Friday, November 23, 2012

3 am Revelations

I keep a beautifully crocheted afghan on the recliner in Grady’s room. It was made by my great grandma, and was a staple at my Grandma’s house when I would go to visit. It has 4 bright shades of pastels crocheted together and whenever I would sleep the night at Grandma and Grandpa Reamer’s, Grandma would have it ready for me. When she passed away, and we were going through her things, the only thing I could think of that I really wanted was that blanket. I must confess that until Grady was born, I kept it hidden away from everyone because when I was really upset, or lonely, or worried, I could curl up under it and still smell the familiar childhood scents of Grandma’s house.

Once Grady was born however, I started spending more than my fair share sleeping on the recliner in his room, and it seemed only fitting to have it close. Last night, when I was rocking Grady to sleep, I was marveling at the tight crochet work, the mixture of the colors, and I thought to myself, I wonder if my Great Grandma Reamer EVER thought that some day her great, great grandson would be getting rocked to sleep under something she so lovingly created.

It sort of hit me like an epiphany because shortly before I had concluded that Grady had my Grandpa Reamer’s hands, definitely my dad’s nose and mouth, an air of Grandpa Hunter about him, Grandpa Klassen’s forehead, and eyes and a dimpled smile just like his Daddy. I cuddled tighter into the blanket and wondered what I would leave behind. It’s a strange thought, wondering what random genetic trait, or perhaps at the time, insignificant homemade good, will outlive you. What could outlive you and go on to give your future great great grandchildren cause to smile, or feel loved, or to laugh at an old memory.

For better or worse, I come from a long line of big personalities. Laughing at Annabelle eating onions and sausage, and channeling her Great Grandma as she motored around the kitchen helping me bake, or watching Ben even as a baby, so serious, so contemplative as he lined up his cars, taking great care to turn the wheels straight, so much like his Grandpa Hunter. Now Grady, who we are still getting to know, staring out the window in his room with those big blue eyes, watching the airplanes, and highway, just like his Great Grandpa Hunter, who so coincidentally left this world right before Grady joined it.

Of course it’s not just my family reflected in our children, Mike sees his own memories looking back at him from time to time as well. Ben looks like a Klassen through and through.. and the older he gets, the more I see it. Annabelle has the deep brown Sutter eyes, and was lucky enough to get the Klassen dimples too. (Don’t ask Mike how he will enjoy her teenage years!)

I still remember my dad telling me once that I reminded him of his Grandma Mamie. I had never met her, but the smile on his face when he talked about her led me to believe it was a compliment in the most sincere form. My mom would often exclaim that my stubborn personality reminded her of her sister. This I took as a compliment, however I’m not sure that’s what she meant. (*Editor’s Note: My mom and my aunt love each other dearly… but they still are sisters… so, you know.) Needless to say, haven’t we all, for the good or the bad, heard that we were acting, or we looked like, or seemed to emulate someone?

So I guess what I came to discover, at 3 am in the morning, is that whether a material remnant like a blanket, or the glimpses of the much loved relative reflected in your baby’s smile, we carry the people and memories that came before us so much closer to the surface than we realize. What a great pleasure, and incredible blessing, to feel generations of love wrapped around me in that afghan, or that much missed face echoed back in my child’s eyes.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Brittany`s Ten Commandments of Wedded Bliss

I was just at my cousin’s wedding this weekend, and at their guest book they had a spot reserved for “Words of Wisdom”.  I looked at it, and although I really wanted to add something, at that moment I was hungry, hot and my feet were too sore to think of anything more eloquent than "Don't be pregnant over summer". 

But, when we were driving, what felt like half way to Australia, I had some time to reflect on marriage, relationships, and yes, maybe a few words of wisdom.  While I am a relative rookie, with only 6 years of wedded bliss under my belt, Mike and I have spent 14 years together, so it's hard not to have already learned some lessons.  Plus I've seen some REAL trainwrecks, and they say you learn a lot by watching other people's mistakes. 

Now I know plagiarizing is generally frowned upon in most literary circles, but I`m pretty confident the big guy upstairs won`t mind my play on words.

Brittany`s Ten Commandments of Wedded Bliss

Original, huh??  Oh yes and for credibility reasons, this list is only including, but not limited to the first six years of marriage.  Ok, let`s get on with it…

1)      Thou shalt inhabit thy own sanitary facilities.

I`m not kidding.  People underestimate the benefits of not sharing those sorts of things.  It`s gross, and while I get it that everyone does it, does THAT ever need to be done in front of anyone else? Ick. 

2)      Thou shalt share all accounts, in particular financial ones.

Ok, I’m going against the Mighty O on this one.  I’m pretty sure she said to always have your own account.  My question.. if you ever are in a situation where you think it might be wise to get your own account away from your spouse’s watchful eye, you have much bigger problems.  Since we were married we put everything together, and we both have access to everything.  The only downside?? He can see how much I spend at Starbucks, and I can see how much he spends at Tim's. (FYI He wins the argument everytime... stupid Venti Skinny Vanilla Zen Tea Latte's...)

3)      You shall have no other friends above me.

We all need friends outside of our spouse, this is obvious.  Girls love to go out in large groups and drink copious amounts of wine and laugh loudly enough for other tables to complain.  Men like to hit the golf course in organized foursomes and drink copious amounts of beer and swear loudly enough for other golfers to complain.  This need not change.  But, there should be no friendship, or relationship, that supersedes that with your partner.  Life will assuredly throw horrible curveballs, and so far what I’ve noticed is that the only couples that seem to make it lean on each other first and foremost.

4)      Thou shalt not take thy partners name in vain… in public anyways.

Oh please we ALL get annoyed at our spouse.  Hockey til 2 am on a Thursday night when I, or um, some other lovely, doting wife, has to work the next morning is just rude.  And while a bit of venting to your favorite girlfriend is permitted, let us limit our negative assertions about our spouses to just that, harmless venting to a good friend.  We’ve all been there when someone gets a little TOO detailed about their personal problems at work, which forces you to inconspicuously slide a list of local marriage counsellors onto their desk when no one is around.  Let’s all make a pact not to tear down someone we promised to love and cherish in front of quasi-strangers.  And please, please please, especially NOT in front of your kids. 

5)      Thou shalt laugh.

Oh my goodness, there have been so many points already in our marriage where I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  Because of my embarrassing tendency to laugh in stressful situations you can imagine that I generally laugh, or I go into the ugliest of all reactions, the laugh into sobbing cry.  Either way, I don’t think anyone would ever look back at that moment and regret that they laughed, or saw humor even at some inopportune time.  Things often seem so much more terrible in the moment than they do even a day later, so when you can find the silver lining, embrace it.  Finding out you’re pregnant 4 months after major back surgery, while specifically intending to NOT have a baby, especially knowing that it took you months of trying to have your last child… well that’s comedy folks.

6)      Thou shalt not commit adultery.


7)      Thou shalt raise offspring equally.

How many men swear they will never change a dirty diaper?? I’ll tell you how many, the same amount that have incredibly unhappy wives.  Everyone wants to have a baby, and cuddle the baby, and dress him or her up in cute clothes, and take ridiculous photos, and think they will one day be in the NHL or a University of Kentucky Cheerleader (wait, that’s just me??).  But, no one wants to get up all night with a sick baby, change gross diapers, or clean up the carnage of a toddler with the flu.  But that’s what parenting really is, and unless both spouses take equal claim to the crappy parts (and I mean this literally), no relationship can really enjoy the amazing parts. 

8)      Thou shalt not kill… the fun.

Who says being married with kids needs to be boring?? The best couples I’ve seen are the ones who certainly have “Joie de Vivre”.  They experience life together, take on adventures together, and become each other’s greatest fans.  Do I find the annual RCMP hockey tournament to be a testament to the greatest athletes around?  Not exactly.    Do I find it incredibly entertaining to watch grown men try to regain the glory they had as young bucks when ‘they could have made it to the show… stupid torn ACL”.  Absolutely.  Does Mike get a thrill from watching horses go around and around in a circle.  Um.. no.  Does he appreciate how hard I work to keep said horse going around and around in a circle… well maybe not either.  But importantly, he shows up, gives me a big hug afterwards and pretends to understand why I do it.

9)      Thou shall not believe your neighbour.

Because people lie.  All the time.  About how much money they have, how great their lives are, how together they have all their crap.  NO one is that awesome.  And if they are, perhaps they can write their own darn set of commandments.  If your ‘friends’ never have money issues, never have mental/health issues, never have crappy days or have to work out to maintain their incredible physique, they are big, apparently not so fat, liars.  We all break down, we all screw up and we all spend too much time thinking everyone else is doing better. 

10)   Thou shalt love one another above all others.

Ok, are you ready.. even above your kids.  “WHAT DID SHE JUST WRITE!!!”  “Oh my goodness she hates her children”.  This is akin to what a woman on Oprah got told after making a statement much like this.  But I totally agree. If your relationship with your spouse falls below anything else in your life, even below your relationship with your children, it will be irrevocably broken.  There is a saying that there is no greater gift you can give your children than to love their mother/father.  So far, in my six years of marital bliss, I find this to be true.

Monday, June 18, 2012

It's been awhile...

I've been really neglectful of my blog in the last while.  I 'm afraid I was cheating on it with Facebook.  I'm back, and I've updated everything I wrote and, let's be honest, was just too lazy to transfer here. I've put up an outdated picture of myself to make it look like I'm not 22 weeks pregnant and feeling more like an aquatic mammal each day.  Stay tuned... it won't be so long this time! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grandpa Style

Larger than life. Life of the party. Not the usual way a grandchild talks about their Grandpa. But then again, he was anything but usual. The stereotypical Grandpa who sat in his chair and napped while the world turned around him, he was not. When Grandpa was around, he made our world turn. We will all tell you our fondest and earliest memories are swimming our childhood away in his meticulously cared for pool. As kids, we would wake up just in time to watch him pull the cover off the pool, and open the backyard for business. He stocked the shack with frozen treats, pool toys, and one lovely port-a-potty so Grandma could keep her house looking as though a dozen wet kids didn’t run through her dining room as much as we secretly did.

Whether he was cooking us all brunch with waffles and plenty of bacon, insisting we wear the full line of Kalium promotional t-shirts and hats to look as pearly white after a week in the pool as we did before, or convincing us there was a special chemical in the pool that would turn it red if we peed, everything he did was for us. But the best part about being his grandchild? He was ALWAYS the first adult to jump in the pool. He was always willing to start an intense game of volleyball, always willing to play baseball on the lawn, always willing to throw a sullen teenager fully clothed in the pool. Grandpa was always fun. We all knew the rules. No food in the pool. No drinks in the pool. No splashing those outside the pool, unless it was Grandpa doing the splashing, then we were free to join in. The final rule about Grandpa’s place in the summer? Stand about as far away as you could get when he’s about to start the bonfire. He’s used gasoline, and a lot of it.

Between Grandpa sneaking us down a backroad for the airshow, which I’m sure CFB Moose Jaw didn’t authorize, or the Grandpa shuffle, which bore a striking resemblance to Fred Flinstone, of course the summer memories are vivid, but the rest of the year was anything but quiet when Grandpa was around.  My sister, brother and I will never forget a ‘jigging” competition between our Grandpas at Christmas. It got a little out of control and ended with one Grandpa unable to catch his breath from laughing, and Grandpa Hunter just about going through their glass door. On another Christmas, taking the traditional walk after supper, Grandpa couldn’t help but notice one yard that looked beautiful, but maybe a little boring. This couple prided themselves on the snow being kept beautifully smooth, and while the lights were in fact gorgeous, it looked a little stuffy. Before anyone knew what happened, Grandpa was in the middle, creating the most glorious snow angel he had ever made.

The other thing that set our Grandpa apart from the crowd was his adventurous spirit. White water rafting for his 70th birthday, tubing at 78 year young despite worry from Ireland, Danielle’s stepdaughter, as she watched from the back of the boat, terrified they were going a little too fast for a Grandpa. Tai remembers speed boating with Grandpa in Wisconsin.  We remember Grandpa playing cowboy and jumping on a horse for thrills with Grandpa Reamer.. not a fear in the world. Grandpa was a living reminder that you are only as old as you feel. In fact, ask Justin who the last man standing was at his bachelor party.

Grandpa was always up for anything. One of the last weekends we spent together as a family at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, Uncle Blair brought a Costco size box of fireworks with him. You can all imagine what happened. They set them up in the valley across the street from the house. After getting warned by my dad and Grandpa to stay on the lawn of their house, the show began. The first firework went off and we all felt like we were at July 1st. The second firework went off and we all got backed up because it seemed a little close to the house. By the third firework, we all scattered in different directions as the firework repeatedly exploded towards the neighbour’s house. Suddenly the show kept going, and if you ask anyone who was taking cover, it felt like the longest show we had ever seen. Mandy was horrified, and when she ran into Grandpa worried about what was happening, all Grandpa responded was “I don’t like that guy anyway.”

His zest for life transferred into his love for his grandchildren. One thing we all knew without question was that our Grandpa loved us with such a fervent adoration that his love pinches actually hurt sometimes. In fact, a few years ago Chris trademarked them as ‘Grandpa style’. When he yelled “Kissing time!!”, all grandchildren, no matter their age, must comply. And gladly we did, since for as long as we could remember, our Grandpa had showed such exuberant affection and love towards us all. As we grew older, we realized that while Grandpa loved playing with all us grandchildren, snuggling his newborn grandchildren, and eventually great grandchildren gave him a sort of happiness unparalleled to all others. Quite simply, Grandpa loved being just that, a Grandpa.