Friends, Blogging and Life Lessons Learned

Friends, blogging and life lessons learned, stories from the Carr family while on the 9-month journey to today.


Her beauty Just makes me happy!

This is not the first time I have started a blog with some kind of apology or reasoning, for being a few months behind, on what started as a weekly look behind the Carr family curtain. I can honestly say that I miss it. I miss the open-eyed awareness I approached day-to-day life with, while I was always looking for something to write about. It has been more than 9 months since I have written a blog, so it’s time. Time to lift the curtain. Plus there have been a few people on my list of supporters that have been dropping hints and pretty much giving me a hard time about not doing it. So, here we go!

Family is important. But, you can’t pick them. They are yours whether you want them or not. But, friends however, you are completely in control of. Over the years, Nathalie and I have been very lucky in this regard. Blessed with many great connections and people that have breezed into our lives, for whatever reason, making lasting impressions. Some have breezed out, but the truth is that we could still drop ourselves on a deserted island with any of them and be right back where we were.

I like to think that it’s an “us” thing, as in we are the cool ones, and there may be truth to it, but I think the fact steams from us being pretty much the same, no drama, easy going people we have been most of our lives. We can be loud and fun and we can laugh or cry with the best of them, but we are always true to us.

The realization I have come to this week, thanks to a conversation with one of the true friends, is that we do have a finite amount of time in life, and it would make the most sense to maximize the amount of time you spend with the people that most reflect this thinking. It may even have some kind of time warping, life extending friendship powers, I am not sure, but finding people to hang around with that approach life like this somehow makes the time you spend, that much more rewarding.

The Vase
One of my favourite stories from the past few months involves Julia, our Chief Household Comedic Relief Officer. We have been power watching a number of popular shows this summer. Son’s of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black and Mad Men for short, and it was during one of the Mad Men episodes that Julia had something to say. Now the show is set in the 60’ and the 70’s and aside from the very interesting look into the world of advertising, it is also a look at an era that I am fascinated with.

In this particular episode, a newly married husband and wife are talking about the husband NOT getting the promotion he wanted, and that she wouldn’t understand what it was like, to not get something that you have wanted for a long time. The wife, one of the very strong female leads, gave up her career and life to be his wife, so proceeded to illustrate this point by grabbing a vase, and whacking him over the head. Julia sees this and says, “What did she do that for?” Nathalie explains, “The Husband said something stupid and was being an idiot and she wanted to make the point clear to him”.   Without missing a beat, Julia says, “Quick hide all the vases in here… I am just protecting you Daddy!” Glad to know she’s looking out for me!

So school has started, and for both girls they are settling into their new classrooms and new educational eco systems. Julia got the grade 7 teacher she wanted to have this term and had for at least a few days all the people she wanted in her class. After the day 10 adjustments, she lost a couple of people that she liked, but was, in true Julia fashion more concerned that those friends at least had some other friends to hang with in their new assignments.

Jordyn in grade 10, was excited to see her friends again, and happy with her classes and teachers. Well… mostly happy. Her only comment was that in her second period class has more than 20 boys and only her. “Even the teacher is a boy Daddy!” she said with a shake the head disgust that made me smile. Now, I’m a bit on the fence whether I think this is a good thing or not, but in the end it may just teach her some valuable life lessons. Like hopefully that 15-year-old boys are silly and she should just stay away from them? Is that too much to ask?

In closing
The last couple of weeks have been filled with some highs and lows. It is always hard around this time of year for us, but more than the beginning of a semester and start of school, and the end of the summer and the season change and the anniversary of my Mom’s death, this year, I have had to deal with a few new things that emphasize change. A couple of weeks ago, one of the most inspiring retired faculty members I have known passed away. I will be writing more on Ron Lowe in coming weeks. This week, one of the guys I have been working with the longest at the College had his retirement party. However, nothing illustrated change and the fact that it is gonna happen whether I want it to or not this week more than a texting conversation I had with Jordyn, so today I close the blog with an edited transcript:

Daughter, “Dad if I dait a gut how many years apart do we have to be 2 or 1”
Dad, “What??? Please ask again, I don’t understand what you are saying”
Daughter, “If I dated a guy how many years apart do we have to be 2 years apart or 1 year apart?”
Dad, “80000 years apart you have to be.”
Daughter, “I don’t know what that means”
Dad, “That means. I don’t want you to date. Ever… But, you asked the wrong parent… Jordyn, you don’t have to be any years apart. It would be better if I guy is a little older than you. But it doesn’t matter. What’s the age of the guy you are interested in? (Always asking the hard questions!)
Daughter, “17”

Dad, “I don’t know. Ask your Mother.”

Now, off to find a quiet corner to curl up and rock myself to sanity.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!


My Mom, Mornings and Dressing Up

My Mom, Mornings and Dressing Up, Stories cover the first couple of weeks of another September.

Two years ago this week, I hugged my Mom for the last time. For the last time, I told her I loved her and although she did not respond in words, in her eyes I saw that she loved me too. I talked about that day in my “Mom” blog, if you wanted to read it, but I can say now, that time does make things a little easier. Still, just about everyday I am reminded of her in one way or another and I love that I can still hear her laugh whenever I want to if I just close my eyes and think of her.

A few years ago, I talked about me being “the hub” when it came to mornings in the Carr house and described the fact that if it was not for me, my girls would all sleep in ‘til noon. In that same post, I also talked about me making the girls lunches in the morning. One thought (among many I had this summer) was that I wanted the girls to take more control over their own morning rituals and included in this blue-sky notion, was making them making their own lunches. Jump to Tuesday of last week, the first day of school, and by some miracle that is exactly what happened and more. You see the girls must have been so excited about the return to academia, that they both got up before 6, got dressed, proceeded to make their own lunches (including healthy snacks) and they both packed their own back packs – all before my alarm even made a sound.

So 8 days later, and out of the 7 mornings requiring lunches and a wake up call, they matched their day one feat exactly one more time. It could have been worse, I guess. For the most part, they did wake when I called them and they helped grab things I asked of them, and we where only late one day for school, and at that, it was only a minute or two. Maybe, just maybe, I set my sights a little high. For now, I will keep working on them getting up earlier and perhaps by December, they will be able to make their own lunches a couple days a week.

Dressing Up
I am sure I have talked about Julia and her incredible fashion sense before. This week, she got a chance to spend an old gift card she had kicking around in her purse at one of her favourite stores – Claire’s. Watching both girls, prance around the spinning display cases and sparkling jewelry something akin to a kid in a candy store, but Julia is the smart shopper. Taking after her Mom, always looking for the best deals and spending wisely. When I make faces, while watching this happen, I am sure I look frustrated, but the truth is, I find it quite entertaining.

This trip, it was a hat that caught her eye, almost as fast as they all enter and a single glove that is reminiscent of the King of Pop, especially if worn together with the fedora and Beat It playing in the background. The one item purchased that kind of surprised me was of a bracelet. Remember a few weeks ago, talking about passing the truck on the 401 with the piggies in it? Why I laugh, and felt it worthy of a blog mention was the caption. Thick, black with bold white lettering and a dark red heart in the middle, proclaiming “I Love Bacon”!

In Closing
I am, for the most part, good with getting older. I accept the greying hair, forgetting things, and sounds and aches. I make getting up in the morning. I may be over dramatizing aging a bit, but I am only trying to illustrate a point that became a little more, painfully obvious to me today.

My wife gets emails for some of best 50% off of the lowest price sales around, and for a great reason to get out of the house today, we dropped in on one such clearance outlet. The girls, willing oblige for the most part and enjoy the “shopping” part. What hit me like a ton of bricks was Jordyn coming out of the dressing room today, in a dress that looking like it could be for someone twice her age? It fit her. She looked wonderful, and maybe just a little too old, and in turn that made me feel old.

Off to find some young hip clothes to shave a few years of my own.

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!

Missing 4 Months, a Signature and a Year of Firsts

Missing 4 months, a signature and a year of firsts, some thoughts and a laugh from in and around the Carr family for another week.

I am happy to say I am feeling more like my normal self. A carefully scrutinized dose of some serious medication, lots of friends’ shoulders and a team of therapists, working around the clock have confirmed my original thought, that I am basically fine and the rest of the world is completely messed up. It has been a few months since I blogged the stories from my little life, and I have forgotten how much I missed it, and how much I get out of it. I write for me, and hope to be read, but in the end if it is only me and the automated spiders at Google that scan the words in the confessions page, I am ok with that too.

One of the reasons I have feared beginning again, was how do I recap the missing 4 months of not writing. And when I mentioned my apprehension to blog reader and great sister, Janey, she gave me the answer I needed to get back at it, “You just do it one sentence at a time Jim”

We had some laughs...
A Trip
4 weeks before May 20th, I had a little conversation with Bentley the super dog, after reading a look in his eyes that reminded my of a line in my favourite poem by Robert Service called “The Cremation of Sam McGee”. In the piece, after a long trek in the cold and snow, the main character – Sam, who hates the weather and is not well, says to his friend and travel companion, “I’ll cash in this trip I guess”. You see Bentley was struggling to make it up the stairs on his own, and the look in his eyes, said it all to me. I am tired, I am in pain, I don’t like this and I am done. I asked him if he was ok, and picked him up, rubbing the back of his neck like I had done so many times before, and he looked away, almost as if to say, please don’t look at me. I knew at that moment for sure, that his 14-year trip with us was drawing to a close.

I tried to sluff off the image, the words, and the whole thought of it, and instead tucked it in my back pocket for a future blog. This blog. The blog that I knew I would write after we had say goodbye to a great dog for the last time on the 20th of May.

Bentley thank you for teaching me the true meaning of unconditional love. Thank you for teaching Nathalie and I, early on in our marriage, not only responsibility, but how to deal with each other, on important issues like destruction of personal property and thank you for always knowing when to bark, when to sit and when to run away, most of the time and most of all, thanks for giving us, someone to run home to.

A Year of Firsts
This has not been the easiest of years for my family or me. One of the themes I have heard of a number of times while making my way through life for the last 365 days, was that for the first year after a loved ones passing, of course it will be difficult, but mostly during significant anniversaries, events or family gatherings. When you mark a date in time, as you have so many times before with that person, it stands to reason that when you have to do that same without that person, your emotions are heightened.

The year of firsts, was full of happy memories, and some sadness and an over all comfortableness over the loss of my Mom. It is not that time has made me forget her, but I think that time has allowed me to appreciate all that she meant to me when she lived even more, and that is a good thing I guess. I don’t hear her voice as much as I did a year ago, but I still can see her smile and when I need to smile myself I close my eyes, and just watch her dance.

In Closing
Somewhere in a box, possibly labeled “old stuff” in my garage, in a large stack of paper is one piece of lined fullscap I know I saved from a life ago. A page that many would look at and immediately think it was a scrap paper with blue or black pen doodle on it, but I kept it because I thought it was a great symbol. Before Nathalie and I got married, when her name was longer, naturally, she had her signature down pat, but she needed to figure out how the “new” name would work in addition to hers, and she must have practiced it a million times. Two dots over the “i” underlines, circles and lines in varying lengths over and under others, all part of an inspiring piece of artwork, the way I look at it.

I remembered that piece of paper this week, after an innocent conversation with Jordyn that ended up making me laugh. She said, “Daddy, when do I get my signature”. Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?” She said, “You know, when do I get to have a signature of my own?” After processing the though of being given your very own signature, I said, “You have a signature now Jordyn, you have a name, so you have a signature. Your signature is something you make. You can have it anytime you want!” She smiled, and said, “Ohh I though like the government would send it to me, and I would have to practice it.”

Off to practice my own signature!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week,