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Archive for the ‘The mushy stuff’ Category


I was 14, he was 15. The very first day we met, he kissed my hand, very Cinderella style. Little did he know he was kissing the hand of a hopeless dreamer. An incurable romantic. A girl who, even at 14, had learned how to exit the world of her reality and dwell in the world of books, movies, plays and music. My fantasy world was the real one in which I dwelt and the reality of school and homework and parents and such were just the nuisance that had to be endured between escapisms.
Our first date. How ironic it was to a movie. Escapism please!
We went to see The Little Mermaid. When it was first released to theatres (am I dating myself, much?). The song “kiss the girl” was the backdrop to our first kiss. He with his towering height and me with my fantasies and already I had us married off with kids and living in a far away land.
Cut to now, and we’re married with kids and moved provinces, so in a way, my 14 year old dream came true.
My number is inverted now. I’m 41. I still use books and movies and plays and music as a way to leave the trappings of the adult world, a world VASTLY more disappointing than I was led to believe as a child. Sure, I can eat what I want and go to bed when I want, but I also pay taxes and clean and raise children and have a job. But I have my dreams. Tucked away where I can call upon them when needed. I still read books and fall in love with the mythical worlds weaved for me. I even write books where I can bend the fantasy to my own will and whimsy. Songs still transport me and movies are where I give over my heart and soul to be drawn into another place and time.
So, it’s no surprise that when the live action Beauty and the Beast was announced that I immediately professed that I would not only see this in theatre, but that we would all go, husband, wife and the three children still remaining at home. No one minded. When your mother is a dreamer, she tends to influence her children.
The day approached and the closer we got, the more excited we became. The kids would frequently play the trailers on the internet and I, the eternal crier, would more often than not, feel my eyes growing hot with anticipation.

On Sunday we crammed our five adult forms into the car and drove to the theatre where Belle awaited. As we sat in a row at the back of the theatre, I leaned over to my husband and whispered “I love that 22 years of marriage later, you’re still taking me to Disney movies. Only now we bring our children.” He tried to pretend like that didn’t make him “catch the feels” too, but I know it did. He has been much more sentimental since his heart attacks.
The show started and transported is exactly what we were. My youngest, the 15 year old, 6’2 man-child sitting beside me, spent the entire show holding my hand, or laying his head on my shoulder, or hugging me. My girls sat at the end silently letting tears fall. The movie was perfection. It should be held up as an example of how to bring a beloved animation to live action. I won`t go into the details of the myriad of ways I loved it, because this post would simply be too long.
It was beautiful visually, artistically, musically and in it`s composition. The casting was perfect and I truly wanted to step through that screen and into Belle`s world.
We left the theatre that evening to go home to the world that we built. It`s warm, inviting and loving. It`s full of laughter, and yes, sometimes tears. Usually mine. It`s teenagers and adult children who still hug their parents. It`s kids who were brought up to love and to treat people with kindness and dignity and inclusion. With all the mistakes and pitfalls I’ve taken in my life, it`s my deepest source of pride to see the family that we built and what we`ve built it into. Even with my love for escaping through books and music and movies and plays, it’s still that Prince Charming of mine that I come back to.

And he still kisses my hand.

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I haven’t really commented publicly on the Orlando shooting at Pulse, but believe me when I say it has been on my mind and very close to the surface since it happened.  So I’m finally going to talk about it. Or at least, talk about why a mass shooting in a gay nightclub in another country,far away from me; a married woman in her forties with children and dogs and a husband, would matter so much.  

I have five kids.  If you read my blog, you already know this.  If you have read my blog for a while now, you also probably know my oldest daughter is gay.  Coming out wasn’t easy for her.  Not because of my reaction, her dad’s, her siblings, but…other members of our family can’t understand it and don’t accept it.  She got a lot of backlash at high school.  We lived in a very small town and believe me, being out there wasn’t always easy but, one of the things I admire most about my daughter is that she is beautifully herself.  Unapologetically.  Being authentic is a gift. She has it. Anyone who knows her knows how utterly genuine she is.  

My house is one where we talk about everything.  So, when she came out to us, the kids just took it as easily as if she had told them that actually, despite the rainbow of colours that have found their way into her hair, she is actually a natural blonde.  I mean, it’s still her. What was there not to accept? 

Ah but there were things not to accept where others were concerned.  Some of our family was not and is not so accepting.  And that pains me.  

We all know that there has been an extreme uphill battle for the gay community to climb.  And I’m embracing ALL of the community. Gay, lesbian, queer, trans, bi, questioning and anyone else I’m leaving out. There is a lot of ignorance and intolerance out there and that breeds fear and hate.  But I had thought, as most of us likely had, that we as a society have come leaps and bounds. 

And then.  The shooting. 

It’s too much.  

I was texting my gorgeous girl the morning it happened.  She lives in another province and I couldn’t be there to hug her, hold her.  She was looking forward to going to pride this year in Toronto.  She is not going now. Because she was going to go alone and now, well, without someone there with her to help her feel safe, she doesn’t want to risk it.  

Which is the saddest thing. She will be 21 next month. This is the time in her life when she should be going out to gay bars and clubs and meeting people and having fun.  

As I watched the Tony awards last Sunday night, I cried when Lin Manuel gave his speech and said “love is love is love is love is love”. Because that hit the nail right on the head for me.  

To everyone in the world who doesn’t get it. There is no wrong way to love.  There is no wrong gender to love. No evil way, no sacrilidgeous way, no broken way no hateful way, no sinful way. Love. Is. Love. 

Love is love. 

Say it out loud.  Love is love.  

And every single person on this planet is entitled to love in whatever incarnation it makes them feel loved in return.  How could anyone begrudge love?  

I hope the families of this massacre find peace in their days to come.  I hope the gay community finds new strength and continues to stand up and say WE ARE WORTHY.  I hope my daughter finds joy and happiness and love with a wonderful partner some day.  

And I hope the people whose hearts are still closed to a part of humankind find a way to open them.  Have your grinch moment and let your hearts grow.  Because, no one wants to threaten you, or put their relationship “in your face” anymore than you do.  They simple want to dance, without dying. 

They just want to love their lives and one another.  As we all do.  

Love is love.  We learned to love as children.  

So grow up.  

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My parents arrive tomorrow for a few days’ visit. I’m actually really happy to have them come. Because they are leaving in a few weeks for a trip back to the motherland. Ireland. And shortly after that, they are moving back to Ontario. Yeah. I have no idea why either. If my own recent trip back to Ontario taught me anything, it’s that I don’t want to live there again and I don’t know why anyone else would either after they’ve had a taste of life in, um, I don’t know, ANY OTHER PROVINCE. I take back ANY time I have bitched out here about traffic or construction. We have it easy. We have it super easy.

What I *did* miss was people. Specific people. My daughter. Oh lord Keisha you are SO beautiful you don’t even realize. And seeing you happy, full of energy, settled, you have no idea how much that made me smile. I think the last time I saw you in such a good place, you were about 12. Maybe. I’m so proud and I really wish we could spend time together more, but at the same time I’m happy to let you live your life and just…fly.
Best friends Alex and Greig. I have no words. Three years were like three days. Because we just fell right back into our wonderful ways as if no time had passed at all. God I missed you.
My brother and sister and the new baby. Yes, I have two other sisters in Ontario and I didn’t get to see either of them, but new babies win. Always. And Saoirse is a dream. My eighth niece (I also have three nephews) and I’m sure, knowing our family, that we’re not done yet. I mean, I am done, but I still have two unmarried brothers and Ciaran and Angela are newly weds, I’m sure they’ll have at least one more. I just love the babies. LOVE

One of my favourite visits of the trip was seeing my grandparents. I love how my Grandmother is still so full of joy and laughter. I loved making Grandpa’s eyes light up at new pictures of my kids, their great-grandchildren. I love their cozy home and I just loved spending time with them. I miss that, living so far away. I don’t know how many more opportunities I’ll have to do it.

So I came home, out from the (not even kidding) 40 degree heat, to a brisk 12 degree, cool Saint John day and promptly lost my voice. Total laryngitis. I actually could not make any sounds for three days and even now, I’m still scratchy.

June is not cooling its heels though, and we are careening quickly through a season that has left me emotional. Aislinn, our middle daughter, is graduating high school in a few weeks. I don’t know, I’ve been through this graduation thing before, but, on different scales. Liam finished the way I did, through correspondence. Keisha finished through an alt high school and I definitely remember her graduation ceremony, and how choked up I was sitting in the auditorium with Shawn watching our baby cross that stage to get her diploma. But Ash is the middle baby. I have a mental picture of my kids: the “older two”, Ash, the “middle child” and (much to their eternal chagrin that I STILL use this term) the “little two”. If Ash is graduating, that means that really, for REAL this time, they’re all getting older. I have one kid moved out, another on the cusp and now Aislinn making plans for moving on and my beautiful big family is shrinking.
Believe me, I do know that it will eventually get to the phase where it grows again when they all start making their permanent relationships and having their own families. But right now, I’m in the midst of the emotional roller coaster of watching them grow, and letting them go.

I’m feeling my age. I’m searching for a cure to that.

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Where did all the damn traffic come from??? Seriously? And I won’t even talk about the INSANELY aggressive drivers. No wonder we were always smoking and stressed out. Woah.
We landed yesterday morning at about 6:45am Ontario time, got Shawn dropped off in Brampton and then I went to Guelph to pick up our oldest daughter Keisha from her house and we zoomed 25 minutes north to Elora, my hometown. We walked around for about an hour, saw the house where I grew up and where she spent most of her childhood weekends and almost all of her childhood major holidays and decided that it had changed too much. The town, that is. The vibe was completely different. It no longer felt like home to me. So, we headed back to Guelph. As much as to beat the massive storm clouds as to go play around the other city I grew up in and where her Dad and I first met. We had a great time. We saw the high school I went to in Grade nine, both where it used to be and where they rebuilt it, the park where Shawn and I had our first kiss, his old high school, the hospital where my beloved Nana lived out the last years of her life, and a whole bunch of “places of interest”. Read: where all my teenaged shenanigans took place. The Guelph ones, anyway.
But the city has changed SO MUCH. At one point we were headed to a Walmart, which I distinctly remembered the location of, and she kept telling me to turn too soon. I tried to argue with her but, well, she lives here now, so I turned and there it was. Guelph had picked up the whole damn building and moved it. And painted it green! I told Guelph to go home, because it was (and is) clearly drunk.

We didn’t actually wind up taking a lot of pictures, though I thought we would, but, we were so in the moment yesterday. And dudes, she looks fucking amazing. She has worked really hard for the last year and has lost almost 80lbs and she just was so, so, HAPPY. I loved it.

We went out for dinner all three of us last night and finally Shawn and I got some sleep.
Today I get the morning to do just this: writing. First this post and then I’m working on my book again. (SQUEALS OF JOY) and then….
We’re off to Paris Ontario tonight to see our beloved friends and to go to the theatre. You remember my theatre days, right? Lord I miss that. The last show we ever did and by far my favourite was I’ll Be Back Before Midnight. Damn I loved that role. I played Jan. I got to go crazy, shoot a (fake) shotgun, cry onstage, kiss onstage, freak the fuck out on stage, go catatonic onstage and finally, murder my stage husband with an axe. It was awesome.
And Paris Performers are doing the show tonight. So we’re going to see it. YAAYY!!!!

Tomorrow we are going to meet our new niece for the first time, see my brother and sister in law, see my Grandparents and get ready for the early Sunday morning flight home.

I’m already sunburned (I had forgotten about Ontario heat, it’s going to be 40 today with the humidity), I’ve already laughed until my face hurt. I’ve already gotten emotional.

It’s been the best day so far. I’m looking forward to the next two immensely.

Happy Friday, all!!

Now I’m off to exercise my fingers and work out what’s going on in Summer Poppies. I’ve been working on this book for Four Years. It’s time I get serious with it again and wrap it up.

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Sunday mornings are my favourite. We sleep in, the kids sleep in and the house is pretty quiet. Everyone seems to have that cat in a sunbeam contented air to them. It’s wonderful.

Shawn and I have a king sized bed. That’s not a vanity-based thing, or a “hey – look at me with my big bed” thing, it’s practicality. Shawn is six foot five. I’m five eleven. Neither of us is at our fighting weight from high school anymore. We need a big ass bed. And I love it. We also don’t share blankets. We tried once, back in the golden days of newlyweds, but we’re both simply too big of blanket hogs and it’s never really worked for us. So, he has his set, I have mine.

But, on Sunday mornings, mine or his gets tossed aside and we cuddle up and get silly. Talking, laughing, tickling (I love/hate the tickling) zerberts (or raspberries) on the bellies, teasing, more laughing, loads more talking. It’s fantastic. Whether it goes on for fifteen minutes or an hour. Sometimes the kids will come in and sit on the bed and talk with us, or, call us lame for the loud shrieks of laughter that woke them up, but I know that these are the noises they love to hear.

It wasn’t so long ago that we had forgotten how to have fun in our marriage. Back in 2012, it was a different story. Oh sure, we still talked, we “communicated”, we even had sex, but we had forgotten to have FUN together. Just us. In all the changes that have happened in our life since then, it’s one of the things I feel the most blessed about. That we remember how to play.

Think about those early days in any relationship. You’re happy all the time so everything is funny and wonderful and new and you can’t get enough of one another.
But then you develope roles. Work becomes important because it’s all one big conveyor belt taking you from each milestone to the next. The kids become the main focus. Jobs become the main focus. Sick parents become the main focus. All of a sudden you’re in a marriage where the relationship in your life, the one you chose, is so far from the main focus that it becomes blurry. Do you turn to one another? Sadly, a lot of us do not. We go to our friends, our co-workers and we talk about how bad things have gotten, or how lonely we are. But we’re forgetting the fun we had with our partners. And it’s understandable. After all, life has changed so much and in order to maintain and sustain our “lives” and lifestyle, that we’ve turned that into the main focus.

Now, for half of couples these days, that usually ends up in divorce. Or separation. Or infidelity. Even all three, though not necessarily in that order.
For us, we had to go through some huge, life changing upheavals in order to see that what we were truly missing out on, what we really were taking for granted, was our relationship with one another. So, we started dating again. But, even that can pose challenges, especially when you’ve pretty much run the gamut of what’s accessible and what’s affordable. For instance, I would love a date to Italy, or back to Ireland. Shawn would love a date weekend on a boat or a helicopter tour date. But, these are out the scope of our current reality, so, we go to dinner.

But those Sunday mornings. That’s what I live for. We spent a half an hour yesterday morning wrestling around being silly about who had to go get coffee. Eventually of course, we got up, got dressed, got ourselves coffee, but, the memories, including the touch memories, stayed with me all day.
We spent our day doing different activities in different parts of the house and with different kids, but, there was playful communication all day long. Never once did we pass one another without a kiss, or a touch or a prolonged hug. He called me beautiful, on several occasions (and y’all, it was Sunday, land of the sweatpants, so that was REALLY nice to hear). I told him how much I appreciate him. In short, it was a day full of love languages. Which concluded the way a weekend should, in a long standing marriage such as ours.
Curled up together in bed, connected, in our separate blankets of course, binge watching a Stephen King series.

And now it’s Monday morning. Shawn is at work jumping in and out of meetings, spilling coffee on his shirt and texting me to please please bring him a new one. I am on my last day off of leave after my diagnosis and treatment for my extremely swollen feet, which now look less like hobbit feet and more human again and our worlds are back into ticking along on the cogs that we have set them into.

There will always be meetings at work and kids to take to lessons and university scholarships to apply for. There will always be budgets that need to get set and groceries that must be shopped and bills to pay. And bills. And bills. We both have chronic health problems now (yay us!) and will need to take all our meds properly and keep our appointments with our respective specialists. But by god there will always be time to play and be silly.

Because if you can’t laugh with the one you love, well, you’re just missing out on the best thing in life.

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It’s knowing one another so well that we can have entire conversations without saying words. We communicate so much with our eyes and hands. I know what it means when you make certain faces at me. You know what I’m saying when my hands play on your chest.
It’s being able to adapt to one another’s moods and knowing how to balance the other off when it comes to the children.
It’s facing all the big decisions and even the little ones as a team.
It’s the way we can complete each other’s sentences.
It’s dreaming of the future together. Still. Always.

21 years ago at just 19 years old I married you. People actually took bets not on how long we would last, but how quickly we would split. What the hell do a 19 and 20 year old know about being married? Not much, admittedly. But that’s been one of the most beautiful things about our marriage. We’ve made the rules up as we go. We’ve taken life head on and, although some challenges have seriously shaken us, we’ve never let them beat us.
We talk. A lot. It’s not always pretty. Sometimes we shout, sometimes we scream, but we always talk. There are days when I feel like we might as well be speaking two entirely separate languages. Like Germanic trying to converse with Urdu. But the language we speak without words is the one that has saved us time and again.
It all feels so much easier on this side of the 20 year milestone. Because now we know that we cannot be broken. At least, as long as your heart is okay. (That was scary, love, don’t do that again)
I am proud of many things in my life but I am most proud of what we have achieved together.
And I love you.

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I confused my plethora of American friends this weekend by posting up Thanksgiving wishes and pictures and that’s when I remembered that my facebook account has shifted so much over the years that I now likely have more American friends on there than Canadian ones. So, as fun as it was to see all the similar posts from my Canadian buddies, it was MORE fun to see my American ones get confused.

All the LOLs.

Our thanksgiving was lovely. First, my brother and his wife came home from over two years in the UK and Scotland! It’s funny how you can forget what it’s like to actually *see* family members you haven’t seen in a long while. My kids are older, taller and much cooler. They are coming home to meet three nieces (one for each of my three sisters) who were born while they were away. Many, many hugs were shared.

Also, thanksgiving was at our house and it was beautiful. My parents came and stayed with us, Ciaran, the elusive brother (who sadly and inexplicably did NOT get a trace of accent from living overseas) and Angela, and my sister Niamh with her husband Andy and their four kids. It was a full, loud house and it was magical.

I did all my favourite things. I made a turkey AND a ham, made butternut squash soup, chocolate orange cake, roasted potatoes, veggies and salad and oh my it was wonderful. I even tried my hand at those rolled up apple roses that seem to be all over the internet. Of course I augmented mine with a sprinkle of cinnamon and toasted pecans before sifting icing sugar over them, and they were delicious.

Really, that’s all I need in my world to be happy. A big group of family enjoying food together, drinking great wine together (OH MY GOD we had good wine. 2010 Pinot Noir from Napa Valley. Day-um) laughing together and talking over one another and eating and just having a great time. I wish it could have been like it was back in the days when we all lived in one province and we all came home for the holidays but right now I’ll take what I can get. To have half of the family there was wonderful. And this is a bit of our reality right now. Who’s to say if it will ever change back again?
Okay, probably not, but hey, a girl can wish.

With a brother in Alberta, one in Quebec, two sisters in Ontario, a brother and a sister in Nova Scotia and my parents in Nova Scotia, and us of course in beautiful New Brunswick, getting together with everyone these days seems to be reserved for weddings and funerals. Sadly. And yet that is not unusual for families. Families grow and move on and they are supposed to branch out and evolve.

I hope that all my Canadian friends had just as lovely a weekend as we did. We capped ours off with a walk in our favourite park, to work off the pie and Mum’s amazing dinner rolls. Then we waved goodbye and hugged goodbye and went home to look at our own children and lament the not too far away days when they too will be scattered and coming home for the holidays.

Ah, to feed the world with food and love and wine. All I need to feed my heart is family.

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