Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scrabble Christmas Ornaments

Oh goodness, it's the beginning of December again!  Christmas is lurking around the corner, despite my 'grinchiness'.  That's not a word, but it really should be.  It's coming, like it or don't.  I'm hoping as it nears closer I decide to like it.

Two Christmases ago I decided to tap into my crafty vein and make a home made/hand crafted Christmas ornament for my tree (and as it would turn out many other people's trees in the process).  I decided on making a cupcake version of an ornament.  And, to my delight and surprise it turned out pretty good (for a first attempt)!  Upon re-reading that blog post I have discovered a common theme (the struggle to find the Christmas spirit - I blame my Mom).  If you are looking for a couple home made ornament ideas you can also go back to the cupcake ornament through this link.

Then, something overcame me last year (Christmas spirit??) and I thought, what the heck...I'll do ANOTHER home made/hand crafted ornament.  So I embarked a little bit more adventurous project and create the best little snowman ornaments using burnt out light bulbs.  Ya, I know right.  I'm fairly awesome.  Crafty AND green!  So it you want a 2nd idea for an ornament project then click the link here to find my sweet little family of men made of snow (not really).

So as November was coming to a close I thought about the notion of doing another Christmas ornament project for 2014.  I'm hesitant to refer to this as an annual thing out of fear that I'll feel too much pressure and deem it 'work-like' and then not enjoy the process, but I think it might be headed that way.  I'd had some ideas for future prospects and I already had pretty much all the ingredients to make one (or you know an entire batch), so deciding which style to do was pretty much a no brainer.

This past summer, during garage sale season, I'd managed to pick up two Scrabble games for a buck each.  So this years ornament are Scrabble ornaments!  Easy-peasy!  Here's what you're going to need:

One or two Scrabble games (find them used, they're way cheaper)
White crafting glue (that dried clear)
Some ornament hooks
Some Christmasy type decorations (see my samples for inspiration)
Hot glue gun & glue sticks
A thesaurus (not really)

First I laid out all the tiles face up, and I compiled a list of Christmas related words (short is better than long).  Once I had a list of words to use, I started creating them with the tiles and setting them aside.

I then used my white crafting glue to glue the top of one letter to the bottom of another.  You could probably go horizontally as well, but I chose a vertical lay out.  Take your time, not too much glue or you'll just have little tiny messes to clean up.  I glued them together using a thin strip of wood as a temporary backing just to keep them in place until they firmed up.  Then I carefully pulled the wood backing off.

Once they were dry, I used my hot glue gun to blob a dab of glue at the top on the back.  I then stuck the bottom of my ornament hook into the glue and let that dry nicely.

Once all the hooks were affixed to the back, I took my curly red decoration thingamajig and hot glued it to the back so when you're looking at the ornament you just see little hints of shiny red stuff.  I didn't have enough red stuff to do them all, so I affixed little holly decorations to the remaining ones (which is like totally appropriate since my name is Holly and all...).

And low and behold my 2014 Christmas decoration extravaganza (but not annual remember) was complete!  So if you get one...act surprised!


Merry Christmas everyone.  I hope you have a peaceful and happy season with the people who mean the most to you.  Much love for all your support.


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  Well, at least it is in Canada and since that's where I live, I stand by my statement.  It's Thanksgiving weekend everyone!  Gobble gobble!  Over the past month or so I've been 'nominated' on Facebook to do 5-7 days of things I am thankful for.  I haven't bothered.  But what better time than now?  What better place than here?

So on this weekend of reflection and giving thanks I'll post some of the things I'm thankful for and maybe even a little reason why.  We ALL have something to be thankful for, so take a moment to yourself today and find what that is.  Many are obvious, some not so much.  Let's start to focus on all the good in our lives.  There's just way too much negativity and disappointment these days.

So of course, I am thankful for my boys.  To be honest, I'm thankful they aren't girls!  They are dramatic all in their own right so I can't imagine mixing estrogen in with all that!  I am thankful that overall, so far, they've been relatively easy to raise.  I'm thankful for the close and trusting relationship I have with both of them.  I'm thankful that they still tell me they love me, unsolicited.  I'm thankful that they talk to me about all sorts of stuff.  Nothing is really off the table.  I'm thankful some blip in the universe thought to make me their mom.

I'm thankful for Eric. I'm grateful that the timing in our worlds was right.  I'm grateful for a partner who is on the same page as me, who wants similar things despite our differences.  I'm thankful for how wonderfully he treats me.  I'm thankful that he still finds me as beautiful as he did when we first started dating (inside and out).  I'm appreciative that he's pretty damn handy and tolerates all of my requests.  He's my our super hero.  And I'm most thankful that I still love him and actually enjoy spending time with him.

After three and a half years I'm able to say I'm thankful that my dad passed away the way he did (no not thankful he died, just how he died).  No lengthy drawn out pain and suffering and having all of his family put their differences aside and gather around him to send him off with mountains of love and respect.  I think I've decided, in an ideal world, that's how I'd like to go.

Much appreciation for my almost 13 year old nephew.  He has taught me to be a way better person. He has taught me acceptance and continuously opens my eyes to the pretty spectacular miracle that is the human brain.  He has shown me the value of perseverance.

So of course that means I'm also thankful for my spunky 6 year old niece.  She gives me the gift of a sassy, hilarious, smart mouthed daughter without being my daughter!  She brings a belly full of laughter every time I see her.  She makes every day stresses (for me any way) melt away in her presence. I can hardly wait to stand by and watch during the teen years.

My friends give me so, SO much to be thankful for!  I seriously surround myself with the best group of people.  I genuinely believe I have no toxicity in this department.  I love all of them, near and far, old and new.  I love that I don't feel pressure to be in touch with every one of them on a daily basis to be able to maintain these relationships.  Every one of my friends contributes to my life in their own way.  They are all unique and different, and I need every one of them!

I'm thankful for my job career.  I'm thankful for the opportunities I've been presented with in my working world.  I'm most thankful that after 18+ years in this industry I still very much like my job.  I know not many can make the same statement.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to help others at a particularly dark time and the trust they extend to me by inviting me (even if briefly) into their families.  I'm grateful for all the life lessons I've managed to learn from doing this day in and day out.  I genuinely feel like my career has molded me into a completely different person today than what I started out as.  The company car, gas card and private office helps too.

My family (mom, dad, brother, sister and sister in law)!  Did you think I was forgetting you?  Pfft.  I'm so blessed with a kooky and unique family who are also relatively boring and drama free.  They are dependable and I know they are always near by.  I know we can't choose our blood family, but in this case if I'd been able to, I'm not entirely certain I'd choose any differently.  I'm still trying to figure out who they are!  This much I do know; they are the people I've known the longest;  they were my very first friends and frenemies; they are a constant; they are home.

My health.  I'm thankful that I'm relatively healthy (I think).  I'm grateful for the Health System here in Canada.  Despite all its known flaws, when I have a fear or illness I can "afford" to see a doctor to ease my mind and body.

I'm thankful for my furry little friends, those that co-habitate with me now and those that have already left my side.  They seem to always know when they need to be near and even when they don't.  They offer what I'd like to believe is unconditional love and not just a "sucking up so I'll feed them" move.

I'm thankful for my house and the literal roof over our heads. I'm grateful for my ability to pay for it. With each new project this house has become a home.

I'm appreciative of my cell phone, Facebook and Instagram.  As hokey as it sounds they keep me more involved in the lives of those who are important to me.  They have brought people into my life and back into my life who probably wouldn't have found their way there if these didn't exist.  Social media affords me the opportunity to actively participate in their lives on a consistent basis and I feel like I always know what's going on in their worlds.

I am grateful for my sense of humour and easy going nature;  my lack of giving a deep rooted shit about what others do in their lives or my need to voice my opinion.  There are just too many nay sayers out there now that feel like their opinion of what other people do (when it's not actually hurting others) is warranted or wanted.  I'm glad I'm not one of those people.  I'm grateful for not being uptight.  I'm thankful for having an open mind.

On the flip side, I'm thankful for my ability to judge others and still find something positive about them.

Despite everything I'm thankful for my ex-husband who contributed to the existence of two of my most favourite human beings.  I'm grateful that despite all the hiccups through the years we have still remained on friendly terms and my boys love him and enjoy spending time with him.

I'm thankful for my in-laws, who I'm pretty sure like me even when Eric tells me they'd never let on if they didn't, so I'll never really know.  I'm thankful for being welcomed into their fold and I'm super grateful they've welcomed my boys into their world.  I'm grateful for feeling at home in their house and the comfort I have opening the refrigerator without asking first.  That's huge!

But especially for this weekend, I'm super-dee-duper grateful for two hot meals cooked for me.  Food always tastes better when someone else prepares it.  I'm kidding (probably not)...I'm thankful for the opportunity to spend time with some of those crazy people I mention above, this weekend.

So again, Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I hope you are blessed to be able to spend some time with the people who mean the most to you.  I hope you steal a chance to reflect on what's important in your life and what isn't.  Please make the most of what you have been given and find the good around you.

xoxo


Warm Fuzzies

So this year marked the 40th anniversary of me being alive.  To commemorate that day I decided I was going to have a party to ring in the end of my 4th decade.  Working almost 20 years in funeral services has taught me a lot, but mainly that life is short so enjoy it as best you can, don't sweat the small stuff and most importantly, create memories with those people that mean the most and affect you the best.  So I took the bull by the horns and I ensured that happened.

I wanted to keep it fairly simple overall so as not to make it a stressful project.  My only must haves were a hall, a candy table, a 'photo booth', and a Holly play list of music.  Though in typical Holly
fashion, about an hour before the party was set to begin there was a small fire brewing at the hall.  No literally, a small fire!  For those of you that truly know me you know of my history with fires and my understandable fear of them.   My awesome photographer for the night, and friend, Dave (Lucky73 Photography) came to my rescue and squashed that threat.  

So many of my friends graced me with the privilege of their company that evening and I will be forever grateful.  A few of them came from far away too!  There were definitely many missed faces, but the night was still so wonderful for me.  It was full of so many cherished friends and family.

At one point in the evening, I took a moment to just stand there and take it all in.  And, I thought to myself, "This is living.  This is what it's all about.  Being surrounded by people I love and by people who clearly appreciate me.  This is it."

So while I thought for sure the party would be the highlight of this years birthday celebrations, and it most certainly was, Eric surprised me with a little project of his own.   He included in the envelope with the invitations I sent out a letter requesting people to submit their own memories of me.  What an incredibly awesome surprise!  While it would have been totally amazing to get one from everyone, he did get a fair amount of returns.  And I loved reading every one of them!

I think the thing I found most interesting about reading other people's memories of me was just how differently I remembered the same situation.  Or, I won't lie...NOT remembering it right away.
Eventually I remembered them all, but I have always thought I had a memory like a steel trap, but I've forgotten more things than I know and it was so incredible to be reminded of these great times.

Here's a small sampling of what some people said in their memories:
"We decided to throw caution to the wind and make the journey without a guarantee of success.  In the spirit of youth, we scrounged together what little money we had, hit the road and hoped for the best, as we often did in those days.

"She makes you laugh.  She listens.  She helps plot against the people who are messing with you.  She is a constant."

"I know I can count on her to always be straight up and I value our rare 'girls nights'.  I count Holly among one of my few true friends."

"You were a dancing queen when you could barely walk."

"I am awed by the compassion you have for others.  You are teaching your sons to be caring and considerate as well."

"We have come to know you as a happy, outgoing and extremely confident person who surprises us in many different ways on a regular basis.  Your devotion and dedication to your family, your friends and the clients you work with is remarkable."   

"We don't talk every day and have even gone a few years without speaking, but when I needed her she was there for me, when her father passed away she knows I was there for her.  Every time we see each other it's like we just saw each other yesterday and we take right off from there."

"Out of all the people in my life, you were the one person that could always keep me in check.  Never taking my shit and calling me on it.  Sometimes I would get pissed but deep down inside I truly respected you for it.  This all carried over to my adult life and is probably one of the reasons I am who I am today."

"After my relationship broke down, Holly was always ready with a listening ear, a helpful suggestion, a laugh, and a reality check when I needed it.  She seemed to know when to share her own experience and when to just listen.  She was able to balance her friendship with my ex at the same time.  She never took sides."

I seriously have the best friends and family ever.  I'm going to keep my stack of memories in envelopes...sort of like a stack of love letters from my friends and family.  Thank you so very much to those that took a moment out of their day to share their thoughts and memories with me.  I've kept them private.  Even Eric hasn't truly read them.  I'm humbled and honoured and I feel the same way about all of you.  This has been the most absolute best birthday ever.  Thank you to everyone who contributed in some way.  I love you all.  My heart is full.  



Sunday, August 24, 2014

School Issues, Blah.

It's that time of year again.  Summer break is wrapping up quickly. Aside from when I was a child, I can't remember a summer break that I've welcomed more.  Roan really struggled this past year and as a parent it really was the first time I experienced a lot of frustration directed towards my child's school and teacher(s).  I've always been the parent to err on the side of the education system.  Why wouldn't I be?  Gage fits the mold of what a typical boy student is like (give or take a couple incidences where I had to talk to the Principal).  I really try to understand the frustrations a teacher must face day in and day out.  I can imagine...and frankly it's why I know I could never do that job.  Whenever there was an incident with either of my kids at school I made sure I followed through with the 'punishment' at home.  It was clear to my kids that they wouldn't be able to play one against the other when it came to me and the school system. 

Until this year.  Roan started a new school.  It's not an entirely new school to me because Gage did two years there as well before venturing off to high school.  Gage even won the "Most Personal Growth" award (or something along those lines). Gage excelled there.  But, Gage doesn't have issues with paying attention...Roan does.  And it's been made quite clear to me that, like it or not, this school ain't got no time for that!

I've read and heard numerous stories and reports from parents on how their school system has failed them.  I've listened to tales of frustration and whoa from family members about trying to fight the system for the betterment of their child.  In most cases, they've lost.  They've had to uproot their kid and move them to another school, another district and in some cases costly private schools and then as a final resort, homeschooling.  Now I'm feeling it first hand; maybe not to the extremes of the others, but enough to leave a sour taste in my mouth. 

Back in December we were strong armed into putting Roan back on medication 'for his own good' as he was currently not in an academic position to move on to Grade 8.  Scary words.  I felt like I'd failed.  We conceded but only with the promise from the school staff that they'd make concessions on their end too with the hopes of helping Roan succeed.  Those things happened...in the beginning.  And then they stopped. 

I tried to reason with Roan (my initial instinct was to side with the school after all) and tell him that a teacher has 30 students, so solely helping one stay on task isn't really in the cards.  I tried to tell him that he plays a huge part in his personal growth as well and that he has to find a way to push through his difficulties.  But towards the end of the year, I started to take stuff personally, on behalf of Roan. 

A couple of weeks before school let out, Roan`s teacher told him he was advancing to Grade 8, but barely.  Ya, she used that word!  Barely. Huh... barely...what did that mean exactly??  Turns out though that he didn't just barely pass.  He had three B's, three D's and the rest C's.  That doesn't scream barely to me.  I know he is capable of better but since four months ago he was 'failing' I think that's a damn decent report card and not worthy of the title of "barely passing".  My feelings were hurt on behalf of my child that she would use that word.  He struggles and has struggled for years with low self esteem and she is quite aware of that.  So for her to pick those words...well, I'm sad for my kid.  But that's not the only thing that wrapped up the year with a bang.

The second last day of school Roan and a girl in his class were being silly, throwing stuff at each other, giggling and laughing.  I'm sure their goofing off probably wasn't called for (But hey, it was the second last day of school, who's teaching?) and probably frowned upon.  In their silliness the girl ended up, unintentionally, with sticky tack in her hair.  When Roan brought it to her attention she panicked and ended up pushing it deeper into her hair.  Both were hauled down to the office and the parents were called.  The conclusion the Vice Principal jumped to was that she'd have to cut all her hair off, so Roan was suspended.  Even though, according to the Vice Principal he didn't do it maliciously.  Wait, what??  A couple months ago, three grade 8 boys kicked a ball hockey ball square into Roan's face (after several attempts and numerous requests from Roan to stop, they found success) which resulted in a bloody nose that wouldn't stop (so he was sent home) and a bruise on his face, and those shit heads didn't get a suspension...they got a "stern talking to".  To add more fuel to my fire in my belly, the girl showed up at school on the last day with NO new hair cut!  Big surprise.  It's in a mom's blood to get shit out of their kids hair.  Clearly this clown doesn't know that.

It probably wasn't a good idea or rather good timing to send his report card home for my comments after all this bullshit went down.  His teacher didn't like my comments about the structured, rigid school system that isn't willing to help kids who learn differently than others.  I ended my rant with a quote from Einstein, "Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life thinking it's stupid."  It's a good thing my son who 'can't pay attention' thinks with a more level head than I, because I was ready to immediately pull him from this school.

So onward and upwards we go.  In a matter of a week he'll be returning to said school with a new set of teachers and mentally prepared to tackle what Grade 8 throws at him.  I've also given him a little incentive this year.  If he can make the Principal's Honour Roll, then I'll throw $500.00 at him as a reward to do with as he likes.  So far he seems up to the challenge.  We've discussed ways for him to be successful and while he remains a little sceptical, I'm confident if he studies, and brings his homework/projects home to actually complete then he'll prove himself wrong.  Fingers crossed for a smoother end to his elementary years and a good transition into high school.  Gulp!  HIGH SCHOOL.  I'm heading off to a corner to cry.  June is going to destroy me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Magical Playground


What is an ideal gift for a 6 year old little girl full of life, laughter and beans?  A little girl who probably has more than she really needs.  A little girl whose mom is often at her wits end trying to purge all the stuff her daughter has.  So I thought on it.  And I thought on it some more....

A while ago I gave some serious consideration to making her this fantastic thing (I'll keep it a secret, in case I actually get around to doing it) that she could keep forever and pass along to her own daughter or grand-daughter should that day come, but I haven't quite gotten there yet.  Perhaps one day year soon. It's not really a weekend project.  So I needed to come up with another idea.

And a Fairy Garden for inside her house is what I came up with.  Little Miss Sawyer-Bean already has an outside, awesome Fairy Garden that her grandfather and mother created for her complete with an actual stream and real, live fish!  But what happens when winter comes? When the snow blankets the earth and everything comes to a quiet hush and her Fairy Garden goes into hibernation?  Maybe nothing.  Maybe since she's just turning six she doesn't even think about it until Spring opens its rested eyes and the world starts to awaken again.  Maybe my idea was all for naught, but it certainly was fun creating it. So there's that.


Here's how I created my little masterpiece, because even if she could care less about it, I think it turned out pretty bad ass.  I took a metal pot/tray thingamajig that's made for plants and I filled it with potting soil 3/4 of the way up.  Then I planted four succulents.  Wanna know why? Because they're called succulents, they are pretty rad, they're little so they fit perfectly AND they barely need watering!  Win-win-win-win!  Then I covered all the exposed soil with teeny tiny mulch and started adding the Fairy touches.  I added a little boy and a little girl fairy.  I added a little teeter totter (see saw), and a little black kitty, because everyone should have a black kitty.  Then I added a gazing ball, a bird bath, a crystally-like rock, and some little river stones around the plants.  Et voila! An indoor Fairy Garden for a 6 year old magical girl.  I secretly hope she likes it.

Taking a break from playing on the see-saw.






One Last Dance

The other day Eric and I were talking, and it occurred to me that I'm not aware off the official last time I picked either of my boys up.  I mean physically picked them up (I pick Gage up from work far more often than I'd like).  You know though, to comfort them, for a hug, to dance... Did I know it would be my last time when I picked them up that final day? I doubt it or I would have emblazoned it into my mind. I would have made some sort of note of it.  I probably would have eaten far too many things I shouldn't have eaten to help stifle the sad, empty longing of just another thing I have to let go of.

 How did the years slip through my fingers? How did I already run out of chances to pick them up for a hug? Just typing this out makes me melancholy and I find myself missing those moments when I didn't even realize I'd been missing them.  We have all heard the cliché about it how quickly the time of babies and toddlers passes, but I never dreamed it would whip by this fast.  I look back on the past 17+ years after becoming a mother and so much has happened.  So much has changed, however the one consistency was my boys.  But my how they themselves have changed and I've not been acutely aware.

I don't have many regrets when it comes to how I've parented them.  Right or wrong in other people's eyes, they are turning out just fine. They are becoming people I not only love, but actually like! That being said, I kind of regret taking their years with me for granted.  Is that the right word?  I'm not so sure.  I just figured there were so many more years ahead of us.  Me and them. Them needing me.  Me secretly needing them. As Gage heads into Grade 12 this year I can't help but wonder if I have only this short school year left before he moves out.  Out of my house. Out of my fold.  My stomach is already in knots merely thinking about it.  Will he miss me like I'll miss him?  Gah, so many feelings!

It makes my heart hurt to now be consciously aware that in all probability the next time someone needs to be physically carried, our roles will likely be reversed. I hope my boys will remember all those times I carried them.