Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Scrabble Christmas Ornaments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Giving Thanks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo


Warm Fuzzies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Sunday, August 24, 2014

School Issues, Blah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Magical Playground


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

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

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


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

Taking a break from playing on the see-saw.






One Last Dance

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Who's Driving My Car?

Sometimes when I'm going about the routine, mundane, everyday stuff like driving home I change up my route at the very last minute.  I don't have obvious plans in my head to alter my route, sometimes I'm just sitting at a red light when the urge to turn left comes over me, rather than going straight.

But then once I make the turn a ridiculous thought pops into head almost immediately. Did I just turn into my pending death? Like is a truck going to come around this bend and take me out, head on, when I wasn't even supposed to be on this road?? OR did I just evade my pending death? Like had I gone straight would someone have crossed the centre line and crashed into me?? These are the things I think about all the way until I turn my car into my driveway. 

I think these things, yet I can't resist the urge when it strikes me. Sometimes it's so strong I even wait for all the cars in the left lane to go (thus holding up traffic in my lane) so I can make that non scheduled turn.  So who's driving my car? Me or my destiny?  Does anyone else have these kinds of thoughts, or just me? What about these strange, unexplained last minute decisions? Anyone have those? Maybe I'm spending too much time around death...

Monday, July 14, 2014

How To Live a Happier and Rewarding Life

Today was the first day of my in 'school' training for my volunteer position with Niagara Victim Services.  It was a really good and educational day.  Our speaker for the afternoon was exceptional.  I learned so much in the three hours she spoke; much of it is also applicable to my life in funeral services.  I feel like I took away a lot of helpful information to make me a better funeral director, a better crisis responder and a better person overall.  But the particular advice wisdom I want to share with you all that I was shown today actually came from an old United Way video called Suggestions on How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life.

These suggestions are so simple, but often overlooked or out right ignored by many.  It's unfortunate that some people take life so seriously and in the process miss the important things.  Basically it should come down to two simple words.  A short but powerful sentence.  Be nice.

How to Live a Happier and Rewarding Life:

Take time to smell the roses.

Take a nap on Sunday afternoon.

Drink 8 glasses of water a day.

Never deprive someone of hope.  It might be all they have.

Be thankful for every meal. 

Don't be afraid to say "I'm sorry."

Don't take good health for granted.

Don't interrupt.

Don't tailgate.

Improve your performance by improving your attitude.

Wave at children on the school bus.

Listen to your children.

Leave everything a little better than you found it.

Leave the toilet seat in the down position.

Keep it simple.

Keep good company.

Keep your promise.

Be kinder than necessary.

Take good care of those you love.

Make it a habit to do nice things for people who will never find out.

Wear outrageous underwear under the most formal business attire.

Vote.

Judge your success by the degree that you are enjoying peace, health and love.

Be a good loser.

Be a good winner.

Be romantic.

Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.

Enjoy real maple syrup.

Never refuse home made brownies.

Never give anyone a fruitcake.

Remember other people's birthdays.

Sing in the shower.

Don't nag.

Don't gossip.

Don't expect money to bring you happiness.

Be forgiving of yourself and others.

Never give up on anyone. Miracles happen every day.

Say thank you a lot.

Say please a lot.

Take your dog to obedience school.  You'll both learn a lot.

Slow dance.

Don't rain on other people's parades.

Don't postpone joy.

Stop blaming others.  Take responsibility for every area of your life.

Take care of your reputation.  It's your most valuable asset.

Count your blessings.

Whistle.

Marry only for love.

Call your mother.

Do more than is expected.

Be there when people need you. 

Be someone's hero.

Support your community.








Monday, June 30, 2014

Small Triumphs

Well it's the end of another school year.  I know I'll be kicking myself in a months time, but THANK GOD.  I swear this has been the most trying year I've experienced with my children to date.  I'm not sure which of us is more relieved that it's over, Roan or me! 

Last summer it was agreed upon by Eric, myself and Roan that we'd allow him to go off his meds for ADD during the summer break.  He didn't like the roller coaster feeling the pills gave him (time release meds tend to do that) and they made him feel...'meh'; just not like his usual fun self.  He was suffering from some 'hallucinations' as well which were a little frightening to me.  So the decision was fairly simple.  We'd try him without the assistance and see how he fared.  During the summer it was tolerable but became increasingly frustrating.  Life in the house wasn't that wonderful for him.  We were constantly on him for "forgetting"...EVERYTHING.  We felt like all we were doing was yelling or lecturing.  He was really vocal about his disdain for going back on his meds for school, so we gave him a window of time to prove to us and his teachers that he could do it.  Well come December it was crystal clear that he was really struggling to stay focused and get his work done accordingly.  His progress, if nothing changed quickly, was going to hinder his chances of moving into Grade 8 at the end of the year.  GULP. 

Meetings with the teachers, counselors, the principal, Roan, and us were held and they were strongly pushing for him to go back on some form of medication (of course they were).  We were pushing back with the request for the teachers to think outside their idea of the perfect student and make some concessions that were geared to his known, and mutually agreed upon, strengths.   To be frank, they won, we lost.  Because I can't be at the school day in and day out to ensure they held up their end of the deal we had a discussion with his Doctor about new medication options and she presented us with a newly approved drug.  A new pill that isn't time released but a slow release and over time would be 'even' across the board.  He has no ups and downs with it, and the side effects are minimal.  We gave it a go and he has really taken to it.  He doesn't complain about taking his pill, he doesn't bitch about side effects (one of them is drowsiness and since he's always had issues with sleeping, we just give him his pill at night), we see HUGE changes at home and have definitely seen changes at school. 

To be honest, we're not entirely sure if the leaps and bounds of changes we've seen in Roan is as a result of the medication or just maturity.  Hopefully a combination of both, but we're going to maintain it through the summer so he can get a proper start on Grade 8 in September (because YES he did make enough strides to get there).  He is an amazing kid and life for him (and us) has been so much kinder and pleasant since he started this particular prescription. 

The decision to medicate your child for any illness can be extremely difficult.  So many opinions of others (most NOT requested) are hurled at you.  But the decision is your family's and it's private.  You are the ones that deal with the effects of the disorder whether on medication or not.  You are the ones that live with it daily so the decision is yours and your child's.  As a parent, whatever I can do to make life not SO difficult for my kid is one of my number one goals.  Watching him unnecessarily struggle isn't in my cards.  So we did our part, we conceded and it paid off, but as for the school??? Well I've got my issues with them.  That's an entirely different post. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Moment of Nostalgia

As a quick follow up to my Realities of Time Travel post I needed to show you a picture of the house I grew up in that I took yesterday while out garage sailing.  The house attached to mine was having a yard sale so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to snap a quick picture.

While I remember being little, I don't remember actually physically being little.  Does that make sense?  I mean when I picture myself as a kid, I picture me at this height (5'8").  Ridiculous I know.  So when I was out of my car up close and personal with my old front lawn I was shocked at how little it actually was (like the size of a large car) but more importantly how little the hill in the yard was.   I remember sitting on that hill consciously aware it was a hill (it clearly really isn't) and my little legs didn't even make it to the side walk!  I was obviously too cool for this 'hill' when I became a teenager and actually was this current height of mine or I'd have figured this out a long time ago!

Ya, that's the crazy hill down in the right hand corner.

  

The Realities of Time Travel

We've been doing a bunch of work around the house these past few months.  Some big stuff, some small stuff.  While Eric was working in the laundry/mud room he started to pull off all the trim around the doors and window and found a little, nostalgic, hidden treasure behind part of it.


When I was little my first 'job' was a paper route for the Niagara Falls Review (Evening Review?).  I'm not entirely sure if the name had already changed at that point... and part of my job was to collect money weekly from the subscribers.  They don't even do that any more now that there is direct payments from your bank account (which totally sucks for the carriers now because no collecting = no tips). But I remember having to provide 'punch' cards to each house and each week when they paid I would have to punch a hole through the appropriate date (yeah I had to carry one of those single hole punchers around with me.
 
But even before that the carrier used to have to rip off a tab with the date and provide it to the subscriber so they had proof they paid (Who remembers that?) A receipt if you will.  And look what we found!  It's real old and tiny and yet it instantly brought me back to the earlier days when the only stress I had was delivering my newspapers in the rain, at dusk (during the winter season) and big scary dogs who didn't like their paper carrier.  It's little stuff like this that teach us the realities of what time travel is.

1956!  That's crazy. 

So my house is at least 58 years old.  That explains so much.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Garage Sale Etiquette

Today while we were out sailing the sea of garages it occurred to me that there should be some sort of etiquette to garage sales; for both the hosts and the seekers (there probably is, I've just never looked it up).  So while we cruised the neighbourhoods we took notes.  Here's what we came up with.  And, by all means if I have inadvertently over looked a prime point, please post it in the comments section.  All advice is welcome!  In no particular order of importance we were able to come up with the following tips:

  • Unless your garage sale if of EPIC proportions, don`t bother to use the adjectives: HUGE, MASSIVE, or ENORMOUS on your signs.  You are only setting your customers up for monumental disappointment and when a buyer is disappointed they are less likely to purchase anything from you.  
    Not likely.
  • Do always put prices on your products.  I know it's time consuming on an already lame way to spend your Saturday but I have NEVER purchased an item from a sale where there hasn't been a starting price listed for me.  I'm not kidding.  I won't even bother asking.  Doesn't matter how badly I might want the item.  
  • If you use heart shaped stickers, I'm even more likely to want to buy from you.  
  • Do not leave your pre-teen children in charge of running your sale.  I'll be frank, I won't even pull my car over.  I just can't take purchasing stuff from a 8 year old seriously.  Unless it's lemonade.  Even then I probably still won't.  I'm douchey like that.  
  • If you are the host, do not ever, EVER talk politics or religion loud enough for your customers to hear you.  And absolutely do not ever speak those subjects to your actual customers.  If I wanted to hear banter about that shit on a Saturday, I'd just stay at home, save my money and wait for the Jehovah Witnesses to come knocking.  
  • Please clean off your goods!  No one wants to buy dust.  
    Yuck, right??
  • Make sure when you put your signs up you ensure they are secure.  The wind wrecks havoc on Bristol board which in turn wrecks havoc on the number of people that are aware you are even having a sale.  
  • Your signs should also be facing traffic so the driver does not have to slow down to a stop to read it from the side passenger window. 
  • Be willing to negotiate.  Understand that the minute someone buys more than one item from you they are immediately going to try to negotiate with you.  Don't be a tool.  It's a garage sale not a department store.   
    There is a reason these are pre-printed with cheap prices...
  • Be knowledgeable of what typical prices are for a garage sale (if you aren't, let me fill you in...CHEAP).  No one cares if it's an import from Japan or China.  Frankly, damn near everything we buy from a store new is an import from 'China'.  That doesn't make it worth more.  
  • Keep the personal items (false eye lashes, used make up, half used toiletries, etc.) off the tables.  I cannot fathom that anyone is interested in that crap. 
  • Make sure you have money (small bills and change is best) with you if you are sailing the seas of garages.  That one time you don't, you'll find exactly what you were looking for.  And then when you make the decision to run to the bank to get some, someone comes along behind you and scoops it up.  (True story, happened to me today.  UGH)
  • Don't have a garage sale if you only have baby stuff for sale.  Or at the very least advertise that you only have baby stuff for sale.  Lame. 
  • Sell large ticket items on Craig's List or Kijiji.  A garage sale is no place for an $80+ item. 
  •  Remove your damn signs when the sale is over. 
    This looks like crap, and is confusing.
  • Get your neighbours in on the sale and then and only then can you advertise HUGE, ENORMOUS, or MASSIVE.  
  • No need to write your home address on your neon signs.  The street name and an arrow will suffice.  Pretty sure I can pick out the house with all the crap sitting in the drive way.  
    Really, keep it simple and easy.
  • Always have a free table.  People like free, and they are more inclined to buy something from you if they take something off the 'free table'.  
  • Have more than two scraggly tables of stuff for sale.  That's not a garage or yard sale.  It's not worth getting out of my car for. 
    Good set up.
  • Go out sailing early.  The best stuff is gone by 10 o'clock.  Guaranteed.
  • Don't be pushy with your customers.  Offer an answer when asked, but don't be all up in my grill.  If it's so damn wonderful why the hell are you getting rid of it??  
    Uh huh...
  • Know when to negotiate and do it, but if the price is lower than what you were mentally prepared to spend anyway, don't be a dick.  Just pay it.  
So hopefully some of these tips make having a garage sale or going to a garage sale easier and more pleasing.  Again, if I've missed something that's critical, please post it in the comments section for all of us to learn from!  I've scored some pretty amazing stuff at garage sales, so there is definitely something to them.  I've even decorated an entire room in my house solely from stuff I've found at these sales.  It's pretty damn amazing and I brag a lot about its awesomeness.

Hoist those sails and happy travels!  May you find a hidden treasure.  

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Community

The time has come!  I can make my teeny little announcement that probably isn't important to any one but me, but so be it.  I've been evasive about what I've been up to, but I didn't want to say anything until I was in a position to say something.  Now I can...

I applied for a volunteer position last month with the Niagara Victim Services.  As stated this is a volunteer position that I want to do over and above my full time job as a funeral director.  At this point in my life this is something I'm yearning to do for my own personal growth.  This has nothing to do with the well being of my family or my mortgage payments or life style.  This has to do solely with me.  Gage is finding it hard to understand why I would want to work for free but I'm hoping one day when he's older, he'll get it.

Since my interview, reference check and police background check I've now been invited to be part of the team here in Niagara.  Now I'll have about 40 hours of e-learning and about 40 hours of in-class training ahead of me before I start this journey.  I'm genuinely excited to take on this new challenge and learn new skills.  I believe this position can help me be a better funeral director and person and I believe the skills I already have will help me in this new role.

The goal of victim services is to assist emergency personnel in providing short-term emotional support and practical assistance to victims of crime, tragic circumstance and disaster.

I know it sounds clich√©, but I'm really looking forward to helping those that need it, however short my period in their life will be, and growing as a person.  Thanks for all your positive vibes and well wishes.  Here's to new beginnings!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Technology...A Love/Hate Relationship

It's 2014, we have modern technology literally at our fingertips. There is so much controversy over how much time we, has a race, spend with our faces in our phones. We criticize each other with how often we sustain our relationships via social media, texting and emails rather than having actual conversations face to face any more. I laugh at how often Eric and I will be sitting beside each other on our lap tops or phones. We still converse in person, we haven't gotten to the point where we actually find ourselves texting each other...yet. Guilty. In fact, I'm doubly guilty.

First, before I got my own smart phone, I was guilty of judging all those people who constantly had their face in their phone. Yep, guilty as charged.  But NOW?  Now I'm guilty of focusing too much on the micro computer in my purse.  I do try to consciously put it down, but it silently speaks to me, it calls my name.  It's hard not to pick it up when there's a lull in the conversation.  It's so easy to grab it when there is a discussion happening and something is up for debate.  I mean, come on, Google is right at our fingertips!  I definitely see both sides of the coin with regards to this subject.

In the grand scheme of things I'm very grateful I didn't have to endure high school in the time of Facebook or Twitter.  But lately, I'm finding myself more and more envious of this new generation.  I have attempted to go through photos in hopes of capturing some long lost pictures of my youth, most importantly my teenage years, but I'm continuously coming up with very few pictures.  I love when I get a notification on Facebook that I've been tagged in a photo and when I click on it, it's an oldie!  The best ones are the photos I didn't even know existed.  I love reliving those moments.  Unfortunately, photos and videos during my youth weren't as mainstream as they are now.  And the reason they are so mainstream now is because technology has made it so much easier for us to snap random photos or take quick little videos.  There's no more lugging around a huge camera or camcorder to try to capture candid moments.  Just like those cute little shampoo bottles, these too have been put into convenient little packages.

So just last week Roan mentioned to me that he couldn't remember what my dad's voice sounded like any more - one of the biggest worries I've struggled with after his passing.  I remember clearly still (thank goodness) some of his more frequent sayings but after giving it some real thought last week, I had to come to the realization that I too was struggling to remember what he sounded like overall.  I was comforted to know, after speaking with my sister and sister in law, that they too have had these fears and they too have struggled with remembering clearly.  So I racked my brain to try to ascertain if we had any video recordings with my father speaking.  And sadly, we really didn't.  I reached out to my cousin as I knew that my dad had co-emcee'd her wedding a few years ago and inquired if she had in fact had a video of her special day.  With great relief she informed me that she did have about half of her reception caught on tape before the battery was drained.  So I asked for a huge favour, a favour for our family really.  I asked her to forward me a copy so I could hear my dad's voice again.  And she obliged - she came through with bells on.  She even edited it all together so it was only my dad's words and we didn't have to endure half of her wedding reception (Thanks lady, I appreciated that!  haha).

She sent it to me on Wednesday night just before midnight.  The anticipation after reading her subject line "Uncle Kit video - part 1" or something along those lines immediately sent waves of emotion coursing through me.  I was overwhelmed with an energy of excited sadness (is that a thing?) that overcame me immediately.  I felt my eyes bursting over with water, my lungs struggling to take in air, and my throat getting that clenched feeling.  I couldn't get the stinkin' video to open fast enough.  And then there is was...

There he was.  Was that his actual voice?  Why do I remember it differently?  Is it only because he was talking into a microphone and the quality of the video wasn't great?  And then the more I listened and watched him talk, the more his mannerisms began to stand out and there he was.  Oh my gosh, music to my ears.  It didn't matter what he was actually saying.  It was just so lovely to hear his voice, his tone, his lame jokes.  Just over three minutes of something so silly that means the world to me.  How I wish we had more minutes.  How I wish the technology we experience today was around just a little bit sooner.  I wish I'd jumped on the smart phone bandwagon as soon as they came out.  I likely would have captured far more minutes of his voice.

So while I know we are fighting an uphill battle with the abuse of modern technology, I beg of you all....capture your loved ones doing what they love to do the most.  We all hear the warnings to take more photos, but taking more video is essential as well.  Capture your children all through the years even doing something as simple as playing.  Catch your parents on video telling a story.  You won't regret those particular overuses of your technology.  I can assure you.  Modern technology...it's a love/hate relationship.  Find the good things about it.  Capture those voices.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Squeeee!!!!

So a year or so ago, much to Eric's chagrin, I donated to what I believe was a VERY worthwhile cause.  I donated via Kickstarter to the much talked about, anticipated (yet criticized) new project from Zach Braff.  I mean for a girl who loves, loves, LOVES Garden State how could I not support his follow up project?

I'll be honest when I first read about his idea for the movie I was left wondering if I was going to be disappointed because it sounded nothing like Garden State (and well...I just loved that movie so much...).  But the other day they sent us backers the trailer before it was released and then they released it to the world!  Ya'll are so lucky.

I watched the trailer (like 50 times) and I instantly had that feeling wash over me like I did watching the trailer for Garden State.  I'm not disappointed.  I'm super excited for this movie (Eric (and Rich) is probably reading this and rolling his eyes at me).  Zach has an insane ability for picking the best sound tracks to his productions (including Scrubs).  I swear the music can make or break a movie.

After watching the movie, the front man for the Shins, James Mercer, was so moved he penned an entirely original piece of music just for Wish I Was Here.  It's the second song in the trailer.  Go on, watch it and give it a listen.  Amazing.  And Zach even got my name right!  ;)

Goosebumps!


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's Time

Last week I applied for a new (additional) position in my life.  I heard back today that I've been invited to jump through the first hurdle on Tuesday evening.  I'm not going to write about what the position is at this point, because I'm not certain I can (only two people know about it).  But if I make it through these upcoming hurdles, I'm looking at more schooling and training.  I'm almost shocked to say that I'm looking forward to more education!  Is this strange insight something that has come with age??

I really have my fingers crossed that I will find success with this endeavour.  It's a role I think I could be pretty decent at and look forward to something new and different, and even a little out of my comfort zone. Once I learn if I can 'talk' about it loosely, I'll fill you all in on this potential new chapter for me.

I'll take all the luck you have to offer, my lovelies.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treading Water

Grief is an interesting emotion.  You would think since I've been surrounded in it on a daily basis over the past 20 years (give or take a few days) that I'd have a good grasp on it.  And frankly, for the most part I genuinely believe I do.  It's been just a little over 3 years since my father passed away and I'd say 90% of the time I do my utmost best to keep my emotions about it at bay.  Maybe that's good, maybe that's bad, but it's how I exist and it seems to be working for me thus far.  However, every once in a while I get taken off guard by the power of grief and its relentlessness to take over for short intervals here and there.

Tonight Gage, Eric and myself went for dinner for Eric's birthday, and just as we were pretty much wrapping up, a young girl in her early 20's walked in and was seated at a two person table.  It was clear she was waiting for her dinner date to show up.  When the waitress approached her I heard the patron tell her that 'her dad was just parking the car and he'd be right in.'  A twang of jealousy overcame me.  Just a mere sentence like that.  Silly, I know.  And then he walked in.  Their interaction caused a lump in my throat and my nose to tickle a bit.  My eyes immediately started to water.  I didn't get it; they weren't over the top.  They didn't even hug hello.  It was just the casual way he spoke to her and how she smiled at him while she talked.  It was clearly an easy conversation between a girl and her dad.  And man was I green with envy.  I had to swallow my tears.  It came over me that suddenly and that powerfully; like an undertow.   It's a good thing I was sitting because it could have taken my feet out from under me.

Three years.  I'm good!  I can talk about my dad and laugh and smile.  I'm well on my way to recovery.  Aren't I?  I'm suppose not.  I can keep trying to fool myself.  I can paddle through the day with a smile on my face and bury my emotions like the best of them, but once in a while the truth surfaces and I'm reminded that I've lost such a huge, mega influential person in my life...a steady, a constant, a norm.  And maybe I'm not adjusting to change quite as awesomely as I think I am.  Every once in a while I'm reminded that I'm not a robot.  Every once in a while my emotions get the better of me.  Sometimes it hurts.  Just for a few minutes and then I find something else to focus on and I smother it down below the surface.  Most of the time I'm not even consciously aware that I'm doing it.  

Sometimes I think I need to learn how to swim in my grief for a little while.  I tread from time to time, but sometimes I think I need to dunk my head under water, fully submerge myself, and hold my breath for as long as I can.  But drowning terrifies me.  Even when it's metaphorical.  Treading will have to do, because I'm pretty sure I'm a long way from land and I'm not a very good swimmer.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Model for a Day

Is it normal for people to find reasons not to do things that would please themselves?  Is it human nature to play the martyr role?  Does it naturally happen when you become a parent?  You tend to become less self absorbed?  Or does it just magically happen when you transition into adulthood, no children necessary?  

I'm not too sure but I find at this point in my life that I'm more inclined to spend any extra money I might have on my children or my house.  I have to consciously talk myself into spending money on something for me.  Usually.  I've been trying to make a concerted effort lately to find a happy mix of it all.  Obviously I'm not oozing with money so it's not often an issue but when I have it, lately I've been trying to look after everyone, including myself.  

This is my 40th year my lovelies!  FORTY!  Like fo' real??  Yes, for real.  I can hardly believe it myself, so I'm sure my mother is struggling with it.  But it's not like I'm struggling with it.  Quite the contrary.  I'm embracing it and welcoming it.  Forty is the new twenty!  So I'm making more of an effort this year to make it MY year!  Greedy? Perhaps, but no one I'm legally responsible for is suffering for it, so I'm good with it.
 
So in this year of the Holly (It's actually the year of the Horse, but who's being petty?  Both start with an H.) I have scratched off one of the items on  my list of things to do at least once!  I've always wanted to do a photo shoot.  Back in the late 80's/early 90's it was a Glamour Shots thing (Thank goodness I didn't bother with those!  Or maybe it would have been awesome to have them too!).  For the past few years Pin Up photo shoots seem to be all the rage.  I constantly looked at photos wishing I was brave enough to step outside of my comfort zone and rich enough to fork over the money.  Then last summer fate found a way to step in (Do I believe in fate?) and I won a gift certificate for a basic Pin Up photo shoot with the lovely Michelle Boulay (Michelle Boulay Photography) from a friend's Stag and Doe night.  The gift certificate covered the bulk of the expense (hair, make up application, one outfit and three edited prints) so I scrounged up some extra cash and upgraded that package and booked my shoot a couple of weeks ago.  Now I got to use a couple of outfits and get more photos in the end.  

Michelle was awesome.  Like I said I was out of my comfort zone and completely nervous about looking like a moron whilst trying to pose like a model with zero experience.  I am 100% positive there were tons of those awkward photos in amongst all the shots she took, but she was kind enough not to share them with me.  Thank you for that Michelle!  Before my actual appointment we chatted back and forth about what my expectations were (I had none), what kind of background/theme I wanted to use/do (I had no preference) and what to generally expect.  So when I got to her place I was more excited than nervous.  

She had so many little sets around her space.  It was like I entered a time vortex back to the 1950's.  I loved it immediately.  She had a vintage dining set, lamps, furniture, hair salon, and more props than you can shake a stick at.  I loved it all.  Her dressing room looked like a costume department threw up in there.  Clothes, shoes, hats, everywhere!!  So many options!  We ended up going with some clothes I had brought with me.  We knew they'd fit and I think she was excited to work with the colours and outfits she wasn't used to working with. 


Michelle, aside from being a great photographer, is also a hairdresser by trade.  So she did my hair and make up for the photo shoot as well.  She also prefers to rely as little as possible on Photoshop and as much as possible on her actual camera skills.  I almost wished she hadn't told me that.  I'd talked myself into a state of calm knowing she'd just Photoshop all the bad stuff out.  Nope!  Eeek!   Now I was worried I'd spend all this time, effort and "money" and I wouldn't get a shot I was comfortable with but more importantly loved! (I am my harshest critic - aren't we all?)   I was so wrong.  She sent me so many wonderfully, fun shots.  I am so pleased with the results and I would recommend doing this to all women out there.  I swear, I felt like a model for 4 hours that day.  She has so many package ideas, Pin Ups are only one of them.  


So this my friends, is what 40 looks like, and I'm loving it!  Thanks for the great experience Michelle!  Be sure to swing by her web page and check out her talent and if you're in the Niagara Region and interested in something like this, reach out to her and ask your questions.    






Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elegant Fridge Magnets

I can tell that Spring is around the corner since I'm starting to jones a little for garage sale season to begin.  I even spent one day this week cleaning out my craft area and taking a mental inventory of what I have waiting to be transformed.  I mostly just wish that I could blink my eyes and shit I want done will be done, but Eric isn't good at getting the projects I have in mind started, much less finished.  I sometimes wish I was so much handier with tools.  One day...I keep telling myself.

So for the time being I found a cute little craft, that was more simple than I should even bother to state, to tie me over until I can move on to other projects.  That being said, this is a project I`ll probably do again and again.  I figure the supplies will be so much cheaper when purchased at a garage sale rather than a thrift store.

I ventured out on a mission for gawdy goodness and somewhat succeeded.  I purchased myself seven brooches between Goodwill and Value Village.  They ranged anywhere from $2-5 bucks.  Like I said, pretty certain I'll score better deals with a garage sale, but I didn't really want to wait.  I then sought out some button magnets at a local dollar store and found great success!  They were about 10x cheaper here than at Michael's for the exact same thing.  The rest of the stuff, I had.


I used those green thingy's to cut the straight pin contraption off the back of each brooch.  Far, FAR easier than I was anticipating.  Get yourself one of those cutter things.  Definitely worth the investment.  Then I applied some Gorilla Glue to the back of each brooch and affixed the appropriate sized magnet.  After a few hours (though to be safe I left them over night) they were fulfilling an entirely new purpose!


Now they hold up amazing comics that sum up life in my house purr-fectly.  They also make super cute little gifts too for those girly-girls in your life.  I've already given one away.   So if you must clutter up your fridge with papers and magnets, do it in style!