Thursday, October 29, 2009

Begin Here

A bright arrow marks the start line on a map of the route for the 2004 CIBC RUN FOR THE CURE. I visualize the course. It doesn't look that long. I can run this I tell myself. I have never been a runner and often make jokes that I will never be a runner lest I am being chased by an axe wielding scary dude. While I have never been a runner I have been directly affected by breast cancer. If collecting pledges and running for a half-hour (my estimate for a 5k) helps, then sign me up!

It's amazing how helpless one can feel while watching a loved one battle any sort of illness. This run seemed like a way for me to be proactive. My friend Sharon who is an avid runner of great distances said she would run with me. "You can be my pace bunny," I said.

On the morning of the race Sharon and I met up to ride the subway to the stop nearest the start line. While on the train we pulled on our white Race T-shirts. On the front was displayed "Run For The Cure" on the back was my mother's name and the year of her birth and death. All around us were people dressed in clones of our t-shirts only the names on the back were different. So many names.

When we got off at our stop the sun was shining, the sky was blue it was a picture perfect October day in Toronto. We lined up with thousands of people who were all sporting the same T-shirts accessorized with pink bandannas, pink boas, pink stockings, pink shoes and pink socks, worn even by the men!

Among the white T-shirts were a sprinkling of pink t-shirt clad people. "What are the pink T-shirts?" I asked a woman. She said; "they are the survivors." I swallowed a lump in my throat while I smiled at her in thanks - I couldn't speak. I was overwhelmed to see so many people out, so many people affected by cancer. We all stood excitedly together under a big banner that read: Begin Here.

There was such a positive energy all around us, a static electricity generated by thousands of regular everyday people just like me out for a Sunday morning run. The gun sounded and off we went through the streets of down town Toronto. At each KM mark a band was perched up on a raised platform playing loudly while bystanders cheered us onward to the next mark. It was just amazing to see all the people come together united under hope.

Sharon and I finished the race no problem. I amazed myself because I had never run a 5k. We ran the entire way we didn't stop to walk not even for a step. I was lifted. If this feeling was the much talked about runner's orgasm then I certainly know why people run for fun!

This was more than a run for me. It was about being a part of a great big group of people who had suffered the ravaging effects of cancer and were here to lend support. We were all together running away from our helplessness toward a future free of breast cancer. For the first time since my mother's death I did not feel alone in my grief, I felt joined and I felt hopeful.

The next year I ran again. This time I ran in Ottawa with my friend Renee. I had not been working out and was not ship-shape to run for a minute let alone 30 minutes. I walked a lot and endured the most annoying leg cramps and stitches in my ribs. The magic just was not there. There were no bands, fewer runners, no crazy costumes, no Sharon and that's when I decided I would rather run my handwritten signature across a cheque the following year in support of the run and I hung up my sneakers. That was 2005. I beat myself up over it. I gave up on running due to a few leg cramps and side stitches. My mother endured far worse and I woosed out over a 5K.

An Email I received: October 4, 2009
So I did the Run For The Cure this morning - was happy I actually ran it and didn't have to walk with my mildly wonky leg. It's never the same without you but I always think of you when I'm doing it and had your mom's name on my bib along with my aunt and two friends. The same emotions still wash over me when I cross that finish line - and I still feel like you're running beside me, and like I'm running for both of us. I have such warm fuzzies for my friend Michelle Shipley today - every day really, but super high today!

I hung up my sneakers sure, however, here is an email from a dear friend who did not. Her words take me right back to the first run we did in 2004. Sharon didn't have a chance to meet my mother. I met Sharon about a month before my mother passed away. How much do I love Sharon for wearing my mother's name? A Lot! You see, even when you think you can't take another step if you're lucky, like I am, a good friend steps in and takes that step for us. Thank you Sharon!

For The Love of Breasts
A Party Benefiting Cancer
That's ME in the middle.
(Photo: Toronto Star Society Page)

When one person in the family has cancer the whole family has cancer. It affects EVERYONE. In my attempt to cure myself of the aftershock cancer had left in my life I ran, I walked, I also worked with a small team to put on a huge benefit called For The Love Of Breasts each October from 2000-2005. It was a one night event each October raising approximately 100 thousand dollars over six years benefiting The Canadian Breast Cancer Society and Rethink Breast Cancer.

I will always be an advocate for early detection and do share the story of my mother's battle when I am asked and last year my donation went to the Susan G Komen Foundation via my husband's Christmas gift to me of a pink Kitchen Aide mixer.

Breast Cancer is a horrific disease.

Please check your lovely lady bumps for lumps. Early detection CAN save your life.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is Finley the "NEW" Madison?

Baby Girl Named:

Finley Rae

For Daniel Baldwin and Wife.

This article explains that the name FINLEY just might be the "Hot Up and Coming name of this year."

Woe is me.


Steve and I tossed names around for eight months before we settled on Finley Mae. We always liked the name Fin/Finn and truthfully it was the only name we both liked equally. Finn was appropriate for a boy or a girl and it was not a COMMON name. Mae is Steve's Grandma's name. You can imagine our surprise to find the Baldwin's named their child almost identically to our child. I mentioned this to Steve and he asked me if we had chosen a name soon to become "THE NEW MADISON." "I hope not!" was my reply. I bet the first set of parents to name their child Madison were excited to find a unique name not even making the top 1000 names in the baby name books and polls. I wonder how they feel now that every third child is named Madison? I hope we won't have to know the answer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Free Speech

This was parked over in the Walmart parking lot.
What the H-E double hockey sticks?
I guess I've been schooled.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Someday You'll Thank Me

"Someday You'll Thank Me." Can't you just hear those words falling from your mother's mouth? I know I can, but,truthfully in what context I can't recall. My mother was full of such sayings. While pulling my hair into tight pigtails or pouring stinky perm solution over my hair wound tightly over perm rods. If I complained, even as Vaseline was rubbed into my hairline and cotton wrapped around my head so the solution would not run and burn my eyes she liked to remind me of "her mother's saying; "It hurts to be beautiful,"

After I was ditched by a boy she said, "There's plenty of fish in the sea." That saying, by the way, does not make the bite of breakup feel better, not even remotely better. This saying, even now at 36.5 years of age, makes me want to roll my eyeballs at my mom, stomp into my room and throw myself onto my bed to sob into a pillow. No wonder I never wanted to tell my mother anything. Especially the dramatical, emotional events that plague the teenage girl kinda stuff. What's the point of a discussion when all I received in reply were sordid cliche's.

Here are some of MY MOTHER'S famous sayings:

If "so and so's "mom let her jump off a bridge would you?

That money is burning a hole in your pocket.

Do you think money grows on trees?

God will get you!

You had better hope your face does not freeze like that.

I love you, but, I don't like you very much right now.

You look like jail bait.
In my defence, I was 19 years old dressed to go out for New Years Eve in black velvet shorts, knee high velvet flat heel boots, black tights, a long sleeved white ruffly blouse and a black velvet fedora. The only skin showing was on my hands neck and face. The whole outfit was covered by a green full length down filled coat. I lived in Ontario Canada after all. It was NEW YEARS, which means 2o below zero most years. I looked like Captain Hook with two hands, wrapped in a pea pod. Not jail bait! And, for the record, after that statement I am pretty sure I had to ask her what jail bait was. I was just an innocent teenage slave to fashion with no in cling that I was getting dolled up to look like an underage hooker.

She also used to say:

Aren't you the kettle calling the pot black.

If you can't say something nice Shhh say nothing.

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me.

And that is where I end this post. A whole pile of words, left open to interpretation. Cute little blanket statements that can be used when we don't know or have something better to say or don't have time to listen and/ or we want our children to do our bidding. Tidy age old verses befitting a stack of scenarios that can carry a whole pile of weight when used on teen aged girls. Words creating good and some not so good memories, however all of the negative ones are indelible. Which leads my last old saying to be. "You should think before you speak."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hey Kid, I AM the Boss of You!

While feeding the Finster, I was flipping through the four channels our digital receiver brings in, when came across Rachel Ray having a discussion with a couple about their new reality show. I wish I could have caught the name of it, and if I google I’m sure I could find, it but that's not the point of this essay. This essay is about disciplining children.

The couple, guests of Rachel Ray, were being interviewed about how they run their home with similar tactics found in an army boot camp. The reality show has the couple taking in discipline problem teens, stripping them of old habits, helping them to develop new attitudes to learn to respect themselves and their guardians.Then they are sent back to their respective home and parents. I guess it’s like the show the Nanny except on steroids.

When I happened upon the conversation it was regarding discipline and what works, why and how to maintain respect in giving and receiving discipline. Rachel Ray asked, “ What’s wrong with just saying ”Because I said so?” to which the reply was, “Nothing.” If you are the parent it’s your job to set parameters for a child.

Where have parents gone off the rails in the discipline department? It seems rather overboard to run your home like a boot camp but what are the alternatives? I believe in parenting. Raising a respectful child who knows right from wrong, who will abide, test and break the household rules we as parents set.

There seems to be a generation of parents who have become “best friends” with their kids instead of parenting their children. Parents are working more and making less time for parenting, kids are left raising themselves. The “I can have it all” attitude does come at a cost to the child. Divorce and blended families where kids live by two sets of rules in divided households and parents who are raising princesses instead of little girls are to blame for the discipline issues in their homes. There is no quick fix and medicating children is not the answer. How often is a hyper active child really just acting out looking for some attention?

When I was a child my mother would tell me; "it's cold out side put a hat on." I, in protest, would respond, "but you don’t wear a hat." (mom always had her hair “done”) "Do what I say not what I do," was her reply. And so I did. I’m sure there was protest but I wore my hat and took her answer as gospel. Why? Because there were bigger consequences if I did not obey. I had chores, and homework to do. Privileges were lost if they were not completed in a reasonable and timely manner. My mother was a mentor, a guide, sometimes my friend but always the boss of me.

I can recall sitting at the green kitchen table. My mother was baking something complicated and fancy. She taught me a poem her mother had taught her, it goes like this:

I must do the things I must, before the things I may.

I’m not fit for any trust until I can and do obey.

This was the motto that ran our household and we were asked to repeat this verse often. The worst feeling in the world was disappointing my parents. One look by them could speak louder to me than a war of words or a raised fist.

Before we had a child my husband and I talked a lot about the discipline in our homes what worked what did not and how we would set and enforce rules in our own home. We had similar upbringings and are on the same page when it comes to discipline in our home.

I plan to lead by example as much as I can when it comes to guiding my child. I will put a hat on. I will set up age appropriate chores, outline parameters for proper behaviour. Then actively enforce these parameters fairly and be open to renegotiating within reason as the child ages or situations change. Negotiate, mediate and praise go a long way. So does my mom’s verse. I will likely teach it to my child. What I hope I won’t be, is the mother who does one thing while counseling another.

I won’t be the mom seen lighting a cigarette while telling my child smoking is bad – Do as I say not as I do –scenarios like this just simply are not in my nature. But the first time a scenario comes up where the appropriate answer is: "do as I say not as I do” I will come back print and eat this essay written on paper.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Momfidence! A Talk with Author & Blogger Paula Spencer

Paula Spencer

Paula Spencer is a MOTHER, published author, blogger, magazine columnist and above all the world's biggest cheerleader for sensible parenting! She is coming to speak to moms of all ages at the historic Turnage Theatre in Washington, NC, Sunday October 18, 2009 at 2PM. I have the pleasure of introducing Paula to our community of mom's here in Eastern NC!

She will be reading an excerpt from her book Momfidence and talk a bit about why she wrote it. She will also be talking about how commonsense parenting has made a natural segue for her into commonsense reverse parenting, the taking care of aging parents (and what the two have in common). But it won't be an eldercare talk; she will stick to parenting mostly, and be very glad to do Q&A time!

Paula Spencer can also be found writing here:
* Woman's Day Magazine "Momfidence" column
* 3 times a week Q&A blog on The Daily WD
* a senior editor at
* Debuting this month! Paula is the new "Suburban Farmgirl" blogger for Mary Jane's Farm, which is a website/magazine on organic living run by the Martha Stewart of farm chic.

Tickets can be purchased at The Brown Library in Washington NC or at the door at the Turnage Theatre.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Happy HALF Birthday BABY P!

iPhone pic taken today in New Bern on the waterfront.
The 2 big loves of my life: Miss Fin and her beautiful daddy.

Our Finley is 6 months old & Steve and I met on this day 10 years ago.
We are also wishing Jen & Matt a happy 5th wedding anniversary.
It's quite a big day!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So What Is There To Do in Winnipeg?

On a glorious day in late September we went to AMaze in Corn.

I have to start this post by stating a "SHIPLEY'S Believe It Or Not" FACT. All 4 kids FELL ASLEEP in their car seats in the van on the way to Amaze in Corn. SERIOUSLY! Jen said no one will believe us - we should have taken a video. It was the ONLY silent ride we had inside a week of outings in the van!

Amaze in Corn was really great. The kids had plenty of space to run around. Nothing was off limits, there were plenty of bathrooms and hand washing stations and the stroller moved about with ease over the paths. We didn't actually go through the corn maze as a weather shift had us hiding out in the mini van eating lunch and thawing out. However, before the rain we did manage to take in a hay ride and the kids enjoyed the petting farm. Kaylee, 3 years old, climbed right into a pen filled with kittens and was in her happy place. Bastian, at two, was all about running around climbing hay stacks, kicking up gravel and both kids were in and out of pens feeding alfalfa to the goats and horses, bunnies, sheep, and ducks. Bastian even had a conversation with a turkey!

One look at this sky had us referencing the Wizard of Oz.
The wind kicked up and I was certain I might have to click my heels to get home!

We took in a hay ride before the sky turned black!

My sister in law Jen & I & the 4 kids. Fin is just off camera. Woops!

I ventured out for a walk most days I was in Winnipeg. It was crisp and cool. Finley got to wear socks and shoes a hat and mittens for the first time. We wandered over to Indigo and found we were right on time for the DAILY story time in the kids books section. We enjoyed the FREE (ha-ha not so much. I bought two books; The Paper Bag Princess and Olivia while there) half-hour of entertainment. I liked listening to the stories and Finley liked watching all the little kids. I picked up a Starbucks to keep me warm on our walk home while Finley slept all snug as a bug in the Ergo carrier.

Finley 5.5 months entertaining her baby cousin Zoey 3.5 months.

We also visited the Humane Society to look at the cat apartments and all the dogs. It was an awesome brand new facility that seems to have been built to accommodate just about everything and everyone! There was a birthday party going on in one of the rooms, a cafe, and a little gift store benefiting the humane society. Kaylee left there with a tube of plastic cats to share with her brother. This little excursion was free but a donation would be recommended!

Everyone was asking me; "What is there to do in Winnipeg?" A lot actually! These are just a few of the things we did as a family. We have also gone to the Winnipeg Zoo and had a blast and the local craft fairs are fun - although not somewhere you would want to take the kids! There are plenty of options you just have to plan ahead and dress accordingly!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flying Infants

"When you are pregnant and boarding a plane every one around you is interested in you, asking when the baby is due. When you are boarding a plane with your baby everyone ignores you, hoping they are not seated beside you."
Amy Poehler

Finley and I have been flying. In fact we have done 8 flights in the last 3 weeks! Fin & I flew to Ottawa over Labour day weekend - then we flew to meet Steve at the airport in Toronto to renew our Visas then the three of us flew home to NC. Two weeks later we boarded a plane to Winnipeg Manitoba to visit Steve's sister.

To say I was apprehensive to fly for the first time with Finley would be a lie. I love to travel and so does Steve. We figure our child will just have to get used to traveling and will become a good one at that. Air travel has never bothered me. I am of the set who feels I am safer in an airplane than on the road in my car. I don't love the stale air and the proximity of strangers in my space, but, I can get over that pretty quickly when I really think about where I am going and who I will be visiting, or working with, once I land at my destination.

I was not expecting the feelings that overcame me as I was about to step with Fin onto our first airplane. All of a sudden I became a little verklempt - I looked up at the blue sky the sky - swallowed a lump in my throat - told Steve we loved him and boarded the plane. Finley was a champ and slept through most of the flight! The stewardess said Finley was well behaved. She actually said she can tell by the demeanor of the parents if the children will be okay in the air. I took the complement. This was the only time I was nervous getting on a plane - I guess I masked that feeling pretty well. It's amazing how a child can make you so much more aware of your mortality. Of course, with this flight under our belt we flew without incident on the remaining flights.

This is Chicago O'Hare - Pretty nice hunh?

My lunch of champions. Eli's Famous Chicago cheesecake & Starbucks.
(I did eat a breakfast bagel after the desert!)

Check out this change station!
It had a garbage and paper towel dispenser in reach too. Swanky!

Ahhh, my favorite - the COVERED toilet seat!

I still NEVER sit on the seat - practicing powerful pose has kept me strong in the skill of hovering even while wearing the kid! I do share my cousin Jen's annoyance with the automatic flush toilets. I appreciate not walking into dirty toilet stall but does it have to flush randomly? One flush when I'm done my business is enough!

Finley & I at the airport. Yup, we were both as tired as we look!

I'm wearing the back pack -it's our carry on/diaper bag/laptop tote. It balances the weight of Finley on the front and keeps my hands free to handle the Starbucks! By the end of a travel day carrying an additional 35 pounds in kid and gear I am really ready for bed!

Finley 5 months old and her Daddy in the air.

I bought this car seat bag. It wheels and is a back pack. I asked at the counter if my flights were full. They were, so, I checked the car seat. Had there been a seat available I would have brought the seat to install on the plane for the wee lass to sit in. You can also gate check strollers and car seats. Since I was flying alone it was just easier not to lug the seat through the airport. The bag got beat up but is still usable. At least the seat is intact! It was easy to wheel from the car to the airport along with my wheelie suitcase.

I was also able to wear Finley in the Ergo carrier through the metal detectors. It does not set the sensors off and is super comfortable to wear for long periods of time. It has a big front pocket where I kept our tickets, passports and my wallet. Such a great carrier!

We had lots of people offer to help us along the way which was so nice! It restored my faith in the generosity of people.

Next flight will be with Finley at 10 months old -uhoh - it will be whole new ball of wax with a wiggly, talkative baby! Steve will be with us for that flight to help out and I may be flagging the bar cart just to get through it! Kidding - kinda.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I Now Pronounce You

So last week I blogged about how I refer to myself as Momma in the 3rd person because I have not married "the ME and The Momma" yet. Well, last night Fin puked snot on me and I was not grossed out at all. I just felt so sorry for my sick little baby. In sickness and in health the two became one. Today I'm Momma in the FIRST.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A BED Time Conversation with A 3.5 Year Old.

The other night my sister in law put my niece to bed and then went out to an engagement. I stayed home to watch the kids. I learned just what a child will say to stay up just a little bit later.

Our conversation went like this:


Yes, K.

You didn't kiss me good night.

Yes I did. Do you require another kiss?


A big sloppy kiss is given and a few are tossed though the air for K to catch.

Goodnight K- it's time to sleep.

Are you a boy or a girl? (giggles)

I am a girl.

Do you have a penis?

No I don't have a penis. I'm a girl.

Is your baby a boy or a girl?

A girl

So she has a gina.

Yes, K that's what girls have. We can talk about this tomorrow it's time to go to sleep.

About 2 minutes of silence goes by.


Well get up and go to the toilet. You are a big girl. You can go by yourself.

The toileting is done and I tuck the child back into her bed, but, not before she has negotiated having me sit on her bed and rock her while I sing rock a bye baby. ONCE. Although she tried to get me to do it again. Then she pulled out the fake crying. I check on her and see she is sitting upright in her bed smirking while she fakes some more crying sounds. I elect to ignore her so she will go to sleep.

Auntie my nose is running I need a Kleenex.

Your nose runs when you fake cry?


I bring her a Kleenex and she settles into bed. A few minutes later I begin to hear faint sniffles and then the sound of REAL crying is coming from her bedroom. I go up to check on her. She is crying REAL big crocodile tears.

What's wrong K?

My Kleenex is broken.

I try not to laugh because this is very serious and she is very upset. She extends her hand to show me a Kleenex all shredded up. I go get her a new one in trade for the broken one.

Quiet for about 10 minutes.
The phone rings it's my husband calling.

Auntie who is on the phone?

Uncle Steve - he says good night now go to sleep.

Auntie! I want to talk to Uncle Steve.

Good night K.

I want to tell him about my poo.

And that's how a three and a half year old managed to stay up an additional 45 minutes after she was put to bed.

The End