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Remembering Dad: Edward Patrick Pitt

As we celebrate Father’s Day this week,  I decided to reach out to three colleagues and asked if they would be interested in writing about their dads.

Here is the first of three stories to be shared.

Kathy, thank you for writing about your Dad.  He sounded like a lovable man who enjoyed people’s company.


 

 

Edward Patrick Pitt
“How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”  ~A.A. Milne

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My girls called him Papa.  When Laura was learning to talk, she thought my dad looked like Belle’s father from Beauty and the Beast.  Belle called her father Papa.  It stuck with him.

My dad had many passions, especially sports.  He loved golf, curling, and watching the Blue Jays, the Maple Leafs, and the Argos.  He loved harness racing.  On most days he could be found at the Off Track Betting, sitting with other retirees watching the races on the big screen TVs and placing two dollar bets.

He kept his greatest love for his family.

He took every opportunity he could to brag about his girls and his grandkids.  He loved going to my girls’ sporting events and in fact he was the carpool parent for their before and after-school swim practices for many years.

My dad loved being around people.

He liked to be the life of the party.  When we watch old home movies, my dad was always laughing, joking, or doing a goofy dance to make my girls laugh.

He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.  The saddest thing about my dad’s illness was that it robbed him of his ability to interact with people.  He lost his ability to make funny faces, dance, and think quickly enough for humourous quips.

My dad lived out loud for most of his life, but the last couple of years reduced his life to a very quiet, contained existence.  He had a form of Parkinson’s that included Lewy Body Dementia. This horrific form of the disease includes vivid hallucinations.  The only joy we took from his last year was that many of his hallucinations included animals (which he loved).  He could describe with extreme details the animals that were in his hospital room.  He thought it was great that the hospital allowed him to stay in the barn with the horses.

I miss my dad when….

  • I see a photo of parking lots or people without their heads in the shot (he was a notoriously bad photographer)
  • I hear someone order a Rye and Pepsi (he preferred Pepsi to Coke)
  • I watch curling on TV
  • It’s Kentucky Derby time
  • I make stewed tomatoes and serve them with sausages
  • A “Western” is on TV
  • I vote (he was a staunch Conservative and would never vote for another party.  I always told him my vote cancelled his vote out in every election since I was 18 years old)
  • My husband buys another baseball cap (my dad had hundreds of them)
  • I see pictures of the 1977 Blue Jays snowy opening day (my parents were there)
  • I think about Winnie the Pooh (we inscribed on his tombstone a quote: “How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~A.A. Milne”)

 

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I think of us dancing at my wedding to Unforgettable (just one month after he was diagnosed with cancer).

 


 

Lainie Note: This piece was written by Kathy Witherow.  I met Kathy about 5 years ago when we were both part of a learning network in the York Region District School Board.  I remember when Kathy lost her dad.  On Instagram, she shared a photo of him along with the A.A. Milne quote.  The quote stuck with me and when I thought of someone who might want to write about their dad, I immediately thought of her.

The Lainie List

 

  1. What!?! I’ve never heard of this before. Poor baby bunnies.
  2. A look inside a designer treehouse
  3. A free online course I just took
  4. Why Your Kids Just Need You
  5. My Gram, the meaning behind my Writing Acts of Kindness: 30 Day Challenge
  6. Sweetery: Canada’s Largest Sweets Festival in Toronto
  7. The Dough
  8. My anaconda don’t…
  9. Yay! A friend just opened her new ice cream shop.
  10. I need to stop eating this. So good.
  11. Take the Quiz.  Which one are you?
  12. Cook this Page: Parchment Recipes.  Those sneaky Nordic geniuses at Ikea.  
  13. Raspberry Sangria Recipe
  14. Figuring out my word for this year

 

Hope you’re having a great weekend!  If you’d like to see more of my everyday life, follow me on Instagram.

The Lainie List


 

This week I came across a blog I loved. Like, I have a girl crush on this woman. She is

super creative, real and funny. Check out Tracy at www.shutterbean.com

 

Each week, she posts a list of what she’s been reading, watching, and checking out online.

I was inspired to give it a try.  It’s weird to share without any context, but a bit liberating

at the same time.  I’m a wild woman.

Temptation of the Night

Each day I say
I won’t do it
I won’t get suckered in again
And as the night begins to creep
Hello again my friend

The house is beautifully calm
No chaos or screaming to be
The soft glow of the lamp
My notebook
and just me

Writing is a joy
Something just for me
So as they all sleep soundly
I’m happy as can be

Eventually I start to fade
The night approaching morn
I try to sneak into our bed
To avoid a bit of scorn

So although I say
I won’t do it
We all know it’s true
Staying up waaay too late
Is something I’ll likely do.

~Poem written my a mom with three busy little ones, who loves her late night quiet time.

Recipe Cards as Thoughtful Gifts

It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
When I left home for university, my Mom gave me a set of recipe cards she had made.  Each had a photo of family members or friends, along with a favourite recipe from my childhood.  It was a way to see familiar faces and a bit of home when I was 19 hours away.
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Bottom left to right: my Grandma Lainie on her four-wheeler, my grandma and I at my high school graduation party, Halloween with our cousins, my brother playing in a mud puddle, and me holding little awards from grade 1.

Recipes are nostalgic.  They remind us of family dinners or special occasions.  I think that’s why they make great gifts.
Maybe there’s someone you know who would love a set of their own.  It’s a nice opportunity for you to do a  Writing Act of Kindness for someone you care about!

5 Signs You Have Two Toddlers in the House

Your curtains are tied up each morning so the curtain rod isn’t pulled out of the wall.

Your bathtub is basically a glorified toy box, complete with a pair of water wings.

 

You’ve become that house with kiddie crafts EVERYWHERE.

The reading selection on your nightstand has changed dramatically.

 

 

A daily morning routine is unplugging your lamp and putting it up as high as possible so it doesn’t get broken.

 

It’s funny how your house changes once you have kids. The more mobile they get, the more table tops become bare and the breakables move higher. It’s like going minimalist but with a ridiculous number of toys and books everywhere and Cheerios all over the floor.

But I take these photos because I want to remember it.

I want to remember that our son was so excited when he got his first pair of water wings that he wore them most of the afternoon and into the tub that night. Or the reason why we had to tie the curtains up was because the boys loved playing peekaboo a little too much and almost took down the curtains one day.

When you come into our house, there’s no question that toddlers live here.

I just want to remember the fun.

People Don’t Write Letters Anymore

You likely have a few letters or cards tucked away at home from someone special in your life.  You might even have an old diary you kept as a kid or the first love letter you got. We just can’t seem to throw these things out, and we shouldn’t.

There’s something personal and intimate about the act of putting pen to paper.  Someone taking the time to sit down and share their thoughts.  They were thinking of you.

I wish we did it more.

But people don’t really write letters anymore.

Text messages on the go.  A quick email update.  It’s like conversations happen and then are lost and forgotten.

But with writing, we have it forever.  Their voice, their words.  It’s them.  We see the curves of their handwriting on paper.  We value it, yet seem to do it less and less.

So after about a year of writing on my blog, I think I’ve decided what I want to write more about.  I think that I’m going to start using my blog as a place to help others write and to share great stories.

I’m really excited and have tons of ideas swirling around…

I’d like to share ideas for how you might write to your children

How you could capture the stories of someone significant in your life

Ways that writing can be used to create thoughtful gifts

And touching stories from friends and family about something written.

I might put together little writing challenges and encourage others to join me – writing something small each week for different people in our lives.

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Scribbled thoughts in my notebook

For some reason, not many of us see ourselves as writers.  That somehow it’s a skill reserved for those who write books or publish in magazines.  But I think we’re all writers and our words have the ability to bring us closer to others.

I hope that you’ll join me…

Birds on the Brain: Spring Activities for Toddlers

I’m not a fan of birds and yet here I am…building nests, watching YouTube videos of eggs hatching, and looking for robins outside.  I’ve become the Martha Stewart of bird crafts and activities.  The things we do for our kids.

Below are a few photos of things we’ve been trying…

Our oldest was SO excited by this YouTube video: Baby Bird Hatching. He was so surprised when the baby broke out of its’ shell. The smile on his face was priceless. This was a win.
I was on my own in my excitement with this one. Mom fail. His little brother is a fan though. He yells out, “Buuuah!” while pointing at the magnets and scrambling over to grab them off the wall. Our oldest now refers to the magnets by their names, “Mama, where cardinal?” “Here, wren!” So it seems like he took something away from it.
We made bird nest cookies. The kids’ idea of ‘baking’ is eating the ingredients while I quickly put everything together. They prefer to be passive observers who continually request “mo-chocolate, peeze mama”.
He was very excited to make a bird feeder. Paper towel roll, peanut butter, and bird seed. “Sprinkle food, mama.” As I carried the feeder towards the front door, he ran back and forth around me yelling out, “Food birdies!!” He stood at our front picture window for the longest time repeating, “eat birdies. Come eat food, birdies.” It’s been hours and we haven’t seen one yet. Here’s to hoping.

I look forward to the little activities and crafts I have planned for them each day. I’m curious to see how they’ll react and whether they’ll find it interesting.

I started planning them as something fun to do with our oldest (while his brother and sister nap in the mornings). I’ve noticed he’s been looking for more attention lately, so it was something special we could do, just the two of us.

Some days he’s really into it. “Craft! Craft!” Other days we’ll be in the middle of watching a YouTube video of birds hatching and he’ll request videos of trucks or trains. Shiny object! Squirrel! I don’t push it. It’s supposed to be fun, not forced.

I have a few more ideas of things that we could do but I think it’s time to try something different. The kid loves puddles. Slapping his hand in the dirtiest of them all, jumping in them, stomping…I think we’ll start doing a few things with puddles. Plus, it’s supposed to rain all week so there will be lots of opportunities to explore.

I’m very lucky to have met some amazing early years educators. Their voices are the reminders I need when the kids don’t seem interested in what we’re doing. It’s not about planning structured, themed activities that children must do despite their interest levels. It’s about seeing children as the naturally curious creatures they are and letting them lead the way.

I need to observe my boys, watch to see what interests them, and then go there. I have much to learn but I’m having a lot of fun.

Writer’s Note: Who Inspired Me and How I Got Started

A few weeks ago, I took my boys to a free story time program at a nearby arts studio. The lady who facilitated it was phenomenal.

She grabbed a picture book and had the children following her around the room like Mother Goose. They skipped, danced, and quickly came in close as she drew them in with the next portion of the book. Then off they’d go again!

She carefully held a wind chime and quietly called each child up by name to touch it and listen to its’ sound. She made a simple wind chime from a dollar store seem like a magical object. I even found myself thinking it was pretty cool (I told you she was phenomenal).

The kids tilted rain sticks, danced around the room pulling coloured scarves through the air, and stomped their feet to mimic thunder. Needless to say, I was not only impressed but inspired. I should be doing things like this for my boys. I started my planning that night.

I opened up a Google doc and began brainstorming some possible themes for spring…

Rain
Puddles
Birds
Flowers
Seeds
Frogs

With each, I listed ideas for different learning experiences, crafts, and activities. Flowers and seeds…I’ll wait until we plant our flower beds and garden. Rain and puddles, I’m sure there will be a lot of that in April. Let’s start with birds because soon we’ll put our bird feeders out.

A few days later, I snuck out of the house at 8 p.m. and left our newborn with my hubby. I went to the library …I am a wild woman these days! I scoured the shelves looking for books that could fit in with any of the themes — snapping photos of ones I might borrow later so I could easily find them. I came home with two great books…

I thought we could read this book and then look at YouTube videos of birds in nests, birds hatching, etc. This book is beautifully illustrated and short and sweet. Our oldest loved it. He’s almost 2 1/2.
“Some birds soar high, while some birds just walk. Some birds waddle, some birds hop…” I thought we could move around and dance like the lady in the storytime program. Although we weren’t as graceful, we had fun stretching our arms and moving around the kitchen like soaring birds. It’s official — I have now reached a whole new level of silly.

I’m so glad that we went to the storytime program that day. Sometimes we need someone to show us what’s possible and to give us the inspiration we need to get started. I hope that maybe this post has done the same for you — given you a little idea that you might want to try with little ones too.

Two Questions You Need to Ask a Stranger

There are two questions that will get total strangers laughing and sharing stories.  I experienced it first hand at a conference a couple years ago.

There were hundreds of us in the room.   Some knew each other and most did not.  The facilitators asked us to divide into groups based on the decade in which we were born. 

If you were born in the 70s, move to the back corner…the 80s, over here at the side…

We were asked to talk about these two questions:

1. What do you remember wearing as a teenager?
2.
Do you remember the first record, 8 track, cassette, CD, or download you bought?

I met a lady who grew up in the Ukraine.  As a teenager, the first cassette she bought was AC/DC.  She even put an AC/DC patch on her bag that she carried around school.  Funny thing was, she had no idea who they were.  Everyone talked about them so she played along.  Secretly, she loved classical music and went on to study it.

It took a while for the facilitators in the room to bring us back together.  Yes!!! I remember that… Oh my god, I did that too…

You might be wondering if it’s a good idea or not to divide people by age.  I found that it was actually a lot of fun because it brought people together around some similar experiences. We also had choice with which group to join.  Depending on your workplace and group dynamics, you’ll know whether it’s an icebreaker to try or not.

I decided to bring this icebreaker into an online course I was teaching.

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Sharing what we wore and laughing about our bad fashion sense brings us together.  It makes us more than a name on the screen, but rather another person who also made mixed tapes from the radio or used wwaaaaaay too much hairspray back in the day.  It creates connections.

It encourages us to open up to strangers and share a little bit of ourselves.  Which in turn, makes it more likely for us to comment on each other’s work, ask questions, or reach out with an email.

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Me rocking  a loon sweatshirt, turtleneck, and bangs (I can’t even explain) – back in the early 90s

So if you also wore a Northern Reflections sweatshirt or loved a good bodysuit (not the ones for swimming folks), share a comment to this blog!  What did you wear as a teen?  What album did you first buy?

We don’t need to be strangers anymore…

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