Category: Family Matters


Happy New Year! Happy New Year from the FGHB family!!

Yes, I know, I haven’t been around much….. okay, AT ALL for the last 18 months or so. In my defense, I would like to say this has been a period of immense change in our household and I put aside a lot of things in order to keep this family functioning. That being said, things seem to be on an even keel at least for the time being, so I’m going to once again look at broadening my geeky horizons.

So, it being a new year, I’m going to make some resolutions:

1) To make a minimum of one post per day on this blog.

2) Attend at least one con this year – either Polaris or Fan Expo.

3) Convince Dylan Meconis (who I met last year – SQUEE!) to reprint Bite Me!

4) Discover one new musician, movie director, or web comic a month

5) Try one new recipe a week and cook one vegetarian meal a month

6) Start work on my steampunk costume

So, I think that should keep me busy along with all the other stuff that being a working mom entails.

Enjoy the year. It’s looking to be a good one.

Happy Victoria Day Kids!

Queen VictoriaIt’s a holiday, so I’ll be spending time with the kids, hanging out and hopefully taking in some fireworks tonight. Have fun and play safe! See you tomorrow.

Happy Mother's DayI love Mother’s Day. I love seeing the expectation in my children’s eyes when they give me one of their meticulously decorated “gummy lumps” that they’ve worked so hard on at school.

Gummy lump you ask? A gummy lump is a treasure, made by childish hands. Robert Fulghum came up with the concept in his book “All I Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”:

What I’m talking about here is something I think of as the gummy lump. Once it was a shoebox, decorated and given to me by the oldest child. Then it became a repository of other relics of childhood given to me by the younger children. The shoebox became my treasure chest in time….

Anyhow, this shoebox isn’t looking too very good now. It’s a little shriveled and kind of moldy where the jelly beans and gumdrops have run together. It’s still sticky in places, and most of it is more beige than red and white. If you lift the lid, however, you will begin to know what makes me keep it. On folded and faded and fragile pieces of large-lined school paper, there
are words: “Hi daddi” and “Hoppy valimtime” and “I lov you”…. Glued to the bottom of the box are twenty-three X’s and O’s made out of macaroni. I’ve counted them more than once….

The treasures of King Tut are nothing in the face of this.

Have you got something around the house like a gummy lump? Evidence of love in its most uncomplicated and most trustworthy state? You may live a long, long time. You may receive gifts of great value and beauty. You may experience much love. But you will never believe in it quite as much as you believe in the gummy lump. It makes your world go round and the ride worth the trouble.

Happy Mothers DayEnjoy the weekend Moms! I hope you get pulpy orange juice, burnt toast and too sweet coffee and a slightly soggy newspaper for breakfast on Sunday.  I hope you get home-made Lightsabers, hand-drawn comic books and time to play Halo with your kiddies. I hope you get the best Mother’s Day gift of all, a lot of love.

See you on Monday!

I don’t want flowers, I don’t want gardening supplies. I want this stuff.

From top left, going clockwise: Hello Schröddy t-shirt, Marshmallow Blaster, Limited Edition Starbuck Frakker, Desktop Easter Island, Mini Plush Microbes and an Aromatherapy USB Aromatherapy Oil Burner.

You can find all of it at ThinkGeek.

Think DH will take my oh so subtle hint?

It’s no big secret that I have the smartest kids in the world. Their intellects put even Einstein’s to shame.

Alright, I’m exaggerating, slightly. But my kids do come up with some great bon mots from time to time, and I love to share them. So, here are the latest, both from Goober and both from the same trip to Oshawa.

1) Truer words were never spoken

Go Train As we are nearing the Whitby Go StationGoober:  Mommy! Mommy! Look! A TRAIN!
Me: Yes sweetheart, that’s a Go Train.
Goober: But it’s not going Mommy.

2) But do they lay eggs?

Construction Crane Elfkin: Mommy, why do they call [construction] cranes cranes?
Me: Because they look like the birds, can you see the long necks and beak?
Elfkin: Yeah, I can see that!
Goober: [said very thoughtfully] But they don’t have wings.

I blame Sam Worthington

Well this sucks!

For those of you who read my review of Clash of the Titans, you might remember a throwaway line at the end where I said that the movie wasn’t worth the crick in my neck that developed while watching it.

Well, I can tell you unequivocally that it most certainly isn’t worth worth the agony that’s developed since!

Yeah, that’s me, in my messy kitchen, wearing an oh so fashionable neck brace. And it’s all Sam Worthington’s fault!

When we got to the theater (The Colossus on Hwy. 7), most of the back section was full, so DH and I sat in the back row of the front section. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but that meant that we had to raise our head and hold it there for the length of the movie, a whole 1 hour and 55 minutes.

I don’t think there’s anyone who’s gone to the movies on a regular basis who hasn’t experienced this, but it’s probably not the smartest thing for an old broad like me to be doing.

At any rate, I walked out of the theater with a sore neck. It hung on throughout the weekend, despite liberal applications of A535 (I don’t care what anyone says, I love the way it smells) and woke up this morning unable to move my head.

So, now I’m wearing a neck brace, and I’m blaming Sam Worthington.  Gods, I hope I can find a purse to match.

Anyone have a Bedazzler so I can jazz this thing up a bit?

PS. Sam, if you feel like making it up to me, you can come paint my house. Bring Mads with you because, in all fairness, he bears part of the responsibility too. 😉

Musings and Endings

Newfoundland grave markerI’ve been struggling with some stuff over the last couple of weeks.

A beautiful, funny, glorious, much too young family member is dying of liver cancer. It developed from a case of melanoma that she thought was licked last year (note, make friends with your moles people!).  She was given two weeks to live three weeks ago. I guess you could say she’s living on borrowed time. The one kindness is that she’s able to make the most of what time she has left, having taken a trip to the tropics and to the waterpark with her grandchildren. I am in awe of her grace, dignity and strength.

Everyone in the family is struggling to cope with the news, and I’m no different.  As difficult as it is to watch all this helplessly from afar, my biggest problem right now is the kidlets. I’ve taken a bit of heat from a few sources about how I handled it.

Basically my attitude is that death is a natural part of life. It’s a sad, heart wrenching, painful, confusing, sometimes tragic inevitability that comes from being alive.  Does this make it less traumatic when it happens.  No.  It is something to be sad about, not hide from or be afraid of.

And that’s what I tried to explain to my kids before we saw her a couple of weeks ago.  Essentially I told them that the cancer is going to make her feel really tired and eventually she’ll fall asleep and not wake up.  It’s not (please) going to hurt when it happens, she’s not in pain (thanks to the pain management plan, but they don’t need to know that).  They seemed satisfied with that.  Sprout, with her eyes wise and knowing, nodded gravely and asked about funeral arrangements – that’s her, hiding her sadness with practicality.  Elfkin stuck her lip out and pouted, and wanted to know why she couldn’t help. Fighting back tears I explained that we couldn’t help her live, the doctors had done all they could, but they couldn’t fix the cancer anymore.  What we could do to help is to visit, and make her laugh and smile and give her good memories before she goes on.

Which we did.  We had dinner with most of the family and we got to talk and visit, but not say goodbye.  Our girl didn’t want tears, so I hid in the bathroom when I felt them coming on.  I held her mother while she wept, hidden away in the kitchen and tried to come up with some words of comfort that didn’t sound facile or trite.  I failed miserably. What do you say to a mother who is watching her child die? It’s going to be alright? No, it’s not. Nothing will ever be alright again.

Hopefully I conveyed with touch what I couldn’t find the words to say.

While we ate, my practical Sprout had an epiphany: “Mom, when she’s gone, who is going to take care of her dogs?” That’s my girl, always thinking of those who need help or protection. I explained that her husband and sister would most likely look after them.  If not, I was sure another member of the family would look out for them and find them good homes.  Elfkin pouted some more and announced: “It’s not fair. She’s too nice!” And she’s right, it’s not fair.  She’s so young to learn that fairness rarely plays a role in these things.

We left that night with hugs, kisses and toys for the kids.  It was a good night.

Since then I’ve been told I’ve robbed my children of their innocence and that I should have gone into detail about the miracle of life after death. The truth is, I’ve always been honest with my kids, regardless of what they’re asking about, be it sex and love or death and the afterlife, I give them as much age appropriate information as necessary to answer their questions and tell them that my door is always open should they have any more.  And I ask them if they have anything they want to talk about regarding a particular subject at random intervals.

As for the religious angle, again, I tend to define myself as agnostic with pagan tendencies so talking about Jesus doesn’t feel comfortable to me. I let my mother handle the Judeo-Christian angle, with editorial guidance from me after the fact.   I certainly have faith that we go to a better place when we die, but I don’t KNOW for certain.  And no one knows for certain what it’s going to be like – bright light, excellent hunting, harp music? No one has come back to tell us.  The whole heaven thing and going to ‘be with Jesus’ when you die, simply is not my belief although it wouldn’t surprise me if he dropped in to the Summerlands for tea from time to time.

At any rate, the kids seem fine with all of this.  They’ve had some questions and asked how she was doing, but don’t seem disturbed beyond the expected.  Normally I would just shake this off as unfair criticism, but this really rankled me.  Am I completely off base?  Have I somehow failed my children?

It’s the simple things….

Human ClockBilly Classen is an artist based in New York.  He built the above clock.  The kids have been watching it all morning. They are completely fascinated, especially Goober.

Who says kids need high tech gadgets to keep them happy?

Check out Billy’s site when you get the chance.

There are times, quite often it seems, that I find myself questioning my sanity. Most often this happens after I’ve spent time in the bosom of my loving family.

Like tonight at dinner for example:

TreeElfkin: How does a tree get on the internet?

DH: I *wood* not know.

Me: *shudder*

Elfkin: It *logs* on!

Family: Gales of laughter

DH:  Who knew trees were *branching* out into the Internet!

Me: *shaking head* Stop.

DH: You want me to *leaf* it alone?

It went on like that for 10 minutes.

I’m going to go find a padded room now.

BoomerangWell, it was a hell of a weekend up in Sudbury with the family.  I’m still processing it all and will blog about it later.

As usual, it had it’s ups and downs, and family frictions.  The kids were great on the ride up.  Normally, I don’t like traveling without DH to handle any backseat squabbles and let me concentrate on the road, but there weren’t any.  There was no hair pulling, finger poking or snot flinging.  To be honest I thought they were asleep for most of the drive. I don’t know what they did to occupy their time.

It struck me how much the highway has changed since I was a child.  Once upon a time, it was only two lanes between Sudbury and Hwy 12 where the old Highway 69 merged into Highway 400.  My sister and I always felt a sense of relief  when we got to that point, because from there it was only about an hour to Toronto and the Yorkdale Mall, our usual destination. The same could be said about The Hungry Bear Restaurant on the French River for the return trip.  The road had few passing lanes and it was quite common to see people pulling onto the paved shoulders to let faster drivers pass. Consideration was key to a quiet trip.

Now it’s four lanes between T.Dot and Parry Sound and just south of Estaire to Sudbury.  On the stretch of single lane highway, I can see the trees being cut down for the rest of the project from the road and I can’t help but feel sad (not to mention the ecologically trained part of my brain is screaming: “EDGE EFFECT!”).  People drive much faster, it’s not unusual to be cut off or get beeped at for going too slow. I’m driving at 110 kph in an 90 kph zone and suddenly I’m an old grandma who should get off the road?

Patience is *not* a virtue along Highway 69.

We now bypass a lot of interesting little towns and attractions along the way.  I have to wonder what will happen to the small businesses in towns like Nobel and Pointe au Baril who in part are dependent on travelers stopping on their way to or from their cottage. How many people stopped at the Iroquois Cranberry Growers (south of Bala) or at the Moose Lake Trading Post (north of Pointe au Baril) when the road was a single lane and people were traveling at a sedate 80 kph? Now it’s blink and you miss it and good luck turning around to go back.

While all this is passing through my head, I flash back to a scene from Cars where Lightning and Sally are looking at the interstate from the top of the mountain:

Sally: Yeah. Back then, cars came across the country a whole different way.
Lightning McQueen: How do you mean?
Sally: Well, the road didn’t cut through the land like that interstate. It moved with the land, it rose, it fell, it curved. Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time. They drove on it to have a great time.

People and cars are moving so fast now.  It’s no longer fun or relaxing to travel the highways. The familiar twists and turns that comforted me as I get closer to the city where I spent most of my childhood are gone.  That sense of ‘coming home’ has changed as the topography of the land has changed.  Tension no longer leaves my shoulders as I spy the old Champlain Hotel in French River, knowing that I’m less than 60 km from home; it’s gone, pulled down last fall.

At least that’s what I think until I hear Sprout sigh happily:  “I always know I’m close to Grandmaman’s house when I see the signs pointing to Kilarney.  When are you and dad going to take us there, mom?”

Plus ça change….