Wednesday, September 30, 2009

don't look down

Tonight, I took Liv to a meeting. It just so happened to be at a place that I haven't been to in 19 months and 12 days. The place Liv was baptised. The place we were married. The place Jeff's funeral was held.
I didn't think it would affect me much. I thought I had grown stronger and more resilent. I knew it would sting a bit, but I hadn't anticipated this.
I had to fill out forms. Forms that had Jeff's name on them. I had to cross out his name. Cross it out. Like I was crossing him out. It felt wrong. I didn't want to swipe him away as if he didn't exist. He did. He was and always will be her father. I wrote 'deceased' beside his name and the traitorous strike in his name. I had to cross out his cell phone number. I had to write a new emergency contact.
It all feels....horribly, sickeningly wrong.
When outside, I stood in the spot where photos had been taken of us in our wedding garb. Now so seemingly frivolous and silly. It is also the same spot that I watched his coffin be driven away. The spot where Liv had waved and yelled, "Bye Daddy!" as the gravel crunched under the tires of the hearse.
I remember standing there. In a sedated state that made time go slower, the thoughts in my head unable to be voiced for others so I may feel some iota of comfort, and worrying, as I did for months after, that I was going to teeter and fall off this shaky precipice I was standing on. That I may just slip and fall.....fall apart. Lose myself. Lose.........more than the everything I already had.
Most nights, I tuck myself into bed and attempt to turn off my head. Tell myself that I am doing okay. That I can do it. I can do it for the kids. Comfort myself with the thought that one day, it will all make sense....where he went. If he is still with me.
But tonight, I go to bed that same scared woman. Alone. Terrified. Lost. Solitary in my own head. Missing my anchor, my love, my best friend with all my heart.
Standing on a ledge. Am I going to slip? Am I going to fall off? Can I convince myself to just stare straight ahead?
Don't look down. Don't look side to side. Just stare at the horizon and keep standing....Please, just keep standing.

some fun

Liv's learning consultant from Self-Design (her 'school') has sent a wonderful link to a site where you can create your own animated movies. SOOOOOO cool!! I thought I'd share it with the rest of you.

Have fun!!!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009


The kids and I have often thought about creating some furniture for in the playhouse. Liv loves fairies and we thought it would be fun to make it a 'fairy house'. So after lots of thinking and planning, we came up with these!

We collected small wooden spools used for wire or rope (got 'em free from the hardware store - they were in the trash can!), 5cm (2") foam from an upholstery shop (some of it was free from their remnants bin, the rest was really inexpensive), white paint, 1/2 yard vinyl coated red cloth with white polkadots (bought in MN at Treadle Yard Goods), a staple gun and hammer. (The newspaper in the photo was used to catch paint over spray.)
We painted the spools white. While the paint dried, we traced out the shape of the spool onto the foam. We added about 2.5cm (1") around the sides to allow for cushey edges. We cut this shape out. (We attempted with large scissors. Too much work. A small, serrated paring knife works best.)

We cut the 1/2 yard of fabric in half and placed one piece face down on the grass. In the centre, we placed one circle of foam and then the stool on top.
Starting with the four corners or fabric, we stapled the fabric to the under side of the 'seat' pulling it taut as we went.
After the fabric is stapled on, we hammered the staples flush,
cut off the extra fabric and flipped the seat over.

Friday, September 25, 2009

guess what?!

I have been invited by Michele to write weekly for the Widow's Voice!! My first post was today. I am SO excited to be part of this group and to hopefully help other widows feel connected to each other....and less alone.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

a sad loss

Our small favourite little chicken, Sarah, is gone. When we returned home from my time away in Minnesota, we found her poor little chick, Heidi Kathryn, dead on the ground in the chicken yard and a few of Sarah's feathers scattered around. Other than that, there is no sign of her. My poor little love. I don't know if the chick got out of the hen house while searching for her mama or if Sarah went out into the yard to save her chick but all I can figure is that maybe a hawk or an owl got her....and it wasn't Fuckles this time, he was with my sister.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

minnesota madness - LLF 5K and Gala

I'm home from my awesome trip to Minnesota. I had a great time being with fabulous people who are working so very hard to help people in my situation - newly widowed with children.
My trip started on a seaplane. I had never taken the seaplane off the island. Always the ferry. It seemed such a fitting departure as Jeff used to take the seaplane regularly to meet the boat on the mainland. It filled me with awe, the beauty of everything below me, and sadness knowing that Jeff had seen all of this so many times and not once had I experienced it with him.
After a few more plane trips (not by seaplane), Matt picked me up at the airport in Minneapolis. It was so great to see him again. He took me to Rachel and Adam's house to soak in their kindness and hospitality.
In the morning, after Matt's media obligations, we visited with Liz's family (who rock!!) while Maddy did some artwork.

Matt helped her sign her name with her little handprint. I took in the Minnesota flora and fauna but still am wondering at the bird sounds. They almost sounded tropical.
Rach and I met up with the fabulous Creeps for a Twins game....My first baseball game!
I ate a hot dog while people watching. (I have to admit that I noticed one home run and that is about it.) There were so many people and I was so enjoying chatting and joking with the Creeps!
I hung with the Twins....Damn, I have a giant head!

The next day, we did the 5K around Lake Calhoun.
It went SO ridiculously fast while joking and talking with Michele and her awesome daughter, Caitlin.

I got some pictures with the 'bot....and went on an adventure with the Robot, Matt and AJ to the coolest store in the world before the Gala the next day! (more on that later)

At the Gala on Sunday, I drooled over the Weinermobile...
Drooled over some cake....
Visited with some dear, fabulous friends....

Did my speech and managed to not vomit from nervousness....The Gala and the 5K went off fabulously! I am so pleased and honoured to have been part of it and hope to be there next year!

On Monday, the day of my departure, Rachel took me to an amazing fabric store. I drooled, oogled and bought some STELLAR fabrics. I'll be making some dresses for the shop with my stash in the next while!

Shortly before departure, Rachel took me to the most delicious cafe I have ever been to. I found the house of my dreams....
And after a long and delayed flight, made it home to find two little ones as pleased to see me as I was so see them!

Friday, September 18, 2009

run tomorrow

I've been in Minnesota for 24 hours. I've met Matt's parents, Liz's parents and a lot of the creeps. Gotta say, they are ALL fabulous and so kind and wonderful! More than I had expected. Much, much more.
Tomorrow, we'll be heading out for the 5k and the next night for the Gala. I have a speech to prepare and want to do my best to help the foundation in any possible way that I can....Not just because they have been wonderful to me, but also because I want to be able to help others who face this scary and lonely ride.
So, if you can, please check out The Liz Logelin site. If you can donate a few dollars, bid on an auction or even attend an event, I, Matt and so very many others will be so grateful. Thank you in advance for ANYTHING you can do, even if it is kind and empathetic thoughts. It all counts.

Monday, September 14, 2009

learning through living

Liv can read. I didn't teach her to. We have never sat down to practise 'how' to read. She asked me her letters or we sang "ABC" or we read a book together. We wrote her name. She noticed the 'O' makes the same sound virtually everytime we write it. I marvel at her abilities. But, nonchalant, she lays for hours on her bed absorbing any book that catches her interest.
Watching this metamorphosis from non-reader to reader has been amazing for me. It has made me wonder what kids do at school all day.
I know there are other things to learn. I know that school is designed to teach children all the things they 'need to know'. But I am so pleased to see my children learn what they 'need to know' outside of this box as well. They are interested, so they learn. Curiousity may have killed the cat, but for my children, it fuels a fire called learning.
Today, however, my little boy began preschool. Liv went to preschool when she was three as well. She loved her farm-based school. The school that Briar will be attending is very much different than Liv's start but I feel that he'll enjoy having some time to feel independent and able to do something without mama.
Watching through the glass door to the classroom, I grinned at my 'big boy' listening to another adult and nodding solemnly. He and Brody, the little boy I care for everyday, sat together leaning slightly toward each other talking happily.
People have asked me if I will homeschool Briar as well. I can't honestly say yes OR no. We're taking it a step at a time. His 'education' may be entirely different from Liv's. Who knows? But I do know that this video articulates so much of what I have seen and watched my children experience since starting homeschooling....actually since Liv's and Briar's births....

Sunday, September 13, 2009

minnesota, here I come

The Liz Logelin Foundation 5K, Online Auction and Gala are next weekend and guess what?!....I'll be there!!! So if you're in Minnesota or can get there, come too! If you can't, take a walk with your friends and think about those who you love and those who you've lost. Remember to give a hug to those still around you and tell them how very much they mean to you....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

how is this different than any other day

I don't know why or how certain days, moments or thoughts hit me harder than others. ?Occasionally, I'll find myself sobbing as I fold Briar's old wool peacoat thinking that he has now outgrown his last article of clothing that his daddy saw him wear, or groaning with sad jealousy as I see another daddy swing his little girl up onto his shoulders or hiccupping with shock as sadness grips me remembering how he'd laugh at my penchant for the smell of his jacket, or tearing at myself in agony with grief when I re-realize that 'this' is forever.
I don't know if I can explain myself again. I feel as if I have articulated it so many times but not correctly. Not well enough. I can't spell it out correctly. I know I am saying it too much. But it just hasn't come out right yet.
Do you remember that awful longing, yearning you felt as a teenager for some person you thought would love you if they just got to know you? How you'd stare at those teen posters and know that you'd never meet them. Never be near them. Never know them. And it filled you with such a sense of loss that you would cry bitter tears of frustration.....Well, it's so very fucking different, but the same.
I look at pictures of him and want to scream out. I want to slam my fist into something and break things. I want to lay down and melt away. I see pictures of his family and search for traces of him and traces of our children.
I want to be near him. I want to smell him. I want to lean on him and cry. I want him to hold the back of my head with his massive hands and press my face into his and kiss my forehead. I felt so safe. So loved. So.....
And there is nothing I can do to alleviate this pain. No way that I can manifest the feelings of intimacy and closeness that we shared. No booming laugh, no funny stories, no inside jokes.
I feel such anger and frustration I want to break things. I want to say wicked words and blow something up. I want to spit. I want to retch. I want to vomit out all this ferocity and sadness. But it doesn't spill and pour out. It trickles... but it grows as well. A constant flow of bitterness.
I feel that I have been waiting all this time as I've swam toward the surface of a dark, black lake. Holding my breath, I had hoped for hope and thought that I'd break the surface to a dawning of some sorts. But as I emerge from the depths, I realize that the lake below was so dark because the sky above was black. And I feel lost.

Friday, September 11, 2009

what we do when fall arrives

It feels like fall. Kids are back in school. The temperature is more comfortable. The sunlight seems to have turned a little golden around the edges. We ingest copious amounts of apples, tomatoes and squash. Orb weaver spiders set up their posts in a short lived attempt to find food before the weather gets too cold.
(Why is it only in the Autumn that they do this? And why is it always in a spot that you least expect? It seems that their locale of choice is head height in the doorway causing your face to not only be encased in this sticky dessicated bug-filled net but forces you to search wildly and spasmodically for the yet unseen dweller of the web upon your body...and I am not even afraid of spiders).
I love the rest and calmness that a Autumn afternoon allows. And even though it is technically still Summer, September just seems to slow in someways that August doesn't.
I love puttering around in the yard. Tidying. Harvesting. Visiting my girls.
(Isn't Lucy the best mama chicken ever??) Poop scooping. Finding whatever needs doing and doing it.
I can't say that many days are like this but when they are, they are delicious.
The kids and I found ourselves having just such a day yesterday. They played as I puttered.
As I stacked wood, they floated pieces of bark in the wheelbarrow that had filled with rain water. Eventually, I grabbed Liv's toolbox that she and Jeff had made,

another hammer or two and a few nails and we set to work together building boats from unused pieces of 2X4s. We hammered long nails for masts, and small nails for ropes to tie to. We coloured the sides with waterproof marker. Then we sailed our elaborate little vessels in our little sea.

Bliss on a Fall afternoon...

Saturday, September 05, 2009

why NOT to homeschool

The school year is almost upon us here. As most people are preparing their little ones by equipping them with duotangs and HB pencils, I will be talking to my girl about what she hopes to learn about this year and planning various activities that foster growth in these areas.

With this being our third year of homeschooling, I thought I'd impart some wisdom upon other parents who may be thinking of embarking upon this adventure called homeschooling:
If someone approaches you (usually family or close friends) after your child has had a temper tantrum, expressed frustration and anger when you eat their muffin without asking or refused to do what you ask with a simple "NO." and suggests that now is the time that your child is enrolled in public school so that they begin to learn how 'the real world works' or how to 'act', just know that these people are the brave ones. Everyone else just talks about it behind your back. ;)
I do wonder, however, what everyone says about children who DO attend convention school when they have a whopper of a temper tantrum, refuse to eat their greenbeans or repeat the 'f' word? Do they suggest that now is the time that this child is homeschooled???
Be prepared to go to homeschooling meetings ONLY when you are feeling good and confident about your parenting. These parents seem to be the uber, ultra, perfect parent. No one freaks out at their kids for giving them a wedgy while having a conversation with another adult. They get down to the child's level and explain why this is uncomfortable for them and request that they stop. Now I know that you school parents are rolling your eyes and going, "Oh, and I'm sure THAT works." But it does. Miraculously, these kids cease and desist. Everyone speaks calmly and does crafts with kids that AREN'T EVEN THEIR OWN! They play hockey with the kids while carrying a baby around in a sling and breastfeeding one child and doling out organic homemade muesli to another. Amazing! I watch them with amazement hoping and praying that my kids don't come up to me and apply the wedgy because my reaction will most likely be entirely different ("What the hell?! You're gonna cut me in half!" while performing the bum picking dance). And I will die of embarassment. They will KNOW that I am not one of them. I'm not calm. I'm not 'zen'. I don't do yoga (although I would love to do it). I'm testing the theory that the more I go to these meetings the more this serenity will rub off on me....I'll let you know how it goes....
Be prepared that your children are going to wear entirely 'inappropriate' outfits at times. Without the mocking judgement of other school-aged children keeping their wardrobe in line and homogenized with others, your children will feel free to put on whatever tickles their fancy...and sometimes you will wish that there were some scorn-filled children picking out your child's attire for that day.

*Both of these choices of headwear were Jeff's. I am just waiting for them to find his cowboy hat shaped hardhat!

Friday, September 04, 2009


Last week, Briar watched me carry a box of feminine hygiene products from the grocery bag to the bathroom.

"Are those for your bum?", he asked.

"Um.", not sure as to what the appropriate response for a three year old boy should be. I decided honesty was best.

"Not my bum", as I walked by.

"Your penis?"

"No. Mommy doesn't have a penis."

Following me, he asks, "Your bagina?"

"Um. Yes. My, vagina." After all, I've heard that using proper terminology is best.

"Oh.", he says. I breathe a sigh of relief hoping that I handled this encounter with anatomy, life cycles and privacy 'properly'.


Hours later, Briar enters my bedroom for a visit while I put away laundry. As is common, he is naked. We chat about something before I even glance in his direction. When this look occurs, I can't help but notice something....on his nether regions. All my evolved and cool mom exterior is forgotten as I gasp, "What did you do, buddy????"

He answers, "I wanted to be like you." and looks down at the bandaid stuck upon his private parts.

The next twenty minutes are occupied attempting to peel terribly sticky bandaid glue from horribly sensitive little parts while discussing which people have which parts and who uses absorbent materials in their underpants and why.

Oh, joy. My poor boy is going to be so well-versed in all things female by the time he reaches age 10.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

help matt help others

Matt has a challenge for us. If 100 tickets to the Liz Logelin Foundation Gala can be sold by tomorrow, September 4th, he'll shave his large and impressive beard. As most of you know, this foundation helps young widows and their families financially at a very hard time.

I will do anything to help this awesome foundation that has also helped me! I actually think I forgot to mention that $500 from the Pirate Ball was donated to the LLF when I went to San Diego.

So, please, if you can, buy a ticket, make a donation or sign up for the 5K run.

As a side note: I don't want to rain on Matt's beard, but Jeff's beard was a tad more impressive when he had decided to wait for his birthday one year to trim it up.....People asked "Why?" He just said, "Because I can."

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I admit it. Some of the things that I put on my list didn't come with us camping. I admit that I didn't think I could spare the room for them in the unlikely event that we'd use them. This was a faux pas. A major faux pas. Thankfully, my sister's husband, Todd, is much more realistic and prepared that we are. He helped to pack Kirsten's car before we left and amazingly thought to pack tarps and ropes. I know you're rolling your eyes right now and saying, "Even I would have packed the tarps, Jackie!" But I didn't. So, please, if you use my list MAKE SURE you underline tarps and ropes....and extra socks for the kids.

The first day is rained. Not just drizzle, but torrential. We hurriedly put up one tent. Mom entertained the kids inside with games, books and stories while Kirsten and I struggled with decisions involving which tarp should go above, under and in which vicinity. We got soaked. Really, really soaked.

More than once we exclaimed that Jeff and my grandfather, another man of the sea, would be horrified at our knot tying skills. More than once, I wished I had paid closer attention to the formation of the knots that I had seen tied so many times. Kirsten and I imagined Jeff and Grandpa watching us from heavenly camp chairs, beer in hand and exclaiming with exasperation, "Why didn't you show her/them the *insert appropriate knot here*?"

We managed to erect an impressive tent city nonetheless. I must say we were proud. We even thought to slope the tarps to the back of the site to ensure that the water ran off rather than pooled. Again, this may seem elementary, but when you suddenly find yourself without your husband's camping skills for assistance, you realize just how little you actually knew about some things.
I have never, ever stared at a tarp with lust. Never thought I would. But when I saw a fellow campers setup, I have to say that I longed to own a tarp as big as this one. It covered the tents, the picnic table, their large Suburban, hell, the entire campsite!!! It was impressive. Every walk we went on that involved passing this mammoth tarp, the kids would exclaim, the adults would stare and drool and I would attempt to snap a picture of it without looking like I was some creepy, odd-oid in the throws of tarp-lust.

Because of all the rain, we were able to have a campfire...Oooohhhh, how I love fire. We've been having quite the time in our province this Summer with forest fires so burning has been banned until recently on the north island. Thankfully, I got to indulge my inner firebug. Camping without fire is just wrong as everyone knows.
Although many of us prefer not to talk about it, even while camping we have to use the...potty. Happily, we had a kid-sized potty along for the trip so that we didn't have to frequent the outhouse as often as many people with four kids would be forced to do. Unfortunately, when we had to empty the receptacle or use that facilities ourselves, we'd have to enter the 'Realm of the Rotting Crap'. I abhor these places. But I have to say that either they have had made some real developments in the smell suppression in the last while or my smell receptors are not what they once were. The reek, while revolting, didn't cause me to hold my breath upon entering and hold it to the point of near unconsciousness as it used to. The thought that does disgust me is that this smell is made up of minute particles of fecal matter that used to reside within someone else's body....and then, I breathe it into mine. Anyhow, my real issue with outhouses is what is in the bottom. I can't help it. Each time I head to the toilet, I tell myself, "Okay. This time, we aren't going to look. Right? Got it?! No looking. Not even a peek. It just revolts you to the point where you have trouble removing it from your consciousness before meal time. Just. DON'T. look." But no pep talk can stop me. I glance in there and am somehow pleased that my response is one of near gagging at the repulsive soup that resides beneath the cloud of flies. I can't sit on the seat for fear of one of these little winged creatures landing on my ass. I hover and hope I have attained enough distance from the slurry below to inhibit the fly's desire to alight on my body. Don't they say that when a fly lands, it shits and when it eats it, lays an egg or something equally terrifying? I do not want either matter on any of my parts....especially not on those parts.

Mom and Kirsten surprised me with balloons and birthday cake on my 34th birthday.Mom even managed to pull off and craft out in the woods! Birthday hats made from recycled paper plates and ribbons. This is where my craftiness began, people.
Although the party plate hats were tres fashionable, the favoured headwear for the duration of the trip were helmets. Whether they were digging in the sand, fishing off the dock or running through the campsite, helmets were worn almost incessantly. I began to wonder if the neighbours thought we were the type of people who would have preferred that our children were born into a bubble instead of this ultra dangerous world. But the actual reason for all the helmet wearing was the near constant bike riding that was taking place. Liv was in her glory riding her bike in a hardened groove from the outhouses and back to our campsite in a neverending circle.

The other favoured pasttime was catching sculpins and crayfish off the dock. I know they say that there are no such thing as lobsters in the Pacific, but, dude, these things were getting big! A neighbouring camper actually caught 22, fried them in garlic butter and ate them....Not my plan, but it was so fun to catch them!

Liv and I created some Inukshuks in the water and I took a huge amount of joy in photographing them in the varying light produced at different times of day.
Freckles even enjoyed a new pasttime called "stare incessantly at the chattering squirrel". He'd occasionally attempt to burst off into the bush with the log that he was tied to in pursuit after the teasing squirrel. Luckily for the squirrel, Freckles cannot climb and could not manage to drag the very heavy log farther than a centimetre or two each time. But his staring contest kept him occupied when we weren't out for a walk or a swim.

All of us had quite an adventure....

And I found a surprise far along a logging road that deserved some notice as I thought it was pretty cool...