It’s My Party!

PARTY

Today is June 30th, 2018.

We are at a friend’s house in Newcastle, Ontario. TJ, and his wife, Steph, have graciously opened up their home to us to let us celebrate our vow renewal in honour of our 20th wedding anniversary which was actually in December, 2017. We had a winter wedding, so we decided to do our renewal in the summer months.

The weather is warm, sunny, with a smidge of humidity (which is normal for southern Ontario). The breeze takes the edge off. The kids just finished school this week, and Tyler will be heading off to Kingston for a full 8 weeks of cadet camp at the military college. He really, really wanted to be a part of this special day. He wants to give a speech in honour of our day.

The house is in the middle of a farmer’s field, there is literally no one for miles. It’s a big, country house, a sizeable property with a woodshed and fire pit in the back. They’ve recently redone the deck to make it bigger, not at our request, it’s something they wanted to do anyway. Over the fire is a partially cooked pig on a spit, turning slowly and continuing to cook slowly for pork sandwiches later.

The local Hamilton band that my husband and I have known since we began living together in 1994 is starting to trickle in, with their gear and coolers. We consider them to be friends, we make a point to see them whenever we know they’re playing in town. We love their music… they play everything from Sass Jordan to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Greenday and so much in between. We technically grew up with them.

There are many folding lawn chairs placed around the firepit, and the surrounding trees have white Christmas lights hung on them, for when the festivities really get under way later. A few tents have been set up for guests who are staying the night, so they don’t have to drive the distance to get back home.

I busy myself in the kitchen, helping to organize and prepare salads and crockpots full of chicken and beef. Devin’s shucked the corn and is putting them into a clean cooler. Later, he’ll pour boiling water into it, and the corn will cook itself. Buns are stockpiled for sandwiches as the buffet is starting to come together.

The pastor who married us, Todd, joins the crowd in the backyard, sees Devin and I, and immediately heads over to catch up. He will be saying a few words for us, to us, about us. It’s his first vow renewal. We’re the only couple he’s married who are still together. This makes us proud… I think it makes Todd even more proud.

Portable washrooms have been set up along the side of the yard so that we can cut down on traffic in the house. We’re not sure who is more pumped about this; us or TJ. This party has been in the making for two years, but Devin and I have been talking about it for much longer.

I can hear the band doing their sound checks, as more people join us with coolers and chairs in hand. A couple of people, who are what I lovingly call, 5-star campers, will be heading into town to stay the night at a local hotel. I’m just thrilled that they could come out for this.

My friend Beth-Anne is busy arranging and organizing, insisting that I sit and relax, but I can’t. I feel bad. Friends of ours shouldn’t be doing all of the work… especially since the entire thing was our idea. The thing I love about Beth-Anne is that she thinks about all of the tiny, little details that I never even thought of, but it justs adds to the specialness of the day. She is amazing, and I am so glad I asked her to be a part of this. She is literally my right-hand lady.

The band is now all set up, and they are making their rounds, meeting friends and family. Country music is playing in the background and the roasted pig is smelling amazing. I cannot wait to eat.. I’ve been so nervous all morning, I didn’t eat a lot… and snacking on veggies here and there has done nothing to tame this hunger!

I take a seat, half-listening to the conversation going on around me, but not directed at me. I see TJ and Devin over at the woodshed, as TJ shows Devin the gigantic pile of firewood he’s been storing for the evening… and then promptly drags out three skids from behind the shed. I think we’ll be lighting up the entire field.

For years, we’ve talked about this. This is the only way we wanted to celebrate. Our closest family and friends, good food, guitars and our favourite band playing as we dance the night away. I finally let my breath out and relax. It’s all about enjoying it now… with the love of my life.

Here’s to another 20 years!

It’s My Party

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Promises

Promises

I make too many promises to my kids.

Seriously.

And if you know kids, they won’t let you forget any of them.

Our youngest boy has two major interests. Minecraft, and eating. There isn’t a whole lot he doesn’t like to eat, thankfully. But he certainly has his favourites.

When Devin and I were first married, I was making homemade bread, by hand, a couple of times per week. It was a lot of work, for sure, but it was a labour of love. I liked seeing my husband enjoy something I made for him. Then he bought me a breadmaker for Christmas. Ladies, I know getting an electrical appliance is not every woman’s dream gift, but I LOVED it. I was so excited, and couldn’t wait to start using it.

So, I went through the recipe book that came with the machine, and made several kinds of bread. French bread, white bread, cinnamon bread, garlic bread, herbed bread… wow. Our house smelled awesome! Then I made cinnamon rolls.

It’s a bit of a process, but the end result was so worth it. Making the dough is one thing, but then you have to roll it out by hand, make the cinnamon mixture and spread it on, roll it all up, cut the loaf into rolls and fit all of them into a pan and set it in the fridge overnight (I refuse to do all that work upon waking in the morning – ain’t nobody got time for that!). Then, once baked, the icing needs to be made and drizzled on.

Maybe a trip to Cinnabon might be easier.

I’m really not complaining about the work involved… I love seeing how happy he gets when these are placed in front of him. I got to see that look this morning 🙂

So, how Caleb’s appetite and my cinnamon rolls are related is that he has been harassing me for weeks to make them. Along with a meatball casserole I recently discovered on Pinterest. He loves his bread products, and has definitely noticed that we haven’t been eating as many carbs (hence my post “2016 Resolution” and beginning the 21DF). I was doing so well! This kid is sabotaging my plans!

Ah.. it’s just one day… I’m back on plan tomorrow.

What are your favourite comfort foods for winter?

Right Here, Right Now

righthererightnow

I’m snoozing in the front passenger seat of our Journey.. The vehicle is fully packed, with our bicycles on the back, and we’re driving through the twisty roads of cottage country. The radio is on, but my husband has it set to Slacker, because the stations don’t come in well out here.

We’ve made two pit stops, and two coffees have done nothing to keep me awake. I’m tired. It was an early morning… getting everyone up and ready and out the door by 8:30 a.m. The excitement for the week ahead has finally taken it’s toll on me.

My husband slows the vehicle down, and turns the right-hand signal on… the kids remove their headphones. We’re here.

We park off to the right-hand side of the campground gate. The vehicle is silent except for the kids, moving stuff around, as their second-wind kicks in. I open the window and breathe in, deeply. Oh that smell of pine, campfires, and sunshine. Can sunshine have a smell? Oh yes, it can here.

My husband returns to the Journey with some papers, and a big smile on his face. MY second wind just kicked in.

This is going to be an awesome week.

Write Here, Write Now

Coming Out – A Teen’s Story

Coming Out

Written by Tyler Riches

Hey, people of mom’s blog! I’m Tyler, and a little while ago, my mom wrote an article about her experiences after I came out as gay. Well, little did she know, earlier, I had written something similar about my own experiences. So after my mom wrote her article, I showed her mine. She’s asked me to summarize it so she can put it on her blog, but instead, I just rewrote it completely. So, here you are!

TGTG Story (Revised)

So all my life I knew something was up. Something was wrong. Something was eating away at the back of my mind. I really had no clue as to what that ‘something’ was.

In Grade 2, I told everyone I had a crush on this one girl. She was beautiful (and still is), so I crushed on her throughout elementary school. But once again, something was wrong.

Gradually, over the next couple years, I got an idea of what that was. I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why there was only one girl I thought was pretty. In Grade 4, I wrote a letter to my parents explaining this, and left it outside their door. But I started to worry over what they might think, so after only a couple of minutes, I grabbed the letter and tore it to shreds; I made sure the pieces were so small no one could read them. I cried, and decided to leave it. It will go away, I told myself.

By Grade 6, I knew what the word ‘gay’ meant, and by Grade 7, I wondered if I could be gay. The very thought scared me. The number of homophobic comments in elementary school was exponential, and I resolved to never tell anyone. Instead, a girl and I started dating. We didn’t actually go out on dates or anything, we just said we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Still, that didn’t last long. She broke up with me without a reason, but we were still friends. Ah, elementary was weird.

In Grade 8, two big things happened. One was good, and one was bad. The bad thing was that I tried telling my best friend that I was gay. This was a time when I myself hadn’t even accepted that, so I was scared out of my wit. He was nice about it, and he swore he wouldn’t tell anyone, but it actually made him sick. Like, physically sick. He had to take a day off of school. By the time he got back, I had been so shaken up by the experience that I said “So I’m not actually gay. I just told you that to see how much I could trust you.” He was visibly relieved, and that was that. I told him a couple weeks ago that ‘I lied to him by telling the truth’, and after explaining what I meant, he laughed. Anyways, the good thing was that I joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets. I’ve made so many close friends in this group, it’s astounding. Not only that, but some LGBTQ+ cadets were open about themselves. And even though I hadn’t accepted, or even began to accept, myself, this still made me feel better.

Then comes high school! In Grade 9, I ended up joining a group called ‘Positive Space’, which focuses on preventing bullying, specifically LGBTQ+ bullying. I felt comfortable with these people. Some were trans, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, non-binary, or just straight allies. But it was inclusive, and I felt at home.

After I joined Positive Space, I did my research. I learned all about different sexual orientations and genders, and used that information to sort myself out. I was cisgender (which means comfortable with your assigned gender); in other words, I was perfectly happy being male. I also decided that I might be gay, or bisexual, but I didn’t know, and honestly didn’t want to know, so I told myself I was ‘Questioning’. I still didn’t tell anyone, but regardless, it was a step in the right direction.

Oh yeah, and I told that girl I had a crush on that I didn’t ‘like’ her anymore. She was relieved. See, in high school, it’s not just who’s ‘pretty’. Crushes are often sexual. And that idea honestly repulsed me. I guess it didn’t matter; we’re best friends to this day.

On February 13th, a day before Valentine’s, at around 11 at night, I was texting one of my best friends from cadets. I told her that I had a big weight on my shoulders, and she inquired as to what was bothering me. After about 5 minutes and a couple tears, I told her I was questioning. She tells me right after that she’s bi. I was so relieved. A million bricks just melted off my shoulders. We spent the next three hours talking to each other, gradually getting years of built up stress off our chests. We also came out in the group chat to our small social circle of 6 tightly-knit friends. It was so relieving. Definitely one of my better nights.

It turns out, that out of those 6 friends, three are bi, two are straight, and then myself, the gay. In time, this news would be music to my ears, as I’ll eventually realize I was never alone.

The next couple months just seemed so empty. I denied it when people asked if I was gay. I broke down and cried every now and then. Why? Because I knew I was gay. I’d go to school sometimes, telling myself over and over that I was gay, and by the end of the day I’d be in denial again. I remember one time after gym class I walked home and cried because I hated going through that. I think the only good thing that happened happened on my birthday: Rainbow Prom. In a nutshell, it was a dance for students across the district, and you could wear, go out with, and dance in any way you wanted, and no one would think the better of it. I was Master of Ceremonies, and the Prom King and Queen were both trans. It was one hell of a night, and I’ll never forget it.

Before school ended in June, I told some of my closest friends I was gay. All the reactions were positive and supportive, and that made me feel a bit better. After months of crying, I found that I just kinda accepted myself. I stopped doubting it. In June, I went off to sea cadet camp in Kingston for three weeks. I told some more close friends, I even told the Padre, whose there for spiritual reasons, but also just for support. He gave me a muffin after our talk and sent me on my way with a smile, but still, I couldn’t shake the growing feeling of depression. Now I’ve never been diagnosed or anything with depression. But some days I’d be super teary and emotional, and others I would feel empty. Sure, I put on a façade of cheerfulness, but most people do. Now, a lot of people suspected I was gay, and some even asked, but usually, I’d say no.

Last major story, which you’ll remember from my mom’s post, was camping. On the first day of the vacation, I just felt so… empty. I don’t really know how else to put it. But it was the second day, August 16th, when I was all emotional. I had a breakdown and my mom took me aside and asked what was wrong. After a lot of convincing, crying, wheezing, and more crying, I told her. I felt, rather than heard, her sigh. She asked me how I felt, and I told her I don’t know, because I didn’t know her reaction. She said she didn’t know how to react. But by the end of the day, my parents told me that I deserve to love and to be happy, and that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy, but I was just happy I have a future where my parents still love me. A lot of LGBTQ+ people don’t get that opportunity.

Now, they were still visibly shaken. They’re both Christian, so it’s even harder for them. But they were determined to get through this together with me. Unfortunately for them, I was one step ahead of them; after I told them, my depression faded away. I’ve never been happier. While they were still reeling, I had started to tell people at school. And you know how quickly things spread in high school. But, I didn’t get one bit of negativity. Same at cadets; everyone welcomed me with open arms. Then, on November 10th, I told the world via Facebook. I got so much support, I cried tears of happiness for the first time in my life. Everyone knows now, and no one thinks of me any differently.

Now, it’s Christmas Eve, 2015. I’m hardly the same person I was a couple months ago, let alone a whole year ago. My parents seem to be coping a lot better, and occasionally ask about my crush or poke fun at me for not having a boyfriend yet. Which, I guess, is my resolution for 2016. And since my 2015 resolution was to come out, this one can’t be hard at all.

There are so many small details, so many breakdowns, so much more to this story. But this is a blog post, not a novel, and I have to make it fit. Plus, some of those memories are so dark that really, I don’t want to share it with you guys. No offense.
In conclusion, I’m a 15-year-old unattractive (motherly interjection – Um, I don’t think so!) gay potato who is a meme lord, artist, writer, cadet, straight-A student, future naval officer and politician, and I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time.

The way I finished my last article probably doesn’t apply to you guys, but I’ll say it anyways. I know it’s cheesy, you hear it all the time, and I myself didn’t believe it, but I’m not lying when I say it does get better.

My Blog-spiration

My Blog-spiration

All it takes is a couple of clicks through my posts and it’s easy to see that my family is my inspiration for everything. And no wonder, they are my entire world.

My husband and I came from close-knit families, so it’s just been natural for us to raise our own family this way.

Ever since the kids could sleep through the night, we’ve taken them camping, to parks, the movies, and when they could walk, we taught them to ice-skate and ride bikes. Every time I see a free or cheap family-themed activity that I think we might all enjoy, we try to go.

This, in turn, creates memories and stories. I love that we have fun together. Even more than that, I love that we don’t need to have a lot of money in order to enjoy each other’s company.

It is my goal to not only raise my family this way, but to offer my readers inspiration to do the same with their own families. And to readers whose families have grown up and moved on to have families of their own, I hope I offer them a laugh with my stories, and give them opportunities to share their memories, stories and advice with me.

What is your blog-spiration?

Childhood Revisited

childhood_revisited

Isn’t it funny how vague a lot of our memories are from when we were younger?

I remember feeling so carefree, but unless it was a major event, I don’t remember a lot of specifics. Back when the biggest catastrophe was who was and who wasn’t your friend that day.

I remember playing with my neighbourhood friends, who were also my classmates. Back then, the big thing was collecting beads and making friendship bracelets and friendship pins. For the on-again, and off-again friends. LOL!

I remember building blanket forts on the front porch of our house. I remember my mom making homemade popsicles for my friends and I, and long, lazy summer days. I remember trying to sneak out of the front yard to go JUST down the street to play with a friend who couldn’t come to my house. No matter how many times I tried, my mom was onto me, and always yelled for me to get back in the yard.

I remember when the recession happened in the early eighties, and my mom was pregnant with my youngest brother. I remember my dad’s devastation when him and my mom lost the house, and we had to move. I remember looking at other houses, and I remember not liking the smells of those houses we looked at. None of them were home.

I remember moving into the townhouse, and my cousins and I playing while our parents did all of the work. We got in trouble. We were each sent to a different room for a time-out.

I remember my mom and dad dropping us off at our aunt’s house when she went into labour with my brother. I remember showing my new baby brother off to my new friends. I was so excited. I had a real-life doll! He grew into a trouble-maker and liked to pull my hair as he ran past me, or grind my first lipsticks into my carpet.

Life seemed so simple then. So endless… no worries or stress. An enjoyable day was playing outside with your friends, from lunch time till dusk.

However, even though my kids will never know those same carefree days, I feel blessed to have the technology we have today, in addition to my childhood memories.

What was your childhood like?

Childhood Revisited

Fears

Fears

What are your fears in life?

I’m fairly fearless, but off the top of my head, here are a few, starting with the dumbest fears…

1. Earwigs. Gross.

2. Centipedes. Grosser, and really, what needs THAT many legs?

3. Losing someone I love – I’ve had dreams about losing my children, they scared me so much I woke up crying. I think many parents share this fear.

4. Leaving a job I’ve had for a long time and starting a new venture. Other than sending my resume out to people who will likely never read it, I don’t know where to begin.

5. How I’m going to pay my bills next month now that my hours have been cut at work, hence number 4.

Thankfully I have faith that it will all work out in the end, because it always does (see my post “Keep the Faith“).

How do you manage your fears?

Fearless Fantasies