Sunday, October 7, 2012


I left work after 6:00 pm the Friday before Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend feeling more than a little bruised and battered. It's been a tough week at work. Hell, it's been a tough month at work. I'm stressed. Too stressed. And I'm not sleeping enough... Life never feels quite right when you aren't sleeping enough. Worse of all, I'm not spending enough time with my family and friends.

And so, on this Thanksgiving weekend, I was bound and determined to right this wrong. No working this weekend (aside from the casual monitoring of my berry). Just time well spent with myself, with my friends, and of course, with my family.

Hubby was out at his weekend French class, leaving Saturday morning to me. I don't usually run on weekends, but in this case, I knew I was going to pig out on a Thanksgiving feast later on - to which I would be contributing more than a few calories in the form of homemade ice cream, sausage and sage stuffing, and cranberry sauce. So, despite the rainy and wet climate, preemptive guilt took over. Besides, I had to take Fergus to the groomer's anyway. I leashed him up and took off for a run along the canal, where 6k later, I dropped him off at the puppy salon for a 3 hour pampering session. This left me all by myself - frankly, a glorious feeling. I decided to run another 3k to Starbucks, grab the biggest no-room Americano I could get my sleep-deprived hands on, and walk the last 1.5k home while sipping on my fuel. By this time, the clouds were clearing away just enough to let the sun poke through, and my stress headache, which has been a feature of daily life for the past 10 days, was finally starting to ease.

For the rest of the morning, I had the house entirely to myself. I must admit that it feels a little odd when Hubby and the Beast are not around. Particularly in the case of the latter, I have grown very used to the sound of his nails on our hardwood floors, his big brown eyes looking up at me whenever I go near the kitchen, and more or less just constantly having him under my feet. The house feels empty when he is not following me everywhere. Still, I enjoy these precious moments of alone time. So I changed out of my sweaty run clothes, cranked some Springsteen tunes, and went to work on my Thanksgiving stuffing, dancing around the kitchen and singing at the top of my lungs, occasionally using my knife as a microphone without fear that Hubby would walk in and catch me pretending to be a member of the E-Street Band.

Around noon, Hubby came home with a resplendent Mr. Fergus, who always looks so handsome after a morning at the groomer's. See for yourself!

I am so handsome when I am clean!

My boys came home just in time for me to hit the shower so that I could get over to my friend's house to finish putting together our Thanksgiving feast. And when I came out of the shower, this is what was waiting for me:

Just chillin'

Smiling for the camera

I LOVE belly rubs!!!!

Yep. This is the same husband who resisted getting a dog for 9 years. The one who told me that he doesn't like dogs. That one....

Much as I would have loved to stay and cuddle with these two goofballs, I had a day to spend in the kitchen ahead of me, so that I could honour my second weekend promise: time with friends. And not just any friends. My baseball team - the most fun-loving and non-judgemental group of people that you will ever meet. Stress is never an option when you are hanging out with this crew.  And laughter is always on the menu. Is there a better bunch of people to spend Thanksgiving dinner with? Especially when it involves copious amounts of delicious food, more than a few bottles of wine, and a dance party lasting long into the wee hours of the night?

With time for myself and friends filling up Saturday, today - Thanksgiving Sunday - was saved for my family, this year, on a smaller scale. With my parents and in-laws a province or two away in either direction, family this year equals me, Hubby and Fergus. Just the three of us. Which, as far as I am concerned, is a pretty fantastic family.

But today didn't exactly start out great. Despite honouring my promise of me-time and friend-time on Saturday, work stress still seems to creep in whenever the lights go out and my head hits the pillow, and I did not sleep very well again last night. Which means that I woke up a little grouchier than one should be on Thanksgiving Sunday, and with a headache to boot. Admittedly, as I was rolling out of bed, I noticed that Hubby was no longer there, and I thought to myself, "I would be very thankful today if Hubby has already taken the Beast out for his morning walk so that I don't have to get out of these pyjamas." But when I stumbled down the stairs, there were my boys, in the kitchen, one of them still in his own p.j.'s. At least he was making coffee, and I was thankful for that.

After a quick breakfast, I found the motivation to tell Hubby that I was going to take Fergus to the Arboretum. Normally, this is an activity that Fergus and I do together - just the two of us. But every now and then, Hubby comes with us. So I asked him if he wanted to come with us on this particular morning, half expecting him to say no, as his nose was already buried in the Sunday edition of the New York Times. But he surprised me with a "Yes! That sounds like a nice way to spend our morning!" And so, half an our later, the three of us fed and two of us caffeinated, off we went.

Having not slept very well, I was uncharacteristically quiet as we walked through the streets of Little Italy. To the point where my husband wondered aloud what was wrong with me. "Nothing," I said. "I just didn't sleep last night and I have a headache. That's all." "Is it work?" he asked. "Yes, I said. But I don't really want to talk about it. Let's just try to enjoy the day."

Not a very ringing endorsement of the day ahead, is it...

We continued on in silence until we got to the Arboretum, where we let the Beast off of his leash so that he could roam to his heart's content. Sensing that I might need a little bit of space, Hubby ran off with Fergus. The two of them found the biggest stick that they could possibly find, and spent the next 10 minutes playing fetch, tug-o-war, and the Beast's all-time favourite game, chase-me. I stood back and watched. And took some pictures.

"Give me that stick!"

Hubby dragging Fergus around by the stick...

"No, really! I said give me that stick!"

Chewing on a stick. Mmmmmmmm...

I'm not giving it back, Dad!

Want me to throw this stick?

Maybe I'll chase you instead!

Come and get me!

More chasing!

And more being chased!

Hiding from my Dad, who won't stop chasing me!

And as I watched my two crazy boys run after one another, sometimes with sticks, sometimes without, I started to feel a little bit better. My headache was dissipating. The caffeine was kicking in. And I was smiling.

And as I stood in the middle of Fergus' favourite spot in the whole wide world, I could not help but turn a little contemplative as I began to realize just how lucky I am to have this little life of mine.

I admit it. I don't usually spend a whole lot of time on Thanksgiving thinking about everything that I have to be thankful for. Mostly, I look at it as an opportunity to stuff my face with turkey. But this morning, while I watched my grown man of a husband run around the Arboretum like a kid with his dog, I made a little list in my head of all the things that I want to say thank you for:

I am thankful for this beautiful city that I call my home, where I can spend incredible mornings like this one with the people and creatures that I love most.

The most beautiful green space in the city

Beautiful Parliament Hill

My street

I am thankful for my incredible friends, who make me laugh, sometimes until I cry.

Winning the B-side trophy with the craziest bunch of people I will ever know!

I am thankful that I have the means to do fun and crazy things, like meeting CFL legends when we travel to Grey Cup every year:

Pinball Clemons

Or visiting 400 year old wine cellars in southeastern France:

A wine cave in St. Emilion, Bordeaux, France

Or following Springsteen on tour around the North-eastern U.S. and finally getting this close to him:

If only he would have picked me to dance with him...

But most of all, I am thankful for the two very special boys in my life, who make sure that I smile at least once every day, and both of whom, in their own special ways, make me feel like I am the most important person in the whole world.


Watching a football game and chewing on a deer antler

Taking a coffee break

Work stress aside. I am a lucky girl. Mostly for one furry and one not-so-furry reason.