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dear wren (17 mo)

November 28, 2016

Dear Wren,

It seems like it was just yesterday that I sat down to write your 16-month letter. Where has the time gone and where have I been and how have you changed so much in the past 30 days? You’re certainly not the same little girl you were last month, or even last week, or even yesterday for that matter. It’s all so fleeting and I wish I had a giant pause button some days.

Your new addiction this month: hats. Your milliner uncle would be proud. You point at every single hat you see — whether it be a flat cap or Fedora or bike helmet; on people, in books, on billboards and hooks — and then tap the top of your head to let me know that there is a hat over there mama, a HAT, isn’t it the most exciting thing you’ve ever seen? You do the same with the moon and the stars. You spot stars in every card and magazine and shop front, no matter how small, and trust me, with Christmas right around the corner, there are stars everywhere. You open and close your hands to make the gesture of a twinkling star, keen for me to sing the song again for the 15th time that day. I tell you, when you get hooked on something, you ride it to an inch of its life.

You finally, finally, say mama in its proper context. You pointed at me the other day and said mama so enthusiastically that I nearly burst into tears. This does come with its drawbacks however. Case in point, whenever daddy toots you now say mamaaaa disapprovingly, much to your father’s amusement. He says this is undeniable proof that I’m the farter in the family. I’m not sure that’s a title I wish to hold.

I don’t think you have any favourite foods this month, as in, nothing much satisfies you. You did, however, taste your very first PB&J in the car on the way to grand-dad’s last weekend and you devoured it. I grew up on PB&J so you’d think I’d have an aversion to the stuff but every time I eat one, which is once in a blue moon, it feels like I’m taking a bite out of a hot summer’s day. It’s the sandwich of holidays and road trips and days at the beach.

The month of November is the month of fireworks here in the UK. They start way before Guy Fawke’s night and continue well after it, weeks after it. Night after night after night of feeling like I’m in a war zone… or a gigantic popcorn machine. I like fireworks, I really do. I just like to go to them, not have them come to me when I least expect it, from every which way for hours on end. Still, I wasn’t about to be a Guy Fawkes Scrooge and stop you from enjoying these little colourful explosions in the sky. And so one night, I rushed you to the window and pointed them out to you and you, my dear, did NOT appreciate the gesture. They completely petrified you. I had to step away from the window, far away from the window, and for the next 30 minutes you wrapped your legs tight, like a vice grip, around my waist and kept one watchful eye on that window and said byebye that repeatedly until you were satisfied that your mantra had worked and that the pow-pow-pow had stopped.

You haven’t evolved much on the language front. It’s all dish and dash. But you love to make sounds. You make monkey sounds oooh-ooh-ahhh-ahhh when we call you a monkey, which happens a lot. And you do the same with owls – Hooo Hooo. Although the words aren’t quite there yet, you understand pretty much everything in both languages. Eyes, ears, mouth, nose, chin (your own, mine, daddy’s, friends and I’m sure strangers if I’d let you), dog, cat, lady bird, pig, hen, owl, star, shoes, cheese, pretty much anything in the house and in your books and from here to the park.

You love to lay all of your bunnies on the floor like they’re sleeping and then I sing the bunny song and we make all the bunnies hop — hop little bunnies, hop hop hop — and then you lie them down again and again and again. As you may have noticed from this letter, everything these days is done over and over again.

You imitate EVERYTHING, but my very favourite is the way you go around the house, tapping your nose, saying hmmmmm inquisitively when you’re trying to find something or solve a problem, as if in deep thought. It’s insanely adorable. I also love the way you hand over your lovey, Monsieur Lapin, when you have a difficult task at hand. A chair to climb, stairs to descend, a snack to eat. Here, hold this, mama. So bossy.

I’m sure I’m missing stuff. Seems like so much has happened this month. Stomach bugs, interviews, the death and funeral of a dear friend, and now, a lovely sleep rebellion to kick off this new month. A regression that has you fighting your naps and suddenly not being able to fall asleep unless we are in the room with you and all of us awake from 11pm to 1am when you decide that it’s time for a wide-eyed Wren rave. It’s not cool, kid. But I get it. You have a lot of stuff going on up there. So we’re doing our best to help you transition, to give you the tools and the cuddles you need.

So much of the happiness that I have in this world is thanks to you, you crazy-haired crumpet. The joy you bring to us is immeasurable, unquestionable. It makes up for the worry, the exhaustion, the dinners left untouched, the tantrums. I’m going back to work in two weeks and I hate the thought of no longer being able to spend my days with you. It kills me to know that I’m going to miss so many precious moments. So until then, I’m going to soak up every single second of you, kiddo.

Love,
Mama

a roll of film a month: november

November 27, 2016

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Dear November,

You’ve been a bit of a mixed back and, if I’m being honest, I’m not entirely sorry to see you go. Bring on the December festivities.

With affection,

Jeanine

five for friday

November 26, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving America! I hope your bellies and hearts are full this weekend. I was meant to post these five things on Friday but I may or may not have been watching the new Ghostbusters instead.

Five songs on repeat

Five things I’m loving right now

  • This campfire candle
  • Homemade chicken soup
  • Kateandpine traveling the world with her toddler in tow
  • Crisp autumn apples
  • Nablopomo ends in five days

Five things I’m up to

  • Accepting a job offer (yay! more on that in another post)
  • Reviewing a tenancy agreement
  • Making my way through this list
  • Navigating Battling another sleep rebellion regression
  • Hopping on the Gilmore Girls bandwagon (I’m only at Season 1 so I have a squillion episodes to go until I get to see what all this revival fuss is about)

Five things I’m grateful for

  • My husband and daughter and their wicked sense of humour, which sees this family through the tough times.
  • My health. My family’s health. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • Coffee. For keeping my eyelids open and my blood flowing.
  • Words. Photography. Music. The arts, in general.
  • Saturday morning family breakfast at our local café.

Five (ok, ten) of my favourite film photos

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goodbye dear friend

November 24, 2016

A week ago…

A friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer at the start of 2015. Since then, she’s been in and out of hospitals, undergoing all sorts of treatments, fighting the long battle to a hopeful recovery, a recovery that became less hopeful as the months went by. She’s now been in hospital for the better part of the year. She has bed sores and blisters on her feet from rubbing against hospital sheets for the past six months. Cancer is winning. She is dying. She is only 41 years old.

Last time I saw her, back in July, she was in excruciating pain and she felt nauseous and I don’t think she was really up for visitors but still, still, she welcomed us in and made jokes. She was as graceful as she’d been her entire life, before she was ever bound to that hospital bed. And I sit here with my own 41 years and I fret and I fret. I fret that I’m not good enough. I fret about what people think of me. I fret about the white hair patch growing at my temples (probably due to all the fretting) and I fret that there isn’t enough time but time doesn’t give a shit. Time keeps going and catches up with everyone in the end, no matter how we try to outrun it or how much we waste it.

If she could, she would ask for more time. If she were given one more week, one pain-free week, she would make every single second of that week count. In true Jackie fashion, she’d be up for it. She’d gather all of her favourite people around her and she’d dance the night away with them. She wouldn’t get caught up in all the noise.

The things we take for granted. That they will be there forever, the ones we love. The crook between my husband’s arm and his chest, right above the arm pit, the place where I rest my head at night, from where he can just reach to kiss my temple, before I go to sleep, after he’s brushed my hair aside. His heart beating in his chest. My daughter’s piglet snore. Warm breath, like a greenhouse. She’s alive and she’s healthy and tomorrow morning she’ll lie between us like she always does in those 15 minutes before one of us stretches and takes the morning shift after she’s either waved her hands to tell us that she’s thirsty or clapped them, demanding food. People everywhere lose children everyday. To illness, to accident, to unfair fate. People every day lose mothers and fathers, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, friends.

I’m trying to stay focused on the here and the now, on wiping small hands and noses clean of orange spaghetti sauce. On doing the same fake sneeze that I’ve done a hundred times before, because it makes her laugh and her laughter is a sunrise that keeps on rising. My world right now seems small: a bag clip, a jam jar lid, a red block, a toothbrush, a yellow highlighter, a finger puppet, a mitten. An apron with deep pockets and her filling it, and emptying it, and filling it back up again. My world seems small but it is so full. Meanwhile, my friend is lying in a hospital bed tonight with a tumour the size of a grapefruit and her husband is holding her hand while she dies. There are a million ways in which this is unfair.

My dad cried when they removed his intubation tube. I was not there to hold his hand while he slowly slipped away, each breath slower than the last, but I imagine that it was a single tear, like the kind you see in the movies. They, the nurses, said that it’s because it hurts the patient’s throat when they remove the tube. I think it’s the dying’s way of saying farewell to this life, to everyone they ever loved. Or maybe they are seeing something of such exquisite beauty, something we’ll only see when we go, maybe it’s the big secret finally revealed, the sweet release from everything that ever bound us to our fears, to our insecurities, to our mistakes, to our regrets… to the things that prevented us from living fully.

Yesterday…

She died several hours after I wrote that post. Yesterday was her funeral and it was both the most heartbreaking and beautiful, befitting service that I’ve ever been to. A gospel choir, Amazing Grace, hundreds of people mourning the woman who touched so many lives. I kept thinking about how strong she had been over the past two years. How strong her husband was. How they kept each other going. How their love for each other kept them going. How he slept in a hospital bed, beside her, most nights. How frightening it must have been for both of them when they finally realised that there was nothing else they could do, but wait, for time to take her away. The courage of people in their darkest hours is astonishing.

There are very few people in this world who carry a light within them. An inner light that shines like a beacon and shows the way. A light that keeps shining bright long after they’ve gone. People who inspire you to be a better person. I don’t think I ever saw Jackie in a bad mood. She was unflappable, joyful, hilarious, ever lovely. She was the first person I ever talked to back when I was still living in Montreal. It was Nuit Blanche, I was up late, walking down St-Laurent. Joe was partying with his mates somewhere in west London. He called. It was complete chaos in the background, I couldn’t hear a thing and before I knew it this girl grabbed his phone and started to chat with me, telling me she couldn’t wait to meet me, how happy I made Joe and that I had to move to London NOW. I couldn’t tell from her accent whether or not she was British and she said “Girrrrrrrl, I’m from Chicago.” I liked her instantly. She made me feel welcome before I’d even arrived. That was Jackie. Open arms. Always up for it. Completely alive. On a friend’s shoulders at Hyde Park, rocking out to the Rolling Stones. And I was one of the lucky ones to have met her.

I don’t know what happens or where we go, if anywhere, when we die. But I do know that Jackie knew how to live fully. And I feel like the only way that I can honour her life is to live my own life to its fullest, to not take those little moments for granted — the everyday, the minutes and hours between the big things, those minutes and hours that make a life — to be brave, to let my own light shine. In her honour, in her husband’s honour, in my father’s honour, in life’s honour.

I hope that this Thanksgiving weekend you give thanks for those people who shine a light in your life. They are the ones who make this world a better place, long after they’ve gone. And aren’t we the lucky ones to have known them.

“As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” ~Marianne Williamson

how some of you have found your way here

November 23, 2016

Sometimes, when I have spare time on my hands (hahahahaha), I like to snoop behind the scenes of this blog. It looks a bit like my sock drawer back there — messy, mismatched, full of holes, colourful. I don’t care much for stats. I much prefer to pretend that my mom is the only person who reads this blog (hi mom), which isn’t too far of a stretch. But I do occasionally get a kick out of seeing the random search terms that people use to find my blog. Makes me wonder what kind of a show I’m running over here.

  • a nice message to a bride
  • bob dylan overlooking alhambra palace
  • does something change when you turn 38
  • female turning 34 what to expect
  • going to miss ma job
  • he farts before he sits down french canadian expression
  • how delicate is our universe
  • i am farting in french
  • i am so adore to you
  • if someone stuck in traffic what would you say to them
  • junk built greenhouses
  • kilt piss
  • me without my knickers
  • mom no more rack
  • my bad habits be impatient
  • pictures of the dear august
  • reasons to adorn someone
  • steph’s big nostrils
  • bacon gnome
  • how unworthy is my scribbling
  • saliva meme
  • band-aid broken hearts
  • the reason i like him
  • the secret of life
  • tin shed bar on the middle of nowhere
  • touque ache
  • unicorn room
  • what are things you should have accomplished by 39
  • what does lache pas la patate mean
  • what is it that one thing you’ll miss, if u r about to die