Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Interview

I've never really given much thought to my career path - effort, yes of course, but thought?  Not so much.  When I was a little girl and people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always struggled with the answer.  Even as a young girl, I understood the fight of all those women who had gone before me so that I may have the opportunity to be whatever I wanted.  The thing is, though, all I really ever wanted to be was a mommy.  I dropped out of university after a year and a half, because I just had no focus.  I knew I wanted to learn everything there was to learn about everything, but I really couldn't afford to pay thousands of dollars a term just to learn arbitrary things with no end goal in sight.  It wasn't a logical step for me. 
At 20, I was working in a coffee shop - a brother-in-law of a friend from high school came in and said, "Hey, we're hiring at the airport if you'd like to apply..." and my life was forever changed.  Literally within a week, I had a job, a career that I loved.  It was there that I learned how to deal with conflict and adversity, how to be efficient and organized, how to balance a strong work ethic with genuinely enjoying what you do, how to be outgoing and professional equally.  I don't know of any University courses that could have taught me these skills as well as organizing a 24 hour delay for 320 passengers expecting to go to Mexico.
Ten years later, after four lay-offs, I applied for a job, not knowing where - just knowing they were looking for a lot of the skills I had.  Turns out, I had applied for a job with Canada Post.  While the challenges were much different than that in the airlines, I found that I had a job with security, a job that paid well, and a job that allowed me to provide for my son.  I hadn't been looking for it, but it found me.  Here I learned the art of compassion in a way I had never known before.  My eyes were opened to how many broken people live in this world, and how caring just a little bit can change their world.  I learned to supervise all walks of life by appealing to their humanity, rather than enforcing productivity and volume and procedure.  It's been an awesome life lesson for me.  One lesson I can't imagine being taught in a lecture hall on a Monday morning in business class.
Five years later, an opportunity found me yet again.  A temporary management position was brought to my attention by a coworker, with the belief that I would be a really good fit.  I fancied up my resume, rewrote my old cover letter and said a quick prayer.  Weeks and weeks went by without a word, and I assumed I would receive a "thanks for applying, however you do not possess the basic requirements for this job" because in point of fact, I do not possess the basic requirements for the this job.  It requires a certificate program which I can easily attain, but do not have yet. 
A call came in asking me to come for an interview.  An interview!!!  Prepare as I might, it had been five years since my last interview.  I had no idea what kind of questions they would ask.  I knew of STAR competency based questions, and tried to familiarize myself with the Situation, Task, Action, Result answers. 
I had no idea what I was in for.
Funny enough, on the day of the interview I wasn't the least bit anxious.  My plan was to go in and dazzle them with my charm and humour.  Unfortunately, charm and humour only get you so far.  Especially when the interview was over an hour and a half long.  These were not the questions form 15 years ago.  These were not, "What is your greatest weakness?"  I should say, I'm thankful for that, because seriously who can say what their weakness is without expecting to get fired - my answer is evidently the cop-out answer - I'm a perfectionist...but it's true - I expect the best from myself and from everyone else - so I can sometimes be a little hard on people who I do not believe to be giving their best.  But, I digress...these were insanely difficult questions.
They give you a definition of a word, and then ask you a question, which you must answer with STAR which demonstrates the qualities of the definition of the word.  I know, have I lost you yet?  Because then the question is four fold. 
Naturally, I lost my train of thought in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I forgot the question in the middle of my answer.  Naturally, I could not think of one single example of anything I had ever done in 15 + years of working.  Naturally, I forgot what I was saying in the middle of a word.  I was a mess. 
A hot mess, though.  If I could have been offered the job based on my hair, I would have had it in a second.  My hair really rocked - held the curl, nice volume.  I was impressed. 
We got through all the questions.  I was able to have a coherent conversation about the job requirements, how the working relationship is with the disability management team we have, and what effects the new collective agreement would have on the job I was applying for. 
And then came the awkwardness...
The interview was over, and I stood up to shake hands with the two gentlemen doing the interview.  I shook the first man's hand, and then put my hand out to the second guy and he left me hanging.  It felt like my hand was there for 30 seconds, but it probably closer to 1 or 2 seconds.  He says, "oh I'm walking you out.  I'll shake your hand later..."  But then puts his hand out...after my hand was down.  So I put my hand back up, but his was gone.  Three times I tried to shake his hand.  Three times unsuccessful. 
How do you recover from something like that?
Some people might ignore it.  But not me.  I acknowledge it.  And it's awkwardness.  And then try to make a joke about it.  I don't know...this could have been the make or break it moment.
I'm still waiting to see if I'm the successful applicant.  Either way, I'll be happy with the outcome.  Because God always has a way of taking care of me and giving me what I need even when I don't know I need it.  Fifteen years of providing jobs and experiences that have given me an education that, in my opinion, far exceeds any University degree.  Truthfully, I still lack the focus.  I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up, and I still just really love being a mom (and dream of being a wife some day).
But it sure is nice knowing I don't need focus.  I don't need to know what the outcome is.  I just need to do my best, give my all, and trust.
I'll keep you all posted.  Can you believe they made me wait the weekend?!?!?!  I mean, seriously, if I get this job...I have a wardrobe to plan!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Les Mis - My Review

One of the benefits of being semi anti-social (hmmm, maybe just semi-social?  I think the anti looks misplaced...) with my nose in a book, and very few engagements written on my calendar is that I get very, very excited over things that regular people with regular social lives may over look as just another part of another day. 

For instance, I was in a movie theater watching the trailers for upcoming movies and almost stood up and cheered when the preview for *Life of Pi* came on.  First of all, how did I not know it was being made into a movie?  I usually know stuff like that.  Second of all, it is probably one of my favourite books and one of two books I have read twice (the other one being Rapture of Canaan, which I totally recommend).  The twist at the end of Pi took my breath away.  I had to read it a second time so I could picture it in my head knowing what I didn't the first time around.  I will have to read it a third time now, because in discussing how badly I wanted to see the movie, my brother mentioned he started reading it, but had stopped because of how it was total blasphemy, and against every thing he believes in.  I need to read it again to see if I'm completely naive, because I saw it as a beautiful representation of God, nature, the resilience of the human spirit and what it can overcome.    It is so amazing to me how people can read the same thing and have completely different interpretations of it.

So you can only imagine my excitement when I heard Les Miserables was coming to theaters. (Side note: Probably the only thing I really, really, reeeeeeeeeeaaaaalllllllllly want to do before I die is go to New York and experience a real live Broadway show.  And Central Park.  At Christmas time.  Preferably with a boyfriend - seeing as how it's my dream and all, we can make it as unrealistic as possible, right??)   I could not and did not wait - I went to see it on Boxing Day.  Let me tell you folks, the movie did not disappoint.  Having not seen it on Broadway, I had no idea what to expect - but I was blown away.  It reminds me how I long to live in a musical, where it is common to break into song when something a) awkward or b) lovingly is needed to be said.  But Gah!!  If I were the Academy, I would give every single actor an award, Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried, the chorus.  Boom...Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. 

Along with the amazing acting and the singing and the falling in love, it also reminded me how very fortunate and thankful I am to have been born into the 21 century as a woman.  We really, really have come leaps and bounds.  As a single mother, I cannot fathom having to hand my beloved child off to strangers (horrid strangers at that), while I work to support them by any means necessary.  I cannot imagine having to stand up to an army to fight for a better life and for what I believe in and die for that belief.  Ahhh, and what a wonderful story about second chances - it is truly never too late to start again.  Oh the power of hatred and anger, how it eats us up inside and destroys us.

The only complaint I have about the whole experience is the woman who sat beside us in the theater who felt the need to do a running commentary throughout the whole movie.  That's right...all two hours and thirty eight minutes.  Out loud.  For two hours.  And thirty eight minutes.  She was oblivious to our shushing - probably because she was too busy talking.

"He's a prisoner."

"Oh my, he's starving.  Look how fast he's eating!"

"Do you think he's going to fall?"

"He doesn't have his papers.  Oh no.  What will happen?  Will they catch him?"

And when words escaped her, she just filled the silence with...




Did I tell you how long the movie was? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!!

I'm probably not the only one, but Christmas is my favourite time of year.  I've been listening to Christmas music since December hit.  How can you be in a bad mood listening to Christmas music?  Our living room looks like the North Pole opened up and puked lights and decorations and presents everywhere.   Of course, having an eight year old is really the only encouragement you need to make every Christmas the best Christmas ever. 
I'm sure this will be remembered as the last year that Q believed in Santa.  He's already starting to debate the logistics of Santa...thinking it impossible rather than magical.  I love his innocence.  I love his ability to believe in something that is just so completely, well...impossible.  He's been asking questions lately, though, that tell me his innocence in *this* category is slowly fading. 
"Why didn't the dog bark last year when Santa delivered presents?  She barks at everything?"
"It's impossible for Santa to deliver to every child in the whole world in one night."
"The Norad Santa Tracker is so fake.  They said he was in Vancouver, but the news said he was in Winnipeg." (Geez, multimedia...get your stories straight please...)
It reminds me of my best friend's son who said when he was about this age, "Mommy, I'm pretty sure Santa doesn't exist, but could we just pretend for one more year..."
This was also the first year there were no toys under the tree.  I mean, don't get me wrong, there werent just books and clothes and underwear, but there weren't any Legos or Hot Wheels or Stuffed Animals.  There were movies and video games and sports equipment and an iPod.  It's the end of an era, really. 
Hopefully the end of a cluttered, trip-over-wayward-toy, why-is-that-toy-so-noisy era...
So today, I will leave you with some amazing words from some amazing Christmas carols.  We sing them so often by memory, how often do we stop to think of their meaning?

Joy to the world
The Lord has come.
Let Earth receive her King
Let every heart prepare Him room
A thrill of hope
A weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks
a new and glorious morn

With so many horrible events taking place in our world lately, I'd say we are desperately weary, all looking for a reason to rejoice. 

Merry Christmas from our home to yours!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

In Which I Almost Die From a Brain Infection (...only not really)

The top of my phobia list is without a doubt, bar none, totally and completely - the dentist.  Whether it's genetic, the fact that I come from a long line of Brits, or just luck of the draw, I have really crappy teeth.  I think I had my first root canal before I was 20.  The pain from an abscess is probably only comparable to child birth or having a limb cut off with a saw.  I heard somewhere that in times of war, dental work has been a form of torture (well, pulling teeth with pliers, and such but potay-to, potah-to I say...).  My second root canal was done partially without freezing (torture) because it was the end of the day, the freezing had worn off and the dentist did not want to wait for more freezing to take effect.  I sat in the chair with tears streaming down my face as the hygienist held my head down by the pressure points (so I could not move) and the dentist said, "This is a painful lesson to learn, but hopefully you've learned it..." 

Yes, I learned my lesson very well. 

Never, ever, ever go to the dentist. 

When I do have a dentist appointment, I work myself into such a tizzy I have to cancel because I am physically sick to my stomach from worry.  My third root canal I bailed on (only postponed, really, because I've learned the need for a root canal does not simply *go away* like a cold or food poisoning...) the morning of the attack on the twin towers. 

Generally, years and years go by before I can summon up the courage to go to the dentist.  And usually, it's only because I am in some sort of pain.  Logical people would say, "the more often you go, the less it will hurt..."  But I think we've established I'm not all that logical to begin with, and phobias don't often have much to do with logic anyways.  Appointments made for the dentist are usually only done with tons of pep talks from caring friends, and a bottle or two of wine - and that's just to get me to *make* the appointment...

About four years ago I found this awesome dentist.  He is handsome to look at, super nice, and has reaaaaally pretty teeth.  He specializes in *sedation dentistry* however, I've never needed to use it because he talks me through every single step of every single procedure.  I still avoid him like the plague, but it's a little less worrisome when I know Ativan is in the cupboard if we need it. 

Three years ago, I had a filling fall out.  I left it for a year.  Sadly, a year was too long.  He filled it saying he thought he had saved the nerve but we couldn't be sure.  He said if I ever woke up with a swollen face, to get to the hospital right away.  Otherwise, we'd wait and see.

I've been a ticking time bomb ever since.

Two weeks ago, I wake up to this bump in my gum right where that tooth is, so I do what anyone with a disabling fear of the dentist would do...I ignore it.  A few days later, and the bump gets a bit bigger...going right into Christmas...this is all I need.  Determined to just leave it, I google...

"Can you die from a tooth ache??"

...and in less than a second I have pages and pages of examples of people who have died from an infection in a tooth.  The most extreme cases - the infection spread from their eye tooth (the one tooth I'm having a problem with...) to their brain and they died of a Brain Infection.  Well, literally the next second, I was on the phone begging to get in to be seen.  The last thing I need is to leave my child motherless because of a tooth ache.

"Aggressive" is the word my dentist kept using to describe this bump in my gum above the tooth.  "Ah...this infection is aggressive."  "Can't we just do an open and drain?"  I ask (as this will now be my 5th root canal, I'm familiar with the lingo).  "No," he says. "It is too aggressive."

So instead I do two different antibiotics for a whole week - three times a day.  And book a root canal for January 17.  (I'm feeling ill at the thought already)

The meds are done.  The bump is still there.  My dentist is on vacation out of the country until January 15. 

And I'm left with the instructions, "If you wake up and your face is swollen and you have no movement of your facial muscles, you must get to the hospital right away.  It means the infection has spread to your nasal cavity and you've gone septic."


For someone who has irrational fears of dying from a totally obscure way, this is the last thing I need to hear.  I seriously check my temperature 5 times a day to see if I'm *burning up* from some infection that is ravaging my body.

The funny thing is...I have no pain.  And...while the swelling hasn't gone down, it's not getting worse...

...I have a sneaking suspicion it might be a canker sore.

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Heavy Heart

This morning I woke Q up the same way I do every morning (well, every morning that he doesn't wake me up with a "Mom-my, I'm hungry) with a "Wakey, wakey eggs and bac-y!!!"
Okay, so it starts that way.  Then it's, "C'mon!! Rise and shine!!" 
Then it's "Q.  Now.  Up."
Today, I reminded him that he had a super exciting day - a field trip to The Nutcracker and he'd get to ride on a school bus.  That got him up.  He ran downstairs to open his advent calendar. 
Then he chattered away the whole way to the babysitter...
"Mommy, how many sleeps til Christmas?"
"I think Santa starts delivering presents at 1 am.  Do you think so?"
"I love spending Christmas Eve with Daddy because we go skating and stay up really late - but not too late, because Santa comes.  We watch where Santa is on the Santa Tracker and we play Monopoly."
I dropped him off at the babysitters.  He gave me a big hug.  I said "I love you!" and kissed the top of his head.  He said, "I do too!!"
It was just another day.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Certainly not super special. 
Today, parents in Newtown, CT took their children to the babysitters, to school just like any ordinary day.  Their children excited for a visit from Santa, maybe a field trip on a school bus.  Kisses on foreheads, whispers of "I love you!" in little ears.
It is horrific and tragic that some of these children did not go home today.  I cannot even begin to imagine the devastation these parents must be going through; their lives never the same.  A huge hole in their hearts, their child gone too soon.
Today there are three specific children I think of that did not go to school because their little bodies are battling tumours and the ill effects of chemo and radiation.  Modern science has nothing left to offer.   "I love yous" are precious and plenty and kisses are never ending.  Prayers are constant.  Every time I think of them, I lose my breath, because I cannot fathom anything worse than watching your child, no older than 5 or 7, die before you, helpless to do anything but pray for a miracle.
My heart breaks every time I think of these children and these families.
Every morning for me is an *extra* ordinary morning because I have been blessed with a healthy little boy, who right this very minute is safe and sound.  He's happy.  He's not scared or worried.  I can say with confidence that I know he will wake up tomorrow, healthy, happy and safe.
And I am so grateful.
I hope and pray that I never take for granted the ordinary mornings.  The cuddles.  The kisses.  The talks.  The laughs.  The games.  The school plays.  The spelling tests.  I pray that I never take for granted the awesome responsibility that has been bestowed upon me - raising up my beautiful boy.  It makes things like *things* and money so completely irrelevant in comparison.  I have a gift that has been horrifically stolen from far too many, far too soon.  With every grateful prayer I say for my son, I will pray for peace for those who have gone, for those who long for little fingers and tiny kisses.
I am overwhelmed with sadness tonight for those robbed of their little blessings, taken to heaven far too soon.  Tonight when you tuck your babies in and kiss them goodnight, say a little prayer for those mourning the loss of their children.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lessons at Middle Age

I've learned something about myself recently - which in and of itself is pretty amazing considering how old I am.  You'd think that by the time you hit 35, you'd know everything there was to know about yourself.  Evidently this is not the case, because I just had a pretty big life lesson.

Feeling as though life was passing me by, that I was wasting my nights away with my nose in a book, or blogging, or watching "Greys Anatomy" - I resolved to take on more projects.  I was going to be busy.  Life was going to be hectic.  Every moment from dawn to dusk would be filled - it was going to be great.  I was going to feel useful and productive and a real live contributing member of society. 

And it's not like it's any big deal.  I mean people do it all the time and they thrive.  They're the better for it.  I was so excited.  There are two people who come to mind immediately who are constant over achievers and they LOVE it.  You two, you know who you are.  I am amazed by how much they fit into a 24 hour period.  I wanted to be just like them. 

At Q's school, I volunteered to be the 'Emergency Preparedness Coordinator', Editor of the PAC (they don't call it the PTA's the PAC - Parent Advisory Committee) newsletter (monthly distribution to 245 families), and I also volunteered to organize a Christmas craft for 66 children at a Christmas Craft night at the school.  This involved cutting out and sewing together by hand 66 felt coffee sleeves. 

Next, I joined a book club.  I was super excited about this.  A whole bunch of ladies sitting around discussing a great read, drinking wine and eating appies?  Seriously, what could be better??  Nothing much in my books.

Q has soccer twice a week and skating lessons on Tuesday.  Tack on a half an hour to an hour a day practicing for his spelling test on Friday (by Thursday night we were still spelling Invisible, i-l-l-i-s-e.  There were tears and I don't think they were Q's).

Christmas at the Post Office is always a little...hectic (and that is putting it mildly).  It's pretty much a given that I will work 6-7 days a week for the month of December.  This is the deal.  Co-workers post statuses on FB about not being contactable for a month and not to start looking for their body or knocking their front doors down.  The thing is, I love being super crazy busy at work.  It makes the day go by fast.  I feel useful.  I feel smart!

I was busy seven days a week. Busy, busy, busy.

Turns out, I do not thrive being busy all the time.  Turns out, I am the type of person who thrives being at home in the evening reading a good book, watching a t.v. show or two, imparting my wisdom on my blog and getting an average of 9-10 hours of sleep a night.


I had four loads of clean laundry sitting on my couch for a week because I didn't have time (or was too exhausted) to fold it.  I hadn't grocery shopped in weeks and just ran to the store for essentials like milk and bread.  The house was a mess.  Q was eating Chef Boy-R-Dee or McDonald's for dinner like every night.  Christmas cards that I pride myself in making every year had gone unmade.  My blog was neglected.  My friends were neglected.  My life was in disarray.  I was in a continual state of agitation and panic.  

The rush I get from being busy at work is not the same rush I get from being busy in LIFE.  

I haven't read a book in months.  I had to bail on the book club.   I bought store made Christmas cards and have been carrying them around in my purse for a week now, hoping to find the time on my lunch break to write "Merry Christmas, Love C and Q!!"

I learned my lesson. 

I am not an over achiever.  I am an achiever.  That is it.  I love having my nose in a book whenever I get a free moment.  I love writing on my blog.  I love having a clean house, with clean clothes.  I even really like making Q a healthy meal for dinner and having time to clean it up afterwards.  I love, love, love sleeping - and functioning on 6 hours is NOT an option. 

I cannot change who I am. Well, I guess I could...if these qualities were really super bad or destructive.  But I think in this case I'll just roll with it.  I don't want to run myself ragged for the rest of my life.  I want to be happy.  I can take on a volunteer project here and there, sure.

But my number 1 priority right now, is raising a healthy, happy child.  And the best way to do that is being healthy and happy myself. 

And by actually being there, present.  That's pretty important too.

I guess an old gal really can learn new tricks.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What Angry Birds has Taught me...

Some people think I'm a genius.
Bwahahahahahahaha, that is so funny.  I am not a genius, not even close.  I just have a mind that does not stop working, ever.  I probably think like twice as much as most people.  I think I can be thinking of three things at the same time.  This comes in handy when supervising the world and with multitasking.  Of course, I'm a woman, so that also helps with the *multitasking* and the over thinking things, too.  I remember always asking boyfriends, "What are you thinking?" and they'd always say, "Nothing."  And I thought they were lying.  How could you seriously have nothing going on in there?  Nothing?  Ya, right.  Since having a son, I've realized they. were. not. lying.  Men's brains really do go blank.  Me, no such luck.
This gift I have is most troublesome when I'm trying to sleep.  My brain says things like, "Oh...remember how you handled that thing at work today???  How could you have done that differently, with a more positive/faster/effective end result?" or "Let's think of your bank balance, and all your bills for the next two weeks.  Let's plan how to spend/save the money, all of it, right now.  No, no, no, we don't need a calculator, we can do the math" or "Hmmmmm, do you really think you're raising Q the best way possible?  Let's think of examples of your poor parenting since Q was born and disect them one by one."
Seriously, this is how I fall asleep every single night.
Please tell me I'm not the only one.
So, to shut down my brain I play games, it's more fun than counting to a thousand...10 times over.  Suduko, Words with Friends, Chuzzle, the iPhone has literally revolutionized the way I fall asleep.  It helps me shut my brain off by playing mindless games.  Lately, I'm really loving Angry Birds, and as I was playing I thought (see multitasking even when I'm trying specifically to not multitask) of the many lessons we can take from Angry Birds.
1 and 2.  I was reminded as I played level 18-8 (Birdday favourite level...might be the pink) that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.  I was reminded of this, because I kept making the birds attack the pigs the exact same way every time.  And every time I expected that *this* time it would be different.  It wasn't.  Funny enough, I was consciously doing it the same way every time because I thought all I needed to do was get better at doing it the *same/wrong* way.  Look at this, two lessons in one.  In addition to remembering that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, expecting a different result - I also had the crazy thought that we need to be wise enough to prioritize what's important enough to practice over and over and what is *crazy* enough to be left by the wayside. 
3.  Sometimes you need to walk away...and then walk back.  Gah, doing the same level over and over, shaking things up with the birds and still not getting any results is so frustrating.  And yes, really very alarming that I can easily waste a lunch hour without a second though.  Anyways, out of frustration, I would throw the game to the side, do some work for a bit, and then pick up the phone again during my coffee break.  The break was really all I needed - a fresh outlook and boom! those piggies didn't even know what hit them.  Sometimes you need to take a step back, reassess the situation and then come in with a clear mind. 
4.  Never underestimate the power of a small bird.  You know the small blue ones?  When you hit them mid-air, they burst into three and do the most damage.  They're the small ones.  They're still pretty powerful.  You feel small?  Remember the lil blue birds. 
5.  When all else fails, bring in the big guns.  You get that eagle and wipe out all the suckers in one fell swoop.
Any great lessons you've been taught or reminded by something that seemed otherwise insignificant?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Halloween Past and Present

Homemade costumes for Halloween has become somewhat of a tradition around our home.  I cherish it because I know that soon enough, Q will be too cool for *homemade* and will want store bought.  Of course store bought will mean way less work for me, but I've come to enjoy our new tradition and will miss it once gone.  Q tries to outdo his costumes from the year before and I think he also tries to think of the most difficult costume idea ever. 

This year, I will not lie, I was totally stumped.  I lost sleep trying to figure out how to make Q the Stanley Cup.  I pleaded with him to be a hockey player instead, but he said, "Mommy.  That would be so dumb." He wouldn't even give it a second thought.  My first attempt at the Stanley cup ended up looking like Q was a schizophrenic trying to protect himself from the *voices*.  Not only that, I had made it out of cardboard and it was so fricken heavy the kid was having a hard time carrying it on his tiny frame.  I think it weighed more than he did.  In a panic, I made a trip to Home Depot and found a roll of this stuff you put in your car window to reflect the sun and it worked perfectly!  Light weight and warm.  Foil tape was the perfect way to put it all together and if you look closely, there is even a layer of black weather stripping along the bottom to imitate the plate the cup sits on.  Q wanted me to write all the teams names on the cup to make it more authentic, but  I'm not that crazy.  He beamed the whole day at school (they get to wear them for a parade through the library) and I was pretty darned pleased with my handy work, too!!

The year before that was easy peasy as Q wanted to be a Vampire.  The most fun part of this was seeing him all dressed up in a tie.  The make up was pretty fun too.  He's a good little actor, isn't he though.  He totally looks un-dead.  But not the Twilight kind, because let's face it...they're not real.

And the year before that, he wanted to be a skeleton.  This was so much fun and super easy.  The bones are made out of foam, and then painted with glow-in-the-dark paint.  I hot-glued them all onto a hoodie.  The most tedious part was cutting out foam bones for the fingers and toes.  The toes were glued onto oversized socks and then he wore them over his shoes.  For a template I just enlarged an image from Google.  What did we do before Google?  I don't know.  It knows everything!!

The tradition started when he asked to be a shark and I couldn't find a costume to buy anywhere.   I'm not a seamstress, but I made my own template, got out the sewing machine, poked myself 5 million times with pins, and came out with a pretty realistic looking shark.  Except for the looks more like a whale's tale.  But whatever, he was four and didn't know the difference.  He could see from the *mouth* of the shark, with big felt teeth and plenty of fake blood, as this shark was out for the kill.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Late Fall, early Winter is filled with anniversaries for me.  Whether good or bad, I cannot stop them from coming every year.  They make me who I am and so I guess I should be grateful for them, because I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the person I have become and everything I have been blessed with.

Two years ago, on October 23, I quit smoking.  Probably one of my proudest accomplishments - besides Q, of course - because of how incredibly hard it was to quit.  I watched "Flight" recently and a commiserated with two of the characters who struggled with addiction - knowing how bad something is for you, and yet craving it with all your being.   Two years later, I still miss smoking.  I still crave nicotine.  But the benefits outweigh the cravings.  My circulation is incredible - my hands and feet are almost always warm.  I rarely am short of breath.  I haven't had a cough in ages.  My headaches are down.  I guess the only downside of not smoking is my weight is up.  My biggest mental hurdle with quitting was the idea that I *wasn't allowed* to smoke and that bugged me because, I'm an adult, dammit...if I want to eat ice cream for dinner and then smoke a pack of cigarettes, so be it.  I can do what I want.  A valuable lesson - just because we can, doesn't mean we should...

Six years ago in December, I officially became a single parent.  I say 'officially' because it sure felt like I was one waaaaay before that.  Six years ago, I had a two and a half year old toddler, lived in a one bedroom basement suite, had borrowed $300 from my ex for a security deposit, and had about $10,000 more in debt.  I know it sounds really depressing that we split over Christmas, but really it was the greatest gift I ever gave myself.  The only disappointment is that I'm still single, six years on.  Way back then, I had the hope of a healthy marriage, maybe some more babies.  That hope is dwindling.

Eight years ago in October, I was a new mom diagnosed with post partum depression and went through the most horrible time of my whole entire life.  I know that it was eight years ago, and most people probably would have moved on by now, but I remember because it makes me who I am.  It reminds me to have compassion for others, because you never know their struggles.  It keeps me humble.  It reminds me how fragile our minds are, and how we need to protect ourselves.  It reminds me of how much I have overcome.  It reminds me how blessed I am to have a beautiful child, who is a true treasure in my life.  I truly hope that I never forget where I was eight years ago, because if I do, I might lose who I am today.

Thirty five years ago, in the middle of November I was born.  Thirty five years.  I think we need to pause for a moment of silence as we reflect on all those years...gone.  Just gone...


In years past, I have welcomed my birthday with excitement.  As a child, I wished to be older.  And now it is so.  I am 35 in one week. T-H-I-R-T-Y  F-I-V-E.  It seems so old.  I was talking to a couple of my employees the other day, and age came up...they were 23 and 24.  It might have come up that I was a *cougar*.  The worst part of being thirty five is that nothing I do will stop it.  I can ignore my birthday (which I most definitely will do), I can lie about my age (it's in the plan..), but no matter what I do, I will still be 35.  It literally fills me with fear when I think about it.  I want to puke and I get the chills and my heart rate gets faster.  I literally experience a panic attack when I think about 35.  This might be a midlife crisis. 

It's not even that I'm evaluating my life and I'm disappointed with what I see.  I mean, I did hope to be married by 35, but other than that, I'm quite content with who I am and where I've been.  It's just that....well, if you must know...I'm totally over my mini skirt wearing days.  I'm finding more greys and more wrinkles every day. 

I'm reminded that life is finite.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Pondering Deep, Deep *Freaky* Thoughts

I recently read this book by author Donald Miller, called something like a million miles in a thousand steps?  Or a million steps in a thousand years?  Or maybe it's a million miles in a thousand years...if you really want to know that badly you can google it.  I read one of his other books called Blue like Jazz (or was it red like country....haha, just kidding.) I really liked Blue like Jazz because it gave a different view of God than I have.  I pretty much have been terrified of God my whole life.  Like not in a biblical *fearful* way, but more in a panic attack, can't breathe kind of way.  I like reading books that show a different side to Christianity, a way that separates from *religion* and makes it a less scary, more humanity driven way of life. 

In this latest book, Donald Miller talks about living a better story.  He's learning how to build a character for a movie/book and he wonders, "Why can't I apply this to my own life and build a better story for myself?"  Now, I'm not going to lie.  I did think the picture of him on the back of the book wasn't so bad.  I also noticed he hails from Portland, which isn't far from me.  I noticed he's only a few years older than me and I also noticed he was single.  I thought of how convenient it would be to fall in love and marry someone who shares your last name.  Think of all the time it would save changing all your bank accounts and drivers licence and passport and credit cards (if you were allowed to have one...).  So, I was tempted to write a letter to this man, telling how his book really made me think, blah, blah, blah.

Side note:  this is my thing, lately...writing letters.  In the movie Stuart Little, every time the Little's get bothered by something, one says to the other, "Oh dear, we must write a letter."  This is what I say now, too...only to myself because there is no one else to write the letter with.  Sigh.

I googled Donald Miller and was led to his blog.  Which is not really a blog.  It's more of a website.  I think I was expecting everything to be a little more low key.  But it seems as though, since finding a better story, everything for Mr. Donald Miller has become a whole lot well, bigger.  I mean the guy has had at least two best sellers.  But what I liked about his books was that he was kinda laid back, lazy, and really wanted a better story.  I'm the same way.  I really want to change the world, but in a laid back kind of way.  I'm not about to protest on capitol hill or participate in a hunger strike.  I'm more about volunteering at a school and maybe becoming a Big Sister...change the world laid back style.  So, I was a little shocked when I found out that Donald Miller has basically created a franchise around "building your story". 

Now, I'm not judging.  And I'm certainly not saying it's a bad thing.  I'm just surprised.  I expected everything to be a little more subtle, I guess.  I expected it to be a small town, hand written thank you's, taking the bus everywhere revolution.  I guess everyone is looking for a better story.  Not just me.  I mean, it was an national best seller.  Why wouldn't conventions be a natural progression from that?  How many other motivational speakers are out there?  How many of them came from lying on their couch in sweats, eating tuna from a can?  What better way to sell a story than to be the product of an amazing one?

Anyways, needless to say, I will not be writing a letter about how this book really made me think about my life and how I could make it a better story.  It would only get thrown in a pile with a thousand other letters, and then given a generic letter back.  The wedding is also off, sadly.  Thank goodness I don't have to change my name back.  What a hassle that would be.

Fast forward to a conversation with a friend of mine who believes that God is in ultimate control of our lives.  Everything in predestined.  Our fate is sealed.  We on a road we may not know, but it has been written by God and nothing we do will change it.  We can only submit to it and follow the plan.

Wow.  More food for thought. 

I found myself thinking, if this is the case, then what is the point of getting off the couch and changing out of my sweat pants.  It's already been written, it's already known that this is what I do.  If my story has already been written, I can't rewrite it.  It totally blows my mind.  So God creates billions of people, creates a story for each person, then watches them act out that story?  Is this what life is?  Is this supposed to give me comfort? 

What if my life story is to lose my job, live on the street and freeze to death at 40?  That's my story.  Nothing I do will change the fact that it has been predestined for me to live out that fate.  I could stock pile money, I could find a great stable job, and this would still be my demise.  I cannot wrap my head around it.  My story could be that I never, ever get married so no matter how much I pray for it or yearn for it or even if I fall in love, if it is written that I will not get married, I won't.  No matter how many signs point otherwise.  All these months I've been thinking I'm not doing anything productive with my life, basically going through a midlife crisis, when this is exactly where the story is...a single mother, sitting at a desk in a post office, renting a house and living just within my means.

What is the point of life if it's already planned out for me?  If this is what I believe, that there is a God and that I am created in his image, and I do believe it, then what is the point?  Believing in a higher power is supposed to give your life meaning, but I just feel like I've hit a brick wall.  I could set out to cure cancer, but if it's already known that I won't...what's the bother in even trying?  Imagine the frustration at having an over-achieving personality, but under achieving at everything.  Gah!

On the other hand, what is the point of life if there is nothing after this?  If everything we've done on earth is all we have and then we die and our souls die along with our bodies and then, boom, that's it.  We're dust.  We're forgotten in a generation - or two if we're really lucky or really amazing.  What's the point if my story has no direction at all, does that make everything possible?  Or nothing possible? 

I'm totally blowing my own mind right now.  I should be smoking pot or something.  Only of course I wouldn't, because it's illegal, and all...

Ideas?  Theories? What belief gets you through the day??? 

Q isms - Worth it

I've been battling a sore back these past 2 weeks.  It's been super frustrating because it's constant pain and I can get no relief (let alone satisfaction...hahaha).  Breathing hurts, sitting hurts, standing hurts, lying down hurts.  Sometimes the pain shoots down my left leg, sometimes it throbs in sync with my heart beat, but it is always a constant pain. 

I went to my chiropractor who usually makes me so, so happy but it just seems he's made me worse.  I went to the doctor and he gave me all these hard core drugs - but the side effects were worse than the pain and they didn't even manage to dull the pain, so I stopped taking them.  I'd rather have a sore back and no shits than a sore back and the shits.  The pills were only successful in making me so stoned I didn't care if my back hurt anymore, as I ran to the loo.  I also went to a massage therapist (who also happens to work with the Vancouver Whitecaps) and he gave some temporary relief, but holy moly, back pain is horrible.

I'm now into my second week.  I long for after work when I can take a Tylenol 3, not having to worry about being coherent, and plug in my electric heating pad.  I think this officially counts as being old.

The most frustrating thing is I cannot think of one specific incident that caused the pain, it just kind of crept up on me.  I now feel bad for all the times I suspected my employees were lying when they had a *sore back* - right?  Like we can't see the pain, so it's not there.  I still suspect some of them were trying to scam the system, but whatever, I can't prove it, right?  Oh, and my pain threshold is very low, I suspect.

The one thing that my doctor, chiropractor and massage therapist all agree on is that the route cause of all this pain is most likely the fact that I gave birth to a 10lb 6oz baby eight years ago.  One of them (and they're all men, btw) likened it to a 'wrecking ball' smashing through my girly bits and beyond (latter words mine, not his - that would just be creepy...), another compared it to delivering a butterball turkey.  To this day, when I hear pregnant women say, "Oh my doctor says my baby weighs blah, blah, blah..." it angers me to no end.  I was so big, strangers on the street would tell me I was huge and ask if I was having twins.  I had no neck for crying out loud.  Yet, MY prenatal doctor told me that there's no real way to tell how big a baby is...and then AFTER the baby was born said, "Geez, if we had known he was going to be that big we would have done a c-section.  It would have been way less intrusive."  I must have had the only doctor in the lower mainland who did not know of a little thing called an "Ultrasound".

I wonder if I can sue?

Suffice it to say, I am not even remotely tempted to have any more children in the next 20 years.  This is good, because it looks as though I will also not find a willing partner anytime within the next 20 years either.  See, everything works out in the end, right? 

So, Q hearing that he is the cause of my pain now...says....

"At least it was worth it, right mommy?"

And then about 10 minutes later...

"Eight years later, and I'm still coming back to haunt you."

Ahhhhhahahahahaha, he's a comedian. 

However, he did offer to keep an eye out for any of the multiple side effects the pharmacist rattled off.  He really is thoughtful like that.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Have a Dream (about a boat...)

I have been dreaming about being on a boat for weeks now.  Literally.  It's not exactly a recurring dream, because every dream is different, and every dream in super vivid. But I'm always, always on a really big boat with a lot of people.  Some people are strangers, some are from my past, some are from my present.  Sometimes my past and present mixes, sometimes there are only people from my present or only from my past.

The first dream was a few weeks ago...I was on a cruise ship with my mother.  Everyone was receiving gifts just for being on the ship, before they left, but we (my mom and I) did not get a gift.  They were really nice gifts, pearl earrings or diamond necklaces, so we really wanted ours.  Next thing we know, they've set sail and we're stuck on the ship for another week, without a gift.  The under carriage of the boat was see-through and we could watch hundreds of enormous whales swim by us, both amazing and terrifying.

My second dream was two nights ago, again on a boat.  But it was an old wooden boat, just like a pirate ship...huge, with many levels, doors and secret passageways.  We were getting prepared to go on a two week voyage, but I really didn't want to go.  Q couldn't come with me, and everywhere I looked all I could see were my employees.  I couldn't imagine being on a ship with my employees and no Q for two whole weeks.  It was a game within a game, and we were all pawns on a game board that each had to take our turn, and do whatever was asked of us.  At the last minute I got off, relieved.

My third dream was during a luxurious two hour nap on a rainy Friday afternoon.  Again, a boat.  A bit older than the last, still wooden, and I remember stairs.  Lots and lots of stairs and railings.  We were in rooms with bunk beds, separated by gender.  We all had rations for the trip.  If you used up your water rations, you were done, even if others had some left.  So, you had to watch how much water you used to brush your teeth, or how often you flushed the toilet, because that was all included in your water rations. 

My most recent dream was last night.  I remember seeing people from the airport when I worked there 5 years ago.  It was kind of like a dating boat, because you had to go on dates with people from the boat.  You were sent off to an island for a day on a date, then came back to spend the rest of the time with everyone.  It was really awkward, because everyone had been on dates with everyone else, and then graded the date.  Needless to say, tempers were high.  I don't remember any dates, or feeling particularly attracted to anyone.  I remember being more the mother hen.

Of course, I think that everything happens for a reason.  Everything is a sign if you only look deep enough to see its meaning.  SO......what do these dreams mean??  I haven't been on any boats lately, but it has rained solid for 2 1/2 days.  Maybe it's a sign I should build a boat.  A big wooden boat.  Boats aren't particularly fast...they rock from side to side, maybe I'm in a lull?  Maybe it's a sign I need to take a risk, jump from the boat and take on a new challenge?  I haven't read about any boats or watched any movies about boats.  It's all very odd, but I'm looking for a change.  Maybe one of these boats can take me and my Q to a beach somewhere warm with sand that feels like silk and pina coladas on tap :) 

Just sayin'

Saturday, October 13, 2012

What's Pissing me off This Week

True to form, I am a raging hormonal mess.  This is what is pissing me off this week.

1.  The City of Surrey.  Usually I don't hate a whole city, so this is big even for me.  The last week of September I came home to three large garbage cans, each with a different lid colour.  They are so big, they don't even fit in my garage.  I have to let Q out of the car, then park Lola, then squeeze out the drivers side door..  There was an instruction booklet that didn't even begin to describe what was expected of us.  I had to research, research how to separate the garbage, how to make biodegradable origami garbage collectors, which days what product was collected.  I invested some time in this, let me tell you.  I didn't mind, though, because Surrey had committed to reducing garbage waste in landfills by 40% over the next number of years.  I thought I could do my part.  I separated the gross left overs from the packaging.  I washed the gross recyclables.  I put up with the fruit flies.  I dealt with the rank smell of fermenting organics in my garage.  I was proud when, in a week with a holiday, we filled one kitchen sized garbage bag of garbage and the rest went into the recyclables or organics.  The first week I put out the garbage, recycling and organics because I didn't know which they would take.  All they took was the garbage.  The next week, by chance, we found something in the newspaper telling us exactly what they would be taking, so I put out the recyclables and organics.  By now, the organics had been sitting in my garage during an abnormally hot week for October in B.C.  There was condensation on the inside from the fermenting of foods, there was rank mold smell, it was disgusting.  I came home from work...and they had picked up the recycling.  Seriously.  I put out the organics the next morning, hopeful they were just a little behind.  After work, I dragged it back in the garage.  Thursday, they pick up the organics.  The organics that were sitting inside my garage because I thought, "No way they'd pick up organics three days late without communicating it to anyone..."  But yes, yes they did.  So now in my garage sits the fermenting, moldy, smelly mess for a third week while Surrey gets it shite together.  I've done my part.  I've done what Surrey has asked.  Surrey has not followed through.  I am so mad.  Q says, "Mommy, if you're really that should wait 24 hours before you call them to complain.  Then if you're still mad, you can call."  Smart kid.  He's like the mini conscience outside my head when I need it most.

Deep breath...

2.  I am a Canadian citizen who really, really, really loves Grey's Anatomy.  It is the highlight of my week, watching Grey's.  I look forward to it.  I think, "I wonder what will happen on Grey's this week."  So, when I go to tape it on Thursday, so I can watch it on Friday night without distraction while Q is with his dad, I expect to find it and NOT the Vice Presidential Debate.  Seriously, bumped not for the Presidential debate, but for the VICE Presidential Debate.  I do not care to listen to old men sitting around talking about how they'll do this or that, and then don't do either this or that once voted into office.  I want to see how Arizona is dealing with her missing leg, I want to see how people are dealing with Mark Sloan's death.  I want to see if Derek will get his operating hand back.  I know.  I'm a little weird.  But's one thing I look forward to.  One thing.  I did find out though, that I can watch it on line for free!!  How did I not know this?  What century have I been living in? 

3.  I had some training this week for a new process that we're rolling out early next week.  Here are a couple phrases I do not wish to hear from the trainer...

a) That's a good question (aka I do not have the answer...)
b) Why isn't this working?  Why isn't this working?
c) Oh wait...let's try this instead.

...I expect the trainer to not read word for word from the training manual the whole morning.  I can read from a training manual.  The guy had no idea what he was talking about.  It was obvious he hadn't done any prep work for it beforehand.  This is a particular sore point for me, because I applied to be a trainer and was told I didn't possess the *basic* requirements for the job.  False.  I can read, so I obviously do possess the basic requirements.  Then I was going to take a certificate program, so I could qualify and the woman who supervises the department told me that even if I did get the training she wouldn't even consider me because I don't have hands on experience.  I told her I train all the employees in my area on new procedures, etc. and she said that I would need to volunteer for a school, teaching a class.  Which is...uh...impossible.  How many schools do you know of that are looking for volunteers to teach?  Not many, in any at all.  So then when I have to sit in a class with some yahoo who hasn't the *basic* skills either, I get a little miffed.  Just a little.  I can feel my blood boiling as I type this. 

4.  Recently, there was a young girl who posted a video to either YouTube or Facebook, crying out for help.  She was depressed, lonely, sad, bullied.  A week later, she committed suicide.  Facebook R.I.P pages start popping up, with thousands upon thousands of people *liking* her, and hating bullying.  People say how much they loved her and miss her.  Radio stations, news stations, Internet websites are playing her story over and over.  Don't get me wrong.  It is a really, really sad thing that happened.  Bullying is horrible.  Tearing someone else down just to build yourself up.  It is terrible.  It is so sad to me that she felt there was no other way out.  Here is what is pissing me off though....all these people who say now that they love her and are creating these Facebook pages for her...where were they while she was alive??  Where were they then?  Why did they wait until she killed herself to tell the world what a wonderful person she was.  There are signs, there are always signs, and no one chose to see them until it was too late.  No one cared enough while there was time to do something about it.  What?  Does creating a fb page make you feel better about your indifference while she was alive?  Guess what?  It's a lame attempt.  She was a person.  The disregard for human life in our society makes me sick.  Creating a webpage, posting a video on You Tube, liking a Facebook status is not a humanitarian deed.  Get up off your ass and DO something about it.

Well, I could go on forever.  Bad Drivers?  If I wrote about every time they pissed me off, we'd have to change the name of this blog.  The price of gas?  Highway robbery!!  In a few days however, none of this will seem so dire and I will blissfully return to a state of calm.  Pray the state of calm comes quickly - for those around me.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hockey Themed Party (bout time)

Better late than never, Q had his first birthday party in over two years. 
I know, it looks like I'm a terrible mother, doesn't it?  The problem with having a summer baby is that during the summer, everyone is away.  Everyone.  Last year once the school year started, everything was so busy and then there was Christmas and then there was my brother's wedding, so it was going to be June and then the little monkey decided he wanted to have his party in September.  Only problem, we couldn't have a party in June and in September...parents would uhhhh, figure things out, ya know?  But don't go all judging me...he still had the *family* party during the summer.  Okay?  I'm not that bad.  I mean, how many birthdays does a kid need?  The night before, he was so excited he couldn't even sleep.  He sounded like he was in pain, "ohhhhhhhhhh,"  moan, sigh, groan..."I'm so excited I can't sleeeeeeeeeeeeep!"  Don't you wish for excitement like that?
He wanted to take a bunch of kids to a minor league hockey game, but can you say "Chaos" and "Crazy" and "I Don't Think SO"???  Can you imagine being in a huge place with thousands of strangers and 8 hyper 8 years olds running around?  Can you imagine?  I would go crazy.  So, I talked him into having a hockey themed bowling party and we had soooo much fun!!  The bowling alley was like walking into 1982, I half expected to see old guys smoking at the tables.  Everything was that burnt orange and brown colour.  Despite some initial *heated words* with some die-hard bowlers about all the rowdy kids and some uber strict bowling rules, we had a great time.  And having it in this venue instead of a hockey game was great because all the mommas stayed, and the amazing babysitters came and stayed and I was reminded of how many awesome people love and support my son.  We are so, so blessed.
Invitations:  Obviously hockey sticks.  Goalie hockey sticks because there is more room to write.  Instead of hockey tape (I was too lazy to go to the sports store) I used black construction paper and regular old tape.  I think they turned out fantastic.

(We had to represent the hometown team - aka the Calgary Flames - and the home team - aka the Vancouver Canucks. )

Goodie bags:  The good old paper bag is our friend.  Big to fit lots of loot, easy to dress up, goes with everything, and recyclable.  To fill the inside, we bought hockey cards and hockey stickers.  A bonus to having a party close to Halloween is lots of small, yummy, goodie bag sized candy :)
Gah.  If I had more time, I would have done so much more.  I would have made personalized hockey cards, with the kids pictures on it (oh.....maybe a thank you card...)  A balloon art in the shape of some hockey emblem (needle thread through the tips, Canucks would have been really simple, but time consuming).  Mini hockey sticks for prizes for all the kids.   
Super abnormal thing about Q (when comparing him with other 8 year old boys) is that he acknowledges how much work it takes to make all this stuff.  He wants to help.  He tells me to take pictures so I can post them on facebook and pinterest.  How much do I love this kid?  How amazing is this kid?  Happy Birthday, my fabulous boy :)  I so need to be a stay at home mom so I can have time to organize, plan, and prepare my kids birthday party!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Giving Thanks, I am.

Well, it's Thanksgiving here in Canada.  I sit here in front of the computer completely overwhelmed, finding it hard to write about what I'm thankful for.  Not because I don't have anything to be thankful for, and definitely not because I'm not thankful, but because I'm struggling to find the words that will adequately and eloquently describe the depth of my thankfulness.

First of all, I am so thankful for my son.  He is beautiful and kind and smart and insightful.  When I look at Q, I know that God is real, because something as amazing as this child could not be purely scientific and the product of a *big bang*.  He was lovingly created, with qualities both quirky and wonderful all mixed together to make him an unique individual who literally amazes me everyday.  I love his innocence.  I love his ability to believe in things that adults, jaded and heavy laden with baggage find unbelievable.  I love that he is a cuddle bug.  I am so grateful that he is healthy and hasn't had as much as even a cold in the past months.  I love that he sometimes seems to me a genius and at other times I wonder, confounded, what on earth he was thinking.  I love that I can see pieces of me, pieces of my brother, pieces of my mother in him.  I can see generations of hopes and dreams coursing through his veins and it makes me proud.  I'm so excited to see what his story will be, who he will become, and what his mark will be.

little beaver smile.  look at those cheeks with dimples from nana and papa's eyes

contemplating life
I'm thankful for my family.  I have been blessed with an unusual family, in that we all actually all really like each other!!  My mother, I call my friend. I love her and respect her and for quite some time now, she has been my significant other.  And while this will change soon, I look forward to the new adventures our relationship will experience.  My brother, oh my brother...I am so proud of the man he has become.  In the past couple of years, he has really grown up to be an incredible man.  He is strong, but kind.  He would do anything for anyone.  He is a man of his word.  He admits when he is wrong.  He protects his family.  Since becoming married, he leads his family with a wisdom that astounds me.  His wife, my beautiful sister-in-law completes our family so wonderfully.  She is the sister I never had, but always wanted.  She is funny and sweet and so giving.  I am flattered that people think we are twins.  Because this woman is stunning.  Stunning.  Inside and out.
Stevie photobombing momma

he's reading to her.  so, so sweet
I'm so thankful to be happy.  Really, truly, genuinely happy.  After suffering from bouts of depression and anxiety over the years, I know to not take happiness for granted.  Some say happiness is a choice, and yes, on most days it is.  But when you're in the throes of depression, caused by an imbalance of chemicals in your brain, there is no choice.  I've been happy for a while now.  I'm happy with me.  I'm accepting of my body, my face is familiar to me, familiar like a good book and cup of warm coffee...that does sound strange, doesn't it?  A good book and a warm cup of coffee are two of my most favourite things in this world, so it's a good thing.  I like my sense of humour (heck, I think I'm fricken hilarious).  I like my values.  I love my faith.  It's good to be me. 

I'm thankful for being a woman in Canada.  Here, for me, the possibilities are endless.  I have freedom of speech and religion without fear of persecution.  I have the same rights as the man beside me.  I have the same opportunities that anyone else has to succeed in the business world, if I choose.  I can raise my child without fear of war, threat of death or disease from simple, curable illnesses.  I can put healthy food on the table, as it is fresh and overflowing in my country.  If I am struggling financially, the government has created an infrastructure that will allow me the basic necessities.  If I am sick or hurt, I can go to the doctor or hospital without wondering how I'm going to pay the astronomical hospital bill.

can you believe i live here?

here!  i live here!!!
I am thankful for the company of women, the honour of which I have to call my friends.  God has blessed me by putting amazing women in my life that strengthen me and support me in ways they don't even realize.  I don't see any of them half as much as I'd like to, because life gets crazy and busy, but when we do meet, I feel renewed and just blessed.  I have a wonderful woman who takes care of Q before and after school.  She is sweet and kind.  She helps him with his homework, she heats up his lunch when I forget to and hand her a bag with his food all just thrown in there (I appreciate this probably more than she knows, because it's totally not in her job description, but she always takes the bag with a smile).  She nurtures Q's creative and athletic side, she brings out his outgoing side when he tends to be painfully shy.  She takes him snowshoeing and snowboarding, which is good because I never will.  I could write a whole post entitled, "Ode to Stephanie"  and maybe one day I will.

I am thankful that I have blessings beyond compare.  I'm thankful that I have hope.  Hope for a future filled with love and happiness.  Hope for a future filled with stepping out of my comfort zone and making a difference in the lives of others.  For stepping out of my comfort zone and doing things that scare the pants off me, but are amazing and spiritual and proof that I am living.

I know I haven't put my feelings to justice, but suffice it to say I am grateful every single day for the life I've been given.  I hope to never lose the awe I feel for a sunrise, the new bud on a tree, a newborn baby, autumn, a warm sunny day, the beach, pumpkin spice lattes, a fabulously written book, a comfy pair of jammie pants, puppies and kittens, sleeping in on a day off, the smell of freshly cut grass, a harmony in a song that gives you goosebumps, laughing really hard, the power of a smile, a sunset.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Things I Would Tell My Daughter (if I had one...)

You know, now that I'm almost 35 I just feel like I have so much...wisdom. 

Did you laugh? I know I did.  If I had been drinking milk I would have snorted it out my nose.  But seriously, if I had a daughter I would tell her so many things that I know now.   Or if I could travel back in time, I would tell my younger self to smarten up.

1.  Date the super nice guy in high school.  For me, it's the one...the one who's last name I can't remember, but he sat next to me in home room.  He was shorter than me, but guess what...who cares???  Who cares!!!  I remember how he would take you to his grandma's flower shop and let me pick any flower I wanted.  We could just sit and read alone together and be completely content.  He was sweet and kind and thoughtful and didn't want to change anything about me.  Ya, that's the guy you want to date and then hopefully marry.  He's the one that is awesome husband material. 

2.  The guy who has been married twice, makes you fight for time with him, and always has a bevy of ladies around him?  Ya, he's not going to change.  He is NOT going to change.  He is not good husband material.  His bad boy image, while it might be totally attractive now, is NOT appealing when you're 8 months pregnant and he's making plans with all his girlfriends for a Friday night.  His ways will not change.  You will not change him.  You WILL NOT change him.  Be with someone who wants to be with you, not with someone you have to beg to be with.  You will be sooooooo much happier.

3.  Make peace with your body early on.  It is an amazing vessel that sustains your life.  It is capable of doing incredible things (like, say, pushing out a 10lb 6oz baby with a 14 inch head and shoulders like a linebacker).  So love it.  Treat it well.  Be easy on it.  Everyone has cellulite, stretch marks and scars.  You are beautiful beyond compare even if you have a 5 o'clock leg shadow.  If you get that early on, you will save yourself years of unhappiness and feelings of inadequacy.

4.  If you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up, and you find yourself out of high school and in University....take Business Management.  Seriously, these are courses that will come to save you in the future no matter what you end up doing in life.  I seriously wish I had taken those courses instead of the Philosophy courses and History courses and English Lit courses I ended up spending thousands and thousands of dollars on, before I nearly had a nervous breakdown.  Coincidentally, I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, but I really wish I had some management techniques to show for all that debt.

5.  Learn how to do some really cool things for yourself.  Example?  Learn how to change a tire, fix a vacuum, some basic plumbing skills.  It's super empowering to know you can do it and don't need a man.  Then when you find a man, you'll know you love him for him and not for what he can do for you.  Seriously, when the power went out and I had to reset the garage door opener so it would open???  I wanted to tell people, strangers on the street, that I could fix my own garage door and I didn't need a man.  It was awesome.  When I put together the elliptical we decorated with lights at Christmas time (as I didn't actually use it....), ya...super amazed and proud of myself.

6.  Have a budget.  Save money.  If you cannot afford it, do not buy it.  Simple.  I wish, to this day, that I could listen to and follow this advice.  It eliminates a load of worry and needless stress.  And how amazing would it be to buy a house or condo at 25 with a 20% down payment?  Am I right?  You cannot live in a Coach purse, even if it is Fuchsia pink and lovely.  You will just end up selling it again on e-bay so you can spend that money on something a little more practical.

7.  Listen to your intuition.  Your intuition is God's way of communicating with you.  I truly believe this.  The *many* times I have not listened to my intuition, I always have regretted it.  It is a gift that lets you know you might be in trouble even when everything else around you seems completely legit.  I'm not saying be a paranoid freak - I'm saying if, deep down, you feel awkward, frightened, or's okay.  Listen to it, and do something about it.

8.  Your feelings matter.  Like, a lot.  The importance of this is two fold.  First of all, people in this world will like to tell you you're over reacting.   "I don't know why you're so angry about're over reacting."  No.  No, you are not.  If it's what you feel, it's what you feel there is no apology meant.  However, this brings me to point two...while you may not be able to control what you feel, you CAN control what you do with that feeling.  For example, it's completely okay to feel angry with some guy for standing you up on a date.  It is not okay to use that anger to spray paint the side of his house or key his car.  That would not be appropriate.  Use the anger to fuel growth and healing instead.  Jail would not be fun, I'm assuming.

9.  Googling a crushes name is not stalking.  It's researching.  It's important to be informed about the choice you're going to make.  I figure if companies can google a candidates name before they hire them, we can google a potential boyfriend.  Driving by a crushes house at two in the morning to see if they're a night owl like you?  Ya, stalking.

10.  Be the nice girl.  Be kind to everyone.  Smile.  Don't gossip.  Be the girl who, if a horrible rumour was going around about you, no one would believe it because your actions speak louder.  People might hate you anyways, but it's so much more important what you think of yourself than what others think of you.  You might be the sweetest peach in the bunch, and still find someone who hates peaches (Courtesy of Dita Von Teese). 

Any tips to your former self?  To your daughters? 

Uh....any tips for me??