Chocolate and Candy and Juice…oh my!

Once upon a time, a lovely little girl came to visit her Great Aunt.  The child was ecstatic about coming over to play.  Auntie had fluffy puppies and lots of different toys and books.  However, on this particular day, something strange had happened to the child.  She was not her normal self.  What evil had possessed her?  I’ll break it to you gently…Sugar Rush.

I, the Great Aunt, was having a lovely Saturday hanging out with my niece and her daughter.  No one else home, but us three females and the excitable dogs.  Wee female (who is almost 3 years old) was running around chasing puppies or stealing their toys to get them to chase her.  This would lead to an exhausted child and tired puppies later in the afternoon.  After all the excitement with the bow-wows, the fur balls went for a nap and the happy toddler went running off to the playroom.  All was well in the world.

Side note:  My entertaining habits  

Visitors to my humble abode will always be greeted with my big smile and some degree of food.  It could be nibblies like chips, pretzels, or nuts.  I could kick it up a notch and include crackers, kobasa (kielbasa?), and cheese.  If you are an appetizer lover, then the whole day’s meals might include mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, or even homemade pizzas.  If children are my gracious guests, I am the person that “healthy” parents avoid.  I like having chocolate for the kiddies and candy bracelets.  These yummy chocolate covered pretzel sticks called Pocky!  Ok, you get the idea.  I’ll admit it.  I want the kids who visit me to have fun and enjoy the sugary treats.  My great niece was glad I did too.

After a spell in the playroom, mini niece came and grabbed one of the Pocky and started chomping down.  “Mmmmmm, nummy,” she said, as her eyes sparkled with joy.  I gave her a chocolate coin too.  For lunch, there were grapes, strawberries, hot bread, kielbasa, cheese, fishies, and other crackers.  A nice snack medley.  After the fruit and veg, the little cherub snatched a few more Pocky sticks.  I figured she looked thirsty so I gave her some watered-down apple juice.  “Mmmmmm, nummy,” she said again.  I was on a roll.

The playdate wore on and it was time for my wonderful guests to return home.  We sat around for a bit so the bambino could chillax.  I gave her a candy bracelet as a nice parting gift.  She had never had one before.  I showed her how to bite it off the elastic.  So proud was she.  Success!  And what do you think I heard?  “Mmmmmm, nummy.”

The clock struck two.  Visiting hours were over.  Time to pack up and head out.  One more visit to the bathroom to empty the bladder before going home.  Little one started whining as she sat on the edge of the toilet seat.  Uh oh.  Auntie to the rescue!  I brought back a lovely board book called BooBoo.  She sat there on the potty and mommy began reading about BooBoo the duckling.  We waited to hear the tinkle in the water.  What happened next was quite unexpected.

Mommy started reading, “and then BooBoo…” which trailed off because her daughter did the head butt move toward her mom and, through giggles, said, “ahhhh-Boo.”  More giggles.  A repeat of the head thrash and more, “ahhh-Boo.”  Her rocking back and forth increased in speed.  Mum warned her that if she kept it up she would fall into the toilet.  Like a psychic prediction, her daughter’s butt hit the water as her head went back to prime for another head thrust.

We were evil adults.  We laughed at her.  She was displeased.  Mommy salvaged her wet bum from the depths of the toilet bowl.  We removed her wet t-shirt (while trying to stifle our laughter).  “Ahhhh-Boo,” I said, leaning in to her.  That got the giggles going again.  Then she darted, naked, out of the bathroom and ran to the opposing wall.  She slowly turned around to run back to us.  Her legs weren’t working properly.  The child was swaying side to side trying to walk a straight line.  Our little cutie-pattootie was on an official sugar high.  My niece looked at me and laughingly said, “she looks like a mini drunk.”  Yes that was it!

A sugar rush very closely resembles someone in a drunken haze.  Let’s compare:

Adult drunk on alcohol:  Finds everything funny and laughs at everything.  Will suddenly start crying.  Loves to run around naked, if possible.  Inability to walk a straight line.  Holds the wall for support.  Usually ends up in the bathroom to…let’s say…hug the bowl and eject booze from stomach.

Toddler drunk on sugar:  Finds everything funny.  Cries if falls, but can quickly forget pain because everything is funny.  Runs around nude.  Cannot run or walk a straight line.  Runs to wall for support.  Ends up in the bathroom (ok slight difference here) …to finish potty.

See?  A lot of similarities.

In case you were wondering, our fairy tale has a happy ending.  Great Auntie’s house of sugar treats is still standing.  Chocolates and candies are ready to be given to visiting children.  The sweetness will flow through their veins.  They will run around and laugh hysterically; giddy with happiness.  After the sugar rush ends and their super human powers abate, the crash will be large and the sleep will be deep.  The sweet little, exhausted, sleeping cherubs.

Yes, all children who visit know that there will be chocolate and candy and juice…OH MY!

P.S.  No old woman gets thrown into the oven (like the story with nasty little Hansel and Gretel).  The oven is used only for good, like baking cupcakes and cookies.  Now that’s a happy fairytale ending.

Been there. Done that. Got the t-shirt.

As a child, did you play make believe?  I have a feeling you did.  If you had comic books you might have wanted to be your favourite super hero.  If you didn’t have that form of entertainment, you might have wanted to be a firefighter or a teacher or a doctor or a dinosaur.  You could be anything and be wonderful at it.  When we got a tv and the Super Friends were on, my brother and I loved to be the Wonder Twins.  Here I am, all grown up and I am still playing make believe.  I make believe I am an adult (lol).  The grandchildren are into pretend play too.  Recently I watched in amazement as they huddled in a circle, arm in and then shouting out as they raised their hands out of the circle.  Welcome to the new power partners.

What did they holler?  MINI SQUAD!  Yes, they are little, but I am thinking maybe there is a video game or something with that title.  Their power members consist of a 7-year old, and two 3 1/2-year olds going all gung ho with excitement.  I had to find out what this squad of theirs was all about.  Here is what I learned.

There is a lot of running around.  First you stand in the circle with your right arm into the centre and then as you are lifting your arm out of the circle you yell:  MINI SQUAD!  Note:  there is also a second type of huddle.  Instead of arms and hands in, you do it with arms and fists in yelling MINI SQUAD!  “It’s totally different,” said the 7-year old.  I had to agree.  After that all important battle cry is done you run around looking for stuff.  What kind of stuff?  “Well, the one holding the flashlight is searching for monsters,” said the eldest cousin.  The other two?   “It changes,” she remarked matter-of-factly.  “Bugs, birds, shadows…anything,” she continued.  It doesn’t matter what you look for, eventually the eldest will yell for her cousins to come back to do the rally cry again.  Uh huh.  So, no real rules.  Then I got curious about names of the members.

“So,” I began, “how did you get the name Mini Squad?”  Boy wonder got a shirt from his parents with Mini Squad on it.  His aunt saw it and decided to buy it for her girls and ta-da!  They were now “officially” the Mini Squad because, well, as we old folks like to say:  Been there.  Done that.  Got the t-shirt.

My next question was about the running around and seeking for things.  “Well, it’s different every time.  Unless you have the flashlight because then you are the monster hunter.” Fair enough.

“What are your names?” I inquired.

Eldest:  My name is Flash.  [pointing to her younger sister] She is Spark.  [pointing to her younger cousin] His name is Jonathon.  WHAAAAAAAAAT!!??  OK, I admit I snort-laughed then.  What the heck kind of superhero name was Jonathan?

Well, after my obnoxious display of laughter she decided that they should have different names.  The chooser of names decided that she would be Shadow, sis would still be Spark, and Jonathon would now be Flash…no no…Flasher.  (Ok, not much better for helping stop my laughter.  She should’ve quit while she was ahead with Flash.  lol)  One day she is going to read this and definitely laugh her head off.  (Ha Ha Ha…Plop).  Until she gets bumped into adulthood and realizes the definition* I ain’t gonna spoil the fun.

Ready everyone?  Stand in a circle, arms in.  And ready to move arms out and yell out:


* Note:  The adult brain can really stunt a child’s imagination.  As a pre-tween I recall a school project where, working in groups, we had to come up with a product and an advertising campaign.  My group decided on something like Jello.  Being so genius, we were happy to show the teacher our progress with our new product called “Jiggle-o”.  She smiled weirdly, took a couple of breaths and then said we needed a new name.  “Why?” we inquired.  She tried to explain without explaining.  To this day I don’t recall her lame explanation.  Our cool product name was changed to…ugh…Wiggle-o.  After I crossed the threshold into adulthood I heard of a movie called “American Gigolo.”  Oh my.  A-ha moment.  Been there. Done that.  Got the t-shirt.



Family Fundamentals

Wow!  What a busy week!  Besides cleaning my house, I did other things that make my life so wonderful!  I booked Workday Wednesday off to visit with my friend.  She took me to a cutie little beach side cafe and we lunched and chatted and had a lovely afternoon.  Come the weekend, another grand day with the grandchildren.  Kennie was celebrating her 7th birthday and we got to hang out at a fancy park and play and laugh and chat and just catch up with people we hadn’t seen in awhile.  Standing back and taking pictures for posterity, I had a momentary split vision of the world that I live in.  I experienced a clarity of my life.  It made me smile.  This is my family.

Now, this may not seem like a big deal to most people, however, my family is quite unique and diverse.  When I say my family, it’s really an extension of Wiseguy’s family, but this weekend I saw how remarkable it was when everyone was together.  Let me explain.

If you search for the definition of family, you will find that this definition has not been officially changed from when it was first defined.  It still reads as follows:  a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.  For many families, this is still true.  Our society has changed in so many ways with regards to who raises children and who the guardians of the descendants are.  Single parent, LGBTQ parent(s), grandparents, adopted parents, step parents, aunts or uncles.  It’s not the “who” that is watching over them and guiding them that is most important.  It is the love and desire to raise children to become good conscientious adult citizens.  It is the proverbial “village” that makes this happen.

Segway back to Kennie’s party.  Besides the mix of genders and races, there were the divorced people who had remarried and were there with their new spouses or partners.  There were the cousins and aunts and uncles.  There were the grandparents and great grandparents.  All differences were put aside to celebrate this wonderful occasion.  There was no backstabbing.  No bickering.  People played volleyball and soccer.  Others sat around chatting and just catching up on what was new in each other’s lives.  Parents watched over their children, but all others watched as well.  It was a community of loving people wanting to enjoy the laughter and happiness of these adorable children.  Their high pitched squeals and big smiley faces could wipe away all thoughts of past anger and resentment.

My camera caught an incredible image.  The peacefulness on each person’s face.  The uproarious laughter.  Children playing in the sand…of the volleyball court.  To sum it up, it was a day full of happiness.  We broke bread together (well, hot dog and burger buns…that counts).  Everyone ate.  Everyone chatted.  The party was slotted to last from 1 pm to 4 pm.  Due to unforeseen cheerfulness, the entourage stayed until 6 pm.  It was actually difficult to leave.  It was such a beautiful, sunny day full of joy and merriment.  An incredibly memorable day.

Wiseguy and I came home and unpacked quickly.  We were exhausted.  Was it because of the fresh air?  Was it due to extra playtime with all the children?  Was it being in the sun all afternoon?  We smiled, resigning ourselves to the fact that we had no idea why we experienced the onset of tiredness, but we knew it was time for bed.  We were both smiling.  Why?  The day had been perfect.

Perfect?  Yes.  It was perfect.  The weather was ideal.  It wasn’t humid.  It was warm in the sun and cool in the shade.  The “family” came together to celebrate a birthday, but it was more than that.  It was a collaboration.  It was various entities of a family bonding together and enjoying each other’s company.  That’s what my camera saved forever.  It was about love.  It was about family.  It was about being there for a common goal and bypassing past prejudices.

In so many ways, children are the leaders.  They don’t hate (unless you steal their toy).  They don’t judge (unless you steal their toy).  Everyone is equal.  Religion, colour, nationality, et. al. kids don’t care.  As long as you are a loyal and nice playmate, they will be your friend forever.  Fun is what life is about.

I appreciate and love my “family”.  It’s definitely unique, but I am so proud to be part of it.  Living it.  Breathing it.  Loving it.  Laughing with everyone else.  It’s all about putting the Family “Fun” in Fun-damental.



The Day of the Cackle…

I like to yuck it up.  For any of you that are part of the younger generation, that translates to LOL.  I am not afraid to giggle and guffaw in public.  I am that person in the movie theatre who isn’t shy to shriek and/or snort if there is a funny scene.  Yes, I am the obnoxious one who doesn’t care what anyone else thinks because if it’s funny then I will laugh out loud.  However, there is one thing that I did not expect would ever happen to me…the jovial laugher.  I now refer to this day as “The Day of the Cackle”.

I was a shy kid and always wanted to fit in.  If others weren’t laughing then I wouldn’t either.  I might smile, but no sound would emerge from my mouth (or nose for that matter.  I am also a bonafide snorter).  I might embarrass myself.  The more I got comfortable with just being ME, the more I went from smiling with no teeth showing, to wide-mouthed big smiles and finally to the contagiously loud laugh.  All was well in my amusing world until the Day of the Cackle.

I had met my BFF for lunch and we proceeded to share our hilarious tales of adventure that is our daily lives.  We started to laugh about something.  Suddenly a bizarre sound filled the airspace.  I tried to maintain my composure, but the sound irked me.  It grated on my nerves.  We continued with our fun stories and this time when I opened my mouth to let out the oncoming guffaw I heard that nasty caterwaul again. Suddenly a strange thought hit me.  Did that hideous noise emerge from my diaphragm?  I also had this eerie feeling that I had heard it somewhere before.  It wasn’t until I was driving home after our luncheon that it hit me.  I had been pondering giving my mother a call and the lightbulb switched on above my head.  Eureka!  But not in a good way.  I had shockingly realized that my previous melodious laugh had turned into the OLD LADY CACKLE!

I remember listening to my mother talking on the phone and hearing that abrasive sound.  Really, it was a sound I despised as much as nails on a chalkboard (*whole body shiver*).  I can clearly recall listening to her laughing with her friends, but all I heard was the sounds of chickens clucking and cackling.  Now….THAT’S ME!

I’ll be completely honest, it took me awhile to adjust to this.  I almost stopped LOL-ing.  It’s weird enough if you hear your voice recorded and played back to you, but to have a glorious, lulling laugh morph into the sound of chickens being tortured was not something I had prepared myself for with my middle age creeping up.  Now, besides the creaking and cracking joints, I have to listen to my nail-on-the-chalkboard laugh.  I actually prefer the snorting to it.  Ok, maybe I’m going a little overboard with my drama, but it was not an anticipated event.  In my usual Pollyanna way, I decided to find the positive in my negative situation.

First, I realized that I was the only one who seemed offended by my noise pollution laugh.  No one looked at me any differently.  No one stopped saying funny things either.  Perhaps it wasn’t that bad after all.  Getting old and changing is great!  I still have my faculties, and my health, and wonderful people in my life.  Super-great people actually!  I always try to be happy and share my joy with others.  I LOVE TO LAUGH!

SIDE BAR:  I laugh every time I watch “I Love to Laugh” from the “Mary Poppins” movie.  Seriously, I can try and sit there without laughing, but it’s just too contagious.  So, if you are feeling down and need a pick me up, just watch this.  I promise you’ll be feeling much, much better.  I Love to Laugh 

Back to my cacklephony.  New word.  It should be added to the Miriam-Webster or the Oxford dictionary soon.  So, I shall now let you click on the following links so you can hear exactly what I hear.  The first is a lovely video of “aged women” cackling with laughter.  Yes, I couldn’t help myself.  I laugh-snorted listening to them.  Such fun!  They sound just like me.  Cackling women.  The next is chickens.  Sounds quite similar.  *SNORT*.

Ahem…let’s get serious.  A synopsis of my laughing habits.  Young me…no laughing.  Teen years me…semi-smiles.  Pre-adult me…smiled broadly and learned to laugh…hoping I would not be an outcast.  The Day of the Cackle.  Etched in my mind for eternity.  No longer traumatic, more of a fun-fest-fact.  Wholesome F trifecta…booyah!  Does it bother me?  Honestly?  Oftentimes.  Does it molest my ears?  Occasionally.  How does it rate on the “Do-I-Care-O-Meter”?  Insignificant.  I find that I mellow with age.  Like a fine wine.  Meh…nothing to worry about.

Synopsis:  I love to smile, but even more, I love to laugh.  I enjoy being the happy person. Some may find me annoying with my constant happiness, but in my mind, that is their problem.  I want to be happy and hope I can be contagious enough to make others around me happy.  My newfound distorted laugh is something I am adapting to.  I am focusing on the positive and knowing that, although the sound may be ingratiating, I know that the Day of the Cackle is one more nuance of my mid-life budding personality.

The “Perfect Fit” Challenge…

You may be thinking that I am going to talk about relationships and what it’s like when you find your perfect mate for life.  Nope, it’s not that.  Then maybe it’s about diet and weight loss and finding that perfect fit for your body.  Nah…that’s been overdone.  Truly there are many things that could apply to this two-word challenge.  However, the one I am speaking of is one that I instigated upon myself.  It is the challenge of finding a container that will fit leftover food without leaving space between the food and the lid.  Let me give you a bit of background on how this obsession of mine started.

If you came to my house and checked out my pantry shelf in the basement and my fridge and freezer (yes I have extra appliances in my basement as all good Croatians do), you could probably go shopping.  I should supply little baskets.  Now, Wiseguy is always telling me to stop overstocking, especially now that it is only the two of us in the house.  I, however, disagree.  It’s not that we have fewer people in the house, we now have waaaay more people coming for meals now that the children are all coupled and have children of their own.  There is a need for more food.  (Please feel free to begin your own discussion on this matter).  This was a nasty habit I picked up from my mother.

My parents were raised in a village.  They literally grew up in tiny homes that were overcrowded with children (free labour).  When they came to Canada it was important to stockpile food stuff to ensure they would never be hungry again.  I myself did not grow up hungry, but that habit of my mother’s for being prepared was ingrained in my head.  However, hubby is always saying he can’t see the light on in the fridge because of all the leftovers and the potential “throw away” food.  There you have it.  My need to condense our fridge co-habitants.  Hubster will open the ice box and see a plethora of food and all I see are half filled containers of leftovers.  If we start making dinner using previous meals and a container is left half full, I will seek out a replacement that will fit the contents precisely.  My obsessiveness is actually something that I have passed on to the kids too.  They now challenge themselves when they help me clean up after a meal.  They even do it in their own homes.  Yes, my craziness has rubbed off on them.  It’s quite entertaining to watch Wiseguy watching his children mimic my obsessiveness.  I’m quite proud of it.  Anyway, you must be wondering…how is this a challenge?

You may think this is a simple thing.  Nay I say!  Have you ever had your spouse/friend/family member/acquaintance put leftover spaghetti in a container and it only fills half the bowl?  How horrible!  What a waste of precious fridge space.  My goal is to find the correct container…on the first guess!  Anyone can start putting stuff into a larger container than is needed.  Pshaw!  Way too easy.  How about the times you start off with a small container and you misjudged the interior expanse.  Oh me, oh my!  Not only do you need to peruse your cupboard for a new receptacle, but now you have to wash the one you had previously chosen.  FAIL!

Allow me to show you the difference between a PASS and  a FAIL.

100% FAIL!

This is how things used to be put into my fridge.  Egad!



How lovely!  Might have even found a smaller container as there is space at the top


Here was my most recent challenge.  I boiled macaroni.  Part of it was for a casserole and the rest was going to be leftovers for my lunch or perhaps even dinner the next day.

As you can see, macaroni in pot.  Next was my chosen container.  It was going to be tight, but I think I eye-balled correctly.













Then halfway up the container and still more pasta to go.  I took a quick gulp and hoped for the best.





Seriously.  The cover fit.  All the elbow macaroni is contained.  NO…I did not eat any of it.  No cheating with this game.


For all you OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) darlings out there…this is a boon for you.  It may seem so simple and irrelevant, but once you start you will catch the bug.  It’s all about finding the “perfect fit”.  And if you are high falutin, you can rename it (as I used to call it) “The Tupperware Challenge”.







Follow that runaway train…of thought?

I used to believe that I spoke and had thought processes like other people.  I would ruminate something, I would say it out loud, the other person would reply and there you have it!  Conversation.  So imagine, to my chagrin, when suddenly my friends and (most) family members could not understand me.  They would tilt their head to one side and stare at me, quite perplexed.  It was like I was speaking a foreign language.  I would then continue to explain my thought process, step by step, and then they would open their mouths slightly and melodiously say, “ohhhhhh,” whilst nodding their heads.  What had happened to my talent for great conversation?

As I said before, I can hold conversations with anybody of any age, any gender, on any topic.  So it befuddled me when it appeared that I was babbling incoherently.  It occurred to me one day that there were certain people who completely understood me and what I was saying.  My sister was top of the list.  My mother too.  My dad, most of the time.  My niece, however, gave me THAT look one day.  I gave her a questioning look back.  She calmly asked, whilst politely puzzled:  “What does Baba (grandma in Croatian) have to do with a glass of water?”  At first, this bewildered me.  Then the AH-HA moment hit!  Get ready for this doozy.

First, let me ask if you have ever seen the show Gilmore Girls?  I LOVE watching this show!  Why?  The amount of fast-talking conversation is incredible.  They jump from topic to topic in seconds flat.  Basically, they talk like I do.  There is no desire to scrimp on words and get to the point quickly.  It’s about conversation and language and using all kinds of words and comparisons and leaping from one idea to the next.  That was what my AH-HA was about.  I was speaking quickly, and as I spoke a new idea would pop into my head.  However, I might not say anything aloud about it, but then my next thought would be spoken out loud leaving a possible gap in the logical conclusion.  Get it?  No?  Ok, here is the train of thought explanation of the “Baba and the glass of water story”:

Me out loud:  Baba is in so much pain with her hip, but she just won’t let anyone help her.  She has to do it all by herself because she doesn’t want to bother anyone.

Niece out loud:  I know, even when I invite them over for lunch she says it’s too much work for me and that I have so many other responsibilities so why don’t we just come over to her place for a meal.

Me in my head:  She has always been like that.  So stubborn.  That’s why we never learned to cook because she had to do everything.  Even her brother-in-law told me that she won’t even have a glass of water in his home, but she expects them to come to her place for elaborate meals.

Me out loud:  Not even a glass of water!

Niece:  *dumbfounded look

Ok…now you are caught up with how my brain works.  There are the inner thoughts that are constantly in motion.  It’s like there are trigger words people say to me and my mind grabs it like a football and starts running for the end zone.  With every yard I pass, a new thought gets attached to it.  By the time I get to the end zone I have left the football field and ended up on the soccer field.  See what I mean?

I decided to do some quick research about this special phenomenon of mine.  With my Google prowess I typed:  the difference between male and female thought patterns.  DING!  There is quite a variance between the gender brain functions and thought patterns.  I will summarize it quickly if you don’t feel like reading about it.  Scientists study four primary areas of the brain:  processing, chemistry, structure, and activity.  With processing, it appears that males use more gray matter than white matter and with females it’s the opposite.  The gray areas are localized and lead to those gents having more of a tunnel vision so they focus on one thing until complete.  The ladies, with their white brain, basically have their brain networking with the gray parts.  Thus, women are able to multi-task fantastically.  Both are good in their own ways.  The rest of the article was interesting, but being a multi-tasker, let’s get back to the story.

I then explained to my niece how my brain works…as you now also know.  I still continue to speak in this way.  One day at my parent’s place my mother was telling me and my sister about this lady in the village.  The story continued about some surgery.  Then it went to some doctor.  Then something about pills.  Then how awful THAT man is.  She was shaking her head in anger and the rest of us just looked at each other.  My father asked, “What man?”  My sister and I burst out laughing.  We were prodigies!  After a few precise questions we finally figured out who she had been talking about.  Her whole story had involved words like “her” “that lady” “that neighbour” and “him”.  Once names were attached to the pronouns we had the final answer.  Way more fun than Jeopardy, but just as challenging!

Fast forward a few months.  I was visiting my niece again.  I was regaling her with some fantastic story and when I stopped she smiled and slyly said, “I actually followed that train of thought almost all the way to the end.”  Kudos to her!  I am bequeathing her with the gift of pursuing that runaway train…of thought!





World’s Wealthiest Baba…

I am a non-mother.  I have been told many times that “you’re lucky you never had to go through childbirth.”  Yes, real mothers have gone through the pains of labour.  I did not.  I have never birthed a child.  I have never had a C-section.  According to my mother, my life is wanting and incomplete because I have never had a child of my own.  After years of hearing this definitive and repetitive chorus of hers, I have decided that I am a mother.  Perhaps, not called “mom” or “mama”, but the functions I have performed would absolutely qualify me as being a mothering type of woman.

My love of children started when I was young.  Coming from a large family there were always children younger than me running around.  In various photos you could find me holding one of the youngsters.  I LOVED holding babies.  I loved playing games with them and making them laugh.  This was not contained to just my family.  At school recess time, I would head over to where the kindergarten children were and play with the kids there.  I became something of a hero to these little tots.  Kids my own age would play baseball or soccer (I was never good at sports).  Then there were the mean kids who just played pranks on people.  I didn’t want to be part of THAT group.  So, hanging out with blissful people (children) was way more fun!

As I got older I started planning for the day that I would have my own children.  I started buying Disney movies.  I collected children’s books.  I was going to have lots of children because all my life I just wanted to be a mommy.  It would be easier buying everything while I had a disposable income and living at home.  I got mommy practice after my sister had kids.  I got to change them, feed them, bathe them, dress them, even potty training was on the agenda.  Yes, I was getting my mom-training hours in.  I would be the best mom ever.  As time passed I realized that you could be planning for your life to go one way and then suddenly there is a fork in the road with a tough decision.  You can decide with your head or with your heart.

When Wiseguy and I first started hanging out I knew he had three children.  He was not planning on having anymore.  I had always wanted many children and now I had a decision to make at this fork in my life road.  Should I choose to be with the man of my dreams who made me laugh everyday?  The man who understood me like no one else had before?  A man who loved to dance and enjoyed living everyday of his life?  A man who adored his children and wanted someone who could share his life as well as theirs? The other path was to leave this wonderful man behind, find someone else who would want to have children.  Would I find someone who intrigued and entertained me as much as Wiseguy?  Was my happiness more important than the prospect of a life with children?  What if I couldn’t have children?  As you already know, I followed my heart.  I chose love.  I chose Wiseguy and his (now our) children.

The kids did not call me mom.  I didn’t want them to.  They already had a mother.  We were (and are) “Dad and Maryann”.  I didn’t need a title.  I was an adult female who would do mommy things.  I would be there to kiss the boo-boos.  I would be there to apply bandaids.  I would be there to teach them things.  I would play with them.  I would guide them.  I would advise them.  Sure, sometimes I would beat myself up for things I said, but I grew up in the house of “tough love” and sometimes being honest is harder than being kind.  The truth hurts, but oftentimes it will get you so angry that you will persevere and move along in life.  Sometimes being hard and honest is what true love is about.

I do not accept my mother’s definition of a “mother” to heart.  I am not short-changed in life.  If anything, I am one of the wealthiest women / moms around.  Not only do Wiseguy and I have his/our wonderful children, but we watch (and happily cry) when we watch these youths (now adults) raising their children.  They do the same things we do.  They parent and worry that they are getting it wrong.  They think that maybe they are horrible parents.  To them we say:  if your child is clothed, fed, and happy then you are an absolutely incredible parent.  Parenting is so harshly judged. It is the the most thankless and difficult job to do day in and day out.  No rewards.  No awards.  No praise. No accolades.  Parents, be kind to yourself.  You are doing a wonderful job! Congratulate yourself on the small things.

As for me, the non-mother who became a grandmother or “Baba” in Croatian, I love and adore these children!  Each one has a special talent, gift, personality, and smile that wins me over.  I do not compare them to each other because each is unique.  They have their own personalities and talents and thoughts.  Ok, I’m getting teary-eyed because I am so captivated watching them become their own individual being.  There is the honour of being able to be their Baba and being able to love them.

As hindsight is 20/20, I can say that by following my heart instead of my head, following love instead of expected behaviour, I chose the right path when I got to my fork in the road.  I can also say that, although my bank account doesn’t show any lottery winnings, I am the World’s Wealthiest Baba.