Happy Birthday Baby Girl – You Are Freckles and Sunshine – You Are Loved


Happy Birthday baby girl, today you are seven years old. You are the youngest child and so sometimes you get a little lost in the shuffle of this big family. Don’t fret, you will find your voice; the beautiful voice that it is. When you sing in the car, daddy turns the radio down just a little so we can hear you. We picked up on that; the harmony in your little girl voice and it warms us like sunshine. Your big sister’s friends tell me you are so beautiful, they are jealous of your dark wavy hair and your freckles. The freckles you hate but make you so, you. The freckles that show how you match daddy, how you are his little girl. You are our baby and we love you. Seven years ago today you were born and we were told not to touch you, we were told to hold our breath because you may not be here come morning. But by some miracle and the genius of the doctors on your team you stayed with us and each day that you fought for life and we cried at your side, unable to hold your hand we knew you would be super special to us. And you are. And you always will be.

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Happy Birthday To My Son


20 years ago today I became a mother for the first time. I was only 22 years old and I was scared out of my mind. I thought there was no way I could raise a child and have him turn out okay. I was still afraid of the dark for god sakes! Turns out, despite my craziness I did do a good job because the young man I have raised is kind, thoughtful, calm, and extremely giving. He treats women with respect and will someday make someone an amazing husband. 

So today my baby turns 20, he is no longer a teenager, he is a man. This day is a milestone in his life but sadly he got injured during training with the Canadian military and broke his hand in two places. He will spend the day of his 20th birthday having his hand put back together on an operating table in an Edmonton hospital. Talking with him last night really opened my eyes to how much he has grown up. He is not afraid of his impending operation, he is keeping a light and easy spirit in spite of being in pain and being so far away from his family and his girlfriend. He is a brave and genuine person, he is my hero and I am very proud of him.

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Painting Tornado’s and Cleaning Paw Prints – The Life Of A Struggling Artist


Yesterday I worked on two paintings, one of a tornado at the request of a client who is also buying my lightning bolt painting. The other a beach scene triptych, which is two separate paintings that when hung together make one picture. So yesterday was a busy day in my painting world. Things got messy, as they often do when I’m in the middle of a commission. But what stresses me out the most on these types of days, when I have more then one piece on the go  is keeping the paintings away from my cats while they dry. There is nothing worse then seeing little blue footprints on the floor before you see they have walked across the painting. My goal this year is to get a closed off room to myself for my art that is free of kids and animals. What bliss it would be to leave a painting to dry and not have to chase a cat or kid out of the house!

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5000 kms Travelled, Five Kids and Two Weeks of Summer Vacation


I took a bit of a summer hiatus from my art. Part of that hiatus included a two week vacation to Eastern Canada with my family. 5000 kms of driving and five different provinces we took in a lot of cool sights. This was a vacation on a budget which included camping in a pop up trailer with five noisy and often fighting kids. Marsh mellows, smores and scary stories told around the campfire my kids were scared and sticky messes each night before bed. Now our two youngest sleep with their door open for fear that they will be attacked in the night by three finger Willie (thank you Stephan for your imaginative story). A lot of memories were made in those 5000 kms; and after many mosquito bites, boring car rides, late nights and ocean views my kids are pretty impressed they travelled half of Canada in a two week span.  Maybe next summer we will head west.

Here a few of the sites we encountered, photo credits to Stephan Chagnon.

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Birthday Wishes From A Nine Year Old


Today is my birthday. Today I turned 42. In the past few years, the days leading up to my birthday bring a tiny bit of sadness. I don’t like that I am getting older, especially when I still feel so young. I see a few wrinkles now and dread someday not recognizing myself in the mirror.

This morning my nine year old son woke me up with hugs and birthday wishes. I left the bed he was snuggled into to use the bathroom. When I came back he said to me “you’re beautiful”. It made me laugh. So he says, “you are, you still have that makeup on from last night, your hair is all over the place and big and there’s that little curl hanging down, you look beautiful”. Right there, the best birthday present EVER. Little did he know how much his words meant, today of all days.

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We Finally Have A Gravy Boat


You know when you go to dinner at someone’s house and they pull out all these fancy dishes and platters. There is something for everything they are serving. Everything seems to match and you walk away thinking the food tasted better because THEY are better.

Not at our house, at our house the butter is served on a plate or better yet, from a margarine container. The cups won’t match and if the plates happen to it’s because we pulled out the ones that have chips and cracks on them. Good luck finding a matching utensil and the ketchup bottle is there for all to see. No, in our house fancy is like a swear word.

But as our kids are growing we’ve been trying to change that. We bought some white platters and matching bowls a year ago; this past winter a whole big set of fancy utensils and finally, the biggest luxury item of them all, a gravy boat.

What does that mean for our family? I’m not sure, cheese on a platter and toothpicks in the meatballs won’t change the fact that when our six year old farts at the table everyone giggles. But at least we finally have a gravy boat.

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Gravy boat photograph curtesy of https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/vintagenancy

Keeping Your Children Safe and Out Of Trouble – An Artist and Mother’s Account


If you have read any of my blog you will notice that my favourite subjects to write about are my art and my children. With four kids of my own and two step kids it does lead to a lot of writing material. The current ages of my kids run from a 6 year old up to a 19 year old. So there have been a lot of different issues to contend with as a mom.

 

So far I have been lucky in that my children have not screwed up too much, except for one incident which we will get too in due time. I managed to keep my oldest in line enough that he made it to adulthood relatively unharmed and somewhat balanced. I only ever received two phone calls from a principal, one because he bullied a boy on the bus in the misguided effort to impress a girl he had a crush on. The other because he got the brilliant idea to give the middle finger to a police cruiser from the school bus window. He was pretty shocked when the cruiser pulled the bus over and had “words” both with my son and his friend, the second culprit. But aside from those two incidences he has been a relatively good boy.

 My youngest son however, who just turned 9 seems to live at the principals office. He has done everything from telling his teacher she wasn’t the boss of him, that only mom was the boss, to giving his principal the middle finger, to drawing happy faces on the walls of the school bathroom in permanent marker, to an outburst during an assembly that centered around the topic of Respect. At the end of this assembly the speaker asked the kids “so, did we learn anything here today?” To which my son blurted out, loudly of course “nope, nothing at all.” Apparently he thinks he’s a comedian, but his comedic ways have landed him in the principal’s office like it’s his second home. He’s actually a funny kid who seems to hold no fear for anyone in charge, which scares me and causes many, many sleepless nights. But his stories, of which there are many can be saved for another day.

 No, today’s story centers on the first time any of my children have truly shocked me. You see we have two teenage girls, my daughter who just turned 16 and my stepdaughter who will be 16 this summer.

When they were 14 they had a sleep over with my stepdaughters friend from the city. They approached me the next morning to ask if they could go hang out in the small town we live near. Of course I said no, what would be the point in going and hanging out except to get into trouble. There just seemed no reason, they had no money to spend, it was too cold to go play at the park so what else would there be for them to do but “hang out”. So instead they asked if they could go for a walk around our little neighborhood. We live in the country in a small village that is surrounded by farms. So to this I said yes, of course you can go for a walk. Here is where I failed as a parent; there was a barn up the road from our house that apparently was frequented by the local kids as a “hang out”. I had no idea they spent their time up there, when they said, “go for a walk” I took it at face value. These are kids that have never gotten into any real trouble you see, in fact I will go so far as to brag and tell you they care about school, their marks and their future. So they decided this day to go hang out at the barn up the road. They climbed up into the rafters and talked and laughed and joked around. However while they were talking they also took out two lighters and proceeded to light little pieces of straw on fire and then throw them out the window down into the snow covered ground below. I’m guessing you can imagine what happened next? And you would be right.

One of the pieces of straw went unnoticed, landing below them in a stack of hay where it lay smoldering. This barn was all but abandoned and had been filled to the rafters with old hay. Hay that had been left untouched for years. It was the friend that noticed the flames, as they all had their backs to it. The barn was actually on fire! They jumped down and attempted to put out the fire with snow first, then by stomping their feet into the flames. But for each little fire that got smothered another one would flare up. When it started really spreading they decided to go for help. As soon as they ran out of the barn into the road the whole thing went up in flames. I cannot tell you how lucky we are that this didn’t end in worse tragedy for this dried up barn all but exploded with them just a few feet out of harms way.

This has been by far the worst thing we have had to deal with as parents. It has left these girls with a huge burden; they feel guilt towards the farmer, who didn’t press charges. Only asked that they help in the clean up of the debris. Guilt towards the homeowners who’s siding got melted from the heat of the flames. Guilt towards my husband and I because our insurance premiums rose due to the pay out for the melted siding.  They have had no social life to speak of since the incident, no cell phones, no computers (except for the use of mine for homework). Their life consists of doing homework and going on excursions as a family. It’s a harsh lesson I wouldn’t wish on any kid or parent. Even the kids you think won’t screw up have the potential to truly shock you and you really can’t take your eyes off of them at any age.

Did any good come out of this? I doubt any of my kids will ever play with fire again; this was a traumatic event for the whole family, right down to the littlest one. I also think my teen girls have lost that “it could never happen to me” mentality that most teens have which may save them in the future.  They also don’t seem to take things for granted anymore and have since learned the true value of money. This incident threatened to ruin us financially, if it weren’t for the good hearted nature of that farmer who wanted no money, no charges laid and was satisfied with their sincere and tearful apology.

I just hope my girls pay it forward if they ever find themselves in a position where forgiveness is needed. That they will never forget that farmer’s big heart and forgiving nature as they grow up and move through their own lives. And that they never take their eyes off their own children. 

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