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The Winds of Change

Four Years. Today.

Four Years. I say it to myself, it slides off my tongue and becomes real. It seems like it all just happened and somehow, at the same time, it does feel like four years. Four years of changes, four years of changing. Four years of accepting, learning and growing.

I was always afraid of change. I think most people are. Change is scary, walking into the unknown and unfamiliar, leaving behind a world where the familiar and accustomed makes us feel safe. That security is never a sure thing though. The only thing for sure is that things will change!

No-one is immune to the winds of change. They are always blowing. And we can’t always control what they bring. But we can control how we perceive them and how we deal with what life gives us. That was something I had to learn the hard way. I can’t control everything in life, but I can control how I feel and how I deal.

winds of change

Bob took a horrible diagnosis and dealt with it in a way that proved him a true fighter. He used his time wisely. Perhaps it was a gift- the knowing. A lot of people die without warning, and never have that chance to live each day as if it were the last. The farmer has told me his wife was the same- spending more time with the kids, teaching them things earlier than she may have otherwise, making moments count.

I hope you all make your moments count.

I know we still try to. To take what we have learned through our losses and use them daily.

And celebrate the lives of those who we loved and still love. They exist here still.

I see Bob everyday in his children. In the raised eyebrow. In the laid back attitude. In the smiling mouth. In his children’s rooms, where helmets hang. In his firefighter number on their shirts.

Four years seems like a such a long time when I say it. I can’t decide whether the winds of change were a ferocious storm that blew by all at once, and I just opened my eyes, or whether it was small blasts of air, so small I barely noticed the passing….and I just ended up here.

And now I know how the winds of change can blow, how events can be stronger than we are, how you can love two people at once, one love not cancelling out the other…..

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In all Honesty

It dawned on me recently that sometimes I haven’t been honest. Maybe even with myself. I found Bob’s illness and death put me in somewhat of a spotlight years ago and I somehow since then became quiet about certain things. Not everything. Just some things. So here’s some truth, for you and for me.

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Did I feel strong while Bob was sick and dying?

Not in the least. Everyone wanted to tell me I was. I was no superhero. Far from it. I lost my patience at times. I was overwhelmed and tired. And depressed. By the time he passed away I had made a huge mistake. I had gone for years with putting myself last on the list. I had taken care of him and three kids and was a walking zombie. My hands shook. One leg went numb for 6 months. No kidding. Don’t underestimate stress. I had post traumatic stress disorder. And I was convinced cancer was contagious. It’s not a pretty picture I paint, but that’s the truth. I wasn’t that superhuman amazing wife. But I did sit with him at 3 in the morning when he cried and couldn’t sleep and in the last days at the hospital I did apologize to him for not being the best. I can justify it of course, yes I was tired, yes I had three little kids, yes it was hard as hell. But in the end I still wish I could have been better, done more, had more patience, made his life easier. But I was still the one there everyday and I was still the one he asked for in the end.

What was it like to start dating again?

Strange. I honestly really couldn’t do it until I had moved. I knew I had to move, because everywhere I looked I saw Bob. I am sure it is different for everyone, but I felt like for my life to continue forward I had to change the location as well. Dating was hard on many different levels. Kissing someone again was like a giant conflict in my head. It felt like cheating. The farmer has since told me that after our first kiss, he drove home and had a good cry. It’s just a milestone we both had to go through.

I also found it hard  in terms of admitting to myself that I was even in a relationship. As if somehow admitting that would mean loving Bob less? Or letting others know might mean that they thought I loved Bob less. I didn’t change my facebook status right away that’s for sure. It took some getting used to.

I also found that I underestimated people though. Whereas I thought most people would judge me or have opinions, I have found mostly support and goodwill in the fact that I have found happiness.

How are your inlaws?

In general….okay. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child, and so I cannot judge. There has been some controversy regarding my recent engagement and not wanting to meet the farmer as it being viewed as a replacement. I have stated that there is no replacing people. I think it is hard for some people to understand because you don’t have other relationships in your life that are like this. If your grandmother dies, you don’t get a new one. And perhaps that is how it is viewed with me being engaged now. It truly is the only relationship in your life where you choose that person and you can choose another if so be. But I suppose just as I do not know what it is like to lose a child, neither do my inlaws know what it is like to lose your spouse. They still have each other. I don’t force anything on them. If they want to be part of our lives they are always welcome. I loved their son and I will forever thank them for making him. But I don’t love him any less just because I have chosen not to spend my life alone. Me being a spinster forever would prove nothing except to waste the vast amount of love I have to give, a love that Bob first taught me.

And your fiancé’s inlaws?

Nothing is easy about meeting your fiancé’s mother in law. Saying hello to the woman whose daughter has passed away and that you are now engaged to her daughter’s husband and soon to be stepmother of her grandchildren. Got all that? It wasn’t easy. I felt very emotional. Even meeting all of the farmer’s sister in laws. But I have to say this…what a wonderful bunch of people. One of them said to me, “Losing my sister was the hard part. Seeing him happy again with you is the easy part.”

She was very wise and very right. We all did the hard part in losing people. I need to quit worrying about what other’s may or may not think and just be happy.

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How do you like being the wicked stepmother?

Fairytales are ridiculous. Why are all stepmother’s portrayed as wicked? Let’s get real! It’s not an easy job. I can tell you something though, it may not be easy, but sometimes its not all that hard either. It’s not hard to love these kids and want to be there for them. It might have been easier if they were all little instead of teenagers, but they are good kids. I have never pushed for them to be around me or let me in to their worlds. They can if they want to and I will be here if they need me. I don’t know what it is like to lose my mom so again…I cannot judge. But I do know how a mother feels about her kids, and I can imagine how hard it was for their mom to have to leave them. And sometimes when the house is crazy and busy and loud I remind myself how lucky I am to just be here with these kids. And I know that if it had been me to pass I would hope my husband found someone who my kids would like and love and let in to their lives- and I hope I can be that person, both for the kids and for her.

And that’s all the honesty I can muster for today!

The Simple Life

The world seems much busier and more complicated these days. And that’s coming from me- and I am only 35! I watch this generation of which my children are a part of and I wonder how it will be for them. They are so easily distracted by the ding of their phone, they waste hours gaming, they barely know time has gone by. They don’t notice life passing them while they are staring at screens.

We have a pool in the backyard and a volleyball net and quads and go-karts. Probably more than a lot of kids have. And yet the screens seem to be a much better pastime to some of our kids than becoming involved.

I remember summers as a kid. Living in my bathing suit. Eating creamsicles on the tire swing. Riding bikes. For miles. Just because. Playing in the haymow. Building forts. Using imagination.

Who needs imagination now? You can completely zone out to another reality. Its more interesting to watch episode after episode of some made up life than live your own. You can game in a different reality and ignore this one.

Studies show that people who look at a screen in the first hour after they wake up are some of the most depressed people. Makes some sense when you think about it. If you immediately wake up and absorb all the drama in your email, or on facebook or twitter, you are immediately taking on everything else in the world around you. You take no time for yourself. To just wake up and breathe and be. To just be YOU. To drink your coffee without worrying that your friend tweeted about her hangnail last night. Or that your boyfriend’s vague facebook status might mean he is no longer interested in you.

I worry that the kids don’t know themselves. Or at last the real them, not the broadcaster them. Not the girl or boy on the screen, but the person that they get to know when they sit with themselves quietly for a moment. There is no quiet.

Is it an addiction? Perhaps. I said that as a joke the other day to the farmer…”These kids are so addicted. Someday there will be groups for this, ‘Hi, I am so and so and I am addicted to screens.'”. But on second thought, after I said it, I wondered if it would be true.

I know there is no stopping this technology. I know it has its place and many can argue the benefits.

But does it make the world that much better? I, for one, am not so sure.

Is there not some beauty in simplicity itself? To just sit. To think. To enjoy. To slow down.

We don’t always need to complicate everything. Sometimes it is just really simple.

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Find what makes you happy. Find who makes you happy.

I taught my kids at a young age…when someone asks you the typical line “what do you want to be when you grow up?”.

The answer is HAPPY.

It’s that simple.

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On Lowered Standards

I have heard so many other moms comment on how fabulous it is to ‘lower their standards,’ within their household, to not worry so much about the dusting, the laundry, the vacuuming. And I scoffed to myself, knowing I could never be that person. I like, no wait, I LOVE, things to be clean. And tidy. And organized. Like I NEED for everything to be in its place. Like now.

And all those moms that have those messy houses are just using an excuse, a most fabulous excuse I might add, that it’s better to spend time with the kids than clean something. And I mean seriously, you can’t just leave everything forever, there has to be a fine balance. At some point if your feet stick to the floor and you have no clean clothes you really need to hand over the ipad to the kids and  do some housework already.

But alas, I have finally had to lower my standards. No matter what I do, there are just too many people and the house is just too big. Even when the farmer and I make lists and rules, you can only do so much and let’s face it, you have to pick your battles.

So I clean all day and do mountains of laundry and cook gigantic dinners and still the next morning I find dishes in other rooms (Rule #1- Bring your dishes to the sink and throw away garbage and no eating in the Den), I find socks in random places and a shirt (that says Bacon Strips 3x in repetition I might add) on the table (Rule #2- Don’t leave your clothes around), and I find craft supplies and cut up papers everywhere ( ahem youngest child…) (Rule #3- pick up your current mess before creating another).

As well it’s super entertaining when SOMEONE (I have yet to find the culprit) puts the milk container back in the fridge without a milk bag in it. Convenient for the next person. And there is nothing better than hanging out your clean clothes and hearing the line snap right when you are at the door to enter the house again. Then you have to curse out the farmer for his crummy clothesline he put up. And even when it doesn’t snap, it’s fairly likely Son #2’s dog will rip some clothes off and chew them up anyway. Like he did with my white blouse. And the volleyball. And the straw broom. And the poor potted plants outside. And Daughter #3’s lifejacket. And those damn newspapers they throw in the laneway….

I may even have to lower my writing standards…even while trying to write this I have had to answer to numerous questions and endure many interruptions….yes I am going to town tomorrow, yes you can come, yes I ordered what you wanted online, yes you may have a popsicle…

Yes I work harder. Yes…my standards are Lower. Yes my life is fuller.

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Homemade Granola Bars

With the help of a certain 5 year old sweetie, I made some homemade granola bars today. Super yum! I have not found any store bought bars that come anywhere near the deliciousness of these tasty morsels. I have had this recipe for years, my mom used to make them for me as a kid, and I thought it was time to share. I have, in the past, cut and frozen these in Ziploc bags or wrapped in foil which makes an incredibly easy lunch treat to pop into those school lunches. I can’t imagine freezing these now, I am sure they will be eaten within 24 hours with the troops around here!

This is really easy so here you go:

First you need 3 cups of quick cooking rolled oats.

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Add 1/2 cup of packed brown sugar and 1/4 cup of wheat germ and stir all together.

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Next you are going to cut in 1/2 cup butter or margarine. I like to use a pastry blender but you can use a knife as well.

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Next stir in 1/4 cup of corn syrup and 1/4 cup of honey and mix together well.

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And then add 1/2 cup of chocolate chips! Maybe sneak a few into your mouth….

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Stir together and then press into a 9×13 greased pan. Spread evenly (I like to use a spoon)

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Now bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Take them out when they are just turning brown around the edges to get a chewy granola bar. Leaving them a little longer will give you a crunchy version.

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If you like you can amp up the sweet tooth by icing these with I cup of chocolate chips melted with 1/4 cup of butter.

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Let cool and then cut and enjoy!

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A Love of Linen

 

I seriously have a love of Linen. I may need group therapy…Hi my name is Sarah and I am addicted to linen.  Ok maybe it’s not that bad. But wait till you see these linen pinafores I ordered for myself and daughter #3. The linen is this luxuriously amazing natural linen with fabulous texture. There are also these two large pockets in the front which are perfect to hold things, especially your cell phone! My daughters pinny even came with a little handmade doll in the pocket! She loves it.

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You can buy one of these, and many other items at Rough Linen found here:

http://www.roughlinen.com/

Daughter #2 has a linen duvet cover from Ikea as well, somehow I talked her into loving linen too.

The farmer and I have a duvet cover I ordered from Restoration Hardware in the vintage washed Belgian linen. The colour is light silver sage which matches amazingly well with the Benjamin Moore ‘Healing Aloe’ paint colour on our walls.

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Anyone else love linen?

 

 

 

My clawfoot tub

There is a favourite area I have in my new house. Before I moved in, the farmer, hearing my complaints about the lack of a bathtub in the ensuite (seriously though, shouldn’t an ensuite have both a shower and a tub?) surprised me one day. There, sitting in the far side of the room, beneath the third window, sparkled my shiny new clawfoot tub.

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It seriously is my solace after a busy day at the house. The farmer even picked out some bath salts, new fluffy towels, candles, scrub bushes, and in his own creativity used chalkboard paint on an old plate to identify the space as mine. I think I fell more in love when I laid eyes on this beauty and all the details that went with it.

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Nothing like a day of cooking, cleaning and kids followed by a soak in this baby with some lavender bath salts and a glass of red wine.

Yes it does sit right in the bedroom and not in the ensuite, as there was no room to put it in there. However, it does seem to fit our master bedroom quite well and is quite the focal point. The paint colour on the walls is Benjamin Moore’s ‘Healing Aloe,’ and is this beautiful green/grey/blue depending on the light. The framed mirrors I found at thrift stores and painted ‘Dairy.’

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The white wall storage hangar was found at Winners and is not quite magazine worthy as I have it laden with a hairbrush, lotions and products, but hey, we do live here!

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And this frame my sister gave me last Christmas. We tend to like to make things for gift-giving and this was her masterpiece from an old thrift store frame. It matches our room rather well!

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I hope everyone has a relaxing peaceful space they love as much as I love mine!