Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Marriage: An Intricate Puzzle, Part 2

"Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction."
  - Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Yesterday I spoke of the Intricate Puzzle that is marriage. Today, I am spending the day with my husband trying to get our outside areas somewhat organized so that we can better enjoy the summer months with our family and friends in the fresh air. And so, I share with you another poem.


This is a piece I wrote for, and gave to, my husband as an anniversary gift a few years back. Marriage is not only a puzzle, but rolls like the sea...

Lullaby of the Sea
(for Rob)

Rolling waters
crashing on sanded shore.
Tiny grains of glistening smooth.
Separate but always moving as if one.
In and out.
In and out.

It made me seasick yesterday.
But now it rocks me gently,
soothing me into Slumber.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.

Clouds darken the day
as thoughts bring stark light
to my night,
it's my fright
that makes me search for
comfort in the storm.
The waves move.
Up and down.
Up and down.

he reaches out...I hover.
I reach out...he runs for cover.

And then a piercing "crash"!
Sand bursting
into the skies,
into our eyes.

We're blinded.

Then the final tidal wave flushed them clear
and I see something in the distance.

From the sky reaches out a hand.
Then another.

I melt into the embrace,
my tears mixing with the salty shore.
The beach is again one flat, sparkling sheet
of soft, beautiful...


The tiny waves now sound like whispers
that remind me of a love song
I know I've heard before.

Tidal waves will surely come again
but this lullaby will serenade us both to sleep:

"Good night my love
I will hold you close
As we move...
In and out.
Back and forth.
Up and down.
Together, on the sand by the sea."

                 By: Lora Rossi



Suggested Reading

Marriage: An Intricate Puzzle

Monday, May 30, 2011

Marriage: An Intricate Puzzle

"Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow."
 - Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet)

Ahhhh...one of the reasons why I love The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. If you have never read this  life-changing piece of prose, I suggest you get yourself a copy. My all-time fave. The above is part of his commentary "On Marriage" and it was printed in its entirety on the back of my own wedding program.

Marriage is hard work. I used to think that to admit that, to say it out loud was the same as admitting that your marriage has problems. Well guess what? I was right. If your marriage does not have problems you are either (a) not married or (b) in denial. No one has a perfect marriage and admitting that you have problems is the first step in improving things. And there is always room for improvement. Not because your marriage is bad necessarily, but because it can always be better.

Rob and I on our wedding day: April 8, 2000

I have been married for over eleven years and have been with my husband for fifteen. That is us on our wedding day up there. I still look exactly the same, hairdo, princess dress and single-digit size...everything. OK, maybe I exaggerate but only about the hair. It actually is nicer now. Rob looks the same too. Actually he does. Frick I hate that. I am not sure why because as I said I look the same but better. But I digress...

We conceived our first son less than a year after our wedding and now we have three amazing sons that we adore, aged 9, 7 and 7 months. Yes...our third was an afterthought...or the result of a few too many glasses of wine and a pill or two a little out of skew...but I prefer to call him beautiful.

We have owned 6 cars, 3 homes and approximately 14,357 Lego pieces since we met. Several job changes have taken place. We have both been stay at home parents and working parents. We have been blissfully happy and so out of sorts our hearts felt like bumper cars. But we are still here. We are together. And we have worked hard. Not only as a couple, but as individuals...seeking to become better parts of the wholes. The whole that is me. The whole that is he. And the whole that is we.

One thing we have learned is that we have to be a team if we are to make it in this jungle we call matrimony (I am just getting started folks. Metaphor overload warning: please proceed with caution!).  If we don't, we might as well call it a day and hit Match.com. If you are married with children (yeah, I have the theme song in my head now too. You're welcome.), then you gotta work together. You're workin on the same puzzle, trying to fit the pieces together and sometimes things get frickin blurry. Sometimes the table crashes down and the pieces that moments ago were so carefully laid together spray all over the room and you gotta pick them up. Sometimes only one of you feels like picking them up but you do and then start thinking, 'Why the frick am I doing all the picking up? This is OUR puzzle dammit! Why am I here alone?!? Why do you see me here trying to fix this thing the best way I know how even though I know you have lots to contribute, and yet you sit there watching me? Or through me?. We have both had these thoughts.

Sometimes the pieces fit together beautifully and they hold hands like we did back in the beginning... on the beach, sunny skies, little kisses, to sleep at 2, sex at  8, up at noon for brunch. Oh, those were the days.

But these are the days right now in this moment and we still have brunch but it is usually because it takes that long to get a real breakfast made with three busy boys with different needs and we are tired but we want the family to have a nice weekend meal and we can't possibly go to a restaurant every weekend so we have bacon and eggs and toast and coffee and even pancakes with broken up chocolate chip cookies in them cause we ran out of chocolate chips. (Yes, Mommy ate them). There are still kisses. There is still the beach. But the picture on the puzzle is different. More intricate. A bigger puzzle with more pieces and so many different colours and patterns. So difficult to get it right.

But we keep on wagon trailing. We talk. And argue. And talk and argue until the answers become a little clearer. But when we talk...when we argue...we are learning to listen. Learning. Not always, but learning to do it more often and it is making a big difference. We are facing this puzzle together. Sometimes I am working on it as he does something else and vice versa. Sometimes we do it at the same time. And we have side puzzle projects that are ours alone. Not in each others' shadow. But that one, big, intricate puzzle is ours. And our kids' too. Sometimes they help us with a piece or two. It's fun to work together like that as a family.

The puzzle is a long work in progress. But if you look at it every day, with fresh eyes, fresh hearts, an attitude of gratitude...you may just smile a little more often. Laugh a little harder. And  maybe, just maybe, put the pieces down for a few stolen moments and have sex. Maybe even at 8.



Suggested Reading

Marriage: An Intricate Puzzle, Part 2
Fare for Friends: Why We Need Our Gals
For Crying Out Loud
Your Lonely Addiction

What Makes Marriage Work? Practice and Teamwork

Friday, May 27, 2011

Poetry: Another Creative Outlet

"Even when poetry has a meaning, as it usually has, it may be inadvisable to draw it out... Perfect understanding will sometimes almost extinguish pleasure."
 - A.E. Housman

I have loved to write for as long as I can remember. I had pen pals all over the world...and I mean back in the olden days of putting pen to paper and stamp to envelope and foot to pavement and hand to mailbox. I remember getting over ten pieces of mail some days. I also liked English class. Especially when I got to stretch my creative thought process and share something new and dynamic. I kept journals both at school and for personal use. I have written love letters to my parents, my friends, my siblings, my boyfriends, my husband, my children. I have written for pay and for free. I have written for education, for expression, for liberation.

I have written poetry since I was young but got especially into it in high school and write to this day. Literally. I wrote a poem about two hours ago. Sometimes it just makes more sense, it feels better, it seems easier to capture what is creeping up inside me in prose rather than in an essay or long commentary.

And so, I ask you today if you have ever tried it? Have you shared it or do you keep it to yourself? I am on both sides. Some I have widely shared and some only few have seen. Some only me. But I will move forward and occasionally share a piece with you. Sometimes, I will pull something from "the archives" and sometime I will share something I wrote yesterday or today. All mean something to me. What do they say to you?


This is a piece I wrote in high school during an English exam after being asked to write a short essay or a poem about an article about the Gulf war.

In God's Country

There's something soothing about this
            yielding to ignorance.
My eyes blink in
                         rhythm, in
           harmonious succession -
   while the Gulf crashes
                     blazing skies,
       mixing hues of sunny smiles
                  with an opaque
                                         dusty gray.

And I sit here waiting,
         the sideways flicker
         of an innocent warbler...

               He's a lot like me.

We live parallel lives,
             the animals
                              and me.
Running together,
            only looking
                     and thinking
     of nothing in particular...

As masters die,
         and steel birds fly,

    in God's Country.

                  By: Lora (Breakey) Rossi



Suggested Reading

Paint a Painting to get your Creative Juices Flowing
What is Poetry?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My To Do List

"Out of my mind. Be back in five minutes."

I am overwhelmed by my to do list. If I brainstorm a long one it becomes a veritable manifesto of everything from the day to day menial tasks to important shit I need to take care of to trying to take care of myself to people I need to call to let them know that yes, in fact, I am still alive.

I have a house to clean. Always several decorating projects I want to get to if there were not so many organizational things I needed to get to first if I choose to be practical. Birthday parties and celebrations are every other week it seems and don't forget the gifts. And oh yeah the claims for the accidents I had last year. Frick... has it been almost a year? Better get those in before I can't claim that shit anymore. Because I need the cash dudes. Hockey season is approaching and...oh crap the meat fundraising thing. Does anyone want to buy some meat to support my son Julian's very expensive hockey career? Oh man I forgot to call about Noah's soccer for the summer. Middle child...can't make him feel like one by forgetting that!

But the baby! Oh little Drew how I love thee but you keep me on my toes. Oh shit he is crying. Frick. One sec.

I'm back. OK so I need to call the church even though I am not Catholic because we need to get him baptized. Soon. Or else he will not fit into the Pillsbury doh-boy outfit his brothers both wore. So I need to call yesterday. And where to have the reception? Italians like to do it up nice...that is my husband's side... and I want to do it at home. Less expensive. But then those decorating and organizing and cleaning to dos have to be considered again a little more seriously. Crap I need outdoor furniture if I want people to be able to sit down outside. But what if it rains? It is monsoon season here it seems.

Frick. I forgot to pay the bills. Oh yeah, my husband did that. Good guy. But now when do we get paid again? Cause this shit takes money and my benefits are gonna be over for this year soon enough. Oh Lord I need new glasses cause the ones I wear at night have only one arm and are two prescriptions too old cause I wear my contacts during the day. But getting up at might for the baby is hard when your glasses are always falling off and are blurry anyways. When I drop them I then have to find them. When you are almost legally blind this is rather difficult. Eye doctor...gotta call. And for the boys too. And crapolies I need to go to the dentist. This crap was too hard when I was pregnant with broken feet and now it will be even more fun...for the whole family!

And Drew's nine month appointment. And Noah's assessment. Frick! Oh and that little detail about permanently preventing myself from ever getting knocked up again. Or will my husband get off his butt to get the snip snip? Not that he is not working his ass off as hard as I am. Man! And not that we have time for extracurricular bedroom activities anymore unless we happen to be wide awake at 2:30 am and can't sleep at the same time. That happens a whole lot. Not. But it is nice when it does because keeping my marriage alive and full of spark is up there too but always seems to plummet due to a few other things we gotta get done.

Like watch the last episode of Oprah! Shit. No more PVR and I know I say I don't miss it because when do I have time to watch TV? But this is her last show people! An important event! I must watch! But I must also make dinner. Something that goes with ketchup. And involves all the food groups. And won't keep me in my maternity clothes until I am 64. Will my my husband still need be when I'm 64? I need to listen to more music. It makes me happy. But I listen to the Wiggles cause it keeps my baby happy. And The Ramones cause my kids like it. Yeah...I said The Ramones. Is that appropriate? Better than Slayer I say. But I'd rather listen to Soundgarden. Or maybe some Enya. In a bath. With bubbles. And candles. And a magazine. And wine. Lots of wine. But then I will be drunk. And then hung over. And then I will get nothing done. And I won't even be able to enjoy Oprah. Or be able to go grocery shopping. Or write a blog post. It would be all rambling and long and won't go anywhere. Pardon? No I am not drunk now. I wish.

Wait. Now it is the next day and the raccoons got to our wet garbage out front and I have to go clean it up so the garbage man will take it away and so my front lawn won't look like a dump. Then again, maybe we will get bears! The kids would love to see that. Wait...not safe. Hold on a sec. Frick.

OK. Back. That was lovely. God bless my husband who virtually always takes care of that shit. And I mean that literally. Used diapers, moldy food, coffee grounds mixed with ants and other fun living things. If only I could get to that herb garden I want to start. Then I can just throw some of that in there. It's better for the environment and makes for better food.

So back to other stuff I need to get done. Like this post that is taking me 2 days is is totally disjointed because I have too much other crap to do. Like cutting the grass. And landscaping. My husband has sooooo much time to do these things and it would be nice to help with the outside stuff. And oh yeah the gym. The frickin gym. My ample ass needs to get on an ample bike seat for about 74,378 hours in the next two days if I want to balance out the shit I ate today because I need to go grocery shopping for real food and stop it with the cereal I eat because I give the kids the good stuff. Or sometimes not. But oh crap I gotta get some sleep it is after midnight at this point. I started this post yesterday if you are confused. I need to make my to do list for tomorrow and get this frickin blog post done first.

Oh. I think I just did. Whew. That's a load off.

But I'm not quite done. Now I'm gonna brush my teeth, tell myself I must have a shower - not a bath...not realistic! - in the next 72 hours before I decompose and then eat a piece of chocolate because I deserve it. Then think about the gym and the scale and my diet and how all this stuff takes too much time and what I really should be doing is playing and snuggling and laughing with my boys. Unless they have homework they need help with. Or a diaper change. Crap. My baby's music toy needs batteries right now. Yes it is the next day again OK. Sue me. This "music"sounds like a dying cow on a loop. My boys do have homework. Julian needs to make a little cannon for his castle project and needs silver paint but he forgot that at school. And Noah has a test tomorrow. Oh really? Was that tomorrow? Wonderful news! Calgon take me away!

Oh yeah. No time for a bath or wine or even a shower for that matter.  Oh man I need to pee! I also need to wash the kids' clothes because tomorrow they need to wear something decent for the spring concert and everything is dirty. Oh shit... When IS that spring concert? Or is it a play? IS that tomorrow or is that next month? Oh please let it be next month. And the baskets they are collecting items for so they can raise money for the school. I need to get on that. But I know i probably won't and then feel guilty about it. Bad Mom! But the fun fair is on the same day as Julian's hockey tournament and the same day as a birthday party. Oh shit. Then after all that? Summer. All three boys at home with me. The joy! The rapture! The family fun! I hope the sun come out tomorrow. Should I bet my bottom dollar? I need to go see more musical theatre cause I am sported out people. And I need to see my girlfriends more. Really now. Will I recognize them when I finally do see them? Will they recognize me?

Then I have that spa gift card my sweet husband gave to me about 4 years ago. As if I have time for that. But I know I need to be still. Be in the present moment. Stop and smell the roses. Oh I need a trellis for my roses, that reminds me. And I need to be thankful for all I have. And that reminds me, I need to make a gratitude list of all I have to be thankful for. Another list. Just what I need. But Oprah would be proud.

This is not me. She's prettier.

And I deserve something too right? I need to be authentically me. Not lose myself in all the details. Focus on the big picture. Don't worry, be happy. Bobby McFarron sucks but the song is catchy.

Maybe I will just drop everything, and join the circus. But clowns give me the creeps.


Suggested Reading

Mother Guilt: I Have it and i Feel Guilty About That
Fare for Friends: Why We Need Our Gals
My iPhone: A Tragic Love Story
Oh Boy!
For Crying Out Loud!
Your Lonely Addiction

How to Calm Down Quickly When you are Feeling Overwhelmed

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Mommy Wars

"It's not only children who grow.  Parents do too.  As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours.  I can't tell my children to reach for the sun.  All I can do is reach for it, myself."
  -Joyce Maynard

Have you ever caught yourself questioning other mothers' choices? How could she work all of those long hours when she has kids? How could she give up such a successful career to stay at home with her children? Even I ask these questions and I am here to defend not asking them.

Why do we ask? I think as mothers we intellectually know that everyone needs to make those decisions in the context of her own family....and does...and yet there is a whole culture surrounding whether or not a mother should work or stay at home with the kids or some sort of hybrid of them both. Who is right? Who loves their children more? Who is a stronger woman? Who is more successful in the way that successful means in all aspects of her life? And by the way, what IS the definition of success anyways?

This is so wrong...right?

I have been on both sides. Meaning, I have been a stay at home mom and a working mom...at different points during the lives of my three boys who are currently 9, 7 and 7 months. My husband has also been both, and has also worked part time while I worked full time.We have both worked full time while our child was in daycare. Or home care. We have had our school-aged children in before and after school programs. We have had family help us out. We have struggled with the balance between being comfortable enough financially and spending quality time with our children.

We think about their future and school and all that comes with that and how we want to help them soar to get there and yet know how much post-secondary education costs. Same with competitive hockey. We also wonder if young children are better off socializing more with other kids their age rather than being home with mom (or dad) for more of the time. Quality time. And what IS quality time? Or is quantity time more important? What is the right mix? What can we afford? What do we as adults need in our own lives to be happy, engaging, dynamic individuals and therefore spouses and parents? Some moms want to stay home. Some want to want to stay home or think they should. Some think they should work. Some think they have to work. Some have to have to work. Most of us have a combo-special with fries on the side.

There is a lot to ponder here obviously. And everyone ponders through the ebbs and flows of their own lives. While they are hugging their child or on a plane on the way to a meeting in France. While they are cooking a home-cooked meal from scratch or picking up food on the fly. While they are weeping in their beds trying to sleep because they worry they are not doing the right thing. They could be better parents. They should be doing what "so and so" are doing.

They worry their lives revolve too much around the kids.
They worry their lives revolve too much around themselves.

They worry no matter what.

They're Moms. We're moms. And that's what we do. So enough of the mud slinging gals. We are on the same team, in the same boat, (add your cliched metaphor of choice here). Quiet your egos. Listen to what IS. And let the others do their own listening...and worrying...and doing....and parenting...and surviving...in peace (flowers, violins, love and harmony...la la la).

Smiles (oh yes...don't forget the smiles...),

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Say a Prayer

"Without faith a man can do nothing; with it all things are possible."
 - Sir William Osler

Are you thankful for what you have? I have pondered the concept of gratitude in a recent post and I will continue to talk about this in different ways because it is central to keeping life in perspective. We all complain. We all bitch and moan about the problems in our lives. That is human nature. And our problems are all relative. They are all valid. We are allowed to feel down, to feel sorry for ourselves, to have bad moments, bad days, bad weeks...well, you get the idea.

But let's shift our mindset. Let's turn things around and look at what we have. I am busy. I have three very active boys with busy schedules. I have a baby who takes a lot out of me. I have a marriage that sometimes takes a backseat to my kids because we are both so focused on them, on the day to day routine, on making sure the bills are paid, the house is somewhat in order, that we get some sleep.

What we must always remind ourselves is that our our children are healthy. We have a home. We have our worries, but we do get some sleep. We have our parents who live close. We have our friends, our siblings, our nieces and nephews and we have each other.

Some people are going through incredibly difficult times. Some need our prayers. I mentioned a mother I know who was recently killed. Her children and husband need a prayer. I have friends with sick family members who need a prayer. My sister in law is a doctor who treats children with cancer. They all need prayers.

I say one for them and I say one for you and whatever you need one for. I say a prayer for my wonderful mom who badly hurt her back and will be in pain for a while. I say a prayer for my cousin who has three young daughters and recently had a health scare. I pray for my brother who has had such an amazing year and makes me proud every day. I pray for children who are bullied for being who they are. I pray for the bullies that they are given the guidance to find their way to acceptance and compassion. I pray because I have hope. I pray because I am thankful. I pray because I am mindful. I pray because I can.

I doesn't matter what you believe in. It could be God, it could be Spirit, it could be whatever brings you strength...something bigger than yourself. Just turn inward for a few moments and really think about it.

And so I ask you today...for whom and for what do you pray?



Suggested Reading

Fare for Friends: Why We Need Our Gals

What is Prayer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Paint a Painting to get your Creative Juices Flowing

”Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
- Picasso.

Do you feel the need to make something? To build something? To create something?

I get this way often. It is inherently part of who I am. But are some people more creative than others? That's an interesting question. I think it is all relative and EVERYONE has creativity as part of their nature. Some people need it more than others...some people are more talented in certain areas than others...but we all can tap into our creative sides. Give it a whirl. It can be very therapeutic.

I have many ways in which I tap into my own creativity, but I'm going to start with one that I stumbled upon a while back quite spontaneously and it quickly became a wonderful hobby and a way to add beauty to my  home.

Paint a painting!

Never had any formal training? Neither have I! I didn't even take high school art. I just decided one day, about 7 years ago, that I wanted a large piece of colourful, original art for over my couch in my living room and didn't have the funds or the patience to look for what I wanted in stores or in galleries. So off I went to the art supplies store.  I bought a large 3' x 3' stretched canvas for under $20 and a simple, inexpensive collection of acrylic paints and some brushes. I put an old sheet down on my kitchen floor and off to the races I went.

At first I was hesitant, but very quickly I just let the brush and colours guide me. Yes, I know that sounds very cheese ball, but it's true people. And as I mentioned in a very recent post, I like me some good cheese! But I digress...

My very first painting on canvas - "Crimson Awakening" (Acrylics)

So the above painting is what became of that first foray into becoming a painter. It hung above my couch in my last home until we moved. I got many a compliment and I loved the feeling of creating something unique that would touch other people in some way. And so I continued to paint. Canvases are surprisingly inexpensive and so is paint, so once I got going I really got going! Then I got asked by my brother to paint a few pieces for his home. Then a few friends asked if I could create pieces that would fit in with their colour schemes. Then I posted a few pics in an album on facebook and someone asked if they were for sale (and all of a sudden they were!).

"Untitled" (triptych - acrylics on canvas)

"Rainbow Stones 1" (acrylics on canvas)

"Rainbow Stones 2" (acrylics on canvas)

"Untitled" (acrylics on canvas)

"Turning Tides" (acrylics on canvas)

I didn't set out to become a professional artist...nor do I have the time or the space at this point in time to pursue this. I just needed to get my creative juices flowing while I was at home on maternity leave. I needed to express myself. And I simply needed something to cover that large, empty space on my living room wall.

A few bucks and a few moments of motivation is all it took. And it took me places I never thought I could go.

How do you get creative? Do you have anything to share? Let us know!



Suggested Reading

Poetry: Another Creative Outlet
10 Acrylic Painting Tips for Beginners

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The No-Diet Diet

"Seven days without chocolate makes one weak."
 - Unknown

I have discovered a best, most effective way to lose weight and keep it off and I am going to share my secret with you today! Excited yet?

Like many women I have gained and lost that 10, 15, 20, even 30 pounds and more over the course of my life...especially after having each of my children. I have tried fad diets, cutting out carbs completely, the "I'll start on Monday but until then I am gonna eat everything in sight" diet, eating only cabbage soup, paid prepared food plans, yadda, yadda yadda. You know the drill. Sure, maybe some weight has come off at first, but inevitably I can't sustain the heavy restrictions (of course!) and I gain the weight back with a bonus few.

The only thing that has ever worked for me is pretty simple in theory. Follow the next few rules and you WILL lose weight:

  • Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are full.
  • Have a reasonable portions of protein, healthy carbs and lots of veggies.
  • Drink lots of water.
  • Move your body regularly.
Simple right? Again, notice I said "in THEORY", It really is not hard to understand. Following through is a whole other ball game. We don't live on the set of The Biggest Loser. We have busy lives, kids, work, stress, and in my case, a serious addiction to chocolate. And then there is my little friend cheese. I did join a gym and once I get my ass there I do enjoy the workout - and feel much better for it - but life has a way of, well, getting in the way (and so does my ample ass, come to think of it).

If only we could have our Diet Coke with Bacon and drink it too

The fact is, I am at a place in my life where I not only need to lose my considerable amount of baby weight, but I want to lead a better-balanced, healthier life. I like good, healthy, fresh food and enjoy the benefits of exercise. I just need to make them priorities as they do require some planning and time - especially with three little boys to juggle.

It's not rocket science. It's just common sense. And as I said....It's simple.

But it's not easy. Hang in there with me girls!



Suggested Reading

Monday, May 16, 2011

Confessions of a Hockey Mom

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take."
- Wayne Gretzky

It may be Spring but hockey is a big part of my life as a Canadian mother of three boys and if you think it ends when winter does...think again! the NHL playoffs are still in full force and my 9 yr. old son Julian is on a tournament team and will begin training soon for the upcoming season.

I recently wrote a feature article in a great, National Canadian Family Magazine called "What's Up" and would like to share it with you all here.

And now the link no longer works, so I am inserting the article in full here now! Enjoy!


Confessions of a Hockey Mom

By Lora Rossi
(Printed in What's UP Families Magazine, February, 2010)

My hockey stars: Noah, 7 and Julian, 9.

It’s 6:37am on a cold, November Saturday morning and while most are snug in their beds, I am deeply preoccupied. I have to get my six year old son to the rink by 7:00am and I can’t find his neck guard. And I am not sure which rink his game is at. And I am still in the wrinkled track pants and t-shirt I wore to bed - and they aren’t coming off any time soon.
More importantly, this also has the domino effect of my now not having enough time to make the all important stop at Tim Horton’s for my large double double. Horror! I’ll have to settle for the much less satisfying “ice rink blend” instead.
And so my weekend begins…
My name is Lora and I am a Hockey Mom.
Sometimes I wonder how I got here…immersed so utterly and completely in this role that once had me observing those from afar saying “that will never be me.” I mean, I grew up dancing, playing the piano and acting in plays. Those mad women I witnessed at my brother’s games screaming in the stands had me rolling my eyes.
Then I had a little boy. Then I had another. Then I had a reality check.
My husband, Rob, is a huge hockey fan and well, you know what they say about apples and trees.  (And this is where I must add a brief disclaimer about girls and hockey. Both of my sons have girls on their team and they are awesome. So if you have a daughter, don’t think you are immune!)
My oldest son Julian is now nine years old and plays defense for a competitive hockey team at the “AA” level. For those of you not familiar with what that means, in short it translates into “lots of money and lots of time at lots of different hockey rinks.”
Julian played house league hockey for a couple of years and that was manageable. Competitive hockey, on the other hand,  is for crazy people. And unfortunately, it is designed for people who work to be able to afford it…and who have lots of free time in order to get their kids to all the games, practices and tournaments, which if you are working a 9 - 5 job is next to impossible.
But this is Canada people, and we take our hockey pretty seriously. And they start ‘em young. And parents have to be prepared.

This is a major commitment involving signed contracts. Tardiness is not tolerated. You miss practice you lose ice time. You must participate in fundraising and team events (so if you need any meat or wrapping paper, let me know!) Travel for tournaments is regular and costly. You pay for two team jerseys,  socks, hockey pants, gloves, helmet, tracksuit, turtlenecks, cap,  toque,  hoodie, winter jacket, spring jacket…well….you get the point. You join a rep hockey team, you get a new wardrobe.
 Thanks Mom and Dad!
Now that my six year old Noah has started house league hockey, the “divide and conquer” approach has come into play. The entire weekend is a veritable mish-mash of games, practices, smelly change rooms and trips home to shower. It is a strategic game in and of itself!
Plans are made around the family hockey schedule (did I mention that Rob plays every weekend as well?) The previously mentioned neck guard incident did not involve my husband because he was in Sudbury at one of Julian’s many tournaments. A regular weekend involves 4 - 6 trips to different ice rinks and a family meeting to figure out who is going to go where with whom. Grandparents get involved. It’s exhausting.
But here’s the thing that caught me by surprise. I love it.
I hate to miss their games and I have stopped taking reading material to their practices because I know my eyes will be on the ice to entire time. To know my boys are doing something they truly enjoy, are being active and are improving with each week is a great feeling as a parent. They are learning important lessons about what it means to be a part of a team, sportsmanship, and are making great friends in the process. And the fact that it is a passion they share and enjoy - both playing and watching - with their Dad is great to watch as well.
Just over a month ago we welcomed our third son Drew (yes, a hat trick!) and he is already a rink rat. His naps are often interrupted by the sounds of mini-stick hockey games coming from the family room. His brothers are asking when they can start to teach him how to skate.
Inevitably, he will also most likely play hockey.  And sure, the bags under my eyes will certainly be big enough to carry his equipment. But I will be cheering - ok - screaming…in the stands. And this Mom couldn’t be happier.
Do you have any Hockey Mom confessions? What about other sports? What do you love and dislike about kids and competitive team sports? I invite you all to leave comments both here on my blog, and on the magazine's website.

Please note that I am in the midst of starting a The Hugging Home twitter account and facebook page. Details to follow.

The more we are connected, the more interactive we can be and the more we will all learn from each other.

Short one for today, but Monday mornings are crazy and there is lots to do around my home!



Suggested Reading

Oh Boy!
For Crying Out Loud! (Coping With Colic, by Lora Rossi - What's Up Magazine, June, 2011)

An Attitude of Gratitude - How Bad Experiences Bring Your Life Perspective

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.”
Today I went to a funeral home. An acquaintance...someone I know through my oldest son Julian's hockey, was tragically killed in an accident. This was the mother of a former teammate of Julian's. I didn't know her that well but I would talk to her at games, make funny faces at her infant daughter and her husband was one of the coaches.

All I know is that she was "hit by a train". I don't have any more information than that. I am not sure I will ever know the details, but in any case I am in shock. Here is a lovely person...a fellow mom...and in the blink of an eye she is gone. I was OK as I walked amongst the other visitors at the viewing...looking at the pictures of her...sadly smiling at strangers who all had one thing in common. They all were in a bit of a fog about the whole thing. They were all wondering "Why?"

People die every day. But when someone is killed in an instant - whether in an accident or by their own actions, everyone who knew them - family, friends, acquaintances - are changed in some way.

My sweet baby Drew at 2 months
I cried all the way home. I blew my diet for the day by downing a large sugary, cold coffee beverage to numb the numbness (if that makes any sense). But when I saw my three boys after I returned home I held them a little tighter. I told them I loved them a few more times than usual. I stared into the big, brown eyes of my baby as he snuggled in my arms. His hand was gently on my cheek as I sung him to sleep and the numbness turned to an intense awareness of the present moment. The love was overwhelming. The gratitude was grounding.

Death is part of life and it sucks. But the perspective it gives us is important. Life is sweet. The future is gone, tomorrow will never arrive, but today is a gift. That is why they call it the present.

Enjoy your children. Dance to your favourite music. Eat wonderful food. Comfort those who are grieving. But pay close attention as it is happening. This moment is all we really have for sure.



Suggested Reading

Fare For Friends: Why We Need Our Gals
For Crying Out Loud!
Your Lonely Addiction

The Benefits of Gratitude
How to Start a Gratitude Journal

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Midnight Madness - What to do When you Can't Sleep

I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day. 
 ~Vincent Van Gogh

I am nocturnal. I often wake at night and can't get back to sleep. Granted, my sleep schedule has been greatly affected by the fact that I have a baby who wakes at night, but I have always had trouble sleeping. Nighttime is so peaceful once the baby goes back to sleep. It is the only time my home is totally quiet except for the Spring birds chirping outside.

Sometimes I feel like I am the only person in the world who is awake...but I know many a parent is in the same boat as I. Some go through much worse. My boys are healthy as am I and a little lost sleep only results in a little lost mind at times. :)

I have learned to get up and read a little something uplifting or just close my eyes and concentrate on the present moment. It ain't that bad. I will even check out a quick article online on my iPhone. Try http://www.vividlife.me/ for a quick pick me up especially if you have trouble shutting off the worries that clutter your busy brain like mine. This is a great place to visit for tidbits of inspiration and life perspective.

If your "to do" list for the next day, week, year is keeping you from dreaming about (enter hot celebrity name here), then quickly jot your list down and then leave it. It is now in writing and you won't forget anything
And when all else fails, eat some chocolate.

Well it is now 5:21 am and I had better go back to bed. Man that chocolate was frickin' tasty!



Suggested Reading

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Domino Decorating Effect - How Accessorizing Can Bring You Joy

“So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” - Brenda Ueland 
  I am one of those people that gets a new item for my home and I temporarily go into my own little world. My husband Rob knows it when he sees it. "There she goes!" he says with a knowing laugh. And so the decorating domino effect begins.

I may get a new vase that fits perfectly with the colour scheme in my living room but the spot I find for it already holds another equally nice item. So then I have to find a new home for it. And then I do and I get an idea for a few other items I already own that would certainly perfect a visually pleasing tablescape. And then more gaps are ready to be filled all over my house. This usually happens at a fairly rapid pace as my decorating-infused adrenaline inevitably kicks in. My heart starts beating faster as I find myself running from room to room moving baskets and picture frames, tchotchkes and candles. Throw pillow are thrown. Twigs and stones and starfish are brought together like a mini beach upon my dining room table just waiting to find a new place to rest. The excitement of it all makes me feel alive.

But Spring is finally in the air my friends and this is typically when larger decor and organizational endeavours rear their pretty heads. I bring this up today because we just got some new shelves...all beautifully white and empty...just waiting to be filled. Rapture! (But I sit here waaaaaay past my bedtime just staring at the blank canvas that my husband just finished setting up trying to stay seated and focused enough to write this post because this little shelf project is gonna be a glorious series of workouts!)

My new, empty dining room shelves!

Perhaps this sounds familiar. Or maybe it resembles your worst nightmare. But for me, freshening up my home is a creative outlet and a joy when I'm in the mood. If I get into refreshing mode I turn into the Energizer Bunny on speed. I have to remind myself to stop for a drink of water. I find myself doing the famous "pee pee" dance until I finally take five minutes to slow down enough to relieve myself. I'm high people and I don't have time for such details!

And don't question me mid-nesting because until I say so, "I'm not finished yet!" Things start to look like my house has been ransacked and robbed before it slowly but surely starts to take a new but aesthetically pleasing and rejuvenating form. Everyone who knows me well understands that I have to try approximately three thousand, two hundred and sixty seven combinations and replacements before I am satisfied.

That is, until I bring home the next perfect little thing.



Suggested Reading

Goodwill Hunting: The Thrill of the Find!
Paint a Painting to get your Creative Juices Flowing

How to style open shelves
Ten tips to accessorize your home

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Do You Start Your First Blog Post?

So here I am writing my first post wondering what I should say in my first post. Should I just list what I plan on talking about in this blog? Well…that’s kind of in the welcome already. Should I introduce myself and give all sorts of personal info? Well…I figure you can read the “about me” profile on the home page and I am pretty sure I will be well revealed to you over time as you loyally follow along. So what do I write?

What I will say is this: Sometimes I will make you laugh. Sometimes I will aim to provoke you to ponder something. Sometimes I will share with you things that you can do or make that have brought out feelings in me that speak to the wonder of life. Sometimes I will look to you for input and even advise. After all I am not the expert. I’m only AN expert amongst you all. We are all the experts of our own lives, our own experiences.

And that is what will make this a rewarding place for you…and me….to visit. I invite interaction, input and guest bloggers. In my personal travels, if I find something that I find helpful or insightful, funny or important, I will be sure to link you up! If you have the same to share, please do so!

So get comfortable. Grab a java.

Welcome to The Hugging Home!