Hug a terrorist

In high school, I clearly remember being taught that Canada is this beautiful land, full of different cultures and people, and that everyone added their heritage and history to our tapestry, making Canada a unique mosaic of people. And in the next breath, of course, we were taught that America, our southern neighbour, was a melting pot, where people’s histories and heritages were obliterated in a steamrolling of assimilation.

It might be true. And it might be false. The reality, though, is that these are polarizing ideas and they leave little room for exception. There is proof of racism and the demand for assimilation here in Canada, perpetuated even by our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, who is demanding Muslim women not be allowed to wear a niqab during citizenship ceremonies. And there is proof of acceptance and ‘mosaic’ behaviour from our American neighbours, like the conversation-igniting campaign that Starbucks tried to tackle with their #RaceTogether scrawls on cups.

Regardless of where we live, what nationality we are currently claiming as ours, or how we choose to identify ourselves, we all have the same thing in common: we are all human. And this fact, again, regardless of anything else, is the most important and often the least remembered piece of any country’s puzzle.

A young Muslim woman, Assma Galuta, is trying to tackle the gap between reality and perception when it comes to race. She runs a YouTube channel where she posts filmed social experiments she has conducted. Her experiments challenge what people ‘know’ or ‘say’ about the Muslim faith and people, and what is real. Her focus is the universal commonality: we are all human.

In her first experiment, she asked people to finish her poster where she had written, “I am a Muslim, so that makes me…” She herself had put “kind” and “terrorist,” both terms that had been used to describe Assma in the past. Then, she stands on the street, asking people to write what they think a Muslim is.

The result is heartwarming – everyone who takes the time to write on her poster, leaves words of positivity and humanity. And most of them apologize for the word ‘terrorist’. It’s a nice story and a good news item for Canadians…at least, for a handful of Torontonians. The truth, is, though, she has been called a terrorist. She has experienced what she calls, Islamophobia, and hate directed at her because of her dress, her religion and her belief system. The reason for the experiment still exists – people mistreat people who are different, who act differently, who aren’t like them, instead of treating them as they really are: human.

In her second experiment, Assma blindfolds a Muslim man, Mustafa Malwa, complete with brown skin and beard, and puts two signs beside him. One reads: “I am a Muslim. I am labelled as a terrorist.” The other reads: “I trust you. Do you trust me? Give me a hug.”

Again, the response is hopeful – people walk up to him and hug him – men, women, other Muslims, white people, black people, HUMAN people. And it’s a shining ray of light in the dark days of young, black, unarmed men getting shot without provocation, of mosques getting vandalized, and of Jewish cemeteries getting defaced.

But, of course, this is not everyone. Not every person hugs him. Not every person will trust him. Not everyone can look at him and not see a terrorist.

And this is not a small thing.

It is in the way that the media handles violent attacks, labeling some terrorist and others not. Looking for mental illness and reason behind a murder of 149 people instead of looking for a religious political slant on a horrific plane crash because the pilot who downed the plane was white.

It is in the way we handle any difference, reacting in fear when we see a line of people waiting for a bus simply because they all have a different colour of face than we do. Being suspicious of someone because their skin is darker and their hair is longer and their outfit is something we’d never wear. Judging people simply because of their appearance, their religious affiliation, their beliefs, and their ancestry.

It shouldn’t be this way, but it is. So what can we do? How can we combat stereotyping, and culture-phobia, and hate speech? How can we stop perpetuating false ideas about other religions, other cultures, other ethnicities?

I would like to propose a social experiment. I won’t record it and I won’t post it. It won’t go viral online with millions of views and hits on YouTube. But I’d still like to give it a go, because I’m unsure what else I can do, as a privileged white woman living in Southern Ontario.

Assma Galuta's favourite quote.

Assma Galuta’s favourite quote.

I’d like to challenge you to see every person you come across as human. Not as black or brown or white or pink or purple or blue. Not as fat or gay or ugly or gorgeous or thin or fit or heterosexual. Not as a stranger or a friend or a neighbour or a fellow shopper. But as human. Notice their human-ness, what makes them the same as you, what makes them a person, what gives them the right to have all the necessities of life and the right to live it fully. Notice their breath, their heartbeat, their movement, their presence. Notice them. Notice other human beings. And focus on that piece of the melting pot or the mosaic or the country that you’re in. Stop noticing the difference and start embracing, and in some instances, literally hugging, the humans around you. Because they are just like you.

~ Julia

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Take a chance on me!

You know what I want more of?

Chances.

I got an interview a couple months back and the way I got it was because I asked for a chance and although I didn’t get it, I knew I would have rocked that job because of that chance. Because in all honesty I don’t have very many credentials, I don’t have tons of experience. I am what some companies would call ‘a risk.’

That being said, I am now employed!

I have a good job. I have a job that is new, and something I have never experienced. I have a job that pays better than I have ever had, and a job that I think I may actually enjoy. It is an office job, and it is so far, so good.

They took a chance on me, and I have to thank them for that.

I have been in training, and flip flopping between knowing my stuff, and completely blanking on what I am supposed to do, but I know with some time I can get it, and I can do it.

That being said I am being thrown on my own tomorrow. I am going to go into work, sit down at my own desk (I HAVE A CUBICLE), and do my job.

MY CUBICLE!

MY CUBICLE!

I am so terrified I may mess something up, but I have been assured again and again that they all started out this way, that they all were a little hesitant at first, and had no clue what they were doing. I barely believe it, but I get that it is only my 9th day, and my first day on my own, and that I will make mistakes. I will mess up, but I also know that I can rectify those mistakes. I can make what I do count, and I can do my job to the BEST of my abilities, I just need to take the chance.

-Andreah

For Cassidy Megan

It has been a year a half since my last seizure – and I am still scared shitless.

Every time that someone tells me that I am out of the woods, after all it has been a year and a half there is nothing to worry about, I secretly want to kick them and yell “DON’T JINX IT!” or “HOW DO YOU KNOW? DO YOU HAVE A CRYSTAL BALL?” and if they do have a crystal ball, why the hell haven’t I used it before!? I am so scared that it will happen again. Every time that I get sick with a flu or cold, the first sign of the sniffles, I panic. When my heart goes wonky because of stress, I immediately call my mom to take me to the emergency room. Every time I decide to have a libation after a rough day at work, I sip it gingerly in hopes of not triggering the sleeping monster. Because after all, that is what it is, a sleeping monster. A monster who lies waiting for me to be living my life, and then BAM!

This past episode of Grey’s Anatomy hurt my heart. A woman got into a car accident (well, the car drove through their house and hit her and her husband). She was pregnant and talking and fine and then all of a sudden she had a seizure and she was gone. She was gone and they delivered the baby. She was gone and the baby lived on while the father had some intense surgery. I fell apart while Cody slept soundly beside me. I messaged Julia who is my Grey’s Buddy…and she talked me off the ledge. It’s not just Grey’s though – every time that a character has a seizure on any TV show I hold my breath and then burst into tears because IT’S SCARY! My mind starts racing! Is this what my family watched? Did they hold their breath?

I am scared we won’t be able to have babies. Like, really scared. I am scared I won’t be able to, or that I will hurt them. A woman once thought it was a good idea to tell me that a friend of hers had a bath with her two year old, and while they were bathing she had a seizure and drowned her baby. I can’t get that out of my head. My mind keeps racing. What if I do that? What if some HORRIBLE accident happened and then I would lose my baby and Cody and my family and it just snow balls. Seriously – my brain, if it’s not seizing, it’s freaking out thinking of all the horrible things.

I have a coping mechanism – I make fun of my seizures to make it easier for me. I laugh about it, and joke about it and make it seem like it’s okay, but it’s scary. I will talk about them with anyone. I will answer anyone’s questions. I am not scared to do that. I am scared that it will happen again.

I am scared. 

Today is Purple Day, which is celebrated around the world. It is a day to raise awareness about epilepsy. My co-workers at my office are going to be holding a fundraiser tomorrow for it which is AWESOME! There are no other words for it other than AWESOME!  Purple Day was created by Cassidy Megan, a young Canadian girl, in 2008. She was motivated by her own struggles with complex partial seizures. She wanted people to know more about it and dispel myths. Purple Day didn’t become international until 2009.

I am going to be wearing purple, and putting my own selfish fears aside to support those who are going through worse than me. For those who suffer every day, multiple times a day. For you, I hope you find the treatment that works, find your trigger and live a life free of seizures! I wear purple for you, and know that you are always in my thoughts and prayers!

Purple Day

Purple Day 2014

~ Jacqui

You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni

Oh, thank GOD she’s FOUR

Lillian and I have been in a war for the past year. A war of the THREES. Any parent that I’ve talked to has agreed with me on this one point: Terrible Twos don’t exist. TERROR-FILLED THREES are what you have to worry about.

The calm before the storm...don't let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She's NUTS.

The calm before the storm…don’t let the sleeping fool you. Look at the FORM. She’s NUTS.

Lillian has been three for WAY. TOO. LONG. She’s saucy. She’s opinionated. She’s obstinate. She’s stubborn. She’s given me more grey/falling out hair than anyone. And she’s CRAZY.

All cute.  And innocent(-looking). She's a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

All cute. And innocent(-looking). She’s a sneaky, sneaky terrorist.

She’s three was my mantra for the whole year. She’s three. She’s three. Don’t kill her. She’s three. Don’t toss her into a snow bank. She’s three. Don’t throw a temper tantrum back. She’s three.

She’s three.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don't you forget it.

Determination is her middle name. But her first name??? Spider-Man. And don’t you forget it.

But today? TODAY?!

Today she is FOUR. And I can tell you that I’ve been looking forward to this day like children look forward to Christmas, like Ben looks forward to the first game of the NFL season, like Isaac looks forward to breakfast – with EVERYTHING I’VE GOT.

Because three? Three almost KILLED me. (No, I’m not being melodramatic.) (Seriously.)

Surprise! She's a loon!

Surprise! She’s a loon!

Three was when we started potty training with earnest. Three is when I cried about potty training practically daily. Three was the time where if I had a million dollars, I would have HIRED someone simply to potty train Lillian. Three made me wince when the pediatrician asked me if Isaac was ready to be potty trained (I’m not even THINKING about it at this point. I need a vacation, first. And a stiff drink. Followed by hibernation. Then, and only then, will I consider potty training a BOY.). Three and poopy underwear and puddles and bringing 7 changes of clothing only to have all 7 soiled halfway through our outing brought this mama to her knees.

Who me? YES YOU.

Who me? YES YOU.

Three was when Lillian started her stand-off life view. Where she decided she wasn’t handing over any control over anything to anyone, DAMMIT. Three was the time where Lillian said, “I’m not peeing anymore!” And she didn’t. For the whole day. Three is when Lillian would refuse to eat anything that she didn’t like the look of. “I don’t like it.” And that, folks, was the end of the meal. Three was when Lillian would say, “I don’t want to.” to going to the bathroom, to picking up Sophie from school, to getting dressed in the morning (she’s now the reigning queen of pyjama days because I refused to pick this battle), to cleaning up, to sitting down to eat, to wearing underwear, to wearing a pull-up diaper, to ANYTHING at ALL at ANY moment.

"I don't like breakfast, ANYMORE."

“I don’t like breakfast, ANYMORE.”

Three was when Lillian came into her own with her vocabulary. Which simply means, it’s the time where she could clearly articulate exactly what she didn’t like about what I was doing. Or not doing.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Strong. And shy. Until she knows you. Then watch out.

Three was when she fell in LOVE with Scooby-Doo on Netflix and Spider-Man in daily life (“No! My name is NOT Lillian! My name is SPIDER-MAN!”).

Her super hero identity

Her super hero identity

Three is when conversations like this happened EVERY morning:

Me: What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: —
Me: Lillian. What would you like for breakfast?
Lillian: Toast.
Me: With what on it?
Lillian: Banana and peanut butter.
Me: Perfect!
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast. I just want peanut butter. And banana.
Me: So nothing, but peanut butter and banana?
Lillian: NO! I don’t want anything on my toast! I just want peanut butter and banana. And honey. And apricot jam.
Me: Okay.
Lillian (after receiving said toast): I don’t WANT toast. I want CHEERIOS! (Cue sobbing because I’ve ruined her life).
Me: Kill me now.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Dirty. Happy. Nutty. Buttly.

Three was a war zone of wills, a battle to the death of the most basic of things, like socks and a coat and snow pants and mittens in -30 degrees Celsius weather. It was a knife fight, where I brought a soft plastic baby spoon and Lillian brought the weapons of mass destruction that Bush dreamed up in his sleep.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

This is how she watches TV. No, really.

It was a painful, brutal, exhausting year, because my ferocious, energetic, stunningly smart, heart-breakingly strong baby, the one who ripped IV’s out of her arm and bounced back from implant surgery, the one who went from no hearing and no words to NEVER FINDING AN END TO THE CHATTER, the one who has been dealt a tough hand and has cleaned out the pot and all of the players, found her inner THREENAGER and OWNED it, like she’s OWNED everything ever in her life. She refused to be born. She refused to be knocked down by a hearing loss. She refused to use the BLEEPING potty. She refused to give in. EVER. She refused.

Sauce-pot to the max.

Sauce-pot to the max.

And yet?

She’s still the best hugger I know. She’s still the sweetest when I’m hurt or sick. She’s still the one that covers me with her special, Lillian-only blanket when I nap in the afternoons. She’s still the kid that wants to help all the time in the kitchen. She’s still the fiercest lover, fiercest runner, fiercest fighter ever. She’s still awesome and incredible and smart and tough and strong and crazy.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa...he never has any clue what she's saying or why she's saying it and she will never let up.

Chatting the ears off Grandpa…he never has any clue what she’s saying or why she’s saying it and she will never let up.

But ONLY when it’s her idea.

And today? Today, she is FOUR.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

Isaac used to hate waiting for me to get the stroller inside after the walk home from school. Every time, Lillian would lie there with him, making him giggle, making me less likely to toss her out a window.

So, my dear second baby, my dear troubled middle child, my dear girl who puts the butt in buttliness, the girl who demands to be treated with the respect that Spider-Man deserves, happy happy day. Here’s to another year, where we will go to school, and tackle the world, and win all the battles all over again.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Being herself. Her awesome crazy brilliant tough self.

Because heaven help your teachers and your classmates if they get in your way. And Godspeed to them. They have no idea what’s coming for them, and there is simply no way to prepare them…except to hug them and thank them for taking you off my hands.

Oh, my heart.

Oh, my heart.

I love you, Lillian. With everything and through everything. Always.

My monkey-butt

My monkey-butt

Love, Mama

~ Julia

Roses

A while ago I posted about entering a short story contest. I meticulously read over the rules and discovered that if I shared my story here, online, I would be eliminating my chance at winning. So I didn’t. And today I got confirmation that I didn’t make the longlist. Boo.

In better news, I can TOTALLY post my story here now. 🙂 Thanks for reading it. Thanks for reading our blog. And thanks for putting up with this navel-gazing post. Happy Friday!



Roses

A short story by Julia Mills

Taken by our talented Andreah

Taken by our talented Andreah

Grace walked away from downtown, taking the sidewalk around the bend in the road out to where country touched the edge of the village. She looked into the windows of houses she passed, noting empty dining room tables, bowed heads of women washing dishes, a foursome playing cards, and a thin old man sitting reading under a light as if he were an exhibit.

She stopped at the last and grandest house on the street. Large and sided with white, the house had black shutters and a wraparound porch bordered by rose bushes and precisely trimmed shrubbery. Two rocking chairs and a child’s tricycle sat on the porch. Some of the large windows were lit and some were dark, but with no obvious pattern. The house belonged to Mr. Frank Hunt, the sole lawyer in town, and his wife, Muriel, president of The Horticultural Society.

Grace had stolen away here a few times before, always after dinner had been cleared away, needing to escape Robert’s two-year old demands, John’s silence as he worked at the dining room table, and the one that was missing, her dead baby, Alice. On those other visits, she had clipped a few of the prize-winning roses to bring home, but it hadn’t seemed to make a difference. They were beautiful, adorning her mantle, her nightstand, and the bathroom counter, but they weren’t enough. Grace wanted one more bouquet, large enough to fill the centre of her dining room table.

She walked to the side of the house where she had left her gardening shears, and made her way to the first bush. It looked like the roses were on fire, a burnt red orange. The shears made quick, clean work of clipping the blooms; the first time she had come she didn’t have her shears, just her hands, and she had to twist and break each stem. Grace clipped a half dozen of the orange roses, dropping them to the ground as she went. She’d gather them all afterwards. Best to keep her hands free to cut now.

Next was a bush heavy with red blooms, their deep blood heads droopy with the weight of their petals and fragrance. It reminded her of the colour of her underwear when they were first trying to have a baby, making love and holding their breath every four weeks, hoping that it would take, that this time was the time.

She clipped all of the blooms off of the bush. When the ground was covered, she moved onto the next, a bush of creamy yellow roses. Grace touched some of the petals, wondering if they were as soft and smooth as they looked. They were. Like Alice’s cheek. Her rosy, beautiful cheek. And then her cold cheek. Blue and empty. Who knew babies could just die in their sleep?

Grace clipped the bush until there was nothing but stubs left and a carpet of yolk and green on the ground. She was breathing hard. She moved onto the next bush. Then the next. Then the next. The sound of rhythmic clipping and rustling filled the back yard, as roses landed on grass.

Then.

“Grace?”

She paused.

“What are you doing?”

She turned.

Mrs. Muriel Hunt was making her way down the steps and into the backyard towards her.

“Grace!” Muriel’s voice was loud and had something sharp in it. Hysteria. Muriel stared at the ground, at Grace’s feet, behind Grace, at her yard. “What are you doing?”

The shears hung in her hand. Then they fell to the ground.

“You are going to pay for this.”

Grace was silent. What was she doing?

“You stay right there.” Muriel turned and ran up the stairs and into the house, leaving the door open, screaming, “Frank!”

Grace sat down on the grass. What was she doing?

“She’s crazy. She’s cut down all of our roses. You better do something about this. The damage is unbelievable. You are going to sue. I’ll have to start all over again. Years of work—”

“Muriel.” Frank knelt down in front of Grace.

“Grace? Are you okay?”

Grace looked at Frank. He’d only ever called her Mrs. Whittier. In town. At church. She used to be Mrs. Whittier. Now she’s Grace. Crazy Grace.

She started to cry, resting her head in her hands, elbows digging into her thighs.

“Grace.” Frank lifted her up and carried her into the house, putting her down on a couch and wrapping a blanket around her. She was still crying.

“I’m going to call your husband.”

Receding footsteps and voices.

“She’s ruined everything. Everything. What are you going to do?”

“Muriel.”

“I want you to do something!”

“Her daughter died.”

Grace lay down on the couch, pulling the blanket over her head, hiding with her warm breath. What was she doing?

Then.

“Grace.” John’s hands and voice.

She pulled the blanket down and looked at him. Oh, his face was so worried. And his hands. He hadn’t touched her in months. Not since she had slept through the night and let Alice die.

“Grace.” It came out like a breath, full of air and defeat. He sat beside her and pulled her to him. Her ear was against his heart.

He rocked, as if she were Robert or Alice. He rocked her like she was his child and he was the parent and he had to be in charge and she was in trouble and he would fix everything.

His voice rumbled up from his chest. “What happened?”

“Muriel found her outside.”

“Cutting down my rose bushes!”

“Muriel.”

“They’re destroyed.”

“Muriel.” Strong, stern, then, “John, I thought you should come get her and take her home.”

“Thank you. I’m sorry for whatever damage—“

“No damage.”

Then Grace remembered. She lifted her head. “Where’s Robert?”

“He’s with Sarah.” John smoothed her hair.

“Sarah? Where’s Robert?” Her own hysteria was rising in her throat.

“In the kitchen with our daughter, Sarah. I think they’re getting a snack.” Frank smiled kindly, sympathetically, pathetically.

John pulled the blanket tighter around Grace’s shoulders. “Let’s go home.”

“I’ll get Robert for you.”

“Thank you.” John stood up, pulling Grace up with him. He adjusted the blanket again, then wrapped his arm around her. Grace leaned into him. She was so tired.

They made their way to the front foyer where they were met by a sleepy Robert, eating a piece of bread and being held by Sarah, a child herself, a miniature Muriel.  

Grace reached out, touching Robert’s hair. John and Frank talked more, but she didn’t know what was said. Then they left, retracing Grace’s steps until they were home.

John left her in the bedroom so he could put Robert to bed. Grace stood there, unsure of what to do, until John came back. John took the blanket from around her shoulders and started getting her undressed.

“Robert is sleeping,” he said, as he pulled her shirt up over her head. He slid off her pants with her underwear. He went behind her and unhooked her bra.

She was naked and cold.

Then he was putting on her nightgown, up over her head, pulling her arms through and the hem down so that her bum was covered. Then he lifted her hair out of the neck and kissed her on the forehead.

It was his turn. His pants, underwear, shirt, undershirt off. His pyjamas, top and bottoms, on. He led her to bed, to her side. He pulled down the sheet and blankets she had cleaned and tucked, put her beneath them and retucked them around her.

He went around to his side and slid in, curling around her, holding her, breathing into her neck, his cold nose pressing into her hair, her bum in the curve of his pelvis.

“I’m so sorry.”

“No, I’m sorry.”

“John.”

“Listen. We’ll be okay.” He sounded like he was trying to convince her. “We’ll be okay.” Now he was convincing himself.

The sound of the dark house filled the silence.

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

She rolled over. He held her, her nose being tickled by chest hair poking out over his top, his skin and her breath combining into a damp warmth. Her arm was tucked between them, her hand on his chest. She could feel his breathing change. Quicker. More desperate.

Then she was kissing him. On the mouth. Her tongue looking for his, his finding hers. Then he was pulling her tighter.

Then her nightgown was up over her head and on the floor. His pyjamas were coming off, buttons unbuttoning, pants slipping down.

And then they were one again. Moving together again. Again. Again. Again. Again.

At last.

Then they slept, deeply, until Robert was climbing on top of them, telling them it was morning, it was time to play, it was time to wake up.

It was time.

A hidden love of storage

I have this thing about books. I have a love for books, that I know is not very unique, but I have another love that is tied in with this love…bookshelves.

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There is a social media site that leaves me dreaming of new, inventive ways to store, display, and love my books.

How CUTE!

How CUTE!

It leaves me wanting to build or find builders to create these ingenious and imaginative bookshelves.

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This website is called Bookshelf Porn.

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And it really is crazy how many different styles of bookshelves there are on this site.

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Things you would have never thought of!

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Placements that make it seem accidental, but are so not.

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If you too have a love for books, and by extension, bookshelves I beg you stay away…stay away from the magic that is bookshelfporn.com
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Or not.

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~ Andreah

Directionally challenged

The other night I went out, phone in hand as always.I have had this phone long enough that it no longer has a warranty, but not so long that I get mindless stares because it is obsolete when I pull it out in public. It’s an iPhone so it pretty much became the oldest model as soon as it was put on the shelf to purchase.

My battery was at 20 percent, to other iPhone users this is about the time you try to locate a power source. No? Just my trusty hardware? Okay then.

I didn’t sweat it, the place I was going I had been three times before, once I even drove. So I should know where I am going …if I wasn’t directionally challenged!

I got in the truck, turned on my GPS and headed out.

Humming along with the radio and cautiously listening for my male Siri adviser to direct my course because the female version has told me what to do long enough, I noticed my phone light flicker and then the ominous circle of death showed its ugly face as my phone turned off.

There I was phone-less, and suddenly thoughtless. Where was I going? Did I remember the address? Could I some what make my way and then ask for directions once I got closer? Would people know how to give directions these days? Did I just say these days? WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!!

I couldn’t do it – I had to go back. I had to turn around to go and get a car charger. I needed to tell the person I was meeting that I would be late. In order to do that I would need my phone! What did we do before cell phones? Carrier pigeons!?!

Now I was in a full on panic!!!

Calm down – I can do this, I just need a plan!

Step One: Turn around and SPEED home to minimize amount of time I would be without said phone

Step C: Get charger and plug phone in. Wait until phone turns on again and advise acquaintance of my tardiness due to phone being a piece of junk. That’s right this is all the phones fault…right? My dependency is not my fault!

Step V : Put co-ordinates into GPS and SPEED to said destination.

Final Step: Figure out how I handled life without a phone!!!!!!

I bought my own phone in the 10th grade. It was a pay as you go Telus phone which you could purchase unlimited text messaging for 10$ as long as you had money on it to make calls. This is really all I wanted it for. One more way to keep in constant communication with my boyfriend at the time. Silly naive Jacqui.

I quickly upgraded to a real phone as soon as I turned 18 and didn’t need a parent to sign for one. My very first flip phone with a qwerty keyboard. It was blue and SO EXPENSIVE! Silly younger Jacqui.

Then came my first Blackberry, because I was a middle aged man needing to keep in contact with my partners at the firm and monitor my portfolio (ha!) at all times.  I was important… it was white with a pink case. I was bad-ass!

I have become, no our society has become addicted to constantly being available! Thats right if I am going down you are alllll coming with me! Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, messaging, pinning, emailing. It’s amazing and yet so CRAZY at the same time!  We share too much, in too many places as long as there is a device or piece of technology involved we think it is okay to spout what ever nonsense we want. Real face to face interaction has slowly become a rarity as we all have our heads buried in our devices whether they be an Android, iPhone, Blackberry or blueberry!

What’s even more ironic is that I am spouting off my dependency of technology on our online blog… but I am still going to continue my rant.

I am the worst for this! I stare at a computer all day at work only to come home and stare at my phone.

There was a post on Facebook that I read which stated “If you were offered 3 million dollars, and all you had to do was not go on Facebook, Twitter or use your cellphone could you do it?”

I would like to think I could live without my phone, but I proved to myself on last Wednesday that I couldn’t.

I have since then purchased an up to date map. You know the ones you see in movies from a decade ago. They still exist! I KNOW, I was shocked too! I have also tried to set a goal of cutting down my social media time by an hour  per day for the first week. I am hoping by the end of the month my phone is not my third hand.

I am also going to put it away when I am with friends and family and focus on what is happening in front of me instead of what is going on in the land of Facebook or even through a lens.

Wish me luck – and know I am not ignoring you. Or am I…. now you will never know.

 

~ Jacqui

 

’90s Kid

Being born in the mid-’80s means I got to really appreciate one of the best decades yet – the ’90s. Not to say the here and now isn’t pretty great, but I do feel like the children of today missed out on a lot of incredible things that us ’90s kids were abundantly blessed with:

1. Television: Although growing up in our house out in the country meant 5 channels with our rabbit ears, or sometimes 6 to 7 if our neighbour’s  satellite dish was pointing the right way, the ’90s still meant the best of the after school show. I’m talking the best of the best here, yet to be dethroned by any of the current day options. Shows like Fresh Prince, Saved by the Bell, Family Matters – they taught us how to unrealistically get out of any lie (thanks Zach),  that being loud, proud and funny was acceptable (thank you Will), and that family wasn’t just your blood, but the people you could always count on to have your back (thanks Carl Winslow). Most importantly there was ZERO reality television causing us to mimick and idolize, to be frank, idiots.

Go Will! go Wil!. Go, go, go Will!

Go Will! go Will!. Go, go, go Will!

2. Toys & Games: Before the age of incredible graphics in the video games of today, the ’90s toys were just as, if not more exciting than any WoW or GTA scene could be. Remember skip-it?? My sisters and I used to have what felt like fingernail biting competitions to see whose counter would reach the highest number, the fastest, without missing a step. It was the age of Waterfall Ring Toss and Mash. We filled our spare time playing Pogs, Hacky Sack and scribbling crazy mad libs. It might be because the children in my life are mostly located in the city and I know it is because of the crazy technology that we are plugged into ALL DAY LONG, but it certainly feels like we spent a great deal more time outside, a little more free.

Trade you for a slammer. For funsies or keepsies?

Trade you for a slammer… for funsies or keepsies?

3. Music: Um, how about I saw the Sign and really anything Ace of Base? It was the boom of electronic music, but also the rise of Miss. Spears before 2007 happened to her, and Spice Girls reigned queens of every young girls heart – fashion sense too, unfortunately. No Doubt was dealing with teenage angst with every single that dropped, Pearl Jam fronted by the legendary Eddie Vedder made social change their message and Alanis was reminding every man not to mess with a girl with pipes. Not to mention REM, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Counting Crows, Weezer, The Presidents of the United States of America and Oasis to name but a small selection of the greats of the ’90s.

So. Cool.

So. Cool.

4. Lack of Connection: I do not want to gripe on the present day advancements in technology, buuut…. they suck. They suck the life out of you, and the life out of life. I am guilty of it too – being too available, too connected. But, I am working on it. Yes, we had MSN and AOL Messenger to connect to friends, and let’s not forget everyone’s first embarrassing email address as we didn’t yet understand the longevity or importance the medium would take. We also had to sit through the painstakingly and incredibly slow connection of dial-up, which I am sure was a deterrent to sitting at the computer for hours upon hours as we do now. Let’s also not forget how much having a cell phone, never mind smart phone, was a novelty and quite a big deal. You definitely didn’t see mass amounts of people, in public, hunched over a tiny box, staring into the screen for anywhere near the amount of time of current day.

Hello Zach Morris phone!

Hello Zach Morris phone!

The ’90s are arguably one of the last great decades that we will ever see. I’m glad I was of a age to remember a lot of what was popular or how we spent our days when we weren’t outside under our maple trees that encompassed the back yard, making mud-pies and maple-leaf rolls stuffed with gunk as our ‘cabbage rolls’, imagining our childhoods away.  What are your favourite memories of the 90s? I can almost guarantee I’ve forgotten a bunch, as the ’90s were way to good to contain in a simple post.

~ Toni

Birthday boy

We’re in a tricky spot, over here at my house. It’s tricky because March is BIRTHDAY-PACKED, but Ben has a huge deadline that’s due date is actually his birthday day. So what is a Laurentino, who LOVES celebrating, supposed to do when the guy you love to celebrate with, love to celebrate, love to love is too busy to be celebrated? WRITE A MUSHY BLOG POST!

He’s turning the big 3-6, so I thought I’d give you 36 reasons why Ben is awesome:

1. He’s the best father to our kids. They squeal when he comes home, they demand his attention, they curl up and snooze with him in the mornings, and he’s working SO damn hard for them right now.

Daddy the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

Daddy, the wild ride (counterclockwise from top left: Sophie, Lillian and Isaac)

2. He’s committed. To our marriage, to our family, to his game developer dream, to his footie passion. He’s all in. Always.

3. He’s strong. From opening stubborn, slimy sippy cups, to carrying all the laundry from all the rooms down all the stairs, he’s a tough guy…and I appreciate it with both of my carpal tunneled hands.

4. He’s a softie. No, seriously. Is there a poignant moment in the movie or TV show you’re watching? Get ready…he’ll be teary. It’s adorable.

5. He’s THERE for you. Need something? Anything? Like moving your house for the 845793rd time, or needing some groceries dropped off, or a push out a giant snowbank? He’s your guy. In a heartbeat.

6. He appreciates a good laugh. And when you’re raising ALL the CRAZIES, it’s a good thing…otherwise we’d both be crying (see #4).

7. He’s not afraid of hard work. Manual labour, thinking labour, working until the wee hours of the morning, he’s in. And he’s committed (see #2).

8. He’s the king of goofing off. I’m a little nutty…and a lot Type A personality…and my go-go-go-go can quickly kill me. He’s a perfect balance to my nonsensical need to busy all. the. time. Without him, I’d be in a corner, rocking, with so many more grey hairs.

9. He’s a family man. In every sense of the word. He’s all about keeping family okay, and family includes our five, our one in heaven, his side, my side, and the life friends we’ve picked up along the way.

10. He’s tough. Different than strong, he can take a beating, both on the field and in life, and keep moving, keep fighting. I haven’t seen him give up yet…even when all the signs were yelling at him to quit.

11. He’s handsome. ‘Nuff said.

Right?!

Right?!

12. He can smell good. Note the ‘can’. He doesn’t always. But when he does…mmmm…he smells good. 

13. He gives the best hugs. They’re big and all-encompassing and warm and when I’m in them I feel small and protected and home. And the coolest part? He’s passed this genetic gift onto Lillian, who is an all-body hugger.

14. He’s funny. Sometimes. And sometimes not. He makes me laugh sometimes. But sometimes not. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

15. He’s smart. Smarter than me in so many ways. Smart bookwise and computerwise and lifewise and lovewise. He’s a smartie pants…and our kids will benefit from that greatly when they come home with trigacalculusometry homework.

16. He works hard to find the right gift. Research, listening to what you say out loud and what you say in not so many words, then searching and trying so hard to get it right.

17. He writes the best cards. Birthday, anniversary, Mother’s Day, just because…Ben’s notes are the sweetest, most thought out…and it’s ridiculous because I am a writer and he out-writes me!

18. He wants to hang out with our kids. I’m not sure you’re aware, but they’re crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work he’d want to hide out and not see anyone. But he doesn’t. He’s on the floor, playing with them, laughing with them, then herding them up the stairs, hogtying them into their pyjamas and reading them all the stories even when the stories are nonsense.

19. He wants to hang out with me. I’m not sure you’re aware, but I’m crazy. And I would fully understand that after a long day at work and a long night of hanging out with our crazy loin fruit, he’d want to hide out and not see anyone…but he doesn’t. He wants to watch How I Met Your Mother together and spend time together. He’s a glutton for punishment.

20. He giggles. He says he chuckles, because it’s a more manly word (his words), but I swear it – this burly man giggles.

21. He remembers all the 21s. We started dating on November 21 and we got married on May 21, so 21 is kind of our number. Every month we make sure we say, Happy 21! to each other on the 21st. He remembers more often than me…and usually when we’re rushing around and I’m about ready to lose my mind, he reminds me: we had romantic moments and we have a great life. Happy 21!

22. He’s warm. As someone with zero ability to maintain any sort of normal body temperature, having someone warm sleep beside you, let you snuggle up to on the couch, or wrap you in a warming hug when you’ve just come back from a -20-something run, is GOLD. AND?! His babies are little heaters. 🙂 I WIN.

23. He likes to play. Football, board games, video games, in the sand, in the water, in the bath, in the snow, and in the sun – he likes to play and participate. It’s awesome. And lets me nap…

24. He supports napping. Ben does not believe in taking naps. He hates them. He feels like it’s a waste of time. I thrive on naps. I LOVE naps. If I could have two naps a day, I would. In a heartbeat. So the fact that Ben fully supports my love affair with naps, while himself hating them, is awesome. And so generous. Now, if he would just come home from work so I can have one…or two.

25. He believes and loves God. For non-believers or even agnostics, this might not seem like a big deal. But when you talk to God a lot, when you love God a lot, when you want to raise God-lovers and -believers, this is an incredible gift. We are a family of believers and it’s lovely.

26. He’s actively interested in stuff I’m not. This might seem like a bad thing, but it actually makes for great conversation that doesn’t get boring. I like watching football with Ben, but Ben LOVES football, so he can answer my more detailed questions about contracts, money, culture AND plays and stats. I enjoy the odd video game, but Ben can talk about the development piece, or the possible reasons a developer made the decisions they did. Not dull at all.

27. He believes in me. I want to be a writer, a crocheter, a card-maker, a baker, a runner, a good mom, a good wife, and Ben? He believes I can do all those things well, successfully, and he tells me as much. He’s my number 1 fan and I’m so lucky.

28. He’s my best friend. It wasn’t this way in the beginning. I had lots of best girl-friends. But now? He’s one of my best friends and it’s the best part of our relationship.

29. He’s a good man in a storm. I’m not too bad in a storm myself, but he’s better. And at the moment that I start to lose my shipshapeness, his kicks in to hyper drive. He helps me keep my head, and will do everything in his power to fix, stop, or make the storm palatable.

30. He trusts me. This could be a sign of insanity or poor judgement on his part, but he trusts me with our home and our babies, with their care and keeping. He trusts me to be a good mom. It’s a huge thing and I don’t take it lightly.

31. He’s trustworthy. I don’t worry about Ben. I know he’ll be there, he’ll do his best, that he’ll work hard, that he’ll take the right things seriously, and that together we’re stronger.

32. He takes pride in his athleticism. Which is an asset for me, who, although has found a love for fitness, still has a great affinity for her bed – it’s inspiring. And for our girls – because we both work out and exercise, they talk about exercising and working out. It’s keeping our family healthy.

33. He is system-oriented. He has a method for blowing his nose. A way to brush his teeth. A manner in which he makes bread. A routine for everything that can be regimented. It’s endearing…and sometimes enraging…but mostly nice and predictable. Our babies? Not predictable. He’s a nice change of pace.

34. He’s confidently Ben. He knows what he likes and what he doesn’t. And he’s not afraid to ask for these things, but in a timely and appropriate manner. He doesn’t like semi-sweet chocolate chips, but make him cookies with them and he’ll eat and appreciate them. He wears boxer-briefs and refuses to wear anything else. Buy him the wrong underwear, he will be returning it and exchanging it for the right kind. See? Appropriate responses. 😉

35. He tells me how he feels. I grew up in a family of girls, so talking about our feelings was a daily, almost hourly event. Ben…not so much. The fact that he will actually tell me how he feels is a gift I don’t take lightly. I appreciate that he shares just for me…even if it’s not the oversharing I’m used to.

36. He lets me celebrate him. Ben didn’t grow up with giant birthday displays, so the fact that he lets me gush on him, spoil him, and force him to participate in fantastic organized birthday events is awesome. I love birthday-ing the people that I love…and since he is THE love of my LIFE, it’s incredibly generous that he lets me birthday him the way see fit.

Happy happy happy birthday, Ben!! I love you!

~ Julia