Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Reflecting...

When I look back on 2014 it is with greatly mixed emotions. On paper this year was - very clearly - one of the worst of my life.

I nearly lost my marriage. I did lose my job. I spent 7 very long months as a part-time parent. And as a single woman for the first time since I was a teenager.

There were very dark times indeed. And yet...despite all that...I find myself looking back on this year with immense gratitude. Because it was through those darkest moments that I finally figured out who I want to be. Not only that - but I can see clearly now the things that I have been doing that have kept me from being that person.

There are so many cliches that fit my last year:

"It's always darkest before the dawn."

"Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

"What defines us is how well we rise after falling."

"This too shall pass..."

I've said them  all and repeated some as a type of meditative mantra to get me through the roughest times. And now I put them aside for a new saying...call it my tagline for 2015.


     I will run my first 10k race.

     I will write more often and complete my first novel by the end of the year.

     I will be more present for my girls and be the role model they need me to be.

     I will be a better friend to those that have stood by me through everything.

     I will work at my marriage and not let this second chance pass me by.


Okay 2015...let's do this.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas 2014

Oh it was a great Christmas this year...one of the best ever I would say.

Full of family and friends and childish excitement. Full of turkey and presents and love and affection.

It was the most relaxed and most enjoyable Christmases I can ever remember..especially since having kids...


New jammies on Christmas Eve...

Milk & cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.


Stockings...my favourite part of Christmas.
 


"WAKE UP DADDY!!!! IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!"






I was so touched by this gift from my husband. He framed my two running medals and bought me a third frame for my next one. So sweet and thoughtful.

Mid-morning my mum, aunt and Nana arrived at our house and it was a lovely afternoon of examining gifts, making trifle and eating the best turkey ever!


Little T helping Nana with trifle...

Hubby and my aunt with their amazing turkey...so good!


As our family has grown so big over the years it's impossible for us to see everyone on Christmas Day. So this year we did a Brunch a few days later...and basically had Christmas all over again!


Brunch for 20 is served...


And we finished it all off with the 1st Annual Lip Sync Battle...thanks for the inspiration Jimmy Fallon!

Nanny with a little "Unchained Melody"

Oldest busted out the entire "Fresh Prince of Bel Air" theme song. I was so proud...
My mum channeling Etta James...

Shaneyney was Making Love out of Nothing at all...

Is that Paul Rudd in my living room?

Elvis had not left this building...
I busted out my high school self with a little Wilson Phillips...and my sis in law did an amazing job with her song "Zedd". For some reason I don't have any photos of either of them. :(

It was a very Merry Christmas indeed...


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Grateful

Last Christmas Eve I found myself standing in the kitchen of my husband's aunts house, surrounded by all of my in-laws wondering if my 19th Christmas with them would be the last. I was almost certain it would be. My marriage was in a downward spiral that I couldn't seem to stop and the end of the story...it seemed...was already sadly written.

Shows how much I know...

Because tonight I was back in that same house, hugging those same aunts and uncles and being hugged back tightly. And I was grateful. So grateful that these people were still my family. 

So grateful that I was not spending the holidays apart from my children and the man with whom I had spent the last 20 Christmases with.

It has taken hard work to get us here. And more work is needed to keep us here and moving forward together. But we are committed to the process. 

Someone recently asked me to sum up 2014 in just 5 words. With the year it has been I thought it would be hard to do...but it wasn't. 

"Stress. Change. Adjustment. I'm happier."

All things considered that's not too shabby. I'll take it.

And now...sitting here on Christmas Eve surrounded by my kids, my husband and  my in-laws...in front of my Christmas tree...watching Christmas movies...I need to add one more word.

Grateful. 

Merry Christmas everyone...





Monday, November 3, 2014

Sisterly Love

I love watching my little girls play together. It's not always pretty - they often battle over who gets to call the shots - but even then it's always great to watch them figure things out together.

Recently we were at a family function and my girls escaped from the chaos to the quiet patio where I noticed they were sitting like this...



I went closer to the window to try to hear what they were saying but I couldn't. But they were laughing and smiling and it was a very lovely moment to witness...especially when my oldest daughter said something that made her little sister give her a big hug and a kiss. I nearly cried.



These are the little moments you want to remember. They are spontaneous and real. That is what makes them so special.

And while I am so glad I was able to capture a few candid photos to have a visual record of that moment...my true memory will be how I felt when they hugged. How my heart swelled at this display of sisterly love.

Later that day I asked my oldest what they were talking about. She said they were talking about how much fun it would be to live in a house that had holes in the roof. So that when it rained the house would fill up with water and they could swim from room to room.

Then she told her little sister that she would only want to live in that house with her. And that was the comment that provoked the hug and the kiss.

Ahh...sisterly love...right now it's all about swimming through houses and other wild and wonderful tales. Eventually it will be about boys and love and kids and life...I hope they are always there for each other. Sharing wonderful thoughts that prompt spontaneous hugs.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Fresh Start...

Two weekends ago - after what was to be a "brief" separation turned into 7 months of living apart - my husband moved back home.

It has been a long and bumpy road to get us here...to a place where we were both ready to be married to each other again. To a place where we have both agreed to put in the work needed to try to fix what was broken.

And so far I am very happy to report that this reconciliation has been very positive. Our girls are over the moon to have their daddy back home and we have made family time a top priority - spending lots of time playing board games and reading stories all together.

We have also made spending time as a couple a priority. This was something I know we didn't do enough of before. This is one of the big lessons we needed to learn.

I have always said that marriage is hard and communication is the key to success. Turns out I was talking the talk and not walking the walk. Because we weren't communicating...we were co-existing.

I had convinced myself that we didn't have to spend every second together and that having time apart made us stronger. And while to some degree I still think that is true...I also know now that it's a fine balance. And that spending time just being with each other - even if we are just watching TV - is just as important as regular date nights.

The past 7 months on my own has given me (and I think I can safely say him as well) a huge dose of perspective. I have thought long and hard about our life together - how it began when we were so young and how I was so sure this was the right path for me that I never even considered it could go wrong.

I realize now that we never really had a chance to figure out who we were without each other. We were just 17 when we started dating and that from the beginning we were always a "we".

It's a dangerous thing to not have a strong sense of self as you grow up and change. As the world changes around you and life takes you on it's crazy journey. Because by the time we realized the problem it was almost too late to change it.

And it's tempting to consider starting all over again. I think for both of us this has been true. The lure of "what could have been" or what "could still be". But it is the true unknown...and we have built a life and a family together. To throw that away for an unknown future...well...for me it wasn't worth it.

While our relationship may never be shiny and new again...it is rich and deep with history and memories and love.

And so I approach this take 2 on my marriage with my eyes wide open and my head leading my heart. I love my husband. Have always loved him and will always love him. But I know now that love is not enough. It is mandatory and amazing but it cannot be the sole foundation upon which a relationship is built.

We are still a work in progress. We have 20 years of bad communication habits to overcome. 20 years of thinking "I know what that look means" or assuming that we know what the other is going to say or how they will react. it is key for both of us to never assume but to ask the questions and express what we are feeling. 

I am grateful for this second chance. This opportunity to really learn from our mistakes, to realize where we went wrong and - hopefully - do it better this time.

Time will tell...wish us luck.


 

Friday, October 10, 2014

First Kindergarten Field Trip - Richmond Nature Park

My youngest daughter started kindergarten this year and that milestone was one of the main reasons I decided to start my own business. I knew that being self employed would give me the flexibility I needed to be more involved with her first year in school.

When my oldest daughter started school I missed most of her field trips because I couldn't get time off work and I only saw her teachers at special events and parent teacher conferences which made me feel completely disconnected.

Only a few weeks into the school year and I am already reaping the rewards of my decision. My girls teachers know who I am because I see them everyday and I have been able to help out in the classrooms and volunteer for field trips.

And the first field trip was to the Richmond Nature Park with my little kindergarten and her classmates. She was so excited and so was I. I hadn't been to the Nature Park since I was a kid and I couldn't wait to experience it again with her.

I was very impressed by the Park. They have done some major improvement over the past few decades and it is a truly cool place to visit and learn about nature.

















The best part of the day was my little one saying "I'm so glad you came with us today Mummy." as we drove back to the school.

Me too.





Sunday, October 5, 2014

Family Time

Some quality family time was spent this weekend at an old favourite and a new favourite place.

First it was breakfast and a stroll along the docks in Steveston:








And then after hearing so much about the new million dollar playground in our 'hood we decided to check it out for ourselves. On the walk to the new park we were treated to a rare sight...daytime fog rolling in over the ocean. So pretty...

And now...the park:





Showing her "scared" face just before taking on the giant zipline.
Love this little face...fake terrified or otherwise
 Turns out they both had reason to fear...as Daddy pushed them so hard on the zipline they almost went flying off. Luckily they had a tight grip and managed to stay on.






 



Family consensus is that the million dollars was money well spent. We will be back at a hopefully less busy time and with a little less "oomph" on the zipline push...


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