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!


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