A Perfect Weekend…

A few weeks ago, as part of my blog swap with Lisa, I described my perfect day. A steaming cup of coffee, a walk with a friend, good food, great weather, a massage. Turns out, I managed to get all of these things – multiple times! – as part of my “perfect” weekend.

When I climbed into bed Sunday evening I couldn’t think of a single thing I would have changed about my weekend which felt…lovely. Nothing momentous happened – I didn’t win the lottery or ride in a gondola down a Venetian canal. But I drank delicious cups of coffee. I carted my houseplants outside in the sunshine and got my hands dirty as part of my attempt at “indoor” gardening. I went on a walk with friends. I worked up a sweat on the treadmill (twice). I laughed and played games with the kids. I had three at-home date nights with my husband (who treated me to various shoulder massages – sometimes while I sipped my coffee). I read a great book.

In short, the weekend was delightful.

Generally, I lump weekend activities into a Casual Friday post, but this one was so enjoyable I thought it deserved its own moment in the limelight. Plus, it’s something I can refer back to when I’m grousing about bad weather or grumpy kids or cars that won’t start.


Coming off a mediocre week, I was thrilled to see the sun shining when I woke up Friday morning. Despite the nice weather, I drove the kids to school since I had a 9 am walk planned with some local friends.

This left me with enough time to make (and enjoy) a great cup of coffee and blast through some work tasks before meeting up with our little walking crew.

The time of social exercise was delightful. The air was crisp, but the sunshine balanced out the cool undertones of the day. We walked loops around a local pond system and crossed paths with many happy dogs, several still dripping from their first brave plunges into the water.

I came home from the walk and blasted music through every Google speaker in the house and worked until it was time to head to the airport to collect John. I had tracked his flight and touchdown projections kept shifting. I almost always end up waiting for at least a few minutes, but a great tailwind from Europe resulted in an earlier-than-expected arrival time. He wasn’t in a rush, so I enjoyed the rest of my solo drive (sunshine! no kids fighting in the backseat!), knowing he was going to be there when I arrived.

And indeed, before I even pulled into the passenger pickup lane, I spotted him walking toward me with a giant smile on his handsome face. My heart flip-flopped in the best possible way. Seeing him still gives me butterflies (every single time) and we enjoyed relaxed and wonderful conversations on the drive home (remember: sunshine! no kids!).

I’ve written before about how challenging transitions can be with his frequent travel so I was mentally bracing myself for what can seem like inevitable (albeit minor) speedbumps.

But this time his return home was seamless.

We had about an hour to settle in before the kids got home from school. When I saw Levi barreling across the lawn, I thought he was making a wild run for the bathroom. Instead, he rushed around in a tither, rummaging frantically to find something important in his book bag (Don’t come out! You can’t see it yet, Mom!). I assumed it was an early Mother’s Day craft from school – but it ended up being a trophy…because he won a school-wide pushup contest!

Apparently, the principal issued a challenge to the entire student body to see if anyone could beat him in a pushup contest. Our school runs Pre-K to Grade 8, so there is a broad spectrum of ages and abilities. Levi signed up with about 30 other kids and handily beat the principal (who tapped out at 40-something pushups).

Levi did 61 pushups (beating a family friend – a girl in Grade 7 – by 1 pushup).

The rest of the afternoon passed in a relaxing fashion. The kids played outside with friends and I topped up the soil on our existing houseplants (hadn’t done this in several years – oops). The kids ate…something?…and John made delicious savoury waffles and we enjoyed an at-home date night watching several episodes of the sports docuseries Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers on Disney+.


After a good sleep, I woke up relatively early and enjoyed breakfast and a coffee in peace. The kids were downstairs watching cartoons while John was on the treadmill. I think? It was quiet, so I didn’t investigate and just enjoyed the solitude.

Mid-morning John took them on an 8 km walk – they did trivia the whole time and came home in great moods, not always the case I can assure you – and I used that time to: Eufy most of the upstairs floors, mop said floors, wash/dry/put away an entire load of laundry, run 3.5 km on the treadmill, shower, and get dressed. All. by. myself. Pure Saturday morning bliss.

If I thought the day couldn’t get any better, we solved Wordle in 2.

Levi had a birthday party to attend about an hour away, so we grazed on leftovers from the fridge before heading out. We ended up with some time to kill and went to several thrift stores and managed to source some great summer gear: a beach bag for me, a bathing suit for Abby, shorts and cleats for Levi, some clothes for John.

We dropped Levi off for the party – at a circus school! – and headed to IKEA with Abby.

Again, this was just…perfect. Shopping at IKEA can be overwhelming and frustrating (lately, often the items you desperately want/need are out of stock). But this time we wandered around leisurely and looked at all the fun new things and ended up finding a handful of items to complete our entryway decor. I had also been looking for some additional houseplants and, unbeknownst to me, IKEA was having a 50% sale on plants. We stocked up!

These 5 plants cost about $15, total!

We capped off the shopping adventure with hotdogs and ice cream (obviously) and went to collect Levi who had a great time (obviously; circus school + friends + cake).

No one fought on the way home (miraculous), the kids were already fed so they each hopped in for showers and then launched right into a “start sleepover” with a movie, while John and I watched more of the Lakers docuseries.

I stayed up too late reading All The Light We Cannot See…and loved every minute of it. I was close enough to the end I wanted to finish, but John woke up, saw me still reading and said: What are you still doing up? I knew I’d regret staying awake another hour to finish the book and I’d been caught red-handed. Sigh. So I dutifully went to sleep which almost certainly paved the way for a more pleasant Sunday.


Ah, Sunday. I love Sundays. I love eating my giant bowl of delicious oatmeal. I love having a leisurely start to the day (no bookbags or lunchboxes – plus, we leave a whole hour later than school days), but also appreciate the structure of a 9 am departure for church. I love our worship service and small group and…all of it.

We grabbed a rotisserie chicken for lunch and used it to make wraps. Easy and delicious. We always end up eating late on Sunday, so it was almost 2 pm by the time the kitchen was cleaned up. I did a bit of meal/lunchbox prep, but didn’t actually make food for Monday/Tuesday since I had some leftover items that needed to be used and couldn’t really be cooked up in advance. The cherry on top: Abby had a school band camp on Monday and lunch was provided!

The sun is reflecting like crazy, but it’s a very sweet picture of the kids from a few years ago! And one final 50% off IKEA plant.

The kids spent several hours playing outside and I transferred all the new plants from their flimsy plastic pots into glass containers. I also hung a picture of the kids in the entryway and set up some new folding chairs/a little bistro table from IKEA on the deck so we finally have an outdoor seating area.

I didn’t feel like going for a walk, so I did a nice little run on the treadmill and then went through my bathing suit bin. Trying on bathing suits isn’t exactly high on my favourite activity list, but I discovered I have accumulated various suits/rash guards that I actually like and fit relatively well so even this was a pleasant task. (I was wise to tackle this project on a day it was sunny and I was in a good mood; bathing suit assessments on a cloudy day when I’m cold and grumpy would be a recipe for disaster).

Then John and I threw caution to the wind and had a THIRD at-home date night. My heart was just so full and happy.

I assign arrows for my mood each day in my planner calendar spread. An up arrow for a good day, a down arrow for a bad day, and a sideways arrow for an okay day.

Sunday night, I awarded the day two up arrows.

Your turn. How was your weekend? Have you had a “perfect” stretch of days lately? Do you track your moods? Do you like having houseplants?

Happy Plants (And Other Things Making Me Smile)

One evening last week we ended up at Home Depot sourcing a new houseplant for our living room. We settled on a small fern, and I set the half dozen options on the floor, whittling it down to a final few. John made the executive decision for me, but I was relieved to see he picked what I had privately deemed the “happiest” looking plant.

And I wondered – does everyone look for the “happy” option?

Years ago, Abby was invited to a birthday party for a friend who loved stuffed animals. At the store, we immediately laid eyes on an adorable owl (Snowy, I think it was called?), but proceeded to spend 30 minutes deciding which version of Snowy was the absolute happiest looking.

I do this with stuffed animals, Christmas ornaments…and, apparently, also houseplants.

other things making me smile

  • A few weeks ago, I was finishing up a run on a local trail. When I run, my face turns beet red. It’s quite embarrassing (I don’t sweat much at all, and I wonder if this might have something to do with the fact that I go so red). I crossed paths with what I assume was a young university student. When she ran by me, she locked eyes and smiled wide and said: You’ve got this! in the cheeriest tone. I felt fine, but suspect from the colouring in my face she assumed I was on death’s door? Regardless, her enthusiasm made me very happy as I finished up my final 100 meters.
  • Automatic doors. Maybe I am just extremely lazy, but I love when doors open automatically, especially when I’m walking out of a store with my arms full.
  • Levi sitting on my lap for part of the high school production of Newsies last week. This won’t happen much longer and I almost certainly won’t be aware – at the time – when it has been his last time sitting on my knee. So I just soaked it all in. I scratched his back and smelled his hair and watched his adorable facial expressions. *Bittersweet sigh*
  • Abby and her creativity. She has relentless energy to create new games and her imagination is pretty incredible. This week she decided to create a mood jar, complete with an extensive colour legend (purple = ok; yellow = happy; blue = sad; green = energetic, etc), which she will fill with hair scrunchies of the appropriate colour based on her current mood.
  • Listening to Abby run lines for her play made me smile; she’s playing a horrifically mean school teacher (along the lines of Miss Trunchbull) and she has got the most vitriolic of her lines. down. pat. There must be something deeply cathartic about staring your mother in the eye and saying, with enthusiasm: You impudent creature. You wretched little gutter snipe. …And getting away with it.
  • A blog friend (you know who you are – hello, and thank you again) sent me the sweetest e-mail of encouragement on Monday that really made my day.
  • Doing Wordle with the kids. It’s such a treat.
  • Getting a new laundry basket. Our old wicker basket was bent out of shape; since we store our laundry at the end of a hallway, the aesthetic bothered me daily. The old basket has now been repurposed to hold sporting equipment in our front closet, and I smile every time I see our new laundry basket in the hallway.
  • When we arrived home from Levi’s floorball practice Monday night, he was hungry. He slowly consumed various bits and bobs from the fridge and when he got to the end of those, he told me he was still hungry (I cannot imagine the food bill/how many refrigerators we will need when he’s a teenager!), so we all sat down around the table and had a bowl of cereal together as a mid-evening snack. It was a very sweet, “ordinary” moment that made me extra happy for some reason.
  • This conversation as we headed out the door to floorball:

Me: Oh, Levi. Your shirt is dirty. Please go change before we leave.

Levi: Looks down at his shirt. It’s not that dirty.

Me: *Thinking about whether I should insist on a shirt change*

Levi: Really. It’s fine. It’s not like we’re going to the ballet, Mom.

Where did this come from? That child has never been to a single ballet in his life. For the record, he went to floorball with the dirty shirt…which did cut down on laundry, I suppose.

  • And then this conversation on the walk to school yesterday morning. Levi was lagging behind and I called back to him to catch up.

Me (to Abby): I suppose having him walk behind us means at least you two won’t fight with each other!

Abby: Yeah. Good point. Though I’m basically always right whenever we argue.*

The comment isn’t what made me smile, it’s that SHE REALLY BELIEVES THIS.

*Monday they got into a screaming match on the way to school about an obscure plot from a particular Marvel movie. Then Tuesday in the car there were tears are they fought over who has been “the sickest” in our family with them both offering up the worst of their ailments with statements like: “Well I had pneumonia and you only had a broken wrist…”

Our “happy” little fern…

Your turn. Do you try to select happy plants? Stuffed animals? Ornaments? Are you picky about your produce? It always SHOCKS me when someone reaches into the display case and just grabs a bag of grapes without looking. Or picks up a bunch of bananas or a bag of apples without inspecting them for bruises! What are your current “happy” songs?

Header photo by Madison Oren on Unsplash

Things Making Me Smile Lately

Over the last few months, I’ve been jotting down little moments that have left me smiling. I’ve already blogged about some special memories – like my wonderful museum outing with Dad and just about everything that happened in Rome! But there are lots of other heart-warming events that could easily get forgotten in the chaotic shuffle that is “life”. Here’s a compilation of some of those moments:

  • One Sunday morning at church Levi stood up on the chair next to me while we were singing and put his hand on my shoulder. In addition to tapping out the beat of the music, he was singing along in an adorable, clear voice. My heart exploded with love in that moment; imagine how God must have felt?!
  • Abby has the lead part in a local drama production and it is going to be a lot of work. She has almost 200 lines; one other character has about 120 and almost everyone else is in the 30s. She hasn’t been overly proactive (or so I thought) about practicing, but she asked me to work on her script with her one day last month and started RATTLING off her lines with military precision. I was shocked. She looked at me and said: You didn’t think I was working on this, did you? I’m not sure her methods are conventional, but hearing her work through the first part of the script so effortlessly made my Mama heart very happy.
Sitting in my favourite coffee shop almost always makes me smile.
  • One Sunday afternoon in February, while Abby was at a birthday party, I packed up my laptop and planner and headed out for my beloved Earl Grey. It was lovely. Bonus: I still had a gift card from Christmas, so my little afternoon treat was free!
  • Speaking of that birthday, when I dropped Abby off I asked if she wanted me to walk her to the door. She thought about that for approximately one millisecond and said: No, that’s okay. And she proceeded to go in solo. It made me very happy both in terms of logistics (I didn’t have to turn off the car and make small talk) and what it represents with her growing independence.
  • One day in March, based on the weather forecast, I was convinced the kids were going to have a snow day. I had a long list of work tasks to get done and I steeled myself for juggling the kids and the snow and all. the. other. things. And then, at the last minute, the forecast shifted, the roads were clear and schools were open. It ended up being one of my most productive days in recent memory and it felt AWESOME from start to finish. I kept catching myself in a giant grin all day long. There was something uniquely wonderful about reclaiming a day I assumed was going to be lost to managing wet snow gear and snack preparation and monitoring movie consumption.
  • Levi had been playing in the neighbourhood late one evening and came home without his hat. It was dark and I wasn’t about to go hunting for the hat but it was his favourite and I was disappointed at the thought it might be lost. The next morning, on my way home from walking the kids to school, I passed by a high schooler who lives in our neighbourhood. He stopped me to say: Did you know Levi’s hat is hanging up on the post by So-and-So’s driveway. The fact he took the time to stop and tell me about the whereabouts of Levi’s hat made me smile! (Unfortunately, Levi now seems to have officially lost this hat. It has been missing for weeks – lost while we were away in Rome.)
  • On a related note, there are MULTIPLE high schoolers in our neighbourhood who take the time to make eye contact and say hello on their way to the bus stop each morning and this makes me very happy every time.
  • Crisp winter mornings with no wind. I don’t enjoy cold and snow, but most of all I hate wind. A crisp, sunny winter morning without wind is borderline pleasant. It’s the wind that kills me and so it’s a special delight to walk outside our door in the morning to nary a breeze.
  • Speaking of weather, when Kaelyn mentioned she had checked the weather forecast in Rome when I was there…it made my day!
  • So many moments with my parents. Watching Mom and the kids lined up on the couch doing a Word Search together; Dad on the floor playing mini-hockey with Levi. Having them stop by for an afternoon coffee, bringing homemade chocolate chip cookies (which one of Levi’s friends has declared to be “way better than my mother’s chocolate chip cookies!“).
  • Watching Levi play outside for hours in the spring sunshine. He comes in filthy and all the extra laundry is slowly driving me crazy (how does mud get on every square inch of his coat and boots?!)…but I adore looking at his pink cheeks and he smells just like spring and sunshine – which more than balances out the increased domestic responsibilities.

Your turn. What’s making you smile lately? Do you check the weather before you travel? What’s your favourite type of cookie (and who makes them)?

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

My Alternative to Thank You Notes

I’m a big fan of letterwriting. I don’t send as many cards and letters in the mail as I used to; these days, my use of the postal service is primarily restricted to Christmas cards. But I consider my monthly e-mails updates to family, almost-daily texts with core friends, and other digital communications to be an acceptable equivalent.

The one form of written response I have never been particularly good at – or partial to – is the thank you note. To me, they usually feel perfunctory and a waste of postage. One friend always writes to thank us for every gift; if she gets a selection of smaller items, she will take the time to list each one and go into detail about some aspect she admires (e.g. The new scarf is lovely; you always remember orange is my favourite colour.).

This is a lovely gesture but, aside from a few deeply personal thank you notes (typically not for a tangible item, but for showing up in an hour of need), these letters go directly into my recycling bin after I’ve finished reading the contents.

I know, I know. Thank you notes are a dying art. And I do appreciate the sentiment, which has left me feeling guilty that I don’t usually reciprocate.

But then I realized I employ my own version of the thank you note. Except my approach is a thank you picture.

I send pictures – via text or e-mail – that show a gift has been received and used.

If someone gives me a gift card to my favourite cafe, I’ll take a selfie outside the front door, or snap a picture of my order.

If someone gifts the kids a new sweater or game, I’ll send a picture of them modeling the clothing or in the middle of playing their new game.

The picture I texted a friend who gifted Levi QuickPucks for Christmas.
The picture I sent the same friend – who gifted Levi this puzzle for his birthday!

When my sister visited at Christmas, she brought along a set of sports-themed mini-lights she had purchased for her son when he was little (he’s now almost 20). In lieu of a thank you note, I sent her a picture of them set up – and turned on – in Levi’s bedroom (you can see them hanging down the window frame in the top photo).

Abby suggested that, for dramatic effect, I take a picture of her putting in the very last piece.

My aunt gifted us a puzzle last month – the minute we finished putting it together I took a picture and sent it to her. Over the course of several days, she mentioned multiple times how much she appreciated knowing we had used her gift.

So I don’t send thank you cards…but I do send thank you photos.

Your turn. Are you committed to sending thank you notes? Have you tried the pictorial approach before? What is the most memorable gift you’ve ever received?

Header photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Thanks + A Quick Update

Thank you so much for the kind words and encouragement on Friday. Each comment and e-mail felt like a warm hug.

We had a very long (almost 2 hours!) and thorough appointment with a wonderful gastroenterologist. Test results remain reassuring; based on some relevant markers it appears to be a virally induced response (probably his 48-hour flu bug back in November). The solution?


It could take weeks – or months – for his body to fully heal.

That said, we walked out of the appointment with a game plan (including some at-home supports aimed specifically at children with chronic abdominal pain/nausea). We’ve also been brainstorming how to best support each other as a family, and have lots of great ideas – many coming from the kids!

I’m not going to lie. Nights are still very bleak. But we’re working on those, too. As Nicole so wisely said: There will be a time after this.

Indeed there will be a time after this; in the meantime, while I’m in this time – with its worry and frustration and lack of sleep – thanks for coming alongside and offering support.

Header photo by Manuel Cosentino on Unsplash

A Memorable Snowy Day: Remembering Acts of Kindness

Last week I wrote how my doctor’s “compliment” about my ear canals gave me an unexpected – and disproportionate! – morale boost. It’s funny how seemingly insignificant moments (or comments) can take on extra weight and stand out for years to come. Why do some memories and words have extra sticking power?

I have been on the receiving end of many acts of kindness, yet some experiences that could be dismissed as unremarkable have left the biggest mark.

Here is the story of one of those acts of kindness!

Years ago, when Levi was still a toddler and Abby was attending preschool, John was away on an early spring work trip. We had two vehicles, but only one of them had been fully winterized. John headed off with that vehicle since his trip involved lots of highway driving. I didn’t think much of this decision until, overnight, our area was hit by a snowstorm. Waking up to a world of white, I realized there was no way I could get Abby to preschool – a route that involved several steep hills – in our car without snow tires.

I didn’t relish the thought of being stuck home with two kids in our apartment all day and decided I would simply have to get Abby to preschool the old-fashioned way. Human power.

I bundled up both kids in the relevant cold-weather gear and headed out.

The snow was deep. And heavy. Under summer conditions, getting to preschool required a 20-minute walk. Under snowy conditions, with a toddler in tow (without the option of a stroller – the snow was too deep), I figured it was likely to take me over an hour. Abby was content to tromp bravely ahead, but I knew her little legs would tire eventually and she’d need to join Levi on the sled.

While still in view of our apartment, I was a sweating, exhausted mess. Levi was so young that his gloved hands couldn’t grip the sled handles properly. I focused every ounce of my concentration and energy on moving forward through the snow, but what I really wanted to do was collapse to the ground and have a nice, long cry.

Then, miraculously: This is getting easier!

I looked behind me only to realize Levi had fallen off the sled and was sitting in a snow drift 100 feet back. No wonder my burden felt lighter.

Best case scenario we were 500 meters into our trip. Then one child (maybe both?!) started crying, and I felt completely and utterly defeated.

At that exact moment a black SUV pulled up beside us. With AWD. And snow tires. It was another parent from preschool. She had her own kids buckled up in the back, and asked if we might be interested in a ride the rest of the way.

I will never forget how wonderful it felt to settle my kids into her vehicle and drive the rest of the way to preschool. By the end of the day the sun was shining, the roads had been cleared, and Levi and I were able to use the car to collect Abby.

The feeling of overwhelming despair and exhaustion that was so quickly and completely relieved by that random act of kindness – the preschool parent seeing us struggling through the snow and stopping to help – stands out distinctly in my mind from that season of life.

I suspect she didn’t think twice about her actions and, if I asked her today, chances are high she wouldn’t even remember that morning from years ago.

But I remember. And I’m forever grateful she stopped, loaded up my kiddos and our sled, and drove us past kilometers of snow-covered sidewalks.

Your turn. Does a particular act of kindness from your past stand out in your memory? One time, in a store lineup, I commented to the kids I had forgotten my reusable bags in the trunk of the car. I was frustrated with myself – now I’d have to buy a bag – when the woman in front of us handed back an adorable reusable bag and told me she had plenty and that I could keep it. I still have this bag and every time I use it, I remember that random act of kindness.

These are not from that particular snowy day (same era) but I couldn’t resist including a few throwback pictures. When did these two get so big?

Look at all those baby teeth!!
This was 2015 – right after Levi was born – a year it snowed continually for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Header photo by Ali Inay on Unsplash

This (American) Thanksgiving: Recent Awesome Things

Does anyone else remember the hype surrounding Neil Pasricha’s string of bestsellers that started with The Book of Awesome?

If you’re not familiar, Pasricha writes about everyday things that, when you stop to think, are really awesome, like: finding cash in an old coat pocket, when cashiers open up new checkout lanes at the grocery store, popping bubble wrap, managing to move clothes from the washer to the dryer without dropping anything (harder than you think!), and when you get the milk-to-cereal ratio just right. Not only are these all awesome experiences he wrote about in his first book – each and every one of them has happened to me in the last month. To be fair, I specifically planted a $20 bill in my winter coat last spring…but when I went to put it on for the first time this fall, I couldn’t remember if I had left money hidden in one of the lesser-used pockets. I had – and pulling out a crisp $20 (along with a few BandAids and an unused Kleenex stash) felt awesome!

In honour of American Thanksgiving, I thought I’d list some things that have happened to me in the last few months that I would categorize as That Was Awesome moments. Because labeling something as a That Was Awesome moment requires us to pay attention, change our perspective, and choose to appreciate the little things in life. Basically, it’s gratitude gussied up in party clothes.

recent awesome moments

  • Having a table open up at my favourite cafe the moment I walked in the door. This was awesome. Waiting sucks – and, at the cafe I frequent, people tend to stay for the long haul, so a full house can stay full for a loooonnnnggg time. It felt doubly satisfying because my heart sank when I walked into the cafe with not a single open seat and then – suddenly and fortuitously – I had a space to call my own.
  • Being able to pull through a parking space. Any day is instantly better if I don’t have to back up in a crowded parking lot. This happened the same day a free table opened up in that crowded cafe. It was basically just one big Awesome Fest.
  • Getting the very last one of an item I need at the store. We managed to nab the last two PAX wardrobe kits in stock at our local IKEA. We needed two, they had exactly two left. Awesome. I also remember a Christmas several years ago when another few minutes and our cheesecake would likely have been missing the cream cheese (so it would have just been a cake, I suppose?), but I managed to nab the last few packages on the shelf. What a thrill! There was a rush of adrenaline from how close I came to catastrophe (because no Unbaked Cherry Cheesecake at Christmas would be catastrophic for my taste buds) + a rush of gratitude for sourcing the required item.
  • Going to bed tired – content, not utterly exhausted – and falling asleep immediately. This feels awesome every single time it happens. No tossing and turning. Just blissful, immediate sleep.
  • When something I didn’t want to do (but felt obliged to say yes to) gets canceled. I recently had a meeting scheduled for first thing in the morning and I was dreading the prep and pressure – then, the other person canceled. How awesome!
  • When a package arrives early. I ordered photocards and custom calendars and they were set to arrive today; instead, they arrived over a week ago! Awesome.
  • Measuring correctly. Too often I get something home and it doesn’t fit. When we built and installed those IKEA PAX wardrobes in our new entryway, we had taken all sorts of measurements and, on paper at least, it was “supposed” to fit. But when we were in the middle of building it, I wasn’t feeling very confident. It was a tight squeeze, but it fits perfectly. Awesome.
  • When I’m hungry and open the fridge and there is something I want to eat ready and available – no prep required. Leftover casserole. Mini Naan bread dippers and hummus. COLD sparkling water. All awesome.
  • Discovering an item is cheaper than advertised. This happened to me earlier in the week. I needed to replace/update a lightbulb in our 1970’s kitchen – a small, old-school fluorescent tube. On the shelf, the bulb was listed as $16.99. A steep price tag for a single bulb, but it said it would last for 5,000 hours and we haven’t been able to use this particular under-cabinet lighting for over a year (#DemeritAlert). At the cash register, it rang in as $8.99. Awesome.
Practically levitating out of the store after discovering my lightbulb was much cheaper than I expected (also known as: You Know You’re An Adult When…some aspect of buying a new lightbulb is a highlight in your day).
  • Finding a BandAid at the moment one is needed. Last week when we were away from home, a child needed a BandAid for a bad hangnail. VoilĂ  – I found one (the very last one, mind you) in a side pocket of my purse. A week or two earlier someone needed a BandAid for some other finger malady and I found one in my coat (again, it was the last one; so double Awesome points for that).

Note to self: it’s time to restock my on-the-go supply of BandAids everywhere – purse, car, coats!

Your turn. Have you had any That Was Awesome moments lately? If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving today, what are three things you’re most thankful for in 2022? Of the awesome moments I describe above, which is your favourite and/or which one has happened to you recently? Did it feel awesome at the time, or only in retrospect?

Header photo by MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

On Remembrance Day: They Are Now A Part Of Us

My grandfather, Ellis, served in the Canadian Navy. At some point in the 1940s, his ship was torpedoed – sank – and he floundered in the chilly Atlantic. The war he survived; the cancer diagnosis that came 18 years later, he did not.

I know very little about my grandfather. When my brother was little he saw a picture of Grampie up on a dresser and pointed, saying: Daddy?

My father – in looks, at least – was a carbon copy of his father, most notably for their distinctive ears. In various text chains over the years, when I’ve sent pictures of Levi, my mother has replied: My, you sure can see traces of his grandfather. Especially those ears!

Which means, of course, he bears traces of his great-grandfather as well.

So who was Ellis?

After the war, he settled in Saint John, Canada. He married Evelyn. By the time he died in the 1960’s, he left behind four children (and had buried another – her name was Elizabeth).

My father, the eldest, was only 15.

I know my grandfather’s row of medals were passed on to my uncle when my grandmother died. From what I gather, he rarely talked about the war, but surely it haunted him.

How couldn’t it?

It seems incomprehensible, in a way, how deeply an entire generation was touched by war. Those on the front lines of course but those at home, too, huddled around their radios, listening to the crackling voice announcing daily updates. It touched them all. My grandfather-in-law was a cook; my grandmother-in-law, a war bride from England.

Those “lucky” ones – the ones that survived – came home. My grandfather and grandfather-in-law were the lucky ones.

War was over.

What would they make of the newsfeed on my phone this morning?

My brother-in-law has served in the Air Force for several decades now. This summer I sat around the dinner table with my nephew (wasn’t I just cradling him as a newborn?), his fatigues resting on the table beside my grilled sandwich.

When he puts his helmet on you can see genetics at work: he too bears his great-grandfather’s ears.

I can’t – and hopefully never will – fully understand what my grandfather experienced. I don’t know if he had nightmares and flashbacks. I don’t know how many friends he lost. Was it dozens? Did his heart default to gratitude for survival, or did that very survival haunt him?

I don’t know the answer to any of these questions. And that, especially on Remembrance Day, haunts me.

I may not know how long he was adrift in the ocean, or what horrors he experienced (or had to inflict) but this I know: if arms hadn’t reached out to grab him from the Atlantic, I wouldn’t be here today.

Without that rescue, there is no me, no us, no Abby or Levi.

And so, in memory of Grampie Ellis:

In the rising of the sun and in its going down,
we remember them.
In the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter,
we remember them.
In the opening of buds and in the rebirth of spring,
we remember them.
In the blueness of the sky and in the warmth of summer,
we remember them.
In the rustling of leaves and in the beauty of autumn,
we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends,
we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength,
we remember them.
When we are lost and sick at heart,
we remember them.
When we have joys we yearn to share,
we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are now a part of us,
as we remember them. [Emphasis mine.]

A Litany of Remembrance by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer

Header photo by Lorenzo Hamers on Unsplash