Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

June 28, 2014
Filed Under (Family) by svana

Last year I didn’t post a birthday entry because it was your Grade 8 graduation, and at the end of a spectacularly difficult year you were absolutely radiant, and that needed to be honoured.

Not that turning 14 is any small shakes, but let’s face it, you kicked ass at Grad.

Today, a day before your 15th birthday, you left us at 7:15 in the morning to go to Ottawa for 5 days.

This trip is the culmination of your first year of high school and the closing of your year with the Beal Singers.

We gave you three options for this trip: 1) To attend with one of us, 2) To attend with both of us, 3) To venture forth on your own.

A couple of days after you were given your options, you decided to take this great trip on your own, and we are so proud of you for that.

This morning I’d like to believe we didn’t embarrass you. We accepted our hugs and kisses and hung back, and I’m sure you appreciated that. You need to know, I did not cry. I marvelled at how much personal growth you’ve experienced this year, and how extraordinary you are, not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of others.

But without further ado: 15 Things To Know As You Turn 15

1) Change Is The Only Constant In Your Life.

Some people say death and taxes are the only two things you can count on. I disagree.

Change is our constant companion; a test of our mettle; it determines whether we expand our horizons, or retreat into a box.

This year you have been faced with a tremendous amount of change. A huge school. A completely different routine. And new people. And, true to your nature, you have adapted beautifully.

I hope you maintain your ability to navigate the waters of change, however choppy.

2) Real Women Use Power Tools

This is one you’ve already discovered. Real women use power tools. And well, I might add.

Having grown up being raised by a single parent (your grandmother), you can’t always hire someone to come in and do the job for you. Sometimes you need to learn to do the job yourself.

There are very few “last bastions of male dominance” left untouched by women. Understand that your gender does not define you. It only determines which bathroom you go into.

Women are neither weak, nor frail. We use power tools, hand tools, change oil on a car, wield chainsaws, wire lights in series. You are capable of this, and so much more.

Do not let anyone convince you, or tell you, otherwise, simply because “you have female parts”.

And to that jackass in your Tech class, who is surfing at a 60, how shameful it must be for you to have a pretty girl be at the top of the class, without her breaking a nail.

3 White Pants

The person who invented white pants needs to be shot, hung, and pissed on. And not necessarily in that order.

Having said that, I stand by my original statement of: “Never date a guy who wears white pants.”

And, to add an extension to that thought, if he wears a “wife-beater” T-shirt and bathes in Axe Body Spray, that practically screams “douche” and you should avoid him like the plague.

I can not stress this strongly enough.

I mean, come on, really? A “wife-beater” t-shirt. That pretty much says it all.

4 Never Say Anything Behind Someone’s Back That You Are Not Prepared To Say To Their Face

We all have that one person in a group of friends that simultaneously irritates everyone. As satisfying as it is to have a bitch session about that one friend, it’s not always productive.

Repeated half statements out of context can cause immeasurable harm.

Be forthright, even if it’s uncomfortable to the person who is driving you around the bend.

Not accusatory, but speak from a place of your feelings and your emotions.

This will clear the road, and avoid any future misunderstandings.

Simply put, be careful who you vent to.

5 People Change

Try not to be hurt by it.

It’s a painful thing when somebody you love changes so much that you no longer recognize them, or no longer recognize the thing that drew you to them in the first place.

This is a fact of life. Some people we grow closer to, others we grow apart from.

You’ve never been a popularity hound. It’s always been important for you to have a few close friends versus a posse or an entourage of faux friends.

As this year has shown you, friendships come in the most unlikely places. And that is something to be treasured.

The people who pass through our lives may not stay, but they bring a lesson as they travel through.

That’s not to say that all your friendships that you’ve built this year will disappear, simply that they will change. Either you will change with them, or you won’t. Be grateful for the experience and accept it for what it is.

6 Dating

Your Dad and I never really set an age on when you were allowed to date. We just figured that when you were ready you would dip your toe into the pond.

I hope you don’t feel pressured by your peers to dive into the pond before you’re ready.

Our largest concern about dating is that you are treated with respect, and that you treat your partner with respect, on all levels.

Not everybody in your age group is capable of keeping up with you intellectually or emotionally. Remember that, please.

Yes, you hang out with some terrifically bright individuals, for which we are thankful. That does not mean that they will nurture the constant activity of your brain.

Remember, “being alone for the right reasons is better than being with somebody for the wrong reasons” is one of the more valuable lessons we can share with you. “Because everyone else is getting married!” is not a good reason.

7 Seek Validation Inside Yourself, Not Inside The Words Of Others

We don’t need to teach you about a moral compass. You have one, and it is strong. You’re big on rules, kiddo, for which we are tremendously grateful.

That also includes moral rules.

We all like the approval of our peers. However, in the teen years approval of your peers can be somewhat tainted. Beware of the person who constantly tries to one-up you, who leaves you feeling that vague sense of “I’m not good enough”. You avoid this person, because they are insecure.

They are the person that tears you down to make themselves feel, or look, better.

If you have done your best, and you are satisfied with what you have done, you don’t need anybody else’s validation but your own.

If you conduct yourself with the highest use of your moral and mental compass, you will never disappoint yourself. That includes your interactions with insecure people.

8 Find A Cause

You are surrounded by many opportunities. In the coming year you will have the opportunity to involve yourself in various clubs at school. Get involved. Find something that feeds your soul.

Whether it’s Social Justice, Gender Diversity, Chess, Knitting, Basket-weaving 101, whatever floats your boat.

Challenge yourself. Make yourself a little bit uncomfortable.

These clubs are here for you to learn. To have the ability to take a path not previously presented. Perhaps a path that you never thought existed.

9 You Teach Us

As parents it is our obligation to learn as much, if not more, from you than, perhaps, you learn from us at this point.

We’ve given you a fairly extensive toolkit to navigate your life as it stands. However, we are always open to upgrading that toolkit.

The beauty of our relationship with you is that we learn from you more than you might expect.

I can’t necessarily give you specific examples, however, you teach us to listen more closely than we have before. To observe with a keener eye. To ask more probing questions.

It’s not because you’ve become secretive, it’s because you’ve changed. You’re growing up, and unless we grow with you we are not doing our jobs as parents. So, thank you for teaching us.

10 Creepers Beware

While your Dad may observe a situation with a smile and a tongue-in-cheek laugh, I have real issues with the creepy 40-year-old men who stare at my 15-year-old daughter’s breasts.

I understand it’s a genetic imperative (“Oh look, boobies!”), unfortunately it’s hard for me not to be horrified by such an aggressive, blatant oggle from a man who is old enough to be your damn father! Especially in the malls. It makes me want to run around smacking people. “Don’t look at my daughter’s breasts!”

I know you laugh and think this is highly amusing, but I have issues with you being objectified and viewed as a faceless sexual object, not as a person. Not as the brilliant soul you are.

I’m not denying your sexuality and your physical awareness of self. I am objecting to creepy, middle-aged men leaving drool spots on your tank top from 20 feet away.

I may have to slap a few of them, so please keep bail money handy.

11 While We’re On The Topic: Sex!

Now that I have your attention, and you’re covering your face in embarrassment and screaming “Oh god, not this again!” we will touch on this once more.

Guess what? Your generation did not invent sex.

Wanna know something else? Neither did mine.

Short of a very limited number of things, there is nothing that you will encounter that either your Dad or I have not encountered ourselves. Trust me, we’ve been here 40-odd years, we’ve likely encountered it.

While we’re on the topic, we don’t care about your sexual orientation. We only care that you are safe and well-treated. That means: “No glove, no love!”

If you’re considering becoming sexually active, talk to one of us. I assure you, we will not blow our stacks. We will talk with you.

Whenever you decide to become active, we want to make sure that you are supported emotionally, prepared physically and, above all else, safe and respected.

12 We Like Meeting Your Friends

A fairly reasonable gauge of how you are doing is illustrated by the friends that you have. Yup, we are old-fashioned. We do want to meet your friends before you spend the night.

I’m not sure how we would address you staying over at a male friend’s house. And yes, I mean friend here, because that does happen, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Your friends will always be a very strong influence on you. Cosplay. Need I say more?

We’re delighted that you feel comfortable introducing your friends to us and that you allow us to get to know them. That’s important.

We should have at least a limited relationship with your friends. You never know when that might be helpful.

Having said that, you must understand that there will be some friends that we may not necessarily approve of. We will always be honest and tell you why. I can guarantee you, it will not be because of their race/creed/religion/sexual orientation. It will be because of the person that they are.

While you may not agree with us, because often times we choose to see the best in others rather than the worst, please understand that we are not trying to be asshole parents. We’re trying to share a bit of foresight and wisdom, because we’ve seen this before.

13 WYSIWYG (Whizzy-Wig)

I’m a firm believer in What You See Is What You Get.

If you consistently conduct yourself with honesty and integrity, even if it can come across as being a bit sharp to some, it is less likely that people will question your honesty and integrity.

What You See Is What You Get.

14 We Are Not Perfect

I’d like to believe that as parents we are not too bad. We’ve tried not to screw up too badly. I’d like to believe that we are fair, honest, open and straightforward.

There are times where we will drop the ball, kiddo. Where life gets crazy busy and something falls through the cracks.

We rely on you to remind us when our focus isn’t where it should be.

If we say something careless, if we are impatiently sharp, please forgive us, we aren’t perfect.

Sometimes a gentle reminder for us not to be so tied up in the outside world and to pay attention to the inside world of our family is needed, and we count on you to give us that reminder.

Your voice counts.

15 You Are Special, And Not Just to Us

It’s interesting. Every person that gets to know you, every adult person that gets to know you, sees your potential, even if you don’t.

It’s not by anything that I’ve said, it’s because of the person you are.

Our nurse from the doctor’s office said to me last time I was in, “I know she’s going to change the world.”

This is somebody who hasn’t had a chance to be with you day-to-day, who has observed you over the intervals of years, has watched you grow from a bump to the person you are now, and has recognized your potential.

This isn’t a statement to pressure you. I’m not suggesting that you’ll go out and discover cold fusion tomorrow (even though that would be cool), I’m merely pointing out that many people from many different viewpoints see something extraordinary in you. I look forward to watching what it is you are going to do.

All your discoveries over the years have filled us with wonder and allowed us to view the world with renewed interest.

To us, you are always going to be a gift. I find it reassuring that other people view you the same way.


Although you are not home right now, and we will feel your absence tomorrow keenly, we could not be more proud of you and the human being that you are.

By the way, Nelson says he misses you and he will punish you for two days after you get back, but he can’t wait for you to return.

We love you.

Happy 15th Birthday!

June 29, 2012
Filed Under (Family, Good Times, The Happy Sad Things) by svana

I am utterly gobsmacked.

On June 29, 1999 my wee girl came into the world. Today she becomes a teenager. I’m torn between being the supportive Mom who has absolute, utter pride of watching this extraordinary child take her first steps toward adulthood and the Mommy who could fix any wrong in the world with hugs and kisses.  These are the days where I feel the need to check my expiration date, because pretty soon she won’t need my guidance or advice…or that’s the way it may feel.

So, while I have the chance… I’d like to hand off a bit of wisdom that she may or may not take.

Thirteen things to know as you turn 13:

1) No one person has all the answers.

Kiddo, you are going to meet people that seem to know exactly all the right things to say at the right times and seem to have all the answers. The truth is, only you will have all the answers you need for your path. Taking one person’s truth and re-making yourself to fit that truth is the greatest lie and disservice you could ever do to yourself. Trust your own wisdom, because ultimately, it will be you walking the path and you will need to choose your shoes for that journey.


2) Opinions are like assholes…everyone has got one.

Not everyone is going to agree with you or you with them. If we all agreed on everything, there would be no growth, no forward motion and no dreams. You know what your deal breakers are, respect that others have deal breakers too. You have every right to your opinion and feel free to defend your opinions. You are smart enough to know how to defend your ideology and beliefs without beating someone into a pulpy mass. Have fewer battles and more debates.


3) Never date a guy who wears white pants.

I’m very happy to be proven wrong on this point, but it has been my experience that any guy in the Canadian climate who wears white pants is someone who can’t be trusted.


4) Guys who spend more time in front of the mirror than you do…avoid them like the plague.

Invariably, any guy who spends more time making himself pretty is either a narcissist or really insecure. Either way, dating a guy like that is exhausting, and really pointless. You spend your time reassuring them or propping their ego up…constantly. Ask yourself: if looks are that important to the person you are with, what is underneath all that? It doesn’t matter how pretty the cake is, if it leaves a bad taste in your mouth…why bother?


5) One true best friend trumps 20 faux friends.

People are going to come and go through your life for various reasons. Your best friend should be someone you can trust without reservation. This type of relationship doesn’t just “happen”, it takes time, trust and effort on both sides. Aside from your Dad, I have one Best Friend and a number of people that come damn close to being a best friend.  I would far rather have one or two people who are close to me and care about me than 20 people that don’t really care, but say they do.


6) Popularity is a lie.

Wearing the “right” clothes, having the “right” hair style, hanging out with the “right” people…it’s a lie. Every step you take away from being the person you know yourself to be in order to fit in with the popular crowd, the harder it is to navigate through the coming years. Don’t discard who you are for what someone else tells you should be.


7) Keep a journal.

Find a time to write down what happened in the day. Take the time to vent, celebrate, ruminate, laugh and mull over. Do it in your own hand, in a bound book that you can revisit as you need to. Your memories are precious and being able to look back at what has happened allows you to see how much you’ve grown.


8) Let your freak flag fly!

Being brave isn’t always easy, but it is easier than trying to be something you are not.  Be who you are…without limits.


9) Words count…use yours wisely.

As we well know, words can hurt or heal. Knowing what words mean is important but even more so, how to apply those words. Anyone can cuss and swear, those words don’t take all that much imagination. We’ll get you a Chambers Dictionary…and failing that, look to Shakespeare if you want to tell someone off. Having said that, once those words pass your lips you can’t take them back. Try to look beyond your initial indignation and try to determine whether or not it is really important for you to tell someone off.


10) Beauty is not on the outside.

At first glance, some people look beautiful, some look average, some look plain and some look pretty rough. However, as you get to know these people, your idea of beauty will transform. The most beautiful person in the world, visually, could have the blackest soul…and as you get to see more of that, you become aware of how ugly that person truly is.

Compassion, generosity, wit and humour are qualities that mature but do not age. They never get wrinkles and when these qualities are coupled with beautiful soul, you have timeless beauty.

As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.


11) I will scare all your boyfriends.

This is a fact. It’s not Dad they’ll need to watch out for, it’s me. If I scare them away, they are not worthy of you.


12) If your Dad says, “I don’t like the way that guy treats you”

Your Dad is a gentleman, as such, he believes that a woman is to be treated with respect. If your Dad has seen something that has bothered him enough to speak up and step into a place where he feels he must say something to you about how you are being treated…Pay attention, he is not speaking from a knee jerk reaction, but from a place of observation.


13) We love you, no matter what.

We are not always going to agree with choices you make, but we will always support you in the choices you make for yourself.  You are our child, and we will always love you. We will do our level best to back off and let you scrape your knees, watch you grow in your best direction and watch you make your own big decisions. There will be some tears as the years go by, but I’m confident that the tears will be dulled by laughter.


At the end of all this…

I could not be more proud of the person you are and I am blessed to be your Mom.

Happy 13th!


I love you forever and always.



March 06, 2012
Filed Under (Family, Good Times) by svana

Have you ever watched a hawk or an eagle soar and have your breath catch in your throat and stand dumb-struck and awe-inspired?

I find myself celebrating achievements. Of my friends, loved ones, even my pets, more frequently and with greater joy. Most times I feel that my own accomplishments are rather mundane. I’ll never create great art, because I don’t have that gift. Or if I do, it’s long since buried and will take time to dig it out. I might be persuaded to write the “Great Canadian Novel”, but that’s somewhat unlikely because everyone knows that Valkyries are not Canadian and that ghosts aren’t real.

Today, I watched the kid light up as she read her acceptance email to a writer’s conference. For adolescents, sure, but still. Wow. I paused because I stopped to consider what each and every one of us could accomplish, with the right encouragement. That kid is so brave, and sometimes so fearless, standing on the cusp of her teen years with her hands wide open to all the possibilities and opportunities. And I am awe-struck. It’s like watching a hawk on the air currents, navigating them with an instinctive ease that I envy. If that’s a tribute to being a half-way decent parent then it feels marvelous. I can not claim any kind of responsibility for how she’s turning out. But I can support her and be very, very proud.

A friend of mine told me today how thankful she was for my love and support and I can’t imagine doing anything differently. As I told her today, “Hell, all I did was show up.” (Had she been in the same room, she would have hit me with a big stick) I’m starting to understand that despite the crusty exterior of who I am, I do have a gift to love and I offer that love, I don’t keep it to myself. Whether it is the neurotic Siamese we adopted in his retirement years, who used to hide instead of visiting with people; whether it’s the clients that see me in the office and are greeted with a hug; whether it’s cheering my spouse on from the sidelines; whether it’s standing back and watching my kid grow into a beautiful, strong young woman; whether it’s holding a friend’s hand on a bad day, it seems a small thing. I keep having the lesson shown to me by the neurotic Siamese who demands attention a year later, and doesn’t hide.

So, to my kid: Fly.

My spouse: It’s hard to improve on damn-near perfection. Perfection in my world. Thank you for teaching me, often, and with gentle words.

To that crazy dame from this morning: Grow your garden. And when you run out of space there, come play in mine.

To that neurotic Siamese: 2 o’clock in the morning is not the best time for hugs and kisses, but I’ll give them to you anyway.

To my own parents: Thank you for all the lessons that taught me how to be the parent that I am today.

For all the achievements I am privileged to observe, to partake in, and to enjoy, I am profoundly grateful.

February 12, 2012
Filed Under (Family, Good Times, You don't say...?) by svana

I suspect that I’m one of those really, really lucky women who is very loved by her husband, and knows it.

The other day, I sent a message through MSN to my spouse, saying…”Don’t fuss about valentines day”. To which I received the stunned response of, “ummmmmm?”. This small exchange sparked a discussion over whether or not Valentines Day is important to me.

When I consider all the things, large and small, that he does through the year and over the years that we have passed through…Valentines Day seems pretty insignificant. Not to mention that any guy would be tickled pink to get a pass on the most expensive, commercial day of the year short of Christmas.

When I pause and consider all those things that are so easily overlooked…how much that people take for granted, I understand why they need a day to say “I love you”. Love, unless nurtured, appreciated and fed, fizzles out. Will one day a year ignite the same feeling you beheld when you realized you were in love? In my opinion, it won’t. As I type this, I’m reflecting on all the lovely, simple things that my spouse does…day in and day out.


Watching the same movie over and over with me until I get it out of my system…without complaint.

Getting up before the alarm goes off in the morning, and making me a beverage that I can enjoy before my feet touch the floor.

Leaving little love notes hither and yon, so I might discover them when I really need to.

Bringing me cold packs when I’ve used up every single one in the blessed hospital…for that matter, answering my damn text at 3:00 in the morning, when he should be sleeping.

All the times he held me while I grieved over the loss of a friend or family member, four legged or otherwise.

The cup of tea to settle my stomach before or after a seizure, and the regulation two advil if requested.

Being reasonable when I can’t.

Holding my hand at the birth of our child and better…holding my hand while I slept in the birthing tub, and not letting go when I rose out of the tub like a vampire from it’s coffin, hollering “I’ve gotta PUSH!”.

For always kissing me goodnight.

Talking me through my fears, over and over again.

Supporting me through my spirituality, even if he doesn’t believe. More to the point, if he doesn’t believe…he never ever shows it.

For checking my blog posts to ensure I’m not looking like a total boob.

Painting my toe nails horrific colours…and adding emoticon expressions free hand.

Putting up with my tantrums when all the electronics in the house have decided to rise up and stage a mutiny against me.

Telling me I’m beautiful, and helping me see it…even at my worst.

Humouring me when another stray shows up on our porch and welcoming them into our home.

For holding my hand as we fall asleep, every night.

These are just a few of the things that my husband does that tell me he loves me, without benefit of the yearly reminder of Valentines Day. I’m pretty damn grateful that I don’t need to rely on a Hallmark Holiday to know, from the top of my head to the tips of my hideously coloured toenails, that I am loved.

I wish that every person was as blessed as I am…I love you, Spouse…every day, not just on February 14…and I hope you know that.

January 12, 2012
Filed Under (Family, They rule the house, seriously) by svana

It’s kind of mind bending to realize that a whole year has passed since our beloved Mousie left us. She was such a wee thing, yet her footprint in our lives was huge.

We had a love triangle in the house… Mousie loved Winston, and Winston liked Mousie, and at the time Winston loved Belle. Belle barely tolerated Winston.

Often, I would come home to find Winston on the back of my spouse’s chair with Mousie nestled in his belly fur, tummy to tummy. A year later Winston will not sleep in that spot, because Mousie isn’t there, tucking herself into his warm fur. Only hours after Mousie died, Winston jumped up to “the spot”, curled up and waited for Mousie…it took Winston 15 minutes to realize that Mousie wasn’t going to be there for a cuddle. It was at that point when, I believe, Winston discovered he loved Mousie. He only understood it through her absence. It was also at that point that Belle comforted Winston, and it only happened once. Belle jumped up to see why Winston was calling, she shuffled him bodily to the other side of the back of the chair, and laid down with him. They stayed like that for almost 2 hours.

Anyone who knows Belle, knows she is the undisputed boss of the house and does not cuddle with any other fur person. Anyone who has met Winston knows that he’s all heart and no brain. If you have a pulse and fingers to scratch his head, you are god-like. In addition, Winston has the memory of goldfish. Winston can spend an hour in someones lap, jump down to get a drink, return and lie through his tooth (yes, I did say tooth), about how “No one EVER pays attention to me!” I suppose that’s part of his charm.

I know in the final days that Mousie was with us, she wished that I’d stop trying to hydrate her…that I’d stop trying to find things to tempt her to eat…that I could be less selfish than I was, and just let her go. Mousie was the runt of her litter of 6, and the only survivor. I was there when Mousie was born, and I was the asshole that purged the fluid from her lungs for 5 hours…and I was the person who gave her a home.

Mousie loved 2 individuals, and tolerated 1.

She loved her Daddy (that spouse of mine), and she loved her Winston. She tolerated me. This is was not unexpected, as I was the person that did all the bad things…I cut claws, administered medication, doled out the reprimands and made the vet appointments…and held her still for the rectal thermometer. The only vet appointment Mousie ever forgave me for was getting her spayed. She staged a jail break from her post-surgical crate and came to cuddle in my lap in front of the fireplace. This memory will trump all the “final moment” memories, because she trusted me to give her comfort.

Winston continues to mourn the loss of Mousie. There are days where he looks so bereft and so small that I fear we will lose him to a broken heart. A year later, Winston will try to lay in the spot that he shared with Mousie, and realize that she’s not coming for a cuddle…and he will come sit next to me on the couch. The expression on his face, in his eyes, is so very sad. As if to say, “Mom, bring her back”… I really wish I could.

Winston & Mousie

May 04, 2009
Filed Under (Family, Free Hugs, Good Times) by svana

When I first met the wonderful man who was to become my husband, he would regale me with tales of a Baked Goods Goddess he worked with. This gal could do no wrong. I often wondered if her feet touched the ground owing to the heaps of generous and (I would say) loving praise my future spouse laid at her lotus feet. In those early months it was terribly hard not to be jealous of this woman who had my man so clearly wrapped around her flour-dusted pinkie.

Aw, hell…I was jealous.

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November 11, 2008
Filed Under (Family) by svana

My Grandfather, much like many other grandfathers died while serving his country. I did not have the opportunity to know this man as he died well before I was born. I have a handful of letters and precious few photographs, all are treasured as it gives me insight as to who my Grandfather was.

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