All I Want for Christmas is You

This probably sounds sappy, but all I want for Christmas is to spend more time with my family.  Two of my sons have grown up and moved out, now raising families of their own.  My three grandchildren are growing like weeds.  My third son is not far off from leaving the nest, soon to graduate from university.  It is understandable that having everyone all together does not happen nearly as often as I would like.

I understand how busy they all are and how there never seems to be enough hours in a day to get everything done.  I remember those hectic days when my boys were young.  Sometimes it feels like just yesterday, although the calendar says otherwise. 

As much as I am proud of my sons and their achievements,  I miss their presence in my daily life.  So, when they ask me what I would like for Christmas, I tell them…

All I Want for Christmas is You!

Bonding over the flu bug

What do bonding and the flu bug have in common?  Not much, except when you and your family members spend 24 hours looking after each other.

My son started feeling the flu bug symptoms first in this household.  Around 9pm he complained that his stomach felt bad after an evening snack.  He started vomiting violently shortly after.

I had gone for our usual one hour walk with my husband, but halfway through could not muster the energy to complete the usual trek.  I guess my body’s energy level was being used up trying to fight off the flu bug.

Although I did not understand why I was so tired at the time, it quickly became apparent on our return home.  If my other son, his girlfriend and her 3-year-old daughter had not been sick with the flu the previous week, I would have attributed our illness to the salmon the members of our household ate for dinner a few hours earlier.

I went to bed exhausted around 1130 pm, and soon after the vomiting started.  My husband started vomiting around 2am.  Luckily we have enough bathrooms to accommodate three sick people at the same time; it was not a pretty site.

A kind neighbour brought (left it on the doorstep and rang the bell) over Pedialite freezies, Gatorade and gingerale to keep us hydrated throughout the 24 hour ordeal.

I posted a similar story a few years ago.  When I worked in the health care industry, the flu shot was mandatory each year.  The occupational health nurse went around the hospital I worked in, inoculating members of each department.  It was quick and convenient.  Since retiring, I see the advertisements for free flu shots at local drug stores here in Ottawa each fall, but never seem to find the time to stop in to get one.

After this ordeal, I will make sure I get my flu shot next year!

Hearing a great eulogy makes you want to be a better person

I recently listened to an awesome eulogy for a man I hardly knew and came away wanting to be a better person.  I was at the funeral for the father of my husband’s close friend.  I had only met this man a few times, but his life story, or at least the manner in which people close to him recounted it, had a tremendous impact on me.

There is nothing more uplifting than a great eulogy.  Great eulogies make you want to make your own life count for something in this universe, to make a positive and profound impact on the people around you.

To make that impact I believe you should maintain a healthy balance between family, work and fun.  To earn the respect of your family, friends and coworkers, you must respect and value them in return.  It is also crucial to realize what is important in life.  Appreciating and cherishing family, friends and the small things life has to offer instead of materialistic things is a step in the right direction.

I read this quote in a recent blog post and thought it appropriate to reblog it here:

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Are you doing your best to make the world a better place?  How will people remember you in your eulogy?

Stillbirths, Miscarriages, and Healthy Pregnancies: G9P3A3

stillbirths

I can write this story about my three stillbirths, three miscarriages, and three healthy pregnancies ( AKA as G9P3A3) now with humor, candor, wisdom, and hindsight, all things I did not have much of at the time.   Hopefully, my story will provide inspiration and comfort to others that have or are going through the frustration and heartbreak of losing a child during pregnancy.

A Large Family

I grew up in a large family, the youngest girl and second youngest of six children, with two sisters and three brothers. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, I have always wanted to have a large family myself.  My husband, on the other hand, grew up with just one sister, so he was more skeptical of the prospect of a large family.  Of course a large family today is probably only equivalent to half the size of a large family back then.

Having Children Before the Age of Thirty

My ultimate goal was to have my children before the age of thirty, so I could be a young mother and grandmother. After three and a half years of marriage,  I stopped using birth control so we could start a family.  It didn’t take long for me to get pregnant, but it took determination and perseverance throughout nine pregnancies within the next ten years to create our family.

My boys have grown up into fine young men.  I hope I have instilled in them the importance of working hard at all their endeavors in life including their educations, careers, and personal relationships.  I hope they make the most of their physical, mental, and athletic abilities, never taking them for granted.

Their grandparents would be so proud of our boys. Our youngest son never met either of his grandmothers, and the other two boys were quite young when they lost their Grandma and Nanna.   I am sure my mother is chuckling over the fact that her tomboy is now the mother of three boys. My father has since passed away as well; the boys all remember him, but we all wish he was still part of our lives.

Conclusions on Stillbirths, Miscarriages, and Pregnancies

I wrote this book for many reasons; the most important one being that it was very therapeutic for me to jot down details of each pregnancy, successful or not, to keep them all sorted in my mind.  Reading them now, filled into full sentences, is the most therapeutic of all.  Of course, it is easier to move on when things have ended on a positive note, and my family is complete.

If you have suffered through miscarriages or stillbirths, I am sure you can feel the pain I went through in the pages of this book.  Even if you haven’t, but have instead sailed through your pregnancies with no problems, I hope you can still read the heartache in my words, and realize how fortunate you are.  Each and every pregnancy is a miracle from conception to delivery; it is simply amazing that problems are not encountered more frequently.

It has not escaped me that three appears to be my lucky (sometimes unlucky) number. Three stillbirths, three miscarriages, and three successful pregnancies. Then three healthy sons, and now….three granddaughters and three grandsons!!!

Advice From an Expert on Stillbirths and Miscarriages

Talk about your fears, disappointments, and struggles to anyone who will listen.  This can be a professional counselor or a friend or a family member.   On the flip side, listen to anyone that is trying to lean on you for support throughout their struggles.  I remember a co-worker thanking me for “breaking the ice” as she called it, upon my return to work after a stillbirth.  My co-workers were all very concerned and caring, but no one knew what to say or how to act, so when I started the conversation, they were very grateful.  It is always better to acknowledge someone’s pain rather than ignore or avoid it.

Do not wait too long to start your family.  As my story shows you, things do not always go as planned.  If you are in a healthy, financially stable relationship, and both of you want to have children, don’t procrastinate.  That’s why humans have a nine-month gestation; it gives you time to get used to the idea of a baby in the family.

Work hard for what you believe in and want out of life.  Do not let others tell you that you cannot do something that you believe you can.  Do not believe that you cannot do something until you have tried your best to do it. Do not take anything you have for granted, especially your health, but also your intelligence, athletic abilities, and anything else that makes you different from others.

Last, but not least, when you are feeling down, take a moment to realize that there is always someone worse off than you in any given situation.  Think of the good and positive things in your life, (I do not mean materialistic things), and be sure to surround yourself with positive people that really care about you.  Delete the negative things and people from your life.  Make a written list of these things, referring to it often and adding to the list as you work through your struggles.

Buy my book from Lulu here or from Amazon here

Farmhouse Memories

My grandparents’ farmhouse was a special place in my childhood and still is.

Seaway News Interview

Howard Beaudette may have chosen to be an accountant for his career, but his second calling was to be a gentleman farmer, or by his description, a farmer wannabe.

Howard, his wife Noreen, and their daughter Suzanne have lived on their 150 acre “hobby farm” on Pleasant Valley Road near Ingleside since 2007. The house is located on a 50 acre tract with adjoining outbuildings, combines with another 100 acre parcel used to grow cash crops and raise cattle.

The original 200 acre property ( Lot 28, Concession 5, of the former Osnabruck Township) was granted by Crown Patent to Louis Gautier in 1797. It came into Howard’s mother’s family – the Hodgins – in 1852. Howard’s great-great grandfather was a stonemason, and he was the one who built the original home in the 1850’s. Constructed with stones quarried locally, it had two sections, with the summer kitchen without a basement being a later addition.

Windmill Construction began the building of a modern addition to the original home in 2006 and the family moved into it in 2007. Only the most discerning eye would know that it wasn’t part and parcel of the original structure where Howard grew up with is farming parents and seven brothers and sisters. Although the original house was built using stone from the area with mortar produced from a lime kiln located on the property, stone from Quebec was used for the new structure.

The summer kitchen is now the dining room with new pine flooring over the original wooden floor beams. All the paneling is made from butternut, and the 22 inch thick walls make for deep window sills. In keeping with the history of the house, the room is decorated with antiques, including an old wooden ice box that has been converted to a liquor cabinet.

A narrow door in the dining room opens to an equally narrow staircase that leads to a guest bedroom, the only other part of the original farmhouse that is currently being used. TheBeaudette’s have yet to decide when, or how, to renovate the interior of the remainder.

When Howard bought the family farm from his siblings in 1984, he had all the stone work repointed. He first rented the old farm house while he and his family lived in Ingleside, putting in long hours to upgrade lawns and farm buildings. When they made the decision to move back to the country, they hired an architectural designer, Charlene Zanbelt, to draw up plans for their new home. The design came as a result of many discussions with Howard and Noreen as to what they wanted in their new home. They wanted lots of light, lots of room and lots of storage space. Noreen insisted that the bathroom on the upper level have a window, and she got one. It actually looks down into the great room/sitting room, but the window is indeed there.

The home is filled with character, with all the modern conveniences blending in with the old country look. One of the walls in the new kitchen is the outside wall of the old summer kitchen.

The new addition is an open concept post and beam construction, with the two main centre posts measuring 25 feet in height. The combination great room/sitting room, kitchen, eating area, laundry room, bathroom and storage area complete the main floor layout. All the cabinetry in the house – the dining table, hutch, benches, built-in spice cabinet, coffee table, etc. were designed and built by Dave Fougere, Cabinetmaker. The original design called for a fireplace to the ceiling but the Beaudettes chose to install a propane unit which is surrounded by a stone wall and hearth, built from stones from the area, so that the corner beam remained exposed.

The barn on the property is newly constructed from materials taken from a century old 80 foot bank barn from the MacGregor family farm, near Martintown. However, it blends in like it’s been there forever. There is also a grapevine covered stone wall, which has been restored by Howard.

Noreen, who worked as a hairdresser for 20 years, showcases her decorating talents throughout the house, and has certainly made the house a “home”. Noting that she learned a great deal about country living from Howard’s mother, she enjoys some of the “old time” skills, such as pickling, preserving, and making bread and pies.

The Beaudettes have 20 head of Scottish Highland cattle and a few pigs and chickens on their so called “hobby” farm. They also plant a forty-acre plus cash crop which varies from year to year and maintain large vegetable gardens and apple trees.

Moving back to the country just came naturally to the Beaudettes. It was just like “going home.”

My Family Connection to the Farmhouse

My mother was Howard Beaudette’s sister.  She grew up on that farm, and although she couldn’t wait to move to the city of Cornwall as a teenager, we (my parents, siblings, and I) went to visit my grandparents there often and have many fond memories of the farm.  I am certain my love of gardening and the appreciation of the beauty I see in nature came from this portion of my family history.  

After my grandfather died in 1984, I went to the farmhouse often to visit my grandmother and to take her to run her errands. Her commentary as we drove by the local landmarks is still very fresh in my mind.  

As the years go by, I still love visiting this farmhouse. My grandkids do too, I started taking them during the pandemic when we couldn’t go anywhere else. They could run around outside at the farm, visit and feed the animals, and enjoy the fresh air and scenery. My oldest grandson loves to ride on a tractor with “Farmer Howard.”

Recently I spearheaded a project where recipes originating from this farmhouse were compiled in Mama’s Farmhouse Recipes.

farmhouse memories

Although many things have changed, the memories always come flooding back.

 My mother’s name is still handwritten in the cement doorstep outside of the barn; I guess she wanted to leave her mark there after all…