My Friend Jen

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The first time I met her was at a bus stop in front of Lakeport high school at night.  I was headed to my first high school dance.  It was grade nine, and my christian high school didn’t have dances, for whatever biblical reasons, and I was nervous.

Jen was already too cool for school dances.  She was leaving the dance–she had better and more interesting things to do and cooler people to hang out with.  She was dressed in all black, the jeans tight on her skinny legs, her long red hair had a slight feather to it and the wings of her eyeliner were extended further than I had ever seen on anyone since the 80s.

Her tough exterior and aloof coolness were intimidating to this square and dorky church girl.  The friend I was with introduced us, and I felt lame.  I was definitely not as cool as this girl and there’s no way she’d want to be friends with lame preppy little me.  She was rock and roll.  She was Jen Hatcher.

The following  year, I transferred schools, and started attending Lakeport myself.  But badass Jen had already been kicked out of Lakeport or some shit, so our paths never really crossed again, until much much later.  That brief meeting must have made some impression on the both of us, though, because years later we met up again, and there was no question that we knew each other.

I was in university at the time, and had landed my then dream job, working at Scizzions as the receptionist.  Jen was working as a stylist at the same salon, and was a bit standoffish at first.  I’m certain she had kept her distance because of my lame quotient, but running into me at a Sick Boys rock show upped my cool factor by about a million.  So then we were friends.

We worked together almost every day for 5 years, along side our other co-workers, and I often describe that time as “working with my best friends everyday”.   The pranks we pulled were outrageous and often ended in uncontrollable giggle fests while clients were left waiting for their hair cuts and colours.  We took liberties with each other’s personal property that no coworkers should ever take but our senses of humour made it work.  The laughs and our friendship extended far beyond the walls of the salon as we often spent our free time together too…smoking cigarettes, sharing secrets and spilling drinks for hours before passing out on each other’s couches.

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I learned a lot about Jen in that time, and we became very very close friends–Another unique friendship with a special soul that I have been so fortunate to collect in my lifetime.  So please, let me tell you all about her.  My friend, Jen.

My friend Jen was born in the 70’s and grew up in the 80’s.   She’s always loved (hair) metal, which is totally weird for someone our age.  I liked metal for a spell in the 80’s, when I wanted to be like my babysitter.  I listened to Motley Crue’s Theatre of Pain, maybe more than most 8 year olds, but Jen loved it all.  Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, even Ratt.  She’s been to more Cinderella concerts than is even conceivable for someone in their 30’s and if there was a world record for use of the kyuss  in everyday life, she’d own it.  Jen is a skid.  A rockin’ 80’s skid.

But beyond her skiddy tastes in music, is a beautiful and loving sweet soul.  She is the kindest, most gentle human you’ll ever get the chance to meet.  She is friendly and cheerful, and has hoards of friends.  She is bright and sunny and motivated and ambitious.  She’s even sensitive, though she’s not likely to admit it.  She is empathetic and loving and wonderful.  She is the truest of the true, the bluest of the blue and the best god damned friend you could ever ask for.

Jen Hatcher has been there for me in some of the most difficult and trying times in my life.  Always offering a shoulder to cry on, a hand to lend, or pages of words encouraging me to do something with my life.  Urging me to follow my dreams.  Pushing me to turn my life around when there was no one else that could do that for me.  She was there cheering me on and chairing my fan club when I felt alone and scared and was ready to give up.

She’s tougher than tough, stronger than strong and has endured some extremely challenging times in her life–things that could literally crush anyone’s soul. And she has lived through it all with remarkable grace and poise and patience.  The world would be a better place if we would all strive to be just a little more like her.

I could go on for days, and it still wouldn’t do her justice.  I am so lucky to have such a incredible and amazing friendship with Rock and Roll Jen.  I never saw it coming that cool autumn some 20 years ago as Meatloaf blared from the high school gym.  But beyond the eyeliner and tight jeans was an extraordinary spirit so unique and special who has come to mean so much to me.  Ultimately, I’m writing because I’m inspired by her and I’m grateful every single day to have her in my corner.

 

My friend Jen.  Keep on rockin’, you skid.

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Just Me and My Parkdale

Every once in a while, all things align to make for a great day. A really special day. The best day even.

A day where plans are loose, some freedom is in sight, and your best pal is in town.

People on the streets are happy and the air is light. No where to be, no one’s schedule to follow and the day just unfolds itself for you with almost no effort.

And at the end of the day you just can’t seem to fire your way into the number one spot for all time galactic hero, but it doesn’t matter because there’s still the walk home. It’s quiet and oddly bright and it feels like you have the night all to yourself. Just you and your Parkdale.

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A Very Marigold Birthday

The last few weeks haven’t included much more than two hour stints of sleep, eating and sitting topless on the couch.  Oh, and clogging my friends news feeds with pictures of my children.  I’m kinda tied to Alice and the couch for the most part, so for entertainment I take pictures of my kids, post them on Instagram and share them on Facebook.  At least until the weather is a bit nicer.

Oh GOD I never wanted to be a mommy blogger–I just wanted to write about my life, but I guess my life right now is mostly about being a mummy. Gone are the days of passing out on a toilet in the basement bathroom of a bar on Queen from too much to drink and waking to write about it the next morning.

And here I am, again, to tell you more about my child-centered life.  Among the night feedings and diaper changes, I had been preparing feverishly whenever I found a few minutes, for Marigold’s third birthday.  I really wanted it to be very special for her, so I asked her what she wanted.  Decorations of orange and green, she said.  A small vanilla cake, she said.  Katie’s mummy, she said.  All of these things were a surprise to me–she doesn’t have favourite colours as far as I know, and I didn’t think she knew the difference between chocolate and vanilla.  And we haven’t seen Susie (Katie’s mummy) since last summer I think.  But these were the things she wanted.  And I wanted to make it happen.

We had a small party with her nearest and dearest.  She helped me bake her cake and I worked my butt off whenever my boobs were free.  And here are the results:  a very special party for my special little girl.

Waiting for the guests to arrive and the party to start

Waiting for the guests to arrive and the party to start

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Handmade Paper Birthday Pennants

Several days of cutting and stringing together for the party pennants

Even the dolls decorated!

Even the dolls decorated!

Orange and Green Party Table

Orange and Green Party Table

Handmade cake and paper cake toppers

Handmade cake and paper cake toppers

She’s growing up, and while part of me wishes she would stay 3 forever (because she’s just so goddamned cute), I’m excited to see what kind of person she grows into.

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Hungry Hungry Hippos is a great gift for a 3 year old and her pals

Hungry Hungry Hippos is a great gift for a 3 year old and her pals

Mummy & Marigold

Mummy & Marigold

Living a Life of Love

The weeks and months leading up to my maternity leave were slightly stressful. Stressful only because the pressure I put on myself of course. I love working. I love working hard–I love accomplishing things and being good at what I do. I also enjoy being a part of a growing company and building a team and providing products and services I believe in. While it sounds like a cushy deal, taking a year off for maternity leave, for me, is a lot harder than it sounds.

Don’t be mistaken, I love my family, and I love being a mummy to Marigold and a wife to Martin, but it really doesn’t define me as a person.  It’s not the be all, end all of me.  Neither is my job.  I am the sum of these things and many others–all of which make me who I am.

While my current job isn’t exactly my dream job, it’s still awesome and I like the company and love my boss and the people I work with.  The hardest part is the timing, of course.  Putting my career on hold when things are positioned for growth in a major way isn’t the ideal scenario I had imagined when I first found myself with child.  I hadn’t expected that I would be getting a new boss, and that I would need to make a new and lasting impression on someone when I was tired, bloated and irritable. I didn’t think that I was about to miss out on something really rad for the next year.  I hate to miss out on things–I love to be right in the action!

I’m sure tons of other women and men go through the same thing when they take their respective parental leaves. I truly am grateful for the opportunity to take the full 50 weeks to spend time focusing on my new baby and growing family.

The last time I went on mat leave, I was literally counting the minutes before I could walk out the door and not return for several months, even though I was still there late on my last day.  This time I was really sad to go.  I was having sleepless nights thinking about the many projects I had on the go just before clocking out for the next year, and as my last day crept closer, I had expected my stress level to spike, but it slowly dissipated.  I was ready to go, and I know that I’m not in any real danger of being left behind at work.  I’m confident that I’ll be able to return and pick up where I left off and just spend this year focusing on real life–and my family.  What a treasure.

Almost three years ago now, I revived my blog because of this overwhelming need to write it all down.  I needed to tell everyone how I had never loved as much as I loved right then. With hormones running rampant, I’m sure, I was plagued with so many feelings and emotions, but it was the love that overflowed.

When I first discovered I was pregnant with my second child, of course I was thrilled, but there were hesitations that I hadn’t expected. I was worried about how I could possibly have TWO children (people survive with many more, I know I’m ridiculous) and look after them successfully. I was worried about our finances, and the size of our apartment. I was worried how Marigold will adapt. But most of all I was worried that I couldn’t possibly have any more love to give to another child. I just loved my little Marigold so much that I didn’t think it possible to have the capacity to love a new addition to our little family.

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Two Peas on the floor, under a blanket

Martin gently reminded me that love multiplies as a family grows–and we have a never ending supply! We have found love in places that we never even knew existed.

The hardest part has definitely been dealing with my feelings for Marigold.  It’s weird, but I miss her.  I still spend time with her everyday, but she’s no longer my one and only, and I feel bad that my attention is divided.  This has been the greatest source of postpartum tears.  She is the most amazing big sister in all of the land, and I’m so proud with how she is handling it all.  She is a huge help with Baby Alice, and I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve heard her say “Don’t worry, Baby Alice.  Big sister’s right here” in the last 10 days.  And it melts my heart every time.

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One night I went to lay in Marigold’s bed with her before she went to sleep because I just missed her so.  I couldn’t stop the tears from coming, as they so often do these days.  I talked it over with Marigold, and for a not yet three year old, I’m impressed with her understanding.  I apologized for not spending as much time with her as I used to.  I got up to let her fall asleep, she said to me as I was leaving “Baby Alice needs you, Mummy.”  She totally gets it, and it just made me cry harder.  I’m so proud of her and I’m amazed at how awesome she is every single day.


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Baby Alice is just perfect from head to toe and I loved her just as much as I did Marigold when she was placed in my arms.  It’s like there’s a love explosion in your heart when you give birth–I would do it over and over again because the feeling is incredible.  And the results–well, they’re incomparable.

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So our love has grown.  Martin was right–I didn’t have anything to worry about.  We’re a family of four now.  I’m truly grateful for all the things that I have in this life, and I honestly don’t take it for granted.  I came from nothing, and now– I have everything.  And it’s definitely not lost on me, this extraordinary life of love.

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Alice's First Bath

Brown Eyed Ram

I don’t really believe in astrology, but historically I’ve found myself to be more friendly with capricorns, aquarius’ and tauruses.  Never really found myself close to an Aries, and as such I think of her as quite the an unlikely friend.  Not only is she an Aries, but she’s also 9 years my junior and I met her only because I hired her way back in 2010.  Unlikely a friendship as it may seem, she’s pretty much been by my side since then.

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Slightly more casual than her interview outfit

I remember what she wore for her interview–it was quite formal, a white blouse and a high waisted black skirt.  I don’t think she was wearing heels though–she wasn’t able to really pull off heels until about 2012.  I was looking for someone at the time to be part of the department I was building in my previous company, and between her, and one other girl, I knew I had found the right people to take on the job.

Both girls were cheery, with great personalities and teachable spirits.  Their experience was limited, but I knew I had found a couple of gems, so I snatched them up, not a moment too soon.  When I changed jobs in 2012, I had stumbled on a company primed for growth, and I felt like a mountain of work was just around the corner and I could never face it alone.  So I called on Smash.

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AKA the Dude

She had kept the ship a-sail for me while I was maternity leave the first time–she is smart, dependable, reliable, creative with a lot of really great, though sometimes zany, ideas.  We’ve had a lot of ups and downs, since she came to work with me again, more ups than downs though.  We’ve had a lot of laughs and good times, but the work pace was much slower than what we were used to, and sometimes our frustrations with work and our desires to move more quickly drove distance between us.

There were times where I felt like she was judging me.  There were times where I felt like she hated me.  There were times I felt utterly, totally and weirdly responsible for any unhappiness she felt in life.    And I can only begin to imagine what she felt about me–Picky, bossy, fussy, know it all Peattie.  I am fairly certain she wanted to tear my head off at times, but fortunately we got through it….all body parts in tact.  While it sounds crazy, it might do you some good to understand that we literally spend at least 40 hours a week together, face to face, less than three feet apart–and have for close to two straight years.

A good laugh usually cures what ails ya

Friends through the bad times

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And friends through the good times (photo credit Smashing Through Life)

We were open with each other on almost every subject and we trusted each other in more ways that we had trusted other friends in our lives.  And now as I start my maternity leave, I am trusting her again–with my job.  Finally, after waiting patiently, things are starting to happen.  She’s been promoted into the role she came on board to do–at a critical time in the company’s history.  She’s taking on significant projects and has some key objectives she’ll have to deliver on this year.  And it’s a lot.  It’s a lot for anyone.  But I know she can handle it.  I am excited to see what this year brings for her because I know it’s going to be amazing.  She’s surrounded by some really awesome people at the office, who I know she can count on to make things happen.  She’s gonna do great!

On Friday night, after my last day of work, she helped me carry my things to my car and what we thought was going to be an emotional goodbye, didn’t really turn in that direction at all.  I had cried earlier saying goodbye  to even the most pesky co-workers, and there wasn’t a tear in my eyes saying farewell to my long time side kick, pal and protege.  She made a joke about me missing her the least, but the reality is–I will miss her the least.  Because I’m not going to miss her.  Sure I’ll miss seeing her beautiful face every day, I’ll miss  the sound of her laughter, and I will definitely miss the poor nutritional choices we made on a daily basis (guilt free).  But I’m not going to miss her.  She will continue to be a huge part of my life, filling up a special place in my heart while I’m at home with my babies–our relationship runs much deeper than 9-5, Monday to Friday.  We don’t need to be three feet apart to maintain our friendship–it’s going to last for a long, long time…no matter our proximity.

I certainly got a lot more than I had ever bargained for the day I hired that brown-eyed ram, Smash.  I thought I was simply getting a recent graduate for a product specialist.  Instead, I got a life long friend.  A lady who is truly awesome in every way.

I love you, chum.

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Heart Beating, Eyes Shining

Years and years ago, I came home to the Valentine’s Day gift that would keep on giving.  He kept on giving for the next 14 years.  Or taking, or eating, or growing or however you want to look at it.

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I’ve never had a pet as long as I’ve had Grip.  Most of my cats “ran away” or got hit by cars.  I looked after my Nana’s dog for a long time, but whenever she returned from her travels, “Impy” went back with her.  None them were around as long as Agrippa.  He’s been mine for about 14 years.

14 years is a long time for a kitty, especially a really fat kitty.  How he got so fat, I’m not really sure.  He just kept growing and growing, and then he grew some more after he was neutered.  His origins aren’t entirely clear, but from what I remember, he was found in a field in a box, then brought to a pet store, then home to live with us.   There was a time where we thought he might be a mountain lion, he was getting so big so fast.  Eventually he stopped growing at around 35 pounds.

The worst of it was not his size, but he was a total bastard as a kitten.  He used to tear around our then apartment, climbing up people using his claws, scratching, biting, attacking at every opportunity.  I can think of at least 5 people off the top of my head that likely have permanent scars from his misbehaviour.  We couldn’t control him.  We’d lock him in his kitty carrier to calm him down, but he figured out how to unlock it.  He’d get the gate open, and come tearing out faster and more furious than before.  Probably the meanest cat around.  But he was so very very sweet too–if there ever was a Jekyl/Hyde kitty situation, this was it.  He would curl up at night between our pillows and cuddle with us all night long.  In the morning we would wake to the sweet smell of his kitty breath.  I’ll miss his kitty breath the most.

Grip spent the majority of his life eating diet food and having human sized poops.  He was so big, he relied on Simon to keep him clean.  He was a total pain in the ass, but I spent many lonely nights cuddled up with him in my bed.  When I had no one, I always had Tubby, and I’m certain that there never was another pet that loved their master as much as he loved me.

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He was confused when Marigold was born, and he watched me like a hawk when I first brought her home. He eventually took to her and they became very good chums.  He tolerated her hugs and tugs and kisses, and often looked for her if she was away visiting her auntie or grandparents for the night.  She loved him, and he loved her which made this whole thing incredibly difficult.

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Last Tuesday, we said goodbye to Agrippa, the Roman statesman kitty.  It was his time.  I asked some of his old friends to say a few words about him.

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On Agrippa:

“Oh poor boy. He was scary but still part of the family.  He wanted to hurt me but not bad enough to lose his comfy spot”

“Cat Heaven is a little fatter now.”

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“Whoa is that a cat?”

“Hard to believe that he was such a fiesty little thing. I will miss that girth.  Actually, he was a demon. He would attack us for no reason.”

“When I read that Agrippa had died, the first thing that came to mind was Gord and Andrea’s place on Spencer…We ate, we talked, we napped. We put on music to propel us into the night, then came crashing back home. We talked into the early morning until we fell asleep, then we got up and started all over again. What was it, that magic we created? I don’t know. But Agrippa was there, and is still, presiding over some of my fondest memories.”

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“He is the best damned cat that ever lived.  A true legend.  He was a great friend.  Over the years, I’ve thought about him often and I’ve always missed him very much.  Today, I’m really sad”

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Thus ends the long and obese tail of Agrippa.  If there is some sort of kitty after life, I’m sure Grip has found Simon and they have banded together to form the unholy army of the night they always dreamed about.  But rather than causing kitty mischief, they’ve found somewhere cozy to snuggle up and groom each other.   Lazy bastards.

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Little known fact about Agrippa…his favourite band was the Pogues (Simon was more into Neil Young).  This song goes out to him.

So long, Tubs.

January Celebrations

January is an especially special time around our house, and it really is nice to have something to celebrate in the cold, dark month of January.  Martin was born in January.  January 20th, to be exact.

I love his birthday, not just because we get to celebrate his existence, also because it’s when things started for us.  It’s the beginning of us.  I had met him long before his 30th birthday party, but it was that party that ignited the cliched spark that now burns brightly on a daily basis.  Barf, right?

Long before I came along....

Long before I came along….

I sometimes find myself thinking about what would’ve happened if I’d declined the invite to his birthday party way back in 2009, and I can barely fathom what I’d be doing right now.  Certainly not sitting on the couch watching him play video games, with a giant belly bursting with baby.

He’s changed a lot in the last five years.  Or maybe I just know him so much better.  I’m not sure which–but it doesn’t matter, because I only love him more for it.  And I am certain it will be that way until the day we die–I count on it.  We are fully committed to each other and we will work hard to make it last forever.

Together

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I was watching Marigold kiss and play with her little wind up frog and found myself saying to her:  “You might have to kiss a lot of frogs….”.  I had to kiss a lot of frogs, and suffer a lot, and I mean A LOT of serious heartbreaks before I fell in love with Martin.  I wouldn’t say that it was worth it, but what I would say is that it helped me realize and value what I have in my husband today.  I had an amazing life before he came along, but he really has made my life so very nice.  And for that, I am extremely grateful.

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In light of all that, the lady McWaters’ of  Parkdale celebrated by baking a cake while their Mister/Daddy slept late.  We ate a lot of cake batter before it finally made it’s way in the oven.  Our dinner was delicious Indian and we took it real easy.  It’s a far cry from that first birthday we spent drunkenly belting karaoke at the Duke five years ago, but the celebration in my heart is just as strong.

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**sorry for the blurry photos!!