The Results May Vary

Observations from my Mixed Up World

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A Shout Out to Great Parenting Under Pressure

I need to send praise and support where it is due.  When I heard this story, I was humbled by the grace under trying circumstances that forced my sister’s family to a hard decision.

My sister had a dog named Emma, who was one of the most beautiful animals I’ve ever had sit on my lap.  Emma was a Vizsla.  Last summer, she got an infection and after much difficulty and anguish, my sister let the vet take Emma’s eye out.  There was always a chance that she’d have more problems but Emma transitioned into a pirate dog quite nicely.  A few weeks ago, Emma started to show symptoms that she was having difficulty with her good eye.  Trips to the vet led to arguments between my sister and Emma’s doctor about what was going on.  Until one night Emma lost her vision totally.  My sister and her husband gave the dog the dose of emergency drugs that had been kept on hand for just this eventuality and in the morning, Emma could see again.  That day, the vet was no longer doubting.  My sister was told she needed to prepare for the fact that the dog was going to lose her remaining eye, if not now then in the very near future.  Tough decisions needed to be made.

So my sister bundled Emma into the car and got her family together at home.  She has 2 kids, aged 12 and 8 respectively.  They had a long, tearful conversation about what would be best for Emma.  They talked about how hard life would be for her to be blind and about how they would care for her.  They explored how they felt about losing a beloved companion and about fairness and quality of life.  As a family, they made the heart wrenching decision that comes to every pet owner at sometime.  They decided that it was time to say goodbye to Emma.

The kids got to say their goodbyes at home and my sister and her husband took the dog back to the vet.  My sister laid down with her Emma and held her until she was gone.  And then they went home alone.

I want to reach out with this post and say how much I admire not just my sister’s courage to make such a hard decision.  But, I admire that she took the time to help her family come to the decision as a group and I admire the grace that led them to ultimately decide to be unselfish… to have the empathy to know that their sadness and grief was small beside the suffering poor Emma would go  through blind.

This post is my bear hug to them.

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Thanks to Moms on Mother’s Day

This is just a quick post to say thanks to my mom and my mother-in-law on their special day.  Both of you have given so much to our family and to me.  To celebrate you properly here are 3 things I appreciate about you.








My Mother-in-Law: (photo on left w/ Milo)

  • I’ve learned about fairness.  And that’s why each of you gets 3 points each
  • You never grumble at 7am, when I have a sick kid to drop off
  • You’re a hell of a lot of fun to play euchre with

My Mom: (photo on the right w/ Maya)

  • You nurtured my life long appreciation of whiskey
  • You always opened up our home to anyone and everyone I ever brought home, sometimes in a large group
  • You taught me to cook and that’s one of the biggest reasons that my wife married me


Happy Mother’s Day to you and all the moms out there.


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Easter Memories

We had one of the best Easter Days in a long time this year.  Maya let me sleep in until 6:34 am and then accepted a bagel, a blanket and a promise that we would check for the Easter Bunny in about an hour.  I even got that hour before both kids landed on the bed demanding that an immediate search for Easter loot be launched.  My wife, never a morning person except where presents are concerned, uncomplainingly left the bed and directed the search.  I worked magic at the Keurig and then later in the kitchen.  Milo finally got the pancakes he’d been craving.  We went as a family to the gym and swam in the pool.  After the gym, we discovered a new restaurant, ate a meal that could actually be considered adult and then enjoyed an orgy of Dancing with the Stars.  Overall, such a great day.

I was reflecting tonight about how Easter was when I was young.  My sister and I bolting down the stairs fearful that the dog had eaten all of the chocolates.  Discovering that the Easter Bunny had left the traditional pairs of rubber boots and raincoats for both of us.  Getting dressed in brand new clothes and going to church.  Sometimes even risking the foundations of the building by bringing my dad along with us.  In my teens, serving as an altar boy sometimes at as many as 3 services.  Finally getting home around noon for a small meal and then waiting for the hordes of family to arrive.  Loud aunts, gruff uncles, cousins you liked, cousins you hated, grandparents laden with treats and extended family too.  Battles would be fought and won, wounds licked and ripped open, in short, a family affair.  And food… there would be so much food that you knew what you’d be eating for the next week even before the first mouth full.  I’m certain that my love of food comes from how eating together was such an important part of being together as a family.

Things change.  Time moves on.  Traditions grow.  Still family at the centre of celebration.

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Business Travel (also traveling alone)

I’m getting ready to head out of town for a couple of nights on business.  Under normal conditions getting ready to be away takes a certain amount of both mental and physical preparation.  With my current personal challenges preparing myself to be away is much harder than I’d like to admit.  I’ve been letting the nerves get the most of me too much lately and have canceled at least 3 overnights in the past few months.  I’d like to thank Marriott for having a cancellation policy that lets me cancel up to 6 pm the day of travel.  Then again, maybe some day, I’ll sue them for enabling me to avoid my problems.  That sounds better, doesn’t it?

Getting ready to travel means I need to anticipate everything  I might need to do while I’m gone and arrange for it in advance.  Things like getting garbage out to the curb or cleaning up the house can be easily done ahead of time.  There are other things more tedious however.  Since I make everyone’s lunches, it means I need to clear space in the fridge to lay out everything for each person in nice straight lines.  Not so hard for one day, but this time I’m away for two.  So sandwiches need to be pre-made, juice boxes staggered, spoons balanced a top yogurt cups and fresh fruit needs to find logical spaces to dwell.  Two nights away also means two dinners I won’t be home to make.  I try to encourage my wife to eat at her mother’s or to go out for dinner when I’m away.  It tends to reduce the number of phone calls around dinner time asking where the fuck do I hide the ketchup or letting me know what an asshole I am because I didn’t specify which of the 2 fridges something was in.  The worst phone call I ever got went something like this:

Wife:  I’m making macaroni and cheese for the kids tonight.

Me:  Why?

Wife:  They laughed at me when I said we were going to Tim Hortons.  They teased me and said I couldn’t cook.

Me:  Oh.  So what’s up?

Wife:  I can’t get the stove top to light. (Gas stove)  How do I do it?

Me:  Turn the knob to light and then  (BOOOOOOM!  Massive explosion echos through the phone.  Screams.  Shock wave creates a tsunami my beer glass 150 kilometers away)

Me:  (frantic)  What happened, what happened?

Wife:  I had it on high while I called you.  It’s ok now.  I was just scared.

Me:  (cancelling auto dial to my insurance agent my other phone)  Jesus Christ!!!  You were scared?  You’ve got to stop letting pride fuck with you that way.

So you can see why I need to be better prepared with meals.  I’ll make a big dinner tonight and leave left overs for tomorrow.  Microwaves are safe.  I may also take the knobs off the stove.  The next night I’ve already called my in-laws and launched a preemptive dinner.  As for me, I’ve got to get myself prepared too.

Generally, work travel also includes after-work social time.  Having established myself as not afraid to stay until the last drink has been drunk, it is going to stand out that I am not drinking (that much) and I’d prefer to avoid explanations.  Admittedly, there is a perverse imp that wants to shout “because drinking on my meds will leave me a gibbering idiot all day tomorrow, OK?”  But, it’s my problem not theirs.  So for now, I will attend socials and not host them.  It really breaks up a good party when you throw everyone out at 9:30 pm.

Those of you that do travel will also appreciate the importance of the check in phone call.  I’ve been traveling for about 9 years now and not once have I ever manage to schedule a call home, when the kids are still up and my wife can still speak civilly, that isn’t when I’m still out at dinner or at a social.  So, I generally end up standing outside a Toronto restaurant in the freezing cold trying to catch the gist of whatever the Hell Maya did at school that day.  Oh, how traffic noise, gusting winds and street people make it easier to listen to a 6 year old try to talk over the TV.  I can’t figure out why my colleagues need to have 3 hour dinners beginning at 7 pm.  I guess they’ve already paid a retainer to their divorce lawyers.

Anyways, wish me luck.  If anything interesting happens, I assure you, it will end up blogged here.


Sharing Family Experiences

It seems odd to state, but our family has shared all of the exciting things that have happened together at the same time.  What I mean is, when big things happen in our family, we are all together when they happen.  Vacations are all together.  School plays, swim tests, piano recitals have all been family events and thus, family experiences.  Milo’s new career as an actor and a model is changing our family dynamic.  More and more, only one of his mother or I are able to be with him when new things are happening.  So it is becoming more about how well we can communicate what happened as opposed to communicating about how we felt about what happened.

It would be easier if we were better story tellers.  Milo’s idea of telling a story is to start at the end.  “It was cool.  Yeah, that’s it.”  Or he’ll tell the story in a random order, very free form.

“Yeah, so I went in and after we were done the lady put on her hat.  I wanted to sit down when we were practicing but the other guy had a drink and I like coke so I kinda wanted one.  I’m hungry.  Are we going home?”  What a clear picture of what happened.

If he doesn’t want to share, which is often.  He just gets mad at my probing questions.

“What did you learn tonight at the seminar?”

“Um, eye contact is important and you’re always being judged.”

“Is that all?”

“yeah, pretty much.”

“You were there for 2 and a half hours.  All you got was eye contact?”

“You wouldn’t understand!!!  I can’t explain it.”

“Well, try.  Please?”

“We did an exercise.  She taught us how to never say no.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, like if I was a grandmother who was sitting outside of her birthday party cause she didn’t like it.”

“Do you expect to ever become a grandmother that doesn’t like the birthday party being thrown for you?”

“AAAHHH!!! I hate you.  You never understand!”

I hope we get better over time or we’ll never have anything to talk about.