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.


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