Warming My Heart

There really is very little I can think of that could warm my heart more than a genuine smile on the face of a child.

Several years ago, I wrote and self-published three children’s books.  The purpose was to do something creative that I had wanted to do for a long time, and to have a material example of following your dreams and accomplishing a goal for my kids to hold in their hands.  Upon writing them, finding talented illustrators (who would generously work for free!), and self-publishing, they went on a shelf, occasionally to be read to my kids and, once, to be read to my son’s second grade class.

Time slipped by, I went back to work, life got busy, my health became an issue, and I had all but forgotten the books placed on our bookshelf in the living room.  Until a random encounter on the street with one of my illustrators, Michelle Z (she illustrated book #2 – Sammy’s Rainy Day – And How It Went Away).

I had heard that she had been in my daughter’s first grade class to do some art lessons with them, and so when I ran into her, and after we had chatted about what was going on in our lives, it dawned on the both of us that we could inquire about going into that class to read our book and do an art lesson with the students connected to it.  Why not?  Wouldn’t it be fun?  we thought.  And, since my daughter’s afternoon teacher was one of my former students, I had no qualms about contacting her immediately and asking.  Her answer was “Of course!”  Michelle and I were excited about being able to share our book with some sweet six and seven year olds.

I decided to contact another friend who works at a school in a nearby town, just to see if there might be another group who would be interested in us stopping by.  To my surprise and to my friend’s credit, she immediately found 5 teachers at her school, of grades 1 and 2, who would love for us to visit and share Sammy’s Rainy Day.

I honestly couldn’t have imagined a more satisfying experience.  It left me with such a feeling of gratitude.  The kids were so attentive and so enthusiastic the entire time we were there with them, and we received so many “thank you”s and hugs that it was overwhelming.  How lucky were we to have not only gotten the chance to share Sammy’s Rainy Day with the kids, but to also see their happiness and excitement?  One class even wanted us to come visit them again at the end of the day so they could share an additional activity they did with the book:  a writing activity about their favourite part(s). They did a wonderful job too!

The smiles on the faces of the first and second graders we visited were the greatest gifts I think I could have ever received.  The best part was one of those smiles was my daughter’s.



Seeing the Light

I have been wanting to write another blog post for quite some time now. The thing is, there have been a lot of not-so-great things going on in my life and the lives of people I know, and so I didn’t think I was in the right mindset to write a post. I knew the post would be sad, and I didn’t want that. I’ve had a few sad posts in a row, and I didn’t want to continue with that pattern. I even talked to my friend Eli, the talented blogger Coach Daddy, and told him that I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer. So what could I write about?

Today Eli asked me what was good about my day yesterday. And, despite the sadness hanging over me like a dark cloud, I was able to list a number of things that made my day good. So why not write about what made my day good and practice gratitude?

Physiotherapy. I have been going off and on for 16 years, but for the last year I have been going regularly to two different physiotherapist teams. I have just added a third, as of two weeks ago. I’m grateful for those people whose job it is to make me feel better. Today. I felt 1000 times better leaving the physio office than entering it, physically and mentally. That was also in part to one of the other patients reading corny jokes to me from a Reader’s Digest magazine. They were corny but they made me chuckle, which always makes a day better.

Tea. I had a party a few weeks ago for a friend who sells tea. I was very excited for this party. Maybe too excited…? Anyway, my tea order came yesterday, which means I can try out my new purchases and tasty new teas, which makes me giddy. On the menu tonight: Toffee Crunch Rooibos Tea.

“Survivor”. I still love this show. I have watched since season one. It never gets old to me. I get excited during the competitions, and I always seem to find someone to cheer on. This season is especially fun to watch because it includes some of my past faves (Ozzy 😍). The best thing is my husband and I actually sit down together to watch this – he’s usually on his iPad playing a game, but will occasionally look up so we can chat about the show – and there’s really no other TV show we watch together. I look forward to Wednesday nights for this reason.

My dog, Sophie. A few months ago, a beautiful 10-year-old dog became a member of our family. She was a friend’s dog, but that friend recently moved and couldn’t take Sophie with her. Our family has wanted a dog for a long time, and we always planned on getting a puppy, but we just never knew when the right time would be for that to happen. That right time turned out to be now, and instead of a puppy we were blessed with an already trained, calm dog. Sophie is such a sweet dog, and she’s become a much-loved fixture at our house. The kids run in after school and call for her immediately, giving her hugs and kisses after missing her all day. She and I have spent the last few weeks together, as I have been on sick leave from work, and I love having her here to cuddle with. We had lots of that cuddle time yesterday.

My kids, Zander and Zoey. These two gems are obviously the most important people in my life and what I am most grateful for. All I want for them is to be happy, and yesterday they were happy. There were no meltdowns or fights. There were no tears. It was all good. Zander and Scott went out for a long walk with Sophie, while Zoey read me a story before bed. Zoey is also counting down the days to her birthday – we’re at 6 now – and she’s so excited. I love these two so much, and they brighten every day.

I am a very lucky person to have so much to be grateful for. Despite the sadness, and despite the uncertainty and frustration, I must see the light in every day.

If I Had More Time

Taken from a Writing Prompt from Mama Kat: What Would You Change About Your Life If You Could?

If there was something I could change about my life, it would be that I would have more time. Over the last few months (okay, realistically over the last 6 months or so) I have not been keeping up with writing on my blog. It’s definitely a time problem. At the beginning of last year, when I started this blog – inspired by other bloggers whose work I read regularly and who I think are incredibly talented – I had free time. My then almost-3-year-old frequently napped, which meant that I had a few hours in the afternoon to myself, while my hubby was at work and my son was at school. I used that time to feed my passion for writing. It was something I used to do a lot when I was younger – in elementary school I wrote poems, short stories, and even raps (!), and in secondary school I wrote for the school newspaper – but that was a LONG time ago. I loved getting back to it. I even wrote and self-published some children’s books. It had been a dream of mine to create something that I could be proud of and show to my children, as an example of setting a goal and achieving it. (Shameless self-promotion: The Duck Who Lost Her Quack, Sammy’s Rainy Day-And How It Went Away, and Every Bunny’s Different are available at blurb.ca and amazon.com.)


But the afternoon naps of my youngest disappeared, and, with them, so did my free time in the day to write. The nights have also gotten busier, with me single-parenting three nights of the week.  So it’s difficult to have any time to just sit and think…and write. I honestly don’t know how the other bloggers I follow find the time to write as much as they do, and I wish I could do the same. The only reason I am able to write this right now is because I am at work…shhhhh…which means I am alone (and I can do this because I’m just a body here in case something goes wrong!).

Of course, keeping up with writing isn’t the only thing I would do with more time. In September, my son and I started taking guitar lessons. It’s something I have wanted to do since I was 14, listening to Bon Jovi and hoping to get an electric guitar for my 15th birthday. That didn’t happen. And I didn’t ever take lessons. So when the opportunity came up months ago, I jumped at it. I loved the lessons, but I started to feel overwhelmed with life a few months later. It seemed we (my family) were always running here and there, though I know we’re not nearly as busy with extra-curricular activities as many people we know. That, compounded with daily headaches and back and neck problems, led to me abandoning the guitar. I jokingly told my hubby he could step in for me for a bit. Now he’s hooked. And I haven’t yet been back to guitar lessons. It’s been four months. I miss it. But, again, I don’t feel like I have enough time to practice as much as I need to. As much as giving it a real try deserves. If I had more time I would definitely continue with guitar lessons, and, in a perfect world, I’d have loads of free time to practice.

With more time I’d also start taking voice lessons. I used to sing. All the time. It’s what I’d do on whenever I had any free time. It was my thing. And I was good. WAS. When I started teachers college, I moved home, leaving the big city and my vocal instructor. That was in 2000.  When I first started this blog, one of my goals for the year was to follow my bliss: singing. I originally intended to start lessons to get my instrument back into shape, and then pay for some recording time and make a CD for me and to have something cool to show and play for my children. That lasted one lesson.

I admit that I feel bad about focusing on myself with my make-believe free time, but I really think it’s important to do what you love and what makes you happy. Obviously my kids make me happy, and I love them more than anything in the world, but I think it’s important to show them that Mommy has hobbies and activities she loves and needs time to do. Hopefully that will also ignite a passion for something in them.


I have been fortunate enough to have had four years off from my regular job – teaching secondary school – to concentrate on taking care of my family, so I know that the time I have free to do anything “extra” will diminish drastically in September when I go back to work and my youngest starts school. I’m sure I will have a much different list of things I’d want to do with my free time then. I know that I’ll miss spending all of my days with my daughter, having the time to drive my son to and home from school every day, and spending every minute of the kids’ time at home with them. Instead of lamenting the loss of free time to do things for myself, I’ll be wishing time wouldn’t move as quickly as it does, mourning the loss of the time I used to have to just hang out with the kids.

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Time, why can’t you just stop for a bit and let us do all of the things we want to do?

Ten of My Favourite Pictures of Zander and Zoey (for Ketchup With Us)

June is blog posts by number at the blog hop Ketchup With Us, hosted by Michele at ODNT and Mel at According to Mags.  Every day of the month, they are writing a listy-type blog post (with a number in the title).  I thought I’d challenge myself to do the same.  As I look through the posts I’ve published so far this month, I notice that a lot of them are about my children.  They are, truly, the loves of my life.  And even though they sometimes fight like cats and dogs – though I think there’s probably much more screaming between the two kids! – there have been some really loving moments they’ve shared, and that I’ve managed to catch on camera.  So, for this 26th blog post, I decided to share some of those special moments with you, with…

Ten of My Favourite Pictures of Zander and Zoey (not in order of preference, but in chronological order!)





















Aren’t they the sweetest little beings you’ve ever seen???!

The month is almost over, so why not join in on the fun with the ladies from Ketchup With Us?  Check out their websites for full details about the blog posts by number challenge.  Hurry! 😉


2014: So far, so good (for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop)

Writing Prompt:  Update your readers on your 2014 goals. How are things going? Are you staying on track or facing some challenges?

Normally I don’t set goals for myself for the new year – too many opportunities to not meet them and feel like I’ve failed! – but this year I decided to do it, prompted by another blogger.  I set three goals:  follow my bliss, be grateful for what I have and stop worrying about what I can’t improve, and stop wishing my kids would grow up faster. 

First:  follow my bliss.  I love singing, and did it a lot as a kid and young adult, but haven’t really sung in almost 15 years.  A goal I set was to start singing again and eventually make a CD this year.  It’s for me and for my kids to have something of their mom doing what she loves.  At this point, I’ve only been able to get to one vocal lesson.  In my defense, I have missed two other lessons because of weather.  Living in Midwestern Ontario – also called the “snowbelt” of Ontario – means dealing with a lot of blizzards, whiteouts, and road closures at this time of year.  Today was all of those things, and so it was impossible for me to get to my scheduled lesson.  I will, however, keep trying, and hopefully Mother Nature will ease up on us a bit so that I can get back to my lessons and back on track with preparing to record a CD. 

BUT HERE’S THE EXCITING NEWS, and it fits in with following my bliss:  I just self-published a children’s book!  It’s called The Duck Who Lost Her QuackI have always loved writing, and though I haven’t done it in a long time – life gets busy and hobbies often get pushed aside – I had an urge to write a children’s book.  Again, it was so that I could follow my bliss, and so that I could have something to show my kids.  They love books and reading, and so it would be perfect.  I found an online site that lets people self-publish, and on Tuesday I published my book!  And though these days anyone can self-publish, I really feel like I’ve accomplished something.  And I feel pretty darn blissful about it.


My second goal:  be grateful for what I have and let go of what I cannot.  I mentioned writing in a “gratitude journal” like Oprah used to talk about years ago.  Bad news:  No journal has been started.  And I still get upset about things I do not have or with things I want to improve but have no control over.  That said, I do think I’ve taken many opportunities to let my fortunate circumstances sink in, but there’s always room for improvement in this area.

My last goal:  stop wishing my kids would grow up faster.  I think I’ve really been doing well at this one.  I know that life goes by quickly – too fast, really – and it’s important to just be in the moment.  When my seven year old son said, “Ugh, do I have to cuddle with you?” (which I discussed in a previous blog), it made me stop and see that the special moments I have with my kids won’t last forever.  He doesn’t even want to cuddle with his mommy anymore!  Sad.  But part of growing up.  So why would I want to speed that up?  Craziness.  I make sure I take every opportunity I have to cuddle, snuggle, play, and just be with my kids, while they still want me and my hubby to spend time with them!

Two months into the new year I feel as if I’m on track with my goals, and I am determined to stay on track.

The Great Purge (10 Minute Free Write for Ketchup With Us)

We’re doing a purge at our house.  Actually, we’ve been doing it since the summer of 2011, when we started giving away and selling our son’s old clothes.  We had just been blessed with our second child, a little girl, and had decided that we were not having more children.  It was time to start parting with some of the outfits our boy had.  I thought I was okay with it.  I went through bins and bins of old clothes, washing them and putting them in piles according to season and size.  I even arranged for meetings with consignment stores and private buyers for them.  No big deal, I thought.  However, several minutes after loading 3 huge boxes of items into another woman’s SUV, taking substantially less money than I said I would take, and then watching her drive away, I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.  I had my son with me, and had promised him a treat since he, too, was letting go of part of his past (and we were at Tim Hortons, so it was impossible to pass up a donut and hot chocolate!).  As we sat at a table, and he chattered on about toys he had seen advertised on TV, I couldn’t focus.  All I could think of was losing a part of him.  The outfit he wore in some photos with friends’ kids, and the Robeez shoes he wore on his itty bitty feet before he even started crawling.  Gone.  I tried to shake off the feeling that I had made a huge mistake, and continued on with the day, but later that night I couldn’t sleep.  I wept quietly instead.  The next morning I told my husband how upset I was.  I’m sure he thought I was losing my mind, but he listened and was very understanding.  He then reminded me that they were just clothes – things, items, pieces of material – and not my memories.  That did help, although I ended up emailing the woman and asking – no, begging actually – if she would let me buy back one of the boxes full of clothes.  I know, that sounds crazy.  Maybe it was.  She kindly agreed, but was not impressed.

The purge has gotten easier since then, thank goodness, because we honestly cannot keep everything from the childhood of our little ones.  Most recently we’ve sold our high chair and our change table, which was somewhat difficult for me and the kids.  We’ve also sold our crib, which, quite frankly, would be devastating if I allowed myself to really think about it.  It not only means that we are getting older and are now past the stage (in our minds) of having babies, but that we won’t experience the excitement and joy of another baby (of ours) saying his or her first words, taking his or her first steps, and saying, “I love you” for the very first time.  I just have to remember that we have had those experiences, and though we won’t have them again, we will have other significant experiences with our children as they grow older.  And those things we’ve gotten rid of?  They’re things.  We can never get rid of our memories.