Throwback Thursday…

I just found an old photograph of the kids and it’s so sweet I had to share. The kids are eating homemade creamsicles made with juice and yogourt and the cat in the back is our old cat Pumpkin (he’s on a leash).

I know I’ve shared several childhood photos recently but I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic this past week and, well, the kids were adorable.

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There are places I remember…

I stood in the middle of the kitchen and finally had to admit that apartment just wouldn’t work for us. The landlord billed it as a three bedroom and it was ostensibly. Two of the three bedrooms would barely support a crib let alone a bed and every room we saw came with a list of furniture we simply couldn’t fit into the apartment. I was in the kitchen, wondering who could store our solid maple hutch, when I realized we’d have to give up half of our furniture to move in. It just wasn’t feasible. We turned the apartment down.

We were at my parents’ house a few days later and walked in as my sister was describing the apartment she’d just turned down. The whole place needed repainting from top to bottom and the front door was, oddly enough, on the landing at the middle of the stairs. It was a two bedroom (I was pregnant with Colin at the time) and there was a shared backyard. She was dismissive. I was intrigued.

Monday found me at the building trying to find any contact information. There was no apartment for rent sign and no one answered the superintendent’s buzzer. My ex arrived with Kait and a short while later the super arrived. We signed the rental agreement 15 minutes later. The paint was fine and we’d have our own patio and a share of the backyard.

Jeremy in 1998I have so many happy memories from this apartment. We did some big things but it’s the little ones I remember. Sitting reading poetry and bedtime stories at night then singing lullabies to help them sleep. The time they both were sick so I let them blow bubbles in the living room… those hard to pop bubbles that were so popular those days. Playing in the backyard… doing the actions to the Grand Old Duke of York and the Bear went over the Mountain while I sang. We got one of those big wading pools with the rigid sides and I’d stick the foot of their slide into the pool so they could have a water slide. And every warm night the kids took their baby dolls out for a walk around the block in their strollers.

As they grew older, our excursions widened. We went to all the local parks (not all at theOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA same time). One of their favourite past times was building a “sand bloom”. This involved dumping a huge pile of sand at the bottom of the slide then sliding through only to build it again. The washer was sometimes gritty but it was worth it for their laughter.

We lucked out and got new neighbours with kids the same age as mine. We did so many activities with them as well as simply playing at home together.

Colin and Kait at McRae PointEvery single summer my parents drove us to a local campground for a week of camping fun. We started out at a small campground then moved to a bigger one that was a bit closer. Both kids were fishes and loved being in the water. We caught (and released) frogs, roasted marshmallows, sang campfire songs, and read before bed. They were magical times I still look back on and enjoy.

Life wasn’t perfect. I was perpetually broke and had to plan the kids’ birthdays half afirst profile picture year in advance so I could afford the basics for a party. Presents were often bought at Dollarama and riding the bus was a luxury we could rarely afford. But we still had fun and I always had food in the kitchen and snacks available.

I went to the dentist today and walked along Green Street to stand diagonally across the street from our old building. It’s been sold a couple of times since we lived there and half the hedge is dead from vines, something our superintendent warned would happen. It looked a lot smaller than I remembered. Maybe it was all the memories stuffed in it that made it seem bigger to me than in reality. There’s a Dollarama where our old grocery store used to be and I picked up a couple of items before heading for home.

At the time it seemed like they’d be young forever. The days were so long and filled with a myriad of little activities. But of course they grew up. The days go by so much more quickly now. Now Kait’s in my former position of Mommy, raising her baby and keeping him entertained. I hope she ends up with as many happy memories as I have or even more.

Goodbye Green Street. You were a wonderful place to raise a family!

Back to school - Kait grade 1 2001b

Looking forward…

Today feels like it should be covered in glitter and wrapped in ribbon… like there should be a hint of magic along with the optimism a new year brings. Instead we’ve got rain and chilly winds. Not that it matters because I’m cozy in my home, wearing sequined slippers and taking breaks to cuddle with the cats.

This is a day of reflection about 2018 while planning for next year and thankfully my reflections are happy ones. Kait’s pregnancy and subsequent birth have brought the two of us closer together. It’s not uncommon for us to have three hour long phone calls now. And I have the most adorable grandson too. I love watching his eyes light up with happiness when he sees me. Colin’s slowly maturing and has expressed an interest in being more organized. He also wants to go out more and join some groups. And I’ve spent quite a bit of time with family and friends. Woo hoo… karaoke! I can’t forget L either. I’ve only seen her once but I’m seeing her again soon and really looking forward to our second date… considering our first one was great!

One thing I have to work on in January and February is my weight. I’d lost 10 pounds by the beginning of December then regained six. Christmas Crack is so yummy but it’s also really high in calories. And there were other snacks and treats as well. January is a fresh start. I’m going to make sure I exercise every day. There’s no real excuse not to. I have a membership to the city’s walking track, I can go downstairs for a swim or some time on the treadmill, or I can use the mini trampoline I have under my bed. Plus on good days I can go outside for a walk on one of four trails. I am sure that I can get into the 180’s before our Dominican Republic vacation in March.

I’d also like to work on my writing. I haven’t written so much as a page in my current novel over the last year whereas pre-depression I lived for writing and would write a chapter at a time. I read an article, via Facebook, that said writing in Comic Sans helps boost creativity and I’m willing to give it a try. It can’t hurt and it’s not hard to change the novel back to Garamond.

I’ve been enjoying hanging out with friends but I’ve got local friends who I only ever see on Facebook and we need to get together too. That’s something for me to try harder to arrange this year.

2016 was one of the worst years of my life, 2017 was an improvement, 2018 was great, and I’m hoping that 2019 will be amazing! Happy New Year!!!

Start your year off right

 

Whispers of the past…

I was sitting in the van with Colin and my parents on the way to Bon Echo Provincial Park. It’s a place we’ve gone camping for decades now, a popular campground in Ontario. I was looking out the window, not really thinking of much, just noticing all the sights of nature as we whizzed past. Then I looked over and, for half a second, I expected to see heads with brown and black hair in the seats in front of me, instead of the grey I saw.

My parents’ camping days are numbered and their numbers are less than the fingers on my hand. I commented to my Mom about when we go camping next year but what I really meant was if.

It was really noticeable with my Dad this year. Would he be able to walk down to the deep beach this year? Should we take a van to the day beach? This is a man who was scouted for the Montreal Canadiens farm team, an opportunity he missed because he was out fighting forest fires in BC and no one knew where he was. A miss I’m grateful for because otherwise he wouldn’t have met my Mom and my sisters and I wouldn’t be here. A man who played “oldtimers hockey” and walked the track for exercise. A man who enjoyed getting into nature for a good walk. Now we’re worried if he can walk a few blocks.

My Mom commented sadly a few months ago that things just weren’t the same. When she was little (and when I was little for that matter) the dishes were ignored for a while and everyone sat and chatted. Now everyone finished, cleared their plates, got right into washing, and then went to do their own things, while my Mom and Dad sat at an empty table, a table that should have been filled with chatter. That one was easy at least. I messaged everyone and asked them to hold off on clearing the table to chat and, thankfully, it’s taken off and become something everyone enjoys. But there’s nothing I can do about age.

It’s seven and a half weeks until Kait has her baby, bumping me into the grandmother position and my parents into great grandparents. I wish my Nana could see this baby, when she was still strong and cheerful. She would have loved him so much (and equally loved knitting him little outfits). My Nanaimo Nana (great grandmother) would have loved him too. But I can’t dip into the past and bring them forth, they only exist in memories. There’s a chain of family connections and my parents are next on the list to get bumped off, then, eventually, it will be my turn.

I’m reasonably sure my grandfather had similar thoughts because he set out to write down the more memorable family stories that he remembered. I don’t think he got all of them because there’s been a few times I’ve mentioned a story he’d told me and got blank looks. Sometimes I think maybe I should write some family stories down too but I don’t know if anyone would be interested in the coming years.

But the past is the past. We honour them by remembering them and remembering their advice. Well except for my Nana’s advice to have me leave Kait in her carriage outside for a nap while I cleaned inside. That’s terrible advice when you’re in a third floor walkup in a not so good neighbourhood. But the good advice.

The future is coming, like it always does. Soon there’ll be a new grandchild and the beginning of a new generation. Soon there’ll be new ideas, dreams, and goals. And I hope my parents are there to see it unravel and to watch the little wee one grow big and strong.

Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary

Mom and Dad on their 50th wedding anniversary

When the past hits your heart…

Colin saw the Chiquita banana sticker on my bananas this morning and gave me a lecture on the evils of banana corporations and how they destroyed Guatemala with the help of the US government back in the 1950’s. It wasn’t exactly the conversation I’d expected but he has eclectic tastes and a love of politics so I wasn’t too surprised. That being said, all I’d really planned on doing was making banana bread.

I got the banana bread in the oven, chatted with my sister for a bit, then got ready to wait for Kait to come over for a visit. The wait segued into a browse on Facebook and a trip through memory lane via the “On This Day” feature. One of the first things that popped up was this…

Lenny

It was a few years old (obviously) which means I made friends with him seven years ago today. I don’t know what I expected to feel when this surprise post popped up. Grief? Anger? Disappointment? What I didn’t expect to feel was nothing more than a vague sense of sadness.

It’s been just under two years since he blocked me. At the time I was devastated. We talked all the time, stopping only for sleep and work. I’d message him on my way to work, during both my breaks, then on my way home again… only to start up again after dinner and right through to bedtime. He was the first person I talked to in the morning and the last at night. He was my love and I was ready to pack up my whole life, leave my family and friends, and move halfway across the world to be with him.

I was actively suicidal when he blocked me and I couldn’t grasp the thought that the block might be forever. I hadn’t done anything to him, surely he’d calm down in a few weeks… maybe a month or two. But the days continued, each one without him. It almost physically hurt at first because I was coping with losing him on top of gaining a couple of serious mental illnesses. My entire life had flipped over and the person I talked to the most was gone.

I slowly started rebuilding myself, piece by piece. I began spending more time with family, made amends with my daughter, and coaxed Colin to try new things. I reached out for help and gained three groups to attend each week and a care team that checks in on me every two weeks. I have a friend in the building next to me and go to karaoke with her and her husband about once a month, among other visits. My life has almost completely changed from what it was before.

I don’t know what I’d do if Lenny unblocked me at this point. I wouldn’t be mean or rude by any means. Goodness knows he has his own issues to work through. But it certainly wouldn’t be the same. I can’t imagine devoting almost my whole life and all my attention to one person anymore. It’s a moot point since I can’t imagine Lenny unblocking me now. And, for the first time in several years, I’m okay with that.

Four years of writing…

WordPress informed me today that I’ve been writing this blog for exactly four years now, that my first post was written on December 22, 2013. Back then we were using pseudonyms. I was Michelle, Colin was Jeremy (the male name I’d picked for Kait), and Kait was Emma(the female name I’d picked for Colin). We showed no pictures with faces and made sure to mention only that we were Canadian and near Toronto. Colin was still in high school, which he’s since graduated from (refusing their additional program called school to work) and Kait was working for No Frills, a Canadian grocery store chain. I was working full time for Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee chain.

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Four years later and so much has changed. I’d always struggled with mild to moderate depression but it wasn’t enough to affect my job. Then it burst into full blown depression (Major Depressive Disorder) and extreme anxiety. I take a handful of pills a day and my psychiatrist doesn’t think I’ll ever work again. Which is a blow since I’m in my 40’s still but it wasn’t a surprise. I belong to a couple of groups in meatspace and do a variety of activities such as bowling, yoga, making bath bombs, and extreme couponing. Both groups are near a walking trail so I walk on the trail either before or after group to get my 10,000 steps.

Kait no longer works at No Frills, instead she’s a store clerk for a gas station, working their midnight shift. She’s doing an amazing job there, they say she’s their best night shift worker ever. Plus she loves her home and her two kitties. She’s been with her boyfriend for about as long as the blog and is doing well with him.

Colin is the focus of the blog and he’s the one who’s gone through the most transitions. He started out wondering if he were bisexual then realized he didn’t like-like boys, only girls. Right from the first post he identified with Jazz Jennings, a trans teenager from Florida, except he wasn’t uncomfortable with his body at the time, he just had a “girl’s brain”. Then, a little while later, people started doing those genetic tests. I used to hang out a lot in a forum called Regretsy (sadly it no longer exists) and one of the people did one of the tests and posted the results. I read them aloud to Colin and he got excited right at the beginning when it said the sex was male. Could he take the test too? I had no idea what he was talking about until he added “so I can find out what sex I am”. I explained it would only tell him his birth sex, not how he feels inside. Another time I pointed out we were having a lot more trans readers and Colin’s response was, “That’s not a surprise.” It took me a long time to realize that Colin wasn’t cisgender but he was patient with me. Then came the sorting out. He started out as bigender (feeling both male and female) then pangender (feeling like all genders) then started exploring more towards being female. He drifted into being female and picked out the name Emma (which was the name I’d chosen when I was pregnant with him). He was happy with the name and being referred to with female pronouns. Then he started worrying about fertility. He’s wanted to be a parent since he could talk so that wasn’t a surprise but the lack of fertility preservation was a shock. Freezing sperm only works 50% of the time and is expensive and stopping hormone therapy has an unknown success rate because it seems like only trans people are talking about it. The doctors claim 100% infertility once the hormones take effect. So now Colin’s still female but not sure about transitioning. I use Colin on the blog and both Colin and Emma at home. He’s happy with that. He’s also in school, taking mostly math, and hoping to eventually go to college. He builds and rebuilds computers in his spare time and plays PC video games.

Kait and her boyfriend are coming over for dinner, stockings, and presents tomorrow. I’m going to make Kait’s favourites; pasta with pumpkin sauce and Christmas Crack. I’ve included the link because the dessert is easy and amazingly yummy. They claim it’ll last a week, like you’re not going to eat half a pan standing over the kitchen counter. I don’t have a link to the pumpkin pasta, sadly. It was a recipe from the Today’s Parent forums, another site that no longer exists.

Colin and I are going to my parents’ house on Christmas Eve and sleeping over that night. Which saves a heck of a lot of driving, rather than going back and forth each day. Kait’s going to be there on Christmas Eve too.

I wonder where we’ll be in four more years. Where ever it is, I’m sure it’ll be fabulous!

 

Happy Holidays!