Sunday, 24 July 2011

Margaret- Daughter, Sister, Friend, Mother, Aunt- High School

The teenage years, mostly about Boys, full of angst and stuff.

I actually WASN'T put in a locker even once and even met some new friends. My old friends and I found different groups of people to hang out with. We had different interests, they liked Country, I liked Rock and Roll... and Grunge and some Rap music (Remember Black Sheep?). I was more interested in boys too than they were. But, we still found common ground with the horses and the village.
Some things that mark my teenage years: Working at Willy's Ice Cream store, Friday Night at Danas', attempting to pierce my own belly button many, many times, corn jumping and dances at the Fairground.

And people liked me, they REALLY, really liked me! Imagine my surprise, I wasn't as big a LOSER as I thought!

I met my first real boyfriend Jay (I couldn't believe that he actually wanted to go out with me), and had my first drink at the age of 14 (my first kiss was at church camp when I was about 13). I probably wouldn't have done some of the things the same if I did it again, but I wasn't sure what to do with my new-found popularity, I don't think I wanted to lose it. NOW I know that being liked isn't everything and YOU govern how people treat you.

Doing a Co-op at a Gr. 2 class
Throughout high school I hung out with some very different groups of people, yet I got along with pretty much everyone. I still never hung out with the super-popular sporty group, AKA preppy people, but they still said 'Hi' to me. I even played Dungeons and Dragons briefly, it was pretty fun, and it ended when I changed groups of friends again.

Somehow, the groups of friends I hung out with were directly linked with the boy that I was dating at the time. Although, I would DENY it at the time. To this day we still hang out with the friends that my Genius Rockstar Husband and I shared in Highschool.

When I was in Gr. 10, my oldest brother died of a drug overdose. Apparently they found him on the floor, his phone sitting on a nearby table, off of the hook (either in an effort to call for help, or to prevent help from coming). He was in his early 30's and having some serious family problems combined with anger issues. He had separated from his wife and young son, yet would drive by and throw rocks at their house, smashing their windows. I can only assume that part of his behaviour was learned, my mom says that my biological dad was abusive.

I immediately broke up with my boyfriend and the group of friends at the time, wanting nothing more to do with that horrible time in my life. Wanting to be disconnected from what had happened and move on, to forget. I never did explain myself to them, but it put me on a different path in my life for sure. It makes me appreciate the people in my life so much more.

Life is so very precious, you must CHERISH your closest friends and relatives and get rid of those in your life that don't make you a better person.

Corry, boy do WE have some stories!
Of course, being a girl, I had a lot of "Girl Drama". My girlfriends Kelly, Tara, Krista, Colleen, Andie, Steph, T.L., Rachel, Corry, Heather, Winston (ahahaha! Just seeing if he reads this) and more (you know who you are!) hung out intermittently and had some FANTASTIC hangouts at lunchtimes. I would share, but I don't want to embarrass anyone!

At about 15 yrs old I started dating someone pretty seriously for 9 months, then it was time for him to go off to University. We swore undying devotion over the distance, but that is where our 3 year age difference really became apparent. I met someone extremely good looking and interesting at the local fair... and poor Brian never had a chance. Mike walked into my life and asked if he could sit beside me on the bench, then he showed me his hackey sack skills and let me wear his navajo sweater when I got cold. Good thing HIS girlfriend at the time was busy that day!

I don't have a lot of regrets in my life, but breaking up with Brian on his birthday while intoxicated was NOT VERY NICE. It would have been more humane to do it over the phone or with a letter. Ah, well, teenagers don't have a whole heck of a lot of sense to say the least. I felt bad about it for a long time, but now I know that he was free to date all kinds of University chicks so it worked out to his advantage.

My mom had a massive stroke when I was 16. I still remember my dad yelling for me, that my mom couldn't move and could barely talk. She had gone to bed, laid down and stroked out, but had been able to get my dads attention. I knew what had happened right away and called 911. I drove my dad to the hospital behind the ambulance, speeding through the yellow lights on the way. Thank God she survived and, for the most part, had a full recovery. That woman is Stubborn and a Fighter! While she struggled through her long recovery, I was responsible for taking over her small cleaning business, housework and preparing food. You never know how much you can handle until you HAVE to. I don't know how I managed it, but I did.

December 1994, Mike and I
I continued to date Mike off and on for a couple of years (more on than off). He cheered me up when I was down and did some of the craziest, most entertaining things. It was like a drug, I couldn't stay away! He stuck around Even after I cooked and served him the toughest Moose Roast on the planet (I thought it was beef!) and Much to my parents chagrin, we were together through the rest of my high school years and had some grand adventures with our friends. Most of which I shouldn't tell my kids about until they are out of high school themselves!

That brings me quickly to the next chapter in my life....

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Margaret: Sister, Daughter, Aunt, Mother, Friend- Primary years

Me at 1 year
My mother had me when she was 42 years old, she was strongly discouraged from continuing her pregnancy, Boy am I ever glad she didn't listen. I think she is pretty happy too since I was her only girl, 13 years after her 3rd boy. She gave me 3 names, pretty sure she was saving them all up for a while.
My mom at age 45ish
Margaret Elizabeth Pauline, Margaret is after the Aunt that helped raise her. I think that this partly why I'm so against abortion, I could have never been born. Then my kids wouldn't be here either...

I was raised in a small village, we lived on the Main street until my dad passed away when I was just 2. He died of an Aneurism at 44 years old, at the kitchen table, so I'm told. I don't remember a thing about him. In his pictures with me, he is very hairy. Apparently we just rented the house and we were very behind on the rent, so my mother, with 4 children (3 rebellious teen boys and a 2 yr. old) had to sell most of our furniture to catch up.

Me, Mom and Dad
She married my step dad (whom I call Dad, he's the only one I remember), when I was 4 or 5 years old. That is when we moved to the first house I really remember well, mostly I remember tumbling down the basement stairs more than once. I also remember my first friend, Melody lived next door. My brothers (Tom, Gord, Mike) didn't get along well with my step dad and moved away one by one.

Me and Melody at Skating
There was only one elementary school in the village so that's where I went and there I met my oldest friend Nadine. I was so VERY jealous that she went to Preschool and I didn't, she even got to make GINGERBREAD houses at Christmas time! Nadine and I figure skated together, went to church camp, and we went to Summer Fun together too.
Gr. 5, Christina, Nadine, Dana and Ms. Moore

When I was about 8 or 9, my parents built a new house in the Village so we moved there. It was further away from the school so we usually ate lunch at Nadine's house. Pizza made in the oven with tomato paste, italian seasoning and cheese slices were our specialty. We had lots of sleep overs which involved Doritos, Stephen King movies and tape recording 'My Little Ponies' doing things that Ponies should never do.

Sabrina, Ginny, Nadine, Me
In Grade 7 my friend Christy moved away and Sabrina moved in to our Village and the 'Three Musty Steers' were formed as my dad used to call us. By that time, Nadine had a horse named Bob at her barn near by and eventually Lady was added and then Jack. There were only ever two horses at the barn at one time, so we took turns riding around the Village, or we rode double on Lady. I usually took the back because Sabrina tended to slide off and pull me with her, now I think this was a ploy for her to get the reigns. She was pretty convincing, especially when she pulled me off and we both got tangled in the electric fence.

Me, My bike and My Dog Cookie
Our Elementary school was full of Great Characters. I have found, as an adult, the relationships I had back then are more substantial than some of the ones that were formed in High School. Even some of the slightest friendships have become tighter bonds, perhaps because of the singularity of life in a Village. 

I had a master plan to fail Grade 8 because I was so unpopular, I thought I would have to live in a locker at Highschool. I think I failed to mention the perms and buck-teeth/braces I donned in elementary school! I just knew I would never be as popular as Liz or Leigh-Anne or Flannery.

Dad, Me and Mom at Gr. 8 Grad
But, I did well in school and I don't REALLY like to fail so, on to Grade 9 I went. That is when the adventures became interesting....

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Let's "Cut the Gas" People!

Feel some words coming out? Put food in your mouth.
Something that people back in the day used to do was Be Quiet. There were the Loud Mouths of course, but they were frowned upon. We have a habit in this Age of Information, of saying everything all the time with no Brain to Mouth Filter. I have to agree that it is more difficult to know what not to say, with Facebook, Twitter and now Google+. Especially with people applauding shows like "Jerry Springer" (which is so fake I can't even watch it).

One rule of thumb you can use is no politics, finances or religion posted unless you are trying to get a reaction. I have been guilty of that myself, however, when I AM looking for a reaction, I can almost FEEL my little mischievous Elf Ears popping up. I am ready for a reaction! If you don't want peoples opinions, keep it light and funny on those boards people! You don't have to be a Facebook 'Hater' or disable your account 6 times a year, just Be Prepared.

Don't be a Butthead
If someone does or says something that you don't like or agree with. They don't need to know your opinion, sometimes they may ask for your opinion, then you need to use the Brain to Mouth filter. Because if it does not directly affect you or those you care for, then it's REALLY none of your business and you aren't going to change anything by alienating your friends and family. Even if it does directly affect you, there is a right way and a WRONG way to go about things. If you do it the wrong way, you might as well stick your head up your butt and start talking because it will have the same effect. Nobody's really hearing you and you come out Smelling really BAD.

Bad Decision...
There are times when someone you care about is making extremely poor choices. I'm not just talking about when they get one too many cats or when they feel green hair is for them, but more along the lines of them perhaps using abortion for birth control or leaving their infants in the car while they 'run in' to Walmart for half an hour. If you have already said something out of concern, while using the Brain to Mouth filter, and they continue to show questionable judgement... the filter may start to collapse and you need to STEP AWAY from the situation. For however long it takes. Until the person in question smartens up, or moves away.

Wow! That's a Refreshing Look
So here is another lesson learned from the nifty fifty's, and from my Favourite Grade Five Teacher Ms. Moore, 'If you don't have anything nice to say, Don't say it.' But if you look hard enough, there is usually something positive you can say without being too specific!

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

The End of the Beginning- Finalizing the intro.

They perfected cloning and I was one of the first human subjects! Haha! Not really, but we did have baby number 4. Ruby Elizabeth Rose was born a couple of weeks early weighing 8 lbs, 1 oz. She looks an awful lot like me.

A year passed, my maternity leave finished and I gave notice to my employers that I would not be coming back to work. I have a wicked budget worked out, which we HATE to follow, but we are much more disciplined now than we used to be. Vacationing is with a pop-up tent trailer, which we hope to upgrade eventually, but it's perfect right now.

I clip coupons, order free samples, bargain shop, bake, cook full meals, clean my own house, garden, drive a van that is paid for but has some 'personality'. We see the fancy cars and people traveling abroad and know that one day, that will be us. We'll save for it and it will be that much more special.... After the kids move out, then we will pine for the days when the house was full of noise and we had a meal plan for the 'troops' each week. Then the giant blocks of cheese will go moldy, the bread stale and I will make enough food at one meal to last us a week.

The dog 'Kitty' and Ruby playing
Anyhow, here we are, the six of us, a dog, two cats and two fish. The Sheltie was replaced by a mutt named 'Kitty' (tell me that won't confuse the heck out of the baby!) and the cats have come and gone.

My Family
I think the people in the 1950's were a respectable bunch with admirable lifestyles. Their reluctance to get help for abuse and alcoholism, and smoking while pregnant was slightly negligent, but outside of that, they had a good deal going. My job is full time, we could hire a platoon of people to do it, but it's just little old me. Mike shares his Genius elsewhere, mine is doled out here, making giant cardboard houses and chocolate chip banana bread.

I'm not sure if it's the fact that my mom and dad were from an older generation (mom was born in 1935, dad in 1924), or if it's just my personality but I am in love with my life the way it is. I've not talked about so many important events and people in my life that have made me the way I am. That will have to be next portion of my blog! In addition to any interesting links and articles I find.

Me and Rockstar Hubby
Stay tuned, you never know when you will see your name! Or an old photo!!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

If You REALLY Want Something, It Will Happen. With a LOT of Work!

Family in 2006
With the insertion of the third child, the eyebrows started going up and while on maternity leave, I tried to figure out what I was going to do. Working full time and paying daycare for 3 kids didn’t make sense. I had to work from home and take care of the kids AT THE SAME TIME! Just like in those ads that we see, it was a perfect idea in theory.  This is where the 1950’s, stay at home mom mindset started burrowing it’s way into my brain.

I borrowed a bunch of money from the line of credit and started my own business selling something new and slightly higher end than Avon, called Arbonne. Quality stuff but there is really a great selection of Quality Stuff out there. I really tried to sell it, I had Arbonne parties, I had a display table at the local fair, I made beautiful full coloured fliers. And for how long can we kick a dead horse? I kicked for about 6 months and my maternity leave quickly drew to a close. I did a little accounting and HR work for my husband for a small paycheque.

As a lot of businesses did back then, my Husbands little piece of heaven closed up due to lack of funding. We panicked and then buckled down and did what we had to to pay the rent. Just like in the good ol' 50's. Mike installed cable and job hunted and I worked at a call center from 4 pm to 1 am. It was Christmas time too, that was a tough one to say the least.

In a few months my husband landed a Sweet Job and I was able to quit the call center and worked instead part-time at the post office. Thank goodness we lived near family, I enlisted my mom and niece to watch the kids for the hour that Mike and I were both at work.

The summer after we had almost lost everything Genius Husband decided that we needed a house. I thought he was flat out CRAZY. We had barely survived just months ago at a rented apartment! A house is a MUCH bigger commitment (I think I hesitated about the decision for children much less than I did for the house decision). Well, he pointed out why it was a good decision (he has always put a lot of thought into these ideas and I'm sure he gets annoyed when he has to spell it out for me, which is often), and we were off to 'Try' for a mortgage. Shockingly, we had weathered the storm with good credit and we were approved.

About 2 days before my 30th birthday, we took possession of the house. I was there! Married, with kids, a white picket fence and a Sheltie dog (she was smarter than Littlest Hobo). How did THAT happen?! The Love of my Life celebrated our house and my 30th with a Surprise Party, 'My Little Pony' cake and everything

Sure, we were scraping by with much less money than when we lived away and both worked full time, but suddenly my career wasn't my primary focus. I think it was an Oprah show about balance or something that helped me recognize my priorities. Our parents and grandparents fought for equality in the workplace and fair representation. But I wanted my kids to have ME, I wanted their memories to include our day trips. They may not be to far away, exotic places, but I can go to their fun fairs and choir practices and wave at them from the audience. 

I certainly DO NOT frown upon women that chose to work full time and have kids. Some of us would like to stay home but just cannot afford to. I really do consider myself blessed to be able to do this. And my first two kids spent a lot of their formative years in daycare. 

UGH! I'm wandering again! In my story I'm actually still working! I've gotten ahead of myself! Something very important has happened to us in the past couple of years....

Monday, 11 July 2011

All the little Children....

Alycia and Keith

Woken up with a ‘Thump” and a crying one year old on the floor at 7 am, I have everyone fed and can continue my story for a bit longer.

My second pregnancy did not make it past the first trimester. Miscarriage is a difficult thing to deal with. I read as much as I could about why it had happened ‘to me’ (Miscarriage: Sharing from the Heart). I discovered (from an ultrasound technician that had had a few miscarriages herself) that almost 50% of pregnancies are miscarried. It is only in the age of Super Sensitive pregnancy tests like the Clearblue Easy Digital Pregnancy Test, that we actually know about pregnancies so early.

We kept trying and 4.5 years after our first son, Keith, was born, we welcomed our daughter Alycia. All 8 lbs 11 oz. of pure Diva.  Now, this is where some books come in handy again. Perhaps Bringing up Girls: Practical Advice and Encouragement for those Shaping the Next Generation of Women or  Girls will be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters would have come in handy as a baby shower gift. I am definitely gifting these to anyone I know that has a baby girl!

I digress, with two children, we were still on our path to success. I continued my crazy life. College courses in the evenings and working full time in an office during the day. Somewhere in there we managed to clean the house and I worked my way up from Receptionist to a Human Resources Generalist.

My Rock Star, Genius Geek husband has a bit of rebel in him. Which allowed us to strive for more and has led us to take risks I would never, ever consider. In the overall scheme of things, this has been a good thing. Fantastic even. But in the year 2004, due to some less than Fantastic choices, we had to take our little family back near our hometown where the cost of living was less. I will go into more detail at a later date, this is supposed to be an intro! Needless to say, I think I perused Dr. Phils’ book Relationship Rescue: Exercises and Self-tests to Help you Reconnect with your Partner and I think Mikes’ mom gave me Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus to help me understand why we do some crazy things.

Every relationship has some rough patches (insert wobbly smiley face here). We rented an apartment, Genius Husband and his buddy from a past work life start up a company in our basement doing what they do best. With help from Incorporating your Business for Dummies or some such thing, they moved into a rented office space. I commuted to a well paying Customer Service job 45 minutes away and 4.5 years later we welcomed Jonny Awesome into the world at 9 lbs. 6 oz. Our Blue-eyed boy with the great one-liners.

Ah, snack time for the tots. I’ll be back on in two shakes of a lambs tail.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Getting to Know Why We Are So 1950's- Who We Are

Before I share the things I’ve learned over the years, I should tell you about myself. Tell you about how average my family is and how we got to where we are.

I’ve been a wife to the same man for 16 years and a mother for almost 15 with a current total of 4 children, 2 boys (14 and 5 yrs.) and 2 girls (10 and 1 yrs.).  How, in this day and age can we manage? How can we afford it? How do I keep my sanity? Why would I choose this? Lots of these questions have been asked or hinted at by friends and acquaintances, or maybe that’s just what I think they say when just one of their eyebrows juts up to almost touch their hairlines.

I have had a plan, since I was a little girl reading ‘Little House on The Prairie’ books by none other than Laura Ingalls Wilder. I wanted to get married, have kids and have a house with a white picket fence and a dog like the one on ‘Littlest Hobo.

Instead, I married a Rock star that I had dated from the age of 16, got married 2 weeks after my 18th birthday (as soon as I could without my parents consent) and ended up working 3 jobs to make ends meet in a tiny apartment with used furniture and no car. I was pregnant by October with Keith 'Carebear' (he was planned). I would kill my kids if they chose to do this now!

Thank God that my Rock star, now Husband, was also a computer Genius, a closet Geek, before Geek was synonymous with Cool (I should have clued in when he ‘borrowed’ my computer for 2 years.) His genius saved us, he worked his way up and our home was, and still is, cluttered with thick reference books like Introduction to Algorithms, Art of Computer Programming, and The Pragmatic Programmer, to name a few. Much to his chagrin, I often use them to prop my daughters’ crib up if she has a stuffy nose.

I am proud of my Hubby though; he was once on CNN and has also been mentioned in a section of a book entitled Hacking the Xbox. However, I still refuse to move to California so he can be part of a ‘Goldmine Startup’ company. California is going to fall into the ocean sometime, probably the minute we moved there.

And so we started clawing our way up the ranks of society, moving away from our childhood towns so we could become successful. Getting great jobs, higher educations, better pay. Dual income, one kid, that was us… for about 3 years, then we fell in love with the baby of a friend from work and before you know it I was once again perusing What to Expect When You're Expecting and eating fruit like a sailor fending off scurvy.

Here is where I must pause my Story, my groggy-headed one year old is sitting up like a Weeble in her bed. I can’t wait to continue, even if it’s only my lovely children that ever read this when they’ve grown.