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I have been an empty nester for ten years now, since my step-son Chris moved out of the house at eighteen years old. How time flies and how soon we forget the joys of having kids around 24/7.  I was recently reminded when Mark’s kids, Hailey and Tyson, age 10 and 8, moved in with us.

Our simple routine of getting up in the morning and getting ourselves to work has totally changed.  We now have to get two kids up, fed, dressed, lunches made and driven to school.  We thought our lives were busy before!

It’s funny how things we used to do as a parent without thinking, we now have to re-learn.  We have to remember to check their backpacks for homework and notes from the teachers.  They are basically telling us what needs to be done because we have forgotten. 

I am not sure why I am not feeling a lot more stressed.  I seem to remember I was much more stressed the first time around.   I don't know why I have more patience, but I do.  Does that come with age? Or from being a grandma?

Everyone keeps asking, “How is it being a full time mom again?” and are surprised when I say “Good!”  A lot of that has to do with Mark.  He is a wonderful dad and takes a lot of the responsibility.  He does most of it; I just fill in when his work schedule doesn’t allow it.

In the ten years since having kids around I realize I have learned a few things.

I do not have to shout to get my point across.   Gentle persuasion works much better than getting angry. Taking a few moments to talk to them about their day makes a huge difference.  It makes me wish I could go back and do things all over again with Chris.  I wish I knew then, what I know now.

It has been a wonderful experience having Hailey and Tyson here.  They are great kids and I see such potential in them and I am excited to be a part of watching them grow.  Each day I grow closer to them and want to be a positive influence on them. I love to see them laugh and play and have fun and I want to be a part of it.

I can’t believe how much more cooking, more dishes, more laundry, more cleaning, and more groceries, two kids can make.  I also can’t believe how much more laughs, more giggles, more hugs, more fun, more playing, and more love fills our home.  Having them here definitely makes life more rosey!

With giggles,
Carla


 
 
Recently, my siblings and I had the unfortunate task of moving our mom into a long-term care facility.  As her zest for life diminishes, and the sparkle in her beautiful loving eyes is fading, we try to make every moment we have with her now special.  This is one of those moments.
 
 
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For Valentine's Day, I wanted to share with you a love story.  A love story that is short but sweeter than the most decadent chocolate on earth. It is about a beautiful lady, my mom Irene, and my step-dad Lynn Marshall.  He came into our lives very unexpectedly.  Six years ago mom went to the Senior's Centre and Lynn asked her to dance.  They danced beautifully together, and they have been dancing ever since. 

Not long after she met Lynn we noticed a big difference in our mom.  She was smiling all the time.  She was giggling like a schoolgirl. We asked her what was making her so happy, as we hadn’t seen her smile so much since before our dad died.   She said, “I think I’m in love!”

It was a love affair like no other.  They acted like high school sweethearts.  They were always holding hands, would sit side-by-side, and spent every minute together.

Six months later Mom and Lynn were married.  He was 82; she was 77.  We were very happy for them, but as any  child would say to their mother, are you sure about this?  Are you rushing into things?  Both her and Lynn responded, “No, at this age we don’t have a lot of time to waste.”

We had never seen our mom so happy.  Lynn made her laugh often.  He would sing little ditties to her.  I am not sure if they were actual songs or if he made them up.  If he did, he was a great poet.

This man we now called Dad was in better shape at 82 than most people half his age.  You would see him cycling down the highway, going distances of 40 kms or more.  Going up hill was nothing for him, while most of us would have to get off and walk the bike up.

He had his own vocabulary.  I think he made up his own words.  We would call and ask him how he was and he would say, “I am supermelagorgeous”, and we would laugh.

He was strong in his beliefs and values and had no problem expressing them.  He believed in hard work and did it all of his life.  He was always busy working in the yard and around the house.

He raised three wonderful children, our stepbrothers and sister, making eleven children between them.  His children loved our mom the same way we loved him.

Lynn, or “Dad” passed away this week.  Our mom has to endure another broken heart.  Even though it was a short time, he made a huge impact on our lives, but the thing that makes me most grateful is how happy he made her.  Their love was rare and true. They showed us that true love can happen at any age.

How lucky Mom was to find him.  RIP Dad, thank you for all you have given us.  Thank you and your children, Debbie, Brady, and Bob for coming into our lives, making mom laugh, and loving her with all your hearts.  You truly made the last years of her life much more rosey.

With Love on Valentine's Day,
Carla



 
 
A friend on Facebook this week asked this question.  “What is the difference between being negative and being a realist?”  This spurred a rather lengthy discussion with a variety of opinions.  My answer was “we create our reality, whether it is positive or negative”.   In other words, your reality is all in your perception and whether it is negative or positive depends on your thoughts.  I have learned that thinking positively creates more positive results in my life. 

This really hits home for me this week. For the most part, I try to focus on what’s positive and good in my life.  There are times however, when this is difficult to do. Life has its ups and downs.  Feeling happy or sad are human emotions that need to be acknowledged and expressed to live authentically.  If I said my life was wonderful right now, it would not be honest or authentic.

Over the last few weeks my family has been struggling with looking after our mom and stepdad as their health deteriorates.  Although it is very difficult for all of us, I try to focus on what is good. 

I am grateful that I have seven other siblings who can take an active role in her care.  I know that I would not be able to do it alone.  When it is my turn, I am grateful to have the time and special moments to share with her. 

There are times too when the eight of us don’t agree on things when it comes to her well-being, but I am grateful that we are able to discuss our opinions opening and honestly and understand that we are all under a lot of stress and pressure trying to do the right thing.

We all want what is best for her, we all want to be there for her, and we understand that when things are said out of anger or frustration, it is because of the situation and not a personal attack on the person.  We are able to apologize and get on with what needs to be done.

We are being authentic and recognizing that we are all human and have feelings, and differences of opinions, and work through these as new circumstances beyond our control challenge us.  We feel bad for things we say, we feel guilty for things we may not have handled the way we wish we had.  We need to remember we are all doing our best, with the knowledge we have at the moment. 

What we have learned is respect and understanding for each other.  We have learned how to apologize and how to forgive, and we have learned that no matter what life brings, we will get through.  And although they may be numbered, we will cherish the special moments we still have with our mom and step-dad and continue to love and support each other along the way.  Life may not always be rosey, but it still can be meaningful, and it is love that will get us through.