Sunday, December 19, 2010

I'll Be Home for Christmas

We are getting closer to Christmas, and it’s not going unnoticed that this year will be the first without our favourite little lady in red. Christmas just wasn’t Christmas until the red 1988 Crown Victoria pulled up in front of our place the day before Christmas Eve. We would be so excited, because we all knew that they would hardly get in the door, unload BOXES of presents, and homemade goodies, and all us kids would pile into the car to head to Nutter’s to pick out whatever red, green, and white candies we could find.
Traditions; no matter how trivial they might seem at the time, leave an indelible, lasting impression. Traditions are what we pass on because for that one moment, we feel closer to all the people that came before. Those people who left a mark we choose not to erase.
I once heard a story about a woman who always followed her Grandma’s recipe for making a roast. She swore by trimming off both ends of the roast, they boasted that they made the best, juiciest roast of anyone. One day she thought to ask her grandmother why this made the roast THAT much better. Her grandmother answered “It doesn’t do anything. My roaster was just too short”.
Traditions. They mean nothing to the casual observer, they mean nothing to grown child who didn’t stand next to grandma as she meticulously added ingredients to the stuffing until it “smelled right”.
So when someone is suddenly taken from the ordinary, mundane tasks of getting holiday meals prepared, they become traditions. These traditions we continue because we want to remember Grandma in the Christmas Eve meal of homemade perogies, cabbage rolls and ham. They become traditions because we have the warmest memories of Grandpa belting out “Joy to the World’ at midnight mass. And they most certainly become traditions because what would Christmas Eve be without our Granny tipping back her favourite B52 shot before bed?
So here is to traditions.. However you do it in your family. Whether it’s Christmas Eve pajamas, Christmas morning oranges, or Great Uncle Alec’s sock full of Busch beer from ‘Santa”.. this time of year has everything to do with what, and more importantly, who, came before us.
Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Random Thoughts From a Restless Brain

Good people make a life. Whether it’s friends that finds hilarity in the same depraved ways as you, or a husband that does something totally amazing for you.. Life is worth nothing without good people in it.

Trust your initial instincts. It’s amazing how much you know about people within seconds.

Wheat fields yellowed by autumn, soaking up the golden sun are a thing of pure beauty.

If you think your life is bad… read the paper.

If you still think your life is bad… seek a therapist.

Worrying about tomorrow only robs you of the joy of today . (From a poster.. Those adorable little chimps are modern day Buddha’s)

Holding hands is just as much of a delight after two children as it was after two dates.

Chasing a giggly toddler is one of the best perks of being a parent, nursing a sick toddler is perhaps the worst.

You gotta do what you gotta do. It’s not about where you are, it’s about where you are going. (I believe these were kittens and puppies, respectively)

Britney Spears is still awesome. (Even with terrible extensions. Honestly, isn’t she a millionaire, I think even I could fix that.)

Butterflies.. Outside on a flower, or in your stomach.. Almost always good things.

A comfortable bed. My god does that make your life better. Don’t believe me? Go get a new bed.

It's my anniversary tomorrow... and everytime I hear 'Stuck like glue' by Sugarland I hum along because I feel like I could have written it. I'm pretty sure that means I'm lucky. (As long as Mike doesn't hum 'Crazy Bitch' for the same reason.)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Cumberland Family

Like anybody, I love my family. I rely on them to keep me honest (who better to set you straight when you have some crazy idea than your sister?? Let me tell you, nobody can say the things that your sister can say to you.. without being assaulted anyway) But in recent years, we have been so far from family, that I have had to settle for daily phone calls (alright, MULTIPLE daily phone calls) to keep from feeling lonely, and out of the loop.

Then we moved to Cumberland House.

Everyone gasped and said, “You are moving WHERE!?!?!”, I kept telling everyone that we had heard nothing but good things, and It had even been referred to as, “the Cherry of the North”. So again we moved, packed up in boxes, leaving the familiarity of small town life, dear friends, and so many memories.

An amazing lady (who happened to be a 20+ year RCMP wife) once told me that when they left their
northern post, she cried, and the whole time she thought, ’I would have never thought I would cry leaving this place”. But, she had brought her second baby home to that post, and consequently, she would always hold fond memories in her heart of that place. I can’t help but hear her words echoed when I reflect back on our time here. We too, brought our second baby home to the only house she’s ever known, in Cumberland House. Now, here’s where the idea of family comes into play.

In a very short amount of time, you begin to realize that the bonds you form with the people you meet up here will last forever. The friendships formed are perhaps more intense than those in the south where there are distractions such as malls, movie theatres and restaurants, but in no way shape or form, are these friendships formed in an ulterior universe outside of the real world. They are friendships that so closely mirror family. For better or for worse, you are together, in some cases whether you want to be or not. Like any family, you fight, and argue, but always, always strive to make it right (ie. 3am face book messages! Haha). Because, what is life, especially up here, without your family?

Ben looks to everyone up here as auntie’s and uncles. He spent many hours following Jeff around his yard, asking question after question as Jeff patiently answered them, always letting him help, and making him feel special. Ben’s favourite place in the world is at Ryan and Lisa’s, where he has his own little bowl (always filled with M & M’s and ‘red chips’) where he can watch one of the 200 Disney movies Lisa owns.
Belle doesn’t fuss longer than 10 seconds before someone scoops her up and entertains her. They both know where all the fun stuff is at everyone’s house (The Johnson’s have a guitar and keyboard, Jeff and Nicole had a Tonka dump truck full of little cars, Ryan and Lisa have a pantry that any kid would love to see, and Colby‘s room at the Gardiners). My kids feel like they are at a family gathering every time we all get together (which is almost daily!), and they aren’t too wrong, because this HAS been their family for the last two years.

So like anyone who is moving away from their family, I’m sad, and a little scared. Moving away from here is the end of a lifestyle we have grown very accustomed too. An open door, and a house almost always full of some of our favourite people. A few weeks ago, the night before Jeff and Nicole left, we sat in the backyard in our screened tent (a necessity up here) and talked and laughed until it was way later than we thought. The next morning I heard a song, and it totally put my feelings into words,

“Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and stars and pulled that rope tight?
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
Will it get better than tonight? Tonight”

But, like all good things, this too must come to an end. And now that the end is here, I am even more certain that like all good family, I can expect them to show up at our new house, in our new province ready to talk and laugh long into the night. I also know, that wherever their path takes them, we have a place to stay in almost every small town in Saskatchewan (and maybe Alberta… right guys???)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


After a rather turbulent drive out of Cumberland on the goat trail they call Highway 123, Mike remarked to me that I had perhaps gotten even more neurotic than I was before about driving. And, well, about life. I sat there thinking.. Could he be right?? Have my neurotic tendencies hit an all time high in the last few months, or years? Then something struck me. Duh. Kids. Two of them.
Which means I am a mother.

Of two children.

Of course I am neurotic.

So I got to thinking.. Which trust me takes some honest to goodness brain power these days, and came to the conclusion that motherhood is one messy, scary, upsetting, terrifying, business. In all the best ways, I assure you.

Let’s take it from the top.

First you, as a pre-mother (who may or may not know it) will fall into one of two categories. You will either be stressed about getting pregnant, or will be staring at a solid blue positive sign stressing about just how you got pregnant. (Speaking as someone with experience in both categories, a Dairy Queen trip is almost always the best way to deal with the initial anxiety.)

So the deed is done, but alas, the worry is far from over. Miscarriage, birth defects, and fat bulging in the most unlikely places is next. Oh yes, we all want healthy babies, it’s true. But we also harbour some sort of asinine thought that we should also look like Heidi Klum at T- I day till blast off.

However, I digress. Anxiety only heightens as the big day approaches.. Complications at birth weigh heavily on a women’s mind. But let’s not leave out some of the biggest sources of anxiety for a mother-to-be.
Collateral damage upon arrival. Or, as I couldn’t help but humming.. The burning ring of fire. Yes, we worry about that… perhaps more than our sometimes ignorant husbands. (“Hey Doc, can you throw an extra stitch in.. ” Men never tire of that joke) But hidden deep behind the obvious anxiety, there are those which we do not dare speak until we lay eyes on our little precious.

Notoriously recognizable family genes we are terrified we will see on our little bundle of joy.

Oh don’t look at me in that tone of voice. We all think it. Thankfully, God made babies rather squishy looking at birth, so as not to worry us initially. He knew that after some solid attachment, Great Aunt Mary’s nose could actually become cute.

So there you are gazing at your beautiful, if not squishy newborn thinking all your petty little worries are over. HA!!

Three letters kept me up at night terrorized and not sleeping if I didn’t hear my children burp, fart, or hiccup every twenty minutes. Far from being anything to joke about, I know now why my mother says she didn’t sleep for months after I slept the night as an infant.

At six months, I took a mini sigh of relief, only to be hit with another realization. Mobility. Small items that can get lodged into their mouths. Blind cords. Electrical outlets. STAIRS. Dear lord how was I going to make it through. And just when I thought I could do it all again, I realized that with the second child I didn’t factor in an entire source of added anxiety. The older child. The older child who nonchalantly packs M & M’s in his toy combine to be scooped up by his 9 month old sister.

Then are they talking, walking, pooping, sharing, caring...

So, as I sat in the passenger seat of the truck as we skidded around on the soft, clay washboard, I thought to myself, damn it Brittany, you will either need a lifetime supply of Prozac, or you need to learn to live with a constant state of anxiety. So I am learning.. …

I am learning that heart palpitations, adrenaline, wine and a husband who doesn’t have an anxious bone in his body, are four things that as a mother you simply can’t live without.

And I haven’t even gotten to puberty, drugs, sex, drinking and driving, reckless stunt driving, driving with intoxicated friends, and a variety of other alcohol induced calamities.

Prozac is looking better and better.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Today was one of those days I will remember forever. Not because of any grand gestures, sparkly jewelry, lavish meals, or spa trips. I will remember today because of it's sheer and utter simplicity that is

I woke up, with the kids because like every other day (it seems!!) Mike is on nights. They slept in (which I swear was divine intervention from granny!!), and were remarkably well behaved (I am certain Mike had a pep-talk with Ben the night before). My lovely, but busy husband may have lacked the forsight to get me a gift, or a card, but stole Ben away with him this morning to the office, and came home with the most beautifully decorated card, in all four of the highlighter colors. It didn't matter, the message was the same whether they spent $3.75, or made it themseleves.. I am loved. We headed off to a Mother's Day brunch in the community, put on in part by the RCMP, and I left with a flower handed out by Lisa, and a few more that Ben had accidentally mangled while 'helping' Lisa.

I headed over for some much needed girl bonding/ sun worshipping with my girls.. I always marvel about how our discussions move from topics as light and fluffy as our mixed reactions to tanlines (ie. Cimarron likes them, Lisa and I despise them), to God; who he is, and what we thin the Bible says, to birth. Somehow, with Cimarron so near to becomming a mommy, we always end up back at birth. A sun-drenched walk, with the sun shimmering on the river, and the promise of leaves, glowing green on the trees, as a perfect back-drop for further debate on love, life, and what the best recipe for cake is!

I came home, puttered in the garden a little while Mike cooked supper, and we laughed, and gave Ben crap for bugging Belle, and in the back of my mind all I could think was.. you're going to miss this. Mostly because I know these days fly by before you have a chance to enjoy them, but also in part because the Trace Atkins song was on in the background! haha
You see, while I could have (and perhaps would have welcomed) a day where I was pampered, and spoiled, today was my average, normal everyday life... just celebrated. My favorite things were in abundance today- family, friends, and sunshine. I talked to my mom, Mike's mom, and my sister. I tilted my head skyward on my solitary walk home this afternoon, and let my Grandma know we're all ok, even if we are a little sad.

If you haven't noticed, I am a quote hoarder. I came across this one today and it seemed so perfect for the day I had:

"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life." -Robert Louis Stevenson

Yes, the best things in life are nearest.. and right now it's Ben and Belle chasing eachother around the house giggling like crazy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

It's Finally Here Little Dude...


I never used to believe in reincarnation until I had you. You are most certainly a little old man, trapped inside a 4 year old’s body. Since birth you have been cautious, careful, and sensitive to both your own feelings, but more impressively, others. I am so very proud of how you are starting to read, how you can write your name, and add and subtract simple numbers, but I am vastly more proud of how empathetic you are. You can feel other’s feelings so honestly, that I sometimes worry that you are TOO sensitive to other’s emotions. Oh sure, you are a typical 4 year old who gets angry, frustrated, and deliberately disobeys us.. You just wouldn’t be normal if you didn’t do any of that, but you are such a special little boy.

I still have to remember at times that you are our child. Because you have taught me so much about what being a mother is, and a whole lot more about what being a grown up was. When I had you, I was a overwhelmed 22 year old, not sure what to think about this huge life change. I had hardly lived on my own, just convocated university, and was just on the cusp of growing up. Everything changed in the weeks after I had you, suddenly I had to transform from a previously self-centered young woman, into a mother… with a colicky infant no less. You cried all day, but I still think I shed more tears in those early months. Nothing I could do seemed to make you happy, except to hold you, or drive you around in the car. I think I spent more time driving the highway around Naicam than I care to admit. Very quickly I learned that my life was no longer just about me.. I realized that your happiness lead to my own.

We slowly figured it out, and when the fog lifted, I found this little baby boy who was like a talisman for complete strangers. You’re outgoing personality had me taken back one day at the hospital when you walked right up to a little old man in a wheelchair who was waiting to see his sick wife, and put your little hand on his leg and smiled and played with him until we left. This became a normal occurrence… one night we met Daddy for coffee in Melfort, and when the group of World War II vets, who regularly met for coffee at the same diner, smiled at you, you toddled over to them and sat on their laps soaking up the Papa-attention while they grinned ear to ear. This only reinforced my belief that underneath those chubby little dimpled hands, and gap toothed little grin, you were something so much more advanced. You still are most happy when you are with your Papas (and Great Papa.. Lucky you!!).

You are an amazing big brother, and on the mornings when you make to Belle before us, the sound of your little voice saying, “Good Morning Bellie… how was your sleep” in such a gentle little way, makes me smile from the inside out. You have your moments with that little sister of yours (she is not one to be messed with.. Watch out for the smiling exterior with the pitbull interior.. She will put you through your paces as you grow up!!) but you are always cognisant of the moments when you may have hurt her feelings, and you almost don’t even need to be punished you feel so guilty.

So happy fourth birthday my little, old man. You make us laugh more often that not, and your sophisticated questioning makes us even wonder about the most simple of things.

And yes, today you can have cake for breakfast.



Monday, April 26, 2010

To Granny...

She was Grandma to us, mom to her girls, wife to Harold, sister to her nine siblings, and friend to virtually everyone else she met.

She was born Zumferia Ionel, and entered this world on February 17, 1923 to Ispas and Maranda Ionel in Ormiston, Saskatchewan. The fifth child, Sarah was born into a gregarious, and truly authentic Romanian family. Grandma often spoke of her early years with a fondness that always centered around laughter, family, and food. Idolizing her older brother John, Sarah would tag along everywhere he went, and confessed to being a bit of a tomboy. One of the oldest girls, Sarah would eventually have four more younger siblings to help take care of.

She often talked about her years growing up on the farm. She always had story after story about both the fun, and the hardships of life in 1930s Saskatchewan. She would tell us about getting caught in blizzards so bad, that the reins were handed over to the horses to ensure they arrived back at home, because no person could navigate the white out conditions, and about the dances that her and her siblings so loved to attend. She also told us about the sadness that came with life in the era, and when her older brother John was killed in World War Two. She said she would never forget the day the telegram came.

Grandma met Grandpa in 1947 at a dance at the Oddfellows Hall. Grandma always remembered how handsome he looked in his navy pin-striped suit. Their first date was to get ice cream, and the rest, they say, is history. They married in 1948, and within 5 years had two beautiful daughters.

When asked about growing up with Grandma as a mother both my Auntie Linda and mom overwhelming remarked that they were spoiled rotten. A favourite story of Mom’s is winning her grade twelve sewing project,… with an entry sewn by Grandma. Needless to say they were both happy. She also remembered every time she phoned grandma to ask for cream chicken and momelega, grandma would ask, “Are you pregnant again”?

Grandma learned very early in Linda’s life, to let her fight her own fights. One summer day after Linda and one the Keach girls got into a fight, Grandma found herself in an argument with Mrs.Keach over what had happened. Before long, the girls were playing peacefully, and Grandma and Mrs. Keach were still fuming.. After Auntie Linda got home that night Grandma informed her that she would never fight her battles for her, and she could take care of herself. Thankfully grandma quit fighting her battles then, because it may have been a long few years.


Everyone was blessed to have Grandma in their lives. But as grandchildren, when confronted with the news of her passing, and being asked to come up with some stories to share, we were all overwhelmed with so many stories and antidotes about our favourite little lady, that we had trouble narrowing it down. Can you imagine being the type of person who had such a profound presence in 5 lives that each one of us had so many different, and special memories. There is a saying which says, “To live in the hearts of those you leave behind, is to not die”. In our hearts, and our lives, Grandma will be that constant presence.

Warm sunny days, fresh raspberries, the smell of fresh buns , combined with the lingering scent of garlic and dill encapsulated Grandma and Grandpa’s house. We all remember watching Grandma meticulously weed the garden, tend to her flowers, and cook. You knew heading to Grandma’s house that there was sure to be goodies galore, home cooked specialities, and love abounding.

We all remember the mornings. You would awaken to the sound of the floorboards creaking under her as she busily got everything ready for the day. She would always crack open the door to see if we were awake, which if you were ever around Grandma in the kitchen, you know we were. Her radio on, she would flutter around the kitchen, and in true Grandma fashion, talk to both herself, and the guy on the radio And we all remembered that every time she went to shut off the radio she would exclaim Be quiet and promptly bang it to shut it off!

When asked about her memories of Grandma, Tammy wrote “I have a lot of fond memories of staying at Grandma and Grandpa’s as a young child. Grandma always had the best food and when they were coming to visit the family it was always a surprise as to what she would bring out of that packed car trunk.

I always had such a fun time of riding the city bus and heading downtown to go shopping with her. Grandma always promised that if I was good she would buy me something at the old Army and Navy store. That was one of her favourite stops.”

As I got older we had a lot of good memories in the kitchen and in the back yard. Grandma was always working either on flowers or in the garden it seemed.

After grandpa passed away she had to adjust her life and became this cute little grandma that would go where the family took her. Unless of course she thought it was time to go home, then we sure heard about it. It was Auntie Shirley’s job to get her to the horse shows each summer so she could watch us ride. I think she may have missed us in our classes if Auntie Shirley wouldn't have told her because I think it all kind of looked the same to her. It didn’t matter though, because she always wanted to come and see. She didn't want to miss out on anything.

Her last few years were very enjoyable at Mullberry Place where she became Mullberries professional people watcher!!! Grandma always enjoyed watching what was going on!

As the only grandson, Justin has many fond memories of Grandma. He remember her 'wake up calls' when they came to visit at our house when he lived at home. It was a friendly poke of her cane against his feet and a chipper 'Time to wake up!' Usually it would take a couple of times before he would get his butt out of bed by 11!

Justin always remembered the times he stayed at grandma and grandpa's place in the Summer that lasted even through his high school years, when many of his friends would try to duck their grandparents. Usually in high school, they'd have some type of painting project they would get him to do, whether it was their fence or their garage. Sometimes it was simply waxing their car. All he knew was A) They ended up paying him way too much for whatever he did; and B) He usually gained about 10 pounds after spending a week with them as she would never, ever say 'no' to him when he wanted to eat. Whether it was perogies, cinnamon buns, cabbage rolls, orange floats, ice cream, puffed wheat cake, whatever - it was 'Food Heaven' whenever he stayed there!

He still laughs when remembering the classic 'dingaling' saying that she would refer to when describing some difficult people she sometimes had to deal with -- he remembers that she never of course referred to us as 'dingalings'. At least never to our face anyway...

During his time spent there is the summer, he enjoyed playing the classic card games when we were young . She was always as sharp as a tack, and you could never get anything by her....especially Grandpa, she wouldn't be afraid to tell him that he needed to ''clean his act up" for playing out of turn. “

Her determination and great work ethic, were another thing Justin admired in Grandma. He wrote, “I don't recall ever hearing her complain about all the work she did, other than wishing Mother Nature would shed a bit more rain and sun on her garden. Nothing seemed to ever phase her. I always marveled at her energy level, and wondered if I could ever find that level in myself. A great role model that way, and something I have tried to model myself after.

He continued, writing, “She always had time for her grandkids. Never in my life do I remember her giving me a cold shoulder. And I never remember having her say 'no' to me. I always felt relaxed with Grandma, you knew she would always be there for you no matter what, and always accepted me for what I was. She beamed with pride over it seemed anything I did, even if I thought it was insignificant. Her love was the definition of 'unconditional love', always feeling genuine. I only hope to be half as good of a grandparent as grandma was to me.


Mandy remembers when she used to come to Moose Jaw for dance recitals, the rest of the girls she danced with always wanted to stay with her because staying at Grandma’s meant fresh cinnamon buns every morning, and a bowl of treats at night. Even though she was our Grandma, she had a way of making everyone feel not only welcome, but like they were one of her grandchildren too.

When she started working for Kraft after University, it meant heading to Moose Jaw for business every second week. Mandy looked forward to these trips, because it meant having lunch at Grandma and Grandpa’s, followed by the previously taped episode of The Price is Right.

Grandma used to always tell Mandy that she was such a good Romanian girl because she loved onions and garlic so much. But one thing Mandy will never forget are Grandma’s favorite sayings. If you refused an extra helping, or desert after your meal, you had to be prepared for a barage of questions. If you said no, grandma would almost always say “How Come’, if you dared to say something like “I’m not a big fan” the standard reply would be “Since When”. In the recent years, Mandy used to love calling Grandma, because when asked how she was doing, she always said, “pretty good for an old lady!”

One of Hollie’s favourite memories was being able to bowl a few frames with Grandma when she would come to Moose Jaw for a visit. It was because of these fond memories that Hollie still loves to bowl to this day.

Like the rest of us, Hollie remembers the care Grandma took to make sure everyone’s favourite foods were served in abundance. Cinnamon buns, perogies, pickled eggs, homemade donuts, and poppy seed roll were just a few of the treats Grandma would bake in preparation for our arrival. Every grandchild remembers sneaking a peek in the downstairs pantry or the spare room closet to see just what else Grandma had. Smarties, pick a pop and yet more homemade treats were just part of the selection Hollie jokes that as the rest of us were getting bigger from Grandma’s love, she somehow stayed the same.

A creature of habit, Hollie remembers Grandma’s set in stone routines she would perform morning and night. Whether it was getting up; which meant windows open and covers on the bed pulled down to air it out, or going to bed; a quick bath, lotion all over (Grandma always smelled great!) there was order in everything she did.


What do I remember about Grandma? Well, for as long as I can remember, I always watched my Grandma with a certain amount of awe. When I was little, I wanted to be just like her. I made her teach me Romanian, show me how to bake and cook just like her, and was on my knees next to her in the garden pulling anything (and everything, much to her dismay on occasion!!) that looked like a weed. She often told a story about how when I was little she would hear me pulling up a stool next to her and hear me say, "Grandma, I help you, and I pomise I won't touch ANYTHING" She would always throw her head back, laugh and clap as she said, "And of course, you touched everything". See that's the kind of Grandma we had as kids.. the kind who revelled in those little moments, those moments that as parents, we can't always find the humour in!

I would spend a week with Grandma every summer when Grandpa went on his annual trail ride. Those summers with my grandma had a sort of magic that lives with me still. Like my cousins, I remember the bus rides downtown, Grandma beaming with pride if we ran into anyone she knew, card games with Auntie Jenny, and trips out to Ormiston with Uncle Alec. We got into trouble (who knew that letting a 12 year old play VLT’s was illegal??) and I will never forget Auntie Annie winking at me and saying, “Let’s get Grandma tipsy!”

She cooked, baked, sewed, gardened and nurtured like no other. If I can be half the housewife my grandma was, Mike would be one lucky man!

A true testament to our Grandma, was the process in which this tribute came together. Although we all live in separate provinces, emails and phone calls flew back and forth between all of us cousins, as we shared our favourite memories. We must have cried more tears of laughter than sadness as we reflected on a lifetime that deserves to be celebrated. Hers was a life that was lived to it’s greatest potential. She may have made her living as a modest stay at home mother, but the legacy she left for her two daughters, and five grandchildren is so much greater than any amount of money or notoriety, could have brought us. In the words of Robert Munsch,

“I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, My Grandma You’ll be”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

An Ode To Amy

Ours was not a story of love at first sight. No, ours was a story of fear at first sight, well at least on my behalf. You were an older, mysterious dark beauty, with certain clout in the Campbell Collegiate circle, and I was blonde, bubbly and a cheerleader. We, my friend, could not have been any more different. I came bouncing into the bathroom, cheerleader friends in tow, only to be stopped in my tracks by one intimidating glance by you, and the words, “Are you Brittany Hunter?” A short conversation, which can only be relayed in person, after a few too many glasses of red wine, took place. I left the bathroom with shaking knees, and one giant question for my boyfriend…. “You have a SISTER???”

If I would have only known then, how our relationship would eventually turn out, I would have whispered a few things to our 15 and 17 year old selves.

- Brittany, you will be so thankful for Amy’s influence on her brother for many years to come, for various reasons.. Mainly because she taught him the importance of taking care of a possible ‘unibrow’ situation.
- Amy, go easy on her.. She is well aware that you do a mean impression of “Hi, it’s BaaaRRRiTNEEEEY”.. she thinks you are cool, regardless of the verbal diarrehea that seems to be persistent whenever in your presence.
-There will be a time, in both of your futures, that you will both have one too many glasses of wine together at family functions and find each other hilarious, at the most inopportune times. (“Pappet, Spread the Cheeks“)
-You are so eerily similar in so many ways, that in the future Brittany, you will often tell Mike that Amy should be your sister and not his.
-Regardless of who you ‘think’ you are now, when you both grow up a little bit, you will become the best of friends… who just happen to be related.

So, Happy (almost) Birthday to not only a great nurse (to whom I call incessantly whenever someone in my family is sick.. Thanks, and um, sorry about all the calls lately), a fantastic Momma, but a wonderful friend (and someone who can do my make-up)!


Your sister from another mother,

PS. I only KIND of fear you still……..

Friday, March 5, 2010

A Love Letter To My Daughter

You are perfection. You are dimpled smiles, toothy grins, drooly kisses and belly laughs. I have loved you from the moment I saw you… heck I loved you from the moment I peed on the pregnancy test and Daddy and I danced around the kitchen like two crazy people so utterly happy that you were officially on your way into this world. In the days after you were born, I often referred to you as an addiction. Your warm fuzzy head, nestled perfectly into the curve of my neck, your soft breathing that put us both to sleep many nights in the recliner. In your first few months home from the hospital, you spent every nap and night time in between mommy and daddy, mostly because I knew those days fly by so quickly, and that this time is like fleeting moments whispered so quickly in a mother’s life.

Now here we are, one year has gone by since you made your definite way into this world. I’ll never forget the peaceful night you came into this world, quiet with the snowflakes falling down. It still feels like a dream.. And to look at you standing and playing with your brother, showing him just who is boss, I feel like I haven’t quite woken up yet.

As with any love letter, I will of course, profess my undying love to you, which is evident in the fact that as your mother, I am unequivocally linked to you for the rest of your life. Things I do and say will change and shape who you become in your life. I am stuck somewhere between both wanting you to stay a baby forever, and wanting you to hurry and grow up so I can see you grow into the beautiful human being I am so sure you will become. I named you after some of the most important people in my life because I want to make sure that for the rest of your life, you know who you are and where you came from.

However, I do not take the responsibility of being your mother lightly. So, in honour of your first birthday, there are a few promises that I intend to keep for the rest of my life.

1) I will never, ever tell you that you are fat or chubby, or plump. But more importantly, I will not give you ‘the look after not seeing you in a few weeks that makes you feel fat. I fully understand that, should you at any time in the future feel that your pants are a little tight, my pointing it out will NOT in fact, make you lose weight. It will, however, send you right into the arms of Mr. Cadbury.

2) Im outgoing, but as I would like to point out, there is a large difference between those in the world that are outgoing people, and those that are obnoxious. That being said, I will come to your games and cheer you on in everything you do, but I will not be THAT mom. We all know her, we have all secretly wanted to throw the ball at her head. Heck, some of us might have even tried.

3) When you tell me that a teacher doesnt like you, and thats why you got a C, I wont believe you.

4) If you come home crying because some little hussy called you a name, or made fun of you, or ousted you from the popular group, I will refrain from calling her parents. And I will also try to refrain from going down to the school and assaulting the aforementioned hussy.

5) I will make unannounced visits downstairs when there is a boy over. No door will ever be closed, and the lights had better be on.

6) I will always think you are the brightest and best, but I have already started practicing the ancient motherly art of never letting you think too highly of yourself.

7) I will give you chores, and ground you, and set a curfew. Im not above using you as a personal assistant when you are a little older, because its Gods gift to mothers for getting up with babies at night.

8) I won’t expect you to be the best at everything, but I will always expect you to be YOUR best.

9) I will leave you in the care of your grandparents whenever they will take you. You won’t possibly understand the importance of this until you are much older, but the very best memories I have with my grandparents are when my parents were nowhere in sight.

10) I will love your daddy, and take multiple vacations without you.


So happy first birthday, my baby girl. Thank you for making my already blessed life so much more…..sparkly.









Saturday, February 27, 2010


So I had an anxiety attack. Like a full blown, oh my god what the hell is happening anxiety attack. I tossed and turned and suddenly realized that the only possible explanation of what I was feeling, which was some sort of cross between iron man lungs (that while expanding to a certain level, could only go so far without exploding), and the sudden onslaught of a heart beat that threatened to beat it's little self right out of my ribcage, meant that I was in dire need of a pacemaker, because, after all my mother ended up needing one. And, if you know even the slightest thing about me, you know that god has for some reason, decided that my penance for being rude, disrespectful, and at some times even a bitch to the one I call 'mom', was to inflict on me all of the same issues that my mother has ever had. Honestly, if you follow my mother's life story up until my current age, you will find me. However, I digress, slightly. To recap, I had a first ever anxiety attack in the middle of the night, to which Mike sleepily responded, "it's called being drunk".. trust me, I would have taken the spinning bed over what happened last night.

I've had a stressful week, but not something that I think would have warranted this sort of event. So, I did what every girl in my position would do without Oprah's personal line... I called my mom. I explained to her everything that happened, and she of course has an in depth analysis of what she think happened to me. Basically, I'm f*cked. I hate to be vulgar, but for the first time in my life I learned that these are common place in m family... lovely.

So my granny is sick... again, which since I am a chronic facebooker, you all know. I love her, I love my family, and I can't help but think about these things when I lay my head down at night. I'm blessed, I know that. I hope that at the end of my days, I have a granddaughter who thinks the world of me, and despite being unable to communicate with her any longer, this same granddaughter takes an immense amount of pleasure in seeing me in her own daughters smile. Because I think, if you have that sort of profound impact on someone's life, you have done your duty on this earth. So yes, does her battle with the inevitable descent into the end bother me... of course.

But here's where the solace comes into the situation. I had a shitty day, a shitty few days, but I had a small army of friends and loving family to wonder how things were. I had the BLESSING to turn to people with tears in my eyes (or bad collagen injections as I tried to pass them off as last night!!) and know that hugs and random acts of chocolate were in my near future.

So as I go to bed tonight, with a red wine stained shirt from the incessant giggling that unfolded when we were retelling stories with old friends, and a heart that is both heavy and so utterly thankful for it's overflowing emotion, I can't help but echo the song that is playing in Ben's room right now. "In this life... I was loved by you".

So I'll take the middle of the night anxiety attacks. Because, as my Garth so brilliantly put it,

"Our lives are better left to chance,

I could have missed the pain,

but I'd have had to miss the dance"

And, again if you know me, I'll dance...always. Even if it's polka, because even polka can be fun if you set your mind to it.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Flavored Rant

.. You are Cautioned


Protestors.. Screw off. Like now.

I am sorry that you feel as though the money poured into the Olympic Games should have been spent elsewhere. I am sorry that you feel as though these Olympic games are being held on stolen ground, despite the fact that the Four Chiefs of the hosting area have whole-heartedly endorsed it. You think the government hasn’t spent enough to help the homeless people, and instead has spent the money on what you call, “A 2 ½ week party”.

Let’s take a step back, you group of Ad-Buster reading, anti-Capitalism spewing, I’m so cool because I’m ALWAYS taking the opposite stand of the average Canadian, people. Because do you know what you did today?? You stopped a group of veterans, VETERANS who RISKED their lives to give you the opportunity to showcase your ‘arts and crafts’ for the whole nation to see., from fulfilling a dream. These veterans stood for hours waiting for their chance to see the Olympic flame pass by them, and for some of them to actually be honoured enough to carry and pass the torch on. But you stopped them, in FRONT of a military monument no less. Disgrace.

I’ve just gotten warmed up, because even if we look past the horrible disrespect you paid to the veterans, and soldiers RIGHT now fighting for your unappreciative lives in WAR right now, let’t talk a little about this ‘party’.

So yes, the Olympics cost money to host, they also bring a lot of money into your city as well. But let’s remind ourselves that North America was already in a downward slump WAY before the Olympics came into town, and will continue to be in other areas not at all affected by the cost of the Olympics. Listen, I don’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of the economy for the Olympics, but what I do know is that it’s not going to cripple Vancouver. Well, according to all the educated professionals they have consulted.


At finally, let’s talk about the Athletes, my angry little protestors. Besides taking offence to them games (and countless other world-unifying, patriotic events), have you EVER dedicated yourself, mind, body and spirit to something, and trained your whole life for a moment to showcase what all your hard work was for? Ya, I didn’t think so.

The actual games haven’t even started yet, and the adulation, smiles, and patriotic breeze is going through Canada. In virtually every community I heard that the torch has passed through, people came out in droves to show a unified front for something we can all get behind, Canada. Really look at the faces of the people with tears in their eyes just watching the TORCH RELAY go through the country.. The pride the people have that are carrying it. Cancer warriors battling right now in hospital standing up and singing and impromptu “O Canada’ as the flame passes by.

Then just piss off.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Carpe Diem.. Even if it is freezing!!

I’ll admit that I am one of the worst people for uttering that phrase you hear so often in this part of the country, “WHY do people want to live here???” as I’m scraping ice that would be enviable for a curling rink off my windsheild. We’ve all has those days that no matter what we do, nothing but a hot bath and a spiked hot chocolate can warm you up. It is these very moments why I ask myself why we STILL live in Saskatchewan and endure these winters year after year. I envy the people that escape for the coldest part of the winter to hot destinations and come back looking unnaturally relaxed for this time of year. If I glance at the framed picture above my couch that we took in Maui of the ocean at sunset with the palm trees gently bending in the breeze or smell coconut anytime between September and June it is enough to send me into an angry fit of “Why me Why ME WHY MMMMEEE”.

Then, there are days like today. On days like today I remember why I don’t leave this place. The sun shining down and the snow reflecting the rays back into the atmosphere, making everything seem so bright and ethereal. The world covered in the blanket that makes everything seem both so quiet, and so loud. The way it sounds to only hear the crunching under your boots as you tromp across the field. And, of course the rosy glow in my children’s cheeks after we’ve been outside for awhile.

Nothing makes you feel more alive than sincerely enjoying every moment of your life… even in the cold. There is a saying that I just can’t seem to keep out of my head lately. “The way we spend our days, is of course, the way we spend our lives”. Why yes, it is isn’t it?? So often we sit around and think of things we would rather be doing,.. like laying on the beach hearing the waves crash onto the sand, and seriously neglect where and what we are doing that day in our life. Because, as the saying goes, if we are forever spending our days wishing we could be doing something else, somewhere else, what kind of life is that?

I also remember a conversation I had with a friend once after I had complained that I didn’t want to be at work, and was consequently sulky and dare I say, even a bit bitchy. To which he said, “You have to be here either way, so you might as well be happy about it!”.

So, my friends, I have to be here, in the almost-arctic (haha) whether I like it or not. So I’m gonna keep putting my boots on, bundle up as best as my mom taught me, take a big deep breath of the winter air and be happy about it!