Saturday, September 11, 2010


What is a family? Who gets to define it? 
Since this is my blog, it will be me! *laugh*

In my life I have struggled long and hard with this word and it's meaning. My own family is a group of wonderful people yet they have no ability to truly connect with each other and I have always missed that. Our relationships are like a broken glass. All the pieces are there but it is not really something that you feel safe getting close to. You might be okay but you also might get cut badly. Each interaction makes you question your willingness to take that risk.
Don't get me wrong, my biological family has given me many things for which I am very grateful. I was raised well, taught right from wrong, fed, clothed, sheltered and educated. I know that I was loved and I am sure that I still am.  I honestly do try to feel that this was/is enough but something always felt like it was missing.

When I had my own children I found that I wanted to raise my children very differently than I was raised but I did feel that everyone did that. Like it is a right of passage. Don't most people feel that way?
Soon I began to want to do things with and for my children that had not been done with me. Again... I just felt that I was doing things differently because that is how life is supposed to be. Each generation wants better for the ones that follow them.
Through the years I must admit that I began to question the way that I was raised and I often felt very uncared for. To outsiders we had the perfect family and the perfect life but behind those doors there was a lot of hurt. There still is. I suppose it is easier to shine a pretty light on it and pretend that everything is okay when everyone within it knows that it is not.

My proverbial "light-bulb moment" happened when I met my husband Lenny.
He called his family at least once a week and they called him too. They said "I love you" before hanging up and each one always seemed to know what the others were doing.
It did not matter what career you had, whether you had decided to marry or not or even if you decided to suddenly marry a single mother with three young children. The only thing that ever mattered was that you were happy. They supported anything at all so long as you were happy doing it.
If one person needed anything, the others were there. It was never even a question. I am not talking about money here but they would share that too if you needed it and they had it to give.
His family has not always had it easy. In fact they have been through more than you can even imagine. They are a wonderfully convoluted mixture of opposites and yet they stick together as a family.

Becoming part of this family was one of the best things that has ever happened to me in all of my life. They have shown me that it does not matter what you wear, how large or small you may be, what you know, where you travel, who you know, if you mess up your words when trying to talk, spill something on yourself every time you try to eat, what schooling you have, if you have chosen to have 3 children or none at all, if you choose to love the one who you have loved since you were a teenager or you find your love at a bar when you are 35... they just love you.
You can be born in to this family, married in or "adopted" in... it really doesn't matter. They love you solely because you are a part of their family and that means something special to them.
It is the most amazing blessing that this world has ever offered me and I love them dearly for showing me what family can really mean.

There is a reason why this is in my mind today.
I had a serious surgery 4 days ago and I was very worried about it. I hate to admit this but I even wrote some goodbye letters.Overreaction? Most certainly! ... but I was scared to death.
My own (biological) family has not even phoned. Not a card, a phone call... nothing at all. Not even one person. I try so very hard to say it does not bother me but it hurts me deeply. It makes me feel very unimportant and extremely uncared for. I can not imagine knowing that my child was laying in a hospital bed and not make the time to call to see how they were. I will never allow that to happen with my children. I promise you that for sure. I will be the Mom that you see driving the nurses NUTS.

I am not going to stick with this feeling for long because I have been blessed to be a part of the Mullaly family now. They have shown me every day before and since that they care about me and they have given me their thoughts and prayers every step of the way. There is not one that has not called, visited or contacted me in some way to show that they care even though some live in different provinces and they ALL have busy lives of their own. THAT is a family.
My friends have been amazing as well. I have been so blessed with more phone calls, emails and Facebook posts that I can even remember. THANK YOU ALL!!!

So when defining a family I am going to say that they are not necessarily the ones that share you DNA... they are the ones that share your life.

Thank you for sharing my life and thank you for being my family.

Monday, August 23, 2010


On August 23rd, 2002  I was sitting on this ferry traveling across the Atlantic ocean wondering what on earth I was doing with my life. Was I making it better or was I making a royal mess of it?

On August 24th, 2002 I landed on the island of Newfoundland with my husband Lenny, a truck packed with furniture and a car filled with pets. It was a huge leap of faith for us both. We were moving 3,500 kilometers away from most of my family and some of his to a place where he grew up but had not lived in for over 22 years and I had only seen once to attend his fathers funeral.

It felt like we were jumping off a cliff with no parachute.

The first days were filled with trying to unpack an entire home in the matter of a few days because the children (Travis 9, Cassie 7 and Megan almost 5) would be arriving by plane on the 27th.
It became very clear to my very quickly that I was not just in another part of Canada but that it was a whole new world. The food was different, the accents were thick, the stores were far away, everyone seemed to know everyone and I was immediately labeled a "mainlander". (Said like it is a swear word.)
Lenny's 2 sisters were wonderful to us and did their best to welcome us in every way that they could but to say it was an easy transition would be a lie.
Throughout the following 2 years we gradually all settled in to this place we now call home and I will not speak from anyone else but this is my home and I love it.

May I back up a little bit here?
Thank you. :)
My life was filled with moving from place to place and never having any roots set anywhere. Most people can not even imagine what it is like to live like I did until I moved here. I lived in 22 different homes in those 32 years and never stayed anywhere long enough to feel  like I was at home. My family was much the same and still moves from place to place to this day. No one is ever settled.
Some people see my life in a glamorous light and I guess in some ways it was. We always had enough money for everything that we needed, I saw different parts of this wonderful world that some people never have the chance to see, I had the benefit of a wonderful education even though I did it in many different schools. I was exposed to many unique situations both good and bad that have made me in to the person who I am today. I am grateful for all of that.

The one piece of the puzzle that was missing for me was "home". I had many houses but no homes. Moving so much never allowed for the opportunity to have memories of being in that place for years worth of occasions or having friends that lasted longer than a couple of years.

Living in this house for 8 years has been a real blessing. With Lenny's help we have raised our children here and watched them turn from young children in to teenagers and soon to be university bound young adults. They have had years worth of birthdays and Christmas's all in the same house and the same table in the same room with the same people. They may not know it now but this is a huge gift to them and their lives. They have the roots that I never did.
Lenny and I have been blessed to be surrounded by a fantastic family that is an honor to know. They are the true example of what family should be all about and they have made this place home for me in more ways than they know. That can be a blog for another day.
We know our neighbours and many of the people in our town and others. We have been inside our childrens schools many times and not only know our way around but also their teachers and many of their friends.
We planted little saplings when we first moved here and now those same trees are taller than I am (no short jokes required *laugh*). We have even been here long enough to repaint a room. Some of them twice!
We have even had the joy of welcoming other members of Lenny's family back to this area to live and it has been a wonderful experience.
I know which store carries what products and where the best place to eat is. All simple, mundane daily living things that might be boring to others but simply fascinating to me. I LOVE it!

So... even though I never grew up here, none of my biological family lives here and I do not have 40 years of memories here (yet), I am home.
Home Sweet Home

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Tely 10

The "Tely 10" is a 10 mile (16 kilometer) race that is run in St. John's Newfoundland each summer. Next year I am going to be ready for it!

This is a HUGE deal for me and I want to explain why.

I have had heart trouble for many years. It all started while giving birth to Travis where I strained the muscles in my chest and the inflammation irritated my heart causing it to beat far too quickly and irregularly. I was only 23 and each year I got slightly worse. There were MANY hospital runs over the years and as my symptoms got worse with every year that passed. I began to do less and less to avoid another hospital run. Unfortunately this meant that I gained weight and became less and less fit. It became a vicious circle of gaining weight -> more heart trouble -> more fear -> less activity then back to gaining more weight.

For many years (16 to be precise), the doctors would always just blame these "attacks" on anxiety and never looked any deeper in to what might really be the problem. It was exceptionally frustrating. If I am honest I must admit that I was fairly certain it was going to kill me before anyone ever took me seriously.

Then December 17th, 2008 came along and I had a horrible day of trying to control my heart rate but nothing was working. The final straw for me was when I was watering my plants and my heart rate shot up over 240. The ambulance was called and I was taken in to the hospital quickly.
When I arrived there was a male doctor there and he immediately blew me off and said I was being "just" being anxious. I am sure that raised my heart rate even higher! Grrrr!!! Thankfully it was the end of his shift and he went home soon after completely dismissing my issue.
I was blessed next with the sight of a very young woman doctor taking over the emergency department and I just KNEW that I had to get her to really listen to me. I do not mean to sound dramatic here but I really felt it was getting to the point where getting someone to help me was life or death.

She came in the room and asked me what I was having trouble with. Instead of answering about that particular night I begged her (truly begged her) to help me. I briefly explained that this had been going on for YEARS and although the heart racing did make me panic... the panic came after the heart racing began. not before. I also told her how fit and healthy I had been before all this started and how much I had declined over the years.
She listened! Really listened. She ordered 12 hours of tests and found almost immediately that there was a part to my heart that was overstimulated and causing major swings in heart rhythm. I would go from the high 90's up to over 200 every few minutes. No wonder I was so scared and panicked. Who wouldn't be?

The craziest part of the whole situation??? All it took was for this doctor to listen and leave the heart machine on me for an extended time rather than the usual minute. That's it!
It was a very happy yet angering time.
All those wasted (regarding health) years just because no one would listen to me. It made me want to scream yet I was also very happy that FINALLY I had an answer! I was prescribed a pill that is no larger than this "O" and I only take a quarter each day! My troubles began to be solved right from that minute.

The past 18 months have been an uphill battle to regain my strength. Just walking from my house to the next house would cause me to start breathing very heavily and my heart would bang so hard that I could feel it slamming in the back of my head. I was terrified but knew that I had to keep it up. It has been a bit of a longer journey than I had thought it would be but I have never stopped trying and now I need a goal to motivate me to get even stronger.

16 kilometers itself is not all that daunting but doing it with any degree of competence and speed will be my ultimate goal. I will not even try to run it but I will focus on getting to the speediest walk that I can manage. I will spend the next months building up my strength, endurance and speed.
I will time myself and measure my distance achieved once a month until the race.

I hope that you will all be there with me to celebrate the day that it is my picture coming through that finish line!
Just don't expect to see 51:21 on the clock!

To have you supporting me would be great but to see you make a goal of your own and strive to get towards it would be even better. It does not need to be a marathon but it should be something that you can not do now but would like to be able to do in a year.

Join in! We can all do an awful lot in a year!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Mistakes of a mother...

When I thought of becoming a mother I knew it would be hard. It was the most incredibly important decision I ever had to make and I feared becoming a mother a lot because I was born to a mother who did not want me and never bonded with me. I worried that I would not know how to be a mother and sadly I was right. Instinct is only instinct if you are taught by your mother. This true for any animal. 
That said, I decided that I was going to be the one that broke that vicious cycle.
I had therapy (LOTS of therapy), joined parenting groups and literally learned how to be a mother step by step.
It has gone really well and I am proud of the relationship that I have with all of my children. The love in this house is palpable and I am certain my children know beyond a doubt that I love them fully. 

Of course I still screw up completely at times. I am only human.
My latest mistake was a BIG one.

For months now I have been dealing with my middle child Cassie and her illness. It has taken my time and attention and left me with little time for other things but I always tried to make sure that neither Megan or Travis felt ignored in any way. It wasn't easy but I felt that I was doing well.
Travis has certain needs so I made sure to fill those but Megan seemed to be doing really well sort of navigating her time mostly on her own and with friends. I made the assumption that she was okay.

2 nights ago I found out that Megan had done something that I was shocked by and I was very concerned for her. I asked her a few questions and expected some simple explanations and then we would all go to bed. Happily ever after.
My sweet Megan is so tough and appears almost bulletproof at times. She seems like she can handle everything and everything that comes her way and she never seems to get down or be sad. If she does, she bounces back really quickly and she is such a wonderfully optimistic young woman. I respect her more than I can even express.
That said... I really missed something. I never saw how worried that she was for her sister Cassie. I did not know that she has been terrified of losing her. I understand it. We have all been afraid of that even though no one likes to say it. In my attempt to keep everything as normal as possible at home and be positive about Cassie and all her troubles, I neglected to see Megan's heart was hurting. I think I also made Megan feel that she needed to remain strong and that we should not get these feelings out for fear of upsetting each other.

It was a huge mistake and I asked my sweet Megan to forgive me and thankfully she did.

The lesson I have learned is that my youngest girl has a side to her that I never saw before. Behind her tough, independent,  energetic and optimistic exterior is a soft heart that needs to be held no differently than someone who wears their heart out on their sleeve. 
I made a mistake and my sweet girl was hurt in the process by my ignorance.
That said, I have learned a big lesson that I will never forget.

Thank you Megan for teaching me and forgiving me fully. You are an amazing girl and I am blessed to have you in my life. I will never again forget to remember that you have a soft heart and I will do my best to hold it gently.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

My rat obsession.

Okay, it's official. I am obsessed with our rats.

Shall we back up a step?
How on earth did this happen?

It all began when my 2 girls started asking for rats about 2 years ago. My answer? NO WAY!
I said that rats were not pets and I was not having a filthy rodent in my house.
I assumed (yes... assumed without any knowledge on the subject) that they were dirty, gross, mean little creatures that would bite, stare at me with glaring eyes and eat through anything they came in to contact with.
There was no valid reason for my feelings but this was my gut reaction to the idea. Even I have some very narrow minded moments.

After a year of begging without any success they started showing me videos of rats on YouTube. These silly rats were not so menacing looking but actually a LITTLE cute. They did tricks, they danced, they did not seem to bite but I was sure that was only for certain lucky people. Not me!
Cassie finally broke me down when it was almost her birthday and she said that she would buy everything for the rats. I told her that so long as she and Megan were 100% responsible for them and did EVERYTHING themselves then fine. I would buy the actual rats as her birthday gift.

So she gets these little creatures and they are actually cute. I occasionally went down and looked at them but they still freaked me out. No touching them for me! It took me over 2 months to even touch one and holding one was another month after that. A little odd for me since I am usually very open to most animals but the idea of rats still bothered me.

What happened next has shocked me and everyone else in the house. I actually grew to like them. We all did. Lenny started letting them lay on his tummy while watching TV, I started letting them sit on my lap while I tinkered with the computer (as I write this now, Tali is here on my lap and licking my fingers causing me to type with one hand). Travis even began letting them climb up his arm and sit on his shoulder each evening. After a month or so of never being bitten (they never bite), never having one stare me down or hurt anyone in any way... I melted. I fell in love with 4 silly little rats.

We take them outside (no leash needed), we let them play in the living room while we watch TV, I even built them a "playground" so they could have fun while we had fun watching them. We are starting to think we should cancel the TV service. We only sit and watch the rats play anyways.
I am almost ashamed to admit this but my previous rule of the girls being 100% responsible has changed to me wishing they would go out so they rats can come play with me. *laugh*

So I must admit to all of you...
I am officially rat obsessed.

If you watch my video, you might see why. :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Learning to Write

I have been writing letters for 30 years now and the wonderful woman who taught me how to do it "properly" will be 107 on September 25th. Her first letter to me was fun and interesting so I wrote back with great excitement. I was only 10 years old but when she wrote me back she also returned my letter with corrections. Not my spelling, not my grammar, not any words I had used but the actual content.

I had written sentences like "I went camping with my Dad" and she had questions written in red all over all over that sentence.  
Where did you go?
Are you close to your Dad?
Was it pretty?
How did you feel when you were there?
Did you do anything that you think you will remember forever?
The whole letter was covered in questions and over the following years she slowly taught me not just how to write and post a letter but how to really speak to the other person and hopefully make them feel like they are right there with you having a friendly chat. I learned so much from her (I still do!) and although my letters will never be perfect and her replies will always include corrections (yes... 30 years later she still happily and politely corrects/questions and probes me to dig deeper) she taught me what really counts in a letter.

Who cares if you went camping? Honestly very few people will although they will be polite and pretend that they do. *laugh*
They WILL care if you tell them that your single father had to deal with your first period and how embarrassed you both were. 
It will make someone laugh if you tell them that after spending 4 or 5 hours driving to the campground named "Lost Forrest Park" that your father somehow managed to always laugh at my question (every 2 minutes I am sure) "Are we Lost yet? I am wondering why he never strangled me. What a patient man he was.
It will create an amusing picture in their mind if you tell them how you spent the whole weekend catching great big "wart" covered toads for "Toad Races" with all your friends and that you even spent several hours making a track for them to "run" on... which they completely ignored! How ungrateful!
When I read a letter it is not the day to day diary that I care about anymore although without Olive it might have been okay with me. Then again, I doubt I would still be writing. How sad that would be.
Olive taught me that it is how you felt on that day, what made you laugh when you were there, who made you feel special, what you saw that just took your breath away for a moment that really matters. 

In the end I learned that the ungrateful toad is far more important than the trip.

When I get a copy of this back from her, I will expect it to look a lot like this.
Thanks Olive!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Living Life 80-20

In my younger years, I was always devastated every time I made a mistake or messed something up. It always felt like the world was going to crash in around me. Then I had a really rough patch in my life and had to learn to be kinder to myself. I decided that I would start living my life 80-20 and it is certainly a much easier way to live.

This is what it means...

80% of the time you try to get things right. Arrive on time, stay healthy, fulfill commitments, have fun with your children, be sweet to your husband, handle stress with dignity, eat properly, give the pets fresh water, get the housework done, get enough rest, have a great day at work, remember someone's birthday, speak kindly to those around you and all the other million things that we do well each week.

20% of the time you accept that you are going to get things wrong. Arrive late, eat junk food, forget to give the pets fresh water, break a promise, get mad at your children, say something nasty to your husband, let stress overwhelm you, leave the house a mess so you can sit on the computer, stay up too late, have a crappy day at work, forget someone's birthday, say something unkind about someone and all the other million things that we mess up on in a week.

The biggest part of this way of living is that you have to accept that we are all human and we can all learn to be kinder to ourselves. We are all good and bad, smart and stupid, happy and sad, organized and disorganized, prompt and tardy... and it is okay!
Do well 80% of the time and forgive yourself for the 20% that you are not.
Nobody's Perfect!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


After seeing posts made my a few of my other friends, I have chosen to pick the colour green and do my own photo essay with it. 

GREEN : The color of harmony and balance, Green symbolizes hope, renewal and peace, and is usually liked by the gentle and sincere. Greens are generally frank, community-minded people, fairly sociable but preferring peace at any price.

A lovely wispy tree.

Cassie with her flip flops.

An old shed door.

My prickly cactus.

Candy cake sprinkles.

Megan's wish for a greener world.

The Book of Me - Literally.

Gel pens.

 The bunting bag I have made for the next Mullaly baby. 


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Whales turned to fog.

I did all my errands early and rushed back to the North Shore where I live because the whales seem to think that 4pm is feeding time and I wanted to get some pictures for my friends. I got myself all set up and in a great position to get some good pictures... then the fog rolled in and completely covered the water!
I could hear the whales but could no longer see them and the camera only picked up a white blanket over the water.
I am fairly sure the whales were laughing at the clever prank they pulled on me. Foiled again!

When I decided to stop looking for whales I was able to let myself see how beautiful the fog looked as it began to climb it's way up the cliffs. A really stunning sight in my books. I took this picture just as it began and marveled at the beauty of the white encroaching on the green.

I have to wonder how many times we go somewhere looking for something or expecting things to go a certain way and when they don't, we just leave. I am starting to feel that perhaps we need to stay awhile and enjoy what shows up naturally. It might be just as beautiful and worthy of our time.

And if we are really lucky? Maybe even more beautiful.