Sunday, January 30, 2011

Breathe, Exhale, Breathe

hoar frost hugs brittle branches
mountains stand at awesome attention
sky blue yawns and stretches its beauty
blanketing the world with hope,
promise, gladness

nature smiles a broad grin
abandoning her hiding places
sunshine highlighting
her gentle splendor

a hush falls
hearts are quieted
peace reigns


Mmmm, mmmm, mmmm.  You are delicious. I love you.

'til next time,


Thursday, January 20, 2011

"The Talk"

So if you haven't read yesterday's post you may want to so that you have the background for this post.  If you don't (fine, be that way) - suffice it to say our dogs, Wags and Mindy, are now awaiting the arrival of pups in February.  And our kids, who of course are thrilled, saw the whole mating process which as you can imagine raised some questions!

Now, I am not terribly prudish or shy.  Talking about our bodies with my kids (11, 9 and 7 years old) hasn't freaked me out.  We've taught them the anatomically correct names of their body parts - "head and shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes, knees and toes, head and shoulders, knees and toes, eyes, ears, penis and vagina".  We've talked about the need for privacy and personal safety around our sexual body parts and we've tried to instill in our kids that our bodies, no matter who we are, are beautiful and to be celebrated.

Then there is that moment that I've been keeping my eyes open for when they need more information.  They need "the talk".  I really truly want to beat their classmates to the punch line.  Brenna and I have had "the talk" when she was in grade four in a multi-age classroom of grades 4,5 & 6 and it became clear that she might hear more in that context then in a regular grade four classroom.  Now that just left Will and Jay to have "the talk" with.  And our dogs getting caught in the act provided just that opportunity!  When Will asked me what was going on with Wags and Mindy I asked, "Do you really want to know?" His response was typical Will, "Sure, I'm in the mood for a story!"

And then it was time to explain the nitty gritty of sex and it was Jay who helped us put it into words.  But not the 7 year old Jay.  The 3 year old Jay. Just a week before the dogs had their little trist(s) we were reminising about some of the funny things our kids have said as wee ones.  And this story is one our favorites...

All three of my children have been willing to go toe to toe with me from the time they realized we both had toes.  This particular day with my 3 year old Jay was no different as he was determined to convince me that Brenna had a penis.   It started out funny and I remember assuring him that "no sweetie, Brenna is a girl. She has a vagina."

"Nooo. She has a penis."  End of story.

"Jay, she has a vagina.  She's different then you and Will.  She's a girl."

"Noooo!  She has a penis!" now he's ticked off and ready to rumble.

"Jay! I am her mother.  I did her diapers. She has a VAGINA."  It's not funny anymore and I'm sucked in and legitimately arguing with a three year as if my sanity depends on it.

"MOOOOM!  She DOES have a PENIS!  It's just an INNIE!"  And I am silenced.  I am put in my place. It makes all the sense in the world.  There are innie belly buttons.  Why not innie penises?  Can you speak?!?

And so when it came time to tell our boys what on earth was going on with Mindy and Wags it was easy.  We had the lingo!

"Wags is trying to get Mindy pregnant" we explain.

"But how?"

"Well... he puts his 'outie' in her 'innie'."

Will is immediately grossed out because he's nine and he makes the intellectual leap to what that means about human puppies he came to be.

Dear Jay just looks at us and says "OOOO-K".  And that's it.  No leaping in that kid's mind.  It's still just what the dogs do.  And that's okay with me.  There's plenty of time to talk about it another time.


Oh, how you must laugh too!  I love you. 

'til next time,


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tying One On

We have two dogs.  Our shitzu/papillion, Wags, who will be 6 this summer and Mindy, our havanese, who will be 2 this spring.  Not having a dog or dogs was never an option for us because my mom is, well, she is THE CRAZY DOG LADY.  I often kid that in our home growing up, the condiments on our table always included dog hair.  If there wasn't dog hair in our food, it was like it was missing salt and pepper. 

Long ago my mom decided that dogs would replace us of the human variety to fill her need to nurture as we all left home.  I don't think it's a coincidence that she always has three dogs in her home at any given time as growing up in our home she attempted valiantly to raise two sets of three kids (as one set moved out, another set moved in - long story).  As she dealt with the inevitable "empty nest syndrome" as we all finally moved out, the dogs filled the void with their crazy antics, their undying adoration of her and their need to be cared for.

And so it goes that in our family, if you don't have a dog she feels compelled to bestow one upon you.  I don't even think my last kid was hatched before she laid claim to the right to be the one to provide HER grandchildren with a puppy.  I held her off as long as I could with my convincing act of being wildly overwhelmed with the diapering/breastfeeding/toilettraining/tryingtogetthe
darnthingstosleep routine.  But 6 years ago, two days before our bi-yearly visit from Grandma, the phone rang and she accomplished one of her purposes for living.  She had just seen the CUTEST litter of small breed puppies with a little fellow that would fit perfectly into our home, our yard and our hearts and as our youngest was now over two, IT WAS TIME.  I hastily called Ken at work expecting him to buoy up my resolve to say no,no,no! but we were both sucked into her enthusiasm and hopelessly committed to whatever little fluffball she managed to smuggle onto the flight to Winnipeg from Whitehorse.

And when Grandma put this little one into our then 6 year old Brenna's arms and he wagged his tail as if his life depended on it, he was aptly christened Wags by her and officially made a new member of the Symanski clan.  And truly I get why my mom is THE CRAZY DOG LADY.  Wags has been a great addition to the family and has given us much to laugh about.  And when it was time to move to the Yukon it's as if he knew he was back where he was born.  It helps that when we go to visit at Grandma's and Grandpa's he gets to see his cousins, Koda (a beautiful and extremely large German Shepherd), Maggie (a fourteen year old Border Collie who is the matriarch of the clan) and Foxy (a rescue dog, who came to live with my parents when they fostered her and her gazillion pups from the animal shelter.  The pups all got successfully adopted out and Foxy found her forever home with Mom and Dad).  Wags loves this crew so much that upon entering the city limits seeing the signs welcoming us to Whitehorse (he reads "Grandma and Grandpa's House"), he begins to launch himself through the windshield.  He seems convinced that the 100 km/hr that we are driving is too slow and surely he can get there faster if only he was given the chance. 

But I should have known we were not complete as a dog loving family.  I thought we were done.  But Grandma knows best and so now we have little Mindy.  I heard about her months and months before meeting her.  Mom knew about this dear little havanese pup that needed a home and every so often tried to convince me that she would be PERFECT for our family now that we had a larger yard and "look how much Wags loves having other dogs around..." I should've known I was done for.  This spring, through a series of crazy events, Mindy became a Symanski.  And I have to say, she is a piece of work.  Havanese are a sweet breed known for getting very attached to one person.  Well, I am her person.  She adores me.  And now that I've entered that lovely stage were my darling, little children can eloquently, passionately, convincingly form the words, "I HATE YOU" and "YOU ARE THE WORST MOTHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD!", Mindy is my solace.  I am perfect in her sight.  When I enter the room I swear you hear the Hallelujah Chorus singing in her little heart.  I, Dianna Symanski, can do no wrong.

Now, why you ask, is this long rambling post called "Tying One On"?  Well because they did.  Wags and Mindy.  They did the wild thing, made the beast with two backs, they tied one on!  In the dog world that doesn't mean they got drunk.  And although I had heard the term "tying" in relation to dogs mating from my wise, German Shepherd breeding sister, I had no idea what it looked like.

Don't get me wrong I didn't think it was moonlight and roses and wooing or even "Paradise By The Dashboard Light".  Having never actually seen dogs "do the deed", how was I to know that when they "tie" they actually get stuck together!  Colour me surprised when I walked in on these two little lovebirds and found them looking up at me (a little embarrassed I think!) completely unable to disengage from their little rendezvous.  Both Ken and I flew into action while our children looked on with amazement and bewilderment.  I did what anyone would do.  I panicked and called my sister and my brother-in-law and they talked me off the ledge explaining that this was normal and that they would go their separate ways when they, well, could.  Ken, however had a very different response and immediately dimmed the lights and put on Marvin Gaye.  That's my guy!

So now we are faced with the reality that in February we will have puppies in our home. February 14 is Mindy's due date!  Of course we're having all kinds of discussions with the kids about this (tomorrow's post)  and we get a real kick out of the fact that our puppies will be HavaShitz.  Our kids giggle their butts off because we rarely swear around them (Ken - never, me - no comment) but we're just having too much fun asking people if they want a HavaShitz!

By the way... do YOU want a HavaShitz?  giggle, giggle, hee, hee


Oh my, what has my mother gotten us into!?  I admit that once again she was right when it came to adding Wags and Mindy to our family.  But please, please, please don't let the mantle of THE CRAZY DOG LADY fall on me.  I love you!

'til next time,


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Gem

People are very kind.  I've had a number of people tell me how much they enjoy reading this blog (really?!?).  And I've had threats of physical violence if I don't write more (you know who you are!).  And in so many ways that is quite motivating...

but... (and there is a but!)

What to write?  I'm not clever or insightful or original everyday.  Who are we kidding.  I'm lucky when it happens at all!  Now if I thought you'd all like to read a steady stream of me lamenting whatever area of my life I'm struggling with then I would be set.  I could go on for days, weeks, years! But then, I would be bored.  Because even in my struggles I'm not original.  Round and round I go on the same old merry-go-round of character flaws.  My struggle with my weight, my struggle with selfishness, my struggle with my lack of discipline.  Ugh.  How tedious...

Thankfully being clever or inspired or original doesn't have to start with me.  If I open myself up to the wonder of the world around me I don't have to wait for long until a little gem falls into my lap.  Like yesterday...

Part of my life here in the Junction is that I am a substitute teacher.  And maybe someday I'll write a whole post about how much I LOVE being a substitute teacher but for now just know that it fits me like a glove.  I sub in classes from kindergarten to grade 12 and I think I'm just about the luckiest person.  It cracks me up that I so thoroughly enjoy a job most people would avoid.  And yesterday's little vignette will explain just one of the reasons I think I'm so darn fortunate.

I was in an elementary class yesterday when I noticed one of the little girls starting to orbit me by recess.  Not in an intrusive way - a little star in the night sky, always in the periphery, but always there.  Apparently she doesn't always make it to school, and rarely returns after lunch if she makes it there in the morning.  But there she was after lunch and she made her move, breaking into my atmosphere.

"Mrs. Smnaski (Symanski is a hard word for little kids!)... I love you."

WHAT?  She loves me?  But I didn't do anything but be a little bit kind and a little bit silly!  I had no make-up on, a zit on the side of my face and I probably looked tired too.  Not to mention all these character flaws I have.  But, she loves me!  And not only that, then she looked up at me with these adoring little eyes that convinced me she meant it. She really does.  I remained composed but I felt a little like the Grinch whose heart grew three times when he heard the Whos in Whoville singing.  And then not half an hour later...

"Mrs. Smnaski, do you want to be my BEST friend?"  Can you breathe?  Needless to say Ken is no longer my best friend.  He has been replaced by a six year old.

And of course I'm inspired.  By the generosity of her words.  By her honesty, her warmth.  Her transparency and her need.  And whenever I'm in the school (which is quite a bit), I will try to check in on my new "best friend" because she is this lovely little mite who knows what she wants, what she needs, and isn't too shy too ask for it.  And who can resist that? Not me.


You know all that I need and yet you love to hear me put it into words.  Well, I love you and thank you for being my best friend...

'til next time,


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Newsy bits after my hissy fit!

Now that I had that thoroughly fulfilling hissy fit yesterday, I'm going to try and piece together something a little more, I don't know, mature.  Don't get your hopes up though, it might not last long...

I just returned from visiting beautiful B.C. with Brenna, our 11 - soon to be 12 - year old.  In November when she heard Ken and I talking about the fact that I would be leaving after Christmas for a week to be in Tsawwassen for my dad's 70th birthday she flew into action!  She promptly tore up her Christmas list and wrote a new one which sounded very much like this...

Dear Santa,
Can you please persuade (yes, she used the word persuade!) my Mom and Dad to allow me to go to B.C. for my Magic Grandpa's 70th birthday?  I really want to go to see him and my Magic Grandma and my Great Grandma who is 100 years old.  I'm dying to see her!  Brenna

And the campaign was on.  Daily Brenna talked about going to B.C.  She drove a hard bargain!  When we told her that it was more than we spend on Christmas for one child, she quickly assured us that we could go together with Santa on it AND it would be her birthday gift as well. (Her birthday is in January).  Every so often I would see her looking a little blue and when I inquired about the long face she would reply, "Mom, if I don't get to go to B.C. for Christmas I will cry on Christmas day and spend all my Christmas break depressed in my room."  We did what we could to prepare her for the disappointment of not getting to go, encouraging her to be grateful for whatever came her way, all the while knowing her ticket had already been purchased.  Christmas morning she was elated to open a box holding her itinerary neatly folded into a paper airplane from Mom, Dad, Santa and Yukon Grandpa and Grandma. 

And so we took off together with my sister Janette on New Year's Eve to surprise Magic Grandpa (my dad is a magician thus the moniker "Magic Grandpa").  My dad and step mom celebrate their anniversary on New Year's so we would be there to celebrate with them as well as for Dad's birthday the next day.  Magic Grandma knew I was coming but had no idea about Brenna, and Dad didn't have a clue about either of us!  Well it couldn't have turned out better!  Dad was stunned and delighted to see me but a little perplexed by my insisting on opening my suitcase in the foyer to give them their Christmas gifts right away.  They were both beside themselves when Brenna jumped out at them!  What a fantastic memory for all of us!

Our days were full from the moment we landed in B.C. to the moment we left.  Highlights for me include...
  • Visiting with Charles and Phyllis McBeth.  These family friends have known me for a looong time.  Phyllis used to be one of my Brownie leaders!  These folks are pure gold and it's always such a treat when I get to be with them.  They're like a big cozy, well worn quilt you can wrap yourself in and feel safe and warm and loved. 
  • Magic Grandpa's Pork Roast and Roast Potatoes with Magic Grandma's Homemade Applesauce - simply unbeatable and legendary.  I'm not sure what we love more though.  The meal itself or the pork sandwiches you get for the plane ride home.  Mmmmmm....  Dad and Mom are the most amazing hosts.  They tend to your every need.  Fresh coffee in the morning, herbal tea in the evening, G & T's at 4 pm.  Lots of hugs and laughs and teasing.  Lots of teasing.  Poor Dad, but he makes it sooo easy!
  • Heading down to the outlet mall between Bellingham and Seattle.  Janette and her partner, Clint dropped us off at Tulalip where Brenna and I shopped 'til we dropped and then spent the night in a hotel.  Meanwhile Janette and Clint went on to Seattle to watch the Seahawks and then picked us up on their return trip the next day. 
  • Time spent with dear friends who are living in Burnaby for a year.  These are not ordinary folks.  These are those friends that you can pick up where you left off as if you were just out of the room for a bathroom break. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE!  Mike is solid and gentle and true.  Karla is all the colours in the Crayola Crayon Box of 64 colours.  She is hopelessly creative, incurably sincere, and in a past life I think she was an interrogator from some crime agency.  She is rapid fire with her questions and before you know it she knows your most deviant thoughts and deepest secrets.  She's that good.  And I can't even begin to tell you how much their three girls mean to us.  They are these beautiful wildflowers that are being tended in the most wonderful ways and you can't help but fawn over them.  Their oldest is one of Brenna's dearest friends and so it was pretty darn exciting for her to surprise Hannah at the school doors when we went to pick up the girls after school!
  • A visit with Great Grandma.  She'll be 101 in April, Lord willing, and lights up whenever she sees Brenna.  They've always had a sweet friendship.  We call this our Pink and Fluffy Grandma because she has this wonderfully white hair and she always wears soft and baby pink clothes.  She is simply darling and is a gift to all who know her.
And of course time spent with my daughter.  It was a gift.  Brenna is lovely and funny and dear.  I love that what she wanted for Christmas was people.  Ever since she was wee I have had a hard time buying Christmas gifts for her.  I've often said that if I could just wrap up a person for her and put that under the tree - then she would be really happy.  And so this year that's what she got.  Time with people she loves.  Magic Grandpa & Grandma, Auntie Janette, Uncle Clint, Auntie Karla, Uncle Mike, Hannah, Ellie, Sasha, Great Grandma.  It was the right gift at the right time.


Can she really be turning twelve?  That little one I was afraid to carry out those hospital doors?  Hmmm... Twelve?  Funny, I met you when I was twelve.  I was never the same.  May this year be that for Brenna.  A year of meeting with you in unexpected and life altering ways. 
And by the way, thanks.  Thanks for carrying Brenna and Ken and I out those hospital doors that day and thanks for carrying us still.  I love you.

'til next time,


Monday, January 10, 2011

One, Two, Three... RANT!

A rant, you ask? Yes. A rant.

I had one of these a little while ago and it felt so good I thought I'd have another one...

I want to be a child.  At some point in my life I wanted to grow up and be an adult and do adult things like stay up late and eat cookies whenever I wanted and drive a car and do what I wanted, when I wanted.  But I recant.  I take it back.  I was wrong. 

I am choosing this day to regress.  I'm hanging up my big girl panties and donning a nice, warm, cozy diaper.  Sucking my thumb in a corner with my blankie is too terribly inviting.  Heck, being a fetus floating around in my own urine (that's what amniotic fluid is - baby urine) sounds good to me right now.  For the length of time that it takes me to peck out this blog post I'm completely committed to being the biggest 43 year old cry baby you've encountered possibly ever.  And if you don't like it....blpssssst.  It's my blog and I'll cry if I want to...

Who the hell did I think I was thinking I could handle this whole "being a grown up" gig?  What a joke!  And for those of you who let me - how could you!?!  It must have been clear from an early age that I wasn't cut out for this.  And yet, did you stop me? Nooooo!  You left me to careen pell-mell towards this insurmountable task of being a grown up. 

And then you all attended my wedding like you thought I could handle being a wife!  I couldn't do the dishes with my sister without it turning into an all out war.  Who thought I could handle being in a close, cooperative relationship like MARRIAGE?!?  And worse.  I was permitted to have children!  What on earth led all of you, including God, to I believe I was a remote candidate for this role?  Are you kidding me!  There were plenty of signs that I shouldn't be allowed such high levels of responsibility!  I have yet to keep a plant alive!  Seriously.  What made anyone think I should be allowed to carry little human beings out of the hospital like I did?  They really should screen people better before they allow that to happen.  And I know sterilization is a controversial topic but in my case, I think I was a good candidate.


And another thing... the books are wrong.  The parenting ones.  They are wildly deficient.  Even the ones that contradict each other have that in common!  (And don't get me started on how many differing opinions there are about how to parent! Tell me please how we are expected to wade through all the info and settle on one method?!?  I propose we just rotate through them on a weekly basis to cover all the bases.  Barbara Coloroso on Monday, What My Parents Did on Tuesday, Dr. Phil on Wednesday, Dr. Dobson on Thursday, Whatever The Hell Feels Right on Friday and then Saturday and Sunday let the Wolves have them!) 

But I digress...  the books are deficient because they haven't addressed one fundamental problem in this whole parenting dilemma.  MY INSANITY!  The fact that there are more times than I care to admit that my own ability to grow up, be mature, be unselfish, be patient, calm and loving and perceive the right way to parent is TOTALLY @#$%*  UP! (excuse my language...).  The books (at least the ones I've picked up) give lots of great advice on what to do with and for my kids but I need great advice on how to survive when I feel like my head is going to pop off if I hear "MOOOOM!" one more time.

And another thing... that saying "more is caught than taught" (the idea that kids learn and pick up more from watching us than what we verbally teach them).  I hate it.  I despise it.  That means that all the squabbling and fighting and whining and the generally annoying things my children do IS MY FAULT!  Who can live with that knowledge? 

Now before you all rush to your keyboards to reassure me that my marriage of twenty years is an inspiration, my children are wonderful, I'm doing a fine job and I shouldn't be so hard on myself - don't.  Don't bother.  This is a rant and I will simply put my fingers in my ears, hum loudly and not listen to anything you have to say.  Because today I choose to regress, hug my blankie tight, shit in my diaper if I want to, moan, complain, and generally be annoying because at 3:15 my pity party ends. 

And like every other screwed up wife and mom like me, I'll pull up my big girl panties, put away my blankie, stop whining and get on with this undoable job.  I'll pretend I know what I'm doing.  I'll try to solve the world's woes for one child, keep the other two from killing each other, talk about kindness and loving one another. I'll make dinner, help with homework, monitor screen time, make them eat their vegetables, take them to hockey, get them to bed at a reasonable hour and meanwhile be a loving, devoted wife.

But for now... WAAAAAAA......


Good thing you have a knack for the "impossible" because me and this whole wife and mother thing is right up your alley then.  Have at it. I love you.

'til next time,