losing 4 nights sleep and spending a week in the hospital due to a few minor complications I was concerned about her going home to be alone all day while her husband goes to work. A friend informed me of an amazing program at the IWK called EPS (Extra Parental Support) so I called and had them set up a visit from a volunteer once a week for 3 hours.  Basically this volunteer will do anything Marie wants – care for the baby if she wants to take a nap, do laundry, visit, etc.  Yesterday they came for the first time and she told me it was wonderful. 

The purpose of this post is to hopefully inspire you to “make good things happen”. Honestly, it is way easier to make good thing happen than to make shitty things happen.  We are so connected now that the click of a computer key gives you access to thousands of eyes.  My father says that Facebook is “the most blatant display of insecurity he has ever seen” – for the most part I agree with him, but when used right it can “make good things happen”.  

Through this process I have been: educated on another culture, made 3 new friends, further appreciate the amazing health care we have in Canada and made some “good things happen” with the help of many others.

 

Double double – as in DD’s

11 Jul

I have never been a girl who is insecure about my looks or body.  Even though I know I am not a 10/10 I am a-okay with how I look.  Lord knows there are enough things to worry about other than pieces of my body.  I could harbor resentment towards my two grandmothers for passing down their large breasts.  I could point a finger at my mother for graciously giving me her crazy thick and corse hair.  I could call my father names for giving me the mole gene.  Instead I will roll with the fact that I have big boobs, crazy hair and a lot of moles.  In fact I used to have a mole which was record setting on my face.  Great placement.  My Grandpa used to call it my “Beauty Mark” and he told me it made me different than any other girl, but after he died the only names it had came from my brothers – rat shit, shit, dirt, hairy beast, etc.  Mmmm hmmm, that is right my brothers didn’t treat me like a princess instead they played head games with me, daily. In grade 7 (at the advice from my dermatologist) I had actually had plastic surgery to have it removed.  Imagine that I’ve had plastic surgery.  So now the only body problems I really have are DD boobs (and a muffin top).

I remember when I got my first bra.  Mom got it at Sears in New Glasgow and when she came home said “Emilie there is a bag for you on the table.”  I remember opening it up and freezing kind of like my dog does when she sees a squirrel.  I was in Grade 4.   I wore it to school the next day under a few layers of clothing and as per usual the “don’t tell anyone but…” was told to everyone.  I remember the boys chanting around me “Emilie got something new, Emilie got something new.”  My classmate Allan already had armpit hair and an Adam’s Apple so it seems we were early developers in Maryvale.

Every year around this time the DD’s seem to become problematic – wedding season. The problem is that they do not fit in most any structured dress without having to buy 4 sizes up.  I can’t just throw on any dress – I usually need to spend a pretty penny to get something that suits me.  I’ve been in quite a few weddings over the years and every time the seamstress has to pull out wondrous ways of fitting my rack into the dress.  I’ve had panels added to the sides and stitches added to the v-neck in order to avoid having DEEP Dolly Parton-ish cleavage.  For one wedding the seamstress was an old Greek lady who could have been on The Golden Girls.  When I came out in my dress they were wedged in there like sausages and because of that they were sticking up out of the dress.  She looked at me and said “Lord lord lord look at the big boobies on you.  What am I gonna do with those?” So on top of the price of the dress I normally need to spend at least $50 in alterations.  On top of the price of the dress and the alterations I usually need to spend some coin on a bra which holds the sisters in place.  So weddings end up costing me far more than the average guest.  In fact I am far more high maintenance than I think – plastic surgery and custom clothing.  I do drink beer from a bottle and put in wood while wearing leopard to make up for this.

Doing exercise is a whole other story.  If any bouncing is going to take place I need to wear at least 2 bras.  I have the Ta-Ta Tamer from Lululemon.  This bra kind of locks and loads my ta-ta’s into place, however, I need to wear another bra over top of it as mine seem to creep out with every jumping jack I do.  Oh and baby powder. Lots of baby powder.  The area under the boobs which never sees the light of day needs extra attention.

I guess breast size is something relative – when you don’t have them you want them – when you have them you don’t want them.  I am not saying I don’t want them I just decided to give you an educational lesson in the costs of having DD boobs as today I got a dress in the mail which fits me everywhere else… other than the chest.   If I added up all that I have spent on those suckers over the years I think I could have flown to around the world with that money.  

 

The incident with the ham…

27 May

Ham

I listen to CBC all day at work and although sometimes I wonder what the hell I am listening to, I generally feel more educated come the end of my workday.  Stuart McLean is a favorite of mine as I love his story telling abilities, although sometimes I need to leave before one of his tales has ended.  I have found myself saying “come on, get to the point, get to the end…”  I saw him at the Rebecca Cohn a few months back where he read one of his listener stories. After attending the show I thought I must send him a story.  The website claims that every submission is read.  I typed up my story, hit send and got a reply which said “thank you for your submission, we’ve received 1000’s of stories from listeners and as promised we will read all of them.  So, in the meantime don’t call us, we’ll call you if your story is selected”.  I thought it was a lost cause at that point.  Well 3 weeks later I got a response.  They loved my story and want to read it on air.  In the case that you don’t listen to Stuart here is what I sent him.

Growing up my very best friend was (and still is) my 1st cousin once removed (a term my grand aunt Rita confirmed is a genealogy truth), Sarah.  Our mothers are first cousins. Although we grew up with common genes and community our lives were very different and this is mainly due to the contrast between our mothers. You could describe Sarah’s mother Aileen as unique, random, rare and certainly unpredictable. Aileen provided me with story material, laughter and many unique experiences. I have so many stories about this woman; a memory that sticks out occurred one afternoon when Aileen picked us up from my part-time job at the mall. Prior to picking us up that day Aileen hit Sobey’s for groceries and so there were bags all over the car. On this particular day we hopped in amongst the groceries and made our way out of the parking lot. The first part of Church Street was an upwards climb followed by a peak and then the downhill part.  At the bottom of the hill there was a 3 way stop. We were clipping along when Aileen put her foot on the brake in order to stop at the intersection.  Suddenly Aileen exclaimed “the car doesn’t seem to be stopping.  My God the brakes aren’t working!” Normally this intersection is quite busy but for some unknown reason the coast was clear that day and so we pulled a Fred Flintstone (Aileen turned the car to make a left without slowing down and I believe we went up on two wheels).  Few have ever seen a Cutlass Sierra being driven by a middle aged woman ever make such moves!  We were now on St. Ninian’s Street which was long and flat, however, it ended at a busy intersection which required us to stop.  We continued burning along past the cathedral where Aileen, a devote Catholic, blessed herself and said a Hail Mary.  It was apparent that the car was not going to stop so we blew right through the stop sign causing cars coming from opposite directions to slam on their brakes.  At this time Sarah said “Mom, Mom, put the car in park”!  “Aileen followed the advice and slammed the gear shift into park.  The car made sounds similar to that of a cow dying before coming to an abrupt stop. Aileen got out of the drivers seat and took a look at the pedals of the car. To our complete and utter disbelief wedged under the brake pedal was a boiled ham. Upon making this discovery Aileen exclaimed “My god, can you believe that we nearly died at the hands of a ham?”  It seems that the ham rolled out of a grocery bag under the drivers
seat and wedged itself under the brake pedal.  Can you imagine all the pieces that had to fall together to get that ham under the pedal?  Every time I eat ham it reminds me of that day and how my life nearly ended “at the hands” of one.

The story of the Kitchen Aid mixer

25 Apr

Kitchen Aid

I have been blessed with a great Mom. She would quite literally do anything for me, she is always supportive, proud and has set an awesome of example of what a Mother can be.  I am the only girl in my family. I am the youngest of 4 – I have 3 older borthers.  Each of my brothers met their wives early on in this thing called life.   Two in university and Dave a few years after. Oddly enough they were all married 5 years apart and Mom/Dad 25 years before.  So, this year they will be celebrating 40, 15, 10 and 5 years of marraige.  Of course Mom would like to see me “get hitched” and she thinks this summer would work well with the 5 year trend.

Now you are wondering, what in the world does a Kitchen Aid have to do with marraige?  I love all things kitchen: cooking, baking and creating!  Over the years I have certainly slummed it in terms of my kitchen hardware.  I have literally done a lot of things “by hand” without the aid of machines. About a year ago I made mention to my brother and sister-in-law that I was planning to buy a Kitchen Aid mixer for myself.  Upon saying this they both burst out laughing and said “You might want to check with Mom before you do that”.  “Check with Mom I said, what are you talking about?”  I was thinking that perhaps she was planning on getting me one for Xmas (Mom starts planning next Christmas once she takes the tree down from the current year).  This conversation took place in April and I didn’t think I could wait until December.  So I probed my brother a little further until he told me that Mom had purchased a Kitchen Aid mixer for me a few YEARS before in anticipation of me getting married.  So, by now the warranty would likely be worn out and I was single!  I can understand making the purchase if I was with someone who had asked my Dad if he could marry me, but there was no one in my life!  We had a great laugh about it and we decided that I would bring up the fact that I was looking at Kitchen Aid mixers just to see her reaction.  So I did and she said “Oh yeah, have you actually bought one yet”?  I said “No, I haven’t but I might this weekend.”  She didn’t say anything.  I couldn’t keep it going any longer so I said “Mom I know you have one in a closet somewhere in your house for me and you want to give it to me as a wedding gift. Why in the world wouldn’t you just wait until I am actually GETTING MARRIED to purchase it?”  We both burst out laughing but she didn’t bring it out of the closet and hand it over.

Fast forward a year – I am no longer single.  I don’t know if she looked at the warranty and realized it was going to expire or she thinks that Maurice is “the one”, but guess what is sitting on my kitchen counter?  A very lovely tangerine colored Kitchen Aid mixer.  It seems Mom decided that even if I am not married I deserve to mix my cakes in style.