Living the Life

Well, I am so sorry for disappointing my regular blog followers.  Life has been quite invigorating for me lately.  Finding time to sit down and put my thoughts into words and into a newly entertaining blog, became quite a challenge.  I had to take my pick of what I should do.  Should I spend lots of time with The Princess and Little Kennie or write my blog?  Should I visit my niece in her new house and break bread with her or strap myself to my laptop?  Should I hang out with my visiting family from out-of-town, or should I hide away and start madly typing away?  Don’t get me wrong.  I love blogging, but sometimes real life escapes us because we are busy connecting with “web” people instead of spending time with those people who are around us.

So, last week, I referred to every day as a write-off, but in reality, it was only a vacation away from my trusty laptop.  It sat there, resting and charging everyday, while I was playing tag with Little Kennie and hanging out with The Princess.  Its little charge light was blinking away while I was in absentia visiting Monkey Breath at her new home.  (hmmm, maybe one day I shall rename her, but some nicknames just have to follow you through life.  Bwahaha!)  Upon return from my day trip, I joined my visiting family from Ottawa.  We sat outside, beads of sweat dripping from our faces, as we joked and laughed into the night.  My laptop?  It was not to be seen in my hands.

Don’t get my wrong, I typed little notes into my iPhone of incredible ideas for future tales.  Although socializing is great fun, my A.D.D. brain just seems to run its own course when there is a pause in conversation or when someone brings up a situation that just gets my mind off and running to that “writer’s idea” brain of mine.  I love to write.  I love to share tales.  At night, when I went exhausted to bed, my mind would still motor on with ideas, but my energy level would not let me stay up to type up these ingenious thoughts.

The next day I did feel guilty about not writing.  My body, however, was grateful that I got my eight hours sleep.  I would like to be able to get only 6 hours sleep and function like my normal self.  Sadly, this is not to be.  I have learned that I need to trust what my body is telling me.  If I miss that one hour that brings me to the magic 8 hour number, then quite a rebellion goes on.  The Yawn Monster just won’t leave me alone.  Just as the Red Eye Itch Developer goes to work basically blinding me with burning eyeballs. (Yes, I am a Drama Queen in case you hadn’t noticed already).

So, here I sit, all rejuvenated and happily clicking my keyboard keys with my thoughts of the day.  I am really enjoying spending all this time with family and friends.  I have even booked a dinner date with my cousins for a hang out night.  Very exciting!  I shall be traveling to a celebration this weekend.  I have a dinner date at a chinese restaurant tonight with my aunt and The Princess and Little Kennie.  I have an out-of-town lunch and shopping date with The Artist and her visiting sister.  How exciting can my life get?

So many people to joke with.  So many people to share stories with.  So many people who make me realize how great my life is and how much I am grateful to have them all in my life.  I am honoured that they are willing to spend their precious time with me as well.  I love them all.  I appreciate them all.  I wouldn’t change my busy lifestyle right now for anything in the world.  I also really value those who read my crazy thoughts and check daily to see what insane new thing I shall be writing about.  Thank you so much. 

If, however, you find that there might be nothing new posted…have no fear.  I shall return to type another day!  

I think I shall find a way to create a visual message on my blog…sort of like an answering machine.  It would say something like:  You have reached Maryann’s Life.  I am not here right now.  Please feel free to peruse past posts.  I shall return to entertain you another day.  www.Maryannslife.com  is out living Maryann’s life.  I hope you are going out and enjoying your life too.  ♥

Most valuable gifts…

I believe I have mentioned in the past that I am a keeper of memories (aka:  a hoarder).  I do like to purge every once in a while and it’s usually clothing that goes out the door.  However, there are some things that I just can’t part with.  Year after year I look at items that I should just dispose of, but I can’t seem to do it.  Oh, it’s not the dollar value of these items, as they are not monetarily worthy to anyone else.  These items are my personal, valuable treasures.

While dusting today (sometimes the dust bunnies are almost lift size and just need to vacate the premises) I was cleaning off a picture frame that The Princess gave us.  It’s a lovely picture… in her eyes.  Imagine our surprise when Wiseguy and I opened this valuable gift.  There, in the hand painted picture frame, was a picture of the two of us in a dip, after completing one of our typical polkas in the kitchen.  I have no makeup on and my hair is in big, huge curlers.  Light blue ones to be specific.  Wiseguy has on an old t-shirt with holes in it.  Why was this her favourite picture of us?  We were dancing and smiling and happy.  Isn’t that what the definition of  “the best” picture is?  We know she put a lot of thought into it because she also glued on little round plastic circles to the frame, that were light blue, “to match your hair curlers,” she had said with a huge grin.  Valuable gift?  Absolutely nothing like it!

Wiseguy and I got together when The Princess was only 7, so I have a very large collection of items she drew or made, as well as items that she and I made together.  I don’t know if I could ever part with these items.

Even The Debater…his birthday and christmas cards had drawings with lots of colours and so many different items pictured in them.  He used a different colour for different sentences.  Even later, when he started using a computer, the cards were fantastic works of art.  Wiseguy wanted to throw out our card collection box.   Luckily I was home and scooped them out of his hand.  Nope.  Can’t part with these!  “Look at the one he drew of you in the tractor-trailer and him sitting beside you in the cab.”  Yeah, you can remember the trip, but that picture, drawn with so much love and feeling..well, I think a scrapbook shall have to be made for these works of art.

The Wiz (although a teenager already when I became part of the family) had completed his own objet d’art.  He had wordworking talents.  Good thing too because he was a fidget.  (Actually, he still IS a fidget.)  Fingers always had to be doing something.  He was usually taking something apart to “see how it worked”.  We have this one reindeer that was constructed out of wood and painted with little googly eyes glued to its face. I love it.  I love it so much that I actually stopped packing it away after Christmas.  I like looking at it everyday.  It makes me smile.

I have a collection of fake flowers.  I have cut and paste pictures.  I have Mother’s Day cards that rhyme and some that don’t.  I have some with glitter glued to them (now covered in plastic wrap so I am not sparkly after looking at it).  As the kids got older the gifts got fancier, but one thing remained the same, they really know our personalities and what things we like.  They always get us gifts we love.

Wiseguy and I are now at that phase where we keep telling them, “save your money because we don’t need anything.”  Hmmm, that phrase annoys me when my mother says it, so I try not to say it.  I know all their gifts are given from the heart and the joy of watching the recipient’s reaction is heartwarming.

Maybe one day I will have the courage and strength to actually chuck all my homemade gifts.  I am sure that day of reckoning will come.

But for now, I will continue to smile whenever I dust off my most valuable gifts.

P.S.  I have one gift that I love to give everyone.  This quote says it all:

  A hug is the perfect gift.  One size fits all 

 

With Love, From Your Future Conscience

‘Tis the season.  The season for weddings.  I have a lovely collection of invitations at home for upcoming weddings this year.  Some are taking place close to home, while others are at least a 6 hour drive away.  All of them are family weddings.  Coming from a large family means that I shall be receiving invitations for a long time to come.  Initially it was cousins’ weddings and now their kids are getting married.  The celebrations continue.  Family get-togethers abound and and there is always the “OMG I haven’t seen you in forever” which, by the end of the night leads up to, “we MUST stay in touch” phrase.  Indubitably, this does not occur, but the desire for it is honest and true.  All this brings me to ponder wedding celebrations and what brides (and/or grooms) consider to be most important.

Wiseguy and I had an interesting wedding.  It began with the intimate proposal.  It was so passionate.  We were in the kitchen of our apartment and Wiseguy looked at me and said, “Wanna get married?”  My equally romantic reply, “OK.”  (See, we are huge romantics aren’t we?)  Wiseguy picked the date of the wedding.  “How about April 1st?”  LOL!  (April Fool’s Day!)   That would’ve been awesome!  So true to our personalities.  But then he changed his mind.  He pondered and asked, “how about Valentine’s Day?”  Now that was sweet.  Then he continued his thought:  “That way I won’t forget our anniversary and you won’t have to kill me.”  I love that man.

We had just over a month to plan our “perfect” wedding.  It wasn’t going to be elaborate.  In our eyes, the most important thing to us was that the kids were part of our wedding day.  Wiseguy actually thought it would be even better if we asked them for their approval before proceeding with any plans.  They agreed that our getting married was a fine idea.  We were initally just going to hop a plane to Vegas, but not having the kids be part of it was not what we wanted.  Family was always very important to us.

I had a wedding gown that had been given to me when my SIL was closing up her wedding gown consignment business.  Brand new gown and only 5 years old.  Still not too old to be in style.  We got Wiseguy into a cool tux with a funky purple, pink vest.  (The Princess still remembers the special, pretty dress we bought her for the occasion.) We got married at high noon (shot gun wedding right?) at city hall.  Our reception venue…a little odd.  I had a friend who was vegetarian and at the time I had no idea what venue would be best, foodwise, so that everyone’s pallets would be happy.  Then I had a brilliant idea!  I reserved a section at a well known restaurant.  The Mandarin…Chinese buffet.  Yup, I wandered around the buffet line in my beautiful gown.  Did I care?  Nope…I was having the time of my life because I was there with my new husband.  It was great!  Just some family and friends and some great laughs. We had our picture taken by one of the wait staff.  It was given to us in a “Happy Birthday” frame.  Neat right? Memorable?  Absolutely.  (I still have that polaroid picture and the frame it came in.)

If I was to do it over again would I change anything?  Maybe I would, maybe I wouldn’t.  Definitely not your typical style proposal nor wedding, but for me, it was perfect. I have been to extravagant weddings in halls with huge chandeliers and a harpist playing as you entered.  The food was gourmet and there was French service for the dinner.  There was a 5 piece band playing.  I have been to weddings in less extravagant halls.  All decorated by the bride and her crew of bridesmaids and ushers.  The food was delivered on platters and you served yourself.  There was no band, but there was a dj providing the entertainment.  I have been to many a wedding and many a different venue.  What was the most important part to me about each wedding?  I enjoyed myself the most when the bride and groom were enjoying themselves. 

Here is a small note I would like to dedicate to future brides and grooms: 

Dear brides and grooms.  Your wedding day is special.  Brides, you will feel like a princess because the man you love is there beside you, waiting to become your husband.  As long as your family and friends are with you, you will feel the love and happiness that they are sharing with you that day.  You have your bridesmaids and ushers there to help you out and make the day a wonderful occasion for you.  Use them.  They are a vital part of making your day fantastic.  The most important thing about your wedding day is to love every minute of it.  Enjoy your day.  Laugh a lot.  If anything goes wrong…laugh it off.  It will make for great stories later.  Your wedding day is a one-day spectacular and special event.  Make it a memorable one.  Love…your future conscience.  XOXO

It takes a village…

Wiseguy was a very lucky man today.  No…a VERY lucky grandfather today.  He got to babysit…nope….entertain…little Kennie.  Believe me….she played games with him as much as he played games with her.  A battle of wits.  Entertaining?  Yes.  Tiring?  Absolutely.

Growing up, my mother always told me that she felt bad because I didn’t have grandparents or great grandparents.  “I have to be your mother, grandmother, great grandmother, best friend.”  That never made sense to me.  I thought she was just rambling…you know…the way mothers always do, and it never made sense.

Well, becoming an aunt was a learning experience.  I remember talking to my first nephew and niece (only 17 months apart) and trying to impart words of wisdom without having them burst into tears.  Then later, I became a stepmother.  Mother might have been easier, don’t know, but stepmother, to tweens and teens, not easy either.  Lots of “behind the door” tears because I couldn’t show hurt or failure.  I lived and survived it and learned a lot from that experience. 

Now, we’re at the fun part of  life.  Becoming a grandma at 42.  Although surprising, it was AWESOME!  I still have energy to keep up with the wee wonder-girl!  Our Kennie (who will be 2 years old at the end of august) is just hilarious.  Her two-syllable vocabulary and her imitations are amazing and fun and entertaining and adorable.  You can see how much time her mom spends with her.  She teaches her many things from singing to counting (by the way…counting starts like this..you say “one” and she continues with “two” …there is no “one” in her vocab.  Anyway, toddlers are fun.  Entertaining, fun, and…extremely tiring.

So, when Wiseguy told me that he got to babysit (ahem…hang out with) little Kennie, I was jealous…in a happy way.  It’s nice for him to have fun play time with little Kennie. 

Honestly, kids have an amazing view of the world and what is determined as “fun”.  Grandpa was brilliant.  He decided that it was time to water the flowers in the backyard.  “Kennie do.”  Yup, the hose, full of water, was initially aimed at watering the flowers.  Then it became a fountain, spraying on Kennie and the puppies and everywhere BUT the flowers.  Fun? Totally!  What else did the dynamic duo do? 

They ran around the house.  They drew pictures.  They ate fruit.  They played with the “Gogs” (aka dogs).  They had  lunch.  Then grandma came home at lunch and luckily got to put little Kennie down for a nap.  Nothing like watching a wee child sleep in peace.  Those little breaths in and out and that peaceful look on their face.  Absolute comfort and happiness.

After work, Grandma came home to the welcoming, happy face of wee Kennie and “come”…time to play.  We forget to play.  We adults play, but sadly, it’s usually a play to win situation.  Grandma just had to play with Kennie by dancing.  A little boogie woogie and giggling with mommy.  Then I had Kennie help set the table because “Kennie do” was all I heard.

Grandpa Wiseguy was happy.  He got to have fun playing games with the pre-two year old all day.  She had a two hour nap.  She scarfed down lunch.  She gave lots of hugs and held his hand and helped water the flowers and played drums and just gabbed and laughed and played with grandpa. 

After Princess and Little Kennie went home after dinner, I got a lovely text message “out like a lightbulb”.  I was so happy that Kennie had a  wonderful day with both grandpa and great-grandpa.  I texted back:  Grandpa out too.

Sweet dreams Grandpa.  You done good.

(Just a small note:   I have heard this phrase many times before, but in case you haven’t…it takes a village to raise a child.  The more the merrier.  All hands on deck.  Lots of supervision, lots of love, and lots of different views from different generations.  Yes, it does take a loving village to raise a child.)

Remember to look up…

Does your brain have these kinds of thoughts running through it:  I hope there isn’t a big line up at the grocery store.  Just have to grab a few things and then go home and let the dogs out quickly.  I have to drop off my library books because they are due back today.  Oh I must remember to get a new battery for my watch.  I hope that meat is thawed for dinner.  What else should I make with it?  Darn, forgot about the dry cleaning.  I’ll get that tomorrow.  No, drat, I can’t.  I need that shirt for tomorrow.  I was having a typical crazy day like thatThen something happened.   I had to stop at yet ANOTHER red light.  Aw….c’mon!  This is a long light too!  I huffed and puffed and looked at the clock then sat back and looked up.  I smiled.  I forgot how beautiful the sky was.

So, I sat there at this everlasting, red-light, intersection, and smiled like a crazy person.  I saw the puffy white clouds just hanging around.  I saw two birds chirping and whizzing about each other, just playing and having fun.  Then a bee flew by (ok, I closed my window for that one) but it was pretty.  Then I noticed the escarpment and how pretty the trees looked in the afternoon sun.  Deep breath and relax.  I thought, “I will make it to every place I need to be and everything will be fine.”

I do believe in a higher being.  Being Catholic I grew up with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.  I have read up on other religions as well.  There is always a god of some sort.  There is something that watches over us and if we actually just believe that everything will be fine, and let this higher being take control, our lives will be easier.

I have found that the older I get the more I realize what is most important in life.  I will play and cuddle with my dogs instead of vacuuming.  Dust will always be there (and it will outlive me), but spending happy times with those around me is what matters most.  I stress a lot less about cleaning. 

I used to actually collapse into a dishevelled pile in a corner whenever I just finished cleaning and then found crumbs, again, on the floor.  WHY ME!  Crazy right?  I do think about how my “perfection problem” used to affect everyone.  I would want every meal perfect.  I would want my house spotless.  If something was not going right I would lose my mind and yell at the people I most cared about.  Why?  Why did I find inanimate objects to be more important than the living, breathing people and animals around me?  That was an awakening moment.

Now, if a meal screws up or I run out of time, no biggie.  I know that everything will be fine.  I will have my internal peace and those people who love me won’t care if everything is perfect.  Those that aren’t particularly my biggest fans, well, I realize that I can’t and won’t be everyone’s favourite person.  My opinion of myself is what matters most.  By loving myself, and who I am, I can’t help but be a happier person and those around me will be happier too (mostly because I won’t be freaking out on everyone). 

Sure, I still have my meltdown moments (Wiseguy can attest to that).  It usually happens when I think I’m all on my own doing everything.  When I remember to look up and see how everything is working out fine for wildlife, I realize that the universe is taking care of me as well, if I would just let it.  Have some faith and go with the flow.

I’m back!

Did you miss me?  Maybe yes, maybe no, but let me tell you why I have not been blogging my little fingers off.

Wiseguy and I went to Europe.  No, it was not a last-minute decision.  We had booked our tickets back in February and the day had finally arrived for us to fly away and have a wonderful vacation in Europe.

Normal people book the summer off and jet away.  They take at least 3 to 4 weeks to enjoy the historical beauty of Europe.  In case you haven’t realized it yet, Wiseguy and I are not “normal” people.  I prefer the title of “unique” people.  As such, Wiseguy and I decided that we could really only be away for 10 days.  So it began.

We landed in Munich, Germany.  We drove for 8 hours down to a cozy little village in Croatia where FIL was anxiously awaiting our arrival.  After we unfurled ourselves from the mini car…ahem,  I mean “compact” car….we sat down and enjoyed our arrival.  We had driven from Munich through Austria, Slovenia, and into Croatia.  It was a looooooooooooooooong, but beautifully scenic, drive. 

The next morning we awoke to the sound of chirping birds…and the occasional crowing rooster.  We sat outside and enjoyed our new surroundings.  The panoramic mountains off in the distance.  We breathed in the fresh air.  Mind you, every once in a while you would get that one swirl of wind that would bring your nose to attention.  The smell of fresh manure from the neighbouring cows.  Mooo to you too!  I had a buddy goat that lived next door to FIL’s house.  (He belongs to the gypsy clan.  Yes, FIL’s neighbours are gypsies.)   As I would look at my goat friend he would baaa aaaaah at me.  Basically he was telling me to leave him alone while he grazed happily on his breakfast of grass and weeds. The neighbours also had two pigs of a variety I had never seen before.  One was black and the other was black and white.  The black and white was wasn’t speckled or striped.  His head and front two hoofs were white and then, I guess he got hit with paint or something, because his back half was black.  Unique right?  They also had a horse and old wooden buggy like they had on Little House on the Prairie

Honestly, being in Europe is like a time warp.  You have the modern stores in the cities but you drive 20 minutes out, village way, and BAM… farms and farm animals.  Nothing has changed.  The houses are the old cement and brick houses.  Some of them are old wood paneling.  The large vineyards there have been passed along from generation to generation.  Old ladies are wearing the babushkas on their heads and they have the trademark large, roundish black skirts with navy blue aprons.  They wander through their fields picking weeds out by hand.  Time warp right?

I will slowly share my adventures in Europe with you.  Traveling through Europe and taking millions of pictures to share with my family, was wonderful.  But being home and being able to hug and hold my family…that’s the best trip of all.  Welcome home!

Mommy Mom Mama Ma

Mother’s Day.  I’m a little late, but just thought I’d share my thoughts and feelings about this day.

Remember, in grade school, when the teacher would have arts and crafts supplies so that we could create wonderful gifts for our mom’s for Mother’s Day?  Macaroni art?  Tissue paper flowers?  Not to mention all the handmade cards (most of the time, the misspelled words were left alone to make it authentic).  Those were the cherished gifts for Mom.

As we children grew up, we couldn’t wait to get money and go BUY a real fancy gift for Mom with a real preprinted card to go with it.  So proud we were of our purchases.  Something had changed.  The happy gleam in her eyes of past gifts just didn’t seem to be there.  We tried different store-bought gifts every year.  We couldn’t figure out what we were doing wrong.  Time passed.  We gave up on the gifts.  We gave up on the cards.  I still call her on Mother’s Day and I can hear the joy in her voice.  No gift required.  

Then I became a stepmom to three wonderful children.  I received the homemade gifts and, believe me, nothing could make me feel more warm inside than that.  The homemade cards, including the wonderfully misspelled words, were the most beautiful things I had ever received.  I remember the dollar store plastic flowers that were given to me.  They were so excited with their purchase that they had to explain to me that, “we got you these because they will last forever!”  Yup, after 16 years, I still have those plastic pink flowers.  The kids don’t remember giving them to me, but that’s ok.  I will always remember the joy and pride they had when they were presented to me.

Even now, with everyone’s busy schedules, the kids find time to call or email or text.   They find some time to come and hang out.  I love all the hugs.  I am enamoured with the fragrant flowers.  I love the preprinted cards with the personalized essay of love inside them.  The older I get, the more the waterworks turn on, but that’s ok.  They are tears of love.

It’s really nice now as well because The Artist and The Baker call me mom.  Truly special for me, as I never had children of my own but married into the family plan.  I love the kids.  I love being with them.  I love seeing them.  I love seeing how well their lives are progressing and how they are excited about all their future plans.

I am proud of all of them.   I worry about each of them.  I love them all.  I think about them everyday.  I truly believe that being a Mom is a privilege.  It’s earned with lots of love, kindness, and especially hugs. 

Thanks for letting me be Mom on Mother’s Day (and every other day).