H is for…

His for home. It’s that place in which you live. The walls, the windows, and the roof that keep you safe. It’s where you come to rest after a long day of work. Where you wake on Saturday mornings when anything is possible. Perhaps yours is overrun with kids or pets or both. What we’ve come to learn in wisened years is that it’s not how big your house is, but the family that’s in it. 

Our home is where we feel safest. It’s our harbor, our hangar, our underground garage. We can let our hair down (if we happen to have some). We can wander around in our pajamas, or our underwear, or our birthday suit. It’s where we lay our head and sleep easy. 

It’s also the place that gets wrecked, especially if you have kids. Laundry, dishes, dust, and endless amounts of dirt. When the kids start running the walls get scratched and dinged. Fingerprints cover every surface and there are noseprints on the windows. Clothes cover the floor in their haste to come off our weary bodies. Or just because our kids are too lazy to walk another 4 inches to put them in the hamper. Nevermind the mess. It just means life is being lived. It’s a home that is lived in, not a museum.

Our home is where we can let loose the chains of inhibition. We can truly dance as if no one is watching. Even if the kids are giggling relentlessly. We sing our hearts out like we’re on Broadway or the Grand Ol Opry or in the shower. We are free to laugh until our faces hurt, fully belly laughs, until we’re out of breath and tears rolls from ours eyes. I’ve written before about how our kids are angels in school. We’re sometimes not sure the kid’s teacher is talking about the right kid. When they’re at home, they are safe, they are loved, unconditionally. They are free to let tempers fly, test the boundaries of attitude and behavior, and free to be their whole and total self.

Sometimes it’s not as simple as where you live. A couple years ago, when I was last at my parents, I wrote about having two homes. I feel blessed in being able to call two places home. There is here where I live with DW and Crash and Bang. There is also where I grew up 1,100 miles south of here. In this instance, home isn’t a house or a building, it’s the place we grew up. It’s the place where we have loved ones, fond memories, and we can always return to.

Whether you keep your home hospital clean or dorm room dirty, or just tidy enough to pass as clean, it is your space. It’s the smuges on the walls, spills on the floor, dishes in the sink, and the laughs in the living room that turn a simple house into a home. Hang your hat, hang your heart, sing loud, dance proud, and let your home be lived in.

~ Maya Angelou

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Parenting vs Baseball

It’s America’s pastime.

Even though I live in Canada, I’m not really a hockey fan. I don’t have a favorite team. Kids in schools ask me, “Who do you go for?” (translation: Who’s your favorite hockey team?) I always give the same response just to see the shock on their face. “I don’t watch hockey.” I usually have to pick their jaw up off the floor. After a few minutes they regain the use of their voice.

My favorite sport to play is soccer. Those hockey kids in school know this from all my days subbing in their gym class. Otherwise, baseball is where my loyalty lies. Particularly with a certain black and orange bird.

We’re now 11 days from pitchers and catchers reporting to the warm climate of Sarasota Springs, Florida. We’re also 25 days from their first spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Argh…

This means we’re also not far from our friendly, family rivalry as DW and Bang are Blue Jays fans.

All this talk of baseball makes me want to compare the game of baseball with raising a family…

1. Training

It’s all about creating and moulding the best team possible. Mind you, I won’t get fired for having too many losing seasons, but I’m still responsible to do the best with what I’m given. Just as the players are responsible for improving their game, we’re responsible for being better than we were yesterday. Perhaps it’s teaching the kids a new skill they need for school or sport or life. Perhaps it’s improving ourselves to be better at whatever it is we’re trying to improve upon. We’re always striving for the next homerun…

2. Patience

There are roughly 150 pitches thrown by each team. Some crazy level of patience is needed to get through the 3+ hours it takes to deliver all 300 of them. Multiply that by 162 games per season and you’ve got 48,600 pitches to watch. When kids are throwing temper tantrums, you’re spouse isn’t paying attention, and you’re afraid your house is so messy it’ll appear on the next episode of Hoarders, you need patience. Though, unlike baseball, parenting isn’t a summer game. It’s all day, every day with no hope of winning a world series and the pay sucks.

3. Coaches

A baseball team needs lots of specialities. There are managers who oversee the whole shebang. There are also pitching coaches, hitting coaches, bench coaches, bullpen coaches, first base coaches and third base coaches. A household works much the same way. I’m the cooking coach. Not because DW can’t, but because I enjoy it more. DW is the paying bills coach. Nobody likes that position. I’m the cleaning coach because I’m home more often. DW is the snuggle coach because she’s so snugly.  

4. Bases

Speaking of bases… 1st base is kissing. 2nd base has something to do with boobs. I’m fairly confident that you can figure out 3rd base and a homerun. Without the homerun, without “scoring”, we wouldn’t have the families we have. No kids, anyway. May you all hit homeruns tonight without gaining extra players on your team…

 

Traveling (the final days)

Before our two weeks of travel began I had seen a picture of a waterfall that our friend’s girls were playing under. After seeing the picture I wanted to go there. I needed to go there. It helped that Pennsylvania is between Virginia –all the farther the farthest south we would be traveling – and home in Nova Scotia. I sent along a message asking if they would be around the weekend we were passing through and if they could take us to that waterfall. You can imagine my excitement when I found out that a) they would be around and b) they could take us!

What should have been a four hour drive from Virginia to Pennsylvania wasn’t. The traffic around D.C. and Baltimore was incredible. Poor DW was stressed to the max – though I was doing the driving and I was in pure city driver mode. 12 lanes of traffic-six in each direction, a couple toll booths, some accidents and bottlenecks and many idiots who swerve in and out of lanes like Mario Andretti make it difficult to relax. One bonus? We got to go through the Baltimore Harbor Tunnel – a tunnel (duh) under the Baltimore Harbor (duh) that is 1.45 miles long. Of course, windows had to go down so we could listen to it. Anyway, we made ‘er though D.C. and B’more unscathed and made a quick stop for a late lunch.

Six hours later we were there. Their two girls were quite anxious for us to get there so we could all go swimming. We were just as anxious to get there and be done traveling. We did get to see the hydroelectric plant.

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After that we were in Amish country. Tons of farms, and just as many horse and buggies. Anyone even remotely familiar with Amish country will understand the humor of this song:

IMG_2658We finally arrived at their house, hung out for about 10 minutes then took off to the waterfall. The water was chilly – really no different than Nova Scotia water. Too cold for Bang’s liking. He splashed around, but he wouldn’t venture too close to the falls. Crash, on the other hand, loved it. Did we take home a Pennsylvania rock from this waterfall? You betcha!

Afterward it was back to their house for a BBQ, let the kids play for a bit, then bedtime for them. We were starting our trek home in the morning. This afternoon Bang asked me “What house were we at that I slept in my little bed?” I told him and he asks “Next time we go there can we play ‘McDonalds’ again?” All I did was sit inside a play house while Crash and Bang drove around it like a drive through while I took their orders in the most ridiculous, redneck, hillybilliest voice I could. Naturally, what I ordered for them would never be found a normal McD’s menu. Fresh roadkill with a side of salted slugs. And such.

To make a long story short not as long, we got the kids to bed, had quite a few laughs playing Cards Against Humanity then went to bed ourselves. By 9 the next morning they had left for church and we had left for our next stop, Bangor, Maine. We didn’t get there until 10 PM. The next morning there was a huge, delicious free breakfast. We got our fill, then hit up a liquor store for the cheap liquor the US is famous for and booked ‘er for home. We crossed back into Canada with no problems and were back home at 7:30. DW’s mom (Nanny Moe) had supper waiting for us, and there is where we ended our two vacation.

Our Triumphant Travels (Days 1,2, and 3)

I wish I would have blogged our travels south. I seemed a bit busier traveling this time as compared when I traveled alone back in May. Anyway, here I am. Here we are. I have only written once since my last blog 22 days ago when we had stopped for the night in Portland, ME. That was half way to my parents and it had taken us 10 hours to get there. There were no issues crossing the border. Our new RAV4 performed spectacularly and I was pleasantly surprised at how well it did on gas. We could drive for five hours before having to fill up!

Along the way we paid some respects with a moment of silence:

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The boys were in awe over the bridges we crossed – The Tappan Zee and the Delaware Memorial.

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Now, on to the good stuff. We arrived at Nana and Pop Pop’s house shortly after 6pm on a Wednesday.

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What a welcome sight! Finally here!

They were keeping tabs on us through Waze – a navigation app for the cell phone. (That, in itself was fun. It gave us directions and warnings in the voice of Arnold Schwarzenegger. If he warned us of “danger” he would follow it up with “GET DOWN!”. Naturally, Bang would make us duck each time.) We arrived to hugs from Nana and Pop Pop, my brother- Uncle B, sister in law- Aunt Sara and their two kids O and KK. Inside, they had taped off the doorway with streamers for Crash and Bang to run through and tear down, which they did in glorious fashion. O and KK had even made a sign “Welcome home family”. Then we sat down to a spaghetti supper followed by minion cupcakes for dessert! IMG_2205

Crash and Bang were excited to see their cousins. They hadn’t seen Crash for 5 years (O was only 6 months old last time) and no one other than Nana and Pop Pop had met Bang. So naturally, they got to stay up late. By 10pm all the kiddies were finally asleep.

Thursday morning Pop Pop made us all waffles for breakfast. Then we headed to the park.IMG_2241 It’s the same park I played at 25-30 years ago except it received a major overhaul since the last time I played there. It was a beautiful park with some really neat equipment for the kids (myself included) to play on. It had cushion foam matting for flooring, too! Unfortunately, it wasn’t made quite level with the ground surrounding it. Nana stepped off one piece of equipment and rolled her ankle. When she tried to catch herself with her other foot she overcompensated. She heard something crack or pop and she fell. O saw her and said “Aaaand, she’s down”. Sara had gone back to the house to get my parents truck and upon her return Nana was taken to get x-rays.

IMG_2279Meanwhile, the rest of us continued to play on the playground and take a bit of wiffle ball hitting practice with the kids. We returned home for lunch and we heard from Nana and Sara – it was a spiral fracture of her fibula. She came home in a boot and on crutches. We spent the remainder of the day hanging around the house, preparing for supper and playing with nieces and nephews we hadn’t seen for five years.

It was so great to be home. It was the first time we’d had the whole family together. Five years ago we hadn’t been complete. Now that we were, it was pure joy to have us all together. Even if one of us had a broken ankle.


P.S. I’ve been out of blogging action for 3 weeks now. In that time I have still been receiving comments and followers. For this, I am grateful. I am grateful for and appreciate all of my followers. However, these eight have chosen to follow my blog with the assumption that I will return. They have liked what I have written enough to take the gamble on my return. I thank them. The rest of you, I welcome your return with an open blog.

Island Traveler
SVEGLIATI CARA
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Fashionable Librarian
S. Robert Cyre
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Pheonix

Here I Go Again

My brother left the hotel at 3:40 this morning for his flight to Atlanta to Detroit to South Korea. All thought it’s a 16 hour flight, because of the time change he’ll get in 36 hours later than he started. He’s 13 hours ahead of our parents and 12 hours ahead of us.

Now it’s my turn. I’m on my flight to Atlanta (technically, this will get posted when get into the Atlanta airport). Unfortunately, my brother will be taking off from Atlanta at the same time I’m landing, so I won’t get to meet up with him like I did on my trip down. I’ll have a 3 hour and 45 minute layover there before flying to NY where I have a 3 hour layover before flying to Halifax.

It was an awesome trip. I tried to document some of it: the 6 legs on the trip down, the baseball game, the trip to Florida, my grandmother’s service.

I was home with my parents and now I’m heading home to my wife and kids. It was tough hugging my parents good bye. Just as it was tough kissing Crash and Bang and DW goodnight before coming. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a trip down with the kids this summer. I really would like to see more family and give Crash and Bang a chance to see their cousins. Crash was only 3 the last time he went (he’s turning 8 soon). Bang hasn’t been to the States, yet.

Thank God for technology to help us keep in touch! Facebook. Skype. Google Hangouts. We make the most of them!

Home?

This is your lucky day readers. This is three posts for the price of one. Jackpot! You’re welcome.

Home?
When you talk about home where are you talking about? Is it where you currently live? Is it where you grew up before flying the coop? I’ve written about coming home the past couple days. But if I’m coming home, where was I before I got here? DW, Crash, and Bang are home, but so am I and we’re not in the same place. So what exactly is home?
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