The Hoodie

It was a simple navy blue hoodie. I dug it out of the pile of my Dad’s coats and jackets that my Mom had laid out for us to go through before she donated them. I tried it on, looked in the mirror and decided to take it home.

I hung the hoodie on the coat rack in our back hall. A few days later, I grabbed it as I headed out the door to take Q to school. I slipped my arms through the sleeves, zipped it up and headed out the door. After I had dropped him off and was back in my car, I noticed that the hoodie smelled like Dad. I don’t know if it was the smell of his cologne or deodorant, but in that second, it felt like my Dad was there in the car, giving me a big warm hug. I started to cry with the realization that this sweater, this navy blue hoodie with the smell of my dad infused into it was probably the closest I would ever get to having him hold me tight again.

There are days when it still feels so surreal, days when I pick up the phone to call and tell him something or text him about a game I saw. He is in my thoughts all the time. I miss my Daddy.

Sitting in my car, wearing his hoodie, I didn’t want to take it off. And then I didn’t want to wear it anymore, because I knew that if I did, over time it would start to smell like me, and not like him. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to smell that slightly spicy smell that was a part of my Dad if I kept wearing it. How would I remember? Even if I smelled the products that Dad wore, it wouldn’t be the same because it wasn’t him.

I know in my heart that the hoodie is not the only thing that will keep me connected to him. If I am honest, I don’t even really remember seeing him wearing it that much. It wasn’t a piece of clothing that I would have looked at and said “that was my Dad”. In that moment, though, it felt like the last physical link I had to him. I can still hear his voice in the videos I have, or on the voicemail at my parents house. I can see his picture. It’s the little things, though, like the way he smelled or how he greeted me that I will miss. It’s crazy how much a scent can bring you right into a moment in time, one where everything is ok and you don’t have this aching hole in your heart. But it’s only a smell and only a momebt, never to be had again.

I will wear the hoodie and I will remember him when I do. And for a few minutes, as I I zip myself into that hoodie, my Dad will be hugging me again, just for a second.

Traveling the world with Disney on Ice

November was a tough month for us. My Dad was sick, then dying, and it was hard for all of us. I felt like I didn’t have a lot of time or energy to do fun things with Q. For this reason, I was so thankful that we were able to make it to Disney on Ice this year. The timing of the show was both perfect and awful at the same time, because it was the day the end started for my Dad, but it gave both Q and I a few hours to escape the sadness that was our reality at the time. It was a chance for us to spend time with friends, smile and laugh and for him to just be a carefree kid, even if just for a bit.

Q was SO excited for the show, and had been telling anyone who woukd listen all about it for days. I had been apprehensive to leave my dad and the hospital, but even though he couldn’t talk anymore, Dad gave us the gift of telling me that he wanted us to go. So we did. And I am so grateful for that.

As we often do, we invited Q’s best friend Obz and her mom to join us. Since this was a special “date night”, Q decided that he had to dress up in his best “snazzy outfit”. Do you like it?

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Obz also dressed up in her Princess gear complete with Katy Perry hair and tiara and I think they made a beautiful couple.

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Then it was time for the show to start. We had amazing seats, and soon the music started and characters started to make their way out. Q nearly lost his mind cheering and clapping for them all, and was so very excited to see Baloo and a couple of other favourites making their way out.

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We celebrated a Very Merry Unbirthday with Mickey, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and it was a hit indeed.

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After the party, during the clean up, Mickey found a book and hat that turned him into Sorcerer Mickey from Fantasia. Q wasn’t familiar with this number, but loved it. The music is so catchy and fun, how could you not like it?

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Especially when there are glowing brooms that dance on their own?

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Jack Skellington appeared and brought with him all of the villains for a party, which was cool. Both kids love a Nightmare before Christmas ( as do I!) and none of us knew that Jack or the villains would be in the show.

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Q was enthralled with the whole show. It was nice to see the smile on his face.

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Minnie wished (with the Fairy Godmother’s help, of course) for a magical Valentine’s Day.

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Who better to help with that than the princesses? This is also where all the really cool tricks came in. Everyone from Tiana to Mulan was there, with their princes, of course.

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Minnie was transformed into a beautiful Princess and was greeted by Prince Mickey

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The Fairy Godmother returned with all of the princesses around a water fountain in the first half finale.

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Then it was time for intermission. Q and Obz were each allowed to choose one treat. Q had been looking forward to the rainbow snowcone in the “fancy cup” for days, and although they are crazily expensive, how could I say no to that face? Obz chose to go with a giant bag of popcorn, bigger than her head.

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Back from intermission, Mickey introduced his Digital Global destinator. Through this fancy machine, we were transported to all kinds of parties and festivals around the world. Q LOVED this, and says it was his favourite part of the whole show.

First up, a Luau in Hawaii with Lilo and Stitch, complete with fire!

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Then it was off to Japan for the Cherry blossom Festival, and to China to see the dragons. We travelled to Brazil for Carnivale, and to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

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It was so much fun to get to see festivals around the world, and Q told me that he didn’t even know that some of them existed. Now he wants to go and check them all out. He’s serious too. I suspect he will travel the world someday.

Seeing as it was Christmas time, we had to have that as well. Goofy Claus even made an appearance, in a huge cloud of smoke down the chimney!

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What would a Disney on Ice show be without the Toy Story characters? Q loved watching Ham and Rex rocking out pretty much right in front of us.

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And woah, could Buzz Lightyear leap!

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Although she didn’t play a huge part in this show, Q was thrilled to see Tinkerbell make an appearance. He adores the Fairies, and wishes they were around more (as do I, ha.)

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Goofy Claus appeared with a sleigh full of presents, and to make the night just a bit more magical, it snowed. Everyone oohed and ahhed at that, and it was beautiful.

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What had a fantastic time at the show, and both kids were asleep before we even made it to the highway to start the drive home. It gave Q and I a chance to forget about everything that was going on for a few hours and just have some fun. For that alone I will be forever grateful.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch a Disney on Ice show, I would strongly recommend it. They are full of magic and surprises, and you never know just who you might see!

Without a parent present

How independent are your kids? How much is too much?

I read this story this morning that really bothered me, about parents who are currently being investigated by child services after someone saw their children, aged 10 and 6, walking to the park by themselves. Instead of walking with the children, or taking them home, this “concerned citizen” called the police and expressed concern for their safety. Now the parents are being threatened with having their children taken away by child services for neglect. For letting their kids walk to the park by themselves.

Let’s stop and think about this for a second. These parents are being accused of neglect for teaching their kids independence. Neglect. Let that word roll around in your head for a sec. We are not talking about parents who locked their kids in closets for hours at a time, or who hit them, or starve them. We are talking about parents who let their kids walk together to the park without a parent. That is not neglect.

When I was a kid, I would spend hours outside with my friends, going from house to house, walking around our rural neighborhood. Without a parent present. I was babysitting other people’s kids at 11. Without a parent present. I walked to the bus stop with my younger sister at that age. Without a parent present.

There are not pedophpiles and kidnappers lurking around every corner. At some point we need to let our kids be kids. We need to teach our kids to do things for themselves, by themselves, to help them grow and develop as human beings. No one would call child protective services if parents parked their kids in front of a TV for 8 hours and didn’t talk to them at all. No one would even blink an eye at that. Heaven forbid, though, that kids play outside at the park. Far more kids suffer from childhood health ailments due in part to inactivity and excessive screen time than are molested or kidnapped by strangers. We may be more aware of it now, thanks to the sensitization in the media, but there are not any more cases of these things happening now than there were when we were kids.

We are not doing our kids any favours by bubble wrapping them and not teaching them that they are just as much a part of this world as we are. We are raising a generation of kids who can’t do things for themselves and think that things should be done for them. One that is scared of their own shadows and thinks that danger and horrors around every corner. What happens when these kids go off to college and are too scared to walk across campus by themselves, or don’t know how to take public transit to get somewhere? Will they be living in their parents basements or childhood bedrooms until they are in their 30’s?

Independence is something that should be started early and done in an age-appropriate way, but needs to be done. I personally wouldn’t let my 6 year old walk to the park by himself alone right now, but we do let him do a lot of things on his own both at home and in public places. Kids in our neighborhood walk to school together all the time and I think it’s great. On any given evening there are groups of kids out playing together, riding bikes or scooters or just hanging out.

What it comes down to is knowing your kid, teaching them about the world and how to be a part of it. Give them the tools to be successful later in life and know that the world is a generally good place. Let them have a childhood that is full of fun and memories and independence. It will make them stronger and happier and better prepared for when it’s time to go out on their own.

What are your thoughts on this? Do you let your kids do things on their own?

Smash! (Not even a little bit) Wordless Wednesday

Recently, we had a bit of a cold snap, and while Q and I were over visiting my mom, he got to experience one of classic outdoor activities every farm kid does – ice smashing. I’m sure that city kids smash ice too, but without the sheer space and number of puddles on a larger property, it’s not quite the same. I mean, how do you harvest ice off a sidewalk? Just can’t do it. Also, I find country parents and grandparents can be a bit free-er with things like hammers. Case in point.

My mom told him about all of the ice she’d found that day. Asked if he might be interested in helping out a bit and freeing up the outside water buckets for the dogs, which were frozen over. They agreed that he should use the hammer for this the task to maximize smashage. Meanwhile, I decided to do what every good blogger mama would do and document this adventure through pictures to share with you all, after I’d cleared some space off my phone. As you do.

First, he had to bundle up in his classic red mittens. It was cold out there and every good ice smasher needs to be prepared for the elements.

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Then it was on to the deck with a hammer to free the dog’s water buckets from their icy prisons. And by this I really mean smash the crap out of the ice with all your might, all the while singing the ice harvesters song from Frozen.

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Beware the flying ice chunks. And the hammer. And the kid.

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Are there any more puddles out here? I need something to hit with the hammer!

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Once the deck and yard had been thoroughly de-iced, it was off for a walk. Why bother with a hammer when you can jump and smash it with your feet?

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While on our walk, our intrepid explorer found himself a trail and needed to follow it. But first, he needed to arm himself with a big stick and the hammer in case he encountered any dangerous wildlife on his journey.
*Sidenote: no wildlife was harmed during this adventure. Except for the mouse that the cat hunted and played with a bit. I think it was hurt.*

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I wonder where this will lead me? Hopefully there are no snakes or crocodiles under the ice here!

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Let me stomp on it all just in case. Nope, I think we are good!

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All in all, that ice was great fun for probably at least an hour. Another upside was that he slept well that night, exhausted after all of that chipping, smashing and bashing. He did complain a bit later that his arms were tired though. Huh. Wonder why.

Tell me, did you do this as a kid? In the city or in the country? Or do you do it now as an adult for fun?

Yesterday I beat myself up

Yesterday I beat myself up. Not in a physical sense, of course, but emotionally. I don’t know what was going on in my head but nothing I did was right. I was all over my own case about every little thing, and basically spent a good chunk if the day telling myself that I wasn’t “enough”. Honestly? I wasn’t even going to share this with you, but I pledged to be real about things around here this year, warts and all, so I guess I kind of walked into that one.

It seemed like all day things popped into my head telling me that I was a bad mum because Q was playing PS3 after he had been playing with his iPad or watching a movie. It didn’t matter to my head that he was playing Just Dance and was literally working up a sweat, giggling and with the biggest grin on his face. It told me that I should be doing something “better” (whatever that is) with him, cooking, or making crafts together, or colouring or any number of things that were not what we were actually doing. It didn’t matter to my head that he had also been reading, playing, making up a movie with all his figurines to premiere next week, playing the piano and the drums and assigning. Oh no. None of that mattered even a smidge.

I’ve been pretty upfront about the fact that I am dealing with some injuries that have had a significant impact on my life and how I do things. This has meant that things like housework are falling further and further behind and so when I do try to putter around and tidy up, it feels like it’s not enough. Never mind that I am limited, in my head I still feel like I should be superwoman and be able to just do it. Like I am a Nike ad or something. The rational part of my brain tells me to just do a bit and not overdo it, because I will surely pay for that later and end up worse off than if I had just done a bit at a time, but the completely mental, self hating part wonders why I can’t just suck it up. It’s exhausting, really, and even though I know that the rational part should win, the mean part just yells louder and ends up being the dominant voice in my head.

The worst part of the day came when I decided that I had to make dinner from scratch. I love going through cookbooks and trying new things, or at least I did before my hand got injured. It’s pretty hard to hold a cast iron pot or boil a pasta pot of water when you don’t have full use of one hand. Anyways, in my crazy mind, I figured it would be a good idea to search recipes and try to find one I could make. When my husband called from work and I told him what my plan was, he kindly suggested that if I didn’t feel like ordering in or picking something up, I could just go to the grocery store and take a stroll down the frozen foods aisle and pick something from there. For some reason, that was the straw that broke this camel’s back. I started to cry on the phone, and poor M had no idea why. He didn’t know that I Had been beating myself up all day about things and this just felt like another failure. How could I explain that without seeming completely off my rocker?

Off to the store we went, where I reluctantly picked out some fish fillets and oven fries to make. I figured that I should be able to get the light tray of fish into the oven all right, and could use the convection oven for the fries. Well. By the time M got home the dinner was almost done and I was in full self anger mode. I was frustrated that I I had struggled to get a sheet of frozen fish into the oven and that I couldn’t get enough fries to fit on the pan for the convection oven. I was sad that dinner was fish and fries. I was upset that I hadn’t cooked the meal, only thrown it into the oven. I was mad at myself and my body and my brain. One of the first things he said to me was to ask why I was being so hard on myself? I know that if anyone ever spoke to the people I care about the way I spoke to myself, I would lose my crap on them. I would never allow someone to do that.

So why was it ok to do it to myself then?

I don’t have the answers to that fully figured out yet, but I think that the fact that I have realized what I’m doing is the first step to being able to change it. I think that accepting that things aren’t going to be perfect right now, or maybe for a while longer, is something that I need to do. I need to be gentle on myself and not get so angry when I actually feel things. I need to be more forgiving and kind and patient, and treat myself the way that I treat others. Things are tough right now, and I don’t need to be making things tougher on myself than I need to. I need to give my ego a kick in the pants and tell it to smarten up too.

I hope that if you are reading this, and seeing a bit of yourself in what I have just told you, that you will stop for a second and take a close look. We need to be our own cheerleaders, not hecklers. We need to show the kindness and compassion towards ourselves that we work so hard to show to others, especially in times of need. We need to step back, take a look at what is really going on around us, and breathe it in. It is enough. You are worth more than you think, and so am I.

So next time I am angry at myself for cooking a frozen dinner or not having a show home house, I will try to step back for a minute and think of what I would say if I were on the outside looking in, if I were talking to a friend or loved one. It’s ok to not be perfect. Heck, it’s ok to be far from it. Tomorrow is a new day, and life is too short to spend it beating yourself up.