Friday, September 30, 2011

September 23, 2011.
Hot Nuts - It was such a busy day.  I spent the day getting the family ready to go on our last camping trip of the season.  You would think that by the end of the season, I would have the packing thing down pat.  But it's not just about packing.  The reason that pack day gets so crazy is that I always pre-cook our dinner for the first night so that we can set up camp and eat right away.  Also, I always put off grocery shopping until the day we leave.  So on this crazy day the sole picture I captured was while grocery shopping. 

September 24, 2011.
Me Time - They called for rain all weekend, but on Saturday morning the sun came out.  I grabbed my bike and my camera and went for a ride around the campsite.  I took so many great pictures Saturday, it was tough to choose just one.  When I can't decide which image to choose, I ask myself, how do I want to remember this day?  I wanted to remember the stillness of the morning and the warmth of the sun after the promise of rain.  I wanted to remember exploring by myself camera in hand.

September 25, 2011.
The Camp Gang - A family (+ the outlaws)  portrait from our last camping trip.   

September 26, 2011.
Hungry Boys - My boys are such sweethearts when it comes to getting their picture taken.  Almost always, they will stop what they are doing and strike a pose for me.  I probably should have waited for them to finish their snack before I took their picture.

September 27, 2011.
Extreme Crop- Who doesn't love looking through a button box.  As a girl, I remember going through my Grandma's button box that she kept in a basket in the sewing room.  My Mom's button collection wasn't as impressive.  Mom stored her buttons in a old Cheese Whiz jar kept in the bottom drawer of her sewing machine.  These blue buttons are from John's Gramma's collection.  Her buttons were stored in a cool old candy tin. 

September 28, 2011.
A Big Day - Two things made Wednesday a big day.  The neighbourhood was a buzz when we woke up to find a huge sink hole at the end of the street.  The second reason that Wednesday was so exciting was that I was offered a job.  For the first time in so long, I am officially employed.  With a paycheck and everything!  I will be working at the local greenhouse, assembling Christmas arrangements.  It feels like it is going to be a great fit for me and my family.  I can't wait to start.

September 29, 2011.
BAM - One Hand In My Pocket - I wonder if Alanis has it all figured out just yet.  I know I don't.  In my twenties I thought I did.  I thought that it was all so clear.  It was so easy to judge everyone - including myself.  Thankfully, somewhere around my early thirties, I realized just how much I had to learn.  So much more to figure out, and it's going to be fine, fine, fine -'cause I've got one hand in my pocket...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Five Years.

I got off my bike and looked out at the vacant picnic area.  

A family should be here, enjoying the last days of summer, laughing, playing, making memories.

Once upon a time it was our family that would have been here. Once upon a time. When we were whole.  This weekend marked the fifth anniversary of my mother in laws passing. 

There could have been 100 families here, it wouldn't have made a difference to how I felt- Empty and hollow, missing her so much.

Because my daughter misses the sound of her slippers scuffing across the floor.  Because amid the clutter on my teenage son's dresser is a picture of his Grandma.  Because a little boy holds on to the memory of a Grandmother who would give him treats in a Ziploc baggie each time he left her house.  Because another little boy doesn't remember her at all.  Because Charlie sleeps with the Bunny she gave him for Easter.  Because her grandchildren have missed out on one of life's great treasures, but holding on to the few memories they have as tight as Charlie hangs on to Mr. Bunny.

Because Because Ray is now a widower.  Trying to fit into a world of couples.  Because he goes to the cemetery on Sunday mornings.  Because he's alone.

Because her kids had to grow up in an instant.  Because living without your mom, your cheerleader, your guide and compass is hard.  Because time makes it easier, and then it hits you just how long it's been since she called your name or you heard the sound of her laughter. 

 Looking at where we once played, I felt so alone, and missed her so much.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

September 17, 2011.
His Ride - The Little Man rode his bike back and forth, between our house and the park, while his Dad and I worked on reseeding the front lawn.  The purple park is three houses away.  We can see it from the bottom of the driveway, so when he asked if he could play with some other kids at the park, we said yes.  It was his first time that he was allowed to be at the park by himself.  And he wasn't really alone; his sister was at the park with her friends and every few minutes, I would walk to the end of the driveway and check up on him. 

September 18, 2011.
All Boy, All Kid - Five years ago, I took a picture of his brother that looked so much like this one.  Both boys having lopsided helmets, proud grins and eyes so dark, you could get lost in them. 

September 19, 2011.
Some days He'll Still Hold My Hand - The other night while watching tv, he held my hand.    Since school started, he has been having nightmares, slipping in our bed in the middle of the night for comfort.  He is missing his mom. He's missing our Monday craft days, our mornings at the library and afternoons at the park.  I know this.  But, he won't admit to it, because he is much to grown up to miss his mom.     

September 20, 2011.
Caught My Eye - I'm going stir crazy.  Being home with my kids is one thing, but being home by myself is another.  To kill the time until  school pick up, I walked up to Fortinos.  I didn't need anything.  Not even a loaf of bread.  Wandering around the grocery store.  Aimlessly.  God, I need a job. 

September 21, 2011.
The Road Home -

September 22, 2011.
Bam! The Return of the Weekly Self Portrait - Why?  Because turning the lens on myself tells my story.  Not someone elses view of me, but my narrative. Because, even with grey hair, crows feet and years of sun damage, I am enough.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Finding Our Groove :: an update

We are a couple of weeks into the school year, and dare I say that we are finding our groove. 

Charlie is now a full time student.  In our school board, junior kindergarten and senior kindergarten are full day, every other day programs.  Going every day without a break in between has been an adjustment for The Little Man and his class mates.  Seriously?  You've got to be kidding me?  And, Again?  Were some of the responses that the moms and I heard as we would wake our kids up in the morning.  I'm pretty sure that Charlie has accepted this as his new normal.  His only hope now, is for a snow day.  Yes, one and a half weeks into school and he is praying for snow. 

I fully expected a phone call from the high school on the first day about Josh.  Instead, it was Kenzie texting me from the office.  Apparently, she had chosen the wrong business course and had to make adjustments to her timetable.  Kenzie is not the kind of kid who likes being in the office for any reason even if it's only a timetable change.  Things worked out and she enrolled into another business course.  It's a much better fit - the course content focuses on how business works.  Speaking of The Kid and the business world, she is beginning to look for a part time job.  Another milestone - time keeps marching on, nothing stays the same. 

As for Josh, karma couldn't have been kinder to him on the first day.  True, he left the house alone.  But somewhere in between our house and the school, a few girls (the pretty, popular girls) called out to him and they all walked together.  SCORE one for the little guy.

Josh's favorite subject is drama.  In drama, his words and actions are scripted for him.  For a guy who gets tounge tied, and can't find the right words or actions in everyday life, drama is a safe place to be.   His first journal entry for drama made tears come to my eyes;

"Today is a beginning.  I'm trying to have fun and I think I will achieve it.  Drama is one of the apples of learning but this one is golden.  I went with drama because I hope to learn something, to face my fears and to make my start wonderful.  I would definitely go in tenth grade drama - honest truth."

I'm certain that there will be lots of bumps along the way to next June.  But we've begun.  And the start is always the hardest part.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

September 9, 2011.
Movie Night -  John and the boys walked up to Blockbuster to check out their going out of business sale.  They came home with a video game, PlayStation wires and Gulliver's Travels.  The four of us snuggled in with our blankets for a Friday night movie night. Okay, just my sons and I had blankets, John isn't much of a blanky kind of guy. The boys giggled their way through the movie.  It was a great way to end the first week back to school. 

September 10, 2011.
Mushrooms - Delicate and fragile.  These mushrooms made a pretty picture, but that's not what I was thinking about when I snapped this photo.  What I was thinking was, look at the cute little mushroom family. 

September 11, 2011.
Yellow - I did my first back to school grocery shopping on Sunday.  Wow, those prepackaged lunch snacks add up.  I never know what to pack in the kid's lunches.  Actually the big kids make their own now, but I struggle with what to put in The Little Man's lunch box. I have two things working against me.  One, he's a grazer, never eating much at once.  And two, he is picky.  He wont eat soup, pasta or sandwiches.  What he will eat - and please don't judge me here -mini pizzas, toasted buttered bagel, cereal and muffins.  I always put in either veggies or fruit, a granola bar, a fun snack - like a bear paw, or package of fruit chews, water and a juice box.  We are only the second week into school, and already I'm bored looking at his lunch.  How about you?  Do you pack a rockin' lunch?  Any creative ideas you want to share?

September 12, 2011.
Walk with my Daughter - I breaking my own rules.  Instead of choosing just one picture,  I am posting a collage from my photo walk with Kenzie.  It was an awesome night for a photo walk.  We hiked the rock wall at Kerncliff park, to the top of the old quarry. The sun set behind us, as the full moon rose in front of us, casting the sky in shades of pink, orange and indigo.  I love our photo walks. They allow for quiet mom/daughter time.  Time where we see the world, in fresh new ways, through each other's viewfinder. 

September 13, 2011.
From Where I Stand - Actually from where I sit.  No, it's not me getting the new 'do.  I took Josh for a much needed hair cut.  The hairdresser did a great job keeping the length that Josh wanted, and making it look clean enough for me.  I could tell that Josh liked his new hair cut by the way he walked out of the salon. 

September 14, 2011.
Mail Call - Charlie was so excited to get a letter in the mail from Sam, his new pen pal.  Right away Charlie wanted to write back.  After dinner we walked Charlie up to the mail box.  Charlie's pen pal lives just down the street.  Sam would have had to past by our house to mail his letter.  

September 15, 2011.
The View From Here - One of the biggest reasons we bought our house was for the back deck.  From here, on clear days you can see Lake Ontario. Just a tiny smidgen of the lake, but still a lake view.  The top picture was taken in the morning, and the bottom picture was taken in the evening.  I thought it was interesting to see how the scene looks different with back light and front light.
September 16, 2011.
Got Nuts? - Mr.Squirrel does.  These two were "wrestling" in the maple tree this morning. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 1, 2011.
Inside and Out - This picture of Kenzie's makeup bag was taken for the Picture Inspiration prompt, In The Bag.  My daughter wasn't always the girly girl she is today.  For years, her favorite past time was making mud pies.  When she became a teen, she replaced mud for makeup as her creative outlet.  One day she was a little girl with dirt under her fingernails and wearing baggy clothes, the next she was a fashion conscious teen, spending hours on her hair and makeup.  It wasn't only her appearance that changed.  Her confidence and sense of self strengthened.  I'm not sure if the makeup or the confidence came first.  Was she showing the world the changes inside with a new made up look on the outside, or did the new made up look change how she saw herself? 

September 2, 2011.
Morning Gifts-  Last week, while I was sat outside with my coffee, my eye was drawn to the sunglasses that I had tossed on the table the night before.  The morning dew clung the lenses transforming the ordinary into sparkling amber jewels.  I thought it was pretty scene so I grabbed a quick shot with my phone.  This was the only shot I got that day.  Fall brings a faster pace. I'm grateful that I was able to capture a small piece of the slow quiet summer morning that might have otherwise slipped me by. 
September 3, 2011.
Salsa Time -  I made my first batch of preserves on the weekend.  And boy, it was a lot of work.  Together with my father in law, we made three batches of salsa.  Each batch required nine cups of chopped, seeded tomatoes and six cups of chopped sweet peppers.  The next day, my shoulders were stiff and my legs ached from standing in one spot for so long.  I would do it all again though.  There is something so rewarding about seeing a pantry stocked with mason jars full with the vegetables that were bought fresh from the market.   Next time I think I will do a jam - strawberry maybe? 
September 4, 2011.
Counting Down -  It's after lunch on the second last day of summer vacation.  All three (yes three, Kenzie is the lump under the blanket in the corner) of my kids are like zoned out zombies watching hour after hour of cartoons.  Can you hear that?  In the background?   "It's the most wonderful time of the year..."

September 5, 2011.
New Dancing Shoes -  Actually Charlie is sporting new school shoes, but when the mood strikes, you just gotta dance.  I love the feeling of excitement in this picture.   He's off to grade one tomorrow, and you can tell he is feeling pretty darn good about himself.

September 6, 2011.
First Day -  I think that all parents go through the same mixed bag of emotions on the first day of school.  We are proud of them, and nervous for them.  We wait with a knot of anxiety in our stomach for news about how the first day went.  As Josh headed off to his first day of high school, the knot was tied tighter that any other year I can remember.  
September 7, 2011.
Unfold -   Sometimes my words aren't enough.  Sometimes a picture, without any words, tells the story I feel needs to be told.   When I look at this image, just one word comes to my mind.  Unfold. 

September 8, 2011.
Life Gets Messy, Reseed - Inspired by a Shutter Sister post that encouraged us to celebrate our own messy lives, I went to the side of my home that has been neglected this summer.  It is here where I normally plant a small veggie garden.  Green onions, chives, cucumbers, beans and tomatoes.  Not much, but enough to give us a taste of summer.  This spring, life got messy and the garden wasn't planted or even weeded from the year before.  I had expected to take a picture of my mess, but instead I found that the cherry tomatoes had reseeded themselves.  Life got messy and yet somehow, my garden thrived.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day

I’m trying to tell you about my life,

My tongue is twisted, more dead than alive,

My feeling have always been betrayed

I was born a little damaged man

Look what they’ve made.

Don’t you find,

That it’s lonely.

The corridor - you walk there alone

Life is a game you tried.

If life is a game, you’re tired.

Velvet Morning by The Verve.

Josh left today for high school. My tears came in waves last night. I’ve spent the better part of the last year focusing on making Josh’s transition to high school smooth. Working with the school so that resources and support would be put in place for him. So much planning and preparing. The tears came last night when I realized that none of it would help him on the first day. I realized that he will have to walk alone. I could do nothing more to help him.

His tears came this morning. I gave him a hug, and told him it was okay, that crying now was good because it meant that he was getting it out here at home in a safe spot. He calmed down and went back to his morning routine.

Just before it was time for Josh to leave he and I went out back to take a picture for his scrapbook. After our mini photo shoot, he turned to me, sad and scared and said, “I have no one to walk with.” I don’t know where I found the strength, but I didn’t cry. Instead I told him he would be fine, that I believed in him and that he wouldn’t be alone. Everyone was nervous today.

Josh and I went back inside to say good bye to the rest of the family. Kenzie gave him her words of wisdom - you have to talk to someone, don’t wait for people to talk to you. John gave his fatherly pep talk - just remember, everyone feels a little anxious, everyone will be thinking the same thing as you.

What is Josh thinking about? Gravy. One of his favourite things. That is what will get him through today. Gravy. There is a good possibility he will blurt out gravy.
I don’t spend a lot of time playing the blame game. Josh is in the autism spectrum. There is nothing I can do about it, and I don’t even know if I would try. It is part of who he is.   Part of what makes him sweet, kind, trusting and truthful.

But today, I blame myself.   I can’t fix autism. I cant fix the way the world sees him. I can’t fix the education system. I can’t give him friends. I can’t make this better for him. Today, as his mother I feel like I’ve let him down. That I passed on a combination of DNA that makes his life, this day harder for him.

The best I can do today is wait.   And while I am waiting, I will make a roast beef dinner, complete with gravy.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


August 25, 2011.
Fortune - I believe that if you listen to the universe you can hear it answer.  With all of my children becoming full time students, my days as a stay at home mom are coming to an end.  What's next for me?  I don't know for sure.  Not knowing, the uncertainty of who I am, and what I will become has been stressful.  So, when I opened my soda bottle and I found this fortune I felt a little peace.  Cheers to new beginnings and a successful career.

August 26, 2011.
Petals Floating - Mauve daisy floated in the centerpieces at my baby cousin's baby showder.  The same cousin that was announced at another baby shower many years ago.  It was a full circle night for me. I watched as my cousin laughed when guests wrapped crepe paper around her middle, each trying to guess how big her baby bump was.  It reminded me of the little girl she used to be with her sweet smile, chipmunk cheeks and chubby belly.  My baby cousin has grown into a beautiful woman, one who will be an equally beautiful mother. Inside and out.  Congratulations Belle.

August 27, 2011.
A Day to Soothe Your Soul - Every once in a while you get a day that washes out the cobwebs.  The sun shines, the breeze blows fresh cool air and your soul is soothed.  This was the kind of day I had with three of my favourite people.  

August 28, 2011.
Two teeth, Three Days -  The Little Man is growing up.  This week two of his baby teeth fell out.  The Tooth Fairy will have to pick up the overtime if this keep up.  Those first adult teeth will look like chicklets in a mouth full of tic tacs.  His little boy face will begin to transform into a school kid when as jaw grows to make room for his teeth.  He's growing up, changing.  I am so proud of my little guy and at the same time, so sad that time has gone by so fast.

August 28, 2011.
Items On My Table - Do you see the connection?  No?  All of these items begin with the letter "P."  Plant, paper, Piggy and paper towel. 

August 30, 2011.
One Last Look - We handed in the keys to Gramma's apartment.  This was the home that Grandpa and Gramma lived in for more than twenty years.  A move they made so they could be closer to family.  Handing in the keys to the apartment wasn't as sad as I thought it would be.  Maybe that's because the end and the beginning has over lapped.  A few months ago, Gramma began a new life, in a new home at a long term care facility.  She has friends, hobbies and intrests.  At 85 she has begun, again.
August 31, 2011
Morning Routine - For the second day in a row, Josh had to get up early to go to the school.  Not for actual classes, first for a meeting and then registration.  Next week, the house will be a buzz in the morning.  The kitchen will be grand central station as everyone gets their breakfast or coffee - Charlie likes his black.  Bodies will dance around the kitchen counter in the morning as everyone makes their lunch.  Permission forms will be put into back packs, ready to go back to (hopefully) the right teacher.  On first morning, in the midst of the crazy rush, with emotions bubbling at the surface, I will make them stop for a photo op.   This is how we will start our year and begin our days from now until June.