Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa! – The Results

A week has passed. Here’s a breakdown of how the ‘no-spend, no-shop’ week went:

Monday

Spent entire $30 budget (plus $0.76 on yogurt, raspberries, milk, eggs, shortening and sugar). Hmmmm. This is not awesome. Will have to make it last and make it work. I know I can do it. Best I stay in the house as much as possible.

Ran all errands first thing in the morning. Returned an online shopping purchase that was not suitable (free, paid-for returns = zero cost to me), picked up above-noted bits and pieces and delivered something to one of the children’s schools. Then home again and stayed put.

While at home, I dug out the glue gun and repaired the kids’ bathroom hand mirror that had fallen apart months ago and as been sitting collecting dust, waiting for me to fix. Done! Made beef stew in the pressure cooker while the vegetarian chilli cooked in the slow cooker, both made with ingredients entirely on hand (no spending!).

Worked in my office, paying bills, updating various projects and compiling various items to sell and items to donate.

In the evening, I had to attend a parents’ meeting for one of the kids sports teams, so a trip to Sutton was necessary (darn!).

Overall, Monday was a win.

Tuesday

Did not drive anywhere = no gas used (yay!).

Hung the laundry to dry from the night before.

Made tacos for dinner, using tortillas from the freezer rather making fresh (preventing freezer burn = no waste = yay!).

Sold two items on Varagesale (budget booster!).

Purchased a few Christmas presents online, budgeted for and free shipping.

The weather cleared up in the afternoon, so I went for a walk. A half-hour out of the house and in the open air was good for my soul (no monetary savings, but great gains for my mental health!).

Hanging laundry and weeping willows. Same, but different.

Wednesday

Followed the menu plan, used the slow cooker and added rice for my non-potato eater. All lunches were made at home (x6).

Volunteered at one of the kids’ schools, so had to use the car. While out, also picked up much needed UV light bulb for the water treatment system. This was a budgeted for purchase.

Logged onto the library website to confirm due dates for our borrowed items to ensure no overdue fees will be incurred.

Thursday

This is always a high car-usage day. Tutoring, soccer, yoga (Miss M, not I), so my limited use of the vehicle was blown to bits today. I did however make everyone lunch and dinner, (well, I provided leftovers, since our fridge was over-flowing with them so it seemed less than thrifty to prepare yet another meal when we were so well situated for a ‘choose your own adventure’ meal night).

As always, I didn’t use the clothes dryer and hung the clothes to dry (or hanged? I don’t know, I didn’t kill them, I just dried them. Sigh. Whatever).

Overall, spending is at a all-time (ok, recent) low although I am BEYOND annoyed that the  printer ink that I ordered last week (before this spending freeze) has been held hostage by Canada Post for the entire week now. And before you ask, I did send (maybe a snarky) Tweet to CP requesting my inks release. This was my follow-up Tweet:

Annnnnnnd, no replies. Go figure. No answer to go with my no ink situation.

Friday

Jumped in the minivan to attend the Remembrance Day assembly at one of my smalls’ schools. So glad that I could be there, but it chokes me up every single time. I guess that’s a good thing, proves my heart has not yet turned completely to stone.

Did NOT follow the meal plan today (although I pulled everything out of the freezer in time to do so). Mr. KB came home WAY early from work (fire in one of the adjoining offices – all was fine, no worries) and suggested (or perhaps just said) “pizza?” And I jumped on that like it was the last train to Clarksville and said “I’ll order!” Frugal challenge FAIL. But oh so delicious in my belly, nom nom, so = WIN?

Saturday

Back on track(ish). Made dinner (used Friday night’s plan) WIN!

But…

Also headed out afterwards to pick up eggs, Diet Pepsi (stop judging me), and butter – damn you Shoppers Drug Mart and your “One Day Only” sales. Either I spent on Saturday, or spent almost $7.00 more buying the exact same items on Monday. So, I justified the heck out of it and spent the money. Still though, used two free product coupons, so the total was under $19.00. I have decided to call it a ‘winnish’ and just give myself permission to live my life.

Used the minivan twice today, once to Mass and once for my rogue shopping trip. Could have combined the trips into one (heading to SDM after church), but the children were acting particularly punchy and kicky, so decided it was probably best to feed them sooner rather than later (4:00pm Mass means we’re close to dinner time when we get home). Survival of the small people = WIN Cost of that survival = Extra trip out in vehicle.

Sunday

Mr. KB came up with the awesome idea of taking the kids up to Orillia to walk the boardwalk and explore. It was chilly but such a nice day to be out. Then he treated us to lunch (so I didn’t hurt the budget – yay!).

My smalls failing at being small but winning at being strong, smart and caring humans. 4/5 of my ❤️

After that, it was home to work around the house and bake some goodies for the week’s lunch prep. Also, made dinner using up the rest of our chicken and potato leftovers, along with some frozen veggies with a side of baking powder biscuits, we had a pseudo-chicken pot pie.

Conclusion

While I did manage to reduce our weekly shopping greatly, I did exceed my $30 goal. That said, between not needing to gas up the minivan and not spending $200 on groceries, I feel really good about how much I was able to help our budget. This week, I will need to replenish some of our fresh food options, since we are starting to run perilously low on apples (since the kids tend to go through approximately 24 pounds of them a week, including core weight, lol). I will also continue to use what we have on-hand, in the freezer and find creative ways to ensure that our food waste continues to be as low as possible.

While not using the clothes dryer is a bit of a pain, I know that I will see the savings on our next hydro bill from not running it six times a week (although always during off-peak times, it still really adds up).

Next, I think I may try to cut back on the dishwasher to every other night and wash the dishes by hand on the ‘off’ night. I know that it will save a ton of water and an hour of running the dishwasher and hot water heater (the ‘normal’ cycle takes an hour in this ancient machine). Bottom line, there is still work for me to do in order to tweak and boost and stretch the budget. 💁🏼‍♀️

~A.

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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

 

2018 Santa Claus Parades in the G.T.A. Annual List

Now that Halloween is out of the way, it is time for us to move on. The stores have been prepping us for months now (Black Friday in August – say what?) And so, without further ado, it’s parade season!

For the third year in a row, here is my good deed for the year (this appears to becoming a habit). I sure hope that Santa is paying attention because this actually took some WORK, plus I added even more parades to the list this year. Because I’m a giver. But, of course, you should always check and confirm dates and times for yourself (most of the information is linked to an official page of one type or another) before bundling up your family and heading out. Because I also sometimes tell lies.

Some of these parades include Christmas or Santa or Light Festivals. Make sure to check out the event page so that you don’t miss out on any of the fun. Listed (mostly) alphabetically, not by date.

Daytime/Earlier Start Parades:

Beach (Kingston Rd) – November 25 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Beeton – December 1 – 3:00 pm

Bobcaygeon – December 2

Bolton – December 1 – 11:00am – 12:30 pm

Burlington – December 2 – 2:00 pm

Cannington – November 24 – 11:00 am

Coboconk – December 2

Etobicoke (Lakeshore) – December 1 – 10:00 am

Fenelon Falls – November 24 (Santa Day)

Kinmount – Christmas in the Village – December 8 (full day of Santa events)

Keene – December 8

Keswick – November 17 – 1:30 pm

Kitchener – November 17 – 10:30 am

Lakefield – November 18 – 1:00 pm

Lindsay – November 18 – 2:00 pm

Maple (Vaughan)– November 25 – 2:00 pm

Markham – November 24 – 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Millbrook – December 8 – 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

Milton – November 18 – 1:30 pm

Mount Albert – November 18 – 2:00 pm

Newmarket – November 17 – 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Oakville – November 17 – 9:00 am

Orillia – November 25 – 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Pickering – November 24 – 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Port Hope – November 24 – 1:00 pm

Sharon (East Gwillimbury) – November 18

Streetsville – November 23-24 – No parade this year – festival instead on the 23rd and 24th. See link.

Toronto – November 18 – 12:30 pm

Tottenham – November 24 – 3:00 pm

Weston Village – November 25 – 2:00pm

Whitby – December 2 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Night Time/Later Start Parades:

Ajax – November 24 – 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm

Alliston – November 24

Aurora – November 24 – 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Barrie – November 17 – 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Beaverton – November 17 – 7:00pm

Bradford – November 17 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Brampton – November 17 – 5:00pm

Cambridge – November 17 – 6:00pm

Collingwood – November 17th – 5:00 pm

Flamborough – November 24 – 6:30pm

Hamilton – November 17 – 4:30pm

Omemee – December 1

Orangeville – November 17 – 4:30pm

Oshawa – November 17 – 6:00pm

Peterborough – December 1 – 4:45pm

Port Perry – December 1 – 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Richmond Hill – November 18 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Schomberg (King City) – December 1- 4:00pm (Farmer’s Parade of Lights at 8:00pm)

Sunderland – December 8  – 4:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Sutton – December 1 – 5:00pm

Unionville – December 7 – 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Wasaga Beach – November 24 – 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Woodville – December 2 – 6:30pm

So, there you have it. If you know of another parade that should be added to the list, send it to me, or leave a comment below and I’ll see that it’s added.

Ho! Ho! Ho! Prepare thee now, post-haste, to prance merrily along the path of least resistance to your desired parade, spike thou hot chocolate with some peppermint schnapps (non-drivers only!) and Christmas on, my friends!

~A. 🤶🏻🎅🏻

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on too many days right now, micro-blogging is all the awesomeness that I can pull off.

Mourning the end of my Fertility chapter and sharing my internal conversation, with hope.

I often have full blown conversations in my head (well, when we’re all lucky they stay in my head anyway). I provide the dialogue for both sides of the conversation, yours and mine. In this context, “you” aren’t you though, “you” are what I imagine anyone outside of myself would say, listening to me talk. This conversation is one that has been playing, over and over in my mind for months, perhaps even years (before the “baby” door was forever closed, maybe?) and today I think that if I share it here, then just maybe, my mind will resolve the conversation and move onto one that is more productive and positive, less pitiful, woeful and futile. Or maybe it won’t, maybe this melancholy broken record will just become part of my new normal internal dialogue. Sometimes, for the smaller things that gnaw at my soul, just getting it off my chest is enough to lay it to rest but for the bigger things, I can say from experience, it can take years of writing, talking, crying and sorting through the muck in order to find a peaceful resolution.

On the daily, it goes something like this:

“I mourn the loss of my fertility. I’ll never feel all of those pregnancy feelings or delivery another baby.” I cry to my myself during those moments when either my house or my mind is quiet.

“How can that be? How selfish can you be?” You ask. “You have a handful of kids and you are constantly running around, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, mending, tearing out your hair, complaining, not sleeping, and almost never really ever done with a task (there is always more laundry to do, food to prepare, carpets to vacuum, errands to run). You are forever thinking about the time when you’ll have the time to achieve a few of your other goals. Goals other than elementary school homework, edible packed lunches and motherhood. You have enough kids, they’re growing up, life is finally about more than wiping bottoms, noses and tears – they can now do most of that stuff themselves. It’s great! Your kids are becoming competent humans, just what you always wanted them to be!”

“True, true,” I say, nodding my head and then shaking it violently back and forth. “But that changes nothing. Their growth feeds my grief. My grief for what is no longer as much as it grows my pride in them. What I would not give to have that one last pregnancy. That one last bump. The discomfort of pregnancy-induced heartburn, swollen limbs and looser joints. One last time to feel that “that’s it! I’m done being pregnant – this baby needs to evacuate now!” feeling. That one last precious (and quick) delivery and that wrinkly, squinty and puckered newborn brow to kiss. Those fingers and toes to count, that tiny human to marvel at. Priceless. To have that one last infant to nurse and cuddle and carry – EVERYWHERE. I wouldn’t trade what I have or who I have, but I would be completely complete, given just one last turn.”

“So have one then, what’s one more? You want it so badly, just do it. Or is it menopause? It’s got to be, doesn’t it?” You ask.

“No, no, not at all. I am not menopausal or even peri-menopausal. My cycle is as predictable and regular as ever. My body still functions. My marriage still functions. My ova though, they are past their ‘sell-by’ date and  there is nothing left of them to create a viable, healthy human anymore. And it is cruel for my body to behave like that of a younger, fertile version of myself and deprive me of that one last chance. Better ‘the change’ happen and at least give me the reprieve of the monthly bleeding and bloating with no ‘prize’ for my troubles and inconvenience.”

You, now exasperated “Well, get on with things then. Sounds like unless you’re willing to take some extreme and expensive measures, your baby-making days are behind you. Suck it up, Buttercup. You’ve caught your quota, time to pack up and go home, as the saying goes.”

Me, now defensive and defeated, “yes, I know that. I understand all of that. And I fight against feeling sad and distraught and I feel a right fool for feeling this way at all. I KNOW how blessed I am to have my children, I know how blessed I am to have the family that I have and I understand just how stupid and selfish and ridiculous it is, that I AM, for feeling this way. But I feel it anyway. Grief and mourning are real feelings, whether anyone believes I have a reason to feel this way is neither here nor there, because, at the end of the day, I DO feel this way. The puzzle for me then is to figure out how to have these feelings without letting them own me or stop me from living out the rest of my life with light, love and hope, rather than regret, loss and sadness.”

You, really fed up now, “Focus on the positive, you idiot! You have FIVE frickin’ kids. Each of them are healthy. Each of them are intelligent. Each of them has a kind and generous heart. Each of them are lovely (not a Quasimodo among the bunch). And you get to actively participate in their growing up, you get to help shape them into healthy, productive and kind humans. YOU get to do that, YOU get that privilege. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and count your blessings. ALL OF THEM. Babies you do not have, who did not make it to term, or were never conceived to begin with were not meant to be with you, they were not part of the plan for you. Everything happens for a reason, even sad things. The sooner you accept that and work within the light and blessed space you have, the sooner you will realize that while six may have been your dream, five is your perfect space.”

You continue, tired at this point with my tears and endlessly sad face, “Stop being sad when you hear news of another woman your age (give or take) being pregnant or having a baby. Be happy for her, for she is creating her perfect place. Maybe it is her first baby, maybe it is her last, it matters not, because it is part of the plan for her life. Be happy for yourself because you have your perfect place among a family who loves and needs you, a family who looks to you to steer the ship. You were a mother when you had but one baby, one child. You felt complete and never ‘less than’ other mothers with more children. Think back to that young woman, and remember how proud, competent and sure of yourself you felt. That is still you, you just look a lot older, fatter and more tired now and you have somehow figured out that you don’t always need to drown your fries with ketchup before you eat them. Sometimes, french fries are perfect just as they are. Like you, like your family, perfect in your imperfection.” You say.

“Thank you,” I say. “I needed that,” and I get on with my day, until next time.

🖤

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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including blind rage and mockery.

Subtly, slowly, my life is changing. Oh, and Pax turns 10

One of the alarming thoughts that wakes me from my deepest sleeps in the middle of the night has come to fruition. To some, this may sound stupid and I accept that but I am sharing this anyway.

The past few days I’ve been grappling with the fact that my smalls are considerably less small than they were when I started blogging and as of today, I have but ONE child left whose age is summed up by a single digit. The rest have all joined the double-digit club and I’m struggling with this reality.

My youngest son turned 10 this afternoon and his mother is, as usual, a virtual mess of emotions.

I am beyond happy that they are all growing, healthy, smart and strong. At the same time, I feel incredibly sad that they are no longer small and scrumptious. They are, obviously, still young, they are still children and will always be my babies, but even I must admit that there is not an actual baby among them anymore and that makes my heart hurt in ways that I feel stupid for admitting.

So today, I try really hard to keep my head in the birthday game. Baking and (poorly) decorating cakes, preparing the requested birthday dinner, hunting down the perfect birthday gift, attaching the specially chosen helium balloon to his chair and telling myself that tears are NOT appropriate today. Today is for happiness. Today marks one of the very best and happiest days of my life, the day I finally came face-to-face with his perfect little self.

So why then, does it feel like a very long chapter of my life is closing and moving me, not so gently, onto another stage of life? A stage of life for which I feel ill-prepared and completely not interested in entering.

I have to Scarlet O’Hara this issue and think about it tomorrow. Today, the only thing that I know for sure is that today is NOT my day. This is not my day to show sadness, sorrow or pain. This day is decidedly NOT about me. Today is my Paxton’s day to smile, giggle, eat hot dogs and cake (with luck, not at the same time) and open presents and burst with excitement when he sees what hides beneath the wrapping paper. Today is his day to feel the pride of being 10, to feel all the very big feelings of being bigger, older, faster, and smarter than he felt yesterday (that extra digit can do that to a kid), but also, because today he is all of those things.

And today, like every yesterday and every tomorrow, I hold dear to heart that whatever else is going for me, he just makes my life happy. ❤️

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, 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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

The day when enough was enough, my girl came through.

This sign is now posted on our front door.

The sign reads:
“We are happy at our church. We don’t want to chage [sic] at all our faith.”

 

As is happens, my eight-year-old decided to take matters into her own hands after being sequestered once again, with her brothers and mother, in the living room, hiding from the JW’s who were knocking determinedly on our front door last week. I thought that I had the JW visits handled, but I was WRONG.

Yes, I could have answered the door (again) and told them that we are not interested in discussing their religion with them (again) but I did not. I was in my jammies, I was a hot mess without the ‘hot’ bit and I just did not have it in me to slap a smile on my face and be pleasant in that moment. So I hurried my youngest four children into the living room and read to them from a David Walliams book we’ve been reading together until I was sure the JW’s had left.

And that’s when it happened.

That is when my eight-year-old decided that she was done being pushed around and set about writing up and posting this notice in our front door. It is completely her own phrasing and spelling and I just love it.

I love it for how well it shows her spirit. I love it for the conviction in her faith and beliefs that she is not afraid to own and I love it for the succinct manner in which she expressed her message. I love that she was smiling and happy while still being quietly fierce while creating her sign.

I’m telling you the truth now, every day, at least one of my children reminds me that he or she is absolutely #Goals for me. And then, of course, one of them will scream, cry or smack one of the others and the pandemonium that ensues wipes my memory clean of that fact. So, I’m putting this here to serve as a reminder to myself.

My other smalls want to post their own signs as well, but I think that for now, we’ll just let this one ride and see what happens. I have never hidden the fact that I have only the loosest of grips on normalcy and if I start posting all kinds of signs on our front door, it will only be a matter of time before I’m setting up billboards on the front lawn and really speaking my mind. And trust me, nobody is ready for that day.

As for this sign? Out of the mouth of babes, my friends.

~A.

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos everywhere, 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). Please feel free to like, comment on and share any post, for any reason, including mockery.

This morning was hard and I owe them an apology. A letter to my smalls

Dear Mason, Deacon, Paxton and Miranda,

First, let me start by saying that I love you all, beyond reason and measure.

Second, let me admit to you all that I am human, incredibly fallible and flawed.

Thirdly, allow me to apologize for my outburst this morning. I could give you a hundred reasons why, lay blame on the four of you and others in my life, and make endless excuses for myself, but I will not. At the end of the day, I, just like everyone else, am entirely responsible for my feelings, thoughts, words and actions. This morning, I did not walk away, breathe, pray and ask God for the help that I needed in that moment. I did not keep my voice quiet and remain in control of myself and my feelings. I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by the chaos of my mind and my life and I brought you all along for the ride. And for that I am truly and eternally sorry.

I honestly do believe that as people, no one can “make us feel” or “make us do” anything. We have ultimate control over one thing in life. Ourselves. We choose our feelings, our reactions, our actions and our choices, and we always have more than one choice.

I promise to continue to strive to do better, to be better and to work harder to live the lessons that I try so hard to impart to all of you. Turn the other cheek, practice forgiveness and personal responsibility, be kind, always. Be kind even when, no especially when someone is not being kind to you. Think about what our purpose is in this life – to love, to take care of and be of service to others, to make our home, family and world a safer, better, more welcoming and loving place to be, for everyone and anyone who walks into (or out of) our lives.

I am enormously proud of each and every one of you, together with your brother Declan. The five of you, are collectively and individually, my entire heart, and are perfect both in your perfect and imperfect moments. Without you, there is no me.

You are, my beautiful babies, in three words, so wonderfully made.

Love,
Mummy.

Today is a good day

As an act of deviation from my usual modus operandi of bitching and moaning and generally wallowing in self-pity (and chocolate), I am here to share that today is a good day.

I am purposely ignoring my scratchy, threatening-to-hurt, throat. I am in denial that my youngest has screeched herself hoarse at her brothers’ every infraction, real and imagined. I have chosen to omit any and all parts of the day that do not fit in with it being ‘a good day.’

Because today is a good day. We are on day three of March Break. For the third day in a row, I did not make four lunches before 7:00am. I did not shuffle kids outside, in shifts, to wait for their school busses. I did not have to search through backpacks for notes home, permission slips, agendas and homework. I did not have to fill my dishwasher with countless containers and lids that never fail to fill with (and retain) water during the wash cycle. Today is a good day. My smalls (hardly small at all anymore, but I also refuse to admit that most days) are home with me. We had one friend over for a playdate, another friend invite one of mine to a movie, and there are plans in the works for the other two to meet up with friends over the next couple of days.

We are not on vacation, somewhere warm and wonderful, frolicking in the sun and sand. We are not en route to some crazy adventure (that would most likely end up with me being featured on ‘Fail Army’ – ” You alright, Cory?”). We are not throwing money left and right at our week to keep us occupied and busy. We are home. We are playing with friends, reading, seeing movies (thank you, Cineplex Family Favourites!), running around outside, eating at home, having sibling sleepovers and staying up just a bit past bedtime.

Um, you know what? I’ve changed my mind. Today is not a good day. It is a good life.

~A.

P.S. I post more nonsensical blithering and updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s worth ‘Liking’ ‘Following’ or just checking out The Keswick Blog on those sites as well. Because on far too many days right now, micro-blogging is all that I can manage to pull off. Life is good, not perfect 😂

Good bye, our Lucy

The Life and Times of our Lucy Liu, with us April 2012 – February 2018

The very thoughtful and kind gift from the 404 Emergency Vet clinic. Each of our smalls received one. Lucy 🐾

When we bought this house in 2012, it came with cats. Like fourteen feral cats with varying degrees of illness and disease. And in among the chaos of cats we were dealing with, was her. A small, black and white warrior, who survived despite her surroundings. She, who did not hiss, run or yowl. She adopted us quickly. The other cats were trapped and taken by Animal Control. Many went on to have litters of kittens shortly afterwards. Some were able to be adopted out. Others, well, I don’t know.

The bond between Lucy and ‘her kids’ was unbreakable, genuine and always loving.

Anyone who knows me knows that I am not, by nature, a cat person. In fact, cats scare me, I never know if they’re about to attack. This cat though, was different from any other I had ever encountered. She very decidedly chose us. Lucy Liu (aptly named after the actress of the same name, by my husband, for her obvious, ‘Kill Bill’-esque ninja abilities) stayed with us and within no time at all, a matter of a few weeks actually, she gave birth to a litter of three kittens. We never even knew she was pregnant. She was just that tiny, undernourished and unwell. Immediately we could tell that she was an amazing mother. It was apparent that this was not her first litter. When the kittens were old enough to leave their mama, they were adopted out. But Lucy stayed with us. We had her spayed and microchipped and loved, cared and fed her back to health. She was amazing. She was also a bit blood thirsty, but only towards creatures we wouldn’t want in our house anyway. So we appreciated her huntress ways.

My husband snapped this picture on his phone a few days after Lucy had her kittens. We named them Squawker, Little Grey, and Butterball.

Lucy was never indifferent and uninterested in us. She trusted us with her kittens, she trusted us with her own care. She never fought or scowled at us. She would follow me down our driveway and along the road and around the corner to pick up our mail. She would respond to her name and come when called. She was the perfect blend of independent and social. She would join us in the living room for movie nights, lie on the floor with our smalls, she would even join us for bedtime story and outdoor movie nights. She was completely comfortable and at ease, blending in with our big family without missing a beat.

She was all in. Whether it was story time, movie time, playtime or sleeping time, she gave it her all.

Often in the mornings (during the months that she enjoyed the outdoors), she would walk with us down the driveway to see the smalls get on their school bus. She would check on the children at night, visiting each one of them after lights out. And sometimes she would stay with one or the other and sometimes she would settle in for the night in her own bed (a favourite cardboard box filled with baby blankets), or on a cold night, in front of the fire.

I loved when she slept like this.

She was definitely a cookie. If the box fits, sleep in it.

She would plank anywhere

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was an outdoor cat from April until October and absolutely agoraphobic between November and March. This always struck us funny, as before adopting us, she lived outside 24/7, 365 days a year. She rarely, if ever, really left our property. When other cats, both known to her and feral would approach her porch or deck, she would defend it with a fury that we otherwise never witnessed.

For such a tiny little thing, she sure knew how to walk menacingly.

She never grew to be much  more than 7 or 8 pounds, so stayed a small cat always. But she had the heart and spirit of a lioness and I often joked that one day we would look out and see her pulling a deer down the driveway after a day out hunting.

Lucy Liu, Boxing Day 2017.

Then, last night I had to rush Lucy Liu to the 24 hour, 404 Emergency vet clinic in Newmarket. She could barely breathe and was not acting like herself at all. She was immediately taken into an examination room and triaged and within 20 minutes of our arrival, Dr. Rebecca, very gently and kindly gave me the results of her assessment and the options available to us. There was very little doubt. I had to call my husband and let him know that it was probably best to get the kids (I had just put them to bed before Lucy and I left the house) and bring them down to say good-bye. Lucy’s chest was filled with fluid and making it impossible for her lungs to inflate, the most likely cause was cancer. Rather than putting her through endless tests and diagnostics and lengthy hospital stay with a poor prognosis and nothing but suffering on her horizon, we had to let her go. She deserved to go gently, without anymore suffering.

We were all with her to the very end, petting her, loving her and comforting her. When she was gone, we brought her back to the home that she loved and we will bury her here in the Spring. We miss her tremendously already. Today, our house is a little bit emptier and a whole lot more sorrowful.

Good bye our beautiful Lucy. We could not have asked for a better companion and friend than you. Thank you for all the gifts you brought to our family. We will love you always.

Just sitting here raising a big spender, is all. Paxisms

I took my smalls on a mini-shopping trip on yesterday. They all had Christmas money that they were desperate to spend. So, at the second store, Pax finds exactly that he’s been looking for and it’s on clearance – bonus! This was our conversation:

P: Mumma, how much is this with tax?
Me: Um, just over $20, maybe?
P (looking impish): Well, I’m going to give her a $20 bill and tell her ‘keep the change’
Me: Hmm. Okay, big spender. Except that $20 isn’t quite enough, so there will be no change for her keep and you’ll owe her a bit more.
P (crestfallen): Well, I’m still going to give her a twenty. I’ll figure out the rest when I get there.
Me: (to self): Where’d this kid even come from? (While picture him wearing a fedora and making it rain in Mastermind Toys one day).

This morning, Pax came down stairs with a croupy-sounding cough and the saddest little face I had seen since he came downstairs yesterday morning. I felt his forehead, checked him over and asked him what he would like for breakfast. This was our exchange:

P: Mummy, do I have to go to school today?
Me: Well, probably Pax. We still have an hour until the bus, so let’s wait and see, okay?
P: (Tears welling up): But I’m really sick. My throat hurts and I’m walking really slowly.
Me: Walking slowly? Oh no! Well, let’s just see how you’re feeling after you’ve been awake for a while, okay?
P: (sniffing): Okay, but I’m pretty sure I’m too sick to go.

Within half an hour, he had eaten, gotten dressed and made no other mention of staying home. Had I just listened to my heart when that sad little face that first appeared in the kitchen, he would have been home today and full of energy and jonesing for fun, while I spent the day trying to confine him to the couch. So glad I remembered to pause and think before blurting out the first thing that popped into my head (which is a bit of a trademark of mine).

Now if only I could do that in other life situations, I just know that I would start to make some serious traction on this adulting gig. As it is, I got the garbage and the recycling to the curb before the truck came, so yeah, I’m already feeling pretty grown up today.

~A.

P.S. Immediately after writing that big “I’m winning at being an adult” brag, I spilled my drink down my front and narrowly missed dropping the glass in the process. So, right then, never mind. Still a dork. 🤦🏼‍♀️

Guys, I think I’m making a pig’s ear of this parenting gig

Preamble:
Kids need to play outside. I mean, fresh air, physical activity, rosy cheeks and bright eyes, right? All good things that help promote healthy mental health (awkward, much?) and all that super popular back-to-nature stuff that I keep seeing posted on Facebook, right?

So, being a ‘good parent,’ my kids are outside. All bundled up and ready to frolic and play in the snow, fight with their siblings until eventually one of them breaks and tears and fists fly. Yes, I can see their mental health getting healthier by the minute outside these four walls.

So, out they go. Except one resister. My nine-year-old. He’s active and full of energy. Brilliant, funny, and cuddly as all get out. Unfortunately (for him) he was not built for winter (just like his mama, so believe me, I feel for him). He finds very little joy in sub-zero temperatures and being outside in the snow, just for the sake of it (again, I get it. I’m sitting bundled up in my kitchen and decidedly NOT outside improving my mental health) and while he won’t be openly defiant about going outside, he will delay the trip as long as possible. Someone else may let it slide and let him stay in. But I’m not that mother. One of the few perks that come with this title, is that I get to toss the kids outside to play every day and they have to do it. It’s in the rules.

So, now that I have (I hope adequately) set the scene, here is the exchange P and I just had at the door.

The exchange:
Me: No gloves? Here, at least take this one. I don’t know what you’ve done with the other one, but at least one hand won’t freeze. (Notice how much adulting I’m doing here. It’s breathtaking, yes?)

P: Nah. I don’t need any. I’m just going out to play dead.

Me: Um. Huh. Dead? That doesn’t sound like an awesome game, but okay. Take the glove. (Clearly, this kid is in dire need of outside play time. His mental health needs a boost. It’s okay. I am on it like he’s a cheesecake and I’m, well, me).

P: But I’m going out to play DEAD. I don’t need gloves.

Me: Well, when you decide that you’re not dead anymore, won’t it be nice to have at least one hand not get frozen in the snow trying to get up? (I’m on my June Cleaver game today, people. I’m owing this parenting thing).

P: Fine (taking the glove). But I’m telling you, I’m only going to be lying dead in the snow, Mummy.

Me: Okay, baby. Have so much fun!

He trudges outside with his sister who has been waiting patiently for him to get ready and I skip away, into the kitchen to wash pears and marvel at just how obvious it is that I was born to parent. When it dawns on me. “Um, did he just say dead?”

To make a short story long and back to short again, I am making a pig’s ear out of this parenting gig. Pray for my small humans. And someone, please. Start a GoFundMe to cover their future therapy bills. Those clinical hours add up quickly and the bills are going to be astronomical.

~A.