A Winter Rant

This is a rant. Just so you’re warned.

I love winter. 90% of the time, anyway. But lately winter is just messy.

We had some really cold weather and a ton of snow in December (more in that one month than in an average January, February, and March combined, apparently). And then it got warm. And then it froze again. And then it got warm and froze again and repeat.

And now the sidewalks look like this:

icy-sidewalk

I love winter, but this I do not love. It makes it very hard to walk the dog without breaking one’s neck.

And this makes it very hard to get into one’s driveway without 4-wheel drive:

winter-slush

And this is what our street looks like at the moment:

piled-snow

I don’t know what this is (Snowpocalypse? Icemageddon?) but it’s not the winter I love.

Anyone have a dump truck full of ice melt?

iPPP button

Join Greta from Gfunkified and I for #iPPP (iPhone Photo Phun), a weekly link-up that requires nothing more than a blog post with a photo from a phone camera (any phone camera, not just iPhones). We want to see your funny, your yummy, your heartfelt, your favourite phone photos of the week. 

Life Lingers

I got lost in a cemetery the other day. I didn’t mean to go in there, but I was early for a lunch date and I saw the sign as I drove by. I know that’s where she is, so I stopped.

I parked and wandered around, not having any idea where to look. The sunshine was lovely. Some of the flowers left by grave sites danced in the breeze.

flowers by gravesite

So many markers. So many names. It didn’t feel lonely at all.

Are you scared to die? I’ve always been petrified of it. Scared to die before I get to do what I need to do in my time on this Earth. But walking around the cemetery I breathed a little easier. These people are all still here. They didn’t cease to exist; the live on in another way, amid the trees and the sunshine. It brought me peace somehow, being there.
city cemeteryEverywhere I looked I could tell that people were here. Are here. Signs of life and love were all around me and it felt okay. Not scary, but quite lovely.

I wandered around only half looking for the familiar name, quickly realizing how very big the park was and how entirely unlikely it was that I would just come across it. Time was ticking and I knew I’d have to come back later, so for a bit I just walked.

There were signs of sadness. Hope? Both.

graveside angel statue

I could see the playground through the trees and thought what a nice thing it was to have in a cemetery. But as I got closer I realized what was there.

cemetery playground

The graves were covered in flowers and toys and stuffed animals. Some of the dates conveyed lives of mere weeks or months; some listed a single date.

children's graves

I was struck by just how much stuff had been left there. So much love. So much colour. There were balloons and plants and pinwheels and in the breeze they all moved. Alive. Present.

(Would I be strong enough to put a Snoopy welcome banner on my child’s grave? I’m not sure.)

I paused, sunglasses hiding my tears, but soon I had to leave. I hadn’t found what I was looking for, but I would be back.

———

I went back after my work lunch and happened upon the administration building. I went in and they very helpfully gave me not only a site number but a map, the path highlighted in pink, and a photo of the gravestone so I knew what to look for. I got back in my car and drove down, across, and over to the other end of the cemetery. I followed the pink line around a looping road and parked.

Everything felt different that time. I knew where to go, knew what I’d find. Less impromptu and more deliberate, the visit felt more solemn. Especially having realized there would be two names I’d recognize.

And there they were.

family gravestone

I hadn’t visited my Nana’s grave in the 20 years since her funeral. Maybe once? Maybe not. And I hadn’t been in the nearly two years we’ve lived here, for no real reason other than I didn’t know how to find it. Or maybe I wasn’t ready. 20 years and the tears still prick.

I didn’t go to my cousin’s funeral. I was very pregnant with Connor and we didn’t live here then and it was all rather sudden and shocking. But there she was. I remember her laugh.

I like that they’re together.

———

Am I still less scared to die? I’m not sure. It feels more final when the names are ones you know. But when I feel my chest tighten and my breath restrict I will think of all those flowers dancing in the sun and remember that life goes on for both the living and the dead. Life goes on.

I’ve Been Everywhere, Man

Everywhere except here, that is.

Much to my delight, I’ve actually had a few ideas for posts lately. I just haven’t been writing them. That’s partly because Ethan isn’t sleeping very well and I’ve spent most of my time in that state where I could easily fall asleep anywhere (and have been tempted many times). Considering I usually need quite specific conditions in which to fall asleep, this is VERY unlike me. We went to Ikea yesterday and I swear I almost crawled into one of the beds to have a little nap. I figure I could get a good half hour in before anyone asked me to leave. Anyway, being tired isn’t terribly conducive to writing.Ethan-beach

The other reason is that I’ve been doing some other stuff. We’ve been doing summery, family stuff, which has been great. We went back to Victoria for a few days to visit some friends and we took Ethan to the beach for the first time. (I may have had a weepy moment. I love the mountains but the beach has a special place in my heart.) And I’m volunteering with two organizations working on flood relief in Southern Alberta. I used to volunteer a lot but haven’t done it nearly as much since having kids. I’m providing communications and social media support, which is something I can easily do from home. And it’s important to me to do SOMETHING. I’m feeling blessed to have these opportunities.

I have been writing some stuff though. Since it’s 9:24 pm as I write this and I really need to get myself in bed, I’m just going to give you a quick and dirty list and ask you to please come and visit me elsewhere. Pretty please?

Today I’m guest posting on my friend Leanne’s blog, Ironic Mom, with a story about superheroes and how their mothers restrict when and how they can wear their underwear. (What? Leanne wrote a book called Don’t Lick the Minivan: And Other Things I Never Thought I’d Say to My Kids. She gets it.)

I’ve also shared a few posts on my Yummy Mummy Club blog since I last directed you there:

I learned the hard way how to stay sane during your child’s birthday party and have shared those tips.

And speaking of fun, summery things, I posted my summer bucket list based on my one word for the year. (We’ve crossed off a couple more since I posted that, too.)

I found a way to keep Ethan from stealing my iPhone. (Modern moms’ problems, you know?)

I shared my postpartum depression story.

And I whined (again) about not having a daughter.

date-Stampede

I even got to have a date with my husband!

So that’s what I’ve been doing. What about you?

Fun Father’s Day Giveaway

Q. Why did the blogger buy a hot pink iPhone charger?

A. Because her husband kept stealing her usual charger and she thought a pink one might deter him. 

That’s not a joke so much as a story loosely based on my own life. (Okay, totally based on my own life.) But here’s the real punchline: It didn’t deter him. I guess the joke’s on me.

Is it just mine or does your husband steal your phone charger too? Let’s see if we can fix that. I’m going to give you the step-by-step details on how I’ve solved this problem and give you a chance to do the same.

1. Accept the offer from London Drugs to get a fun gift for your husband for Father’s Day.

2. Get your husband to browse their selection and let you know what he might like.

2a. Laugh when one of the items on his list is the Ove Glove.iPhone docking station

3. Briefly consider his suggestion of a waffle maker but decide that’s probably not good for your desire to continue fitting into your clothes.

4. Decide to go with the portable iPhone docking station he liked in hopes of reclaiming both your usual iPhone charger and your spiffy hot pink one.

5. Celebrate Father’s Day knowing your Wife of the Year award is in the bag.

And there you have it! Easy peasy.

Want one of these for your own? (You don’t even have to give it to your husband/dad/other father figure – I won’t tell.) You can enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

And Happy Father’s Day to all you great dads out there. The world is better for having you in it.

Update: We have a winner! Congrats to Bailey D.!

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by London Drugs but the plan to use it to win Father’s Day is all my own and was endorsed by my husband.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Do You Doodle?

I took an online course in January that was all about making 2013 what you want it to be, and one of the “assignments” was to doodle. Just doodle. Anything – shapes, colours, mind maps, whatever.

This sounds easy, and possibly fun, but I have a mental block against doodling.

I thought about this prompt for a few days before I actually did it. And then when I sat down with my journal open to a blank page, it seemed so very blank. I couldn’t even think where to start.

I’ve never been a big doodler, but I’ve always doodled the same way. I draw triangles.

triangle doodle

Each one is built off a line from a previous one, and I add lines quickly. Each new line has to actually make a triangle – none of these weird, four-sided polygons sneaking in.

But doing my usual seemed, somehow, like not the right way. So, to get over the stalling and stumbling with my doodling assignment, I started with words because I had to get some lines down on the paper. And then I said to hell with it and started drawing triangles.

At first all my brain did was analyze. Is this good enough? What else should I be doing? Why am I so ridiculous about this? 

Is there such a thing as a good doodler?

Actually, I think there is, and I think that’s where my reluctance comes in. I used to do this triangle doodling mindlessly – in class, when on the phone, in meetings, etc. I would do it when my brain wasn’t busy enough and I could fill a large section of a page quickly. But that’s all it was for me – something at which to fire the synapses in my brain.

triangles2

And then I met my husband.

He happens to be an artist extraordinaire. He can draw just about anything, and damn well too. My own skills shrank in the light of his far superior ability and I ceased doing anything “artistic.”

This led me to writing more, I think, but my inability to just pick up a marker or a brush or a crayon and just create stares me in the face all the time.

“I’m an artist just like my dad,” Connor said one day as he was painting. And he’s right. Not because he can draw or has particular skill – that’s not the point. To him it’s about the process, not about perfection. It’s about creating something and then moving on to the next and the next instead of stalling and finally starting and then stumbling over your own insecurity.

triangles3

The point of the exercise was to show that doodling is actually quite productive. According to studies, we were told, people who doodle tend to retain up to 29% more information than those who don’t. I’m not actually sure if this is true for me. When I doodle, I tune out. I do it because I’m bored, not because it’s an innate tendency. But I still don’t just doodle – I’m always doing something else in my head. Writing, generally.

Eventually, while doing this exercise, I realized I had stopped writing in my head and had ceased judging the triangles as being not a good enough way to doodle. I drew some more and then decided they needed colour, so I added some. But I got bored quickly and stopped.

I had explored doodling. I had given it a chance. I had thought about my own patterns with doodling and (over)analyzed its place in my life. I’ve had this post in draft for two months and still didn’t come up with any really profound revelations except this: I prefer to write.

Do you doodle?