happiness

For the win!

We had a wonderful trip down Rhode Island memory lane tonight during the superbowl. Not only was it an exciting game, but it brought us to some really good times in the RI part of our gypsy life. 

The boy learned to be a huge Patriots fan while we lived there. They had an amazing sports culture and we all learned to cheer for and really enjoy the Patriots and the Red Sox. The girl spent most of her years there singing to Katy Perry, Black Eyed Peas, and Lady Gaga, so she was thrilled with the half time show.  

It has only been in the last few weeks that we have been able to dive into and enjoy some of the good memories from RI so tonight’s New England experience was a perfect extension of that. 

It was huge happiness to watch my boy jump and scream at the tv in those last few minutes. It was a good reminder to never give up as we watched the Patriots pull themselves to victory. And Lady Gaga…. that was amazing. I love her. 

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happiness

Patriots and memories 

We watched the Patriots game tonight. I’m not really much of a football fan, but we were trained early on in our Rhode Island days to be a fan of all New England teams. They did a good job of that. 

It had the added bonus of bringing up lots of Rhode Island memories. Because there were so many bad ones, we haven’t talked a lot about it. But the reality is that a huge part of their childhood was spent there and there were some good moments. 

So we talked about Mikes Pastries and fun day trips to Boston, my retreats to Kripalu, days spent at the beach, play dates with friends. We had a lot of fun there too. That deserves to be remembered and celebrated. 

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happiness

The pirate and the ladybug 

After sharing a bit of my marriage story in yesterday’s blog, it got me thinking about some of the good memories I have of our time spent as travelling gypsies. And there were some good times. A lot of my time was spent alone with the kids in Virginia, but in Rhode Island and Quebec we made friends pretty quickly and had some great times and good laughs. I still hold many of those friendships made as some of my dearest. 

When we were living in Quebec and Jacob was about 4, we were at church one morning during ladybug season. This meant the inside of the church was alive with ladybugs. The kids were called to the front for the children’s sermon and during that time Jacob made a ladybug friend. He put her on his finger and proudly walked all the way to the back of the church where we were sitting, waving his finger with the ladybug on it as he went. The only problem was the ladybug was on his middle finger. So he essentially walked all the way through church flipping the bird to the entire congregation. Thank goodness they were a pretty easy going crowd and the saw the humour in it. 

I told the kids this story once again his afternoon and we all had a great laugh thinking of little Jacob flipping everyone off. 

Of course then Jenna wanted a story about her. So keeping in the ladybug theme I told them of our first Halloween in Rhode Island. 

Jacob dressed as a pirate and Jenna, who was only 2 at the time, went as a ladybug. I got her all dressed up and was putting the finishing touches on her while she stood on the bathroom counter. Suddenly she leapt off the counter projecting herself as far out in the air as she could. Fortunately I was standing right there and I reached out to grab her. Once I had her safely in my arms I asked her what she was doing. She responded with I’m a ladybug now, so I can fly

Stories like these are the reason I will be forever thankful that I was home with the kids for all these years. They have made some of the happiest moments of my life and they’re the moments that have bonded us together as a family. It’s not the big things, but these little,  everyday ones that make the memories you hold onto through life. My happiness moment, sharing fun stories with my monsters. 

  

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Photo surprise

Every day I try and do a little unpacking. Today I attacked the study and found a little package of forgotten photos. I had to sit down and take a little trip down memory lane. They were all pictures during the time we lived in Rhode Island – when the kids were still little kids
Here’s me and Jenna during my blonde phase at a lobster shack near Mystic CT.  

  

Here’s the monsters at our local turkey farm in Connecticut. We used to drive to Baldwin Brook Farms to get our raw milk. Sometimes we would stop at Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm on the way home and have a turkey sandwich and oooohhhhh my they made the best little doughnuts. 

At Mystic Aquarium. My kids are consistently weird.    

Happiness moment for the day: remembering the good times we had in Rhode Island. Like with everything there was good and bad, but there was a lot of good fun there. The kids were little and we had a lot of really cool adventures together. I feel so privileged that I have been able to participate in the big and the little events in their lives. 

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The middle of nowhere

If you had asked me 10.5 years ago if there was any one thing it was certain of it was that I absolutely would live my entire life in Calgary. I have always loved the city and the area (not a huge fan of the cold, but you can learn to make do). Perhaps in my future I could have imagined having a winter house on Vancouver Island, but for me Calgary was always the place to be. With the mountains, the prairies, the foothills, my family, my friends and my horses it really always met my every need (except for the fact that it gets so cold… have I mentioned the cold?)

In Junior High my parents *forced* me to go into the French Immersion program. I was so mad. There was no point in this you see, because even at the age of 11 and entering into grade 7 I was absolutely sure of two things: I would never, ever live in Quebec (therefore I would never need French) and I would never, ever live in the United States.

I suffered through the French and became bilingual almost in spite of myself. Still though, the only real use I had for it was getting easy A’s in my French classes in High School and in University. That is until 10.5 years ago when my husband came to me and said he’d been given an exciting job opportunity in Montreal and did I want to move? I was 7 months pregnant with my second child, our then 3 year old son was at a fabulous dayhome, and I was working a full time job. I was already exhausted and overwhelmed and unable to put together a coherent sentence. Although I knew I would have my year of maternity leave home with baby Jenna, I desperately wanted to stay home with the kids on a permanent basis. This move would allow this to happen.

So, off to Quebec we went. Their dad went first – leaving when Jenna was less than two months old – and the rest of us followed a few months later. I went completely insecure about my ability to speak French, but was relieved that the area we lived in was pretty bilingual. I quickly had my abilities tested when we had some French only speaking workers in the house putting in our air conditioning. The man came to me and said “On droit couper un trou dans le mur”. I stood there in mild panic thinking ‘he’s telling me something important, but it’s in French, what is he saying – holy crap – it’s “We need to cut a hole in the wall” I better smarten up and pay attention.’ Amazingly after that my French improved exponentially.

I actually loved living in Saint-Lazare. For an Albertain to say they love living in Quebec is a pretty big deal – but it is true – I loved it. We had an awesome neighbourhood where we had lots of friends, I was in an amazing book club, we had fantastic restaurants (my favourite being Anis et Marjolaine). It was a happy place to live.

Not even two years into living there, my husband came to me again and said that we were going to have to move to Rhode Island. Ugh. Where was Rhode Island anyway? We sold our house, packed up and moved to the United States’ smallest state -Little Rhody. After a rather chaotic move we actually ended up in a lovely neighbourhood. I made friends, had people I did my morning walks with, was invited to join a book club, had play-mates for the kids near-by – we started to settle. Remember how I said the other place I was certain I would never live was the United States? Well, there I was. And actually, there were some really nice things about Rhode Island. We made friends, we were less than a half hour drive to some pretty awesome beaches, we were an hour from Boston (and some really good food). Because we rented in RI we had to move two years into staying there – and moved to a “nicer” neighbourhood, but one that I liked way, way less. No social scene for me and the kids anymore, no walking companions, no kids playing out in yards. Lonely. I started to lose myself.

Two years after that we ended up moving to Roanoke which quite literally for me was the middle of nowhere. Small city in south west Virginia – what?

In Roanoke I literally found myself in the middle of nowhere, and in the middle of nowhere I found myself. This place was by far the most difficult place we have moved to. Most certainly the hardest and most lonely years of my life have been spent here. But, in that space and time of quiet I gained the ability to find myself. These quiet walks along the river, the evenings at home with the kids playing cards, laughing times driving them to and from their activities, time spent learning Ayurveda, learning to finally breathe into yoga poses, learning to sit quietly in meditation – all of this I have been able to do because in the middle of nowhere I found myself. Something that I would never have foreseen. Something I’m so incredibly thankful for.

Learning that I could be both the damsel in distress and the charming princess who rescues her has been a game changer. It has not been easy, but it has forever changed how I look at life. Learning I have the strength I have found in myself these past couple of years has opened me up to allowing wonderful things to enter into my life. It has allowed me to find the joy and happiness in small moments. It has given me the deep understanding that as long as I’m ok with myself and the choices I’m making that everything else will work out, as long as I can look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know that I’m ok with myself, it really does not matter what other people tell me about myself, nor does it matter what choices other people make. Learning that we all have our paths to be on and that all I can do is walk my own path is freeing me up to actually walk (sometimes skip) on my path.

I spent years feeling like I was in quicksand with a hand stuck out hoping someone would grab it and help pull me out. What a huge relief to learn that I was capable of pulling my own self out of that quicksand. I am learning to be my own hero.

As we prepare to move onto the next phase of life, as I’m learning to embrace the uncertainty that all that brings, I am eternally grateful that I found myself in the middle of nowhere – because in the middle of nowhere I found myself.

Happiness moment of the day (day 18 of 44) came this evening with Jacob. He had his banquet for wrestling at his school. It was so heart warming to see him sitting at the table laughing with all his friends. It makes me so happy to see both kids hanging out with their friends. Good friends have tremendous value. Side happy-giggle was that they served fried chicken from the local Piggly Wiggly. As with getting a drink from the “bubbler” in Rhode Island, I can’t say Piggly Wiggly without bursting into giggles. *snicker*

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