Two updates and a long-awaited realization

Updates on the blog are few and far between these days. Life is busy. Anxiety runs high while coping mechanisms continue to fail me. But that’s another post for another day, or not. Today, we have two updates in one post:

First update: While this mummy doesn’t drink, she can relate to just about every single other thing in Why Mummy’s Sloshed, the fourth book in Gill Sims’ hilarious diary-style series. If you’re a forty-something mum and don’t cringe at swear words and do appreciate when other mothers and wives are very honest in sharing just how UGH life can be sometimes, these books may just be for you. So, grab a copy, lock yourself in a closet, or better yet, lock your kids in a closet, go find yourself a comfy seat (just shove all of the sodding laundry onto the floor) and give it a whirl. I’m throughly enjoying this fourth book – laughing, wincing, smirking, head-nodding and uh huh’ing my way through it while my kids interrupt every two minutes looking for answers, justice or revenge. But that’s a normal day around here now, so I may as well read during the lulls in the excitement.

Second update: During our weekly visit with Nana yesterday, I came across this absolute gem of a bookmark and just had to bring it home with me. Now, in hindsight I was shockingly too young to read V.C. Andrews books when I began (um, the fifth grade 😳) and I’m fairly certain that reading them warped my developing brain in ways that I am still unprepared to examine. Of course, I also do not remember why I just walked into the living room holding a wooden spoon and one of those plastic knobby things that keep the air in a bicycle tire, but I do vividly remember Cathy, Chris, Cory and Carrie and  that bloody attic they were forced to live in for years. Really though, aside from the incredibly twisted and warped family dynamics I read about, I mostly remember the excitement that I felt every time another instalment would hit the bookshops. Not sadly, I no longer have my library of V.C. Andrews books and honestly the mere thought of reading one of those books today hurts my stomach and makes me feel icky, but I do have this small reminder of all those years when I could and would stay up reading well into the night because I just couldn’t put the book down until I knew how it ended. In those days, I could do that just about every night without any ill-effects in the morning, aside from the sadness of not having another new volume to read that day.

While I cannot pretend to remember the precise day I came into possession of this fine piece of memorabilia, I imagine I probably received it from our local independent bookshop on Queen St. East, in the Beach, where I grew up. The man who ran the shop was a bit odd, as was I, I was probably just better at hiding the oddness within. Really though, in those carefree times all that really mattered to me was that he kept me well supplied with reading material (and apparently free bookmarks).

Finally and also, the second photo above serves as evidence that I have officially, formally and actually given up and finally accepted the fact that this unholy, dimpled, sagging, veiny, scarred, jiggly mess of flesh really is my body and not just a placeholder while my real and most excellent body is being assembled and prepped for delivery. And rather than keeping this lot perpetually encased in as much fabric as possible during what has become a ridiculously hot and humid Ontario summer, and causing myself the maximum amount of distress due to heatstroke, I now wear shorts. And overall shorts at that. So, I guess that sometimes resignation really is the same thing as growth, right?

Stay safe, and as always, stay golden.
A.
xo

I didn’t do my homework and the whole house is going to pay for it.

Last year we were shocked to discover that our apple trees had been brutalized. Small branches snapped, broken off, vandalized. Needless to say, after the carnage, we ended up with a total of three apples, from five trees. At first we thought that it was drunk teenagers, but having been teenagers once ourselves, it seemed a very lame thing to do and one that would afford a teenager zero street credibility. Further investigation lead to the conclusion that it was, in fact, a local gang of deer that had violated our trees so brutally. I was kind of at a loss about what I could do about that, since we live surrounded by forests and the deer were here first and quite frankly, I’m a huge scaredy cat and know in depths of my yellow-bellied toes that I’m incapable of taking on a deer (or even a rabbit) who wants to eat my apple tree(s).

Then, while happily and gratefully stripping a neighbours trees of their delicious pears last autumn, I happened to mention the unprovoked attack to him (we have a handful of neighbours within a ten minute walk), and found out that our local mob of deer had been similarly beastly to his trees and that he resolved the issue by using deer repellant spray that he had purchased from Canadian Tire. Great! I thought to myself. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy. I’ll buy the spray, I’ll use the spray and the deer will be so disgusted that they’ll just pass right on by our trees without another thought and I’ll be, wait for it, a HERO!

And that’s almost exactly what happened. Or at least, I bought the spray and waited for the weather to cooperate and become warm enough for the trees to start waking up. A few Saturdays ago it was a beautiful, warm, clear spring day and that is why I made the dreadful mistake of thinking that nice weather meant that I could safely leave my lovely inside world and venture into the outside. If you know me at all, you may be able to see how my mistakes have already begun to compound, right?

Well, delusional me, with valiant thoughts of heroism and protecting our little apple trees, grabbed the spray (that Canadian Tire had, strangely I thought, put inside a plastic bag and then tied the bag tightly closed) and headed down the driveway towards the trees. On a mission, as it were. Then it hit me. Like a fart in church. Akin to a noxious combination of gallons of decaying cat urine with rotting roadkill, the smell was seeping from the still closed and sealed bottle. Oh, holy Hera, for someone who lives her life, often with the sole daily goal of not catching the scent anything disgusting, to say that this was unexpected and beyond distressing would be understating my alarm. I am a lot of things (slow, prone to falling down, awkward, to name a few) but I am not a quitter. I held my breath, hastily scanned the instructions on the bottle while staving off hypoxia, turned the little nozzle to ‘spray,’ checked the direction of the breeze and pulled the trigger.

Revolting would be doing the resulting stench a kindness. Occasionally, because Mother Nature can be a cruel mother, the breeze would decide to do a loop-de-loop and the spray would come straight back at me. I felt the mist land on my arms and brush my cheeks. I tried not to breath. I thanked God for aging my eyes enough so that I now wear glasses full-time, saving them from the vile droplets that I was sure would burn my retinas. My next thoughts were to curse myself for already having showered that morning and then I felt sad at the realization that I was likely going to have to burn my favourite overall shorts because there was no way that this particular parfum du sack of decaying warthogs would ever come out of the fabric. I may have let out a little shriek, but more likely it was a string of expletives that I’m still not sure that I know the meaning of, all colourfully expressed as I ducked and dodged the spray-back, determined to get the job done, dignity be damned.

And done, I got it. The apple trees finally done, my conscience kicked in and started flashing pictures of our sad little pear tree that lives alone in the backyard. I pictured it surrounded by hunger deer, all clamouring to chomp it’s delicate little limbs. I decided to head into the backyard to spray it, since that poor thing has been a sad specimen since the beginning and since I brought it here, I owe it a chance of survival. I took a deep breath, held it and sprayed the tree while still dancing about trying to avoid any contact with the vile spray and when I was done, despite my best efforts, that spray was the only thing that I could smell and taste.

I tossed the spray bottle into the bike shed (it was closer than the garden shed), went into the kitchen and washed my hands and arms with soap. I scrubbed them with the dishcloth, and somehow convinced myself that I could get away without taking a second shower and burning my clothes. I prefer to think of my self as hopeFUL, rather than hopeLESS, thankyouverymuch.

I’m not sure how long the smell is noticeable to humans, but when two of my children came home from the park, they asked why our driveway smelled “so bad” and why I was twitching and shaking my head so much. I could not get the smell out of my nose. At this point, I was fairly certain that I had killed my sense of smell and that nothing would ever taste or smell the same again. Which, in hindsight, living as I do with five males, could this “loss” be a blessing in disguise? I am fastidious about reading labels for just about everything I purchase and bring into our home and yet I still don’t have a clue what the active ingredients are or what is in that demonic spray that is guaranteed to work as a repellant against deer and rabbit foliage attacks. I simply cannot bring myself to touch the bottle again, not even to check the brand name in order to look it up online. While I’m not proud, I do own my inadequacies.

So, now, I wait and see. If a single deer touches any of those apple trees, it was all for nought and I’ll have to seriously re-evaluate just how attached I am to the idea of growing our own fruit. Conversely, if the apple trees are allowed to grow unmolested, I suppose I will need to consider the experience worth it, even if we only net a single apple. That said, for the next application I’ll be sending one of these kids out there to deal with it. Oh, stop it. First, I’ll give him safety glasses, gloves, and a barf bag, of course. I’m not a complete monster.

~A.

This may be one reason why I get so little done in a day

Generally, I am in constant (non-aerobic, because I’m mostly a sloth) motion and do “stuff” from the time that I rise in the morning until the moment I burrow back into bed at night. It has recently started to bother me just how much more there is always left to do at the end of the day, and then this thing happened (more on that below) and it occurred to me that I may have discovered one of the reasons why I spend so much time doing many things but am never actually done.

One day last week, I had this whole super-snazzy Instagram post typed up and (almost) ready to go, when one of my kids asked to use my phone for some school-related task. Although I should have known better, and in fact, I do know better, I handed over the phone without first copying my post into a Note, and saving it for later. I don’t suppose I need to tell you what happened, but I will anyway (since that’s pretty much what I do around here). As it happened, upon the return of my phone, when I double-clicked the Home button to pull up IG again, yes, you guessed it, IG acted like it was our first time seeing each other that day. UGH. Double Ugh. Ghosted by my own phone. So typical.

That one act of parental selflessness, as a result of a single moment of (play-acting at) adult responsibility, all of my witty musings, my twenty minutes of tapping away on my phone, and what was likely destined to be my IG equivalent of my pièce de résistance, was forever lost. For what was this sacrifice made, you ask? Well my friends, not surprisingly I’m sure, it was for not less than the eleventy-billionth picture of our cat, Lucky, refusing to look at the camera or pose nicely, or do anything remotely cooperative. So yes, I suppose the (absolutely imagined and fictional) loss suffered by the literary and social media worlds is nothing when compared to glory that is this picture of our grumpy cat in the snow: 

Captivating image of Lucky vs. the snow, yes?


I am left wondering, however, for which class my eleventh grader needed a current photograph of our cat, and for what purpose? I mean, has the eleventh grade changed that much since I was in high school? Oh wait, yes, yes, it totally has. We didn’t have cell phones, smart phones, the internet or virtual learning. If we wanted to show off pictures of our pets, we had to actually carry printed photographs around with us, and well, frankly, I’m pretty sure any kids who did that were immediately decimated and jammed inside a locker for the rest of the day. Or maybe I just went to a particularly intolerant high school and I was part of the problem? Ugh (although, and for the record, I never stuffed anyone in a locker, nor ordered anyone else to do it on my behalf, so there is that, right?).

Thus, in my typical wordy fashion, a short story made way-too-long, I’m almost certain that the reason that I spend so much time getting so few things done is that I’m basically crap at adulting. And I have also need to work on my feelings of gratitude for having such a prize cat instead of slagging her off for being grumpy (I mean, look at her role model, right?). And also, I’m pretty sure that I have now completely lost my previous (crazy) train of thought, and cannot re-create my lost post. But take me at my word, it was going to be pure magic. Sigh.

Just when I think I’m about to really get stuff done and blaze a new path, something like this happens. Every time.

Yesterday afternoon, while two of my smalls (who are all more in the medium-large range, if I’m being honest) worked on their school work and the other two wondered around aimlessly looking for something to do,  I finally finished and posted a new blog post. It only took two-and-a-half weeks, and won’t win me any awards but hey, I got it done, right? As I sat back in my chair, I turned to look out my office window, which faces our driveway and the road beyond just in time to see a huge eighteen-wheeler rumble past our house. Hmmm. That’s strange. We never have vehicles that big on our street. 

Not two minutes later, one of my kids after another filed into my office. “Power’s out” each said with increasing urgency. It suddenly made sense why the site I was trying to access moments before was still loading. No hydro = no internet. Living up here and not on town services, also means that no hydro = no water. Incidentally, yesterday was the hottest day of the year thus far, coming in at around 31C and humid. Good times. Sigh.

We headed outside to see what might have happened. This is what we saw.

Oh. Right. 

A neighbour was on the cross street and yelled over that an 18-wheeler hit the hydro post. Wonderful. It did not escape my notice that the truck broke the hydro pole clean in half and also that a) was no longer at the scene of the destruction and b) that it broke the same hydro pole that has been broken or knocked over no fewer than three times in the past four years, including this past winter when a snow plow took it out after the first snow of the season. Argh.

Police and HydroOne were called. The intersection was closed off and around six hours later, we had power again, and eleven hours later, our internet was restored. Needless to say, it was a long, crummy afternoon and evening. 

Once the power was back on, I finished making dinner (had been using the oven) and set it aside for tonight’s dinner. I did not allow myself a  moment of mum-guilt as I fed the children chips and salsa, sardines (they love those), grapes, crackers and cereal for dinner. Not one. single. moment.

As it turns out, our midnight internet fix was temporary, as just moments before lunch today, the internet and wifi died again as Rogers does the ‘real life’ repair on the line. On the upside though, we did get to keep our hydro though, so it only bites a little bit.

Oh, and it’s only Wednesday. Oh boy.

P.S. Just as I finished this post, our internet connection was restored once again. Only a two hour outage today. Progress!

P.P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

A day late and a dollar short, but I’m still here.

When I started writing this post, I was almost a week late with it. I am now over two weeks late and barreling towards three weeks late with it. Apparently my time management skills hit the skids when I’m surrounded by six other people, 24/7 who all need something from me. Go figure. That said, I am eternally grateful that those six people are here at home with me, where I know they are safe (from the outside world that is, from me, not so much). Meh.

That said, now that I’m over two weeks late with this, I will offer, in my defence, that I have succeeded in other ways these past two weeks. For example, I have only suffered from five self-inflicted kitchen injuries (with more cussing than actual blood being shed); I have showered EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.; I have prepared meals for seven people daily, without skipping any and done so three times each and every day while also providing the occasional (read: constant) snacks; I have only tripped over the cat ONCE; and finally (and I am most proud of this one) I successfully navigated the weekly grocery shopping TWICE without snapping at or stabbing a single other shopper for encroaching on “my bubble” or for being just generally wretched and oblivious. 

So, now that I’ve bragged (read: justified) about me, let me brag about #MyFive. These are pictures of the Mother’s Day gifts each of them made for me this year. All designed, handcrafted, and worked on so enthusiastically and happily. They were each so excited for Mother’s Day this year that it was both touching and a little suspicious. But, my suspicious nature was wrong and they weren’t setting me up for a big confession or repair bill. 😂

While I still have a trunk full of kindergartener macaroni art, tin can vases and recycling-material based crafts that I cherish (even if I can no longer identify the artist or the subject) I have to admit that with this years gifts I won the Mother’s Day lottery. 😂

Happy Mother's Day drawing
Miss Moon captured us enjoying an ‘only child’ moment. Lol!
Carved from wood and painted with love from my Pax boy.
Deacon thought that my letter opener was “a little bit broken” (Read: broke down), so he decided to make me a brand new one. He was particularly proud of the brass screws. Best part? It works as amazingly as it looks like it would!
Deacon, part 2
Handcrafted wooden cutting board
Mas has made this at school and has been waiting to give it to me for months. I admire his restraint almost as much as the craftsmanship. I’m terrible at keeping presents for later!
Declan has been wood working more lately and created this gorgeous set for me. I don’t know how he did the plaque inlay, but I just love it!

2020 has been a weird year so far. Birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions have been celebrated “under quarantine” which is something completely new for most of us, but it’s still important to celebrate these times and milestones. I have now celebrated 26 Mother’s Days as a mother, and I think that this was the first one that my kids were SUPER excited for the day, which made my day that much more special. Since Mother’s Day, we have also celebrated our wedding anniversary and Miss Moon’s 10th (!!) birthday, quarantine-style. In all honesty I think both occasions were so much more enjoyable spent at home and not feeling the pressure to find a restaurant and piling everyone into the car to spend too much money on sub-par food.

Of course, this is only Day 74 for us. Check back when we’re closing in on Day 100, lol!

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

Quitting Diet Soda and Finding a company with AMAZING customer service. The two events are related, I promise.

Good bye Diet Pepsi

As many people know, I have been drinking diet pop for as long as I can remember. For the past fifteen years, I have seldom been seen without a 710 ml bottle of Diet Pepsi in my hand, drink holder or purse. I have very early memories of cases of pink TAB soda cans in our kitchen. After that, Mum switched us both over to Diet Coke and then, well, diet anything. Then, as a teenager I had a friend who only drank Diet Pepsi and was so positively scornful of any other brand, that hanging out with him 24/7 started me on a long, sometimes expensive relationship with Diet Pepsi.

I wish I could say that I suffered all sorts of side effects from diet soda, but I can’t. I’ve always been (relatively) healthy, and over the past year lost enough weight (mostly by accident) that I am finally, and for the first time in over a decade, at what is considered to be a “healthy” weight and BMI and not considered to be overweight or obese.

I am aware of the opinions, studies and concerns that have been shared about diet soda, aspartame, caffeine, bubbles, the colour brown, etc. etc. Honestly, I’ve heard them all and I wish that I could say that any one of those things caused me to question my dedication to Diet Pepsi, but alas, no. What caused me to finally look critically at my choice to continue my decades long habit was when I realized that I was feeling what I can only describe as panicky any week that Shoppers Drug Mart was not offering their weekend deal on the six-pack of Diet Pepsi bottles (because I would NEVER pay full price – for shame!). Being stubborn, independent and headstrong I resent being dependant on anything, I was also unhappy spending money on something so completely unnecessary for health or happiness. Thus, I knew the time had come to end my relationship with diet soda.

My first step was to tell Mr. KB that I wanted to stop drinking diet soda, and so I would stop buying “my kind” but that if he wanted to keep drinking it, I would continue to buy his, of course. He has never really liked the idea of drinking diet pop anyway, but I suppose when it is the only “adult” drink in the house he naturally fell into drinking it as well. He quickly agreed that he also wanted to stop and that we’d do it together. I would likely switch to various herbal teas and he to water. And that’s when things start getting spicy around here.

Water

We are not on town services. This means that our house is serviced by a drilled well and a septic system. We have a water treatment system in our cold room, that includes a softer and UV light. Our water is safe, plentiful, lovely and we never have to pay a water bill (thankfully so since these ever-increasing bills seem to cause many Georgina households a huge amount of stress every three months). But occasionally, and especially in the spring, we can get a slight sulfur odour in our water and while perfectly safe to drink, is off-putting if you’re trying to drink a glass of water straight from the tap.

So our discussions commence. Option A: Do we buy yet another Brita filter and keep it filled in the fridge? This sounds economical and reasonable, I know. Unfortunately though, for some reason, I HATE having to fill the jug. I can’t stand waiting for the water to filter through, then add more water, make sure the jug is full, on top of having to make sure to create and maintain space in the fridge for this awkward pitcher. I just find it so annoying for some reason. Embarrassed to admit that this quasi-irrational reaction of mine may be there reason that we have purchased and ended up donating quite a few Brita systems over the years. I mean, I really do like the idea of the Brita filter, but the reality of having one never works out. Or, option B: Do we install the under-the-sink water kitchen filter we bought a few years back and use it for all of our cold water needs, including cooking? Since we already own the under-the-sink unit (and it came with a filter) and the specs for the one we chose still fit our needs, I was quick to vote for the kitchen sink thingy.

Mr. KB agreed and over the weekend he spent time gathering the bits and pieces needed to install the filter. It leaked. Not at the fittings, but right out the top. Mr. KB is very clever and handy and fixy and nothing he tried was worked to stop the leaking. So, since we need water from the kitchen faucet all of the time, he un-installed it and we weighed our options.

Do we: a) Keep trying to fix this unit? b) Contact the manufacturer and hope that it’s an easy fix (since we bought the unit YEARS ago, there is no way to return it or deal with a warranty claim); c) Chuck it and buy a new one? or d) Just buy the dreaded Brita?

We went back and forth for a bit, but finally decided to go with option (b) as our first plan and agreed to regroup if that failed.

The filter system we purchased was manufactured in Canada, in Richmond Hill to be precise, and that is located less than an hour from our home. I called them up and the woman walked me through the possible issues. She also said that if I wanted to, I could just bring it in and they would replace the itty-bitty spring-loaded o-ring on the bleeder valve, which is what she suspected the problem may be.

My ears (and spirits) perked up. Bring it in, you say? For free? And you’ll fix it for me? Yes, please!

A few days later, I made the trip down Highway 404 to Richmond Hill, filter housing in secured in the seat beside me and within twenty minutes of handing it to the secretary, it had been water-tested and had the o-ring changed out and brought back to me along with a new, free filter! How do you win customer loyalty for life from me? Give me quick service and some free swag and baby, I’m yours. Rainfresh, it turns out, totally had my number.

Under the sink water filter system
Oh, hello there you handsome (and now) leak-free giver of water! You’re so much sleeker than a clunky Brita filter! 😍

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, but occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it all.
xx

Looking for a great water filtration system for your home? Rainfresh by Envirogard is Made in Canada – check them out on Amazon.ca!

Perhaps my most favourite spam email of all time has arrived.

In this day and age, it is rare that I see any of the spam emails that come through my Inbox. These new finagled Junk Mail filters have greatly improved since the early years of email (remember those days of dial-up and seemingly endless waiting for downloads? Sigh), when each email had to be sifted through in order to figure out which were from people I knew, people I wanted to know, people I didn’t want to know / or was hiding from and which emails were from people I should seriously consider obtaining restraining orders from. Ah, the 90’s. Bless.

But those days are a long, distant memory now. I almost never think of email spam, since I never see it and only notice the Junk Mail folder when the numbers creep so high that I feel obligated to right click and hit ‘delete all’. Until, that is, yesterday.

Glorious, wonderful, yesterday. The second day of the second decade of my second witnessed millennia, January 2, 2020. It was on this day that this marvelous beauty nugget of prose arrived and landed squarely in my Inbox, addressed, as it was, to my first initial and my maiden name, I was instantly hooked. So impressed was I, that I decided to share it here. With you. Because I’m a giver and this here, this is a gift.

It would appear that this email was sent to me in error. Poor woman. She is far too young for me. And I am decidedly female. And I am married (to a man). And I do not live in Toronto and avoid visiting there if at all possible. And, well, truth be known, I’m just not that into her. *shrug*

BUT WAIT!

In case anyone reading this is (or knows someone who may be) interested in following up with this stable, clearly sincere and trustworthy person on her/their offer of love (even though she/they is/are trite), mutual communication and more than likely a solid financial and emotional fleecing and is currently (or will soon be) in possession of “a real man’s characteristics” ( and just as an aside, I want need further details as to what these characteristics are, just in case I do have any), this gorgeous mood-lifting email was sent from (spelled out so as to not create a riot or a clickable link) gregorxharriettee at outlook dot com.

If any of ya’ll give it a whirl, please share the update with me and the rest of us? I love a good happy ending as much as the next girl…

Have you gotten any note-worthy unsolicited emails lately? Ones that aren’t telling you that you’re about to get $26 million dollars from a bank in Nigeria (as soon as you send them a few thousand dollars for paperwork) or to “click here” to enhance your manhood/bank account/secure your account? I wanna know!

P.S. Join me on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.

Pretty sure that this is a true story

Now, I don’t like to brag (kind of lying to you, right out of the gate here 🤷🏼‍♀️), but I’m almost positive that last summer I was a too-cool, quasi-popular,  bubbly and perky fourteen-year-old with poor curling iron skills, hanging with my friends, sporting heavy electric-blue mascara, crop tops, mini skirts and my amazing white Tretorn canvas tennies (true story).

So, really not entirely sure how this summer I find myself staring into the rapidly falling face a forty-something-year-old bedraggled, unkept mini-van-driving mum with (at best) smeared eyeliner (typically applied hastily to one eye), living in a Costco-special skort, Walmart flip flops and food stained tee shirts that passed “the smell test,” driving to yet another soccer game while asking my twelve-year-old in the backseat to please stop shoving Cheddar Penguins up his nose, no matter how close he is to “the record” while simultaneously pleading with Jesus to “take the wheel” because this just cannot be real life (second true story).

Also, pretty sure that I did not see this situation on the horizon last summer, when I was still young, impossibly cool and had never even heard of Cheddar Penguins (or at least I’m pretty sure that this time existed).

I don’t mind admitting to you that all of this is really causing me to call into question the basis for my belief in my innate “coolness” in a whole new and frightening way. I believe that I may have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed (truest story of them all).

Now, I gotta run. The umpire is about to blow the whistle or shoot the pistol or whatever it is that happens at soccer games to let the kids know that it’s time to score some baskets, drive some balls or steal a base. Never a dull moment here and see? If nothing else, I am finally figuring out soccer-speak. 💁🏼‍♀️

P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

She would have been 106 years-old today and I miss her still.

Julia Winepress Phillips, born on this day in Dundee, Scotland, 1913.

My grandma would have turned 106 years-old today. I spent every weekend from the age of two until twelve with my grandparents. She loved me unconditionally, confided in me, listened to all of my blathers, and never questioned the truth or validity of any of my stories (“Oh, aye now, really? Well, isn’t that just an awffie (awful) thing to have happened to ye? Ah well, dinnae ye worry aboot it, Lovey”). She would sit in the backseat of my grandfather’s car with me (while he sped, swore and occasionally hit things with his car) and sing, laugh and delight in our time together. I could do no wrong in her eyes, nor she in mine. I was her best friend and she was mine.

We would sit and talk for hours on those weekends, she would tell me stories about growing up on Malcolm Street in Dundee, and how they would move house occasionally, but always stayed on Malcolm street. She told me about her brothers and sisters and the one baby girl who did not survive infancy, about her stern mother and wee-Irish father, and going to school and being forced to use her right hand rather than her left (she ended up being ambidextrous as a result) and about how terrified she was when she was sent out to work, delivering milk to houses with dark doorways in the wee hours of the morning as just a tiny five-year-old, because her family needed the money. I’m still not sure if she was more scared of the police officer who brought her home or her mother’s reaction that she’d be ‘caught’ and the resulting at the loss of income it caused.

She talked about being a nurse when she was a young, single woman in Scotland, about her dreams of being a nun and being told ‘no’ by her mother, as she was needed to earn money to support her parents and siblings. She told me about working in the factory during WWII and meeting my grandfather there and how during their first date, his temper got the better of him and he threatened to punch another man in the theatre for being too loud (in hindsight people, the signs are ALWAYS there if we are not blind to them).

She told me about coming to Canada on the boat while she was almost nine-months pregnant and tending to her toddler while my grandfather socialized with other travellers for the duration of the journey. She told me about their early years in Canada, the struggles, the scares, the near-misses.

She always stood tall and proud, she always sat straight-backed and knees together, perhaps crossing her feet at the ankles. She wore skirts with tights and was always clean, presentable, no matter the time of day or the weather outside. She tended to her family, house, and home with a fierce determination and pride. Her house was immaculate and her floors were waxed by hand. She worked outside the home for thirty-odd years (retiring at age 67) and still cooked dinner every evening. She cooked, cleaned, ironed, mended, sewed clothing (she made that dress she’s wearing in the picture above and almost all of her other clothes) and she made ends meet. The beds were always made, the mirrors always shone. She had her hair washed and set by the hairdresser every Friday and never once polished her fingernails.

She refused to let the outside world know her pain, heartache or difficulties. “Don’t let anyone know it hurts. Walk on, like your ankle isn’t sprained, like your back doesn’t hurt, like your heart isn’t broken, don’t limp, don’t frown, and for heaven’s sake, don’t cry. Smile and keep your head up and look them in the eye as you pass. You just need to get home. You can cry there. Never let anyone see you cry.”

My grandma never stood taller than 4’10” a day in her life. By the end of her time with us, she was closer to 4’7″ and could no longer sit or stand quite as tall, and her clever and sharp mind had betrayed her, but she was never less than a titan to me.

I will continue to miss her every day of my life.

Happy birthday, Grandma, until we meet again. xoxo




P.S. Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx

WEEK 4 Update and Wrap Up: Bringing the Grocery Budget Back to Reality: A Four Week Challenge

Three weeks (or a lifetime) ago now, I posted a grocery budget challenge for the month of May. You can read Week 1 here, Week 2 here, and Week 3 here. If you would rather skip the preamble, scroll down for the Week 4 results and wrap up.

Preamble
This challenge, in a nutshell came about because while most of our children were younger, our grocery budget was consistent and small. They were small. They didn’t eat much and I tended to avoid the more expensive pre-packaged snacks and sugary treats, juices, etc. The bulk of our budget, honestly, would go towards produce. As they have gotten older and bigger, they eat more, and coupled with increasing prices, my grocery budget has also had to grow. And I allowed it to become overgrown.

This year, April was a grocery budget disaster (I have three grocery/food categories that I track: Groceries, Restaurant Meals and Junk Food, and Health and Beauty (includes household consumables, like toilet roll). I generally, at this point in our family’s growth, would like to stay at $600 a month for groceries and HBA and $75 for Restaurants and Junk Food (includes pop, ice cream, etc). Looking at that figure now, it looks crazy high, but keep in mind that I do generally prepare five lunches each day (kids and husband), seven days a week, six to seven dinners a week, six breakfasts a day seven days a week, plus provide all snacks, treats, and drinks (mostly milk and free water for the kids though, truth me told!) out of that budget. Not to mention toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste, first aid, etc. etc. etc. So, overall, it’s not horrendous, just mildly alarming, I suppose. Crunching the numbers (well, getting my spreadsheet to do the math, really), it would seem that I have gone over budget by about $170 each month from January to April. YIKES!

So, this month, I’m bringing sanity and reality back to our grocery budget. Drastic cut backs will ensure that I prepare meals with all of the ingredients that I already have on-hand and use up all the bits and pieces hanging around the cupboards. My goal is to spend no more $60 PER WEEK on groceries, knowing that just about all of that amount will go toward milk and fresh produce (my kids consume, on average, around 18 – 24lbs of apples each week, just to give you an idea of the scope I’m talking about when I saw “fresh produce”).

In the spirit of honesty though, I must admit up front that before deciding to do this, I spent $15 on a Good Food Box (local produce) which I picked up last week. We still have some potatoes, onions and peppers left from that box – see the WEEK 3 Update for a picture of the contents. I haven’t included that amount in any of the weekly tallies though, I guess I’ll consider it a “Happy Spring!” gift to the family, lol.

Week 4 Update:

This fourth and final week went fairly well. Now that I’m well and truly on the right side of my gallbladder (the side waving goodbye to it!), I was able to reflect on some of my grocery shopping behaviour and I have come to realize that I may suffer from a semi-severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to great ‘stock up’ prices. Coupled with my resistance and aversion to paying regular price for groceries (or if I’m being honest, paying regular price for anything really), is one of my greatest struggles when it comes to strictly adhering to my (self-managed) grocery budget.

For example I have enough salsa to last a good while, but the one that we like does not go on sale terribly often, and while it is not a super expensive fancy brand, I do have that aforementioned aversion to ‘regular price’ so the it went on sale during Week 3, I bought 2 jars.

Similarly, when I check my weekly PC Optimum points bonus offers and receive a good offer and I find that I can pair it with a sale or good price-matching opportunity, I struggle to let it go and not take advantage of the offer, knowing full well that the item in question is definitely something that we not only will use, but it is something that we regularly run through quickly (like breakfast cereal, berries, milk or apples).

But I’ll stop the blathering and get to down to the nuts and bolts, the brass tacks, spill the tea, give you the skinny, ugh, just stop me – here are the numbers.

Tallies

May 1 – 8th – Goal: $60.00
May 1 – 8th – Actual: $65.54
Result: (- $5.54)

May 9 – 15th – Goal: $60.00
May 9 – 15th – Actual: $30.16
Result: +$29.84

May 16 – May 22nd – Goal: $60.00
May 16 – May 22nd – Actual: $86.46
Result: (-$26.46)

May 23 – May 30th – Goal: $60.00
May 23 – May 30th – Actual: $70.69
Result: +$10.69

Monthly wrap up:
Spending Goal: $240.00
Actual Spent: $252.85
Difference: $12.85 – OVER BUDGET

Average Weekly Spend: $63.21
Average Weekly Overage; $ 3.21

So, I did not make my $60/week goal, but I’m still going to let the Fresh Prince dance for this one, because going over budget by $3.21/week is the equivilant to three heads of lettuce or four pounds of apples, which I cannot begrudge or regret at all.

There are so few who do a happy dance with as much aplomb as the Fresh Prince, amiright?

Now, I still am housing a very well-stocked pantry and full freezers that I would like to cycle through, so I will need to think on a good pantry/freezer challenge to tackle for June or July, we’ll see how the rest of this week goes.

P.S. Please! Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, and other gems (and duds) only get posted in one place. Some things are totally worth skipping, occasionally there are things well-worth sharing. Either way, I’m happy for the company (as long as we can both stay in our own homes, in our jammies, with no actual face-to-face contact. #IntrovertProblems). Also, please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery. I dig it.
xx