Ch Ch Ch Changes

Overnight a day changes. A month changes. A year changes.

I’ve encountered two kinds of people – those who reject change or find it difficult, and those who embrace it. For some, even changing a new hairstyle is too much. For others, they thrive on the difference that change brings to their lives. There is some easy change, like a new purse, and then there’s more difficult change, like losing a job.

This past year has brought some of the more challenging types of change. I do enjoy change, and like to have goals I’m working toward because I like the feeling of moving forward, progress, evolution. I haven’t liked all the changes this past year has brought. I lost sight of the evolution that happens to all of us and it’s not always timed the way we want it to be. Some people leave our lives and we struggle to see things the same way without them. Some people come into our lives and because they are new, it can be difficult to fit them into our world. Status quo is comfortable. It doesn’t challenge us. We are lulled by our comfort.

Christmas is a time that brings changes to the fore. Changes that don’t matter in July are overwhelming in December. We need our traditions to give us a sense of continuity over time, starting when we are children. Change at this time can be especially difficult. It’s been remarkable how many times change has come up during this recent holiday season. Anything different is painful and hard to accept. If we don’t  have Grandma’s china on the table, is it still Christmas? If we don’t gather on the 25th of December, can we still celebrate?

Change, even the hard change, is good. You can’t flip through any family photo album and not see the changes. Children grow, new family members join the photos, older members leave seats around the table, which are then filled with new children. Do we not want things to change? No, we want the good stuff, but it’s the uncomfortable change that we’d rather do without. Unfortunately, we don’t get to pick our change a la carte. It’s ordered for us, delivered to our door and there is no returning it to the kitchen.

So what’s the answer to adapting to the shitty change? Flexibility and perspective. I look back at my own life and can see the times that the times that I was part of change may have been difficult to people around me. Some of them were gracious and accepting. Some of there were not. Some of them were downright cruel. I am not going to be one of those people.

I am going to look at all change as a challenge in flexibility; witnessing my family and friends evolve and grow. Someone new coming for dinner? BRING IT! Changing a tradition we’ve had for 40 years? Guess it’s time for something new.

I’m looking at 2018 as a year of growth and success. The past several years have had their fair share of challenges. Last year felt like pushing Jell-O over sandpaper. It’s time for change, either brought to me or created by me.

I’m looking forward to that change, very much.  Happy New Year to all of you!

Time Marching On

Time is moving so quickly right now that I’m referencing spans of time by hair appointments, as in “I feel like I just got my hair cut last week!” But, you know, it’s been a month.

It seems like yesterday that Second Born Son got his driver’s license, but it has been four months. But maybe I’m not a good gauge of time since I think this was last year….

Cutie Patootie!

…when this was last year….

You don’t want to know what went into this document….

 

So you will understand why I’m a little twisted around about the idea of this infant going to ANOTHER COUNTY on ANOTHER CONTINENT for TEN DAYS!!!

Seems like only yesterday that he told us about the planned Vimy Ridge trip, waaaaaay off in the Spring of 2017. The trip sounded amazing and included a couple of days in England, followed by 8 days in France. Several students from his school are going and they get to be part of the the 100th Vimy Ridge Celebration on April 9th.

I am proud and jealous at the same time, but mostly excited for him and the experiences he will enjoy. This is a wonderful age to travel and observe such an important tribute to Canadians and their contributions and sacrifices in World War I.

So, the bag is packed, the documents are in place and the momma isn’t going to get weepy when it’s time to say goodbye.

‘Cuz we got him a great cell package and I’m sure we’ll hear from him daily…..

 

 

 

 

Musical Chairs

There’s been a lot of furniture shuffling going on at Boweryville. It started with the fact that Little Sister bought our parents’ home, and our Mother is moving to a new, smaller, lower maintenance abode. This means she has too much furniture.

At the same time, The Big Guy’s aunt is revamping her home, and wanted to move some older family pieces. It’s times like this that I’m glad we have a big house.

Now, some people like buying new, and we do have some newer pieces in our home, but there’s nothing like a well-made piece of furniture that has been used and loved by your ancestors. This first one has a special place in my heart.

Yes, I have two external drives. I'm a pessimist when it comes to technology.

Yes, I have two external drives. I’m a pessimist when it comes to technology.

This desk was where my paternal grandfather conducted his business when he ran a mechanic shop. After that, my father used it. It became the place where I did my homework as a teen and then my father took it back for his office once I was in college. Having it back not only means I get to hold on a piece of history (mine, and my patriarchs) but I also have a decent spot to work on my laptop. It should be noted that most Bowery Girl entries are crafted in the semi-prone position of the couch with my feet elevated. It’s all about blood flow to keep the creativity going folks!

Next were the matched set of wooden plant stands.

Spider plant is VERY happy!

Spider plant is VERY happy!

While one of the planters is rather water damaged, I’m hoping it can be salvaged. These belonged to my maternal grandfather. I don’t have much from that side of the family, so it’s nice to have such a nice pair of pieces.

Then came the pieces from The Big Guy’s aunt.

Table and Buffet

Table and Buffet

This table, matching buffet and four chairs (not shown) were purchased by TBG’s grandparents after they married in the early 1930s. Two of the chairs are gone, but the remaining seats need some TLC and will be as good as new.

2016-08-18 19.28.37Ignore the flooring! The buffet is the perfect height for out TV, has storage for our clutter and fits beautifully with our decor…flooring notwithstanding.  I love the mirrored back.

2016-08-18 19.29.16

I am fascinated by the grain of the table. Although it’s not a collector piece, knowing that TBG’s family had this table for formal events in their dining room, just makes it priceless.

We have been fortunate to have another family piece from TBG’s clan. A small 2x3x4 ft wooden trunk, one of two his ancestors used when relocating their family from Scotland to North America, is being used as our coffee table in our living room. I cannot imagine anyone from this era being able to whittle down their belongings to share one trunk with their kin, so this is truly a conversation piece!

While it may seem sappy, I do feel that we each have a valuable family story. A lot of these stories are lost over time. These pieces are built better than most furniture being sold today, so I have no problem collecting “old” stuff. It will outlast any of my “new” stuff.

Puggly

I believe I’ve found the way to create world peace. Get a puppy.

But not just any old puppy. You need a Pug puppy.

WHAT. A. FACE!

WHAT. A. FACE!

Little Sister recently lost her beloved poodle (RIP Lance!) and the ache just wouldn’t go away. She saw a Facebook post that one of her friends had a litter of pups and couldn’t resist the puppy pull.

Now, you have to understand; we were raised with German Shepherds. BIG dogs! I am guilty of making comments about little dogs just being cats with dog tags. But that was before I met Eco.

Eco – as in Echo, spelled incorrectly, not as in Ecological. Little Sister does things like that.

We recently enjoyed a day at the beach with wee Eco. It was a slow start for his first day at the shore.

Pugs have breathing issues. Not aided in this instance by the fact that he's crammed his head into layers of blankets...

Pugs have breathing issues. Not aided in this instance by the fact that he’s crammed his head into layers of blankets…

Eco wasn’t really “into” much of the whole water, sand thing. But he really shone later on in the day. We like to go walk about after soaking all the sun we can handle. It’s nice to move around, see the local shops, maybe get some deals. It usually takes about an hour and we grab a snack before heading back to the parking lot and hit the road for home.

Unless you are with Eco.

Then it takes A LOT longer.

Hotter than Bieber, I tell ya!

Hotter than Bieber, I tell ya!

Little Sister bought a sarong and used it as a pup carrier, since it was too hot to let him walk on the sidewalk, and let’s face it, someone would step on him, then they would have pug all over their sandals. It would be a disaster.

Okay, let's walk!!

Okay, let’s walk!!

Finally we shake off the spectators when this happens!

#$&@!

#$&@!

We’ve moved about 20 feet – just to give you some perspective. Again, we move along, after answer what will be the same three questions; 1. What kind of dog is it? (He’s a Pug) 2. Is he full grown? (No he’s only 8 weeks old) 3. What’s his name? (Eco)

Then we decide to pop in to a store, having found something that catches our eye!

ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME?!?

ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!?

Now we’ve got store clerks fawning over him. Let’s completely forget the fact that dogs aren’t likely welcome in the shop. It’s a puppy! It’s a Pug! It’s Eco! Even while sleeping, completely adorable!

Ok back on the street. Let’s move!

What happens when you stop for 5 minutes to order Dairy Queen!

What happens when you stop for 5 minutes to order Dairy Queen!

Second Born Son wanted to experiment. Was the attraction the puppy, or the owner?

Pug pups = people magnets!

Pug pups = people magnets!

Needless to say, he slept all the way home!

Give Peace Pugs A Chance!

 

Full Circle Moment

Once upon a time, a little boy invited all his friends in his neighbourhood to come to his house on his birthday. The date was set and his friends promised to come.

The day of the event rolled around. All of the children from the neighbourhood arrived at the allotted time, dressed for a party with gifts in hand.

The only problem was, it wasn’t the little boy’s birthday at all. And he hadn’t told his parents about his guests. His mother, mortified, sent the children home. With their presents.

This took place approximately 70 years ago.

******

Last week, First Born Son came home told and told me about a conversation he had with the young son of a family friend. His birthday was coming up and he wanted to invite FBS to his party.

“You can bring your Mom too!” he stated, and FBS recounted with a laugh.

Touched by the young man’s thoughtfulness, and chuckling over his precociousness, I headed out to find the perfect gift. Two John Deere T shirts for a “hard working” young man.

Although FBS couldn’t join me due to his work schedule, I took the gift to the wee lad’s house. There was no party. His parents weren’t even home from work. His grandmother, who is a caregiver for him and his older sister, was taken aback to when she came to the door. The boy and his sister were delighted to see me, and he gleefully took the gift and shredded the colourful paper. The grandmother sputtered appreciation for the gift, how kind the gesture was, how unexpected, how her daughter and son-in-law would be surprised to learn their son, the birthday boy, had made such a bold invitation.

This boy’s birthday was June 10.

The first story is about my father. His birthday was June 9.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

The only thing more striking is the resemblance between this little boy and his grandson at the same age.

Although it’s been two years since he passed, I found it somewhat comforting that this story, that he told us many times, came to me in the moment that I realized that I was invited to a party that wasn’t happening; for a young man who just wanted to have some people over to celebrate.

Happy Birthday Duddy!

2014-12-20 22.17.13

 

Momma Bear

There are certain moments that are seared in your mind that when you reflect back on them, you aren’t just look back, but you find yourself IN that moment.

For me, it’s in Grade 10. I’m standing at the front of the classroom and I’m turning in to the teacher my  textbook for a Basic Bookkeeping class that I am dropping. Being the person I was back then, I don’t know how I didn’t pass out from the stress and anxiety. Being the person I am now, I’ll like to punch that asshat in the mouth.

It started innocently enough. My Mother is a wiz at math and felt that an entry level accounting course would serve me well. The course description certainly sounded appealing, even for a low-functioning mathematician like me. [Insert laugh track here]. I was terrible at math. It started in Grade 3 when the teacher of my split Grade 2/3 class told my Mother that I was a clever girl and that I’d figure out multiplication on my own; she had other students (namely those in Grade 2) who really needed her help. She was wrong. But, we all have our strengths, and since I never planned to become an accountant, we didn’t sweat it.

However, a Basic Bookkeeping course offered to enlighten the student on how to balance a chequebook, how to calculate interest and develop a budget. You know, simple life skills that all people should have. I was excited to learn “real world” stuff and not B.S. math like Trig and Algebra. [It should be noted that I ROCKED Algebra, something I attributed to the fact it was the only math that had LETTERS!]

I knew within moments that I. Was. Screwed. The teacher was a short, portly man with thinning white hair. I am still amazed that they made belts that long. Even though it was the 80s, this man was from a time much farther in history. His lessons were confusing, incomplete and complex. Within two weeks, I was behind. By the midterm exams, [Yes Virginia, you used to have to write the mid term exam to be exempt from the final exam. Can we discuss how ancient I am another time?] my chances of passing were slim to none. My Mother helped with my homework as I turned myself into knots. An experienced bookkeeper in her own Right, she was stunned at the course material. There were no references to personal finance, rather, we were being taught the same material that she herself was paid to do for a corporation. Spreadsheets for God sake!

My parents went to Parent-Teacher night when Little Sister and I were in elementary school, but I can honestly only remember once that my Mother attended the high school Parent-Teacher night. It was to address this teacher. We went together, since she wanted both sides of the story at the same time. Teachers were stationed in the gymnasium with parents cuing up to speak with the teachers in a civilized fashion.  Around the gym were teachers and parents have conversations, except for at one desk, which was empty. My teacher’s desk. There was a line up of parents several feet deep, with my Mother being second in the line. When it became evident that this particular teacher had no intention of attending, the parents started talking. Quickly we found out that most of the students were in risk of losing the credit. Even the most clever, numerically gifted were struggling.

Fed up, Mom left the line up and searched for the Vice Principal. He happened to know us from when he was the VP at our elementary school and he knew full well that we weren’t the type of family to blow smoke about a situation. They discussed the frustrations I was having, and he agreed with the need to speak directly to this teacher. With his help, Mom found the teacher.

And then she ripped him a new asshole.

I had honestly never seen my mother like this. She started calmly, logically, and when this sad excuse of an educator started giving her attitude she dropped the hammer on him and turned into a Momma Bear. The last thing I remember was walking away with her and seeing the other parents moving in for the kill. While I wouldn’t have assumed he would have survived the evening, he did live to die another day.

That night it was decided that I would drop the class, and take a SPARE! Yes, the world was ending.

Mom joined me in the guidance office the next day,  with a very sympathetic counsellor, who agreed leaving the class was the best option. I simply needed to turn in my text book.

Brilliant idea.

I walked in shortly after the bell rang and the rest of the class was seated. When I walked to his desk to hand him the text book, he stood up and without moving a muscle, save for his tongue, proceeded to rip me apart.

The Coles Notes version is:

  • I was a pathetic student
  • I was a quiter
  • I was never going to amount to anything in life
  • His course was the cornerstone to success, with I was never going to have
  • He did wish me luck with the rest of my life, although something tells me that was not a genuine sentiment.

I can still remember what it felt like to stand at the front of that class. I was a head taller than this man but his words hit me and flew by me like shrapnel. It was surreal. I could see the students in my peripheral vision. They were almost as traumatized as I was. I could see them pitying me and envying me at the same time. Most of them looked down at their desk. Some of them, as though they were watching a train wreck couldn’t look away. And I suppose it was a wreck of a fashion. A teacher destroying a student.

This impacted me for a long time. Until I realized, the man was wrong. I didn’t respect him. I didn’t like him. Therefore, his opinion of me didn’t matter. No one I cared about felt the same way he did. He was an angry, bitter man. Maybe he was jilted by a Sarah back in his hay day and I was going to pay the price. Maybe he didn’t like the crick in his neck that he developed when he had to talk to me. Regardless, from that time forward, I cared less and less about what other people thought of me. I had support and I was raised to be strong. I cannot imagine what it would have been like for me if I hadn’t had that support and strength.

But when Second Born Son came to me with a serious problem last week that involved the classroom. I knew what had to be done. Much is written about the beauty of teachers who are the foundation of a child’s success; how their love of learning shapes and nurtures a child for the rest of their lives. [And we value the ones who have touched us! CR ❤ Sadly, there are small minority whose impact is much less desirable, and scarring. They too can impact a child for a lifetime.

So fret not; SBS has support. And he has strength. And he has a Momma Bear.

 

IN THE BLINK OF AN EYE

Yes, the summer flew by far too quickly, but that’s not the only thing that has happened in the blink of an eye.

Yup, I'm going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

Yup, I’m going to trot this picture out any time I have a chance!!!

This wee, innocent, fragile soul graduated from high school! I KNOW! Crazy right? He just learned how to walk last week, so the fact that he went to his Prom is incomprehensible!

A Boy and his Truck

A Boy and his Truck

Because no Prom is complete without photos, and because I’m not a fan of the traditional “stand beside your date” snaps, we did a full-fledged shoot with the one thing in the world that fills First Born Son’s heart, his truck.

DSC_8348

While other grads were cozying up to their significant others, this grad wanted to make sure he had all the shots he could possibly get with his truck.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

This blows my mind. Every. Single. Time.

Don’t misunderstand, he had a date. She looked lovely. She was thrilled that he had a cool ride. But he just wasn’t that hung up on pix with a chick when he could have pix with his pickup truck!

Sigh

Sigh

The afternoon was bittersweet, because, with the pride we had in how he has wrapped up this chapter of his life and standing on the edge of the next, I couldn’t help but think of how proud my Dad would be. Not only did FBS rock his suit, and look ever inch a young man, but he made sure his grandfather was represented on this special day. He wore Dad’s cufflinks.

2015-05-23 14.28.12

After what was, in his words, one of the best nights of his life, FBS said “Farewell” to his high school years. He was more than ready to drive off into the sunset, as long as the sun set over his college!

Aviators - the finishing touch!

Aviators – the finishing touch!

Minutes after this photo was taken, he started working for a landscaper and we didn’t see him again until the day before he moved into residence. (I’m only being mildly sarcastic, it was actually two days before.)

As “Move In/Move Out” day approached, advice started flooding in. I was going to cry. I was going to be emotional. I was going to miss him like CRAZY! Well as time progressed, I wasn’t getting emotional, I was nervous. Anxious that he wasn’t allowing enough time to get ready. Not making sure that he was prepared for the practical demands of being responsible for himself. (Grocery shopping wasn’t a priority until his Uncle mentioned he might was to look into it. We did it the next day, at FBS’s insistence!) I never developed the symptoms others warned me about and I was starting worry that I was a lousy mother for not dreading my child’s imminent departure.

I remember my parents’ reaction to my leaving for college. It was a difficult transition and I felt very scared. I didn’t want that for FBS. Both the Big Guy and I felt that doing our job as parents would be to prepare our son for the world, support him in his decisions and be happy for his successes. If I’m sad or upset, I take away from his excitement, and maybe even damage his chance of success. If I make my feelings more important that his, it diminishes what he accomplishes.

Besides, we were both really excited for him. (The Big Guy was most excited about FBS’s Dorm Life – flashback anyone??) There is nothing more beautiful than seeing a young person on the edge of a wonderful opportunity. We could see how excited he was and how he was so ready to GO!  How could I, as a parent, be anything but thrilled for him? Parents are only successful if our children are happy and achieve the dreams the set for themselves. The whole “Bird flying from the nest” analogy is corny, but it’s perfect for this situation. We are excited that he’s ready to fly, and can’t wait to see how far he goes and where he lands!

So, three weeks in, I have yet to cry because I miss him. (Partly because he texts me more now than he did when we lived under the same roof!) I have already seen him grow and change in wonderful ways. He’s starting to learn the things we are unable to teach him; what he has to learn for himself. I’m not feeling emotional when I walk past his room (I know he’ll be back when the food and clean clothes run out!).  I don’t miss him in a negative way; I think about him just as much as I regularly do and I’m always thinking that I can’t wait to hear his stories!

And I don’t have nearly as much cooking or laundry to do!! 😉