Reality Bites

There have been several articles in my newsfeed lately that bemoan the perils of blogger moms. “Don’t read those things!” they warn. “You will be made to feel inadequate. You will hate yourself and your children. You will get so obsessed with making the quintessential tiramisu that you will forget to change your baby’s diaper for three days.”

Okay, the advice is actually well-founded. You can’t let yourself get sucked into the hype. Truly, if a blogger (or an Instagrammer or a Pinterester or a Facebooker) is posting only their amazingness and subconsciously (or intentionally) letting you think that they tend to every detail of their mommyhood and wifehood with such exquisite perfection, you should block them from your inbox.

However, I would like to think that I am not that kind of blogger. I’d like to think that, but maybe you are just dazzled and frazzled enough to have forgotten some of my glaring faults (which I am not shy about posting). In the unlikely event that I intimidate you, I shall hereby take a moment to share a few snippets of my reality with you.

First. Yes, it’s true that I make my own laundry soap. And I love hanging my laundry outside to dry. But I am not a laundry diva.

This is my laundry room.


It is in the unfinished basement of our 140-year-old farmhouse. There is dust. There are cobwebs. There is dryer lint. There is cat poo (not pictured). I do clean up all that stuff once in a while (FYI the cat poo gets cleaned up way more often than “once in a while”. More like ASAP.) But you don’t need to feel like Satan if you buy ready-made laundry detergent. If you are somewhat capable of maintaining a reasonably clean environment in which to use said detergent, you are awesome!

Next. You may think all the sparkling wit, hilarity and brilliance that is created right here must happen in a zen bubble of peace. You would think I would be incredibly organized with the God-given gifts of administration and structure. Wrong-o! This is my desk right now:


There are about 6 different to-do lists here. There are reminder notes stuck all over the place. And see all those pens? Half of them don’t work. Whenever I grab one and it doesn’t work, I just drop it and grab another one. You do not need to feel like a rabid honeybadger if sometimes things are disorganized. If you have a general idea of where most of your stuff is, or at least some good ideas about where to start looking, you are fantastic!

Next. I know, I know, you talk about my carefree beauty at your playdates. You are in awe. You are jealous. (Riiiiiight.) This is me right now.


The truth of the matter is, once or twice a week I put on mascara and use some sort of product in my hair. And if I need to have my picture taken, I’ll make sure it’s on one of those days. The rest of the time, I look like this. You do not need to feel like Quasimodo if you have more important things to do than Kardashianizing yourself. If you have showered and/or brushed your teeth, you are a beauty queen!

Next. I enjoy a good decluttering day as much as the next gal. I do not keep scads of my kids’ schoolwork and artwork and church lessons and paper snowflakes and restaurant menu drawings. They show it to me, and I praise the work, then it goes in the recycling bin. The kids each have a Rubbermaid tub in the basement in which to store the most precious papers and keepsakes. I, however, have all of this:


I’ve been mid-sort for about a year. I would like to get this job finished and purged and minimized. But…ain’t nobody got time for that! So I’m a hypocrite. That’s what I am. There. You do not need to feel like a Nazi if you sometimes have standards that are, shall we say, double. If you have realistic goals that you intend to someday work towards (and if your kids are not hurt by what they don’t know), then you are a rock star!

Next. I have been so proud of myself these 2 weeks while my husband is away. I’m staying on top of so many of the jobs that he usually does. I am single parenting like a boss (and I’m not even in a drunken stupor). I’m looking after his chickens and turkeys – feeding and watering them every single day! I have taken out the garbage. I have brought in firewood and built a beautiful fire in the wood stove. I looked after a sale of something that he had listed on Kijiji. I got rid of a dead mouse in the driveway (and by that I mean I stepped over it and then I guess a racoon or something dealt with it later). I have even made an appointment to take my van into the mechanic tomorrow!



I didn’t notice right away that the water softener was out of salt. I noticed AFTER I’d scrubbed the tub and then a day or two later, it was looking like this. We have iron issues.



It turns out that sometimes dehumidifiers can overflow if they are not emptied regularly. So know this, dear mom. You may be the most capable, strong, independent Guru of Multi-tasking and Super-Ability, but you don’t need to feel like Rob Ford if you make a few little mistakes here and there. If you didn’t burn down the house today and most of the children ate most of their meals, then you are pre-fraud Martha Stewart.

Next. I have a lot of things on the go. Too many plates that I’m trying to keep spinning. I don’t really like frantic busyness, but I do sometimes bite off more than I can chew. And then my schedule gets crazy. And sometimes people look at my schedule or ask me what I’m up to, and I probably come off sounding like I’m so glamorously needed by everyone and I just have to suffer humbly under the weight of all my astonishing talents. But the truth is:


I’m on level 480. Sometimes there are just too many things to do and I buckle. It doesn’t happen often, but there are days when I get absolutely nothing worthwhile done. So you don’t need to feel like a speed bump when the world is running you down and all you can do is lie there. If those days are the exception, not the rule, then you are Michael Phelps (without the DUI and with, I don’t know, a cute sweater/skinny jeans/boots ensemble).

There you have it, folks. A few little bites of reality from your favourite (ahem) mommy blogger. Now go out and conquer the world.

Or don’t. Whatever.


Posted by on October 1, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting


Knock Knock

I know that all parents go through this developmental stage with their kids. And kids reach this stage at different times. And it takes some kids longer to catch on than others. Even bright kids that seem to learn everything else so easily sometimes struggle with this concept. That’s normal childhood and normal parenthood. Anyone making the decision to raise a child understands this before they begin.

But sheesh! I thought we’d accomplished this and moved on a year ago. I thought we were done! Why are we having to go through this whole stage again? I am losing it over here, people.

The concept of knock-knock jokes, of all things, might just be the death of me.

This is my life right now:

L: Mom, can we tell knock-knock jokes?
Me: (with phony enthusiasm) Sure! Knock-knock.
L: Who’s there?
Me: Anita
L: Anita who?
Me: Anita go to the bathroom.
L: (uproarious laughter) Okay, my turn! Knock-knock
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: I need to go to the bathroom!
Me: No, honey, you need to use the name and make it into a funny sentence. Like this. Knock-knock.
L: Who’s there?
Me: Levi
L: Levi who?
Me: Leave? I just got here!
L: Ohhhhhh! Okay. Let me try it. Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: Why do I have to leave already?
Me: Well, that’s close, but you have to take the first name and then make up a funny last name so that the two names together make a joke.
L: Ohhhh! I get it. Okay. Knock-knock.
Me: Who’s there?
L: Levi
Me: Levi who?
L: Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?


You don’t have to answer that. It’s just me banging my head against the wall.


Posted by on August 22, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting


My $0.02 on the Mental Health Discussion

This is not something I wanted to talk about publicly just yet. I’m still working through stuff and I’m not sure what to share or how much to share or even if it’s worth sharing. But I do try to write about things that are going on in my own life as they relate to current events, and since the news of Robin Williams’ death yesterday, the whole internet has been buzzing with talk about mental health. So maybe I need to just throw this out there. Maybe there’s someone that needs the tiny bit of encouragement I have to offer.

I saw a counselor last week.

There. I said it. And it wasn’t all that hard to say, surprisingly. Perhaps because now that the first appointment has come and gone and it went really well, the whole concept of therapy isn’t quite as overwhelming. It was HARD to make the appointment and it was EXCRUCIATING waiting for the appointment, which was only 2 days later. I was an anxious, nervous, nauseous mess.

But the appointment was good.

I recognize that my one appointment (so far) does not qualify me as an expert in all things related to mental health. Far from it! But while everyone is talking about mental health and depression and suicide, I want to throw my two cents in.

Mental health is not limited to depression. There are a whole bunch of other issues that could be plaguing you, and which could be beneficially addressed by a counselor or other mental health professional. Anxiety, guilt, fear, grief, anger – if you are dealing with any of these things on a consistent basis, to the point that you aren’t sure you’re coping well and you can’t really remember what it was like to not be dealing with it, it’s time to get some support.

Many of these feelings overlap and can easily be confused with depression, but I would suggest that the defining point is when you start to feel that you’re not worthy of getting help.  That is a lie. You are worthy of help and getting help is not as scary as you think it is.

Mental health is not limited to chemical imbalance. That is certainly a common factor, and it can often be treated somewhat easily with medication. But there are other factors to also consider: spirituality, personal history (abuse or other trauma), current crises (financial, relational, occupational…), or an overload of stress from the chaos of day-to-day life. If yours is a chemical problem and medication works for you, great! If it’s a chemical problem and you haven’t yet found the right balance of the right medication, keep trying!

If it’s not a chemical problem, keep talking it out with a therapist or counselor that hears you. Being truly heard will go a long way in helping you to sort out how you feel – which makes it easier to express how you feel and then be better heard. It’s a positive, healing cycle. But in order to find that right person who’s a good match for you, you have to be willing to ask for referrals. Ask friends. Ask a pastor or spiritual mentor. Ask your doctor.

Now let me tell you a tiny bit about my session. After explaining the situation that was (is) causing my anxiety and anger, the counselor validated my distress and walked me through some advice to address the cause. I truly expected that the focus would be on fixing my craziness, so it was a pleasant surprise to think that maybe there is hope for addressing the root cause instead of just letting that cause fester and giving me tools to cope with it better. That made me feel less crazy.

The counselor also asked me how this was affecting our marriage. I told her that my husband thinks I’m starting to lose it. “Are you?” she asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. “I don’t know. I think I’m on the verge of losing it, but I’m trying really hard to still be objective. But would I even know if I’ve already gone off the deep end? I know this isn’t me. I used to be strong and capable and optimistic… and right now I don’t know if I will ever be that person again. Does that mean I’ve lost it?”

Her answer was so freeing, it’s bringing me to tears just to reiterate it here. She said that I am still that person. I am strong. There is no strength in thinking you don’t have a breaking point. Everyone has a breaking point. Strength is recognizing that you have reached the breaking point and then getting help before you actually break.

I think that’s all I want to say about this right now. I may be able to share more eventually. But for today, I hope this has been helpful to someone.


Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Adoption, Personal Growth


Here I Sit

I have a confession to make. There has always been a seed of judgment in me whenever I’ve watched movies or read books about atrocities in days gone by. Nazi death camps, the Rwandan genocide, the Khmer Rouge killing fields, South African apartheid – it makes my blood boil. But as fierce as my horror is at the barbaric evil perpetrated upon innocent people, that isn’t the target of my deepest feelings of judgment. Who bears the brunt of my scorn? It’s people who weren’t directly involved in the conflict. People who knew what was going on and did nothing.

In my pride and self-righteousness, I have often imagined (and probably proclaimed) that had I been alive or of age during those horrific events, I surely would have done something. I would have been willing to risk my life to save a life.

Well, now it’s my turn. I know what’s going on in other parts of the world, and yet here I sit, doing nothing. Stewing in the hypocrisy of my judgment. Shame on me.

Here I sit in the safety of my own home in Southern Ontario. I raised my hands in worship at church yesterday with no fear of having them cut off with a machete. I pray for the safety of my daughters who are away this week, but it seems almost flippant because I know they’re not in danger of being beheaded. I am taking care of my son who is battling a bit of a stomach bug today, but I will not have to be faced with the decision to hurl him off a mountain so at least he doesn’t die an unfathomably slow death from dehydration.

Here I sit, and I read the headlines. Honestly, that is as far as I can read. I can’t read the articles and see the pictures. Just the headlines are too much. This is for real? This is happening right now? I can’t think it through. I can’t discuss it intelligently. I simply can’t imagine.

I desperately want to be able to do something. And at the same time, I desperately want to un-know that it is happening at all. The middle ground that I’ve been sitting on is to be minimally aware, knowing that I don’t need to know the details in order to pray.

But I do need to pray more. And I need to pray more fervently. And I need to gather more people to pray. I don’t know what else I, a middle-aged rural housewife, can do. But I have this wee blog and I have the ear of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

So here I sit, using this post to solicit more voices rising up in unity to Heaven. It is all I can do, but it is something. In fact, it is something big if we join together. So I invite you to pray with me in the Name of Jesus Christ to the One True God, Creator and Almighty Saviour. Where I sit doesn’t matter at all, but where He sits is on the throne of power and authority over all the good and evil in the world. He is able.

Lord, I know the day is coming when You will triumph over evil – completely and with total finality. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and there will be no more crying or death or pain. And until that day comes, You are holding back Your hand, allowing humanity time to choose to be on Your side. You have warned us of the unspeakable atrocities that will occur because of the sinful choices we make, and the evil running rampant today is a devastating example of that.

Oh God, have mercy. Please don’t hold back your hand of justice. This evil is strong, but You are stronger. Would you hear our prayers and push back against the forces of evil. Would You, the ultimate defender of the weak, rise up in might and in power, protecting those who are in the middle of such hell. Hear their cries. Bring peace. Please.

Oh God, please.


Posted by on August 11, 2014 in God, Heaven


I Miss You (Yes, YOU)

We’re past the half-way point, folks. For those of you who love every single second of summertime and all the family stuff and all the togetherness – sorry. Summer is more than halfway done. Too bad for you.

For those of you like me (there are others like me, right?!?!), we can do this. The end is in sight!

I love my kids. And we do have fun times in the summer. I like playing and sleeping in and having friends over and vacationy things. But I am an introvert and we have a difficult family dynamic and summer is just hard. Finding quiet time to write and reflect on deep, inspirational things just doesn’t happen during July and August (as you may or may not have noticed).

So here I am, on the evening of Sunday, August 3. It’s a long weekend. My husband is out with 2 kids and a niece watching “Despicable Me” under the stars at church. 2 more kids and another niece are watching “The Amazing Spiderman” in our living room. I am hiding in the den with a glass of red thinking of all the things I should be doing with my time, and all I really want to do is catch up with you.

I could probably write a 10-part series on what’s been going on in my life since I last posted. I could write about our ongoing family drama. Meh. You could just read past posts. Nothing’s changed except that it’s more wearying all the time.

I could write about our cat going missing for a couple of days. There are some neat spiritual applications there. Some other time, perhaps.

I would love to just write something hilarious that would have you all in stitches. My brain is too tired to come up with anything at the moment. Check back in September.

I could tell you all about how I’m progressing superbly in my aromatherapy studies and that I’ve dedicated lots of hours so far this summer to preparing myself for sitting my exams in the fall. And that would be a load of horse manure. I have not even opened my books since the kids finished school in June. Maybe this week…

I could write about the most exciting thing that occupies a significant portion of my brain-space these days: my Cambodia Team. I’m leading a team of adults from my church to Cambodia in December. I am completely inadequate to lead this fine group, and yet I am so encouraged to just be part of this team and I love the challenge of pulling it all together. I will have to tell you all about it soon. Just not tonight.

I could write about self-esteem and self-image and women and modesty and purity and respect and all that. There’s still so much to be said and re-said. But maybe I’m not the best person to keep saying it. This is an area in which I feel so completely beat-up and trampled upon. Perhaps I should leave it to people who have won this battle to fill the internet with brilliant advice.

There’s so much I could write. And I will. In September. For tonight, I just wanted to say hi. I miss you. I miss spending the time to process my thoughts into words. I miss having you read those words and then laugh with (or at) me, or cry with me, or share your side of it, or just acknowledge that you understand. I miss my little blogging world. And I hope you miss me too, dagnabbit!

I can do this. August is jam-packed with things to keep the kids busy. That means I’ll be busy, too, but I can break it down into one-week chunks and it’ll be over before I know it. (Right? RIGHT?!?!) I can do it. And so can you.

See you in September!

Or maybe before.

But probably not.


Posted by on August 3, 2014 in Family, Writing


Summertime ~ And the Living Is Adequately Bearable

The whole menu planning/grocery shopping/meal preparation thing is beyond my grasp. I cannot get it together. I cannot think of new meals. I can barely remember enough regular meals to fill a week. I can write an extensive grocery list of things like flour, juice, butter, olive oil – whatever we might be running out of. But I frequently get home from the store, put everything away, and then remember that I didn’t actually shop for meal components. I can spend $100 and not have anything to serve for supper!

And now it’s summer. (You’ll know this because my posts are short and far-between and probably not well-written. There are so many people here all the time and there is always talking and noise and needs to be met and fights to break up and I tend to spend most of June, July and August hiding under my bed.)

Summer makes my whole meal-planning ineptitude a fatzillion times worse. All these people here want to eat. Like every day. Multiple times a day! I have to plan for this and provide for this and supervise this. And I suck at this!

On top of that, I’ve been having a bit of a dietary problem lately. You see, due to year-end stress and busyness, my emotional immune system appears to have been weakened. (That is a real thing that I made up and self-diagnosed.) And now, through no fault of my own, I find that whenever I see the food that I have bought and provided for all the people, I want to put all of it in my own food-hole. Every day my jeans cry out to me, “Why do you hate us? All we ever did was try to make your thighs look skinny and your ankles look also skinny. And this is how you repay us?”

Do you see my dilemma? I cannot formulate enough cohesive thoughts to write a grown-up grocery list + all the people wanting all the food all the time + my compulsion to avoid the sight of the constant food-flow = a house full of cranky people.

Solution: off-load part of this chore!

So yesterday I handed my Better Homes and Gardens comprehensive cookbook to my 13-year-old and said, “Here. Look through this and find some recipes you want to try. Figure out some things that we can eat. I will buy the ingredients and you will cook them.”

She was so excited! She looked through the book and she made a list of recipes. I picked out a few to try this week, and headed off to the grocery store. Tonight’s dish is veggie-stuffed pasta shells with spinach and ricotta and carrots and all kinds of wonderful things.

If I’d remembered to buy the pasta shells, that would’ve made this plan super impressive, right?


Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Family, Humour, parenting


Maya Angelou: Caged No More

My husband and I were watching TV when he turned to look at me and found me grinning. Grinning at nothing consequential, nothing notable, nothing strikingly amusing. “What?” he asked me.

“Nothing,” I answered. “Just…” and I repeated whatever line from Elementary that had tickled my fancy. I was still grinning.

“You like the way the words are put together, don’t you?” Bless him. He gets me.

Yes, I like the way words are put together. A unique voice, a startlingly fresh simile, subtle wit, raw emotion. Words woven well are magic to me.

And the world lost one of its finest magicians yesterday.

I only own one of her books, but I could flip to any random page and quickly find a sentence or paragraph that deserves to be read multiple times.

“Each nicety becomes more sterile and each withdrawal more permanent.” Page 35

“I was so engrossed in telling the story that I did not know when the music and I had parted company, or quite how we could get back together. I only knew I was in one key and the piano in another.” Page 124

“They took no notice of me, but I couldn’t do the same with them. I had never been so close to trained singers and the reverberations shook in my ears. I left the room and walked down the corridor to find my place in the wings. Sounds came out of each door I passed. One baritone roared like a wounded moose, another wailed like a freight train on a stormy night. The tenors yelped in high screeches. There were whines and growls and the siren of an engine on its way to a four-alarm fire. Grunts overlapped the high-pitched ‘ha ha ho ho’s’ and the total cacophony tickled me; I could have laughed outright. These exquisite singers who would soon stand on the stage delivering the most lovely and liquid tones had first to creak like rusty scissors and wail like banshees… The singers were not funny. They were working. Preparation is rarely easy and never beautiful. That was the first of many lessons Porgy and Bess taught me.” Page 133

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the spaces between the notes and curl my back to the loneliness.” Page 1

Dear Maya, may the entrancing, inspiring magic of your wit and wisdom continue to echo for many generations to come. Rest assured, if your work is in my hands when I’m caught grinning, no one need ask, “What?”


Posted by on May 29, 2014 in Uncategorized


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