My Father's Daughter

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How Sarah helped me blog anew

I haven’t posted on this blog since September 2008. My eldest daughter was born in early October of 2008. Coincidence? I think not. After baby number two I started a new blog called Tales of the Reluctant Mother in order to navigate the murky waters of motherhood and my place in it.

But sometimes I want to blog about other things. I have other journeys, other battles to fight, and other issues to shed light on (and clearly far too many metaphors for just one blog). I’ve been toying with returning to this, my humble blogging beginning. And then, then I read Sarah Bessey’s blog post In which we are saved, right now and it set my heart a-hummin. I wander over to Sarah’s blog periodically without following her formally as I covet her writing talent. But I will take up her challenge to share a post on the same theme. So, here I go.

What is saving my life right now.

What is saving my life right now is the need my babies have of me. Not because I am a good parent, or a better parent than their Dad (I give them too much sugar, allow too much TV and don’t get on the floor to be their human jungle gym). They need me because I am Mom and I am THEIR Mom. I see into their little hearts and know the tenderness there; I hear their laughter and know the wisdom there; I feel their little arms around my neck and know their love – that precious, precious love of a child for her mother.

What is saving my life right now is my parents. The tearful pride in my Dad’s eyes when he thinks of his kids – of me. He’s proud of me. And the pride I have for my mother who at age 66 started a new job and found passion – and because she was passionate about it and because she was perfect for it she excelled at it. This gives me hope for my own career search and dissatisfaction.

What is saving my life right now is my husband. Through 8 years we have navigated (read: fought) our way through the difficult times of work frustrations, personal heartaches, loss, grief, painful growth, and our individual selfishness and are now coming through it to finally start to see each other, know each other, love each other (you know, what we should have done from day one).

What is saving my life right now is finally, finally, finally, understanding at a heart level things I should already know about my God – how he values me, THAT he values me, how wide and deep his compassion is and how amazing is his love. Why don’t I know these things yet? Where have I been? Oh, yeah, lost in fear and doubt.

What is saving my life right now is the big things in my life – the big loves, the big relationships, the big reasons to be alive. I would love it if I was noticing the little things in life to counter-balance the little irritations, but right now my problems feel big, and I need the big things to save me. And I will cling to the big things until I can see clearly enough to notice the little joys in life. I know they are many, and I know they are just out of my sight, I can feel them like a childhood memory that is close to being remembered but still hazy. I will find my balance and breath in crisp air and be happy, see flowers and be peaceful, hear the wind and be relaxed. Someday.

Until then, coffee is saving me too.


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Tips for living alone

I think that the longest that Phil has been away from home is 5 days (on a few occasions). But I think if you eliminate the “nights” he’s come home to sleep for 1-4 hours we may have gone longer. How can you REALLY say I’ve ‘seen’ him when he’s just this man who crawled into my bed at 1am only to crawl out at 4am – leaving me feeling a bit like a mistress? Actually, I shouldn’t complain – I get to sleep with him without having to feed him and clean up after him, and it’s perfectly moral. In any case, I’m logging a lot of hours living alone (excluding cats and mice). In a desire to be helpful to others, I present the following tips:

  • check to make sure there is enough toilet paper on the roll BEFORE you sit down.
  • make sure you’ve removed the keys from the front door BEFORE closing and locking it.
  • make sure the cat has nothing in its mouth BEFORE letting it in.
  • if you find yourself talking aloud or carrying on conversations with the cats, it is time to call a friend.
  • that is YOUR dirty glass. You do have to clean it up.
  • yes, staying up late with no one to tell you to go to bed is fun, but you will pay for it the next day at work.

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Mousecapades (or The Mouse v. Heather, or Why I Wish My Husband Wasn’t On The Road)

Saturday night our male cat, Mason, emphatically demanded to be let back into the house. As he zipped past me I didn’t notice that he had something in his mouth. He was across the main floor and into the front entryway before I saw it — a mouse. Initially I thought it was dead and he was bringing it in to display his hunting prowess (boys are such braggarts). But when he put it down it squeaked and ran away. Dead mice don’t do that. Before I knew it, I was standing on my couch, my back against the wall. I should mention that Phil was on the road. I was alone. With the romping cat and his tiny prey.

Relevant background: My dear mother and dear sister are TERRIFIED of mice. I was in the kitchen with these strong women one day in my childhood when a squeak sent them into the hallway — literally dragging me with them. Turns out it was the new-to-us fridge we had just gotten, but before they accepted that answer they sent me – young, defenseless, little ole’ me – back into the kitchen to lift a garbage bag in the corner to ensure no rodents lurked beneath it. I have tried not to be so held by this same fear with only minimal success. I’m not as sensitive as my familial female examples are, but one thought of little feet crawling on me and I can get a good jolt of the willies too (in my defense I’ve tried to conquer this fear – I once tried to empty a mouse trap at my parents house but it freaked me right out).

Back to my exciting Saturday night (see, this is why you shouldn’t be home alone on a Saturday night – bad things happen). I was now faced with two options – rid my house of a live mouse (eek) or wait until my cat killed the cute little thing and then remove a dead mouse from my house (eww). Problems with option one were: I didn’t know how to capture a live mouse, I didn’t want to touch a live mouse, I didn’t want to be touched by a live mouse. Problems with option two were: I didn’t know if Mason would ever get around to killing it, I didn’t want to touch a dead mouse, I didn’t want it to die somewhere beyond my reach and/or sight. Then the mouse disappeared. Mason couldn’t find it. Now I had a mouse loose in my house (this story would be so much more dramatic if mouse and house didn’t rhyme in such a Seussian way). So, I did what any rationale grown woman home alone with a rodent running amok in her home would do – I called my Daddy. He suggested, quite calmly and unsympathetically, I thought, that I scoop the mouse up in the dustpan. Now, why didn’t I think of that?

While I was on the phone with my brilliant but bewildered-by-feminine-fear Father the mouse re-emerged and the chase was on again. Then he/she disappeared again. While our quarry was safely hidden I actually worked up the nerve to get off the couch and go into the entryway. Thankfully I’d been puttering about the house in clogs and they were with me – can you imagine barefeet or sandals in such a scenario – shudder! When the mouse came back out for more, I was ready – dustpan in hand, door slightly open. Mason and I cornered the poor thing and I was able to scoop it up. Now I had to get it out the door. Here is where it got a bit dicey – the mouse started crawling up the handle toward my hand. Thankfully I was able to reposition and keep a hold of the dustpan and keep the mouse IN the dustpan and get them both out the door (with only the very minimum of girlish squeals). My adventures were over. I had defeated the mouse. And maybe a little bit of fear.

My mother, sister and a female co-worker have all stated that they would not be able to do what I did. So I guess I am encouraged that my fear isn’t SO great as to be completely immobilizing. And I guess it is kind of interesting to experience that kind of fear – it is so visceral. I really don’t like being scared (HATE scary movies), but on the other hand, if I’m going to experience fear, I’d rather it be at the cold, icky little paws of an itty-bitty mouse than a number of other scenarios I can imagine (great, now I’m going to be paranoid about being home alone without Phil – mouse-catcher and defender).

My only big question about all of this is: How was Mason able to meow at the door if he had a mouse in his mouth?

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Yes they do.

A few months ago I stated that Phil and I would learn whether or not dreams do come true. Turns out they do.

Phil called me this morning to breathlessly tell me that he was standing on the basketball court at Indiana University in Bloomington Indiana. Where the Hoosiers play. (This after dropping a wad of cash on Hoosier-wear). This was a dream come true for him. He’s longed to see the campus, to see the court. I think he might spontaneously combust if he were to go to a game.

And, while I did make fun of him (make every opportunity count I always say), I do know how he feels. I got all tingly and excited when I walked through the “Haunted Wood” of Lucy Maud Montgomery lore. I walked trails she would have walked, where she would have thought up stories, and dreamed dreams. That was pretty meaningful to me – my love of the woods, and my love of Lucy and her Anne-stories combined in one lovely package.

Where would you stand? What hallowed ground do your feet long to touch? (FYI – it has to be somewhere you can realistically get to — no foot of the cross for those who want to be clever and very righteous).



A friend at work has a little plaque that states the following: Dreams can’t come true if you don’t have any. The past two weeks I’ve been thinking that dreams aren’t broken if you don’t have any.

While it isn’t everyone’s dream, it is a dream of Phil’s to drive for a living. Since it appears the major league baseball career is out of reach he longs to spend his days on the road, seeing new places, singing/humming/whistling along to music in his private one-man concert. And, bless his heart he has pursued that dream. And like any dream pursual it hasn’t been easy. It’s been remarkably hard. There have been a number of set-backs and with each one of them we’ve focused on being supportive of each other and leaning on God and trying to see what we could learn from it all.  Oh, and we cried a lot.

I think what I’ve learned about Phil is some of his biggest areas of vulnerability and his greatest areas of strength. From pushing me to pray, pray, pray, to his endless optimism and his courage to even begin the journey, he has shone through this experience. I think you really get to know your partner during your most trying times together. How can we not be grateful for that?

It appears now as though Phil’s dream is, if not firmly in his grasp, within reach. He is insured (the biggest hurdle to date). Next we will learn if dreams really do come true.


Gender Differences

My husband is hot. And I don’t mean physically, well, I do mean physically, just not in the way you’re thinking (though that is true too). No, I mean, he radiates an unbelievable amount of heat (imagine a 75,000 BTU furnace, and then double it). I’ve heard this is common of men, and that women are always cold.

If this is in fact true (and right now my sample size of one of each gender with all other evidence being anecdotal only, I do not place much faith in the scientific value of my statements herein), I can see a sort of need for this back when men were hunting and gathering and women were staying home to tend to the home fires. What doesn’t make sense, then, is that (and again, this is in my experience without any scientific rigour) men can’t see what is right in front of their faces. And if he can’t see the watch that is less than a foot from him, and all shiny and glinty and stuff, how is he going to see a deer at 500 feet when it’s camouflaged in its environment?

So, while I may never discover the reason for it, I guess, as the temperature wars wage on at 63 Westmount Mews (I don’t know how to change the scheduled settings on the thermostat, but I do know how to jack up the heat and use that hold button), I will take advantage of my very own private heat source. I have discovered, for example, that I can use his back as a heating pad for my back, as long as my pj’s are flame-retardant; and that on those cold nights on a May canoe trip, sharing a sleeping bag with Hot Phil sure does keep the hypothermia at bay.


You know you’re a woman when…

Phil and I had a disagreement this morning — and I’m not just trying to soften what was really a fight, it was actually only a disagreement. I thought I looked fat in everything I tried on this morning and he disagreed. Poor man. What could he do? And in his defence, he’s been instructed by Brad Paisley to lie in those situations.

Our disagreement this morning leads me to why I hate about half the women I work with. No, I don’t really hate them, I was just going for impact. I know, I know, I should be careful with that word and be like my friend who is very cognizant of only using that word in extreme cases (i.e. to describe his feelings for the Sens — then, and only then). But here is why I tend towards disliking them. They are all younger than I am, skinnier than I am, prettier than I am, and better dressed than I am. (Phil also said something this morning about comparing myself to others and that it was HIS opinion of me that mattered, blah, blah, blah, but I just tuned him out :)). When I started working here I was young enough and cool enough to rub elbows and make friends with the university students we had working for us. Now, I am old and fat and frumpy. There are entire fashion trends that are just plain inadequate for my girth.

Here, I think, is the true rite of passage into adulthood. Getting your drivers license, the right to vote, the ability to purchase alcohol – pshaw, kiddie stuff. It’s mourning the loss of those days before back fat and yogurt cheese thighs when a bikini was an actual possibility instead of something that just made your stomach rolls slap together as the mere thought sends you into uncontrollable laughter. That’s what makes you a true woman. (Or maybe it’s accepting the back fat, cellulite thighs, belly rolls, etc. as making you a mature woman – no, let’s not go there…)

I think it’s also being able to disagree with someone and not fighting. Sigh. I’m all growed up.