Friday, December 20, 2013

It's All in the Perception

I was crafty again ladies and germs (there's probably only one of you who will continue reading at this point though)!  Are you excited??
Over a year ago I posted a stupid game to my Facebook feed that suggested that I'd make a hand made gift for the first 5 people who responded.  I only recently followed through with my last one (I think).  Procrastinator much?  Frankly I was hoping she'd forget.  But who was I kidding?  A free anything for Natalie?  There is no WAY she'd forget.  And she's reminded me of it incessantly for the past 6 months or so.   
It took me a little while to think of something to make her that I hadn't already done.  New things keep me interested.  And I came up with transforming an old ornate picture frame into a serving tray.  So off to Goodwill I went and put my hands on an ugly gold leaf frame and then I came home and went to town. 
Here's the list of stuff you'll need.  Some of it you may already have on hand. 
  • A picture frame wide enough to accomodate a handle.
  • Two matching drawer pulls
  • Glossy paint
  • Modge Podge
  • Photos and/or pretty paper
  • A sponge brush
Now the simple directions...

First I painted the frame glossy black.  Black goes with everything and in this particular case I don't know what colours Natalie has decorated her house in or what her style is so it's best to play it safe.  I did two coats to make sure it was even. 

Then I had Eric drill through the two sides to accomodate the drawer pulls I've had in my possession since I scored them for free at a garage sale (knowing one day they would come in handy). 

Then I took the backing of the original picture and modge podged a bunch of photos I stole off of Natalie's Facebook page of her, her spouse, their super adorable baby and their pups, onto it - all collage like.  Then I applied a layer of modge podge over top for added protection.  The glass from the frame will help but in case some liquid spills and seeps underneath, the pictures are also protected. 

Then I reapplied the back and covered it all with some scrap book paper using modge podge.  Et viola!  A new serving tray with some personal touches.  It's a relatively easy craft that you could do with a slightly older child as a gift for a grandparent.  So there's another idea for you, get crafting! 


I Almost Believe That They're Real...

On Monday I was finishing up one of my nephew Sebastian's Christmas presents.  He loves getting a box of pictures; be it superheroes, characters from his favourite films and shows or family members, so I printed a bunch off and laminated them all for added longevity and protection.  The last bunch of photos I printed were family ones.  And as I sat there waiting for them to pass through the laminator, I found myself reminiscing about the specific moments captured in time with these photos. 

Of course I included snapshots of my dad in with the lot, and while I was glancing through, it dawned on me that it's going on three years since I last spoke to my dad.  While I know in my head what the anniversary is, in my heart at this exact moment while looking at his face,  I just didn't feel like that much time had gone by.  While I was looking through the photos it felt like I had just seen him...just talked to him.  Immediately the contents of that particular night captured in this picture came flooding back.  For crying out loud, I remember actual conversations from when that photo was taken.  And I think those memories fooled me into feeling like I'd just seen him.  I think the candid shots do this to me more than the posed formal photos he sat for do.  I'm finding it hard to explain myself with regards to this, I think.  But for a few moments, his death was surreal to me again and the dull throbbing, underlying pain of missing him wasn't there, for in my head I just talked to him.  We just shared some laughs (we had probably just made fun of someone).

It's taken me this long to realize that these photos, these treasures we all take for granted are keeping my memories of my dad a sense keeping him alive.  I still hear his voice when I look at the pictures.  I find it easier, in fact, to hear his voice while I'm looking at the snap shots rather than when I just close my eyes and try to remember.  I've decided I'm going to spend more time looking through my photos of my dad.  The photos that have captured him in a moment, a moment with a story and a memory behind it. 

It's a fitting week to make this discovery, as today is the 64th anniversary of the day he was born.  Today my gift to my dad is to think of him and smile.  And, to remind you all to get out there and live life and in the process snap a bunch of pictures.  Pictures that might make you cringe now, but will make you or someone smile another day.  Pictures of the good, the bad and the ugly.  The real pictures. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Handsome Little Snow Men

Last year I decided to make some home made Christmas ornaments.  (Psst...follow that link if you want to see how I made cupcake ornaments.)  Any way, since I was finished my Christmas shopping early this year and everything is already wrapped and under the tree I was feeling a little lost.  I was feeling like I should be doing something and if I didn't find something quick to occupy my time with, the odds were strongly in favour of me spending more money on presents I shouldn't be buying.

So I decided to look up more home made Christmas Ornament ideas on Pinterest (Ya ya, I know it's probably redundant by now to even bother mentioning that site - but credit where credit is due.) and I found a bunch of ideas on this site.  There are a couple listed there that I'd like to attempt, but my first choice was the snowmen.  Mainly because I had 5 burnt out light bulbs around my house and all the supplies (Sally Home-maker, I am not!).  So I spent not one new cent on this project.  And I'll have you know, I got razzed for being so cheap that I wouldn't pay two bucks for a box of light bulbs, but I'm saving the environment yo!  Upcycling garbage at its finest right here.

So here's what I used:

  • Burnt out light bulbs (or not burnt out light bulbs if you really hate the environment)
  • Ornament hooks (I took these off of pre-existing ornaments I had with both a hook and string loop)
  • Acrylic Paint (white, black, and orange preferred - but art is so subjective so use what you have)
  • Yarn for the scarves
  • White Sticky Glue (I really feel like that name is redundant.)
  • An old black stretchy glove (because the kids hands have grown and really they don't keep'em warm anyway!)
  • Textured sparkly snow paint (for added effect but most definitely not needed to get desired effect)
  • Buttons (small, tiny ones)
  • Rubbing Alcohol (not sure if Vodka will work or not, but it's worth a shot!  Wacka wacka!) and cotton pads or paper towels
  • Scissors (because your teeth just won't suffice this time)
  • Paintbrushes (different sizes but relatively small overall)

Step one:  Clean the bulb with rubbing alcohol.  Supposedly it helps the paint adhere to the glass better.  I don't know this fact to be true, but I did it none the less and I'm feeling confident about my paint job.

Step two:  Apply a coat of white paint to the entire glass part.  Yes, good luck finding something to hold the bulb after you paint it while it dries.  I cheated.  I held the socket end and used my blow dryer to dry the paint quickly.  I suppose I should have added that to the list of supplies.

Step three:  Apply a second coat of paint.  Repeat with the hair dryer.  I did this 5 times on 5 bulbs.  Two coats seemed to suffice.  You could probably do three but that would be overkill.  And ain't no one got time for that!

Step four:  Cut the finger tips off the mini stretch gloves using scissors.  And apply a coating of Sticky Glue to the entire socket of the bulb.  Then put the socket into the finger tip.  Easier said than done, but by the second one, I'd figured out an easy way of getting the job done without copious amount of glue on my fingers.  Turn the finger tip inside out and stick it on the end of the socket with your finger in the finger tip, then slowly pull the sides down turning it right side out again and covering the glue.

Step five:  While the glue is out, apply two dabs of it to the front of your little man and stick on two buttons.

Step six:  If you plan to use the 'snow paint' apply it now, liberally to the bottom.  Then attack that shit with your hair dryer.  You might as well blow some hot air on your newly glued buttons at the same time.

Step seven:  Use a fine tipped brush and apply the eyes with black paint.  Then using a different brush (because you don't want to have to stop to keep cleaning brushes) paint a sideways slightly tilted orange triangle.  Then paint a little black coal mouth.

Step eight:  Slip an ornament hook through the knitting on the 'hat'.

Step nine:  Using whatever colour of yarn you have on hand (I used four different colours, two strands of each) and braid a mini  'scarf'.  It gets cold hanging around on that tree waiting for Christmas you know!

Step ten:  Apply some sticky glue around the back of the snowman edging down as you come around to the front and stick the scarf right in it!  Then apply a little dab to unite the two ends of the scarf and voila!

I'm not going to lie or be modest here...I'm pretty sure my little snowmen are way better than the ones I got my inspiration from.  But of course I'm sure someone will top these ones too.  This was a relatively easy craft that I started and finished in two hours, tops.  I've already given two away.  I've decided to keep one and pass the other two along.  I'm still debating tackling another idea from that site.  So hold tight, you might get another tutorial!

What are you doing to find your Christmas spirit?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

My Modern Day Superhero

From the moment I became a parent there has rested an underlying fear that my child would walk through life without ease.  That fear was enhanced on his first day of school.  Yes, up until I passed him off to a stranger for a half day of learning he was protected by me in our own little cocoon.  Then the angst that everyone else would like him to the same degree that I loved him set in.  I worried that other kids would be mean to him.  I worried that he would be bullied and have no friends.  Thankfully those fears have proven to be unfounded with Gage.  He was and still is well liked by all.

Growing up he was taught to defend himself at the hands and words of others.  I also expressed to him how important it was to defend his friends if he ever found them to be victims of bullying.  I taught him to use his words first, and when and if that failed, then he was equipped (by his father) to use his hands.  I refused to leave my son as a sitting duck.  He knew that as long as he was defending himself or a friend that I would defend him to the end even if it found me in a Principal's office.  He's had very few minor run ins through the years, thank goodness.  But this past month he found himself in a position that has left me feeling very proud of his actions.

Since he's started at this particular high school (three years ago) there have been a minimum of 2 teenage suicides as a result of bullying.  A couple of weeks ago a casual friend, but more of a friendly acquaintance, who isn't too popular and pretty quiet was being targeted on Facebook by another student.  It was a pretty harsh attack by someone who clearly believed they were a lot tougher on line than I gather they would be face to face.  After a barrage of insults directed at this victim who refused to respond the bully upped the ante and started targeting  homosexuals that ended with a lot of hateful words and death threats about gay people.   At this point Gage (who has gay friends) stepped in.  After the bully turned on Gage, Gage responded with a promise to finish that conversation in person at school the following day.    So he did, but only after taking screen shots of the entire Facebook conversation.

He approached the bully at school and threatened him with bodily harm if this kid ever spoke to the victim, himself or about homosexuals like that again.  He then walked away with nothing physical happening, just a warning.    Yet he was summoned to the principals office the next morning after the bully tattled on Gage for threatening him while 'surrounded' by his group of friends (which wasn't entirely true).  Unbeknownst to the bully and the principal who was prepare to dole out harsh punishment, Gage produced a slew of pictures depicting the bullying and hateful comments this kid made about homosexuals as an explanation to why he threatened this kid.  Needless to say the tune of the principal changed, Gage received a "lecture" about reporting him instead of threatening him (but over all received praise for stepping in and defending a friend) and was requested to email all the photos to the principal.

Later that day Gage wandered past the office to see this 'kid' and his father walking in to meet with the principal and two uniformed police officers.  I'm not sure what sort of punishment this kid got or if the police presence was merely a scare tactic but these ideals and opinions are learned somewhere.  I'm not sure his father will follow through with any sort of punishment.  I myself am so grateful that the ideals and opinions that my son learned were tolerance and respect for everyone regardless of their race, creed, gender or sexual orientation.  I'm so glad he was quick thinking enough to take screen shots because of course by the next day this kid had deleted everything he had written.  My kid made me proud and I still would have been proud had it come down to fisticuffs while defending the rights of homosexuals and the right for a student to go to school without fear.

Is the right answer to bully the bully?  I don't know... that's such a difficult, multi-faceted question with probably varying opinions on what is the best way to handle it.  But I do know this:  the victim knew he wasn't alone.  Someone had his back.  And sometimes that's all the victim needs to know to keep waking up every day and venturing into the abyss that high school can be.   I'm glad for someone, my kid was kind of a hero.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Taking Control

For longer than I care to imagine I have lived with and suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome or for those lucky enough to not be in the know, IBS for short.  And it's a pain in the patootie (quite literally some days but more so a pain in the guts).  I think by now the stigma has been lifted off this chronic illness and most people know what it is it.  But in the event that you just aren't too sure, it's a problem that causes chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and an alteration of bowel habits, meaning diarrhea and constipation are in a constant battle with each other.  Ya, it's super fun!

I know I probably could have eased some of my symptoms if I chose carefully what I consume, drank more water, ingested pro-biotics, but I'm pretty stubborn and I refused to change my eating and nutrition habits.  Frankly I just didn't really think those subtle changes would improve it even if I bothered.  Besides I love eating and I hate water and I loathe taking pills.  Not the effects of the pill so much as the actual act of swallowing the pill.  Ya ya, I know I'm lame.

However, about 9 months ago I was introduced to a chiropractor (I was so sceptical of those guys) and I learned that proper alignment in the lower spine can actually help with IBS.  So I thought, "Ah what the hell, I have benefits through work that cover chiropractor visits.  What do I have to lose?"  And I've been seeing Marco and Adam at Healthy Beginnings ever since.   I didn't see complete relief from my symptoms but after time (about 4 months) I definitely did see a decrease in the number of flare ups I'd have.

I also decided about 8 weeks ago to start a 'learning to run' program.  I've been doing the 0 to 5K app that I installed on my iPhone (gosh these things really are handy dandy) and I haven't flaked out yet.  That's HUGE props for this girl.  That alone earns bragging rights because for those of you that know me, you are well aware that I gain interest in things very quickly but I have also been known to lose interest in those things just as quickly.  So yeah me!

So this program starts a newbie runner off with intermittent walking and running and slowly increases the length of running versus the length of walking.  I'm making my way through the program at a slower pace than they have it set up for, but I don't want to get in over my head and then just walk (maybe even run) quickly away from the hard work I've put in thus far.  I've been forcing myself not to cheat, not even for 5 seconds (and sometimes those 5 seconds can feel like an eternity).  I'm about half way through the program, which means I can run 2.5K.  Like whoa!

Around the time I started this program I started taking a daily multi-vitamin, 2000 mg of fish oils a day and drinking 3-4 yoghurt and fruit (home-made) smoothies a week.  I also started being more consciously aware of how much water I should be putting into my body and I'm making a successful effort to drink at least 6 - 8 oz glasses a day.  I've also gotten away from my terrible habit of eating only one meal a day; dinner.  Now I eat something for breakfast and I snack on something every couple of hours throughout the day and eat a larger meal at dinner.  I can honestly say I no longer have headaches or feel like I want to eat my children when I get home each day.

And because running for 'no real reason' (except to say I'm a jogger and hopefully my legs will be smoother) isn't crazy enough I also decided to sign up for Boot Camp work out classes twice a week with a co-worker.  I'm into my 3rd week now of these classes and while I dread them, I secretly enjoy them.  Josh at Go Fitness Niagara  who runs the program changes it up enough for each class that they are never the same, but the results are the same two days later;  aches and pains!  My muscles are screaming at me lately.  But I figure if they are screaming then I definitely worked them!  I'll admit, it's getting harder and harder to go out and run when my body is killing me after these work outs.  But a few minutes in and the muscles get warmed up and things get a teeny bit easier.

I've also just recently started another program/app that I found for my phone that helps me keep track of the number of calories I ingest each day.  In order to get myself to the weight I want, I have to maintain between 1500-1600 calories a day and this program figures it all out for me when I enter my food intake.  I was out for dinner with friends the other night and while I was explaining My Fitness Pal to Kori, and in the process mentioned wanting to lose 20 lbs, she immediately responded with, "That's too much!".  I thought about it last night and then researched the ideal weight for a woman of my height this morning (because I realized I agreed with her) and discovered that I should only be losing 10 lbs, not 20 so I've adjusted my numbers going forward.

I guess the reason I'm telling you all of this is because I honestly cannot remember the last time I had a spell with my IBS.  I can't pin it down to one specific thing that I'm doing that's helped it because I've made numerous changes.  I'm almost afraid to stop any one of these things out of fear that it's the catalyst to 'curing' my IBS.  I'm pretty sure though it's a lovely cocktail of all of these things.  Needless to say I'm loving it!  I don't have quite as much worry when I'm out and about.  I do know it's, without question, been over a month since I had a flare up but probably even longer.

I originally really bucked the idea of making lifestyle changes for many years, but now that I've done some it's getting easier and easier.  I'm finding with the decreased amount of crap I'm eating that the cravings for said crap have also decreased.  It's so much easier to say no to that chocolate bar or can of pop than I ever anticipated.  I guess I've come to learn that I'd rather waste my limited daily calories on something I'm really going to enjoy.  I still catch myself with my hands in the candy jar, but thankfully it's before I've opened the candy and popped it in my mouth and I just put them back.

So here's to a future with limited or no IBS, a better, healthier lifestyle while being 10 lbs lighter and a toned up body!  Pretty small goals considering everything.   I can do this!  I can do this!   My next little goal to add to my changes is eating much more healthy.  I'm not sure I can go completely clean but I'm going to give it a real try overall.  I know I'll still cheat from time to time if we go for dinner or something, but I'm sure every bit of effort will help in the long run.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

False Advertising

The other day I was directed to a blog posting written by a girl in Australia via a friend on Facebook.  I'm glad I ventured there.  In her blog she did a little experiment to try to dis-spell a myth; or rather a false truth.  After reading it I thought, I want to try it!  So I did.  This morning.  It took me roughly 40 minutes from start to finish using what I had in my house and the effects buttons on my phone camera.  I did not 'Photoshop' any of the picture(s); meaning I didn't 'erase' any edges or blur out any specific flaws.  The only effects I used were the filters on my iPhone photo app.  The rest was all manipulated by me, the human.

The before picture was taken at 9:15 this morning.  In it I wore a practical, really unpleasant looking, old, greying, yucky bra that probably should have been thrown out a year ago.  I also wore underwear that I've had for about 6 years now.  They look so good because they are in fact too small for me so I don't wear them.  But they are pretty so I haven't thrown them out either.  Found those jammed in the very back of my top drawer.  Upon donning these amazing articles of clothing,  I stood with my legs together, which helps push the fat of my inner thighs into each other, thus making them look even bigger.  I also pushed my stomach out and hunched my shoulders over (which is hard for me to consciously do as I have great posture).  I left my arms laying against my body because that simple move, or lack there of, in fact makes your arms appear wider.  I didn't put on any make up and I put my hair up in an unflattering style.  I didn't use any filter and I zoomed in on the picture so it was "nice" and close.  Et voila, picture number one is complete and it's a rather unflattering looking ME!  It's no where near where I want my body to be in a restful state, but I know it could be so much 'worse'.

Now on to the after picture.  This photo was taken at 9:30 a.m. on the very same day!  Yah, you read that right, a mere 15 minute transformation.  You won't ever guess how many sit ups I squeezed into that 15 minutes! Hint:  None.  In this picture I put my hair down, I added some make up to my face.  I put on a smile of pride.  I pulled my shoulders back to where they usually sit and I put on a bra that actually gives my humongous girls a lift.  I also put on a pair of underwear that actually fit me.  Then I stuck my ass out and threw my hip out and bent my arms placing my hands on my hips and lower back.  Finally I sucked that stomach in!  After a few pictures at different angles, I cropped the shit out of one of the pictures and zoomed out.  Then I added a nice filter to "even out" my skin (tanned always looks smoother than pasty white) and give it a smoother appearance.

So here's the before and after of my body with only 15 minutes between photos.

I could probably lie and suggest these photo ops took place a month or so apart and claim that I've lost 5 - 10 lbs, but that would be a total lie.  Much like the before and afters on those diet pill ads.

The best before/after I've ever seen is my friend Erinn.  You want to know why? Because I KNOW her and I know how hard she's worked and how long it's taken for her to have that amazing before/after shot (see below).  I KNOW this picture is legit.  I'm not sceptical about it.   She's worked super duper hard and earned every defined muscle.  And if you check out her blog, she's got great tips and ideas for getting to the same spot as her.

While my before and after is merely there to show you how deceiving these pictures can be, Erinn's before and after is there to show you how far your body can come if you do the right things.  Relying on diet pills to get you to where she is would be a huge mistake, a waste of money and time and very, very unhealthy.  I'm far from where she is and I'm pretty sure her end goal is different than mine, but with some changes in my lifestyle I'm slowly going to get to a point where I won't have to suck in my gut, stick my ass and hip out and use filters to brag about my body.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Like to Eat Muffin Tops, Not Wear Them.

For the past few months I've been feeling pretty negative about my body and how it's "transforming" (like my actions or lack there of have nothing to do with this transformation).  I understand that as I'm leaving my 30's it's completely unrealistic of me to expect my body and metabolism to remain the same as they were in my 20's and even early 30's.  I've been living in denial with the fact that in my 30's when my body was the best it's been since I was 20 it was a result of actually working out at the gym 4 days a week.  I earned that body.   Well I want that body again...I just don't have the time to repeat my workout schedule that I did before.  I found it extremely difficult to get all the way across town to the gym to take the pre-scheduled classes.  The times they hold these classes are just not convenient with my life and working for a living, having a spouse and kids, needing to make dinner, etc.

I've been watching a friend transform herself over the past year and she's seeing amazing results.  I don't have that kind of will power and frankly I'm not fooling myself to think I do.  Her wishes and desires far surpass mine.  I just want the cellulite in my legs to be a distant memory and my underwear to no longer cause me to have a little muffin top.  Is that too much to ask for???  So because I know I'm not going to commit to a 15 minute drive to the gym (both ways) I'm trying to tap into her for some tips and suggestions on doing stuff from home.  She's been a wonderful sounding board and I'm trying to absorb little bits and pieces of her advice here and there.

Two weeks ago I downloaded an 'app' onto my new phone called the 0 to 5K.  It basically takes non-existent runners (ME!) and turns them into runners (hopefully a distant me!) in 8 weeks.  I'm just finishing up my second week and while it's definitely getting more challenging, I'm still doing it (which is a huge win).

I have always loved the idea of becoming a jogger.  I watch them running on the side of the road and wish I could be that person.  I can't seem to run more than 3 driveway lengths down the street before wanting to die and call it quits.  Eric loves running and has asked me on more than one occasion to go out running with him, but I don't think he really gets just how much I hate running.  I've tried to go with him a couple of times and we just get frustrated with each other so we end the session.  He wants me to run immediately, I want to start slow.  So when I was introduced to this "app" I thought it would be a perfect way to ease my body into the idea of running and in a couple of months, I should hopefully be able to get to a place where he and I can run together.

I'm honestly quite proud of myself for working the program for two weeks now and not cheating at all.  Like not even cutting the running session down by 5 seconds, nothing!  In fairness I didn't get out to run yesterday because of the Thanksgiving festivities but I'll go tonight and again tomorrow night, and I went out two nights in a row last week so shouldn't that strike last night's omission out?  I also found the last run night was difficult for me. It was really the first night I actually thought hard about cheating and talked myself out of it.  I am debating doing that run session again tonight.  I want to get it under my belt with no major hesitations or doubts.  Because the next session kicks it up a good notch again, so if I don't have the last one down comfortably, I have a feeling I'm going to cheat.  This isn't a race against anyone or anything, including myself.  If it takes me 12 weeks to get me to a spot where I can run for 30 - 40 minutes then I'm willing to take that long.

My hope is once I get this running down, I can then incorporate some actual "exercising" into my life.  Since the running program is only every other day, I want to eventually get some butt, stomach and arm exercises in on the off days.  One step at a time.  If I overwhelm myself I know I'm just setting myself up for failure.

I also started taking 2000 mg of fish oil each day and this week I'm starting with a multi vitamin for women. I've also decided to stop eating after dinner, eating a little bit of something throughout the day and forcing myself to drink more water.  I have gotten into the terrible habit of eating once a day and then snacking until bed.  Whomp whomp!  When I was at my 'best' a few years ago, I did not change anything in my diet except eating snacks after dinner and well, working out!  So I'm hoping with these small changes in my food consumption, the increase of decent stuff going into my body and some cardio I'll start to see little changes and those little changes will be enough to encourage me to keep going.  Being able to do all of these things from "home" has been another huge positive.

I've taken a hideous 'before' picture with the hopes that I can stick with this idea long enough to see results (and for it to become habitual for me) so I can take an after picture!  I figure if my after picture is amazing then I won't be so scared to show the before picture.  On this Thanksgiving weekend, I'm very thankful that clothing camouflages a lot of flaws but most thankful that we are required to wear clothing, by law!  Now where's that winking face emoticon when I need it?

So for all you readers out there I pose the question:  Do you have any tips, secrets, ideas, suggestions to help me with this new endeavour?  Anything that has worked well for you?  I would welcome any comments.

I'm A 21st Century Digital Girl!

I've been watching the world around me and it has occurred to me I've been lagging behind in terms of technology and what all is out there.  I mean I was still using a pink flip phone!  I'm still trailing, but I've made a conscious step forward recently.  I am now the proud owner of an iPhone 4S.  I know, I know...they just released the 5 or 5 something but give a technologically stunted girl a break.  I'm all about the baby steps folks.  

A picture of the last picture I took of my dad.  Because I never calibrated my phone the photo is trapped in there.  If I try to download it, the computer wants to wipe my phone clean.  This was my only logical option of keeping it forever.

So with a new phone comes a new Instagram account!  You can follow me there too if you wanna.  You'll find me at @missyaggrav8tion.  I promise not to inundate you with tons of pictures, or maybe I will.  Only time and experience will tell.  It's been super fun though playing with this new social media website as well as my phone.  The ease and quickness of taking a photo, editing it and uploading it to both Instagram and Facebook has been awesome-sauce.

I'm not going to lie...I'm still trying to figure out how to make smiley faces/hearts/etc. from my phone.  I see them all over Instagram but when I do it it's quite lack luster and just ends up being a colon with a bracket. Sigh....stunted over here.  I'm all about the emoticons people, I need your help!  And since I'm still learning, do you have an "apps" or quick tips or suggestions for making my user experience so much more pleasing than it already has been?  Any help would be welcomed!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Stop! You're Ruining the Colour Pink!

I've been, overall, a pretty lucky individual throughout my life.  Sure I used to complain that most days it felt like I had an albatross shoved up my ass rather than the elusive horseshoe, but overall?  Pretty damn lucky.

For many years I've been lucky enough to avoid the "Big C" and how it seems to infiltrate itself into every darn family nowadays.  Sure Cancer licked at my doorstep through some extended family long ago, and Eric's mom is a Breast Cancer survivor, but she fought and won that battle before I was in the picture so I didn't experience first hand the effects it had on her as an individual and the family.  But then two and a half years ago (as most of you loyal readers know) Cancer slapped me, my family and most importantly, my father in the face.  Hard.  And it woke me the fuck up-out of my little cocoon.

In the past two and a half years I've been on a sort of quest to try to understand the thoughts that went through my dad's head for the 12 days he was "Dad with Cancer" and not just "Dad" anymore (bubble burst remember?).  During this journey I was introduced to an amazing woman who has given me some insight, helped changed the way I used to think about cancer (and how it would never affect me) and has inspired me to educate myself and learn more.  And then just last week I got some terrible news about another woman in my life who is now heading into her own battle with Breast Cancer.  I've learned just because I stuck my head in the sand and allowed my ignorance to make me complacent doesn't mean it will always stay that way.  And it shouldn't.  Because Cancer will affect many people I cherish and love, even potentially myself, so I should know everything I can.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  Cancer isn't just about coloured ribbons.  It's so, so much more than that.

The reality isn't nice.  It's not sugar coated.  It's not air-brushed.  It's not Hollywood.  It's real.  It's tough. It's fucking shitty and terrible.  It's not biased.  It doesn't discriminate.  It doesn't care if you have money or not. It doesn't care if you live in a country with 'free' Health care or if you have to pay through the nose for your treatments.  It doesn't care if you are young or old.  It doesn't care if you are a small child or if you have small children at home still.  It's a monster and it's on a mission.

The other sad news?  The media likes to promote "awareness and hope", but in doing so it hides the scary truths about Cancer and leads us all into having a lovely misconceived idea of this deadly disease. We're brainwashed to believe that buying that mixer or blender in pink or that totally sweet pink pajama set that we're doing our part and helping "fight the fight".  So, while in a strange way they are promoting awareness (Which they are - mammograms are on the rise!  It's a start.) I've learned that it is so far from the actual truth of what fighting the fight really is.  

The above is an actual advertisement trying to create awareness and asking for support of Breast Cancer Research.  I'm appalled that some advertising agency actually came up with this campaign but more importantly that someone within the organization named above actually signed off on this ad!  That they thought this was a good representation of what Breast Cancer is just fucking  This just tells me that it is totally okay to continue to encourage the public into keeping their heads in the sand.

Well I'm here to tell you (even though I do not know first hand - thankfully) this is NOT a realistic picture of Breast Cancer.  Every day in Canada 14 women die from Breast Cancer.  Having worked in the profession that takes care of these ladies after they pass, I can ASSURE you they do not look like this!  And by the way, buying a pink purse does not make the ugly stuff stay away.  Breast Cancer will eventually make her so weak she couldn't even carry that damn pink purse above, if she wanted to. But, she'll have a pretty bag for her family to bring her clothing to the funeral home in!!  Silver linings people, silver linings.

I also cannot begin to fathom how insulting it is for a woman fighting Metastatic Breast Cancer to look at this ad with this douche bag 'Real Housewife of Orange County' (sorry Gretchen) and her luscious, shiny, flowing blond locks, her perfectly sculpted eye brows and lengthy lashes; just to name a few things wrong with this picture.  I can only assume that one's self image is decimated by the ravaging nature of this disease,  and that seeing this perfectly sculpted specimen only enhances those new found or underlying insecurities.  I'm honestly at a loss as to who this campaign is targeting.  Because if I thought I could look like this woman, I'd almost wish for Breast Cancer (sic).

Please people, wake up!  There is a real world out there and the nasty, dirty, evil  Cancer is part of it. Hollywood and the media aren't helping to educate anyone!  Maybe if they showed the stuff no one wants to face and the government didn't bow down to the pressures of the pharmaceutical companies and their quest to make the country millions, we'd start to get an upper hand on this terrible disease.  But please stop living in a bubble.  Know that Cancer is ugly, it's not pink.  Know that many people fighting cancer more often have a scowl, sneer, wince, or tear on their face than a smile.  And rightfully so.  It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be scared.  It's okay to be sad.  And it's damn sure okay to be pissed right the fuck off!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birthday Love

I'd say for a good past 16 years or so my birthday has been very over rated, to say the least.  I think once you become a parent, or get older - not sure, they just don't seem like quite the same BIG deal they once were.  I have often made plans with my friends to go out for a night of dancing at some point on the calendar around my birthday (and this year is no exception), but the actual birthday celebrations would normally consist of maybe family coming over and getting a cake.  I'd get a some monetary gifts from the parental unit and siblings, and sometimes I might get something from the boys via the ex (a pan one year - yah...he isn't very good at picking gifts).   Eric always stresses about my birthday because 'he never knows what to get for me' or what plans to make, etc.  But this year he was determined to do something nice for me for my 39th birthday.

So for the past few weeks he's been diligently working out a plan to somewhat surprise me and pamper me this year (I even promised and stuck to it, not to check our bank account to find out where he'd shopped!).  Then on Tuesday I up and got sick.   How dare I foil his awesome plans?  I feel/felt terrible because while I appreciate every single thing he did, I just didn't have the energy to follow through with some.  I'm hoping the invitation to go for Indian food at our new favourite Indian joint, Moksha Indian Bistro still stands next week when I can actually taste the dishes - instead we settled for pizza (Which just tasted like cardboard to me. I hope it didn't for the others.).  He was going to put the invite out to the family to come by for cake and ice cream or rather 'ice cream cake' (actually it was a frozen yogurt cake from CC Swirls - another new favourite place), but the desire to be completely social evaded me.

So instead we had pizza with the boys and Rich (he's not really company though) and my mom and sister stopped by for a quick visit with their gifts after dinner.  You know what?  It was perfect.  Perfect for this sick girl.  Earlier in the week Eric braved it all and took the boys out shopping for them to get  me birthday presents of their own and encouraged them to make/write me their own cards.  And frankly I think all three of them did pretty amazing with their choice of gifts.  From Eric I got a $250.00 gift certificate for a professional bra fitting and new bras (sounds lame but most ladies would kill for this).  From Gage I got the best letter, a long sleeved grey shirt (which is totally me), a gift card for Michael's craft store and a hot water bottle for my achy guts.  Roanie gave me a homemade card, a gift card for Winners, some socks that look like Converse running shoes and a blue and black polka-dot cardigan.  Well done gang!!  I think they all might just know me after all!  I got monetary gifts from my mom and sister which is what I wanted and asked for.  I plan to start work on a new bathroom in the house and while that sounds like a lame birthday present, it really isn't.

So while I'm feeling so thankful and appreciate of every single thing Eric thought of and planned, is it wrong that my most favourite thing he thought of was to ask the boys to do homemade cards?  Is it wrong that I just loved the fact that they both hung out at home last night, even though we weren't doing anything in particular? Here's a copy of the card/letter Gage did for me.  Of course I'm going to keep it and the card Roan did for me forever but just in case anything happens to it I'll always have a copy of it here.  I'm not going to bother to post Roan's as it's basically just a short little card and he's given me dozens of heart felt letters in the past that I already cherish.  This is the first from Gage:

Here's my favourite gift this year:  

"Dear Mother,

You're actually the best mom, and I say that in all seriousness.  You're cool, smart, funny, toughish, beautiful, and perfect is pretty much what I am trying to say.  Even though it may not always seem like I appreciate everything you do, believe me, I definitely do.  My life would be so boring and lame, and I would have half the things I've experienced if it weren't for you.  I hope you have a wonderful day today on your birthday because you deserve it.  Just not really sure what else to say other than I love you and I would literally kill someone with a tooth pick for you.

love Gage"

I have the best boys in my life.  In all seriousness.  My heart is full.  Thank you for all of this Eric.  You're the greatest.

Sunday, September 15, 2013


I guess I always assume that one day my boys will be interested in what I've written in this blog and they will read it.  One day right?  Well about 2 minutes ago I came across something I pinned on Pinterest a long, long time ago and I had clearly forgotten about it.  So while I anticipate that eventually they will be keen on reading my words, I highly doubt they'll care too much to peruse the pictures I've pinned along the way of things I want to do, not things I've done.

In another time and another place one Kim Bongiorno posted a list of advice and lessons she felt her children should learn.  As a fellow mother, I couldn't agree more and I'm very grateful that in some round about way I've taught my boys some of these already without even realizing I had.  I'm not entirely convinced I'd be able to come up with a better list of life lessons or suggestions than what she's included here.  Frankly if I was, I'd likely post them!  So here are Kim's (and probably most mothers) lessons, waiting for that day when my boys are interested in hearing what their own mother would also say.

  • Hold the door.
  • Ask the elderly lady how she is doing today.  Listen to her reply.  
  • Don't trust everybody.  Don't not trust anyone. 
  • Pick up what you saw, even if you didn't drop it. 
  • Smile and make eye contact.
  • Give the benefit of the doubt, even if you are cranky. 
  • Give a kid a penny to toss into the fountain.
  • Be strong enough that people know not to mess with you but soft enough to know they can hug you.
  • Don't park in handicap parking spots, unless they apply to you.
  • Don't sneak extra items into the 12 or Less lane at the grocery store.  
  • Be light in your heart and steady on your feet. 
  • Trust your gut, both good and bad.
  • Take chance that won't hurt yourself or others. 
  • Learn to make people laugh without making another cry.
  • Remember how good your life it.
  • Think before you act. 
  • Write down birthdays.
  • Get mad, but don't get even.
  • Admit to your mistakes.
  • Share
  • Use Please, Thank you and Excuse me everyday. 
  • Do the work it takes to make a good life for yourself. 
  • Don't take advantage of the kindness of others.
  • Absorb the lessons you learn the hard way. 
  • Look for rainbows no matter how rare they may be.
  • Know that when you look away from an electronic screen, the most important connections to be made are all around you.
  • Tell people when you are proud of them. 
  • Don't make it hard for other's to make you happy. 
  • Offer to shovel her driveway if you know her husband is away. 
  • Don't say, "I know how you feel." even if you've been there before.  Just say, "I'm sorry, what can I do for you?"
  • Play to win, but play fair
  • Someone always has to lose.  Sometimes it will be you.  Don't whine about it:  learn from it. 
  • Show your loved ones your support, even if what they are excited about bores you to tears. 
  • Offer your seat, the ball, your friends to the new kid.
  • Return library books on time.
  • Give credit where credit is due. 
  • Patience and practice will help you do all the hard things you want to accomplish.  
  • Try to remember to take care of your teeth, and not just the week before you visit the dentist. 
  • Let him -and only him- know when his fly is down.
  • Stand up to bullies by being smart and kind. 
  • Learn tact.
  • Learn what all the basic tools do. 
  • Read to someone who can't, write notes to someone who can. 
  • Drink water.
  • Eat a cupcake.
  • Eat your vegetables.
  • Know who has trouble saying, "I love you" and let them show you instead. 
  • Be the kind of person your mom always knew you would be.  

And now I can delete the pin from my Pinterest account with a clear conscience that I've passed this valuable advice along.  Thank you Kim for putting what good mothers attempt to teach their children every day into words for the rest of us.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cooler Caddy

We (Eric and I) kind of slacked off this year when it came to Mother's Day and Father's Day presents for his parents and my mom.  I'm kind of getting tired of the usual go to, gift certificates, and I figured I'd rather receive a thought out personal gift at a later date than an quick fix on the date.  I could be terribly wrong though.  *shrugs*  (By the way, for my mom, I am aware that we still owe you something...I'm working on it.)

For Eric's parents I stumbled upon a certificate (go figure) on Groupon for a Steam Engine Train ride excursion that I thought they both might appreciate.  Him for the technical aspects of the steam engine and her for the many photo opportunities.  But of course it was a great deal and cheap cheap so we wanted to do something else for them as well.  So after browsing through her Pinterest account we found something to make for them.  A cooler chest for their deck.  Now of course we could have made it using pressure treated wood as well and it would have been more cost effective (for those looking to do something similar but don't want the expense of cedar), but Eric really wanted to work with cedar for this project.

We picked up the cedar, piano hinge, and screws at Home Depot and came in around $70.  The cooler we found at a garage sale, in brand new condition for $5.  But the real snag of this project was, in fact, the wall mounted bottle opener and cap catcher.  They don't seem to sell those puppies anywhere in Canada.  Who knew?  So that was a fun little side project that held the whole thing up a couple of weeks while we waited for delivery.

Eric started out with the base and built the sides around the measurements of the cooler, which of course is removable for ease of emptying the cooler of melted ice after use.  He then built the chest lid and added an adhesive onto the top of the cooler lid/bottom of the chest lid so it comes off upon opening but properly rests on the cooler to keep the cold in upon closing.  We also included a personalized wood burned plaque for his parents inside the chest.

I'm pretty sure his parents liked their homemade gift and now it has a prominent place on their back patio waiting for BBQ's, parties, family functions, and backyard events.  Plus this saves everyone traipsing in and out of the house to get drinks.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Twenty Questions with a Teenager

The other day I posted a questionnaire I did with Roan, my 12 year old that I found online.  It was originally intended for little kids, but I thought I would do it with my two boys, you know for keepsy sake.  One day I'll be glad I do all this stuff on my blog, even if you readers are bored with it already.  I think I know a lot about him and I feel like I could answer a lot of these questions on his behalf, but it's always fun to see how far off I actually am.  Buckle in folks, we're gonna have a game of 20 questions with my first born. 

A Conversation with Gage (16 years)  

My favourite food is:  Cheese, because it goes on multiple things and those multiple things then taste...killer.

My favourite sport to play is:  Soccer  

The best show on television is:  That's a hard one. Depends on what I'm in the mood for.  If it's comedy definitely Workaholics, Wilfred or It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (I introduced him to all those!  I'm a cool mom.), but if it's serious I like Supernatural and Breaking Bad, a lot.

The coolest person on Earth is:  I don't one is really cooler than I am.  (I hope he picks modest as one of three words to describe him.)

My favourite thing to learn about in school is:  Construction or Auto

The thing I do the most awesomely is:  I'm gonna have to go with either I kill guys in video games really good, or I slide good.   I f*cking love my new deck.  It's so good.

If I could go anywhere in the world, I'd go to:  Uhm...I would go somewhere in Europe, like somewhere with castles and jungles. Oh wait, no jungles in Europe?  So I'm thinking of somewhere south then?  (Oh jeez...)

My favourite colour is:  Blue

When I get older I'm going to become a:  hooker.  

My current favourite song is:  Don't have one.

The band I am loving right now is:  Ugh, those are the worst questions...that could be multiple bands for me. Three would be:  Day To Remember, Senses Fail or Ice Nine Kills.

Three words that describe me are:  Cool, funny and hot. Kidding, I'm kidding.  Uhm...Nice, funny and easy-to-get-along-with.  You can use the dashes to make that one word.  (So I did)

When I was little, I used to:  love La La from Teletubbies.

My favourite season of the year is:  Summer

The absolute best thing about camping is:  swimming or burning.

The snack I like the best is:  Grilled Cheese

One food that I really dislike is:  Onions, but I should probably say mushrooms because I think I like them less than onions.  I could probably eat onion.

My best friend is:  I have a couple best friends.

If I had one wish it would be:  To have more wishes.

My best memory is:  I don't know, you got me there.  My favourite memory is when we were throwing coins at Derek calling him a Jew (he isn't) and a Jew walked in and started picking up all the coins we threw at Derek.  I had to leave the store because I was laughing so hard.   (Yep, my classy kid.  And don't ask me how he knew the guy was a real Jew. )

Anything else to add or say?  What is this survey for?? (Eric's reply:  Your mom's entertainment)  Oh man, are you blogging this??!?!?!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The High Cost of Dying

I've been a licensed funeral director for 16 years now, involved in funeral services for closer to 20 years though.  My frustration with the ignorance of the public regarding costs of funerals is not diminishing, frankly it's increasing.  I have so many witty retorts (funeral pun intended) I'd love to throw out at people when they tell me that 'funerals are too expensive', etc., but I do my best to remain professional without sounding like I'm trying to convince them they are wrong.   (Because then I probably just come off sounding like a salesman which I can assure you, I'm the farthest from.)   So let's tackle some of these comments here shall we?

"Funerals are just too expensive!"  "Caskets are crazy expensive hey?"  "This is like, the 3rd largest purchase I've ever made in my life!"

<buzzer sound>  Wrong!  Let's try to break this down into simple math shall we?  It is estimated that the average cost of a funeral in Ontario is approximately $7000.00.  That's probably high to be honest.  Keep in mind though that this is an average taking into account everything from an immediate disposition to a pretty lavish traditional funeral.  Of course you could go even higher and more lavish if you wanted.  (We aren't including funerals for the likes of Michael Jackson here...just your average Joe.)  But lets go even better and round everything up to $10,000 because that seems to be a pretty standard number that most people associate with a traditional funeral. 

Just to be clear that $10,000 includes everything:  the funeral home staff services, embalming, the use of the facilities, the vehicles required, flowers, casket, urn/vault, stationary, video, cemetery grave preparation (that price goes up if you actually have to purchase a new cemetery plot though) or crematory fee, minister, organist, newspaper, the likes of those things.  So here are some fun facts about this. 

  • There are approximately 130 steps (probably more actually) required to fulfill and complete a funeral of this caliber.    So if we break it down, each step costs approximately $77.00 each.  Remember, that number ($10,000) is high now! 

  • Let's also pretend that the average human lives 77 years (and that's a pretty accurate number).  Those years equate into approximately (if you throw in about 19 leap years) 28,124 days of life.  That means that each person pays roughly 35 CENTS a day, for their own funeral.  How much do you spend a day on coffee?  Bottled water?  A can of Coke? 

  • Third largest purchase ever eh?  That's interesting....have you ever done repairs around your home (furnace/AC, weeping tile, metal roof, paved drive way)?  More precisely remodeled your kitchen?  How about sending a kid to college (don't forget to include the books and rent)?  What about a family vacation (to a far off place)?  Did you pay for a wedding, perhaps a wedding that wasn't even YOURS?  (This last one is hard for me personally to swallow because 1. I did pay for a wedding!  And 2.  I got nothing out of it, except a divorce [which cost me money too!]so that was all for naught!  What a bigger waste of $15,000 way back in 2000.)  So having thrown those examples out at you can you honestly tell me a funeral is the 3rd biggest expense you'll ever make in your life?  Be honest now... I thought not. 

  • Oh man, those damn caskets, what a rip off!  I found this tidbit of information a while back so I'll use it here to help illustrate again, how silly and na├»ve this statement is.  President Abraham Lincoln (we all know who he is right?) died in 1865.  That's an awfully long time ago.  He was buried in a casket made of SOLID walnut which was also lined with lead, covered in cloth.  Pretty snazzy if you ask me.  At that time his family paid $1,500.  Whoa, I'll agree with you that's a pretty steep price for a wooden box in that time period, but he was the President after all and it was lined with lead.  Let's now look at what this exact same casket would cost in 2009.  With a measly 5% inflation rate over the last 144 years on a $1500.00 casket, today President Abe's estate would be paying $2,480,625.00.  Yah you read that right folks, 2.4 million!  So maybe our prices on caskets aren't too bad after all.  Let's also put all that aside and think about the amount of man hours that goes into making a casket, shall we?
I'd also like people to give some thought to the amount of money our parents put into us throughout our rearing years (the majority any way).  Clothes, food, shelter, presents, gifts in kind, extra curricular activities, family vacations, personal time, toys, electronics, lessons, personal trips (summer camp, end of school year trips, etc.), post secondary schooling, et al.   You don't even need to add in the times in your 20's when your parents were still bailing you out whether literally or co-signing on a loan or giving you money to cover bills.  So that being said, you seriously have a hard time swallowing ten grand to give them a last fond farewell.  You have a problem with doing right by them?!  Shame on you. 

Phew!  So there you have it folks, some truths about funerals and how expensive they really are.  I feel so much better getting that all out there even if very few people read this.  I'll consider this my good deed for the day! 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Twenty Questions with a Pre-teen

So I saw a questionnaire online that was actually created for little kids, but because Pinterest (or frankly the internet) didn't exist in my world when my kids were little I thought I'd do it with them now.  Then when they are like 25 they can look back and laugh and laugh and laugh at the shitty music they thought was awesome.

I started with Roan because well...he was within my reach.  But I plan to nail Gage with the same questions.  I'm curious if they will have similar answers or if they are completely different.  It's kind of fun getting to know my kids better in a not so intrusive way. 

A conversation with the Roaner (12 years old)    

My favourite food is:  PEROGIES!  You know that already!

My favourite sport to play is:   Soccer is...oh wait actually it's basketball.

The best show on television is:  I don't know...there are a couple.  Uhm...  I'm just gonna say Life With Boys.  It's a show that I like.  Or Mythbusters.  Or American Horror Story.

The coolest person on Earth is:  No clue!  The coolest person in my world is Ryan Williams; AKA "R. Willy".  He's a professional scooter guy.

My favourite thing to learn about in school is:  Space.

The thing I do the most awesomely is:  Oh my God, that's such a hard question, why did you ask that?  I guess I ride my scooter pretty awesomely?

If I could go anywhere in the world, I'd go to:  British Columbia

My favourite colour is:  Green

When I get older, I'm going to become a:  No clue clue!

My current favourite song is:  Simple Man      

The band I am loving right now is:  Shine Down

Three words to describe me are:  Funny, Short and Slick

When I was little, I used to:  eat sand and dry cat food.

My favourite season of the year is:  Summer

The absolute best thing about camping is:  finding cool things.

The snack I like the best is:  Freezies

One food I really dislike is:  Mushrooms

My best friend is:  Josh

If I had one wish it would be:  My Grandpa would be alive.

My best memory is:  That's a really hard one.  Disney World is a good one!

Do you have anything you want to say or add?  Come on Mom!  I have to go to the bathroom.  How long is this stupid thing???  Come on...  Is this done?!  Can I go to the bathroom now?  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


For a 6 letter word it has a pretty strong hold on us humans; be it good or bad.  It conjures up feelings of love, hate, guilt, belonging, jealousy, anger, comfort, sadness, joy, annoyance, a sense of duty, honour, protectiveness, loyalty, disappointment, pride, embarrassment, shame, and probably many others. Interesting how a word that was created by man and is relatively small could have that much impact on us.  We are taught to love thy family, but sometimes it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain that expectation.

It's been said that family dynamics are made up of several forces that exist within a group of people that ultimately contribute to an individual's behavior.  Those dynamics can and will alter and change a person over time. Those forces also consist of many different influencing factors; such as the size of the family, the type of relationship the parents have/had with the children, a death within, alcoholism or substance abuse, a missing parent, or abuse (in whatever form that takes).  Within these family units, especially large ones, these factors often cause the "children" to take on different roles within the unit.  Very rarely are these conscious decisions.  In many large families, especially those that have lived through a serious issue such as a death or alcohol abuse, one can often find the constant peace keeper... the irresponsible child... the hero... the care taker... and the mascot.   Research suggests that each role has a specific duty to the family and it is often impossible to alter the role once it has been established.

Okay, so all that babble aside, up until 2 1/2 years ago I used to joke about having a dysfunctional extended family, but I didn't really believe it.  Considering the lousy hand my father's family had been dealt growing up I was pretty impressed with how well all most of them turned out.   There are 9 of them (children that is) and funny enough, I can assign names to all those titles I just listed up there quite easily.  That being said, they still managed to remain a tight unit.  Of course over the years there have been several family squabbles, but somehow they've always managed to come back together over time.

Without getting into any details (because it's not my story to tell and frankly I don't really know the story) there is now a huge  gigantic  humongous  irreparable rift in this once very loyal, close knit family.  The rift began between the one I would label as the irresponsible child and one I would label as a care taker (and quickly spread like wildfire through the rest of the group).  Not terribly surprising considering these two roles could end up being co-dependent on one another.

So while I'm comforted in the fact that this happens in a lot of families (we are not an anomaly), I'm honestly beyond saddened that the actions of one would be enough to rip an entire family to shreds.  A large group of once close people now pulled in every direction and all away from each other. Outside of my immediate family, these people are the last ties I have to my dad.  It's hard for me to walk away from any of them.   It's really hard to pick sides when I just don't want to have to.  It's much harder to do it when you only hear snippets of the story and never directly from the two parties at the centre of it all.  Everything I've learned has been hearsay and hearsay isn't enough evidence for me to cast someone out of my life, someone who is directly tied to one of the most important human beings in my life.

Do I condone the behavior that was displayed to get us where we are now?  No way, I abhor it!  I am very disappointed and upset that it was carried on this long, that it seemed to become easier and easier for one to take advantage of another.  But, I guess deep down inside I feel like there should be a way to fix this.  I'm not dumb, I know that's not likely possible and I have a feeling I'm not getting through this, without being dragged into it, with all of my family members still actively in my life.  That scares the shit out of me.

I read a quote by Joe Rogan (ya ya...that guy) that stuck with me enough that I had to seek it out and it's been on my desktop for months now.

"The world would be a beautiful place if everybody was allowed to get their shit together and we forgave people for a reasonable amount of bullshit. Not like rape and murder and stuff like that, but a reasonable amount of bullshit. If we could forgive people for things, and move on, the world would be a much better place." 

I'm sure everyone's idea of what a reasonable amount of bullshit entails is different, and for those affected negatively in this particular situation the threshold will be much higher.  I guess I'm hoping for one person to make it all right again.  I guess I'm hoping that one person will get their shit together so the others can forgive them and we can all go back to the way it was.  I guess I'm hoping all the people I love will forever have a place in my life.  I hope I'm not hoping for too much.  

Beating A Face

I'm completely addicted to learning about alternative lifestyles.  No, I'm not gay, but who knows who you are going to be attracted to or fall in love with?  If you have an open mind about things it could be someone from either sex or even transgendered, in my opinion.  I think people get so hung up on being straight or gay that they limit themselves to so many amazing people out there in the world .

My tolerance for the human race is becoming a smaller and smaller window with each passing day.  It still amazes me that people are so close minded and yet so opinionated about what other people do in their private lives.  If it's none of my business and doesn't affect me in a negative way then I should keep my opinion to myself, except that my opinion on the LGBT Community is positive, so that makes it totally okay to share my opinion, right?   I like one way streets.

So I'm completely addicted to RuPaul's Drag Race 'reality' show where contestants compete in their drag queen persona's for a chance of being crowned America's Drag Superstar or something along those lines and 100 grand and make up for life and a trip and stuff like that.  I love every single thing about this show.  I love seeing them as gay men in the days leading up to the actual elimination night and then I love seeing them in all their glory in drag.  I love watching them put on make up (AKA:  Beating a face) and do shadowing and contouring.  I love how bloody catty they are.  They have the female side of the human race completely beat with the skill to 'schoo'l.  I love all of their lingo and catch phrases.  I just love how they have the ability to transform into a different gender rather flawlessly.  I know it takes mad skill and the art of television editing makes it appear easy, but I know it's an acquired art form overall.

There have been numerous seasons now and I have some favourites I've acquired along the way.   A few months ago, I was lucky enough to stumble upon a photographer (can't for the life of me remember his name) who did stills of several different drag queens and some of them happened to have appeared on Drag Race, so I snatched three of them up.  I'm going to frame them and hang them in my rec room (or living room - not sure yet) when we finish redoing it.  The first two goy-eels (girls silly!) are a couple of my absolute favourites.  The last was only okay to me, but I really liked the shot so I got it too...and well interior stylists always suggest grouping things in odd numbers.  So that's what Imma gonna do!  Oh my pretty girls, love them all!



Pandora Boxx

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Side Table Side Project

Earlier this summer when we were in the midst of still creating Gage's new space in the basement we stumbled across this find at a garage sale for $2.  For reals, I kid you not.  I know it doesn't look overly pretty but the lines were clean and simple (perfect for a 16 year old boy) and the drawer pull reminded us a little of the Star Trek emblem (Gage wouldn't care about that but Eric did).  I snatched it up because it was in overall decent shape and I set out to grab some glossy paint to re-finish it for the boy.

Upon sanding it we discovered this piece of furniture was made in Quebec, here in, our lovely country, Canada.  And well, furniture made in Quebec is known to be of a higher quality.  So an even better score than we had imagined.

So Eric took on the role of the sandman and sanded it down to perfection so I could paint all that pretty wood a deep grey to match the new decor.  He also polished the "brass" drawer pull and turned it silver!  I probably should have taken a nicer photo of the table in its actual final resting place (beside Gage's bed) but now it's all cluttered with teen aged boy stuff.  I stumbled across this perfectly, complimentary lamp for $25.00 while out shopping one day that fit the space nicely.

Before finishing it all up nice nice, Eric decided to make a false bottom for the drawer.  You know so Gage has a spot to hide his unmentionables (like I'd conveniently forget we put that in there for him).   I will admit the 16 year old thought that was pretty damn neat.  Now he keeps his money in there.  Don't worry, I check the contents from time to time.  He's not that big of an idiot I would tend to believe.  He does have some of my genetics after all.

So there you have it, a quick, easy and cheap re-furbished end table.  All for less than 10 bucks!  Not a bad score at all.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oooh, What Is This?

I read a post recently (I don't remember who by or I'd link it) that outlined 100 of the bloggers favourite things.  I had originally thought I would post 100 of my favourite things too, but it's actually really, really hard to come up with 100 favourite things in the spur of the moment.  So with that lesson quickly learned, I started making notes and in that process my train of thought shifted (not uncommon, especially in the case of shiny things) and I thought maybe I'd post here and there about my favourite things!  You know, kind of like Oprah but on a WAY, way more economic scale.  You know, like affordable and attainable.  

So I figured I'd maybe do a couple per post (or not) and maybe write about my favourite things every few months and see where it goes (but like shiny objects, I may lose interest quickly).  I thought I'd include things I like to eat, places I like to go, restaurants I like to frequent, websites I can't stay away from, causes I want to support, apparel that makes me feel pretty, you know stuff I stumble across in this road called life.  My life anyway.

So here we go!  And if you are so inclined I would welcome you to check out the links I post or maybe test the product yourself and give your own feedback and of course if I talk about something you are familiar with or have experienced yourself, please add your two cents into the comment section.  It's always best to get another opinion even if I do think what I'm talking about is Amazing with a capital A!

 Chocolate FX White Chocolate Strawberry Beads.  What?  Doesn't it just sound amazing?  There really should have been a taste button invented for computers by now, am I right?  So to be fair here, I was only introduced to this company today and out of the three products we bought, the WC Strawberry ones were by far my favourite, though Eric is smitten with the other two.  I've driven by this place numerous times in the past, but only did Eric and I decide to stop and check out their stuff, today.  We walked away with the above mentioned as well as some Triple Mint Beads and some Red Raspberry infused Beads.

Most definitely not in the same price range as a trip to your local corner store for a Mars bar, but several unique and delicious alternatives.  They have a wide variety of sugar free chocolates as well and there is a factory on site that you can tour if you wish.  Included in the tour price is a credit towards a chocolate purchase in the store.  Win-win, if you have the time and curiosity.   The down side?  They seem to be like potato chips for me, I can't eat just one.  Anywho's, check 'em out (especially if you live in the same area as me) sometime! You can shop in person or on line.  Though in person, they have an entire taste testing station. I think the concept of the FX part is that flavours are infused into the chocolate for a unique experience.  Not too sure though.  Regardless, they were pretty damn delicious and definitely a place I'll hit up again from time to time.

Shmexiest, Funniest Camper

There are so many things I want to do with my children and so many experiences I want to be able to provide for my kids.  We all wish we had more expendable cash on our hands but the reality of the situation is that most of us live relatively pay check to pay check (if not literally, then pretty damn close) and have to save up for the extras that we want in life, or venture into debt.  I remember one of the biggest things I worried about and actually cried over when my marriage broke down was that my children were becoming 'statistics' and I feared they'd never be privy to what the other kids were privy to or that I'd have to constantly apply for aid to assist in allowing them to experience life like the kids whose parents were still together and who had two incomes.  I was so fearful of them missing out that I busted my ass to ensure that hasn't happened, and now I've probably swung too far to the other side.  I feel like they get almost too much handed to them now.  A happy medium would have been nice, but I digress.  Although that being said I did have to postpone our Mexico trip this year because I refuse to go into debt in order to travel.  Whoa, first world problems, I know.  But they'll still luck out because now I'm on a mission to make sure that trip still pans out eventually.

However, despite those fears, over the years I've learned quite the lesson.  Maybe being a product of divorce isn't a terrible thing after all!  I genuinely think my boys have it made in the shade.  Between me, their dad, my family, their father's family, their step mother's family, Eric's family...well you get the point right?  So all this guilt I tried to avoid was for naught.

Back when Gage was about 8 we thought it would be good to send him to camp for a few days.  He was a very social boy and the experiences at camp would hopefully stay with him.  At the time my divorce wasn't final, and we were still swimming in debt.  My parents were living with me while I struggled to get my head above the water it was currently sitting under with this new lifestyle I was living.  So being awesome parents that they are, they paid for Gage to go to camp.  I think they did this two years in a row or at least helped out the second year, but I could be wrong.

So fast forward to this year.  I was reminded of the existence of Cave Springs Camp while I was sitting in a United church during a funeral.  I immediately thought it would be something that Roan would LOVE to partake in and, frankly, it would be good for him.  He's been keeping relatively busy with friends this summer, but something more structured with lots of activities would be perfect for him.  The catch?  I have just finished some renovations at home and couldn't really spare the $400 it would cost to send him for 5 days.  Thankfully his father agreed to cover half of the expenses and off he went.

I'll be honest, I had an unsettling feeling in my stomach all week and I couldn't understand why.  I was worried he wasn't having fun, that he wouldn't make friends (I have ZERO idea why I would think this as he makes friends with everyone), that maybe he'd get hurt, you know typical parental worries.  Unrealistic and uncalled for to say the very least.  Upon our arrival to pick him up, following his stay, he immediately asked if he could attend another week this summer and babbled on and on for hours about how much fun he had, how many friends he made, etc., etc.   So turns out things had gone well despite my fears.  Seems, according to Roan, that all the girls just loved his abs and would look for any excuse they could come up with to hug him.  He even walked away at the end of the week with the Award for the "Most Shirtless Camper".

Upon his arrival at home he was relentless in his mission to secure another week at camp so I did my best to muster up half of the fees telling Roan he was on the hook to secure the other half.  He immediately called my mother and coerced her into covering the balance.  I think she said yes because she was trying to be fair. Regardless, he was happy to learn he'd be able to head back a couple weeks later.  And again, he seemed to have a great time because he wasn't too happy to see us when we got there to pick him up and asked if he could return for another week before school lets back in (Don't push it kid!).  This time around he had a few girls fawning over him again and received the Award for the "Funniest Camper".  No wonder this kid loves Cave Springs, it's a complete ego booster.

He's decided, at this point, that he would like to get a job there when he's older, as a counselor, which I think would be great for his personality.  So we're thinking this year he should take the Babysitting Course offered through the YMCA and possibly a First Aid Course over the next couple of years.  I'm just hoping he doesn't lose interest in this idea throughout the year because I really do think he'd be an ideal counselor.

I really am quite blessed to have a good job, and a wonderful family to help ensure that my kids haven't been affected too drastically by a marriage break down.  I'm grateful my children have had several opportunities in life to experience some wonderful and different things...things an awful lot of children in the world today just don't get to do.