as September ends

Since June, one of my favorite photographers and writers, Karen Walrond of Chookooloonks, has been sharing at the end of the month her five favorite photographs.

My sweet photographer friends Xanthe & Andrea both share their five favourite photographs they take every month — isn’t that a great habit? Not just because it inspires fans like me from a technical photography perspective (and really, they’re just so talented), but I imagine that the practice of going through their archives to look at their images more critically to pick their favourites helps them get better as well.

And so, of course, I’m copying them.

I was inspired but never got around to it (or a round tuit – nod to my late father in law) until now as September ends.

Is it just me or does September always seem a little endless? It does. At least it does here under The Big Top and, of course, I have this on a loop in my ear pretty much all month long…thanks Green Day!

Sorry. Off topic.

Me when I sit dow to write lately.

Like our friend, Shaun, here I am tripping down memory lane staring at baby pictures…babies with incredibly big hair.

Think what you may about Greek life ladies, but these ones are fierce, driven and super smart…watch out world!

Whatever will Dr. D. do when the last Scarborough living under The Big Top is straight outta braces?

And while the rest of the world seems to be overwrought over a recent news story about a 13th Zodiac sign, it really isn’t news after all. Regardless of the news, I remain Pisces forever!

but if only we all were unicorns

Here under The Big Top, we all love the horses with a sword on their heads who guard all of our hopes and dreams because of course these unicorns are real…as real as little girls. So when Amazon, without prompting, suggests that you want to buy this book

you buy it! Of course you do! A little unicorn who believes in those magical, mystical creatures that are little girls? You buy this book.

And you share it with some of your favorite magical, mystical creatures delighting in the fact that THEY ARE READING IT TO YOU because they are indeed magical, mystical, amazing creatures, these little girls.

Were it not for the reality that I will be REALLY old, I can not wait for when these magical, mystical creatures grow up

and enjoy the many adventures of them doing incredible things like sitting down to break bread with and listen to the thoughts of other magical, mystical people like Brandon Stanton, the founder of Humans of New York.

As for me…well today I managed to win 20 game pieces to play in Safeway’s Monopoly game. Of course not one of them was a winner. Clearly I am not a unicorn. But I am lucky enough to declare that yes, I am related to some of these magical, mystical creatures. Close enough.

today’s mantra

Repeat after me:

I’m not getting sick. I’m a-choo not getting sick. I’m not a-choo get a-choo ting sick. a-choo I’m not getting a-choo a-choo a-choo sick.

To be repeated over and over again while sipping lots of hot, green tea with lemon.

It’s okay to occasionally take a break and nap and perhaps read something interesting like Florence Is Dead’s take on nurses passing off the bubonic plague as allergies since the 1960s.

I’m not getting a-choo sick…


Most of the presents are wrapped and stacked up under the tree. My darling husband has finally hung the lights outside which is good because no one else on our street has. Slowly, but surely, The Big Top is getting Christmas-ier and Christmas-ier and it is good. It is very good.

Daniel comes to me the other day and says, “So I wrote a letter to Santa. I hope that it’s okay.

First thought: He still believes!

Second thought: Crap! None of these things were on any wish list that he gave me.

Third thought: Crap! I’m already done shopping for him!

Fourth thought: Aw! The first thing he wants to to know is how is Mrs. Claus and if Santa is treating her right. That’s my boy!

Fifth thought: He STILL believes!!

I ignored the spelling error in the letter because he asked about Mrs. Claus and he still believes.

So you want to give this letter to Santa?

Yes. Do you think he’ll like it?

I am absolutely certain that Santa will love it…so will Mrs. Claus.

He blushes.

So much for the letter he received last year, with a nod to Aimee for the great idea. That letter STILL sits on his bedside table and, yes, he re-reads it often.

He believes.


You know Mom, a lot of my friends at school don’t believe Santa is real.


Yeah. I feel sad for them.

Because they don’t receive gifts anymore?

No. They will always get presents. I’m just sad for them. The magic is gone.

And so he believes. Still.

He is turning thirteen in less than one month…let that sink in those of you following this adventure that I have shared since 2004. He’s turning thirteen…next month.

I’m kind of glad that he believes…still.

give them wings

Lindsay, over at Suburban Turmoil, beautifully described an analogy that is not new to any of us that unfolded outside her front window.

And now I miss back home and cardinals because you just don’t see cardinals around here.

She then posed a question on Facebook:

To all of you who’ve raised children to adulthood- Based on your experience, what’s the best advice you can give those of us who’re still in the trenches of parenting?

So much wisdom was shared. And then I added my 2¢ worth because I am the mother of four children over the age of 18. I’m no expert but I somehow managed to get this far so why not offer? After all, she did ask.

Patience, lots of patience. From the time they are walking and talking teach them and expect them to take on self care, taking care of their own things and doing things for themselves.
As they grow and discover their passion and interests know that it isn’t always going to be the same as yours or what you imagine or expect it to be and begin to learn to be okay with that.
Let them fall down or fail sometimes. Then love them and guide them as they get back up and try again.

Not bad considering I was dispensing such wisdom while standing in line at Safeway on stop number four of today’s errands, which my 12 year old, who accompanied me,  was cool with during stop number one. As I was trying to form a coherent thought to share, he was making sure that I knew he was over my errands. And it was then that I remember why it was I rarely took his older siblings with me on errands once they were too big for the baby sling.

Clearly I need to work even more on the patience. I can’t imagine that I will ever have the patience that it takes to be an extraordinary mom. Still I press on.

But I have managed to nurture and teach these clowns how to take care of themselves. They can do a pretty good job at it too. Some of them are so good at it they are taking very good care of others too. I can thank the time I spent with other people’s high school aged children years ago for the inspiration that someday my kids would know how to keep track of their own toothbrush, do their own laundry, hang up their own clothes, clean their own room, pick up their own prescriptions from the drug store, carry their own suitcase, yada, yada, yada. Sure I failed at teaching them how to bargain shop because Safeway time was “me time” but they have managed just fine because they have come to realize that yes, they can take care of themselves.

The learning that their passions and interests are not always the same as mine has been an education yet surprisingly not nearly as hard to accept as I imagined that it would be. Well, after I accepted the passion that Hollie chose to pursue because suddenly parenting her wasn’t nearly as exhausting when I was watching her do and create and beautify the way that she does. It actually was kind of exhilarating. Added bonus is she makes me look good. These adult children of mine are really just barely getting started still I am working hard at just cheering them on as they chase those dreams, explores those interests and live those passions. Theirs are not mine. They shouldn’t be. Not ever. Still I get to passively live them with my adult children and my world opens up even more.

The hardest part of all has been letting them fall or fail. I am a parent of millennials. Any good parent of millennials would never, ever let their precious angel baby fall or let anyone fail them ever…no, not ever! I’m not really a very good parent of millennials still how could I possibly just stand there and watch them fall?


But I do.

I have. I probably have Daniel’s former physical therapist to thank for being brave enough to do just that. But just like when they were wobbly toddlers, they somehow manage to get back up again and again and again. And I praise them because they did it all on their own. I also quietly heave a sigh of relief because I am still mom.

I’m sorry dear parents in the trenches, it doesn’t get any easier even as the nest empties. It’s a lot quieter. There is (sometimes) less laundry. You learn not to cook as much for dinner every night. You answer every phone call, every text, every FaceTime and you hold yourself back and mostly just listen because, more than anything, that is what they need.


Hell yes, it’s hard.

How much easier it would be for me to lecture them, tell them what they are doing wrong, what they should do, what they could have done.

But I gave them those wings; wings that were made to fly. So I take a deep breath, I say a prayer, I bite my tongue and sometimes I shut my eyes tight as they do just that. They fly.

Today’s reward:

Clearly I’m not the only one impressed with the magic she makes.