School, Seventeen, Life’s Canvas and Pride

School, Seventeen, Life’s blank canvas and showing your rainbow Pride, stories from the last 16 weeks of the Carr’s.

Julia-award-editIt’s been a bit since I scribed a tale or two about the comings and goings of the Carr’s, so why not today I say? Although I won’t cover off all the exciting things that have transpired over the almost 4 months, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least talk about a couple of the big things that have happened. First and foremost, summer is here, and that would mean that we made it through another school year.

I wrapped up my summer semester a couple of weeks ago around the same time that Julia graduated from grade 8 and Jordyn finished grade 11. Their marks where fantastic and their efforts where acknowledged and recognized and we are so proud of all they have both achieved. In fact, during a beautiful graduation ceremony, Julia was awarded the Eric Young Memorial Award for – Outstanding Efforts. Jordyn finished her co-op placement, using her sign language skills, helping out at a local school for the deaf and truly learned the positive you get from giving back.

We have never been the parents to push our kids super hard, so when they are able to achieve on their own, the awards value is even greater. Two amazing kids, full of love and energy with great futures, but perhaps most importantly, 2 incredibly proud parents.

In the last 4 months, we’ve had a couple of birthdays, but let me reflect on one of them. Stories that relate to time and the passage of it and the unarguable fact that it is moving, whether we want it to or not are always fun. Do you want to feel old? Simple way really, besides looking in a mirror is look at your kids and try to remember what it was like last year or the year before or even better 17 years ago. 17 years. Wow, 17 years ago, Nathalie and I had no children, had just celebrated a few years of marriage and were basically just making our way in life.

Then we had the most beautiful little girl drop into our laps, and everything changed. We were parents for the first time. We had to take care of someone other than ourselves. The responsibility seemed a little greater for us in life. We had bills and jobs and aspirations and this little bundle of joy with a blank slate, ready for the world. We had to teach and guide and share life’s skills with this baby and help her grow up.

In a blink of an eye, 17 years has turned this pretty little red headed baby into a woman. Someone who thinks independently and laughs; someone who is responsible and caring and loves and who is loved. Someone we are so proud of each and every day, and we did that. Sure there were great teachers and loving family members and friends and other factors that helped, but we did it. With love and respect, many tears and a bit of trial and error, we helped make this amazing little moom grow into who she is today.

Blank Canvas
A few friends of mine are dealing with some very large life changes. In conversations with each of them, I have talked about the fresh new canvas and thought my analogy was worth a share for what its worth.

When we are young and life is ahead of us, it is parents and friends and people around us that help pick the content of our life painting. Teachers help us understand the foundation of knowledge that build our shapes and base colours. Their likes and dislikes, become our likes and dislikes, their emotions and beliefs help form ours. By high school, our paintings are outlined and our direction and content is somewhat shaped. We may have lots of work to do to fill in the colours and form detail in our pictures, but they are coming along. In college or university, we learn how to shade things to make things stand out. We gain perspective and understanding on how all the elements work together. We can learn to make our life picture a masterpiece with that extra guidance. We can do it without it, but it just seems more finished with the extra help.

We get married or find jobs or build careers, and each day we add more to our painting. Maybe we change jobs, and we paint over a part of the painting to start again or make the adjustments we need to allow the painting to still be a true reflection of us and what or who we’ve become, but the painting is never really done. It keeps changing and adapting, until that day that we are presented with a major life change. That is the day your canvas is white washed. You still have all the experiences and lessons that got you the picture that was there, but now you have a fresh start; an opportunity to repaint it all or not. A chance to use those colours or shape that you never used in your original work of art, for whatever reason. Perhaps because of someone’s lesson or thoughts ushered you in a different direction or through circumstance something hadn’t even occurred to you. A fresh start is like a brand new pallet with new colours and a blank canvas and a blank canvas is a scary proposition, but the truth is that your life painting, in the end, will be the better for it. Keep painting.

Dancing Water
lake-editHad a chance to visit a cottage up north for a night after a gig, and was blown away by the morning beauty. It was still cool and the air was crisp but the trees across the lake, with the sunlight and breeze had every shade of green represented and with the slow wind, the branches moved and danced to an imaginary symphonic conductor. The ripples on the water joined in on the majestic performance and with every swell and crescendo, the water danced in the most magical way. I was taken aback and wrote this in my mind, and finally now committed it to the permanent record.

pride-editI have always fully supported the pride movement and have always wanted to go downtown Toronto during the parade, but just never made it. That is until this year. I’m so happy to have shared a fun afternoon with friends and family and to have finally shown my support for inclusion, NOT exclusion; acceptance NOT hate. So happy to have also shown the girls that for this world to work better, we have to all come together and celebrate our similarities and our differences. Given the other things that have happened in this world the last few days, it would seem that this is a lesson we all could benefit from sharing. #onelove #loveislove #fh8

In closing
I often wonder how we got so lucky sometimes. I have never won the lottery or a big jackpot at a casino, but as far as family and life and love, I am so lucky. I do believe in fate, and karma and the powers of positive energy and positive thinking, so sometimes that contradicts the idea of “luck”, but non-the less, I feel like I have had a good run. I just wonder how others see it sometimes.

A couple of months ago, I learned a little about how Julia sees it and thought I would share. It is no secret, but we all love our Chinese food in the Carr house. Chicken balls, some rice and a beef dish of some kind. I always knew that Julia loves reading the fortune cookies but I didn’t realize that she actually saves them. Well, I found her stash. She keeps them under her phone case, and when she left it in my room, beside my charger one day, I had to snap a picture. It would seem that the one on top says it all, and I couldn’t agree more! “Just be yourself you are wonderful!”

Off to try and be wonderful!

Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week,

Chasing Some Tail, North Bay, One Love and My First Album

Chasing Some Tail, North Bay, One Love and My First Album, a few words all tied together, telling a few stories from the Carr’s for another week in 2016.

Chasing Tail
Ever have one of those days that you are just running around like crazy? I have heard the expression, “Like a dog chasing your tail” a thousand times and although Bentley did some weird stuff he never really actually chased it. Kokomo however, is a different story. She is so comical. She does it all the time, and last week when I watched her doing it for what seemed liked 10 minutes, I sent myself a “blog” reminder email that simply said, “chasing tail”.

Kokomo will be walking slowly outside, and catch her own tail movement out of the corner of her eye and totally go crazy spinning this way and that, trying to get just a little bit of it. She looks like she catches it sometimes too, but never stops moving. Just changes direction. She seems smart, and I think she totally gets that it is actually attached to her body, but that doesn’t mean it’s still not fun to chase it I suppose. Perhaps she does it for her own amusement or maybe it’s some kind of exercise routine? I just know it sure is funny to watch her and even funnier if you egg her on a bit… “You almost got it… go Kokomo, you can do it… catch that tail!!”

North Bay
I always like spouting off a bit in the blog about the accomplishments of the girls. We are so very lucky that they both are amazingly creative, funny and all around great people. Well, boasting proud papa moment here over the last bunch of weeks, Jordyn was part of the senior girls curling team at her high school. They opened the season, with a gold medal win at their first bonspiel and continued to ride an unbeaten streak into their season. They tied a game near the end of the season and then the following week lost a game to that same team, and in the finals a couple of weeks ago, ended up loosing one more game to that same team. That left them with a Silver Medal in all of Peel and they got invited, as well as the gold medal team to play in the provincials this past week in North Bay.

They didn’t fair well in the cold north, but by all accounts they had a blast anyway. They ended up meeting new people, seeing a different part of the province, and creating some life long memories doing something that they all love to do. We missed her for the 4 days, but through absence; grows fondness so she came back a little taller in our eyes. So very proud of the overall lesson learned as well, that if you try hard and work with your team and if you throw life’s rocks just right, you to can experience some fun things. Great job Jordyn!

Ok so true confession time. The very first Album I ever purchased was Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police. If you know your music or in the least are able to Google, you would find out it was released in the fall of 1980. I don’t think I have ever told anyone that, or at least it has never really come up in conversation, but this week I thought of that event and the process and it brought a smile to my face on a couple of different levels.The Police

You see, before Jordyn left on her trip, she wanted to check the balance on her debit card. So I took her to the bank. What she didn’t know was that I brought along a big zip look bag full of change I’d been collecting over the last year. With Jordyn’s help, I dumped it all in the coin counting machine and was pleased when it spit out the voucher for $248.89. The surprise was that I split the proceeds between the girls and that left Jordyn with more than she needed for her road trip. I guess that gesture made it so that she wanted to pay me back in some small way, so I was the only one in the family to get a souvenir from North Bay.

Jordyn, knowing that my office walls are covered in 45s and that I like the look and sound of records, decided that she would buy me some vinyl. And without prompting or coaching or that little nugget of information about my first album, she laid out her 5 dollars for The Singles – by The Police. So, not only do we share a little portion of DNA, we also have in common, the artist of the first album we each bought all be it 36 years apart.

One love
I love driving with the girls and have talked about the fact that we always have music playing. Sometimes, when I am on the stations that play what they call “old” music, I am surprised to hear them hum or even sing along. One day a while back, with Julia in the car and the music loud, I heard the familiar opening of one of my all time favourite summer, windows down driving songs and Julia didn’t miss a beat, and started singing along right away and it amazed me.

“One Love! One Heart! Hear the children cryin’ (One Love!);
Hear the children cryin’ (One Heart!),
Sayin’: give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right;”

In amazement, I said, “How do you know this song Buglia?” and in the most incredulous tone she could muster she said, “Who doesn’t know Bob Marley Daddy?

Remember Me
Who doesn’t like to be remembered? I suppose there are some that want to stay off the grid and live their life with little if any movement in their life pond, but the question struck me odd the other day when filling in a login field on a bank website I was visiting. When did the question change? Those stupid little, horrible for security check boxes that ask if you would like the website to record your login credentials in a little cookie someplace, no longer say “remember password”. Now for some reason they say, “Remember Me, click here”.

I found it odd and thought a lot about that, seemingly simple turn of phrase. In an instant it made me question whether I was worthy enough or memorable enough to warrant a little check. Have I done enough or have made an impact or difference in this world. It just seems so much larger of a question by personalizing it as they have and I had to think about it for a while. So, although I did NOT check the box, I want to be perfectly clear about this. Yes, please, please remember me.

In closing
I love my iphone and love Siri, but I don’t have the level of reliable relationship that Julia has with her. Perhaps out of a bit of laziness or just a lack of want to type, Julia asks Siri on her phone to do just about everything for her. “Siri can you please set a reminder to empty the dishwasher in 1 hour!” “Sure Julia I have set that for you.” “Thank you Siri, Goodbye” “My pleasure Julia, I live to serve” Each and every day, I overhear a conversation like this and think, wow this kid is smart but that phone is the bomb!

She doesn’t know everything though, this Siri thing. Sometimes she fails. More often than not, it is during my conversations with her. Maybe I talk too fast or too slow? The other week I asked something like, “Siri can you call Nathalie at work” and she said, “Call Nathanial Bloke?” I don’t even have a “Nathanial Bloke” in my phone. Fail. So when I got a text from Nathalie this week, outlining how Siri had some issues regarding paternity and it was started by the girls, I justifiably laughed.

The convo I understand went like this. I had done something to deserve praise so Nathalie asked the girls, to send a text to me and say, “Thank You!” So, Jordyn grabbed the closest phone—Julia’s, and hit the home button and said, “Siri text dad: Thank you!” Followed by a slight pause, Siri answers: “I’m sorry I don’t know who your father is.” Well Nathalie lost it laughing and so did the girls, and now I suppose Nathalie has some explaining to do.

Off to get a paternity test!
Thanks for reading and have a great and safe week!

First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug

First Job, Thinking Caribbean, Money and the Power of a Hug, Some happy thoughts from my little world for another week.


For the last few days, Jordyn has asked if I am writing a blog this week or not. When I told her I have something roughed out, she asked if she could read it first. I told her, she could read it after it is posted online, like anyone else. But she insisted, asking for me to send it to her in advance. It made me think, why is she so curious all of the sudden about my blog? Then it occurred to me. She is curious what I am going to say about her and her new co-op position that starts next week.

Well, let me start by saying that I am so proud of Jordyn and everything she has become and the challenges she has overcome on many levels of her education. The many years of tears and fights and late late hours, studying and working towards the eventual end of education and the beginning of her work life. Life long learning aside, there is an end to formal schooling and a time that you need to figure out what you “want to want to do” for the rest of your life and I think she has at least narrowed it down.

Aside from that period she watched like 11 seasons of “Bones” and said she wanted to be a Forensic Anthropologist, Jordyn has always said she wants to work with kids. It’s been over the last 6 months that she has narrowed that down to work with deaf kids. You see Jordyn has an amazing rote memory. She has watched hundreds of hours of YouTube videos of people teaching sign language, mostly signing popular songs and she loves it. That brings us to her co-op. Next week, Jordyn starts a 16-week placement in the library at a deaf school in Milton. Congratulations Moom and we love you!

That somewhat kitschy pop song from the 80’s on the Cocktails’ soundtrack, about a utopian, mythical and magical, nonexistent island in the Caribbean called Kokomo has always made me think of warmth and summer time. Sung by the Beach Boys, it also speaks a bit to the musical sound of yesteryear for sure, but more importantly, it reminds me of a different time and place in my life.

Now, all these years later, I get to have a daily flash back to life in the 80’s, the movie, the sound & lyrics, when I arrive home and am greeted by the loving new Carr family member. Yes, something happened that we said would never happen again. To be truthful, it was just Nathalie and I that said it would never happen. The girls had always held out hope, and in one way or another pressured us over the last little while to the point that we finally gave in. We got a new dog.

Taken by Julia!!!
She is not a new dog. Kokomo was rescued from an Indian reserve, west of Hamilton after what looks like might have been a tough 2 years of life. She has scars on her legs and paws and one on her nose and when we first saw her curled in a ball in the cage, she avoided eye contact at all costs. She was so scared to meet us, that after we finally said yes, we had to actually carry her into our car to go home. Unable (or unwilling) to walk on a leash, she was timid and in a constant state of fear and seemed overwhelmed by the whole process of life itself.

What a difference almost 4 months make. She is learning tricks. She’s got a crazy fun and sweet personality. She loves now because she is loved and that make us all very happy. Now, it has come at a price. In future blogs, perhaps I’ll tell you the shoes or the drape story, or the escape from the crate twice story, or if you are really lucky, the hanging out of the 2nd floor window story, but truth is she is just awesome and I am so glad that we gave in and now have her happy to see us face, greeting us everyday.

I love the girls, obviously. I love who they are and who they have become and love the little situations that remind me that they are becoming self contained, contributors to this world. They think on their own, do things for others, they show compassion and empathy and also, of course they each have smarts and a great sense of humor. Last week, after the good night hugs and kisses, the girls disappear up stairs and head to bed. After about 5 minutes, Jordyn comes to the landing on the stairs, and shouts to both of us, “Dad do you have 10 dollars I can have?” Now I am the softy and usually always give them what they ask for. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t ask questions or give them a hard time about it, it just means, that they know who to come to.

I want to get a handle on what she is going to spend this on, so I pause the TV and ask, “Can you be more specific?” She looks at me from across the room, as if I have just asking the most personal question imaginable and says, “Like a 10 dollar bill?” I just loose it and start laughing, and Nathalie get’s in on it too. “I know what 10 dollars is, I am asking what you are going to use it for?” And instead of answering the question, she deflects, “that is not what you asked!” Then Nathalie agrees with her and the whole, what should have been a simple question and answer becomes “pick on Jimmy” day. OH whatever, here is your money!

Just getting caught up on sharing some of the memories from the past 10 months of missing blogs, I have to start writing about the amazing trip the girls and I took last July. The idea of the early summer road trip was hatched, 3 weeks before we left, while sitting in my hot tub late at night under the stars. I was thinking that Janey, my twin sister would be sitting under the same stars at her home in Newfoundland at the same time, and how wonderful it would be to experience that with her. We hadn’t seen her in 4 years, so it was time.

After the long drive there, and a few days of getting acclimated to the surroundings, I woke early one morning and found myself sitting on her large deck overlooking the ocean and I wrote this piece.

Sound of Silence
I love that song. 1964 Simon and Garfunkel. I haven’t really thought about the words and the meaning for very long, but today, this morning I did. I’m up earlier than I’ve been since we arrived in Newfoundland. I had breakfast and went to sit on the deck that surrounds the house and the sound of the outdoors hit me. Still wind with bright, somewhat cloudy skies with the smell of the ocean and the almost deafening sound of silence.  

When I was a kid, I spent lots of time at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto and one of my favourite displays was the sound proof tunnel.   You walked in and with every step the air pressure changed and the sounds of nothing grew louder. Like everything disappeared and I so remember that feeling.

This morning, that happened again. A single bird chirp in the distance; a cough from a guy on the road, a ways away. Flies. But smattered in between, is the amazing sound of silence.

What is it about the hug that is so powerful? I am a big fan of both giving and receiving hugs. I have always loved the pre-embrace, the lingering hold and the release. If there was a secret to giving a great hug, I think it is holding for an extra 3 seconds past when you think you should. The first time can actually remember feeling the power of it; I was 16 at my Grandmother’s funeral. I remember the cemetery and can see the rows of cars and the people and can actually remember the way it made me feel good at what was an otherwise very sad time for me. In my memory, it is a little fuzzy as to who is actually doing the hugging. One time I remember it is my Mom, but I also have had the same scene play out in my head with it being my twin sister.

This week, when I just finished hugging a good friend, I thought I should try and capture my thoughts on this amazing, often underused form of affection in my blog. I look forward to my yearly Seneca convocation and always hug each of my students, as they walk the red carpet and pick up their diplomas. In that instant, I am somehow hoping that they understand the impact each of them have had on me and that they understand that no matter their contributions to the class, or what shows up on their future career radars’, that they can each make a difference in this world with their own actions and if it is just giving a hug themselves, then that is wonderful too.

This past week I had a run-in with someone in my neighborhood about something so small, that it made me think to myself, how there is someone that just wasn’t hugged enough as a child. My last thoughts on hugs are simple. Hug More. They contain a power that needs to be used by more people in this world. You would think that if I could hug anyone right this moment, I may select my Mom or my Dad, but right now, I think they would be number two and three… The hug I miss the most right now is my sister Janey. She gives a great hug.

In closing
I love that my girls and Nathalie share a wicked sense of humor and they often think and act and say the same things at the same time in a marvelous symphonic performance in perfect harmony. When they are all on, it is often me that is their muse and I guess I am ok with that.

On the weekend, we where all heading out to a lunch, and so everyone was getting ready feverishly and I believe we were late. Julia was out of sight in her room, Nathalie in hers’, and Jordyn was in front of the mirror in the bathroom. I walked in, just as Jordyn was asking her Mom if she looked ok? Nathalie said, “You look nice Jordyn” and me, I thought the same, but always wanting to be a little controversial, answered the questions NOT asked to me with, “ah I don’t know looks a little ugly to me!” Without eye contact or a single beat out of place, both Nathalie and Jordyn, from separate rooms say at the exact same time, “So is your face!” I guess I totally asked for that.

Off to find my own mirror,

Thanks for reading, have a safe and great week,