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Monday, November 09, 2015

The Daily Chai Goes to the Movies

Today's chai was delicious and hit the spot. Yes, that spot.

I got the kids back after school today after a busy weekend without them. It's always so sweet to see Anna's face light up when I pick her up at school as she runs towards me. Sometimes she's a little shy, like she's just a tiny bit overwhelmed that I'm actually there in the flesh, but I get some pretty decent hugs and kisses from her regardless. Kate was also happy to see me and seems to have matured by three years since I saw her last Wednesday morning. We rushed out of the house to catch an early showing of the Peanuts Movie. The BF and I planned to take the kids together and had decided on today only to find out that the movie started at 4:30 so it was a bit mad to get there on time, but we did indeed make it and got to watch all the previews too.

Of course, as I'm sorting out my Scene points and the snacks and coupons, Anna comes running up to me, "MOM! I have to pee!"

"Okay, no problem, let me just finish up here and I'll take you to the washroom."

"Okay. But I have to pee now! Pay later, take me to the washroom."

"Anna, just wait, I'll be two seconds."

"Yeah okay, but I have to pee. Right now. Let's go. Take me now or I'm gonna pee my pants," as she starts the dance. Sigh. Better now than during I suppose!

We all enjoyed the movie and I really liked the animation. It was different, more modern of course than the hand-drawn/painted animation of the earlier Peanut movies, but still held true to the classic comic strip. For example, there were lines indicating hand motions and little hearts popping over Charlie Brown's head when he talked about his feelings for the little Red Headed Girl. Snoopy is still the best and had his own plot line as he so often did in the movies and books. Kate is not exactly critical and basically says, "I LOVED IT!" after each movie we go to see, but who cares? We all had a good time together which was exactly what I was hoping for tonight.

After the movie, we just did boring stuff like get groceries for lunches tomorrow and Anna cried the entire time. That little morsel of humanity walked dejectedly behind me, red-eyed and teary as I tortured her by browsing through the fruit section, glaring at me reproachfully whenever I looked back at her. The sight of her tear-stained face over something as small as picking up some bread and fruit is both annoying and hilarious. I shouldn't laugh because it makes her madder, but hey, we can't both be in tears now can we? Then they both got free cookies and Anna was miraculously happy again. Amazing. I should really start carrying cookies in all my pockets, just in case I ever have to make an unscheduled, unannounced and unwelcome grocery run while I have the kids. To add insult to injury regarding the getting of groceries,  Anna is intensely jealous that Kate sometimes gets to stay home from the shopping while I unyieldingly drag Anna along with me, EVERY SINGLE TIME. I am a terrible mother, I'm aware.

Halfway through my shopping, I realized that I had the package of M&Ms from the movies jammed in my coat pocket and hoped desperately that no one would notice them and think I stole them. I told Kate about them in a stage whisper and she said, "Why don't you use them to bribe Anna into not crying?"

"Because she would be happy for forty seconds and then she'd be running down aisle nine screaming like a crazy person from the sugar high. The cookie is bad enough and we better leave the store pronto before all hell breaks loose."

"Good point. Hurry up and pay so we can get out of here!"

We got home, all in one piece, with bread to make sandwiches for tomorrow and some fruit and I proudly showed the girls my new backpack rack that I mounted on wall going downstairs. It's just a wire metal rack that fits wicker baskets I already had for mitts and hats and has hooks for bags. I've done this in the hope that backpacks will be hung on it instead of thrown casually in my living room. I have this hope, although, funnily enough, the hangers in the closets don't seem to encourage the hanging of coats, but I can still dream.

Kate looked suitably impressed and nodded and was very agreeable to hanging her backpack there after school tomorrow, but we shall see. She asked me who installed it and I said, "Me, of course!"

"Oh dear..."

"Thanks Kate. Thanks a bunch."

"I'm kidding! Just kidding. I'm sure it'll be...fine." And she backed slowly away. Oh ye of little faith. Of course, now that she's said that and we have fully loaded that sucker down with all our hats, mitts, shoes, backpacks, flutes, music books, umbrellas and water bottles, I'm pretty sure I will find it on the floor tomorrow, with those heavy-duty, 75 pound-bearing anchors ripped right out of my wall. I'm just hoping I will sleep through that ruckus because I'm exhausted.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

The Daily Chai Buys Something Huge

Today's chai was a bit too spicy, but as in life, sometimes you just have to take the heat and move on. I heard a rumour that they are moving my favourite server up to the caf which totally sucks...that girl has the ability to brighten my day just by laughing. The daily chai quest just won't be the same without her.

So I recently made a really huge purchase and I'm partially thrilled about it and partially terrified. Those of you who have followed along until now probably already know that I moved into my mom's last year and after she got married and moved to her husband's I started renting her house. We talked over the summer about the benefits of me buying the house instead of renting and we eventually decided it made more sense for me to buy the house and start building equity. That was another reason I haven't been writing because I was so busy figuring that stuff out that I didn't really have time to even think about my next entry, let alone actually write it. Just so you know, mortgages are not fun to apply for and buying a house is a long, arduous process. I would like to not do that again in a hurry.

And let's be honest, I got a little hooked on Suits and spent a lot of time binge watching that instead of writing. Sorry about that.

Getting back to the house purchase. I'm pretty pumped about it. I've invested in real estate like a grownup. Look at me Ma, I'm adulting! (My mother, by the way, would hate that saying because  "adult" is not a verb, but I digress). One of the things that I was so scared about when I left my ex was how would I survive on my own? I've lived by myself for a total of six whole months once when I was 19, but other than that, I've either had roommates, a boyfriend, or a husband to share the household expenses with and I've never been the only breadwinner. I crunched some numbers before deciding to buy the house of course, but things always end up being more expensive than you think and suddenly you are in the hole every month with no hope of getting out, or worse still, losing the assets you worked so hard to gain in the first place. It's only been a few weeks since the sale went through, so I'm still waiting to see how the month's debits and credits add up, but I'm hopeful I can pull this off. I am definitely feeling lionessy about this purchase and the life I'm building for me and the girls. Roar!

Although, to be honest, I try not to think about it too much because I start getting really anxious about making it all work. So I just sort of pretend like everything is going to be okay because it needs to be and I hope for the best. I'm like a ostrich. Not only can I not fly, I like to put my head in the sand.

I'm not going to lie, this has taken way longer than normal because my computer is being a little stubborn and I'm getting frustrated. I think I better post this and try again tomorrow!


Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Daily Chai Is Moving On

Today's Chai...well, I'm not going to lie, it was the best chai latte I've had in a week. Wait. It was the first one I've had in a week. However, my chai quest today happened with two of my favourite people in the entire world, one of whom I have not seen since July. It was a good reunion!

The last couple posts have been reminiscing about some painful experiences I've had in the last year and it's time to turn to something a little happier. Thank you for reading the last two posts and reaching out to me, your words are always appreciated!

One of the biggest reasons I haven't written these past few months is because I've met someone who has become increasingly important to me and I've been musing how I share this news, or if I even do share it on a forum like this blog. After all, I have maintained a few rules about this blog: no writing about the boys I date, no writing about my ex's personal stuff, no writing about where I work or co-workers. I've written about my pet peeves and my passions and I hope I've made you think and made you laugh. I've shared with you my funny stories about my girls and my heartache over their sadness as well as the evidence that they are healing and moving on. I know sometimes I've struck a chord with many of you, who are also going through something similar and sometimes I just write ridiculous crap that means nothing. What I've tried to accomplish with my honesty is to reach you, my readers, so you know others understand your sadness, your pain, your elation, your failures and your triumphs. We all struggle and we often feel alone when we struggle, and I'd hoped by being honest and sometimes very raw, that I've helped you see that you are not alone, even at your worst moments. Maybe it's naive, but I think we can all find solace knowing other people think, feel and act the same way we do sometimes.

So with that being said, I decided I would like to share parts of my relationship. Not the gory details mind you, no one wants to read about that (or maybe you do, shame on you!), but how this relationship will affect my kids as I move from a single parent to a person with a significant other who is not related to those kids. While I am happy and silly and sometimes plain ridiculous about this person being in my life, I realized my kids might not feel the same way. We've both considered with much caution and thought how we would like to involve them in our relationship, because at this stage in my life, I do not have the luxury of just going off and living happily ever after with the partner of my choosing. My kids' feelings have to be carefully considered and weighed. I have to be an adult and not let my own happiness cloud my good judgement when it comes to them. How do I introduce him to them? How does he fit into their lives? What will his role be when it comes to parenting them? As I've listened and learned over the last year, we all handle a new relationship when we have kids in a different way, with different timelines and different goals. I'm not going to lie when I say that some people handle this change extremely poorly and I want to avoid damaging my kids, who have already been through so much, by carelessly involving them in my relationship. And let's be honest, I have a selfish goal here; I don't want them to hate a person that I care so much for just because I was clumsy about introducing him. So how much and how soon do you involve them in an adult relationship that would normally just be between two people? Uncharted waters here folks...tread carefully!

But if you're reading this, you've probably read my other entries and you know I'm about as transparent as a sandwich bag. I could no more lie to Kate about dating a boy than I could remove one of my arms and use it for croquet. It's just not in me to hide things. Besides which, Kate is not stupid and she's perceptive as hell. So I'm going to tell you about how she found out I was dating someone and how she reacted to that news. I will say first that she had a clue because I often talk about my life to her and she will ask me how my week has gone and what I've been doing and I share all my news about my friends and work with her. So I had been talking about this person more often because I'd been spending, of course, more time with him.

The setting: MacDonald's at Walmart. The dirtiest, crappiest MacDonald's in town. Every time I go there and my feet stick to the floor and I have to clear the condiment counter of garbage, I swear I will never go back, as convenient as the location is. Then I promptly forget and return within weeks to once again stick to the floors.

Kate asks me if I'm ever going to get married again. I choke on my Big Mac a little and ask why she'd ask me that.

"Well, I don't want another daddy and I don't want another mommy."

"Ok, well, even if I ever get married again, that person will not be your daddy. Daddy is your daddy. My husband would just be another adult in your life that loves you and he would be your friend."

Kate sighs and says okay and is quiet for a little bit.

Just then, I get a text from my boyfriend and I smile as I read it. Kate looks at me and says, "Is that from ----?"

"Yes, actually it was."

"Is he your BOYFRIEND?" she says the last word in a sing-song voice, clearly teasing me as I have teased her about boys she talks about.

"Um...well...yes, he is actually."

"Really!?" she practically squeals in delight, "Ohhhh you have a  boyfriend!! Do you kiss him?"

Oh god. This is surprisingly embarrassing. Like, yes, I've kissed him, of course I kiss him, but do we need to talk about this right now? You're nine, stop talking about kissing! How do you even KNOW about kissing? Don't your parents monitor what you watch on YouTube?

Anna pipes up and wants to know if I kiss him on the lips or on the forehead. She's so darn cute, my god! I smile at her and tell her both and she laughs.

Then Kate says, "I want to meet him again. Didn't I meet him that one time? Was he your boyfriend then?"

"No Kate, he was my friend then. You know we've been hanging out for awhile now because I've talked about him to you and yes, you met him that one time, but it was before we started dating."

"Okay, well, I want to meet him. Let's go to a movie together! Oh! We could have him over for dinner! Can he come tonight? Please?"

"Kate, pump the brakes. We haven't been dating all that long. Can I just see where this is going before you invite him for Thanksgiving and Christmas?"

"He's coming for Thanksgiving? That's awesome!"

I shake my head, "What? No...I just meant...okay never mind. When the time is right, you will get to meet him."

"Awww, no fair!" and she goes into full pout mode.

So it just goes to show you, kids surprise you. You think you are being all cautious and smart because you don't want to hurt them and meanwhile, it turns out they are ready to meet the significant other before you are ready to introduce them. However, with that being said, Kate's dad has been in a relationship for a while now and it's caused a certain amount of confusion and stress to her as she's adjusted to the new normal, so even if she seems fine with me dating someone, I'm still taking things slowly when it comes to involving my kids in my relationship. I want them to be happy and comfortable and I want them to know they can trust me to make good decisions when it comes to this. Which means I continue adulting and leave them out of my relationship equation for a little while longer, until we are all comfortable with the new status quo.

I also still want some of the time I have with them to be about the three of us spending time together and not about creating an instant new family. I love hanging out with just us, even if Anna did eat so much Hallowe'en candy last night that she barfed when Kate decided it would be a great idea to bounce her up and down for ten minutes after her mass sugar consumption. Yeah, it happened. There was screaming and barf on both children and tears and chaos. It was awesome. Not sure I want to dump that crazy on my boyfriend just yet, you know?

We did, however, end up having Thanksgiving together and the kids were fine and have been asking me since when they would see him again. Baby steps ladies, but I'm glad they like him!

Monday, November 02, 2015

The Daily Chai Celebrates a Special Woman

Today's Chai was one slippery little bastard and managed to get away from me. Damn those drinks.

Kidding, I didn't buy one because I was still suffering from the sugar induced coma from eating Hallowe'en candy for dinner last night.

Yesterday I wrote about the end of my marriage because it was the anniversary of that day and I think I left some of you feeling like I was in a bad place. I want to reassure you that I am fine and that I was merely observing that it's been a year since I left. Having taken two and half months off from writing, I feel the need to set the scene for some reflection about what the last year has meant to me. It's been a hell of a year in more ways than one and the journey continues.

Margriet is the mother of my niece and has been my friend since I was 18. We have not always been close as time and space both separated us, but she has, for Zoe's whole life, ensured my niece would know me and my family, even living on the other side of the country. She would call regularly and when Zoe was old enough to talk, she'd put that little tike on the phone to chat with us. Eventually Zoe was old enough to call herself and I know her mom encouraged her to do so and told her stories about us to make sure Zoe knew we were real people, not just strangers in Ontario. She wanted Zoe to know she had family who loved her even if we couldn't afford to make the trip to see her often. When Zoe was nine, Margriet agreed to put Zoe on a plane by herself (under the watchful eye of the airplane crew of course) so she could make the country-wide journey to visit with us for two weeks. My own Kate is nine and I'm barely comfortable letting her walk around the block by herself. But Margriet thought it would be amazing for Zoe to have that experience, not only to travel, but to spend time with us. That is just the type of person Margriet was. Adventurous, open-minded, bold, sassy, smart.

Around the same time as my marriage ended, Margriet's tumour began growing again and she suffered some seizures just before she was supposed to return to work. She'd been fighting this cancer for ten years and with the dissolution of my marriage and her sudden seizures, I was beginning to realize just how short life really is and I flew out to see her. Even with my marriage up in the air (we hadn't decided at that point whether the break was permanent) and my heart heavy with decisions to be made, it was the best thing I ever did. I spent a week running errands with Margriet, talking with Zoe, eating junk food, smoking, doing dishes, going to improv shows and trying to help out in small ways while Margriet recovered from her bout of seizures. The best part about my trip out west was finally getting to know the rest of Margriet and Zoe's family. Zoe's brother is pretty quiet and involved in his own teenage stuff, so I didn't see much of him, but I quickly grew to love Geoff, crazy, fast-talking, caring Geoff who calls everyone "my dear" without reservation. I didn't know how he would feel about me, being from Zoe's other family, but he immediately and wholeheartedly welcomed me into his home and into his family. Geoff will always hold a special place in my heart.

When I left in November, my last memory of Marg was when she dropped me off at the airport, she was still well enough to do that, but unwell enough that I was worried about her getting home. She hugged me for a long time and told me I was her sister and always would be and she was little bit mad at me for coming because now she would miss me when I was gone. I went down the ramp to the plane, but I did look back once to see her standing there, watching me go. I thought I would never see her again.

As fate would have it, I had planned to take the girls south in the spring and I thought, why on earth would I do that when I can take them to Vancouver to see Zoe's family? It just shows you that you never know what life will bring you. I thought I would never see Marg again, but I did. We had an amazing, if emotional trip. I wrote about it extensively and will post the links below. Margriet was not doing very well at that point and the tumour was causing so much damage to her brain that she was paralyzed on one side and tired easily, but she was still her sassy self, making jokes about her pervy hand that somehow always ended up in her lap, no matter where someone placed it for her. It was a hard trip and a sad trip, but I'm glad I was with the family for even a little while during that time. I'm glad my girls got to meet Margriet and I'm glad Margriet finally got to meet them.

On Wednesday last week, I got a text from Zoe asking that I call her when I got a chance and I knew she would tell me the news I was dreading to hear; Margriet had passed away an hour before. How does one describe the feeling of sadness, the relief, the ache, the hollowness, the peace that one experiences when a friend, suffering from a long illness, is gone? Truly, utterly gone from this world? I will never hear her voice again, although I can still imagine the tone and timber of her voice, can almost hear her laugh as she says, "I know, hey?" I will never see her face again, although I can easily call up an image of her standing on my porch so long ago. I will never get another text, another call. My last text to her was in April and I haven't been able to bring myself to delete the thread. But Margriet was in pain and had been paralyzed since March. She wasn't going to get better, she wasn't going to "beat" the tumour. She was not living the life she deserved, so how can I be sad that she is finally at peace? The day after I found out she was gone, I had a stormy, emotional breakdown that only one person whom I trust and love witnessed. Then I put my game face on and got on with what had to be done that day. Because the truth is, while the sadness I feel for Margriet's passing will never wholly leave me, I am glad her fight is over, that her family can move forward to live their lives. They have all dedicated the last six months to caring and loving Margriet. You will never meet a better bunch of people for giving everything they had to their friend, sister, wife, mother, but they also deserve to move on and find happiness in life again. I know they would give everything they have to spend one more day with Margriet, but since that is not possible, I am grateful that they now have a chance to begin healing.

Once again, I have something to ask of you. Live your life. Be happy. Enjoy a chai latte. Go on vacation. Read a book. Enjoy a bath. Look at the sky. Stand in the rain. Write a story. Whatever you wish you could do, just do it. Life is short and often unfair as hell, so take what you can from it and love every good moment you are lucky enough to receive.

Links to my blog while I was in Vancouver in April:

Pre-vacation Evening

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

Day 8

Day 9

Love ya,

Sunday, November 01, 2015

The Daily Chai Returns

Today's chai was non-existent, but I felt the need to write after a chat with an acquaintance. You will have to wait until tomorrow to hear the truth about how good my chai was this morning. For now, I bring you lies, it was fantastic, foamy, delicious and sweet.

I haven't written since my car accident in August, but I have good reasons, I swear. Life moves pretty fast and if you don't stop to look around, suddenly two and half months have passed and you've lost your entire readership. Shit. Sorry about that.

Moving on.

The car is all better. $8000 worth of damage and 10 days in the shop kind of fine, but you'd never know until you try to sell her and the Car Facts pulls it up and they bump $4000 off the offering price. Shit happens.

Moving on.

I have so much to tell you that I will likely need to split this up into a couple posts. I'll start at the beginning, or the end, such as it was. Today it has been a year since I looked at my ex and, with a heavy heart, told him that I needed a break from us, from our life and from him. He agreed to stay at a hotel that night and the next day I left and stayed at my mom's for a week. It was what I wanted and what I needed, but it didn't make it any easier to actually say, to actually DO. But you know, for the first time in a very long time, I was putting myself first. Maybe that is selfish, maybe that was a crap decision, but it was an amazing feeling to think about ME for a change and not about my kids or my husband and their needs and wants while I grudgingly ignored my own, becoming more dissatisfied and bitter with each passing day. I'm not sure what happens to women when they get married and when they have kids, but most of us seem to lose ourselves and that person our spouse fell in love with ceases to even exist. Mixing my tenses and grammar beautifully, but I think you get my meaning. We strive so hard to be the perfect partner and parent that our essential self is lost in the journey. I needed to find myself, as hippy-dippy and flower child as that sounds.

We really fucked up telling the kids because we were both so distraught after we decided to take a break that we couldn't even comprehend their feelings. This wasn't happening to THEM, it was happening to US. We (at least I was, and I think my ex would probably agree) were absolutely immersed in our own heartache.  In retrospect, I cringe that I didn't consider their feelings more carefully. I've thought about that night a million times if I thought about it once, how I SHOULD have told my daughters that mommy and daddy were taking a break and how I ACTUALLY told my daughters.

Imagined scenario: My ex quietly packs a bag and surreptitiously leaves, telling the kids he is going out for the evening to have a beer with a friend and he'll see them in the morning. The three girls go to bed, with me pretending everything is normal. The family sits down after a night of rest and sleep and calmly talks about what is happening. The kids are, of course, upset, but they accept that we are trying to figure our stuff out and we all cry and tell each other we will always love each other no matter what.

What actually happened: The kids were having a snack in the kitchen while my ex and I decided on the most monumental thing that will ever happen during their childhoods. He packs a bag and we go downstairs, both of us crying and we call the kids away from their snack to talk to them. I blurt out that Daddy is leaving for the night and Kate, sensitive little soul that she is, immediately knows that he is not just going out for a beer with his buddies. She cries out, "What? Why? What's happening? Why are you leaving?" And this is where my philosophy of being as honest with Kate as possible for her entire childhood comes crashing to the ground in failure. I tell her that mummy and daddy are having some problems and need a little break and Daddy will be back in the morning and I'm going to stay with my mom for the next week. I will never forget the look on her face as it crumpled into sobs and she cried, "NO! Don't go daddy, please don't go, please!" Oh my God, even writing about it a year later, I can hear the wounded animal in her voice and I can feel my heart tearing in two.

Let's be honest though, telling your kids that you're splitting up is never going to go smoothly or be welcomed news, unless your ex is some sort of psycho that the kids are terrified of, which mine most assuredly was not. So my anguish over my failure to tell the kids in a better way is probably useless, but it's still there. I wish I'd handled it with more tack, thought more about them and less about me. But I was selfishly thinking only of myself at that point, as I've already stated and I was on a roll I guess. We are none of us perfect and I have to accept that and move on. My only advice to you, if you find yourself in a similar situation, is to lie through your teeth to the kids until you know what the fuck you are actually doing. Kidding. Every situation is different, you need to do what is right for your family. Just keep in mind that this is happening to them as much as it's happening to you. It's no longer a relationship just between you and your spouse, it's their family and their life too.

Dates and anniversaries hold a special, sometimes sad, sometimes wonderful, place in my heart. I studied history after all and have a head for dates. As a pseudo historian, it's my passion not only to remember the past, but learn from it, to understand the significance of things that have happened in the past in order to move forward with the future. Don't get me wrong, I try not to dwell on sad things, but certain dates will always have meaning for me. November 1 will always be the day that my marriage ended officially. It is also the date that I began building a new life for myself and my girls, much of which I have shared with you here. I have accomplished so many things that I am proud of, I've had some set backs, I've acted out and done stupid things too. But mainly, I feel that I have moved on, like I'm always saying we should. I'm in a good place now and certain things have happened in the past couple months that I would also like to share with you, but they will have to wait for another post. For now, I leave you with this: