January 20, 2017

Yesterday my daughter and I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Aside from the fact that they are now staring at me from across the kitchen, I am happy that we took the time to bake them.

When I was young all of the treats that we had were homemade. My mom was an amazing baker and considered store bought cookies “trash”. Cookies, muffins, bars, loaves and scones. Yummy.

Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies were definitely a favorite for all of us and disappeared quickly. I remember my mom attempting to slow down the cookie consumption by putting them in the freezer. Wrong. That just made them better.

We should really bake more often. It’s easy, it’s fun and it creates great memories…..but it also creates situations like this. Me sitting in the kitchen being stared down by a plate of cookies thinking about my mom.

The Best Thing in Life is fresh oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.  Miss you mom.

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The Upside of Technology

technology

Technology is an amazing thing.  It’s a bit ridiculous really, when you think about how far we have come in the past ten to twenty years.  We’ve gone from huge main frames to pcs to laptops to smart phones to iPads to Google Glasses in what feels like the blink of an eye.  Technology has truly changed the way we live our lives.

It does, however, sometimes get a bad rap.

For example, many feel that the increase in screen time has numbed the minds of our young.  I read an article recently comparing screen time to heroin for young children.  I personally believe that if a balance can be found with physical activity and a creative outlet, that it can’t hurt.  Don’t get me wrong, it can suck our little ones in and hold on tight if not managed properly, pulling them into a massive black hole.

Then there is the issue of distracted driving.  Not an problem until a few years ago, but now a growing concern.  The number of fatalities from distracted driving has now surpassed that of impaired driving in Canada.  Yet people still do it. I see it every single day.  Young, old, male and female.  And I know they now better because when they see me glaring at them in their cars at the stop light, they quickly put their phones away.  Ya, I do that.

But today I saw the undeniable upside of technology.  I arranged for my 83 year old mother to Skype with her twin brother who lives in England.  Neither my mom or my uncle have been able to fly for a number of years and as such have not seen each other in a long time.  Being twins they have always had a close relationship and despite regular phone calls my mom felt a bit disconnected from him.

So a Skype call was arranged.  In my mom’s eyes I performed a miracle, but in all honesty all it took was a few emails and the installation of a new app on my iPad.

The looks on their faces as they realized that they could see each another and talk to each other while sitting in their kitchens was beyond priceless.

“Your face looks fatter.”  My mom said not so tactfully.

“You’ve lost weight.  You look more like our mother now.”  He replied.

They talked about my uncles new great grandson and how his wife was doing in the facility she now lived in.  Nothing earth shattering, but you could see, and hear, that they were beyond thrilled to be on the call.  I think my mom wanted to reach out and touch the screen a few times just to make sure that it was real.  That it really was her brother on the screen and not just a mirage.

She kept saying.  “I can’t believe I can see you so clearly.”

Roughly five thousand miles away and eight hours time difference, but to them, they might as well have been in the same room. Today I saw how technology could simply make my mom’s day.  That is The Best Thing in Life and we should never take it for granted.

 

You Can’t Pick Your Family

familyThis past weekend my daughter and I spent the day with some friends in Whistler. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and while our girls played in the water park we had lots of time to catch up. We talked about lots of things. One of the things we talked about was family. More specifically our parents and siblings. We both admitted that if we had a choice we probably wouldn’t spend a lot of time with them. It got me thinking on the drive home about my relationships with my parents and siblings.

I wouldn’t say we were a close family. If I had to use one word to describe us it would be judgemental. Don’t get me wrong, I include myself in that statement. We each judge each other and my parents judge everybody. It’s weird though because they are very accepting of other cultures but judgemental of people who don’t live life the way they do. I know that probably doesn’t make sense does it. For example, they are accepting of somebody from Japan or somebody who is Muslim, but not accepting of the guy who lives down the street who doesn’t like to garden and has his front yard paved over so he can park his RV.  Over the years I have tried to be less judgemental but at last I come by it honestly.

My sister and I have never had a solid relationship. I was the youngest and was kind of spoilt. I wanted to be just like her but she wanted nothing to do with me. She never let me borrow her clothes so I just took them. I wanted to hang out with her and her friends so I just tagged along. That didn’t make her very happy and I was often told to go home. When she was in college she suddenly decided we should be friends. After years of being pushed away, I was not interested. We’ve had periods of time when we’ve gotten along but it always seems to be at arms length. At least for me anyway.

My brother and I used to get along really well but have drifted apart over the past ten years. We have very different approaches to life and tend to butt heads a bit. We live close to him and his family and sometimes I feel bad that we don’t see them very often but the reality is that I don’t have an over abundance if time and would rather spend it with my husband and kids. Ya I know you are all shaking your heads thinking how selfish I am. I’m guessing some of you feel the same way but just don’t want to admit it. I’m right aren’t I?

Getting back to being spoilt. Yes, my mom spoilt me. I’m not sure why. (Okay, I was pretty cute). The problem is that I think she still thinks I’m a little girl who isn’t capable of looking after herself, despite surviving a divorce and having two children of my own. I am grateful for all that my mom has done to support me through some very difficult times, however, not returning her phone call in an acceptable amount of time does not mean that there is a problems in my marriage. Being tired and stressed from working and having a husband who travels a lot does not make me depressed. And no, I haven’t lost weight in the seven days since I saw you last.

When I was little my dad worked a lot. He owned his own business and it required time and dedication. I admire that in him today. What I don’t admire is the fact that when he did come home from work we, as his kids, were pretty much taught to be seen and not heard. It’s a British thing. As soon as his car hit the driveway we had to turn off the TV. There was not a lot of affection. He taught us a lot. Skiing, fly fishing and how to tell a spruce tree from a fir tree. But there wasn’t a lot of playing and laughing.

I know all of this may sound harsh but at the end of the day we do all love each other and have supported each other through the years. We don’t fight. We just judge from a distance. So is it wrong that I don’t want to hang out with them? The saying about how you can’t pick your family couldn’t be more fitting for me. The Best Thing in Life though, is that you can pick your friends and enjoy spending the day hanging out with them in Whistler.