Chasing Mail and Other Family Rituals

I’m sure we all have some similar family rituals. You must have experienced or at least heard of someone who has  taken a road trip that included a parental threat of ‘don’t make me come back there’.  Then there are the traditional family celebrations, sometimes with a twist; a favourite dish passed on through generations (I’ll give a shout out to Nana Ana’s fried cauliflower; I never met her but she must have been a good woman if not for anything else but passing this recipe forward). But I don’t want to talk about these ones.

There are also the family rituals we’ve been told by the experts that will contribute to our well being as a family unit. You know, the ones we try really hard to do consistently and then feel really guilty about when we fall behind?

  • Dinners at the table together;
  • Reading stories before bedtime;
  • Board game nights.

I don’t want to take away from the importance of these because of their contribution to learning on a whole other level beyond just encouraging healthy family functioning (i.e. helping your kids develop language, communication  and social skills, although for the record, you will likely experience some set back once the teen years set in, trust me).  But I don’t want to talk about these ones either.

I’m digging deeper, for the ones that really connect us as families. The ones that no one but your family will understand or put up with for that matter,  like a secret code. These are usually manifested by a particular family member’s ridiculous need and then take off from there. For example, your kids will likely start some funky ritual that will eventually morph into something considered perfectly acceptable. Case in point, every night for years I insisted my dad sing the Canadian national anthem before bedtime. The man obliged and so did everyone else in the house who had to listen to him. Totally normal.

Then there were the fire drills. Being the fire chief he was, my dad insisted we needed to have drills on a fairly regular basis. Personally, I’d like to think all families conduct them but I’m thinking probably not (but you probably should so you’re kids don’t just associate the sound of the fire alarm going off with dinner being ready). Sure, normal.

Fast forward to when my husband and I first moved in together. We would race to the mail box.  If you reached it first then you won and it felt good to be the winner. If there was mail addressed to the loser? Awesome. If it happened to be personal mail? Mind blowing. I have no idea how this ritual actually started but I can tell you that it got to the point where we were trying to take each other out on the lawn. Two grown adults jumping over flower beds, tripping and hanging off each other to GET THE MAIL! Uh, yeah, normal.

After having our son, we added to our repertoire. Like my father, I too have belted out my fair share of song at bed time. While it’s freelance it must include lyrics pertaining to all the people and animals in this house (I must say it really is quite the laundry list for a small family).  I thought our son would outgrow the need for this  (did I mention he’s a teenager?) and I can generally get away with no tunes for lengthy periods of time but every now and again I am sucked  into doing it out of sheer necessity to keep the ritual alive.  Funny how payback is a bitch like that. OK, normal.

Add to the list:

  • playing ‘boop boop’ with the dogs (don’t ask, but I can tell you it’s a totally legit game, that is for us);
  • eating pretzels with hot sauce…and a side of water;
  • arguing about the difference between a ‘California roll’ and a ‘complete stop’ on a fairly frequent basis;
  • doing under cover agent voice overs for crows (aka-men in black);
  • pouring cold water over the shower curtain

I’m sure this list goes on but sometimes it’s hard to identify those things that underneath it all,  keep us connected. Rituals are signs of comfort and security. They are integral to our childhood memories and motivation to pass onto the next generation, even if they are just in the form of storytelling (because goodness knows I do not insist anyone in this house sing me the Canadian national anthem before bed. Just for the record.).

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Monday (evening) memoirs

Hope you all had a great Monday!

My poor husband came home early this afternoon to find our new area rug COVERED IN CRAP. Seems one of our shitzu’s got into something that didn’t agree with him. I would complain more but I wasn’t the one who cleaned it up, unless of course you count pointing out the spots he missed with the carpet cleaner. Apparently, he didn’t need my help after all.

Apart from being extremely thankful for a dog crap carpet cleaning husband (if it was me that had arrived home first, he would have been a wife barf, dog crap carpet cleaning husband) here are a couple of other things I am thankful for:

Tea parties. Every year, the City I live in hosts a weekend long ‘tea party’. It’s down by the beach, has a midway and serves tea in addition to all the typical fair food (i.e. mini donuts and smokies). There is also an air show that includes a demonstration by the Coast Guard:

coast guard heli

This helicopter took off from the beach and so began the picking of sand out of my teeth, hair, eyes…how the heck does sand manage to get into certain unmentionable places? 

kamikaze ride

Just watching this ride is enough to make me dizzy!  Way too terrifying for me. 

ferris wheel

This is way more my style. It’s such a classic. 

Perseverance. My son spent the weekend  trying to showcase how ‘mature’ he is in an effort to get me to agree he could buy an air gun. I told him I’d ‘think about it’ and then proceeded to bask in the glow of his efforts. The bathroom was cleaned, laundry was folded, dogs were walked and cheery attitude was presented. Frankly, this is just too good to give up right now and so I am still having to continue ‘to think about it’. I’m not entirely sure how long it will last but I suspect I’m running out of time.

In the meantime, I’ve hinted that even if I was to agree I would not be interested in buying it for him. This has led him down a new path-hunting for his first job. He proceeded to go around the City to various businesses asking whether they hire teenagers and whether he should drop a resume off or fill out an application. Some places responded with a big fat (and rather rude) NO. Others said he had to wait until he got another year older. Just when his heart started to sink, the last place he went to told him to bring in a resume! It was just the boost he needed and I’m so proud he put his little self out there. Fingers crossed that he’ll find his first job and that it will be a good fit for the summer!

What was your first job?

Home Alone!

Back in the day, I never appreciated being by myself. If I happened to be in this most unfortunate position,  I would spend the entire time wondering where everyone was and why I wasn’t invited. Oh, the waste of it all.

Now? A night alone is like winning the jackpot! Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with my boys (hubby and son). It’s just every once in awhile, there is a need to rebalance the energy around here with a little less testosterone and a little more fabulousness.  In other words:

  • hockey or football do not need to be playing on the ridiculous number of TV’s we apparently need;
  • making the dogs bark for the sheer entertainment of it all is not necessary or desirable;
  • ice cream every night is not essential to your survival; and
  • trying to outdo each other’s farts and burps does not  establish ownership over the household.

Last night, the boys went on a school camping trip and I got to be ALONE. In other words, I:

  • exercised out on the back deck (without any hecklers trying to disrupt my concentration);
  • ate half of a leftover burger and some salad followed by half a cookie, a tablespoon of peanut butter, a glass of wine and a cup of detox tea (without having to explain why this wasn’t weird or contradictory);
  • watched taped reruns of the Bachelorette and Housewives of who knows where (without any comments about how dumb these are);
  • had a bath (without anyone banging on the door telling me to hurry up); and
  • appreciated the silence (no one asked me where anything was).

It was a great night, the goal of doing absolutely nothing of substance was accomplished and I am ready for the crew to arrive home today with their dirty laundry in tow and fill the house back up with the bantering that makes it a home sweet home.

Music to Make You Run. FAST.

I love to run with music.  I blare it from my Ipod shuffle and change the songs like I change TV channels; fast and frequently (only difference is that I’m not shovelling chips into my mouth). My playlist is strategically comprised of what I think will push me farther or set a reasonable pace. Despite my efforts over the years, there is not one song out there that makes me go faster than SLOW. That is, until very recently.

Ipod

Yes, I know the headphones are tangled. Thanks. 

Picture this:

It’s a Spring day, light wind and the sun is shining. I don’t have to be anywhere any time soon so I can run for as long as I want! Fast or slow, it doesn’t matter. I pop my ear buds in, find my pace, relax and listen to my playlist. Here’s a sample:

  • Ho Hey: The Lumineers
  • Hall of Fame: The Script
  • Paradise: Coldplay
  • The Fighter: Gym Class Heroes
  • Levels :Avicii
  • Don’t Stop Believin’: Journey (AAAhhh, the 80’s!)
  • Lose Yourself : Eminem (doesn’t everyone have this on their playlist?)
  • Yeah!: Usher
  • Black and Yellow: Wiz Khalifa (I totally look like a badass running to this. Yes, even at 42)
  • Inner Ninja: Classified
  • Don’t You Worry Child: Swedish House Mafia

These songs drown out the lawn mowers and barking dogs. I can dodge slow walkers as I run down a long road towards the ocean. Running along the ocean side (I usually pause the music because I love the sound of the waves) I can climb up a winding hill to the very top. I am far away from home when I hear it. A new song. I must have grabbed it from my son’s playlist but hey, it sounds like Justin Timberlake and he’s a good singer right?

Now, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge that in seeing my playlist, you have in all likelihood, applied some judgement about who I am.  Let’s add some more fuel, shall we? But before I do, I will take a moment to slam a big fat WARNING EXPLICIT LANGUAGE WITH SEXUAL CONTENT into my story right now!

Yes, that was Justin Timberlake. Call me a prude. Ninny. I can handle the odd f-bomb or sexual innuendo but I was not expecting THIS (FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO OFFEND EASILY; SERIOUSLY-OPEN AT YOUR OWN RISK, DON’T SAY I DIDN’T TELL YOU):

Nope. I was not.  Oh yes, the more I listened to the lyrics, the faster a ran. I ran like a mother who is desperate to set her son straight on the meaning of appropriate in order to save him ASAP. I thought of all the things I would yell say to him when I got home.  I have never been so motivated to get there to tear a strip off that damn kid of mine. Half laughing (in disbelief), eyes bugged out and mumbling under my breathe, I don’t think I’ve actually ever run that fast before!!

Dare I ask…what’s on your playlist?

Monday Memoirs

Last week was full of a  ‘rewiring the entire house’ kind of adventure. I came home last Wednesday to the entire house covered in about 3 inches of dust. No word of a lie! Needless to say, the biggest thing I’m thankful for is that last week is well-in the past.  Here are a couple of other things I’m thankful for:

1. In laws or out laws. Call them what you want but I am incredibly blessed to have my husband’s parents in my life. Despite the chaos of renovating, they came to wait on us hand and foot visit. They cooked, cleaned (I mean they REALLY cleaned),  fixed things, walked dogs, spoiled my son and brought wine. Enough said. 

2. Braces. My son got yellow and black ones attached to his teeth. Back in my day, they were just plain metal. Apparently he can change the colours every month when he goes in for a check up. Say what? I’d just go with the clear or white ones. Just thinking about braces makes my teeth ache.

3. Personal missions. Some people have great aspirations. Me? I just wanted to find a set of headphones and the charger for my ipod shuffle. Is that too much to ask? We still haven’t unpacked the house and every time I thought I’d narrowed my search down to a specific box, I would open it only to find NOT WHAT I WANTED. I should have given up the search but the more I couldn’t find them, the more I NEEDED them. It truly was a sad state of affairs. Schlepping from room to room, wine glass in hand, complaining, asking my family over and over again if they’d seen them. Pathetic. In the end, I triumphed! I found them in a corner of the basement. I sounded like my husband does when the Canucks score.

in law food

An example of the fabulous food my in laws create.

This has shrimp, tomatoes, parsley, and parmesan  cheese-yum!

in law flowers

Aren’t these beautiful? My mother in law happened to pick these up at the grocery store.

Yes, grocery shopping for us. SPOILED.