Be A Smoker (In Your Own House)

I can’t judge anyone because first I have to look at my own life.  Could I give up real Italian pizza for the rest of my life?  Would I never allow Lindt chocolate to touch my lips?  Could I ask someone to stop smoking or judge them because they do smoke?  To all of these questions, I have to answer NO.

BUT, I am annoyed by the impact that smoking has on my life.

My neighbours, I wrote about their son yesterday, are regular smokers who have created a beautiful outdoor living room because they won’t smoke in their house.  He is a realtor and knows that if you smoke in a house it affects its resale value.  (I am not going to mention the affect that smoking has on ones lungs!)  Anyways, when our neighbours are out smoking, I feel uncomfortable and mildly nauseous playing outside with my children.    The smoke wafts into our backyard, through our sandbox and into our lungs.

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Our neighbours backyard living room under the roof. 

Yesterday, we were outside our beautiful new public library.  Fifteen month old, OC, is starting to walk more and more, but sometimes he does crawl.  There is a slight ramp at the entrance to our library.   He walked halfway down the ramp, fell hands first and crawled through a pile of cigarette butts.

Here is our new library.  You can’t see the cigarette butts that litter the front entrance. 

Feel free to smoke, but do it in your own house!

Be At Home

There are a few things that chip off a little piece of my heart.

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a neighbour which took a piece away.

Here is the scenario:

Right now, there are many men and some women who travel up to Northern Canada to work in the tar sands.  These workers are being paid alot of money, and I mean alot of money.  Here is a summary of my conversation with my twenty year old neighbour.

Jason was home for his five days off.  He works twenty-days up north in a camp.  He gets all his meals cooked for him, buffet style.  There is a maid that cleans up his room every day.  He works twelve hour shifts and I believe that he probably works hard.  He told me that he makes more money in three months working up north that he could make in one year in our town.  He also told me on his five days off, he spent more than he would normally spend in a month. (Note: he does not pay rent here, he stays with his parents.  He has a truck payment, but that is all for expenses.)

His parents were away when he was home for his five days off.  He said that it was hard being home because he was often hungry and looking for food, but then realized he had to cook for himself.  He was wearing two new gold ear rings as well as a gold necklace.  And take a look at his truck:

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I am worried.  Deeply, profoundly worried.

What type of environment are we creating for these men who leave their families and come home for only five days out of twenty-six?

How about the families that are left behind?  What about the amount of money they are being paid? (They make more than my husband does who has three degrees!)

Lastly, what skills are they learning to contribute to regular society? And what happens when the work ends?  I am very, very worried.

Boys, I want to tell you that money isn’t everything.  As your Papa Jenkins always told me, “You can’t take it with you when you go!”  Yes, go and make some money up north if you need to, but be sensible with your money.  Save it, donate it, but mostly be at home with the people you love and love you.  Life is short!

Be a Pet Person

I grew up with a cat, that would terrorize people. At our house you didn’t want to leave a toe hanging out of the end of your covers.

I married a dog guy. We have a dog. We used to have two. KT we “put down” about a year ago. She was an awesome, old, arthritic dog. Summer is an energetic, loving seven year old.

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Summer and KT

I am not a huge fan of cats anymore. Unless you live on a farm, I don’t really see the point of having a hairy, furniture scratching, kitchen counter walking, kitty litter pooping animal in your house.

I love our Summer dog, but as spring begins to return (I hope), the amount of hair falling off this fairly large animal is copious. Copious could also be used to describe the size of her poop. Today, I am contemplating my fondness of all animals hairy.

UNTIL I saw this! Our youngest son, OC, loves our dog. I mean he LOVES our dog. If she is lying on the floor, OC is next to her. If Summer’s tail is wagging, OC is trying to grab at it.

This is what I found on my kitchen floor today:

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Yup, I guess I am a dog lover! I think everyone that has children should have a pet, at least for a period of time. Even if it is babysitting a friend’s cat/dog or buying a fish in a tank. I think the value of having a pet and being responsible for its food, cleaning and tender love and care creates within everyone a little bit more compassion, patience and pure joy.

Be a Waffler

My husband’s grandfather has always amazed
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He is our navy man, computer savy, duct tape selling, all around incredibly loving and nice guy.

The first time I met Gramps it was around my future in-laws kitchen table, but a few times later I was invited over to Gramps and G.G.’s for breakfast.

Who was behind the kitchen counter? Gramps was, wearing his apron and his chef’s hat, oh how he loves to wear silly things. Gramps whipped up a batch of his waffles and even threw in a few eggs or two on the side. You could see the love pouring out of the bowl into the hot pan. You could hear the playful chatter between Gramps and his family. It was an amazing meal, the first of many.

Every weekend, we try to re-create Gramps’ ritual of waffle making. Who wouldn’t want to?

Waffles symbolize for me, such joy and an amazing time together as a family.

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Thanks Gramps for passing on this ritual to our family. Plus the maple syrup and peanut butter on top isn’t too bad either. (Yup, I said peanut butter!)

Be Full of Boxes

I love getting inspiration by talking to people and reading others thoughts through blogs. This blogging things is very, very new for me.
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So when I find a kindred spirit, a fellow SAHM, I subscribe and enjoy their diatribes about what they are experiencing in their every day life.

Today I was inspired by Chaya at Little Duckies. Check her out here: http://littleduckies.wordpress.com/2013/01/23/the-amazing-box/

I can tell that I am moving into a new season of my life. In the fall, my life seemed to be all about TREES. See https://beenough.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/be-a-leaf-gatherer/ and https://beenough.wordpress.com/2012/11/11/be-a-tree-hugger/

Now these TREES are turning into BOXES. I try to pack a box a day to declutter and get ready for a potential move. My boys have box creations all over the house. Today Little Duckies reminded me again of the magnificent qualities of boxes:

Here are a few of our creations:

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Here are all the cousins together: ages 1 to 51, all playing with boxes for OC’s 1st birthday party.

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My son’s box theatre – add two t-shirts and you have a curtain… sorry you will have to crane your neck to see it. I can’t figure out how to flip it!

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Lastly, the latest box house currently in our living room. It contains a swinging door and everything.

It truly is the simple things in life, isn’t it?

Time to go and pack another box!

Be A Labour Lover

I wish there was a way to harness the power of a woman in labour!

ImagePersonally labour, has been the most powerful, awesome, life changing experiences of my life.  Yes, there is pain, there are bodily fluids, there is an incredible feeling of losing control… but there is life!  New life created and a new beginning.

I have been in labour three times and given birth to three beautiful boys.  Our first was born at home at night, half in the water and half on the floor beside our dishwasher.   Our second was born at home in the mid morning, in the water. Our last was born in the evening, at the hospital on all fours with a crowd awaiting his safe arrival.

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I am not in labour right now, but I am feeling pain.  A body experiencing numbness and tingling for no apparent reason.  A mind that just won’t settle down.  An inability to just enjoy the little moments.  Our family getting ready to move to a new city.  An extended family strained by one person’s choices. Change is in the air.  BREATHE JOANNA BREATHE.

I was reminded by very wise Ann Voskamp of the importance of breathing through the pains.

 http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/01/how-to-breathe-through-the-hard-times/

Today as I ponder labour, I realized my love of labour involves more than labour itself but the feeling of complete support of the people around me.  Our beautiful midwife, Sylvia, had educated us and guided us through the previous nine month.  My wonderful husband, Sexy Neck, had been present not only all the appointments, but all the changes that pregnancy and parenthood brings.  My parents and sister, helped with the older boys.  And lastly, my group of women who supported me by coming to my “Labour Party”, lit a candle as I went through labour and have stuck through me through the pains of motherhood.

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My labour party for baby OC! 

Right now as I “Labour through life”, I need to: embrace the pain (knowing it is just for this time), rely on those people who support me, and get help from some trusted professionals.

Be A Recovering Food Addict

Most days, I don’t know what to call myself, today it is clear. I am a food addict.

I drink a glass of wine or two a week. Beer and hard liquor isn’t my thing.

I don’t do drugs, nor enjoy seeing or smelling people on drugs.

I could become a gambler if I wasn’t so cheap… but I am cheap!

I don’t like taking pills nor going to the doctor so prescription drugs would be hard to get addicted to.

My drug of choice is food! I am a food addict.

I think about food constantly, what we are going to eat, when are we going to eat, who is hungry (my boys are always hungry). I am starting to enjoy cooking more, enjoying the process more and allowing myself the ability to throw a bad recipe into the garbage. (Note, do not ever make peanut butter cookies with sunbutter – yuck!)

I often cruise through the kitchen grabbing something to graze on. Come take a look at my grazing cupboard in the picture below. It is packed full of treats: nuts, dark chocolate chips, crackers, dried fruit. Oh ya, I have to include cookie dough in my food addiction too! I love that stuff. YUM!

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Yes, that is our dog’s nose checking out the cupboard too! Everyone loves it!

I am not sure why I am constantly cruising through the kitchen: habit, boredom or trying to fill some deep-seeded need inside of me. The verdict is still out. I will let you know.

BUT alas, there is hope! I did have a very interesting book jump off the shelf at the library the other day. I am going to hop off this computer right now and start reading it. Here is the book inside my other favourite place to graze:

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Be Grateful

How do I express gratitude for some very special people who do so much for me?

I have tears in my eyes as I write this and try to express my feelings.

From the moment I was born, my parents have provided me with support, love, encouragement and they have never stood in the way of my dreams.  They have not been perfect, nor would I ask them to be!  But they have been unwavering in their love and willingness to help me.  They have watched me go off to University to chase a little white ball around a volleyball court, get married at twenty three, move to Europe and back three times, give birth to three little blonde boys and now get ready to follow my husband to a new job in a new city.   Whew! 

I think my parents have painted more walls in the houses of I lived in than I have!

My parents have been the sole second caregivers to my children.  They spend a lot of time thinking of crafts, reading books, taking them skating and letting them have the run of their house.  

They have always bought thoughtful gifts and things that we truly need, even if I don’t think I need a beautiful KitchenAid mixer!  Oh, but I did and how I love it.  My parents are wise!  

Who else has stepped up to the plate when I have no one else to call?  Who else has understood me when no one else did?  Who else would understand my emotional ways, but can hear the story behind these emotions? Who else is willing to show up with a cup of tea and time to chat on the couch?  What a gift I have been given in my parents. 

Last week, I went back to teaching part time.  A good friend and my parents stepped in to take care of the boys.  

Here is the little gift that we gave to them to show our gratitude: 

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My husband and I truly mean what this says from the bottom of our hearts.

Be Mildly Rebellious

Today I am wearing the t-shirt I slept in!  Rebellious, I know.  Maybe tomorrow it will be “no bra” day.  Ha!

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I try very hard to “be” a woman who stands by her word, that does what she says she will do and live by the guidelines of the culture I live in.  But I have been inspired lately to be a bit more rebellious towards these cultural guidelines.

Thank you Tim Ferris and his book The Four Hour Work Week. 

[Sidenote: Last year, my book club gave me the award Actionator 2012 because I really do try and put into to practice what I read and am inspired by.]

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In The Four Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris gives the reader what he calls “Comfort Challenges”.  One comfort challenge that spoke very personally to me was the “Relax in Public” challenge.  My understanding of the activity is that you find a busy sidewalk and lie down.  Don’t explain yourself, just take a rest.  Hmmm… thought provoking isn’t it.  Why is this not culturally acceptable?  If I am tired, why not lie down? As a mom of three boys under five, I think I am going to instill this into my daily life.  I am going to give it a try next week.

Here is my last thought from Tim’s book: “It isn’t enough to think outside the box.  Thinking is passive.  Get used to acting outside the box.”  Well said Tim.  I am a good thinker, but now I am going to aim to be a better Actionator!

Be a Walker

Yesterday, I attempted to drive my son to Elementary School because it was cold (-8 degrees Celsius) and to be truthful, I was feeling lazy.   He goes to school about ten blocks away, down a hill, in the centre of our town.  The school has approximately 750 students from Kindergarten to Grade seven.

Now here is the kicker: The school drop-off was absolutely insane.  I was seriously shaking my head at how many cars there were.  I couldn’t even get into the school parking lot.

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(View of parking lot from the top of hill I had to traverse!)

I ended up parking on a busy side road, hauling all three kids out of their car seats, walking around the very busy parking lot, over a huge snow pile, and then down the other side clinging onto the chainlink fence.

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We made it into the line-up just as the bell rang.

I think we will go back to walking to school!

But this brings up my next point: Why don’t we walk more?  Why don’t more people get out of their cars and walk into the restaurant?  I understand if you have children to tote or a wheelchair to unfold, but if you are able-bodied and alone in your car, why do you go through the drive thru?

Our fifteen month old just started walking on the weekend.  What a joy it is to see his smiling faces as he “cowboy” walks across the living room!

Last point for today, when my husband was teaching grade six/seven, a city planner came in and asked the students to draw their neighbourhood.  Those children that walked to school had more awareness of the environment around them and perhaps more of an appreciation.  Do children notice how crunchy chestnuts are when you step on them or learn how to walk along a concrete barrier when they are zooming down the road in a car?

Yup, I think that walking is a pretty important skill to utilize, something we shouldn’t take for granted!

Thanks baby OC for reminding me of this lesson – now just remember to watch out for the table!

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