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.

 

Money Woes Lead to Money, Whoa!

Yes, I’m exaggerating. I don’t have actual money ‘woes’ (bills are paid, everyone is well-fed, clothed, entertained and the future is being saved for) but I did notice that some of my budget categories are climbing a lot faster than I can juggle the money around make them all happy again. So, in the grande scheme of woes, this is a small one, I’ll admit, but it causes me stress so I’m pumping the brakes and saying “whoa!” to the spending.

Of course, right before Christmas is a wonderful time to stop spending, that I realize, but with climbing food prices, gas prices and growing children, I think it’s time to revisit my days of yore when needs and wants were very clearly defined and gratification was delayed in the name of frugality.

This week is now a “no shopping/out of pocket spending” week. There are regular bills that need to be paid and I have allowed $30 for fresh produce and milk (if we run out), but nothing else. All meals will be prepared at home using what I have on-hand and I have already worked out the menu for the week (posted below). Between the gas savings and the grocery/household purchase savings, I think that we should (conservatively) save around $250 just by staying out of the grocery store, taking fewer trips in the minivan and using up some of the stockpile in the freezer.

I have also implemented a few other cost-savings strategies. I have set up our drying rack, so the clothes dryer has already been dormant all week (save for once, yesterday, when I did use it to dry a comforter cover that is too large for the rack). Our dryer is 21 years-old, so you know it’s a hydro hog. I also decided a while back, to stop spending the big bucks are ready-to-eat baby carrots and bought a few big bags of regular carrots (at a fraction of the price). Peeled and chopped, the kids will eat them in their school lunches just as happily as they ate the pricier ones. Taking advantage of all of the various berry sales, price matching (and coupling them with Driscoll’s coupons) has also helped to procure fresh produce for far less.

I admit to having hit the ‘Easy Button’ for dinner a little too often in the past couple of months, but I’ve tossed that button out the window now and have a solid plan in place (the plan mostly involves me not being a lazy numpty and making ALL of our meals, pretty sophisticated plan, yes?).

Dinner Menu Plan (including vegetarian options)

Sunday – Pasta with vodka sauce and garlic bread
Monday – Beef stew and vegetarian chili
Tuesday – Tacos and taco salad w/o meat
Wednesday – Chicken, potatoes,  peas and corn
Thursday – Tuna casserole
Friday – Burgers (choice of beef or black bean patties), fries and veggies
Saturday – Pizza and panzerotti night
Sunday – Spaghetti with garlic bread

Lunches are always homemade, various sandwiches, bagels, cereals, salads or last night’s leftovers. Yogurt, fresh fruit and vegetables and applesauce (and whatever Halloween candy the kids have managed to hold on to – lol!) are included for snacks.

So, this week started yesterday (Sunday) and will end next Sunday. I’ll post the update on Monday (even if I fail miserably) and I will be sure to include the other cost-cutting measures that I remember or figure out to try throughout the week and whether or not any of these measures resulted in any savings (real or imagined).

~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.

 

 

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.

There is no point to this post

I am a weepy, sad mess today. I want to be invisible, quiet and alone. I won’t be though. I’ve felt it coming on for a few days now, but have ignored the signs and powered through my days, not allowing the tears to come, not allowing ‘it’ to win.

Today, ‘it’ is winning. Yes, I’m telling myself that ‘it’ isn’t real. That ‘it’ too shall pass. That ‘it’ is just part of me, a part that I control and doesn’t control me. But today, ‘it’ is winning.

I know this dance, it’s the one I know best. I will continue to go through the motions of my day. I will make breakfasts, lunches, dinners. I will mediate arguments, delegate chores, repeat myself numerous times, give hugs, soothe boo-boos and fold laundry. I will gather up my youngest four and head to Mass. I will smile. I will have conversations. All the while, I will be folding up inside myself, feeling the twisting and turning in my stomach, bending to the hold that ‘it’ has on me. I will argue with ‘it’ all day and into the night. And no one will know. I won’t share it with those around me, who need me, who love me, who are looking to me to make their worlds right. I won’t burden them with ‘it.’

Today I am especially grateful to have a home to hide in, an endless supply of music to help me steady myself, and access to language and words to write in a feeble effort to begin to untangle the furled crepuscular mass of anxiety, fears, sadness and uncertainty that is tightening its ever-strengthening grip on my inner world.

Yes, today ‘it’ is winning. But I know that ‘it’ won’t always win and that I will find my way back to the resplendent hopefulness and happiness that I know just as well as I know this darkness.

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, 1914- 1954

Today I have thoughts but not too many, don’t worry.

The title is a little mis-leading. Almost every day I have thoughts. But today, I have the presence of mind and the resolve to torture others will them, so here we are. Random thoughts, up for grabs. Since we no longer have pennies in Canada, I’ll take a nickel for them.

First:

I generally do not blow dry my hair. This is probably less to do with the wash-and-wear habits I formed when I was under time constraints juggling four babies aged five and under and more to do with sheer indifference. However, I find myself with a daughter who is blessed with a head full of gorgeous, yet unruly curls and ringlets, which, left alone quickly become a tangled, matted mass of dreadlocks. So I decided to try to find a proper hairdryer in order to be able to (occasionally) tame her hair (the mini travel dryer just makes the chaos worse). Now, I am not sure if I have mentioned this a thousand or so times before, but I LOVE online shopping and hit up Amazon before ever setting a foot outside our front door (always keeping in mind that the best price will trump all else). So that’s what I did and this is what I was met with:
DUUUUUUDDE! I just wanted to buy a hairdryer with a diffuser (for her curls). I wanted to choose from a maximum of FIVE, reasonably priced, limited fire-risk hair dryers. When faced with 831 potential options, my commitment to the purchase (and by extension Miss Moon’s hair), wavered and I felt the need for either a strong drink or a good nap (spoiler alert: I had neither, go figure). I do not want, need or care to look through 831 products in order to buy a hairdryer. Honestly, we spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying our house and did not even look at five of those. Long story short, spoiled for choice, I folded like a cheap lawn chair and thus we still do not  have an appropriate hairdryer. Just thinking this through now and it occurs to me that she does look adorable with dreads…

Second:

Reading. Oh how I have missed you. In the past month, I have read TWO for real adult (not that kind of adult) novels and it has been marvellous. While I used to read five or more books a week, for now I must be satisfied with two books a month. I have now started two more and find that it remains so much more satisfying and therapeutic to lose myself between the covers of a book than it is to watch television, surf the internet or follow social media drama. For me, a good book wins, every time. Now that my children are older (youngest is almost eight – *insert crying face here*), I can sit in a room with them and read my own book while they read or do other activities and it is no longer considered neglectful or CAS reportable. I remain available to mediate my kids’ disputes, listen to their fart jokes and referee the inevitable outbreak of wrestling when one of them sits too closely to another, but for the most part, I can get a chapter or two read before any major wars erupt. This month, I read The Nest which, while not a challenging read, was enjoyable and well written. Family dysfunction is always entertaining, yes? I also read Two Steps Forward by the author of The Rosie Project (which I devoured and was completely obsessed with about a year ago). Two Steps Forward is a bit more intricate and challenging than The Nest, which I truly appreciated. In a nutshell, it is the story of two people, strangers to each other, who each choose to walk the Camino de Santiago, a Catholic pilgrimage from France to Spain, and how their journeys intertwine along the way. I plan on sharing more about this book in a later post, but for now, suffice to say, I was enchanted by this book, the story, the writing, the very idea of the Camino. Sign me up!

Third:

Thinking that one is funny and smart (in a witty, humorous way, rather than a brain surgeon way) while also suffering from a poor self-image and almost crippling shyness, is cruel and unusual punishment for someone who really, truly wants to entertain and share with others. Any thoughts around dealing with this one?

Fourth:

With five kids ranging in ages from 8 to 24 years-old, why am I still carrying around a purse the size of a diaper bag? I have so many cute purses to choose from (not a lot by hoarder standards, but I am not deprived of choice), and yet here I am tethered to carrying what is basically a suitcase with a shoulder strap. Just in case, I tell myself. In case of what? I have no idea. Has my purse become my security blanket? This is not good news. I am regressing. Maybe I truly did take the “Let’s Make a Deal” game show of the 1970’s/1980’s, that I grew up watching, way too seriously and somewhere in my subconscious I really do think that I will be out somewhere and a Monty Hall wannabe will walk up to me and offer to make a deal IF I can produce three blue elastic bands, a toothbrush, a toy car and a stick of gum from my purse, at any given time. “Um, I think I’ll choose what’s behind Curtain Number Three, please Monty!” What a numpty.

LET’S MAKE A DEAL, Host Monty Hall, 1963-76

Fifth:

Words and music swirling around inside my head like one of those kaleidoscopes children so enjoy. Day and night, night and day, awake, asleep, alert, distracted, always swirling, twirling, and spinning. So many stories begging to be crafted and told with those words. So much music waiting to be written. It is all *right here* inside my head, inside my heart, permeating my soul. And yet, here I sit. Stagnant. Helpless and hopeless. Neither creating nor creative. Powerfully powerless. Watching the words fluttering around my mind. Feeling the music, so clearly, that it turns my skin to goose-flesh. So many good intentions. So many plans, ideas, notes. So many days that pass with not so much as a journal entry to show for them. Why do I prioritize vacuuming, cleaning, care taking, above all else? Who will remember that my stairs were vacuumed this week? No one. Who might remember a shared experience, a shared moment in time or glimpse into the mind of a kindred spirit? Potentially many. I wonder what force will be great enough to propel me forward, to achieve the goals which I harbour within.

And those are my thoughts today. What’s on your mind?

Join me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Sometimes, I post info, ideas or photos get 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).

~A.

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.

A disappointing find: Retail price cover ups in broad daylight

Oh Rexall, how you have let me (read: everyone) down.

I spend quite a bit of time making sure to find the best value for each and every one of our household budget dollars. I purchase very few things at full retail price and stockpile when regularly used items go on sale. I shop store sales, clearance racks, use coupon, price match and collect various ‘points’ programs in order to stretch our money further. This week, I ran out of children’s vitamin D supplements for my smalls, so while in Rexall (not my usual drug store), I noticed that they appeared to have a special on vitamins; some are buy one, get one 50% off, others are promoting an Airmiles special; spend $30, get 30 Airmiles.  I will also admit that after the big Airmiles shake up last year, they are no longer one of my go-to points programs, but still, if the price is the same or close to that of my usual store, why not take advantage of the Airmiles offer, right?

Wrong. So wrong. First of all, the regular price listed was crazy high, approximately $4 higher than other stores ‘regular’ retail price (and remember, I only buy on sale, so the listed price was around $5 more than I usually pay). I was curious though and lifted the ‘special’ sticker and this is what I found:

Soooooo. I’m no mathematician, but I’m pretty sure that the ACTUAL, regular retail price for these vitamins at Rexall is $9.29 but when they run a sale, they increase the regular price to $10.49, or $1.20 more? This is feeling a bit shady. I am pretty  sure that I want to pay $1.20 above regular price for a bottle of vitamins for the mere ‘benefit’ of receiving 30 Airmiles, if I spend a total of $30 of over-priced vitamins.

Quickly deciding that I would not be buying the vitamins at Rexall today, I was curious if other vitamin prices had been similarly changed. I randomly checked four more labels on the same wall of shelves and two were the same on both labels (yay!), the other two? Not so much. Boo.

These are some quite significant price hikes on ‘sale’ items. It would appear that the premium for receiving those 30 Airmiles far exceeds the value of the products on offer.

Now, I am not an expert on consumer law in Ontario, but I do know that when I find a store is artificially raising prices to ‘pay’ for incentive programs or offers, I shop elsewhere.

I don’t know if this is fraudulent, acceptable or normal retailer behaviour, but I do know that these practices just feel wrong and dishonest to me. Like neon leg warmers, frizzy perms and parachute pants of the 1980’s; it may not actually be wrong, but it sure looks like something that someone should be apologizing for.

~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.

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.