Wednesday, October 23, 2013

We-Design-Day: Project Start-Up (programming & planning)

 photo Nursery1.jpg
My son is five. We co-sleep. He has a "room" - it's the 6'x10' nursery I prepared for him before he was born. It's bright. light and airy and he's only ever slept in the space for a handful of hours since his birth.

The crib only fit in one way (as it's pictured) and to the left (out of the shot) is his dresser. There isn't room for anything else and there isn't a closet in the space. It won't fit a regular bed and has (more or less) become a 'crap storage area' and dressing room for the young sir since we gave away his crib some 3 years ago.

We are readying to move him into his own room - not this room but the 8'x10' room that's beside it. I've tossed around the idea of taking the wall down between the two but my husband is against it - so at this point, the nursery will become his "play room" and the 8'x10' room will become his bedroom.

My design style is 'real design for real people' - I adhere to what I know and I approach every project I undertake pretty methodically. My day job doesn't always allow me the luxury or the ability to program and plan the way I know, thankfully, in most cases, the planning department does this for me but I always (always) need to understand the problem I'm solving, other wise, I don't feel prepared to do my job.

Design Tip: Knowing the question and the answer before you start can be the key to a successful project.

When starting a project, I tend to revert to my process. I've worked on all kinds of projects with all kinds of budgets but my starting point is usually the same. I need to learn about and fully understand the problem (or goal) I'm trying to solve. Doing this allows me to define the answer and work on a solution. Understanding the question helps me evaluate, plan and start planning the solution. I can define the parameters and start scope development. Knowing the goal also helps me make changes "on the fly" too - sometimes, on paper, what looks great and functional, isn't and I need to be able to fully know the goal so I can make changes and adjustment where needed.

In the case of the new "big boy" bedroom, my goal is a flexible, adaptable bedroom space that will grow with my son and his life. There are also challenges - it's a small room, it is our 'spare' room where out of town guests stay and it has two exterior walls.

This week, I'm going to use my "interview sheet" to help me work out some details. It will help bring the goal into focus, allow me to evaluate, get my son's input and give me a 'working document' to launch into more detailed programming with.

Thanks for reading, as always, let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Get out and VOTE! Civic Elections 2013

I'm passionate about politics and especially passionate about my right to vote. I've done my "go vote" thing on Facebook and I'm further encouraging my friends and family by writing this!

Today is Civic Election Day across my province. I voted. In fact, I was the 10th person to vote at my polling station this morning. As we got ready to take TroubleMaker to school, I explained that we were voting after dropped him off - that's why were driving to school. Being the inquisitive kid he is, he asked why?

Which brought out my inner suffragette.

"Did you know that less than 100 years ago, Mommy wouldn't have been allowed to vote in any election?" I said, making grand gestures (I'm part French, we talk with our hands).  "Also, when my Grandma was your age, he Mom couldn't vote either!" I said again, swooping my arm for effect.

"Why not?" he asked.

"Because women weren't considered 'persons'!"

"What does that mean?" he questioned.

"It means that women weren't considered to be people like you and your daddy are." I smiled.

I think he found this most perplexing - of course I'm a "person" like he is! Of course I should have the right to vote, like he can (or will, when he turns 18)! 

Want to know what is alarming? 

Edmonton, my city of residence, has about 619, 138 eligible voters across 12 wards (districts). In our last civic election, only 199, 359 people voted. That means only 33% of eligible voters exercised their right!

What!? Only one third of the people who could vote, did? How is that even possible? How could people be that apathetic? Especially women! 

Listen folks, I know about voter apathy. I don't like our member of parliament and every election since moving to this riding, I go out and vote. And every time, he gets reelected. By a landslide majority. My vote truly does not count. At all. But I vote - because I can, because the women who came before me who fought relentlessly so I had the right!

So what are you doing today? Did you vote? Do you vote - even if you know your vote won't "really" count towards the change you'd like to see? Do you believe that not voting speaks more loudly?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"We're going to end up on her blog!"

Today I had the play and coffee date with one of TroubleMaker's school mates. It went well. The Mom invited another friend over (because, as she said, "I've been telling her all about you!" so she thought we just had to meet) so it was a houseful and we had a very good visit.

At one point, the Mom asked what I did to stay sane. I said I wrote. Stories and blogging, mostly.

And that's when it got awkward.

Because they asked if I was a "big blogger" (meaning one that actually makes money from blogging - her husband knows someone who makes a small fortune blogging). Naturally, I lied and said "Why of course!" I don't think they believed me.

Haha - no, I'm just kidding. Of course I said I wasn't - I said I wrote mostly for myself and to impart my vast, unending knowledge (haha - I'm HILARIOUS).

Where was I?

Oh yes. It was awkward because they then implied everything they said/did, would end up on the blog.

Like when they gave the kids an entire box of Hallowe'en Oreos... Or let the kids go dance out front with a cell phone filled with an eclectic mix of music that ranged from Pink to gospel (she was worried about the Pink music with the "swear" bombs)...

It was a pretty awesome afternoon because they were my kind of people. Non-judgmental (because we always said "No judgment" before gossiping), coffee drinking, one too many pumpkin muffins eating, don't let the kid's eat stuff they find in the street, kind of parents.

I'm a little awkward when I first meet people so I hope I get invited back. I made kick-ass muffins and didn't swear too much and drank two big cups of coffee. I also brought cookies (pumpkin chocolate chip) because life is always better with chocolate.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Menu Plan Monday and Pumpkin! (Oct 12-18, 2013)

I've been planning, just not posting. :) Because life, you know?

Saturday: Take out
Sunday: Turkey dinner @ my parents
Monday: Pepperoni pizza macaroni and cheese (if you're a kid or have kids, this will be awesome - for the 'over 10' crowd, it's eatable)
Tuesday: Favourite Tuna Casserole
Wednesday: Hamburger soup and buns
Thursday: Chicken and mushroom linguine
Friday: Oven BBQ pork chops and oven roasted potatoes

Since school started, I've had the privilege of taking TroubleMaker each morning. This has afforded me the chance to meet some really nice Moms. One of which, I accidentally stalked a couple weeks ago. She was chatting, I was chatting, and she made mention that she lived "across from the toboggan hill". While picking TroubleMaker up from the sitter's one afternoon, I told him I figured out where his friend from school lived. He asked to drive past, we did.

Imagine my surprise when they were out in their front yard. I gave the awkward wave and stopped (because by that time, I was committed). We chatted for twenty minutes or so while the kids played. I admitted I was kind of stalking her and she told me she had tried to stalk me too. I realized then we'd be good friends.

Anyway, after several failed attempts to friend each other on Facebook (she couldn't remember my first name and there are 82 people with her name), we connected and I invited TroubleMaker and I over for a play date. That day is tomorrow.

Being the awesome person I am, I offered to bring muffins (pumpkin or carrot). She picked pumpkin and since my first attempt at p'muffins were awful, I decided to spring a new recipe from the vault. Being me, it also meant I had to try it before to make sure it was awesome and it also meant I'd do a bunch of stuff to make it more awesome and then I'd forget what I did.

Enter - "Better Than Starbucks Pumpkin Muffins" by Dinner with Julie! They are really good and they cooked up beautifully!

I did not do the sugar topping nor did I do the cream cheese filling (it kind of squicked me out). I also skipped the pumpkin pie spice and opted for (approximately) the following:

3 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch (small) allspice

Also, which I think made these a 'winner', I used brown sugar in place of the white. I did this because I ran out of white sugar while making brownies and because I thought it might be "more fall" to use brown sugar since it has a richer flavour. I also used a touch more oil (a tablespoon or two) because the batter struck me as being a bit dry. The end result is great - crisp on the outside, moist and tender on the inside. I hope they go over well! PS I had another one after my workout this morning and HOLY COW, I could eat the entire batch!

Sharing my menu with the Org Junkie at Menu Plan Monday!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A memory from 1988

This post is about nothing but a memory. I couldn't think of anything clever for a title.

While putting my short guy to bed, I remembered something from junior high. Like when I was in grade eight, junior high. That's a very long time ago (math was never my strong suit, as my memory will kind of reveal).

When I was in junior high, I wrote and edited our school newspaper. I actually even won an award for it (likely my only 'academic' award until I won a scholarship and bursary for academic performance during college). My Mom made a big deal about the award ceremony and insisted I go (only 'geeks' went to awards night - I may have written for the paper but I was not in any way a geek). None the less, we went.

But that's not what my memory is about. Not at all, although it is newspaper related.

For filler, I wrote a review column. After seeing the new Robin Williams movie (sometime in October of that year), I reviewed and rated it for that weeks edition. I remember rating it really high - it was really good - and I remember writing something to the effect of "when Robin Williams is left to his own, he shines brilliantly." Although I don't remember if my 'star' rating was out of five or ten, I do know I gave it one number down (so either a 4/5 or a 9/10).

The day or so after the edition was released, two boys -both in grade 9 and both of whom, I thought were quite cute, stopped me in the hallway.

"Why," they both asked in unison, "did you only give it 9 stars?"

Blushing and not being particularly quick on my feet, I could only give the most truthful (and humiliating for an 8th grade girl to give a 9th grade boy) answer.

"Because I had an extra large pop and I had to really go pee and the movie just wouldn't end!"

And that's the memory I uncovered tonight.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Move home and let Mom sort it out

There have been very few (if any) days in my adult life where I thought moving home and letting my Mom take care of everything was a good idea.

Today, I believe this may be the best solution (not really, kind of).

Being a parent is hard. Being a grown up is hard. Having to cook 300 days a year is hard (I'm allowing for a lot of take-out/restaurant meals). Cleaning the house is hard (because it just keeps getting dirty). Cleaning windows is hard. Home maintenance is hard. Working is hard.

I want to be that kid that spends hours in the basement playing "Office" with my siblings. I want to be the kid who plays endlessly in the dirt surrounding our acreage with my brother's Tonka trucks and the homemade trucks my Grandpa made us. I want to play Barbies with my sister. I want to write stories. I want to come home from school and have my Mom smiling with homemade cookies for a snack the yummy smell of dinner cooking in the oven.

I'll even weed the garden and spend 3/4 of the summer shelling peas. Oh, how we spent our summers shelling peas (and taking the ends of green beans and picking raspberries and digging carrots and dusting the cauliflower and broccoli with toxins to kill bugs). Heck, I'll even take my elderly Grandmother shopping every single Saturday (without complaint) and I promise I won't die of embarrassment  when she farts in every isle.

I want fresh sheets on my beds, clean laundry in my drawers and a hug from my Mom telling me tomorrow would be a better day. My life wasn't a Normal Rockwell painting but there are days now where I reflect on my childhood with longing and desire. I was always in such a hurry to grow up that now that I have, I think young me was a total moron. Being a grown up is damn hard and it isn't nearly as much fun as I expected it to be.

Sure, I have a job (sort of) and it pays well and I can buy "things" I want but I can't buy everything I want because, you know, I have to eat (and feed my own little TroubleMaker) and make house payments and pay bills and save for TroubleMaker's university education. I can't bunk off my responsibilities and because I'm not independently wealthy, I've actually travelled less as an adult then I did as a teenager.

Then one has to factor in the whole "getting old" stuff. How things hurt now that didn't before and how the ground keeps getting further and further away from me (and it's not because I'm growing taller). My neck and back are aching and my sight and hearing's fading for crying out loud - this grown up thing is stupid.

Seriously, it's not really that bad but I'm certainly willing to go to my Mom's for a few days and just lay on her couch and let her serve take care of me.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - September 28 to October 4, 2013

Last weeks menu changed. I forgot my husband was having some dental work done. This didn't phase me, though. It meant SOUP! I love soup. He isn't a huge fan, however, with a sore mouth, he was good with my choices! I got to make two of my three favourites! Baked Potato and Leek (with bacon and cheese) and Peppery Corn Chowder (weird, they changed the name of it - PS I never use evap milk, just regular old 1%). The best part? Leftovers! Yippee! I also "invented" my own version of Boston Pizza's "Bandera Bread". My son loves that stuff - mine really wasn't anything like BP's, but TroubleMaker loved it and ate nearly half of the thing himself..

This week we're in soft food mode, although he's anxious for ham (we spent all day today (Sunday) picnicking and taking pictures in the country so I didn't make it yesterday)!

Monday: Mom's crockpot ham and scalloped potatoes
Tuesday: Fettuccine Alfredo
Wednesday: Breakfast burritos
Thursday: Creamy ham and mashed potatoes
Friday: Crockpot chicken teriyaki, fried rice and stir fried veggies
Saturday: Pizza Party!

Sharing with the Org Junkie. Have a great week, eat well!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Perception of Poverty and the NHL

Warning: I'm feeling ranty and generally fed up with society.

This morning "news" broke locally about an NHL'er and his recently signed deal (read it here). The "Nuge" was signed for seven more years - for 42 million US (that's 42 with six (6) zeroes).

Did I mention he's a hockey player?

Yay for him. I'm sure he's very talented and he's worked hard to get where he is. Although I think his salary is ridiculous (we don't pay people to save lives anywhere where near that much - see here for the average of a GP in Alberta - my math calcs come up with about $170,000 annually), that's only one of the problems with this story.

The first line of the "news" story states: EDMONTON - During his peewee years growing up in Burnaby, B.C., Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was forced to sit out one season because his family was having a tough time making ends meet.*

The radio station I was listening to said how awesome and great this was - because they were poor and he couldn't play hockey for one year. Although I haven't found 'exact' costs, it's estimated one year of peewee costs anywhere from $600 to $2000 for registration, $1000 for equipment. Additionally, there are travel costs (hotels, food, etc) for tournaments and away games.

Can I just remind everyone that hockey is not necessary to survive? It doesn't feed, clothe or shelter you. No matter how you slice it, dice or dissect it, it is an exclusive and elitist activity that very few can really afford to play.

Do I think it's fair and equitable that he's making 5.6 million dollars more than the neurosurgeon who had my life in his hands? Not a chance.

We, as a society, are seriously screwed up and have an enormous problem on our hands. What message are we sending our children? That "poor" means you can't play hockey for a year? Tell that to the families who frequent food banks!

I'm not really blaming the players - it is us (meaning the collective "we") who caused this. When we put our priorities in the wrong basket, we've sentenced ourselves to a lifetime of this misguided lifestyle.

Just once, though, it would be nice to have a hockey player stand up and say "Hey, this is stupid! How can I possibly be paid more, in one year, than the leaders of many nations combined?"

The "heads" of Singapore, Hong Kong, the USA, Germany, Canada, Luxembourg, Ireland, France, Britain, Cyprus, Spain and Italy make $4, 568, 768.00 per year COMBINED. Yet we're always bitching that politicians make too much money (for what it's worth, the Prime Minister of Italy is drawing no salary). Hockey (or other pro-sports) players? Totally justified...

Hand me a hand-basket, as obviously, we're up crap creek without a paddle.

* Edmonton Oilers lock up another building block with Nugent-Hopkins extension - Jim Matheson, Edmonton Journal (Sept. 20, 2013) [See link above for full article]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - September 15 to 21, 2013

Menu planning - it is a 'must' in our house. Since my last MPM, I haven't had a 'formal' plan in place.

And it's been terrible. We also hadn't done a grocery shop in a whole bunch of weeks either (because I didn't have a plan) so it was picking the bitter dregs to in order to make something to eat. Thankfully, my family is very patient and not too picky so we managed, but I felt in constant chaos. I'm disorganized enough, food (for the most part), is the one area I'm usually organized! Without organized menus and food sure made life terribly difficult.

I can control the menu and the planning so I am (once again) climbing back on the bus to try to bring zen to my chaos! When I created our initial recipe selection criteria, things were much different for me and my family.

Now, food prep is an issue so I need simple prep (not much chopping, slicing or dicing), easy cooking (stirring is painful) and unfortunately, I've had to employ the use of prepared foods where I can. Thankfully, however, our diets are better controlled so although I still want to keep the lower sodium and sugar, our efforts of introducing more fruits and vegetables (and exercising regularly) is working for us.

Without further adieu, here is what we're eating this week!

Sunday: Hot dogs and chips
Monday: Chicken Caesar salad wraps
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: Creamy Garlic Penne with fish (Shhh! Don't tell the boys - I'm trying to sneak some fish into our diets)
Thursday: Egg wraps
Friday: Honey Dijon Chicken with egg noodles
Saturday: Mom's Crockpot Ham and scalloped potatoes

Sharing with the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

My Favourite Things: Sunday Mornings

As I sit in the eerily still and quiet house on this Sunday morning, I'm reminded of one of my most favourite things...

Sunday mornings. It's the only time of the week (save for holiday Monday's or Christmas) where the entire neighbourhood falls silent. I awake to hear birds chirping their morning songs, the odd rustle of feathers as the magpies settle on the rooftop and the gentle breaths of my little boy sleeping snugly beside me. Not far off in the kitchen, I hear my lovely fur-son, Max, rearrange his old weary bones in his crate and sometimes, I hear the soft snores of my husband.

No one is zipping off to work or school or the store for milk. No one is yelling or honking their horns on our street as they try to hurry up those the pick up for work. There are no roaring engines as they race up our street trying to beat traffic by cutting through our neighbourhood.

I lay still in my bed, listening to the sounds around me - the sounds of a world still sleeping and I feel peace.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: August 24 to 30, 2013

After a couple of weeks off, I've started planning again. Also - I realized that planning saved us around $80 this week. Although I usually have an idea of what I'll be cooking, having a concrete plan took my bill from an usual average of $250 down to $180! That's substantial, I think!

Saturday: Homemade hamburgers
Sunday: birthday bbq @ the neighbours
Monday: Easy chicken and broccoli
Tuesday: Crock pot Ribs, baked potatoes and marinated vegetables
Wednesday: Fettuccine Alfredo with Caesar Salad
Thursday: Homemade Pizza (with store bought crusts)
Friday: White Chicken Enchiladas with green chili sauce

Linking with the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Thanks for stopping over and we'll see you again next week - when my baby boy starts kindergarten!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

TroubleMaker, the piano and getting older

TroubleMaker starts piano lessons in September. I'm over the moon excited about this: I've always wished I could play the piano. We've always had musical instruments in our house - as a 'former' aspiring musician, music has always been important to me - my child being involved in music has always been the one thing I new I'd do "right" as a parent.

I went to a fairly 'artsy' elementary school. We had a huge music room with a very well developed music program. I remember singing in choirs and playing various instruments (mostly percussive) from the first grade through to seventh grade. In grade seven, I took up the saxophone. I loved that instrument. I remember my parents banishing me to the addition to practice that first year (was I really that bad?) but practice I did! I played up until eleventh grade when my high school forcibly removed me from the music program so I could take a math course (see here for the results of that decision).

I think for Christmas when I was in the 8th grade (maybe it was 9th?), my parents bought me an accoustic guitar. By the end of the day, I could pick "My Guitar Gently Weeps". Being able to read music was very important... Along the way, we also got an electric keyboard (maybe Christmas 1987?). Although none of us played piano, my Dad felt it was important we had it. It was - it's how I tuned my guitar for the next couple of decades, it was the drummer on the old demo tapes my sister's ex-boyfriend and I recorded and I was able to play Christmas carols in the winter on it.

So, what I'm getting at is that I was fairly musically inclined.

When I was 22 or so, my ex-husband sold my guitars. It's a very long story and I do not think I've ever really processed how I allowed him to do that to me. I still harbour a lot of anger and resentment about it... Around 2003 I bought my husband a used guitar so he could learn to play - he didn't (too hard for someone who'd never taken a music class in his life) however, in 2006 or so, my husband decided to learn to play guitar and he bought himself a new one and started taking lessons.

In 2009, he fulfilled my life-long wish and purchased me a folk guitar and I started playing again. I was surprised how much I remembered! By this time, we had an electric tuner (so I didn't need my faithful, 20 year old keyboard anymore).

I don't play much - my hands are usually to sore and swollen to properly play but I try sometimes because music has always been therapeutic.

Anyway, this year (because I was too late last year), I enrolled TroubleMaker in piano lessons... The kid has a gift - when he was three, he started playing the old electric keyboard and made music. He needed lessons - it just took me time to figure out where to take him.

So we bought a new electric piano (from Costco, of all places). Last night, we set it up and TroubleMaker was so eager to play it! He's played it today again too!

As my husband was putting the boy to bed, I decided to sit down and see what I remembered.

I realized quickly, I remember nothing. I'm not even sure what the keys are anymore. I picked out part of "Pop Goes the Weasel" (one day, remind me to tell you about the drama class I took where I played that song for the class in an impromptu performance) but I was a blank. After ten minutes, it was evident that unlike the guitar, anything I'd once picked up on the piano, was gone.

To me, this means I'm getting old. I remember talking to my other half years ago and was absolutely flabbergasted that he couldn't remember things like his fourth grade teacher or the name of the first girl he kissed... Now that I'm getting up there, I completely understand.

So I'm going back to beginner piano with my son! The program is parent and child driven so I'm hoping, I'll be able to practice along with him because I really, really want to be able to make beautiful music!

Here's the first tinkering on the new machine - I'd love an acoustic piano but we decided until TroubleMaker commits to going all the way with piano, this little machine will work just fine.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Home is where the heart is. Or isn't.

I will apologize firstly to my friends and family before I continue this post. What I'm about to share are simply my thoughts and memories of growing up where I did. I'm sure it's a lovely town now (it's increased it population by over 13 000 people since I lived there). My time there, like most kids who reflect on their home towns, was more like purgatory.

Yesterday, it would appear, my "home town" was featured on "Today In America", hosted football legend, Terry Bradshaw (of the United States' National Football League).

I was born in Edmonton and moved west when I was three. We lived a little further west initially, finally settling about 20 minutes west of Stony Plain in 1979. So, technically, we didn't live in town, but Stony was our nearest town and it's where we went to school.

I started grade one in Stony Plain and dropped out of high school, twice, from the town's only high school. In all fairness, I dropped out of school from the high school in the adjacent town/city too. School, at this point, wasn't "my thing" - due in large part to the lack of options, extra curricular activities and restrictive programming. A small town high school can only offer so much - we had one language option and because I had no math by grade 11, I was "removed" from music because the math class I needed was offered at the same time (and was only offered once during the year). Music was my thing - losing that removed all my interest in school. I went through the motions for a year and a half before packing it in permanently.

It was a town with a population of just over 2700 when we moved to the area (the Wiki on it has a higher population) but I clearly and positively remember the sign to town saying "Population 3500". By junior high, all the charm of the small town was done. As a teen, there was nothing to do.

Well, that's not totally true - there were things to do - none of them really positive for a young teenage girl (or boy, for that matter). Bush parties, drinking, casual relationships, drugs. Unless you count the annual fair that came to town every June - but it always ended in the same four things.

Because my parents (occasionally) read my blog, I won't bore you with details but one thing became evidently clear to me as I prepared to move away from Stony Plain: I would never, ever, EVER raise my children in a small town. Ever. I moved away in early 1994 and haven't looked back.

To see the town painted in with an picturesque brush - portraying it as a perfect place to raise a family, start a business or visit, honestly, nauseated me. Worse still - seeing the people I grew up with share it with pride on Facebook - saying how it will always be home.

It will never be home to me. The person I was then doesn't exist anymore. The town I always felt held me back, no longer has any hold over me. It's a fart on a map, something I drive around and don't really thing about. When pressed, I will reluctantly admit I grew up there but usually, I just say I'm from Edmonton. And although I'm not always really happy with living here, it is certainly a far cry better than Dog Rump Creek.

My life, my heart and my home follows me - it's not where I've been. Stony Plain may be where I lived for a time, but it certainly is not my home.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

One Year Later...

*This post is a downer. A little self-serving with a side of pity and a big scoop of 'poor me'.*

Today marks the first (and hopefully, last) anniversary of my leave from work.

This is a sad day for me.

One year ago yesterday, I woke up with a crick in my neck - you know the feeling; like you slept wrong or your pillow is getting old. Just a kinked neck, which I knew would work itself out by the end of the day.

By lunch time, it was REALLY sore and it was giving me a headache. A bad headache. I enlisted one of the supervisors to rub my neck and massage it a bit because I was certain it was just a tight muscle. It felt really good.

For about 10 minutes.

After listening to my whining for most of the morning, my coworker suggested I call the massage clinic on Campus and go get a massage. I called - they couldn't get me in until the following day.

I don't remember now if I stayed the whole day but I know by the time I got home, I was in some serious, serious pain. I begged off taking TroubleMaker to swimming so my husband took him instead. I rested.

It didn't help.

I won't forget the pain - people say we forget pain. That pain is not something I'll ever forget - even if it's because the pain is still present (however, when it happened, pain was a 25 on a scale of 1-10, now it's an 8/9 with the odd 11 thrown in if I do too much). I went to bed that night and did not sleep. I think I altered back and forth between ice and heat and finally fell asleep around 4am.

At 6, when I awoke 'for work', I decided to not go to work and to go see the doctor instead.

By 8am, I was in emergency.

The rest is history, as they say, but it's a somber and sad anniversary. I love my job. I love my coworkers. I love what I do. I'm a shell of myself. It took me nine months to get surgery - a wait, that I believe now - cost me my recovery.

The longer a nerve is impinged, the less likely full recovery is possible. Now, partially, this is my fault - I knew something was 'wrong' in February 2012... I didn't actually seek treatment until July 2012... Due to our broken system, I couldn't get the necessary MRI until January 2013 (that is until I presented so severe, I got it via the emergency neurology clinic). None the less, I waited a very long time for surgery and even though I knew the odds were low, I was confident - more than confident - I would make a 100% full recovery. There wasn't a doubt in my mind, if I survived the surgery, that I would be 100% post operative.

I'm not. I'm still off work. I still have no feeling in the hand, feet, legs and other assorted areas (due to the severe disc compaction - it spent the better part of year pressing on my spinal column). I still have pain - lots of pain - which means I'm on the drugs that scramble my brain. I have weakness, can't grip anything or pick up stuff well. I can't do the things I love and enjoy (nor can I do the things I don't like). Plus now, I have the added bonus of 'swallowing' trouble. Fun stuff. I also can't turn my head which means I can't drive. So I'm trapped in this house all day. Every day.

I know this is all very 'poor me' and I'm not seeking sympathy. I just needed to get this out of my head - after all, spewing this stuff is an essential part of recovery. Those who know me will tell you I'm an extroverted introvert who is pessimistically optimistic. I am struggling a lot with this because it's just not me.

Today is one full year since I've worked "full time". What I initially thought was going to be 'nothing' but my body telling me a needed a new pillow, turned into another spinal fusion, which turned into a YEAR + OFF WORK. My optimism is now pessimistic at best - I can't keep doing this, I can't. I'm tired, I'm frustrated, I feel let down - worse, I feel like I've let everyone down.

Yes. I'm getting help. Made the call today.

I know today is just a really bad day - being the anniversary of my demise (I'm not feeling optimistic, remember?). I'm a year from 40 and I feel bROkeN. No one wants to be 39 and broken. No one.

I've been reminded several times how awesome it must be to be off work... And if I was fully functional and totally my usual awesome self, I'd be rocking it. But I'm not. Dressing myself is painful. Doing my hair is excruciating (I'm falling in love with my curls again out of necessity).  Sure, I cook still and I dress and I do 'the basics' (like bathe) because I absolutely refuse to have my son cut my supper up anymore and I won't let my husband help me get dressed anymore either. It's the last vestiges of my sanity and I can't give those up. I had three weeks of NOTHING. I'm not a 'do nothing' kind of person so 12 months of it has given me my fill.

Tomorrow is a new day and maybe tomorrow, I'll wake up and everything will be better. It can't get worse, right? But it did. The coordination I thought I'd regained must've been leftover drugs because it's gone and I haven't tried to play guitar in over a month.

I'm going to go be sad in the corner over there. I'll talk to you tomorrow when I'm past this 'one year' mark.

PS One of my "40 by 40" goals is to GET BETTER. If I put it on a 'bucket list' is has to happen, right?

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Little of This... A Little of That...

I've started approximately 15 blog posts since I last wrote. They fell in the random category - both musings and rants but none of them developed into a full post.

I'm tired today and am "recovery" mode... Recovering from my three week vacation (which wasn't actually a vacation - kind of), I'm catching up on terrible TV and trying to...

Okay, I'll get real - I sat down this morning with every intention to start (and maybe finish) the rough edits to my story (which I'd like to remind you was written in 35 days (I will take victory where I can). It's taken me four months to finish the rough edits (I'm currently transcribing them into the digital version) except in that time I actually wrote the (please forgive me) "sequel". Not so much a sequel - its more of the 'continuation'. I finished the first story and I was like "It's done!" But I loved my characters so much, I started writing again.

Anyway... I meant to finish adding the edits to the first story but then I got sidetracked because I had to enroll TroubleMaker in swimming (and research gymnastics - he asked to go back into gymnastics) and then I had to confirm some stuff for his piano lessons (including ordering a new electronic piano) and then it was like noon and I had to fry up the new potatoes I'd cooked for supper last night.

Needless to say, I didn't but I did not want today to be a total bust so I'm writing a blog post instead.

A blog post about nothing.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Favourite Place on Earth

I've written about Jasper before on this blog. Here and here... I never tire of going there and I never tire of talking about it. My first memory of camping was in this park: my birthday, my mom was sick, my brother gave me three smurfs wrapped in his sweat pants (don't ask), a bear, seeing bears (where there were tree stumps) and being absolutely on sensory overload with the amazing scenery.

I've been back more times than I can count (kind of) and I love it. It will be fun to go again with my sister and mother and the kids. Although going after three days in a hotel with this lot, I may need a vacation from my vacation!

We have no agenda other than to arrive tomorrow and come home Wednesday. I'm in no shape to hike or do anything like that but we may utilize the hotel pool, shop a bit and see a few sites (our usual, favourite places). Just a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

There will be no menu this week either - we're at my Mom's until Thursday or Friday and we'll likely be eating out part of the time in Jasper so we'll be taking a page from my sister's book and fly by the seat of our pants!

Take care chickens and check out Twitter as I'll try to post some of the lovely things we see!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garage Sale Blues

I hate garage sales. Yet I agreed to have one this coming weekend. I'm happy to be purging tons of stuff from my house (we've been collecting stuff since last summer) but I dislike the entire process.

I don't want to dicker. I do not want to 'make money' (why people think they make money from garage sales is beyond me - you're selling everything at a loss). I don't want to engage in inane chit-chat with strangers. Buy my stuff or don't, I don't care. Well, I do, but whatever doesn't sell is going to Good Will on Monday anyway.

I'm kind of shy and I do not flourish in these kinds of conditions.

Oddly enough, my husband is amazing at garage sales. We had one five years ago (at my parents) and even though my husband dreaded it, the first punter through the door, he was chatting and making sales.

Two days: I've got to get through two days.

TroubleMaker is dead excited - he is going to be running a lemonade stand. I'm oddly embarrassed by this (weird conditioning from my parents) but I am going to be his biggest champion (and likely thirstiest customer).

Maybe it will be okay... TroubleMaker has committed to selling many of his (old and unused) toys - he is hoping to raise half the funds to buy an all weather, all terrain Grave Digger monster truck. His excitement will fuel mine. I adore that kid and always manage to see things through his eyes and that gives me renewed excitement.

I'll see you on the other side. I'm going to Tweet about my garage sale adventures so feel free to follow along!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

"At Capacity" because humans suck

I heard on the radio this morning that our local human society is "at capacity". This means they will not be accepting any more owner surrendered animals. They've stated that although they are not technically 'full', they do not have the ability, at this time, to house individual, older, adult animals because they need to better utilize the space they have to house more than one animal in a spot. You can read the full story here. I do encourage you to read it because it's important that we (as a society) start realizing we are not alone on this planet and a reflection of humanity is the way we treat the animals we life with.

I do not fault the shelter. Not one bit. I volunteered at this very shelter 12 years ago. I blame me. I blame you. I blame the guy beside you on the bus. I blame the neighbour, they neighbour's mother and the rest of us 'hoomans'. We are to blame for this whole mess (aren't we always?).

Currently, as the article states they have in residence:

Ready for adoption: 
83 cats and 36 kittens
31 dogs and 2 puppies

In care within the facility:
171 cats and 242 kittens
107 dogs and 41 puppies
40 rabbits
20 guinea pigs
king snake

In short, they have boat loads of animals. This frustrates me to no end. Spay and neuter, people. It's just that easy. Stop breeding animals. STOP IT NOW. I feel like Bob Barker, except Bob Barker is a moron (that's an entirely different post). Perhaps I feel like fat Drew Carry. Yes. I do.

I know this is cliched but animals are people too. They don't appreciate being bred like mice. They want to be loved. They want a home. They want food. They want clean water.

And they deserve it.

This story has gotten so much coverage in our city (and province), the Human Societies website crashed by 10am this morning from so much traffic. They've since adopted 21 animals out but there are (as you can see above) hundreds more. I just hope that the animals get a good life. An animal is a life long commitment. For their entire life, expensive medication, surgeries et all.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Does he get that from me?

Today, TroubleMaker appologized for something he didn't do. He kept saying he was sorry over and over again.

He was next door playing and one of the boys slipped getting out of the kiddie pool and hurt himself. The child indicated he'd slipped and fell (but he was okay) but TroubleMaker kept saying "Sorry." The neighbour asked him "Why are you sorry? Did you push him?" The little boy who fell piped up and said "No. It was all me. I fell."

TroubleMaker claimed it was all his fault and seemed so heartbroken, apologizing again a couple more times. I impressed upon him that it wasn't his fault and that it wasn't his doing - it was an accident and he shouldn't feel responsible.

It really bugged me. In part because I could hear myself in his words.

I apologize for everything. Sometimes it's like I'm sorry I exist. I don't know why I do it - but I always have. I remember feeling guilty for things other people did (that had no impact on me). It really, really took a toll emotionally on me. I remember once watching one my Dad's vacation films. He and a bunch of people went to the Dominican Republic (I think) and in the video, my great uncle is trying to give a local child some American money. My Dad admonished him for it and I felt guilty! Like eating me up inside guilty.

It was shortly after that I banished the guilt from my body. It still creeps in from time to time but I usually have a firm conversation with myself about how stupid I'm being.

But I still apologize. All. The. Time. I apologize for over cooking eggs. I apologize for forgetting to put stuff away. I apologize for forgetting. I apologize for something not being on TV that my husband wants to watch.

I have now passed that bad little habit onto my son. I'm mortified. I'd noticed he'd been doing it but today, taking responsibility for something he didn't do, drove it home, hard.

I've been trying to stop doing it, I have. But apparently, I'm not being very successful.

Tomorrow, I will do better.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Menu Plan Monday: July 28 to August 3, 2013

Can someone please explain to me just HOW we got to the end of July? It's AUGUST on Thursday, that means we're only a month or two away from snow?!?!?

Family Picnic: 2003 (I'm not in the picture, so stop looking)
Every August Long Weekend since +/- 1948, my Dad's family got together for a barbecue. That weekend is my Dad's birthday (August 4) - I think it was an Aunt's birthday too... His immediate family always got together with the extended family (on my paternal grandfather's side, there were nine children) and celebrated. Being the good French Roman Catholic family that they were, you can begin to imagine the magnitude of this event... Anyway, up until a decade or so ago, the tradition carried on. As the 'first' generation got too old, some of the second tried to continue the tradition (but weren't particularly successful) and a few years ago, my brother and cousin tried but it's all but died now (we're the third generation).

However, I still like to celebrate my Dad's birthday so we've done a couple family bbq's since. I think the last one was when Dad turned 65 (sorry Dad) and that was two years ago so it seemed like it was time again. This time, unlike Dad's 65th, I gave my siblings a choice. :) Did I mention I'm the bossy one?

I can't begin to tell you how much I'm looking forward to chicken and ribs

Sunday: Lasagna (the one I was supposed to make the other night but didn't)
Monday: Chicken Fajitas (reminds me: I need to take chicken out)
Tuesday: Swiss Steak with egg noodles and frozen veg (Freezer meal)
Wednesday: Sweet and Sour Chicken Stirfry served over fried rice (I will use this sauce)
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Taco Dip Supper served with tortilla chips
Saturday: Potluck Family BBQ! (we're doing Frog's BBQ Sauce Chicken and Baby Back Ribs)

*On links that take you back to my blog, scroll down to to find the recipes later in the blog post*

Linking up with the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday. Thanks for stopping in and have a fantastic week!

Frog's BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup corn syrup
10 drops liquid smoke
7 drops Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 cup minced onion
Generous "sprinkles" of each of the following seasoning:
Season Salt
Garlic powder

Thursday, July 25, 2013

We-Design-Day (on Thursday): How to NOT Hire a Company (for work on your house) When You're a Girl (or boy)

In my day job, I'm a project coordinator working for a large educational institution. I manage and oversee renovation and construction projects that are primarily completed by our own, on-staff Trades (electricians, plumbers, carpenters, etc). I also manage the same kind of projects done by external contractors (usually general contractors who bring any number of trades along for the ride). I have been doing this since 2004 (in addition to design, facility and telecommunications management).

Over the course of nine years, I'm managed many projects. From $2000 office refreshes to multi-million dollar new building builds. Generally, short of nearly blowing up one building and flooding part of another, they go off without a hitch. I've learned to always add a minimum of 20% contingency to EVERYTHING, add 8 to 12 weeks to every schedule (and always do it in weeks, MONTHS seem longer to the client) and always, always consult a professional when dealing with:

1. Electricity
2. Plumbing/mechanical
3. Structural issues

(Lesson One: Always know when to call in a professional)

There is one thing, however, I've not perfected the art of and that's being taken seriously in this industry, because I'm a girl. I've got cajones the size of Michigan when I need them and I can talk trash with the best of them, but I've continually run into "issues", I think, because I'm a women in a male dominated field.

I've been called an inferior designer in the middle of a site walk through (no, his firm did not get the job), I've not had calls returned when I'm inviting contractors to bid on a job (but suddenly, when a male coworker called them on the same job, they showed up) and I've had contractors out-right LIE about conversations I've had witnesses too (Lesson Two: always have witnesses).

Thankfully, at my present place of work, I have 1000% support from my senior management and the guys I work with. The support came easily and with the clause "if anyone gives your trouble (implying I may run into trouble because I'm a girl) let us know if you can't work it out." I didn't (have trouble) and I will deal with all things on my own. Always... In my personal life and work, I struggle. All. The. Damn. Time. 

In 2011, we decided we needed to have our roof replaced. I began calling companies in May - by July, not one of the four I called, returned my calls. I called another three companies. Two finally provided quotes and one of the first four had also finally decided I was worthy and also gave me quote. (For the record, one of the 'first four' returned my call this spring - two years later. Turns out they aren't so busy any more and are looking for work)

Seven companies and three quotes later, September was on the doorstep and we really needed a new roof before winter. The company had done our neighbours so without checking additional references, we hired them because they could get it done before October. I went against EVERYTHING I know I should when hiring a contractor. (Lesson Three: Never hire ANY company without checking their licensing and insurance, without interviewing them AND without calling a minimum of three references)

In addition to replacing our roof, we also wanted our eavestroughs replaced. None of the roofing contractors who did show up "did" eavestrough work.

Last summer, I called six eavestrough companies in hopes of getting a quote in a more timely fashion.

Guess what?

It didn't happen. Not one returned my call and the one who provided a "site unseen" quote via email (based only on the square footages of the house and garage) refused to return my calls and emails when I asked him to come to site for a more 'firm' quote.

So again, in May this year, I started the search. Again. I called one company May 12, 2013. He GUARANTEED me they would show up.

They didn't.

I called them back June 14. I was told they had the request but no one knew why it wasn't done. I was assured I was being 'prioritized' and someone would be out "as soon as possible" - intimating it would be done in a couple of weeks, at most.

July 9th, as I was preparing to call them AGAIN, I get a call asking if I would still be interested in getting a quote from them.  Now, I will sing out the praises of receptionists. I was less than pleasant when I called back and she was very professional, even when I was not.

The same week, I put a complaint out on Facebook about how being a girl SUCKS. My aunt gave me a number of a guy she knows who did hers. Apparently, the wife of the guy grew up down the road from my (paternal) grandparent's farm.

I called him and emailed one other company. If you're good at math, you've now deduced that I've called/contacted nine different eavestroughing companies.

By the end of the next weekend, I had three quotes, in hand (well, two, technically, my aunt's friend just gave us a price 'at the door' (again, folks, DON'T DO THIS. Always, always get a firm, written down quote with each item itemized. ALWAYS)). (Lesson Four: Always get an itemized quote)


(Lesson Five: Always have a contract, again itemizing EVERYTHING, with prices, contingency, holdbacks, EVERYTHING)

(Lesson Six: Don't let desperation get in the way)

I should have taken all three quotes, checked references, double checked references, seen the work they had done, checked the Better Business Bureau, interviewed the company and taken a few days to think it over. But I didn't. I was tired, I was desperate and I was so thankful that I finally had something to work with, I panicked, not wanting to let another contractor get away without hiring him.

Four days later, the company we'd hired showed up - well, the guy (it was a one man show, which is fine, but I didn't know that). he did the job in a day and my house has lovely, new, not leaky, not overflowing, eaves. It worked out okay. This time. I was lucky. Very lucky.

Let's recap what we've learned from my mistakes:
Lesson One: Always know when to call in a professional
Lesson Two: always have witnesses
Lesson Three: Never hire ANY company without interviewing them AND without calling a minimum of three references
Lesson Four: Always get an itemized quote
Lesson Five: Always have a contract, again itemizing EVERYTHING, with prices, contingency, holdbacks, EVERYTHING
Lesson Six: Don't let desperation get in the way

Even as a trained professional, I can't always get what I need done. Is it because I'm woman? I don't know, I really don't, but in the coming weeks, I'm going to share the right way to do all the things I did wrong. Step by step and I'll even include "the desperate woman's mantra" on how to let that contractor walk away, unhired, even if he's muscly, manly hotness in Carhartt's.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Talking Tuesday: K-Days - our first time

Today I took TroubleMaker to K-Days. Don't ask what the "K" stands for - the summer fair that runs for two weeks each July in Edmonton used to be "Edmonton Exposition", in 1964, it was changed to "Klondike Days", then in 2006 they changed the name again to "Capital X" (for eXposition), and then, in 2012, some marketing genius held a 'contest' to rename the fair. Options included "EdFest", "River City Festival", "The Edmonton Exhibition", "Edmonton Summer Exhibition" and "River City Summer Fair". All of those are far better choices than than the "what the hell does it mean" K-Days, but the people voted and it won.

But that's not what I'm writing about. That was a little aside that I need to share.

TroubleMaker has been asking us since he turned 2 or 3 to go. Neither my husband or I "do" rides. I used too but age got the best of me and I get very, very nauseated just watching the rides go 'round. This year, there was no way I could even imagine taking him because I just had my NECK fused together. But I digress, again.

This year we decided to take him. Luckily, we have some amazing friends who decided to go with us and another who lent us her kid. There were far to many people and it was hot (I'm sunburned and learned next year, I'll be taking a backpack FILLED with supplies) and the lines were stupid long (we'll be buying 'express' passes next year) but seeing my son's face light up made it all worth while.

He got to fly like a bird...

He got to take his best girl on their first motorcycle ride... 

And I got...

As I tucked him into bed tonight, I thanked him. He helped me overcome my fear of the summer festival. He helped me be a better mom by making his dream (of going to the fair) come true. He helped me overcome a whole lot today and I will always be thankful he and I got to go to K-Days for our first time, together.

Check another thing off my "40 by 40" list!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - we must eat so I must plan (July 21 - 27, 2013)

Today, I am tired. Like hit by a freight truck tired. It's my RA, I know that, but it certainly doesn't make it any easier. Knowledge is power, but it's not a cure.

I have a half-a&$ menu planned this week. I am extremely thankful my (best in the world) step mom replenished some of my freezer meals. Tonight, we're having chicken pot pie. And bread. Because I have the need to put myself into a carb-induced coma. It was going to be homemade buns, but see above about exhaustion.

Sunday: Birthday BBQ with Friends (they brought everything)
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie (Freezer Meal - thanks, Momma N!)
Tuesday: Pork chops (assuming I can get my tired self to the butcher), more carbs (something high in sodium, from a package because I can't see doing something that would require work)
Wednesday:  Nuggets and fries (go to, 'easy' food)
Thursday: I should probably cook something. Lasagna?
Friday: Nachos
Saturday: Apps for Dinner
Apps: Epicure's Extraordinary Cheese Dip , Easy Hot Wings (Boneless)
served with veggies and assorted crackers *for the Cheese Dip, use the mayo - it makes all the difference from 'good' to 'amazing'!


I think I might try to have a nap. The extra large, caramel corretto didn't wake me up for long.

Linking up with the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Talking Tuesday: discovering self

I've decided, as part of my "40 by 40", I should blog more. Part of my lack of bloggy goodness has to do with the fact I have no idea what I'm doing or where I'm going. I have so many ideas in my tiny little head that it's really, really hard to focus on one specific thing.

I keep reading to 'blog about something you're passionate about' - frankly, I'm passionate about a whole bunch of things but I keep trying to pigeon hole myself into something specific that's readable, doable and appealing to others.

As 40 approaches, I've decided I don't care about convention. I started this blog out of desperation: I'd started a new job I absolutely detested and I *hoped* it would be a means to an end so I could quit and finally resume my role as a SAHM. I knew nothing about blogging but I was so desperate to be a stay at home mom, I would have sold my soul. Life had other plans: TroubleMaker is five and a half and I still work full time (the notable exception has been the past year as I've been on medical leave). I'm tired of trying to fit some mould of what I should be.

After all, isn't that what 40 is about? Realizing you don't owe anything to anyone and you start really figuring out who you are? That's always been my impression, even if I've spent the past 20 years trying to be 'me'. I don't feel I've ever fully given myself permission and I certainly didn't believe I would have the support of my family, friends or society. Now, I'm not sure I care so much. I'm not trying to impress anyone and I really only care about what those who share the house with me think (of me) and that I can look at myself and be proud of who I am. I want my son to see the strong, dedicated, hard working, passionate woman I think/hope I am. My husband supports me - always, regardless of what I may think, say or do (the only whim he will no longer follow is my desire to be a vegetarian (again)). Max, my dog, thinks I'm totally awesome - especially if I have food.

Barefoot Deliberations is me - in print form. I've not always done a really good job at reflecting that - because I've been caught up in the machine - but I'd like to be more true to myself. I've written some good things here (and some not good and some mediocre) but that is who I am. I can't be any more or any less - especially if I'm not being true to myself.

I like talking design, politics and current events. I love writing and talking and sharing the things I've learned. Naturally, I have reservations (because my life has been complex and not always great and I know some of my family and friends read me regularly (Hi Friends and Family)) so I have to temper some of my propensity to "share" because I am not an island and I can't be anonymous. This is my method of expressing myself and I'm kind of done trying to fit a mould. It keeps me in a box and doesn't let who I am shine through.

Going forward, you may see posts about me, food, design, crafts, family, politics, current events, things that get under my skin, reviews (of stuff I really like and have happened upon on my own), organizing, life and anything else that strikes my fancy. Of course, I'd like everyone to read me and think I'm wonderful and awesome and oh so amazing, but if you don't, that's okay too because it isn't a popularity contest and I can only be me.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The last hours of my 38th year...

Tomorrow, I will turn 39. As I've said for months, tomorrow, I will FINALLY be the age my husband was when I met him (15 yrs ago). This means I am now 'officially', old. I don't have age hangups, 39 is a number. The fact I remember both my mother's and father's 39th and 40th birthday causes me to pause but otherwise, I'm okay with it.

My niece and my Mom came in today to celebrate my birthday and I suspect my "E" (my nickname for my niece) and TroubleMaker are planning my party for tomorrow. They were working my studio part of the afternoon and evening making 'stuff'. I'm excited!

I'm not doing anything exciting tonight in preparation for turning 39 but I've been giving a lot of thought to what I want the next year to look like. Forty is half way to death so I think I should probably get my act together and figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life.

I want to be more of a humanitarian; I want to do nice things for people and for the world! I'm not sure where to start so I should probably make a plan (and break it down into smaller chunks).

I don't want to turn 40 and still be 'unhealthy'; I'm happy with my body, don't get me wrong (I could lose a few dozen pounds), but I don't want to have to 1. shop in exclusive plus size stores or 2. get winded chasing my kid around the park.

I don't know if I could come up with a '40 before 40' list - not sure there are actually 40 (doable) things before I turn 40. Many of the lists I've seen other bloggers do start 10+ years in advance of their 40th birthdays. I've always been ahead of the curve so I'm sure I can complete this (probably not) before next year. Seriously though, I've got memory issues so I'll likely forget this plan by next Tuesday.

What was I talking about?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday and other such ramblings...

I've got four posts in 'draft' (or can it still be draught?) but I'm too chicken to post two of them and the other two aren't done so today, I shall babble incessantly about nothing. Or maybe about something; I don't really know yet.

Let's talk Twitter first. I joined a while ago (like a month or two) and was initially trying to figure out exactly what it's purpose is. Although I'm not quite sure I know, you can follow me, if you so desire, it's kind of interesting to know what people are doing day to day, minute by minute - especially since so many people have a much more interesting life than I do (it feeds my voyeuristic tendencies - no, mothers of mine, I'm not 'weird' like that, I mean in a 'watch E news kind of way'). It kind of feels like a high school popularity contest and that bothers the crap out of me. I part because we're all adults, right? Yet, we find (as adults) new and even more tortuous ways to perpetuate the childish games we should have left behind. Or maybe that's just me and the coffee talking.

Here is me: Brennan's Mom

If you follow me, I'd love to follow you back and we can be Twitterpated with one another (again, not in a 'weird' way)!

What else should I talk about? Hmmmm...

I have a birthday coming up (Saturday) and although I typically keep my birthday low key and quiet (which is weird, because on the inside, I'd love skywriting and surprise parties and big announcements on the radio), this year I know my son wants to plan a party (yay! he's just like me when it comes to celebrating things). It got me thinking about presents...

Since 2005, my husband and I haven't exchanged gifts. It may have started before that, I'm old (and getting older) and I don't remember quite as well as I used too. Since TroubleMaker was born, we allow him to get us something at Christmas (we still don't exchange gifts) and sometimes birthdays. Typically, I have no idea what I want - because I don't really need anything.

This year, I've come up with a list of 8 things. In no particular order, they are:
1. Popcorn maker (Brennan got me one at Christmas and it always ran rough -  about a month ago, it died completely)
2. Ice cream maker (This isn't a need but a want - because in the summer, I see the BEST homemade ice cream recipes)
3. Drum kit (my husband says 'over his dead body' and did not find it hilarious when I said it could be arranged - I was, of course, joking - but he's really serious - eventually, our house will have one, don't worry)
4. Saxophone (I played for years but never owned my own. I'd love to take it up again and want one!)
5. Swimming pool (this is ridiculous request that will never be fulfilled unless it's another 5' kiddie pool)
6. Perfume (usually, I get this for Mother's Day - but I'm running low on the (only) one I wear)
7. Electric guitar & amp (again, I've played for years but my ex-partner sold mine (almost) 20 years ago)
8. Microphone (so I can sing and maybe start recording some of the stuff I've written lately)

I feel totally selfish and greedy for having a list so long. It's almost embarrassing.

But not as embarrassing as my 21st birthday when either my ex-partner or my (horrible) ex-step monster arranged for a 'surprise' at the restaurant when we were all out celebrating my birthday. I was 'forced, cajoled, coerced' into standing on the table while the restaurant patrons and staff sang me happy birthday. I've never forgiven anyone for perpetrating that and it is my only memory of that birthday.

In other news, I'm in the process (the long, tedious, frustrating, time consuming process) of editing my story. A month or so ago, I printed it off (I'm best at editing that way) and made changes, fixed, ect. As I blogged about before, I procrastinated my keister off. I designed the house the family lives in (three storey, obscenely big), wrote my outline (most of it), answered questions that were kind of open ended about the story and have begun the character biographies (most of this was a means to an end - my memory is terrible and I couldn't keep my facts straight - all of this was my way of being a continuity director). I am also now wrestling with the idea of letting my husband read it. He's read a couple other things I've written and he liked them (one he really liked). This (story) is totally different than the other two pieces but I've got to start somewhere and he said he'd be nice with his criticism.

Lakeside - nearly the same spot - August 2012

Lakeside - July 2012
I'm also thinking about doing one of those lists - you know, the ones that allow you to quickly add up how inadequate you are at life? The 30 by 30 type thing, but of course, mine would be '40 by 40' (since I'm turning 39). I do not know, however, if I'm prepared to set myself up like that. I mean, my list would be simple but with my continued health issues, climbing Mount Edith Cavell (the back trail - see the link below - the glacier calved almost a year ago taking out part of the parking lot, road and creating a new 'creek' in the former creek bed - the pic of Brennan and his Pépére was take a mere 14 days before the collapse - we saw a large part calf the day were were there - it was a sight to see) or hiking to the top of Whistler's Mountain may be next to impossible. Although in my defense, last summer, we were with in 100' of the top of Whister's Mountain but we were all just too out of shape to continue in the high winds and chilly conditions (excuses, excuses).

I really like talking, in case you hadn't realized it, and sometimes, I just need to blab about nothing and not be deep or meaningful or insightful (okay, I have never actually been any of 'those' things on this blog but I think about it often because I am unique but I haven't found 'my voice' yet because I'm not sure exactly what direction I want my life to go in).

But this is the end of this little ditty (there could be more but I try not to swear too much).

Mount Edith Cavell - Ghost Glacier collapse

For fun - here are some pictures from Mount Edith from our trip and similar angles captured by Parks staff after the Ghost Glacier fell off the mountainside.

Lake side - before (July 2012)
Lake side - after (August 2012)

PS Sorry for the really, really bad text wrap - Blogger is being a cow today and I can't get anything to work!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The (weather) Diversity of a Nation

Given we just celebrated Canada's 146 birthday yesterday (July, 1), I thought it fitting to share the following tidbits of information.

Presently, in Edmonton, where I live, it is +33 C.
Edmonton downtown skyline

We also have a humidex advisory in place
(present humidex is +41). This is only the fourth such advisory ever issued for this region in the history of record keeping (since 1888).

Clyde River (non snowy times)

In Clyde River, Nunavut, they have a heavy snow fall warning in place and are expecting upwards of 25cm of snow (which, for my non metric friends, is about 10").

Normal Wells town site

In Norman Wells, North West Territories, there is a heavy rainfall warning in effect and up to 80mm of rain is expected to fall over the next 36 hours.

Corner Brook, Newfoundland is under a frost warning tonight (meaning temperatures will drop below zero degrees Celsius). Cover your tomatoes!
Corner Brook in the fall

Canada is a nation of many diversities; geography being only one of them!

All pictures courtesy of Wikipedia. Yes, even the Edmonton one - it's too hot to go outside and snap pictures!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - June 30 to July 6, 2013

It's hot. I know it sounds like I'm always complaining about the weather - that is because I am. It's too cold here in the winter (and oh, the snow) and the summers are hot and mosquito laden. Hot means bbqing and staying still or splashing in TroubleMaker's pool! I was the person who bought the last two fans at Wal-Mart, TYVM!

Canada Day 2012
Today, I hit bottom with pain and arthritis (really, is it necessary for all my hands, feet, elbows, wrists and even knees, to swell when it's hot and humid? Come on!) so we ended up picking up supper (I could hardly hold a glass in my hand). A few ibuprofen later, and I'm a little more limber and in less pain. I'm not supposed to take anti-inflammatory medications (because of the fusion - it can prohibit the bones from fusing together) but damn it, I needed something today.

Tomorrow will be better - or I'm spending the day in the ice cold pool. (Edit: today was not better. I spent most of the day in the ice cold pool with TroubleMaker - we ended up having baked beans and corn on the cob with the steak. No one ate much steak. It was too hot)

Sunday: pick up dinner
Monday: BBQ steak, Creamy Tortellini Primavera, corn on the cob
Tuesday: Hot dogs
Wednesday: Grilled chicken and pasta salad
Thursday: BBQ Meat loaf with bbq'd vegetables
Friday: Tacos
Saturday: Egg wraps

Linking up with the Org Junkie! Thanks for stopping by and Happy Canada Day (and Happy Independence Day)!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Today's Stress: haircuts

Most people who know me have come to learn I have a very serious dislike of getting my hair done. I hate the idea of spending hours making chit-chat with someone I have nothing in common with, I hate the idea of having to take time to do it and I hate the fact it never, ever comes out as I expect.

In the past (almost) 10 years, I've burned through half a dozen salons. I go through phases where I don't care about the grey in my hair, the split ends or the fact I wear it up ALL THE TIME. Since last summer, it's excruciatingly painful to flat iron my very curly, very unruly hair so I don't, unless it's a very special occasion.

But it's too long again and it needs a cut. And a style. And a colour. I really like the idea of the finished product, it's getting there that's the problem. I'm introverted and I find it painful to go in and say "I want x, y, z done, please." I know it sounds stupid but it's my phobia and I own it. It is also the primary reason I've spent the majority of my life (since I was 13 years old) cutting my own hair.

But I can't cut it now so I have to go elsewhere. The length is annoying because I have to put it up at night (braid) but that means pain. My husband offered to learn to braid it for me, but that just seems cruel and another task on his already unending list of 'things to do'.


Total first world problems and I own that too. I just hate the stress and anxiety I feel over doing it. It's dumb, I know, and I will at the very least get it cut today (at one of the 'walk-in' places) but I'd really like to feel 'pretty' when I walk out and I got the idea in my head I should colour my hair. I have a 'year before a big' birthday in a couple weeks and although the idea of turning 40 doesn't really bother me, the idea that I'm OLD does.

I'm really a very complicated person. Or perhaps, more accurately, I'm just a person who makes simple things complex.

Edited to add I just booked in at an Ultracuts after the first four salons couldn't accommodate me. I certainly hope I don't live to regret this...

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Procrastination: Let me count the ways...

screen shot of the main floor
A week or two ago, I printed most of the manuscript I've written. I commenced editing it (I find it easier to edit it 'on paper' instead of electronically - guess that makes me "old school"). With all the edits done, I started the outline and character biographies (Stall No. 1). When that got tough, I started making the changes in the electronic document (Goal No. 1).

Then that got boring/tough/confusing so I decided, for continuity, I best make sure the house I'd described made sense. So I started designing the house (good thing my back ground is interior design and architecture). I even went so far as to draft it in AutoCAD. Seriously, who does that (me)? (Enter Stall No. 2...)

I printed said floor plan, laid out the studio and kitchen (two of the three main areas of the house spoken of often in the story - Stall No. 3)... Then, as the story moves up to the master suite, I decided I better get that on paper too, so I sketched out the second floor (Stall No. 4). I still have the third floor and back yard to figure out (Stall No. 5) because why should I stop there?

I decided that I will wait for the upper floors and the yard because I need to work out (Stall No. 6). Writing this story came as naturally and as easily as walking, eating and talking however editing this story is murderous!

I think part of the reason (I'm procrastinating) is because I am being asked by family and friends what the story is about and when they can read it. This is where I run into trouble! It's a very personal story as I interject much of myself and my life into the characters I write and this leaves me feeling extremely vulnerable. It's so much more than a story for me; it's a daydream, a wish, a secret longing. Sharing that with the first logical audience (family/friends) gives them a glimpse of who I am on the inside and that terrifies me!

No one wants to feel judged, let alone by the people you love most...

P.S. I decided to get rid of the 'formal dining' as it wasn't working for me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - June 23 to 29, 2013

What a week... It's been a stressful, emotional week - and we're not even impacted by the terrible flooding occurring three  hours south of us! My father was nearly stranded in Okotoks and managed to flee just two hours before the camp he was in was overrun with water. Our dearest friend had also gone MIA during the floods in Calgary - we finally heard from him yesterday. He's en route to here as after he was evacuated, he decided to take a 'holiday' to southern Alberta and south western Saskatchewan - which has now being flooded!

Saw the surgeon - it wasn't what I was hoping to hear :( - and late last night, TroubleMaker came down with a stomach bug and we've spent the past 24 hours tending to a very sick little boy.

There are three tell tale signs when TroubleMaker is seriously sick.

1. He doesn't eat.
2. He sleeps.
3. He doesn't play.

So between unexpected, but very welcome, company and a sick child, meals could be kind of hit or miss. I made a batch of homemade chicken soup this afternoon so there will be leftovers for when my little boy feels like eating something and can keep something in his tummy!

Sunday: Chicken Noodle Soup and chicken salad sandwiches (for my honey, who doesn't care for soup)
Monday: Pizza (order in)
Tuesday: Pancakes and bacon
Wednesday: Hamburgers and chips
Thursday: Grilled chicken and pasta salad
Friday: Mom's ham and scalloped potatoes
Saturday: BBQ Steak and Potato Salad

Linking up with the Organizing Junkie's Menu Plan Monday! Thanks for stopping in and hope your week goes well!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday - June 16 to 22, 2013

I'm a Menu Planning Ninja this week! Being the queen of organization (yeah, right) that I am, I was sitting down in my studio with my laptop, the Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday page open, my binder of recipes (which I've actually expanded to a 3" binder since I first did it), a pencil and some paper all before 9am!

Sunday: Pizza (order in for Father's Day
Monday: Chicken Caesar Wraps (freezer)
Tuesday: Slow Cooker Hamburger Supper
Wednesday: Weeknight Pasta Bake
Thursday: Pancakes and bacon
Friday: Pepperoni Pizza Mac and Cheese
Saturday: BBQ steak and Gramma's Potato Salad (if I'm feeling up to making it)

I see the surgeon for my six week post op check up this week. I have zero idea what to expect - I think I should be much further along in my healing process and I'm disappointed I don't feel a whole lot different than I did before surgery. I expressed to a friend the other day that if I didn't have the scar on my neck, I would think I was still waiting for surgery.

Linking up with the Org Junkie this week and I hope to check out some yummy new summer meal ideas! It's been nothing but rAiN here so I'm ready for some sunshine! Have a great week and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Militant Baker - Body Love Conference

Lately, I've been reading a bunch of different blogs and one of my favourites is The Militant Baker. She is seriously a whole new kind of awesome and I'm so glad I found her blog. She's starting a campaign - a real campaign - for body love. Teaching women and the world to love the person they are, regardless of the wrapping paper. She took on A&F (spit!) - check that amazing and beautiful campaign here

The Militant BakerJes is the change, I don't know if she knows that, but for me, her movement has started to change the way I look in the mirror. She's done more for me in a few short months than Dove's Campaign for "real beauty" has done over the years with their multi-million dollar advertising budget.

I like me and I don't mind my wrapping paper and I would seriously love to be able to make it to Tuscon for the conference in April 2014 (and I might) but we need to get this thing off the ground. This is where I think places like "Kickstarter" could be used in an amazing way.

A good friend of mine pointed out after I shared a Zach Braff Kickstarter campaign, that he has money and resources to fund making his movie - people like Jes and the proletariat - don't (necessarily) have the resources to pull together important work like this.

This is where we come in! She has less than 23 days to get another $6300 in funding together to ensure the conference can go ahead. And it needs to.

Check out the video she's shared and then please, give a little to help out! Our daughters need this, our mothers need this, we need this. Our sons need this.

The Body Love Conference

I'm excited and will be sharing this lots - because it's too important to not support! Want to jump right in and support this amazing conference? CLICK HERE PLEASE!


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