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

Lessons

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 know...no 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 whatsoever...like...no 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

Family


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!

Raja!!

Raven!!

Pandora Boxx