Apr 14

I learn some of the best life lessons from my kids, I wish they were the parents sometimes.

After a recent confrontation with my three-year-old about making huge messes (dumping EVERYTHING out and then wandering off, like, I don’t know, a three-year-old, maybe?) I stormed upstairs from the basement and before I reached the top of the stairs, I came nose-to-nose with my five-year-old. He looked at me with those baby blues of his and said very quietly, “Mummy, you’re angry. Maybe you should self-regulate.” Well, that stopped me in my tracks. And I looked into his little face and he was so sincere and so peaceful, that I could feel my blood pressure start to return to normal levels but something told me that I should explore further this ‘self-regulate’ idea with him.

Me: Ok, so how do would I self-regulate?  Teach me.

Pax (while demonstrating): First you take a deep breath in and hold it and then blow it all the way out.

Me: Ok, done. What’s next?

Pax: Now, you have to squeeze the lemons (for those not in the know, this involves making a fist with each hand and just squeezing).

Me: Ok, now what?

Pax: Now you have to turtle.

Me: Um, you better show me that one. (Because I was pretty sure that girls didn’t turtle, so assuming this was an all-genders activity, it had to be something other than the first thing that popped into my mind *smirk*)

He gets down on all fours and then tucks everything in so that he’s a ball on the floor. I crouched, but declined to do the full turtle, as I was fairly certain, getting up would require a call to the EMT’s.

Pax: And now Mummy, you have stretch like a cat. You can stand up or sit down for this one, k? (First be reaches to the ceiling on his tippy toes and then he lies down on the kitchen floor and stretches out straight, curving his back, just like a cat) And now you’ve self-regulated and you’re IN CON-TROL.’ I *love* to self-regulate, Mummy.

Me: Wow, thanks Paxie, that’s awesome. Thank you for helping me to self-regulate. Did you learn this at school?

Pax (beaming): You’re welcome, Mummy. We’re learning about being “IN CON-TROL.”

So yeah, well, how about that. There I was fit to be tied, frustrated about something that at the end of the day really doesn’t matter, and this little minion, with his sweet, calm demeanour, defuses the situation, helps to make things better and spreads happiness without even batting an eye and barely taking his thumb out of his mouth. Pure Magic + Heart Happiness = My Kids.

When I grow up, I want to be just like my kids. And if that’s not possible, I want to be something else just as amazing and awesome and mind-blowing. I’m just not sure what that is yet.


Apr 14

Five things that I suggest you no longer do. Ever.


In my effort to live a more positive, non-judgmental based and happier life, I thought it would help to release a list of the first five things I think people should never do. And if people follow my suggestions, that will help me attain my goal of being more serene, forgiving and positive. And it will help just oodles of other people too. I just know that it will.

Thou Shalt Not:

1.  Leave the toilet seat up.  This one is mostly for the men out there, but it applies across the board.  I’ve voiced my discontent with finding the toilet seat up before, only to be told “well, we don’t complain that YOU keep putting it down.  You need it down, we need it up.  We have to touch it to put it up when we need to go, so it’s totally fair that YOU have to touch it to put it back down when YOU need to go.” And to that I say – NO.  If I have to be the one who cleans the toilets, is responsible for ensuring the supplies are available and stocked (almost without fail), then I think the LEAST that can be done for ME is to ensure that I don’t fall in the fuckin’ thing when I need to pee.  Cannot we not all just agree on that one, please?


2. Text and drive. Or hold your phone in front of your mouth and talk while you drive (putting your cell on speaker phone isn’t hands-free fuckball). Aside from the fines imposed when busted for breaking this particular law, consider this: If, one of these days, while texting ‘whr r u?’ to your sucknuts friend, and your car drifts over the line into the oncoming lane and actually succeeds in causing an accident, big or small, involving me or not, Karma, with a capital K, WILL find you, and she will make sure that your genitals burn with the fire of a thousand STI’s, your dogs will forever have plugged anal glands, and your cell phone will never carry a reliable signal again (and may even spontaneously combust in your pocket or bra one day, because that’s a real thing. Because KARMA) . And the reason is simple. Texting and driving or doing that fake hands-free thing is bullshit, but Karma is a queen and will sort your shit out.

3. Waste one more second of your life waiting. What are you waiting for? Tomorrow? Next week? Next month. The time is now. Yesterday is gone and doesn’t matter. There is only now and tomorrow. Stop wasting your time, stop waiting. Do SOMETHING. Television, the internet (yes, I said it), too much sleeping or eating, or just sitting is robbing you of your life’s energy. Stop being scared by life. If you’re overwhelmed, remember – bite-sized pieces.  I don’t care what you say you want to do, what you intend to do, what you feel like you can do, if all you do is the same old things, nothing new, nothing wonderful is going to happen. Make wonderful happen. Make happiness happen. There are no ‘do-overs.’ We all get one shot at this thing called LIFE (reincarnation beliefs excluded) and we only get a limited time to make our lives happen.


4. Tear other people down. People don’t need someone else to tell them how much they suck. Most of us know our flaws, faults, shortcomings and mistakes. But most of us are also trying our best to fix ourselves, make things better and live happier lives. We don’t need to judge other people about how they parent, eat, spend, speak, live or love. We don’t need to be critical of those we love, our spouses, children, parents, friends. God knows, there are enough people in the world who are going to try to tear them down, that we should be concentrating on building them up, praising them, loving them, supporting and cheering them on. It is not bullshit to make someone feel like they are important, that they are smart, special, and unique. I am just as guilty as the next of this one – but I’m fighting like hell to change that.


5. Take more than you give. Always aim to give more than you take. Be the first to offer help and the first to allow yourself to be helped. People who love you need to be able to make your life easier, better and happier, just as you need to do the same for them. Helping others makes all of us feel better about ourselves and it well, helps other people. How can that be a bad thing? Unless you’re helping others to score crack or poison their boss. In that case, helping is a very bad thing and you should stop immediately. But generally, helping is good, so don’t wait to be asked, tune into your life, look around and see where the people around you, no matter who they are, need help and then, well, help. Not because you have to, are asked or want something from them in return, but merely because you WANT to give to that person in that moment.

CaringSo, this is my list of the first five things I think people should stop doing RIGHT NOW. What are that do you think that we, as a people, should just stop doing? What should we start doing? What would make your life better if people around you would start or stop doing? Share – email, comment, Facebook, Twitter, courier pigeon – whatever, just talk to me!

P.S.  If you’ have not ‘Liked’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Followed’ along on Twitter, checked out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, or connected with thekeswickblog on Instagram, then you’re missing out on micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry :)  Come on over and share the insanity!

Apr 14

Last week on the internet, I found some things that ought to be shared

And they ought to be shared because a) I don’t get to use the word ‘ought’ often enough and b) things that either make me recoil in horror or shoot Diet Pepsi out of my nose (ouch!) or furiously happy, amused or disgusted are totally shareable things. Like cookies. Or cold sores and venereal warts. These are things that I’m told that people share. And I’m a sharer (well, not really, having O.C.S.*) and so I want to share my finds with you (but please don’t think that you need to share anything with me – I don’t DO cold sores or warts, of any kind. Ever. But you can send me cookies, I totally dig cookies). If you ever wondered if I had a touch of ADHD, I think I’ve just confirmed your suspicions for you. Yay, me!

Onward and upward. This week on the interwebs I found this:

This one just causes me indescribable pain. Because I’m weak and addicted. Judge away. 2030 chocolate production will be greatly reduced because of some stupid weather problem or something. W.T.F. am I going to dooooooooo? Scroll through the slide show because according to these Pollyanna-wannabes, maple syrup, peanuts, fish, wine and coffee are also on the list for extinction. Haven’t these people ever heard of positivity?

I’m less organized than I thought and also that I have something to aspire to and it is simply fantastic that I have yet one more thing to remind me that I’m only a fraction as fabulous as the voices in my head tell me that I am. Thanks a lot you asshole, Internet.

This just saved me the trouble of writing yet another post on the subject of common mis-spellings that must stop. I can delete my first draft now (and make a note to myself to take some drawing lessons – everything is funnier with pictures. Except surgery, pictures just make surgery yuckier, scarier and less funny).

In other news, Spring may have finally sprung. Perhaps I shall venture out with my camera later to confirm this rumour and collect evidence in support of same. For now though, seeing our outside thermometer proudly reading seven-ish degrees on the RIGHT side of zero is confirmation enough for this girl.

And finally, I have NOT forgotten about the bread baking cost breakdown, it’s coming, I’m just slow sometimes.

If you totally ignore the copious amounts of snow in the background, and the lack of sunshine, and the absence of sunshine, it's TOTALLY Spring out there. If you're not going to use your imagination, this will never work. Work with me here!

If you totally ignore the copious amounts of snow in the background, and the lack of sunshine, and the absence of sunshine, it’s TOTALLY Spring out there.
If you’re not going to use your imagination, this will never work. Work with me, people!

 *O.C.S. – Only Child Syndrome. Results in a profound inability to share, take turns, listen when others are talking, and take orders. It’s a blessing and a curse, really.



Mar 14

I powered down yesterday and this happened

I actually made something! It’s not square, and it’s not perfect, but it is functional, practical, frugal (used left-over cotton yarn), and it was fun.

Perfectly imperfect

Perfectly imperfect

Truth be told, this is probably the straightest piece that I’ve ever completed. I always go for square or rectangle but usually end up with more of a rhombus or some other made up shape.

I’m gearing up to try to make another blanket/throw/giant dish cloth, but I think I’ll do a few more ‘practice’ pieces first. We don’t need another lopsided, wonky throw blanket around here. #Truth

Other than that, it was a little bit stressful to not have instant access to all the answers, because in all honesty I love my electronics, but I think that I could and need to get used to not being so ‘plugged’ in again. I mean, until my early twenties, pagers were the best way to stay connected and even as cool as they were, it was frustrating even then either being paged or having your pages ‘ignored.’  Now it’s even worse because people know when you’ve ‘seen’ their text, message or post. It’s 24/7 tracking and the more that I think about it, the less I like it and the un-cooler it becomes.

So, onward and upward with day two of this challenge. I think I’ll go and find some more ends of yarn and start practicing crocheting ‘in the round’ (’cause that shit is complicated I tell you).

P.S. I think my spell-checker is drunk because it keeps telling me that “no writing errors were found” in this post. I find that difficult to believe. If there’s one thing you can count on me for, it’s making a multitude of stupid and obvious errors.

Mar 14

My Monday challenge for the week

As I admitted recently, I failed at Lent. I took this failure very personally, because, well, it was my failure and I hate it when I let myself or others down. But then a very nice reader reminded me that it doesn’t have to be ‘all or nothing’ and that I could try again without waiting until next year. She also let me know that maybe I don’t have to give something up for Lent, maybe I could DO something instead. I like that idea a lot. Mostly because I’m terrible at giving stuff up (yes, I’m looking at you, chocolate temptress), but also because I can easily identify about a million things that I need to change about myself, habits or my behaviour.

And that leads me here. To my Monday challenge for this week. Weekly challenges may work better for me, since seven days is far less daunting than forty days right off the bat. This week I will be unplugging my internet connection everyday day at 5:30 and will not turn it back on until 7:00 a.m. the following day. If it works out well, and helps me use my evening hours better, I may extend it later, change the hours or even skip days (but I’m getting way ahead of myself here, because I’m breaking out in a sweat just thinking of not being able to look up anything after 5:30 p.m. for the next seven days).  This technology/electronics blackout will include my iPad, laptop and phone (kiddo, if you’re reading this and you need me after 5:30, call the house, I’ll call you back if I’m not home!)

What I’m hoping that this will accomplish is to help give me back the time I used to have to pursue other interests, like reading (alone and with the kidlets), crocheting, photography, journal writing (with a pen and paper!), music (listening and playing), planning and organizing my house and home, etc. I also want to learn new things, like how to sew and re-finish furniture and lay tile properly. I have a list of things that I want to repurpose, refurbish and redo and I never seem to have (make?) time to do them.

So, now that I’ve committed this challenge to (virtual) paper, I refuse to bungle it up and have to confess yet ANOTHER failure. I’m going for the win here people.

And, since it is St. Patrick’s Day, I’m counting on having the luck ‘o the Irish with me today and for the rest of the week while I detox off 24/7 connectivity and re-enter the land of peace.And now, I’m off to try to bake something ‘green’ for my leprechaun minions :)

A little reminder never hurt any of us!  Happy St. Paddy's day, ya'll!

A little reminder never hurt any of us! Happy St. Paddy’s day, ya’ll!

Mar 14

I am a Lent failure. I blame my mother

I blame her because I’m supposed to blame her for everything that I cannot do/get/have/be, right? Isn’t that our plight as mothers, to be held ultimately responsible for every failure, character flaw, and bad luck that our offspring encounter or have?

Well, I for one am REJECTING that shit and accepting responsibility for my complete and utter Lent failure. *Warning: Awkward sentence ahead* There is no reasonable way that a woman my age is in any way NOT responsible for my own choices, successes and failures. I credit my parents with raising me to feel loved, important, independent, creative, clever, capable and worthy. I do not lay blame at their feet for any of my poor choices, mistakes, misguided beliefs or moral trespasses. If I’m going to Hell, it will be on a ticket that I bought and not because anyone else booked my trip.

So, the bottom line. I am a Lent-failure. But, in an effort to be kinder to myself, for every failure, I’ve decided to acknowledge and celebrate a success to help maintain balance. So, with that in mind, yes I failed at Lent, but I totally owned the whole putting-on-my-pants-while-standing-up-and-not-falling-over deal. See? For every failure there really is a success. it’s all about expectations and perspective, people.

Besides, there’s always next year, and knowing me, I’ll give it another shot. ;)


P.S.  If you’ have not ‘Liked’ The Keswick Blog on Facebook or ‘Followed’ along on Twitter or checked out The Keswick Blog on Pinterest, then you’re missing out on micro-blogging that happens when time or circumstances do not allow for a full-blown blog entry ;)  Come on over and share the insanity!
P.P.S.  So now The Keswick Blog is on Instagram , find thekeswickblog there to see some random things that do not make it to Facebook, Twitter or the blog - Too. Many. Sites. Where will it end?  *thud*

Mar 14

Shrove Tuesday is here and guess what that means?

Other than the sound of griddles firing up all over the place and the smell of maple syrup wafting in the air?  It means that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday or the first day of Lent. Now, I was not raised to follow any particular religion, although we did participate in Shrove (Pancake) Tuesday (because, well, PANCAKES!), Easter, Christmas and Halloween, so I was not raised devoid of any religion. We just celebrated what we wanted and ignored what we didn’t want and went along our merry way.

As an adult, I learned about Lent and I was intrigued. And despite my best intentions, every year it caught me unawares and by the time I figured out it was happening, it was over. And every year I said “next year, I’m totally doing this Lent thing.”  But this year, yes this year, I’m on it, I’m all over it and knowing that Lent BEGINS tomorrow, as opposed to ENDS tomorrow, means that I am able to decide and commit to participating this year. And, true to my upbringing, my participation is less about religion and more about self-awareness, discovering universal truths, practicing gratitude and positivity (and why, I wonder, does spell check want to change positivity to pomposity? #insulted #spellcheck-is-an-asshole )

So, I will spend the rest of the day deciding what I will give up for the next 40 days, in the name of Lent. Rest assured though, it will not be sex, talking, blogging, insanity or humour. Everything else though is on the chopping block. I’m leaning towards giving up a food group or two, because I’m not giving up my bed or hot water in my showers. I’m all about the baby steps, people. I may be a zealot about a lot of things, but total self-deprivation ain’t one of ‘em.

See?  There are benefits to giving things up for Lent.

See? There are benefits to giving things up for Lent.

What about you? Have you, do you, will you be participating in Lent (or some similar ritual) this year? What will you or would you give up? What do you think I should consider giving up for the next 40 days (and remember, this Chiquita banana will not even entertain anything that involves vows of silence or cold showers, so don’t even go there ;) )

Mar 14

The upside of temper tantrums

tempermental family

Kids.  I love them.  Well, I love all five of mine. I’d probably like yours, but I’ll reserve judgement on that point for the moment. Anyway, my kids are the highlight of my day life. They say, do and completely loss their shit over the greatest stuff ever. With that in mind, I’ve decided to start a running list of the best kidlet melt-downs of 2014. The cause, duration and magnitude, the resolution and any notable quotes thereof will be shared herein. I’m only doing 2014 because this is a blog, not a novel and with five kids, ain’t no one got time for that many tantrums.

So, because I came up with this brain child in the middle of the last week of February, I’ll name today’s entry as Tantrum Number One (TNO), otherwise known as the You-WILL-Wipe-My-Bum-Or-Else! tantrum.

Without going into too many gory details (good luck with that!), one of my adorable minions has proven to be resistant to owing the responsibility for wiping her own bottom after using the potty (number one, not two). And since (I have been told) I will not be allowed to accompany her to junior kindergarten next September (whose stupid policy is that, anyway?!?), I have decided that this particular minion must learn not only how to, but also commit to performing the wiping ritual by herself, even at home. Part one, done.  She understands how it is done and that it is necessary. Part two. She wants none of.  And so therein lies the conflict that lead to the aforementioned TNO.

Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but I dare you not to not laugh (and I mean really laugh, like out loud and expelling tea from your nose) when confronted by a very angry, short, red-faced minion of your own making, who is repeatedly screaming at you to ‘WIPE MY A-GIIINA NOOOOOOWWWWW!’ while standing in the doorway wearing only a tee-shirt and knee-high socks, raising her shaking fist full of toilet paper at you, and stomping her foot so hard the windows shake in the next room. And then, once you’ve recovered from nearly drowning in your own tea, I dare you to sit back down and resume eating your lunch while that same possessed minion continues to rage and demand your immediate assistance, despite your constant and gentle yet firm assertions that you WILL NOT be helping anyone do anything right now, particularly anyone who is screaming demands at you.  You are on a ‘break.’  (Hell, if the minions are going to treat you like hired help, you’re damned well entitled to a frickin’ lunch break – workers UNITE!).

And, after the third kick to your shins, push on your arm (causing you to miss your mouth with your fork and drop the once much-wanted food right into your lap), I would suggest that you may choose to carry that mostly naked, enraged, tear and snot covered minion-of-fury up to her room and gently close the door after telling her that “when you calm down, and would like to apologize, you may come back downstairs, apologize, wipe your bottom (which has now been air-drying for half an hour) and put on your clothes, then you are more than welcome to do so.”  Then you may close the minion’s door and pat yourself on the back while you limp back downstairs to finish your now cold and unappetizing lunch.  But, you didn’t give in.  You PARENTED.  You parented the shit out of the situation and that is more far more gratifying than sustenance.  And because you held your ground, your kid will be a huge success in life. Right?!? Um, right?  For the small price of a pounding headache, two very small shin bone-chips, a crappy lunch and 45 minutes of your life, you didn’t have to wipe a bum and you taught a three-year-old that you can’t be bullied into doing it either. So there. Hmmm. Now that I think of it, I kind of totally won and lost at the same time. But, because I’m the grown up, and she doesn’t read my blog, I’m taking the win for the whole “I stuck to my guns” thing. There are no ‘tie games’ during these times of battle.

But, hind sight is 20/20 and you know what? Next time (and there will be a next time, bank on it), I’m just going to wipe the minion’s butt and get one with our otherwise peaceful afternoon together. This was probably one of those battles I didn’t need to engage in. Live and learn. Besides, I’m pretty sure that my bum-wiping days are on borrowed time – even kids get weirded out about it after a while, and when it’s all just a memory, I know I’ll be a little sad and miss these days.

2014 Tantrum Success Score:  Mama – 1        Minion Army – 0

no keys

17 Days to Spring and counting.  Not sure I’m a believer yet, but I’m SO OVER this sub-zero weather, that I’ll take any hope that is thrown at me.

Feb 14

Well, that was harsh

Family Day 2014

*phone ringing*

Me: Hello?
Caller: Hello, can I speak with argh-bragh-urgh? *heavy accent and slurring*
Me: ah, may I ask who’s calling?
Caller: underwear
Me: pardon? I’m sorry, I think we’re okay. Would you please take us off your call list?
Caller: SHUT UP! *click*

And that was it. It was as over as quickly as it began. Our time together was fleeting, confusing and memorable, much like my first crush on a boy. Same old story, he was the kid who licked the fence post and got his tongue frozen there, inspiring disgust and delight in my five-year-old heart, one winter afternoon at daycare. The crush was fleeting, I don’t really remember his name (Adam, maybe?) but I remember thinking that he must be daring, brave and stupid all at the same time. I remember thinking how he must have done it wrong to have such a tear-filled, snot-flowing ending. This was my last thought right before I stuck my bottom lip to the same pole and my high-pitched wailing sent the daycare workers running for more hot water to free yet another dummy from the metal fence post, a fence that was likely designed to keep kids in, not render them mute.

Turns out, there is no good way to lick a metal anything in the dead of a Canadian winter.

Mercy me.


Feb 14

If Steve from India calls, I recommend talking to him about chickens

Oh, he will resist at first. He will try to keep steering you back to his ‘Internet Cleaning’ to get rid of ‘the naked pictures’ on your computer pitch, but do not let him fool you (lest you forget, you like the naked pictures on your computer!). When you politely decline having your internet cleaned (Keep the Internet Dirty – this needs its own advocacy group, stat!), and innocently ask for house cleaning, he may accuse you of being your own daughter, or possibly babysitter (if you have one or more children screaming in the background, perhaps?).  Do NOT be swayed.  Stick with your house cleaning request.  Do NOT acknowledge the identity request. Especially since he’s calling to speak to “Mrs. Husbands-First-Name.”  Call your new friend “Steeeeeve,” he likes it.

When he switches gears away from Internet Cleaning to Duct Cleaning, quickly advise him that you are duct-less and ask him the rates for chicken cleaning. Keep it real and do not claim to have more than a handful of the fancy egg layers.  Let him tell you about the revolutionary chicken cleaning service he can arrange for you. ‘They’ will shampoo, condition and body spray(um, ewww?) all of your chickens for only $100.00. Make sure to tell him that your chickens don’t need body spray and deodorant, that they are chickens, not hookers.  Listen closely while he mulls that over for a second, mutters ‘hooker’ a few times and then launches into how attractive your chickens will be to other chickens and how many more eggs they will lay.  Then graciously decline the pro-offered chicken cleaning services.  Make sure to let him know that you do not want your chickens sexified, that you’re not looking to open a chicken brothel.  Your chickens have dignity and virtue.

He’ll try to sweeten the deal and offer you chicken shoes, that retail for $42 a pair. And chicken clothes because ‘in Canada, the weather means that chickens need clothes.’  And this will be all done, for all of your chickens for $100.00.  And they’ll be able to come over and clean the chickens tomorrow.  Make sure to tell Steeeeeve that if he can see past all of the naked pictures on his screen, that he should go on the internet and Google ‘chickens’ because you’re pretty sure he’s never actually seen a chicken. And that chickens do not wear $42 shoes, that you don’t even wear $42.00 shoes. And that in any event, you neither want your chickens shod, clothed or deodorized, butthankyouverymuchforyourcall.

As a last ditch effort, he’ll toss out the old “you won’t have to wash your chickens again for TWO YEARS!” pitch.  Make sure to scoff at that.  Re-suggest that Google search, stat. Act, no, BE indignant at the thought of not cleaning your chickens for two years.

And when the seemingly unflappable Steeeeeve, finally acquiesces, and allows a little giggle escape, smile then. Because you didn’t get annoyed, you didn’t hang up, you didn’t deafen him with your rape whistle for interrupting your favourite show/shower/book.  No, YOU were better than that. You, and you alone provided some levity to an otherwise monotonous day for some nice fella in India. He’ll sign off with a “God Bless You, Have a Nice Day.”

And that, people, is what we call, Spreading the Sunshine while Not Losing your Shirt or your Shit.  And it’s good karma to put out there. And it didn’t cost you $100 or your credit card information.  The cost to you?  Six minutes and 46 seconds. (And you get to keep the naked pictures on your computer – WIN!)

You also have the added bonus of knowing that you have provided invaluable chicken awareness to otherwise very misinformed people. Chicken body spray and shoes? KFC is chicken? Pffffuttt!

Because if nothing else, this call was gracefully executed.

Because if nothing else, this call was gracefully executed.

P.S. I need to thank my friend over at My Lil Adventures for sharing with me an audio recording of part of a call her husband once had with a telemarketer, also involving ducks and chickens.  My call was very different from his, but it reminded me to re-the-fuck-lax and have some fun with these calls once in a while.  So, thank you, my friend :)

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