happiness

The Good Ship Kangaroo

I was texting with my sister this morning and we were reminiscing about childhood and cousins and grandparents, brought on by talk of how our kids love seeing each other (even if now it’s only through FaceTime). She brought up a memory of my son taking her son to watch a Star Wars movie had how even though he was very young, he still holds that memory.

Memories are funny things, some of them are dark and gloomy, but some of them are like little rays of sunshine that show up to brighten our days. My children hold dearly to the memories they have of time spent with their grandparents, and whenever I sit in this kitchen in Grandma’s house I’m filled with the same sort of memories.

I was 7 when my grandpa died, and my sister was only 3 yet we still have memories of Grandpa doing things with us. Some of these are clear as day for me – I remember riding from an uncle’s place to Scott Lake (which was a fair ride considering I was 5 or 6) with my Pony Club. Grandpa came along as one of the chaperones and I remember riding along beside him feeling so small – me on my tiny (but incredibly stubborn) Shetland pony from hell Tango, and him on his giant (maybe 16’3 hh) mare, Toots. I had my little English saddle and he had his Western one with his ropes attached. I remember asking him why he had a rope attached to his saddle, and without missing a beat he said it was to pull me out of a gopher hole if I ever fell in. This seemed reasonable to me (although I kind of knew he was kidding), and we carried on.

I hold many memories of bouncing in the truck beside him while he checked cows or did various jobs on the ranch. But both my sister and I remember sitting in the living room here, her on his lap, while he sang The Good Ship Kangaroo. Actually, all I really remember is him singing the title of the song and kind of howling out the Kangarooooooo part. But I do remember singing and laughter. We were remembering this memory today and I had to go searching to see if it was in fact a real song (it is).

We have told that story so many times, it’s helped keep our memory of Grandpa alive. And I think it’s a good thing to keep the good memories of those we love alive. It reminds us of where and who we come from, the values they instilled in us, and the love they shared.

And I’ve also realized that pretty much all of the lullabies my mom sang to me as a child were Irish Sea shanties.

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happiness

50 new dishes

While we close the door on 2020 and officially walk into 2021, I soon will enter a decade change of my own. Although I still feel like I’m totally faking it as an adult, apparently I’m turning 50 this year.

If you know me, there was no way I was going to run a marathon, jump out of a plane, or climb a mountain. Instead I’ve decided to honour my love of good food by trying 50 new (to me) dishes.

And having a chef at home is really starting to pay off. It’s wonderful to see him be able to showcase his talents.

We started the year off with a dish I’ve always wanted to try but knew I’d never make – Beef Wellington. The ingredients were actually much less than I’d anticipated (sigh of relief) and the meal was fantastic. This will definitely be a meal I’ll ask my boy to make again!

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2021 and time spent with loved ones (fingers crossed).

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happiness

Christmas Eve 2020

This afternoon I had a lovely chat with an old family friend. For as long as I can remember our families spent Christmas together, and the season doesn’t feel right unless we touch base even though we’ve not been able to spend the day together for a couple of years.

At the end of our talk I told her how glad I was that she’d called and how it didn’t feel like Christmas unless we’d made contact. She agreed with me and said that was one of the beautiful things about this time of the year – we spend time with the people who we truly know and love and it grounds us and reminds us of who we really are and of what‘s important. I couldn’t agree more.

The monsters and I enjoyed our Christmas Eve tradition (without the church part) by having a fondue pig out and watching their favourite Christmas Movie – Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.

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happiness

Weeeeeeeeeeee

Yesterday the boy and I made a trip to Costco to mass buy water so that when it gets to be -30 I don’t have to drag the big bottles through the parking lot. It’s an issue when we don’t have water that is safe to drink to make sure that we never run out, so usually around this time of year I stock up. A lesson I clearly learned from my mom, as it was a good 6 months after she died before we ran out of either water or toilet paper here.

I did feel a bit like an “end of the world” person at Costco since my trip came the day after the announcement of our upcoming lockdown, but we can’t always help timing. And I did add in a couple (yes, more than one) of containers of those raspberry crumble cookies to kind of even it out.

On the way to the car, the boy showed me why it’s a great idea to fill the carts full of those giant water bottles. We were walking, each pushing our cart full of water, when suddenly he grabbed his cart, did a couple of running steps and then jumped on the back of the cart and went for a ride.

Not knowing what else to do, I did a couple of running steps myself and followed suit.

While others in the lot probably thought we’d lost our minds, I really needed that moment of simple joy. As we climbed into the car, the boy expressed a similar statement. Sometimes you just need to let go, jump on the cart, and yell “weeeeeeee”.

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happiness

A beautiful night

This feels like it’s been a long week. School has been challenging for all of us, we are on top of each other, and to top it off the doggies decided to visit the skunk today.

And yet, no matter what goes on in our human lives, the world carries on. One benefit of life being quieter is that there is more time to notice the beauty that God put out in our world.

Tonight the girl and I were making pizza when we had to drop everything and run outside. Not only is it a balmy 9C, but there was a beautiful sunset lighting up the mountains. I am so grateful this is where we call home, I am grateful I love the people I live with, and I’m grateful we are all healthy and safe.

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happiness

Let’s talk about Bear

Yesterday I wrote about Sky Food, and how much fun we have with Bear. It’s had me thinking about just how precious that dog is to our family.

Bear arrived in our hearts a little more than 2.5 years ago. My little Dotted Dog was getting older and having some problems (although she lived more than 2 years longer – she really loved her life with us) and I decided to take a casual walk through the SPCA in town. I’d decided to look at smaller dogs even though I’m not a small dog person. The Dotted Doggie was 45 lbs and I was thinking that one more in the 20 lb range would maybe be easier.

I know there were other dogs there, but all I remember is this big black dog named Shine (it’s still weird to see his “old” name, he’s so clearly supposed to be called Bear) lying sadly at the back of his cage. When I asked about him, I was told that he had been rescued from a reserve in Saskatchewan, had been adopted out of their SPCA three times and had been returned each time, and now was becoming a long time resident. They also said he was wouldn’t be good for long walks because he was quite lazy and needed to live in the country.

2 hours later the kids were back at the SPCA with me walking this 100lb black ball of hair down the road. Sure enough, after a few steps he just lay down and refused to move. After some gentle prodding we convinced him to get back up, walked a while longer, decided we were in love and returned to the centre to adopt him.

I think they thought we were crazy.

He’d torn up the last house he lived in, before coming to the SPCA he’d spent his whole life as an outside dog (and he was 5 at that time). But his eyes. There was something about his eyes.

Somehow in the adoption process, he became the girl’s dog. It’s almost like God knew she would need him and directed us to where we could find him. I didn’t know it at the time, but my girl was in crisis and over the next year or so that dog loved her, grounded her, and helped heal her. I have gratitude for this old man that I will never be able to adequately express.

So there’s the thing about Bear, he’s not the lazy dog I was lead to believe he was. He’s an “independent dog” due in large part to the fact I’m fairly sure there’s Pyrenees in his blood lines. This means that he knows what we ask of him, but he chooses whether or not he will respond. Independent thinking is what makes guardian dogs so good at their job, but when you want him to come inside it is hard to remember that. Just like Bear can go from 50 to 0 in a second, he goes from lying completely still to 100 in the blink of an eye.

Not only has Bear’s loving soul touched the hearts of the humans in our home, but he is loved by all the other animals too. He’s the one who found Jasmine the kitten who had been abandoned by her mom at 3 weeks old. She was screaming in the compost bin in the old garden which was a ways from the house, and in a place where we never would have found her. To this day, if Bear is in the house there’s a good chance Jasmine is attached to him. Abu the anxious has recently started rubbing up against his legs. In fact, it’s not uncommon to walk into the kitchen and find Bear lying on the floor with at least one cat curled up with him.

He is so patient and kind with the crazy bundle of energy puppy I got this summer after my beloved Dotted Dog died. She sits on him and jumps on him, and when he’s tired of it he flattens her with no effort, but has all the patience in the world for her.

When I think of the kind of person I’d like to be, I am inspired by this dog. He is huge, he’s got vicious and powerful teeth, he could rip anyone apart in a second. But instead, he lays down with the cats, he plays with the puppies, he lets the humans hang all over him. And he does it with love and kindness.

He carries with him years of abuse. I can see it if I grab a stick, or move too quickly. Instead of becoming aggressive, he cowers. When he came to live with us, Bear was severely depressed. His entire world had been turned upside down, he didn’t have love or people, he was so, so sad. So he knows there’s bad stuff out there that could happen. But that’s not how he lives. He is basically just a happy dude living his best life with his family – life goals.

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happiness

Sky Food

A few weeks ago (months? I’ve lost all track of time in COVID) I was bored in the evening and started playing what we now call ‘Sky Food’ with Bear.

He was lying on the floor near me and I had some extra cheese so I threw it up in the air and it fell near him but he didn’t see that I was the one who threw it. I ended up breaking up a whole slice of cheese and throwing it in various places for him to find.

Eventually Bear figured out it was me, but because he’s a good sport, he honours the unspoken Sky Food rule and never looks at me or acknowledges that I’m throwing the cheese.

After a while the girl joined me and she’d throw her cheese from a different part of the room

Then Bear’s cat Jasmine (his cat because he rescued her as an abandoned kitten and she adores him) became involved in the game. She yells and runs after the food making sure he finds every piece.

Finally the boy joined us, and now we have a fun family moment every evening where we play Sky Food with the giant dog and the small cat.

These are some of my most precious times. They don’t cost a cent, instead they are like money in my memory bank of loved moments with my family. This is what it’s all about and I’m grateful for it.

Our little cat with her big dog friends
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happiness

Unplanned quiet and Clean kitchen surprise

Yesterday was a long-ass day. Most of it was good, but it still was long and involved a trip to the doctor and X-ray for my girl. As we left X-ray, I ordered us Indian food, which besides Italian is our comfort food of choice. When I arrived to pick up the food, something had gone wrong with the order and I had to wait quite a while. I’d left my phone in the car with the girl, and found myself in a place that smelled awesome, played funky music, and besides the music, was fairly quiet aside from other people coming in to pick up food.

So, I sat in their chair and waited. Waited without a friend, without a kid, without a phone, without a book. Just me and my brain. You know what? It was some of the most peaceful time I’ve had lately. I just sat there and thought of all the things I was grateful for, how much I love my town, and how my life has slowly evolved into one that I’m absolutely loving.

And then I got a discount on my food for waiting which was even better.

The girl and I got home to find out that the boy had been feeling a great deal of school stress and had decided to channel that into cleaning the kitchen. So the job I’d been really not looking forward to upon my return was done. As someone who has no “back-up adult” in our family, I can’t express how awesome it is to find some of these chores done for me without having to ask for it.

And so we sat together as a family and shared our meal, shared our time, shared our love.

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happiness

Make Up Dirty Words

One of my proudest accomplishments as a parent is the fact that my kids know the entire “Boot to the Head” album by heart. The Frantics have been a favourite comedy group of mine since the ‘80s and it’s the kind of humour that only a few people seem to get. I’ve got a sister, cousin in law, and friend with whom I can talk in a “Frantic” way with, but the rest of the world usually just looks at us like we are crazy. Especially if someone brings out a blueberry pie. Fortunately my children are also fans so we can continue spreading the humour.

Today the girl and I were at the mall and we walked between a kiosk and a store, we were looking at two women dress a mannequin in the storefront when the kiosk man approached us. The girl had her back to him so she didn’t know he was there and she wiggled her eyebrows (the only part of her face I could see) and said “they’re changing the mannequins today” in the weird voice we use when we think we are being funny. We both burst into hysterics and the poor kiosk man spun on his heels and bolted.

They’re changing the mannequins today is part of a skit by the Frantics called “Make Up Dirty Words” and it’s a favourite of ours, but until today no one actually got to use that line. It was perfect. Gosh but that kid of mine is funny.

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happiness

Crappy, stinky helpers

Bear woke me up ridiculously early this morning, which he hasn’t done for a while now. I very begrudgingly got up and went to grab the puppy to throw them both out.

Well it turns out the reason Bear was up and so distressed was because our dear puppy had a gargantuan sized accident in her kennel. Let’s keep in mind this cute little thing weighs about 60 lbs now, so you can imagine (I’ll spare you the details but it was scarring).

As I had my head in the kennel, wiping as fast as I could while I cried on the inside the boy woke up and walked by. Instead of turning and running, he asked how he could help.

I almost cried. Even just the offer was so kind. He saw I was in a really crappy (hah) situation and instead of leaving me to it, offered to help. He refilled the bucket for me, but mostly just having him there supporting me through this shit job made me feel better.

Part way through, we noticed Jasmine sitting on the piano next to us watching me work. When we would talk to each other, she would chirp in like she was part of the conversation (and she was). Jasmine often shows up when one of us is upset and kind of hangs around until things are better. Because things are always better when you’ve got love and support.

So, I’d finished this post thing morning but it failed to upload. I’m thinking it knew that I would have more to add. I came home this afternoon to find my super cute puppy (ugh) had once again been out playing with her friend the black kitty with the white stripe 🦨. This is the second time in 4 days and I’d foolishly hoped she’d learned the first time.

This time it was the girl who was around and immediately jumped in to help. Not a fun job, but we all survived it, and in much better shape because we worked together. I’m so thankful for my tribe.

Here’s the poor little girl sleeping off her early morning
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