Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Austen Robinson Watts - We Love You!

Well Baby Watts, your journey into our world has begun.  It's just after 11:00 am on a blustery fall day (October 20) and your dad has just called to tell me that you'll be here later today.  Mom is doing well and is at home doing the work she needs to do to bring you into the world. 

My stomach is all a-flutter and Grampa and I are going to try hard to keep ourselves busy while we wait to take the trip into Vancouver to meet you.  I'm thinking of your mom and dad right now and know how excited and anxious they are to finally meet you, just like the rest of your big, crazy family.

Well Austen, this blog started out addressed to "Baby Watts" and now you are here.  It was a long ride for all of us but mostly for your mom and dad.  50 hours is a long, long time to wait to get into this great big world but now that you're here it seems like it was no time at all.

Your mom can, and I'm sure she will, remind you from time to time about how hard she and your dad worked to get to meet you.  What I am going to share with you are just a few of the ways you touched my heart in those first few moments after I met you.

You are determined.  You also worked long and hard to get into this world and we are grateful for your determination.

You are peaceful.  As doctors and nurses checked you out after you arrived, you simply and quietly looked around and took it all in.  I am wishing you a lifetime full of peace.

You are beautiful.  Your dad prefers the word handsome but to me you are beautiful.  It is so amazing to see you with your mommy and daddy.  It is clear to see that you have changed them both already.  They have gone from a couple to a family since you arrived.  They can't keep their eyes off of you and they love you with all of their hearts for the miracle you are.

You are unique.  As these moments change into days and days into months and months into years we will all get to know the unique you.  You have just begun and I am curious about who you will be.  Will you have your mommy's and daddy's love of sport?  Will you survive Grampa's teasing?  Will you be a go, go, go kind of guy like your cousin Kai?  Will you want to take long walks with your cousin Lizzie looking for perfect skipping rocks as you go?  Will you love to be in the kitchen with Gramma spreading ingredients over every surface alongside Kai and Lizzie?  Will you love spending time outdoors, reading books, watching the Yankees and travelling the world? 

It's your first day at home today Austen.  You only arrived two days ago but already it seems like you've been with us forever.  The world seems just right now that you're in it.

We love you!

Monday, October 15, 2012

No More Cook Books?

For those of you who have been following my last few blogs you will recognize the theme of "getting rid of stuff".  My family was here for Thanksgiving weekend and my oldest daughter, the list-maker, labeller, super-organized one suggested that my next purge should be my cookbooks.  My initial reaction was one of shock.  But really, as I looked at the collection through her eyes there did seem to be an abundance of them.  So, this past week I started going through them and culling the ones that had no dirty pages,  the ones I had bought with the best of intentions but had never actually opened up,  never pressed open on the kitchen counter and splattered with the ingredients of those special recipes that had caught my eye in the first place but had never materialized.
It really wasn't that hard to get rid of those ones because there were no memories attached to large family events around a table full of food from their pages.  I loaded them into a few boxes and bags and set them in the laundry room to take to the thrift store.    Another of my daughters was home the next day and I offered her the chance to look through them before I tossed them.  She politely declined stating, "Really mom, if I need a recipe I just go online."  I thought for a minute and was actually surprised to realize that many of the recipes I am currently using have come from the same place.  As carefully as I might look, I'm pretty sure there are no quinoa recipes in my Gramma Dot's copy of the original Five Roses Flour cookbook.  In some ways this makes me sad.  In the back of my Gramma Dot's cookbooks are all of her favourite recipes and the notes that go with them.  They are all written in her no-nonsense, firm hand-writing.  There is always, always a picture of Gramma Dot in my head when I am using one of her cookbooks.  It makes me think of her, not always fondly, but mostly.  She was a hard task-master when she supervised:  wash your hands, measure correctly,  follow the steps, clean as you go, don't sass me.  My children will tell you that she didn't soften with age. 
I know my own cookbooks would reveal my own favourite recipes in a snap.  Some of the pages are spotless.  Those would be the ones I never used.  Then there are the others.  The pages are worn, covered in ingredients, have their own notes (I used one tonight that had the word, YUMMY, written at the top) and I'm sure if my own children inherited them, those particular recipes would also conjure up pictures of me in the kitchen. I know that in my lifetime those cookbooks full of recipes and stories and memories will continue to be an important part of my kitchen.
I can't dispute the move to technology in my own life though. My i-pad is a staple in the kitchen.  I often read books on it and had it by my side as I followed You-Tube instructions for the diaper tricycle we made this week and for a sewing project earlier this month.  Still it makes me sad that one day my own cookbooks, along with Gramma Dot's may not find a place in the home of my children.   I will just hope, that like Gramma Dot's old school bell that sits on our bookcase, they may get a spot simply for the sake of the memories.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


"Birthdays get harder as you get older. As you approach the age your own parent left this planet you feel so much more vulnerable.   Thanks for making the journey easier."
A long-time friend of mine posted this on her birthday not long ago.  She is far from the place she grew up and the place I know she thinks of as "home".  She has a large and loving family and extended family and is blessed with a world-wide circle of friends.  If you knew her you might think she's never had a care in the world as she is always smiling and always facing life's challenges with the best of attitudes.  Yet, like most of us, as life's clock ticks on she is feeling more vulnerable than she did a decade or so ago.
I too am feeling the vulnerability of life as "young-age" leaves me farther and farther behind.  It is not that I have an impending sense of my own demise.  It is not that I have regrets (although I do have a few:) It is more that I have a sense of finite-ness, that there truly is an end to this journey and it's not as far away as it used to be.  You might think (especially if you're "young") that this would make life just a little sadder, but it doesn't.  What it does is wake you up to all that is around you and all that is within you.  It reminds you that "some day" is today and that thing that you've always wanted to do or see or be needs to be done, seen or become.  Not tomorrow.  Not next week.  Now.

Having married my high-school sweetheart makes aging all that much easier.  We understand each other's aches and pains, pretend we can still hear each other and help each other look for our glasses, keys, sanity.  We have worked hard at our chosen careers and are looking forward to the years of enjoying all that that hard work has brought our way. 

One of the true blessings of getting this far in life is seeing our own "children" parenting their children.  We live close enough to see both our own kids and our grand-kids on a fairly regular basis. We get to share both big and little moments together and know that we are blessed to have much laughter and love in our lives.

Another friend of mine is contemplating the "empty nest" years that are quickly descending upon her.  We have survived this phase of our life.  I won't pretend it was easy, it wasn't.  We missed the busy-ness, noise and chaos that was our life for so many years.  We missed our kids.  We have learned to enjoy the quiet, the tidiness but mostly we love knowing where the remote control is at all times.  We love when they're home as the house fills  up again with noise, mess and laughter.  We do miss them when they go but we accept that life is meant to be that way, at least in our culture.  I keep telling them all that the day will come when I come to live with them and I can't wait to leave the towels on the bathroom floor, the lights all turned on and unfolded clothes in the laundry room! 

An elderly gentleman neighbor of ours once described life as being the same as a full bath.  When the bath is full, you can hardly notice the water going down the drain but as the tub empties the water that is left swirls faster and faster and faster.  I think he was right.

I think we are getting closer to the "swirling" stage but still have a bit of water left in our tub.  I do feel vulnerable.  But in that vulnerability I also feel so very aware.  Aware of our family who are close by.  Aware of our family who are far away.  Aware of our health and wellness.  Aware of our dreams; those we've realized and those that we are so carefully planning.  Aware of each other and the love that has grown stronger and stronger over the last 40 years.  But mostly I am aware of each day and making the most of it. 

Thanks Cecelia for reminding us once again to live each day to its fullest.  You are a special part of our past, a wonderful part of our present (thanks to FB) and hopefully, a soon to be part of our future. 


Friday, October 5, 2012


How could you not look at this picture and be grateful for such a full and happy life?  When I look at my family I feel so much love, happiness, pride and gratitude.  If you would have told me 40 years ago that this is where I would be in life I would not have been able to envision it.

Much of my time today is spent being mindful and focusing on living in the moment.  I am extemely conscious of how I spend my time and who I spend it with.  I have many great friends who inspire me and support me and while I find they truly enrich my life they don't hold a candle to my family.  As I look at these faces I know only some of the stuggles and joys they have had in their lives.  As it should be, their husbands and wife are their "go-to" people now.  I do know however that they have all faced challenges and stood by each other to overcome them. I know when they have good news that sharing it with each other is important to all of them.  I know they have hopes and dreams for their futures and the futures of their children but somehow, in a way I never did, they also know how to enjoy life each day as it comes.  They look at their children and each other and are so aware of time passing as they hold on to each moment in their hearts and their minds.  They don't live in the past and they don't live in the future, they truly know how to live in the moment.

As we gather this weekend around our traditional turkey dinner we will once again talk about all of the things that enriched the year that is quickly passing but more importantly, we will take a moment to share with each other one or two things that make our lives more full at this time.

Before the year ends we will have two new little individuals among us.  They too will bring something to our lives that no one before them has brought.  We will meet them and get to know them and make sure that each and every day they know they have a large and loving family who will think they are the center of the universe (which, of course, they will be).  While Elizabeth turned 8 this year and Kai turned 4, it seems we have never been without them.  The sparkle in their eyes, the smiles on their faces and their off-beat senses of humour have enriched our lives in ways we can't even describe.  They are clearly as different as night and day in some ways and as similar as brother and sister in other ways.  They have their own unique personalities, stengths and gifts.  They live life to the fullest and when they are with us their laughter and noise fill our house and our hearts.

This sense of family that is bringing tears to my eyes as I write often comes together at our house because it is large and it is "home".  What we have all learned over the last couple of years though is that "home" is wherever we are, whenever we are together.  Home will change in the next couple of years as we all shift and change with new jobs (or, in my case, no job:), new family members and perhaps, new communities.  Wherever we go, whatever we're doing will not change that we are family.  While I have so many things in life to be thankful for, my family will always top the list.

Wishing you all a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving weekend.  I know ours will add more memories to our already full memory "banks".   So grateful for so much!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Freedom (aka Simplifying Life)

I had to look up the word "synchronicity" before I could write tonight because I believed it was the right word but needed to make sure so I googled it and this is what I found, "the relation that exists when things occur at the same time".  It seemed strange to me that these events did occur at the same time but I think that's what makes this all so interesting. 

Event 1:
A few days ago my friend Rebecca (one of my favourite bloggers) wrote a blog called, Material Apathy (  Much of what she wrote got me to thinking about my own life and my own materialistic tendencies but mostly what it got me thinking about was my future.  For those of you who read regularly (thanks to both of you :) you know that I retired this year.  Retirement is one of those stepping stones in life that really gets you thinking about what you want to do, who you want to be, where you want to go and how and where  you want to live out your days.  One major decision my husband and I have already made is that we do not want to retire where we currently live.  Soooooo. . . one of our major tasks is taking care of our "stuff" and trust me on this one, we have a LOT of stuff.  This year, while my husband continues to work, one of my jobs is to start the decluttering process.  So far I have gotten rid of. . . . . oh yeah, nothing:(  Seriously though I've only had July, August and September).  That leaves me approximately another 9 months.  I swear, honestly, that as soon as the sun stops shining and the rains start to fall that I will tackle this mammoth task.  Honest, I will!  I wanted to thank Rebecca for moving this back up to the top of my "to do" list.

Event 2:
My son got a job in a career that he calls the "family business".  After much frustration, disappointment and outright discouragement, he has cracked the teaching profession.  We know he will be amazing as he has worked hard to get where he is and has much support from the many family members who went before him.  When things fell into place he wrote about his journey.  It was a powerful article full of emotions and hope for the future. His blog called Possibilities ( also got me to thinking.  While we often believe that our possibilities lessen with age it turns out that they actually increase.  Jason's article kick-started my own thought processes about what actually is possible, for me, for me and my husband, and for our family down the road.  Again, the possibilites cannot be realized without relocation and relocation cannot be realized without decluttering which takes us back to Event 1.

Event 3:
While I was browsing Pinterest (which takes up a considerable amount of my time which in turn gets in the way of my decluttering) I came across a pin about a book called, You Can Buy Happiness (and it's Cheap).  The book keeps telling me that it's time to declutter if I really want to live the life I think I want to live.  Karma?  You bet!

It seems that these three events are absolutely tied together and that the greater universe is working together to actually get me to DO something rather than to simply think about it.  This is what kept me up tonight and contibuted to my blogging at 1:50 in the morning rather than sleeping.  Tomorow when I wake up, slightly later than usual given this unearthly hour, I will take pictures of the big items we need to get rid of and get them on Craigslist.  On Tuesday my task will be to go through my beloved books (well at least in one or two rooms).   In the front of my mind, as I sort through books, I will focus on the life I want to live and know that 9 months will pass quickly if I don't get started.  Wednesday will be "clothes" day and that will be it for this week as my mind turns to our family gathering, perhaps for the last time in this "home" for our Thanksgiving weekend together.

Seems like a good plan.  Thanks Jason, Rebecca and Tammy Strobel (author of You Can Buy Happiness) for getting me going!