From Baby Bottles To Coffee Cups – It’s Show Time

My four kids, who so patiently let me write and share, and even blog about the exploits of their leaving home and first forays into the wide, wide world are all artists of one sort or another.  Were my children scientists or psychologists or even just shy – they might not have been as calm about their mother using their experiences as artistic fodder.  But they ‘get’ it– ie. art imitating life and vice versa, though of course there were a few  “No Mom, better leave that out” warnings to heed.

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I promised them pseudonyms and most approved of their nom de plume.  So Zoë, the eldest, is an artist. Cole, her brother, is a film producer. Hudson, the next brother, is a writer, and our Lily is a photographer.  With my book Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest  just out on book shelves and available on-line our number one marketing and idea man, Shawn MacDonell at CreatiVision  (www.creativision.ca/ ) suggested I put the four of them to work creating a fun series of short, short promotional videos.  Only Zoë was living near her dad and I, so I had to convince the other three to squish creating my mini-productions into our short together time at Christmas.  Hudson approved the scripts, Cole directed his distracted siblings and fit post-production editing into a frantic schedule.  Zoë and Lily created the on-line posters and photos.  It was a blast.

kids in italy sitting-1Of course, none of us are actors and all of us, including their dad and our wee granddaughters have starring roles in the videos.  You can be the judge of whether we make up for talent with moxie – because as that time of year approaches where moms and dads are getting jittery about letting sons and daughters drive away with packed cars and first care packages, or fly to places further afield leaving parents in airports recalling being left in hallways as kindergarten doors closed and new stages of family life evolved, I’d like to share our three videos:

Click for video #1 Out The Door  http://t.co/jsRZFW2IHN 

Click her for video #2 The Internet is My Mom  https://t.co/ckH2qgNv2U

Click here for video #4 It Should Have Gotten Easier https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRqo18QaHIw

Text Me, Love Mom – it is a feel better book!

Summer Blogs – Short and Sweet – like the season

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My summer blogs are going to be short and sweet – like summer itself. Summer passes by all too swiftly – it’s only fifty-five or so days until a new generation of moms and dads will be giving their eighteen-year-old kids a hug good-bye that is supposed to last until Thanksgiving. Maybe that’s a kid that’s been trying your patience staying out all night because of a melancholy summer romance, or just hanging out with friends they’ve had since grade school.  A kid who is supposed to be a ‘young adult’ but perhaps needs to be reminded to shower sometimes, or find their bedroom floor, or hasn’t exactly floored you with their organizational skills – due of course, to that still developing frontal lobe excuse.

I’ve been there. Dreading a September that won’t involve getting back to the usual routine but instead will leave an emptiness in an otherwise busy house. A September that will involve wondering how often is the ‘okay’ amount to check in, instead of seeing my daughter come in the back gate after school still reading a book while she walked along.

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They left in other ways, too. My son went of to be a lift operator on a ski hill six hundred miles away. He had cell service at the tip top of the mountain and would call in the early morning – probably the time of day he felt loneliest. But that same son went to film school years later and helped me direct my very own short, short video about that crazy, early time of learning a new way of being a family.  The video goes along with the story that those changing times led me to tell with my book, Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest.(available on Amazon). Share the video with those moms and dads, sisters or aunts that you know that are going to have a different sort of September. It’ll make them smile.

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Pop. Pop. Pop. Went the Bubble Wrap.

Let me think? Was I a bubble wrapper? When our eldest daughter, Zoë, was first accepted into university, I was still focused on running around raising four kids – from tweens to this very young adult. I had only just begun to worry about Zoë leaving home, and was surprised to feel so jittery, and off balanced. That summer before we drove her a thousand kilometers away, I thought about her room being empty or her friends not hanging around our family room and I’d try to hide my teary eyes. Hec, when I imagined our Zoë roaming along Vancouver’s Commercial or Main Street, discovering Wreck Beach (the infamous nude beach) or just searching for eccentric, like-minded friends, I felt like I nervously needed to speed write an ‘independence manual’. It made me think about dropping her off the first day of kindergarten, and walking home across the playground with her two little brothers, four-year-old Cole, trotting along beside the stroller with not quite two-year-old Hudson in it (five months pregnant with her sister, Lily – I know, I know -it seems impossible to me now, too.) and I remember thinking, “That’s that. Zoë is part of another world of influence now. She’s not just ours anymore.”

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Did I become a hovering helicopter mom in response to those emotions? Back then we were all ‘bubble wrapping’ if we compared ourselves to the moms that brought us up. My kids were lucky to grow up in a calm residential area with a few kids in almost every other house. Even still as parents we tracked them with rules and landline calls from house to house. When I was a kid growing up in the same area, we ran out during the day and were allowed to roam free until the street lights came on or dinner time approached. My own mother was a very good mom, more devoted to hardy meals, and cleanliness then I ever was, but the boundaries around ‘watching out for your kids’ were so wide and free and quite literally liberating. At age say, ten or eleven, I could report that I was going on a bike ride and go off, limited mostly by my own sense of adventure. We were truly free range children. When my mom did express concern for my late arrival I used the lame excuse that my watch quit or I wasn’t near a pay phone .
But as Zoë, Cole, Hudson and Lily approached their late teens we bought them cell phones (our household cell bill could almost pay a college kid’s cheap rent back then) and voila – I could call them home, or check on the late night party, or simply request that they – “Text me, love Mom”.
Maybe I hovered closer to the others after I had to think about Zoë out of our grasp in a far, far away city, especially if she was ignoring my annoying texts. And as the three kids talked about travels around the freaking world and got into the vices that kids get into, I was forced to listen to the pop, pop, pop of all my bubble wrapping love.
As much as they might have caused me to ‘come undone’ during the stories in Text Me, Love Mom, my four artistic kids are all helping me out in this new era of on-line everything. The boys wanted to (okay – I pestered them a bit) make short-short YouTube bits from the book – which were a blast to do and are coming soon. My eldest daughter painted the beautiful cover of the book and now here is my youngest, through her Midnight Train Photography – http://www.midnighttrain.ca offering a playful look at this journey. Love you kids.

Please click on the following links to order Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest – about the ‘next stage of parenting’, when the kids leave home, come of age, and the family gets its bearings again.

Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

Amazon.ca http://www.amazon.ca/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

Indigo/Chapters http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/text-me-love-mom/9781771800716-item.html

In the UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712

shea_allan@hotmail.com

contact via twitter @SheaProulx

A Spoonful of Christmas Sugar

I have to stop, take a break and realize ….I’m stressed – but I’m happy. Happy that I have almost all of my family home.  We’ve marked another year – Christmas to Christmas.  I sprung out of bed in the dim morning light– with visions of butter tarts, not sugar plums, in my spinning Christmas Eve head.

The house was peaceful and silent while I whipped egg whites and chopped dates for the buttery tarts, everyone else still dreaming of a white Christmas – but the household is hopping now.  My husband just rushed out for some mysterious last minute shopping.  Cole, our eldest son has had to make his morning green smoothie amongst my cooking mess, and then he flew off to replace a left-behind cord for his camera to enable him to record all aspects of the planned Christmas Eve merry, merry merry-making.  His brother, Hudson, slept later, not at all panicked about gifts he still has to find with so many males of the same ilk, who will flock to the malls.

Lily, our youngest daughter has found the two of us the Mary Poppins movie on the kitchen television and is going to wrap, tape and festoon her carefully selected gifts with bows, while I try to focus on the next special dessert – and we both sing along to Chim Chim Cherrie and A Spoonful of Sugar.

mary poppins  I’m scattered, getting out the fancy dishes one minute, mashing potatoes for the Romanoff the next, only to be interrupted by a call for more tape, and then seeing the tree needs to be watered, before locating the chocolate mint pie recipe and texting hubby to remember the whip cream.

For only the second time ever in thirty years our kids will not all be present – but our eldest, Zoe, is bound to have a jolly holly time with her husband and sweet small daughters – who will share their excitement for the Big Guy in the red suit’s arrival with their other grandparents in a cozy cottage in the mountains.  So I tell my other grown kids, who feel a little blue about missing their big sister – we need to share her, and we’re sharing her with good people. All truly is fine.

I am the mom.  And I do ‘manage’ Christmas in the house like so, so many moms.  And I see that the clock is ticking and the iconic wife saver (egg strata) for tomorrow’s breakfast isn’t made, the crackers for tonight’s oysters must be crushed, the salmon dressed, and the cream whipped and the stockings found and the punch stirred, and the chaos tidied, and on and on and on.

But I’ll slow my thoughts, concentrate on the melting butter on the stove and my daughter humming along to ‘A Spoon Full of Sugar’ with Mary Poppins and having my big family in the same house (almost) and let peace and joy settle over me. And I wish that for you, too – in this holiday season and throughout the year. xo

May Your Hearts Be Merry and Light

Two of our four children were born at Christmas time.  Despite the deep fatigue and life changing chaos, those were extra special holidays – with sweet teeny babes in floppy elf sleepers, snuggled in a grandparent’s eager arms while tree lights twinkled in the background. Eighteen years after those births, when our first ‘child’ had been away for the first time to university for three long months of not-enough-communication, those holidays times were extra special again.

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I remember so clearly the anticipation of Zoë coming home to sleep in her bed again at the close of first term and how giddy that made the rest of the household as we searched for the tree stand and the rice krispee roll recipe. I wrote about that in my book Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest – and I’d like to share a snippet of that here in a holiday blog.

“Zoë was different after being at university.  I noticed that the first evening she was back as we lingered around the table after dinner, bombarding her with questions. It was a look on her face, a quality it was hard to put my finger on, except to say that she had drifted away a little bit.  I had gazed around the room at her siblings, her brothers Cole and Hudson, and her little sister Lily, and imagined us all reuniting after future ventures.  Zoë swore that she would travel to the far north someday, being captivated by the notion of a trip to Yellowknife or even Inuvik.  Cole insisted he was going to snowboard in the southern hemisphere.  Hudson was harder to pin down –I think he aspired to travel back and forth in time, and back then I wrongly viewed our youngest,  Lily, as a home body.

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During the holiday season I would be happy to imagine them all simply staying put.  I was going to pretend for the three weeks that Zoë would be home that she had never left.  We would decorate a too tall, slightly lope-sided tree together and my husband would insist once more on putting up the goofy looking angel Zoë made in kindergarten.  I wanted it to be a holiday season full of my kids dog piling on top of one another, and watching Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, all of us singing aloud to the Sisters’ song –

All kinds of weather

We stick together 

The same in the rain or sun 

Two diff’rent faces

 But in tight places

 We think and we act as one[1]

I intended to encourage Zoë to humor Lily and I, and come skating with us on the lake near their grandparent’s property, after which we three would go for lattés, before coming home to whip up a batch of butter tarts for Christmas Eve.  I knew Zoë would be impatient to go hang with her friends, but I hoped to convince her to indulge us with a skate around the lake first.  I’d ask, but I promised to be a grown-up about it myself and not harass her to join us – just to ask.

shea skating

She needed time to reconnect with her same-age peers.  At ages eighteen and thirteen my daughters couldn’t really act as one, but I knew that on Christmas Eve they would raise their voices with Bing Crosby’s and happily sing about it.”

New babies and growing up children – both added loveliness to the holidays.  May this season bring tranquility to you and yours.

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[1] Berlin, Irving. “Sisters.” Lyrics. White Christmas. The Movie. 1954

Hey, come make a laughing, oohing and awhhhing crowd around me…

Never done this before – a little bit nervous about being that person that no one wants to make eye contact with standing behind a table full of crisp new books in Chapters.  If you’re my friend I know you’ve read Text Me, Love Mom, but do you want one for your mom, sister, wife, dad, sobbing woman across the hall, … you know, that person who can’t quite get a handle on the kids booking it from home? OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbook cover

Readers keep telling me the book’s funny – some of my family’s sketchy adventures are humorous – in hindsight, others required an extra strand of worry beads.

I’ve been lucky to be able to launch my book in my hometown, Calgary, then east to Toronto and Rye, New York, then zig zag west again to Victoria and finally Vancouver – where my most humorous offspring did a comedy gig to introduce me. Biggest lesson learned – North American favourite book launch fare – chocolates.  But tomorrow – Thursday Nov. 27th from 1 to 6 pm. I’ll be signing books at Chapters Chinook Centre, a mall that holiday shoppers have already descended on. I’ve come upon those authors at their stations and tried to guess with quick sideways glances whether I might want their cherished tomes, before stepping up to their table. chocolates at signing Planning my stint behind my own stack of books, I feel differently – don’t be afraid of me, just come visit so I don’t  feel lonely. Let’s just chat – about anything, the predicted crazy snow storm, our endless holiday shopping lists, and okay – maybe this stage of parenting where the kids have taken off and now you’re excited for the noise and chaos of them coming home for Christmas. Just saying.IMG_1575

It’s A Small, Familiar World for Text Me, Love Mom

It’s a small, familiar world.  I’ve been fortunate to be able to launch my book Text Me, Love Mom; Two Girls, Two Boys, One Empty Nest in my hometown Calgary, Alberta for my crew of family and friends, and in Toronto for the eastern folk, AND even in Rye, New York – a little apple just down the road from the big apple.  One of my BFF’s, Michelle Christopher, was instrumental in  arranging an exciting ‘premier’ launch at Calgary’s Glencoe Club.  My nerves were a bit on edge as the room filled up with familiar faces.  But the most familiar, my two daughters, Zoë and Lily, were there to read from Text Me, Love Mom with me – the audience giggled and grinned in just the right places, as we did a mother-daughter volley of their leaving home adventures and my hovering mom reactions.

lily and zoe at reading

A week later Lily flew to Toronto with me – just a two hour time difference, but we woke each other up at five am and whispered about our Eastern insomnia, which left us a bit punchy during our sight seeing.  We were looking for that ‘big lake’. We could feel the breeze off it, but darn it, sight seeing close by we couldn’t find Lake Ontario until we almost fell in. The team at my publishers, Iguana Books, and Aunt Bonita and my big sister, Gail, surpassed my expectations in bringing in a crowd for Lily and I to entertain with the comical emails from the ‘my baby goes to Rome chapter’.

I was over-the-moon when Suzanna Keith, my husband’s cousin’s wife, and market and media sales person extraordinaire agreed to launch Text Me, Love Mom in her home to an audience of her talented friends and co-workers.  (Read her blog at  http://techandtravelmom.com/) Fifty woman from all walks of life; journalists, lawyers, yoga instructors, bankers, and lots of moms, mingled in her living room for an evening of wine, cheese and chocolates (big hit) – and then applauded Kristina Bicher’s (http://www.kristinabicher.com/about) vivid and moving poetry from her book, Just Now Alive, and laughed and gasped at the exploits of my son Cole’s first sketchy trip traveling around the U S of A …and my attempts to track him via texts.

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Three launches down – two to go – I’ll take the book to Canada’s west coast and launch it in Victoria and Vancouver in November. (Can I keep saying launch?) I’m still shaky before I read, but I don’t have to be.  Us moms seem to ‘get’ each other. We’ve hovered and helicoptered – at least the media says we have – but the experience of letting them go off to grow up when you really want to hold on tight, is universal.  Home in Calgary, down east, or in Rye, New York – everyone knows a sister, a friend, or the colleague across the way – who is eager to be comforted, and I hope entertained by reading about getting through this next stage of parenting.

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Text Me, Love Mom is available at Chapters Indigo online, http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/text-me-love-mom/9781771800716-item.html ,Iguana online – http://iguanabooks.com/books/text-me-love-mom-kindle-edition/ , and in the UK at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Text-Me-Love-Mom-Girls/dp/1771800712 or any of your favourite on-line book sellers as well as Pages, Shelf Life Books and Owls Nest Books locally.