Tag Archive | American

What I Learned About Myself in 3 Weeks…

So it is common knowledge that I got a tattoo the week after our 17 year anniversary. What surprised me is what I learned about myself in the three weeks healing time afterwards.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

Day 2 and the beginning of the healing process.

  1. Well I definitely don’t wear my heart on my sleeve, it is on proud and vibrant display on my left calf. And I hope people ask me about it. As the wife of a man who has been diagnosed not only with severe depression, but also CAPD, I found my symbol in his fight to control and manage his illnesses. The depression is represented by the semi colon or body of my butterfly. A more and more common symbol of depression and mental illness, it is a constant reminder for me of how I will never truly grasp how close I came to losing my husband and love of my life for ever on 2 separate occasions. Had he chosen to end his story instead of continuing on, my life, and the lives of my children would be very different right now. I have often spoken about how I feel the need to be an advocate for mental health awareness. Two helpful links – Project ; and in case you need help in knowing what to say  Make It Ok.org. Maybe one day someone will see my butterfly while I work out, or on a walk… or even peeking out in a fancy dress and ask me and I will have the chance to listen or share. If I can share my story, Ken’s story and help someone find help or become a source of support… icing on the cake. The other half of the butterfly is a wee bit obvious – maple leaf, Canada: you can take the girl out of Canada, but my origins are a massive part of my personality.Project-Semicolon-760x410
  2. Altering my body permanently was neither as earth shattering or life changing as I expected. Granted when I first got it done and posted it up on Facebook my little corner of the world shared its opinion and got excited. Some were impressed, some quick to admit they would never do the same, others wanted explanation of the image and many were surprised. But, the greater world, life in general… a blip on the radar. And you know what? That was more than OK! I love the reminder that some ink on my body was nothing more than a personal choice that I would now live with forever (proudly I might add). What was way more important is that my own children are super proud of their mom! It was an opportunity to remind them of the struggle dad has with his own mental health, and that it is OK to be sad, to need help. But they also need to be aware that mom really wants them to tell her… any time, any place, and if not her any responsible adult. Needles and healing and a choice that is permanent was simply that… a choice I made. Not the end of my life, though Ken was quick to tease me about his tatted up wife and how much of a rebel I was!IMG_20180704_125226_971
  3. Keeping my legs covered for 3 weeks seem to have given me the permission to embrace colour. My sari skirts were a bit of an impulse buy (Ken edit: If you call agonizing over a purchase for 3 weeks an ‘impulse buy’) if a bit difficult to pair up with shirts on hand, but for 3 weeks I have been colorful. Since some of the skirts only matched some crop tops I purchased recently belly baring became commonplace. It is a movement from worrying about fitting in, matching my clothes to my “life” and into comfort and colour and embracing the fact that I love brighter feathers. Plus, they make a lovely swish when I walk and I have always loved swishing and twirling since I was a little girl – why should that change now?20180628_152211
  4. Baths make me calmer and 3 weeks without that has been a bit of a struggle. I am not a girl who loves a hot shower, give me a long soak to relax away the tension and frustration of a long day anytime. The kids also enjoy the respite from mom after lunch when I took my lunch break. Maybe I really am more mermaid at heart than I like to admit? 
  5. That little square of skin is now the softest skin on my entire body, I swear! Lotion lotion lotion. Washing and lotion, no sun and then the itching. No one mentioned how high maintenance this small patch of skin would be, but worth it! Self care is so important, and this was a reminder to me that maybe I need to pay more attention. When you have to alter your life to look after a single body part… like my time spent on what we thought was my hip, but is now believed to be a slightly slipped disk from when I almost fell in the winter. The reality is I am growing older, and in order to do so gracefully and healthily I need to be more aware. Yoga, workouts, long walks, R.I.P.P.E.D. classes at the YMCA… they take on an even greater meaning when looked at from the perspective not of losing weight or strengthening up but of self care. Taking time for a nap without guilt (seriously I have to convince myself, idleness in my mind, becomes laziness or neglect… I have a very hard time just taking a moment and stopping), spending a few extra minutes working on your appearance and standing tall with confidence that you look awesome. I am learning more and more about these moments. I love myself, my insides and outsides, the family I have created, the life style I live. It is flawed and confusing and at times difficult but it is all amazing. The life I live, the appearance I put out there in the world is all proof that I love myself. That I take the time to care for myself and the ones I love. 

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

    No filter, not needed. Just hard work and comfortable in my own skin!

  6. I like feeling a little the rebel. Granted, many see me and my family as a bit more than a “little” rebellious with our large family size and homeschooling, or my lack of ability to drive and my insistence that we celebrate both Canadian and American holidays PLUS Chinese New Year. Ok… so I was already a bit of a rebel, but having a tattoo… that feels like a “cool” rebel. All that other stuff is more necessity or not a choice but a calling. I CHOSE to get a tattoo, I CHOSE the design and then had one of my oldest and dearest friends not only hold my hand through it all, but take pictures AND help with the design. Who else could be so lucky but to have someone who is basically a sister also be an amazing artist who can take my crazy ramblings and make something amazing on paper?? Thanks again Shandai! You ROCK! They say it takes a village to raise a family, well it sometimes takes friends to help create the perfect family unit too. I have been doubly blessed with an amazing community AND friends who are family to round out the flesh and blood relatives we were born with. (Plus Shandai is pretty cool, rebellious and all round awesome herself)

So there you have it, 6 things I learned about myself all from 30 min of tiny needles, ink and the hand of an amazing artist at Rose in No Man’s Land. I can’t say I won’t go back… My butterfly may need something sweet to land on yet. But for now… My heart is out there, open book. Ask me, share your story with me, read my story here (just search the word “depression” in my search box), my heart is open and I have found that sharing is so much more than simply caring. 

All healed up!

All healed up!

The Flip side – Happy Independence Day…

Well if we celebrate our homeland we must, of course, celebrate our new home’s birthday as well. However, this year not only was it the other side of the kids’ nationality, it was also the absolute opposite type of day. Where Canada Day was laid back and relaxed, full of colouring… playing in a garden and just us 7 transplanted peoples… July 4th was crazy busy and crowded and… LOUD! As Ken says (jokingly?) – it was all things AMERICAN.IMAG0219

July 4th is not only the birth of Independence and red, white and blue, but the birth of our only niece Gabriella. She turned 13 this year and due to an extended vacation (which I will talk ALL about when I FINALLY reflect on June) here in sunny Minnesota she was in state for her special day.DSCN0590

After breakfast and family pictures in the colours of the day… of course we took MULTIPLE! Poor Trinity has yet to forgive me after I had to give her sister her Hello Kitty themed July 4th shirt which had daddy running to the store the night before to get her the outfit for the day (a decidedly kitty free piece).DSCN0591

DSCN0593DSCN0597DSCN0598DSCN0601Then it was off to Cousin Gabbi’s 13th birthday party at a park not far from where Ken lived for most of his childhood (which we of course found a way to drive by). There was cake and presents and fun at the park.IMAG0189

IMAG0191IMAG0193IMAG0194IMAG0196IMAG0204Definitely a fun way for the kids to spend the morning before we said good bye to everyone… especially Aunty Faithe and Uncle Joe who would be flying back without seeing us again. Then it was home to prepare for our original plan – a family and friends BBQ at the Speltz’s (Karen Matthews and Renee Schwartz’s parents).DSCN0611

DSCN0619DSCN0624It was quite the event. The girls and I got to go LAST July 4th when the boys and Ken were camping with the family. This year not only was our whole family there but Renee and Chris there with their 3 kids. There was a bouncy house, the kiddy pool, a swingset and tons of yummy food and drink. Definitely a fun time for everyone.IMAG0227

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Chris and his cigars

Chris and his cigars

Renee

Renee

Of course we stayed long enough for fireworks! They do up quite a show every year.IMAG0257

IMAG0280IMAG0288IMG_20150705_095618So we brought home 5 VERY tired kids on our 4th of July. It was great to spend it as a family this year!DSCN0607

The November Nutshell

And now for November… another month in a rather long nutshell!!! I have to admit… with all the Christmas stitching, school, swim lessons (cooking for the twins) and actual sales and commissions… my blog has languished a little.

Of course November is the month of AMERICAN Thanksgiving… ever confusing on a THURSDAY no less. This was an unusual one for us as Nana and Baba headed off to Florida to spend it with the other grandkids… but we persevered.101_9983

Thankful hands tree

Thankful hands tree

We had leaves to bag up still… great exercise for the boys and they were even relatively willing. Of course you can see the amazing colours better on a previous entry where we had the whole family out there dealing with the leaves on the ground HERE.101_9987

101_9989We did leave time for some mini fashion. Trinity is already able to wear some of the rather funky and fun clothing left to her by her cousin Gabriella when they left for Florida!101_9996

Of course we had to take advantage of the week of free online books through Bookit this month as well. Each one narrated with terrific pictures.101_9999

We had a blast learning about and building our own volcano. Science has always been the one thing we have struggled with in our homeschool life. Getting enough in, being organized but the whole family is quick to jump on board with a good craft and activity… add in chemicals (even ones as benign as vinegar and baking soda) and a little explosion and even Echo was there for the fun. This was the first time I sat down and talked to them about things like earthquakes and really looked into what damage a volcano can do to the land and the people around it.102_0015

102_0017IMAG0512Our November was full of visits with our favourite baby and his brothers… Jeffrey is definitely growing like a weed!102_0030

102_0032102_0037We also made it outside to enjoy the snow. What a difference from last year’s excessive cold and snow!!!102_0005

102_0064At the end of the month we pulled out the tree and fixings which of course is one of my favourite backdrops for photos. It always feels like the season is coming when we bring out the stockings. I am very proud of how they turned out. Though Ken STILL does not have a special stocking. You can check out the full blog post of family photos HERE.IMAG0517

IMAG0521IMAG0532A few helpful Thanksgiving books:

Our Thanksgiving was spent with Aunty Judy, Uncle Jim and Cousin Robbie. It was quiet and fun and full of delicious food! We were so thankful they could make it to the meal that the kids planned and shopped for! The twins were real troopers making up the grocery list and doing the choosing at Sam’s Club themselves!

Zander and the twins' Thanksgiving grocery list

Zander and the twins’ Thanksgiving grocery list

IMAG0478IMAG0480IMAG0483I snuck in a ladies outing with Nana over at Renee’s. We made woven fabric baskets and played with Mystro. Not the simplest craft but not impossible. You can find the instructions HERE thanks to Terry Atkinson. IMAG0391

IMAG0390School wise we have seen an influx in art interest. Art for Kids is win win with us!102_0019

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Echo's more free style work using photopaper and sharpie

Echo’s more free style work using photopaper and sharpie

Add in some completions and workbook interest…102_0006

102_0020And some rather amazing Halloween lapbook completions! 102_0010

102_0011102_0047102_0049I think we accomplished much of what we had hoped to this November. Add in swimming and scouts, Sunday School and choir and we have become way more busy than we expected! Thank goodness the arctic chill has not appeared! Do enjoy the overflow images for the LONG belated month of November HERE.

Emanuel swimming with a noodle!

Emanuel swimming with a noodle!