Engagement rings, history and searching for answers – Part 2 of 3

Part Two of the Engagement ring trilogy, examining the history of engagement rings and how diamonds got involved in this debacle.

Know her? Dude, I OWN her!

So, it turns out, this whole engagement ring business is pure fuckery. We have been had. Again. All the Jarrod’s, Zales, and Spence advertising is all hooey. But really, it should have come as little surprise that upon researching it, engagement rings originated as a public declaration of ownership. Of a woman. By a man. For fuck sakes.

During the 2nd century B.C., it is believed that the ancient Romans came up with the brilliant idea of giving a betrothal ring in lieu of giving the bride-to-be money or a valuable object (in effect, BUYING her, but with something worth LESS than cold hard cash). According to Pliny the Elder, the groom first gave the bride a gold ring to wear during the betrothal ceremony and at special events (because even back then, people cared what their neighbours thought of them, it would seem), then he would give her an iron ring to wear at home, which served to signify her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Well, that’s romantic a.f. Yes?

Enter, the diamond.

So, we trudge through history, wearing our iron bands, until 1477 when the uber-romantic and and completely politically manipulated Maximilian I, soon-to-become-the Holy Roman Emperor, presented the first documented diamond engagement ring to Mary, the daughter of his father’s chief political opponent, the reigning duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold. As the story goes, Duke The Bold, had but one daughter, who was called Mary of Burgundy, and Frederick III (Maximilian’s pop) was hell-bent to secure his son to her through marriage, in order to forestall military conflict.

Honestly. What woman could say no to an offer like that? Well, maybe a lot of women could. Like, I don’t know, just about every single woman? So, to sweeten the pot and Maximilian throws some diamonds in the shape of Mary’s first initial on that band of ownership he was hoping to win her hand with, and yeah, she (or her father) consented to the marriage. Ugh.

Although my purpose in this series is really to look at why I am (and many other people are) so obsessed with having, owning and wearing a sparkly diamond on my (her) left hand, the story of Max and Mary is fascinating, so I am going to continue this trip down memory lane bit longer, in the name of history. And in the name of it’s my blog and I can if I want to *spoiled brat moment exhausted now*.

Okay, so Max and Mary get married, and he gave her the diamond ring that would become the beginning of the end for potential grooms the world over, and then, wouldn’t you know it, they also lock into a pre-nuptual agreement (these fuckers were beyond forward-thinking, yes?) that stipulated that only the children of bride and groom had a right to inherit from each, not the surviving parent. Mary tried to bypass this asinine rule with a promise to transfer territories as a gift in case of her death, but her plans were confounded. After Mary’s death in a “riding accident” on 27 March 1482 (a mere four-a-half-years later), Maximilian turned his aim on securing the inheritance to one of his and Mary’s (dare I say, favourite) children, none other than Phillip the Handsome. I want to leave the story here, but I cannot.  Not before I note that Mary gave birth to three children during her brief marriage to Maximilian, the eldest two survived her. They were Philip the Handsome and Margaret. Yup, that’s it. Just Margaret. Not Margaret the Beautiful or Margaret the Brave, just plain Margaret. But Max and Mary loved their children equally. I mean, of course they did. When Mary died, Handsome inherited a world and two-year-old Margaret was shipped off to France, to marry the Dauphin, in an attempt to please Louis XI not to invade the territories owned by Mary of Burgundy. Because of course she was.

It is interesting to note that Mags outlived Handsome by almost 25 years. She went on to do amazing bad bitch work and helped pave the way for women rulers. She married twice and was widowed twice. Overcome by grief, she threw herself out of a window when her second husband died. One can assume she really loved that second husband quite a bit more than the first. But, as people often do, she survived throwing herself out the window and lived 26 more years, to the ripe age of 50 (Handsome and his devilish ways died at age 28). Magnificent Mags (as I’ve come to think of her), died after a splinter of glass became embedded in her foot which in turn made her foot gangrenous. While awaiting amputation surgery, she was overdosed on opium, which had been administered as a painkiller prior to surgery. Well. It certainly killed her pain, now didn’t it? Fucking narcotics. R.I.P. Magnificent Maggie.

Well, I am emotionally exhausted now, so with luck (and a wee bit of ADHD medication), I should be able to wrap this series up in the next post and maybe, just maybe, gain some insight and closure on my own quest for that elusive ice (which, incidentily is also slang for meth, so to be clear, I am not looking for meth, I just want a big diamond). Fucking narcotics always ruin everything.

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 that I can manage to pull off.

If you need to know what love is, feel free to ask my eight-year-old. He knows the answer.

A friend on Facebook, who has a small army of young, adorable children, recently posted a list of questions to ask your kids, typical stuff like “what’s your name, age, favourite food, etc.” The last question on the list was “What does love mean?”

I do not usually do these with my kids and when I do, I won’t post their responses, but for some reason, this time I did ask them the questions, privately, without the other three listening in. And for the most part, their answers were not surprising, I like to think that I know my kids fairly well (well, except for finding out that my twelve-year-old believes that my favourite thing to do is wash dishes, but I digress). Overall though, their answers were not shocking. Until that last question, that is. Ugh. My heart is pulverized by the sweet, tender, kind, loveliness of it all.

My oldest small and my youngest both answered ” That you care about other people” and “that you care” respectively. My second youngest son answered “kiss!” with a giggle. And my youngest son, well, he had some thoughts on the subject and I took them down while he dictated. He propped up his head with his fists under his cheek bones, thought for a few minutes, then looked at me with his deep blue eyes, took his time and slowly answered:

How does my eight-year-old know and understand the answer to this question so completely,  but the people in positions of power, who are threatening to destroy every ounce of progress made toward equality and human rights over the last century cannot connect the dots?

For me, being one who is prone to great, big feelings, able to go from feeling great big happiness to great big sadness in a matter of moments, I needed to hear this today. It gives me hope. It makes me think that maybe things really will be okay.

#BeKindAlways

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 that I can manage to pull off.

 

Family bike rides just got so much easier and I’m not complaining

It’s no secret that I loved, loved, loved being pregnant and having babies and raising babies and cuddling babies and everything about being with my babies 24/7. It is also no secret that part of my life has come to a close. So rather than having a depths-of-dispair pity party for myself, I’ve decided to appreciate, enjoy and NOTICE what a blessing it is to be surrounded by bigger, older, stronger kids. And the first blessing on that list this week? Family bike rides. No more baby seats, no more tricycles, training wheels or 12″ bikes that take A LOT of peddling for VERY LITTLE distance. The only pain I feel now is the burning of my thighs as I try to peddle myself up even the smallest of inclines. 🤦🏼‍♀️

That’s right, the last small of my smalls has ripped her training wheels off and is flying down the roads (staying mostly at the side and always wearing a helmet) and this development has transformed family bike rides from long, treacherous affairs to enjoyable, fun experiences.

No, really.

Deacon’s squeal at the very end of the video was because he thought he saw a butterfly but it was enough to startle me. 😂

P.S. I post a lot of 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 that I can manage to pull off.

Kid conversations. Or, Being schooled using a banana analogy

So, this conversation happened at my house tonight:

10 year-old: UGH! This banana has a HUGE bruise! Blech! *insert lots of gagging noises*

6 year-old: *insert hand gestures and adult tone of voice* Okay. I’ll tell you the story of how I ate my bruised banana. Ready? I opened my banana. It was bruised. I just it ate through it and didn’t say a thing about it. Not a word. And that’s how I got through it. Just eat through it. See?

My six-year-old is wiser than me again. You’d think that I’d be used to this humbling truth, but the fact is, I am not. It takes these moments in time, these overheard conversations to remind me that for as much as I think that I’m teaching them about life, it is they who are teaching me.

Because Miss Moon’s banana story is a lot like life. Sometimes, you just have to keep moving forward, not complaining about anything, and just get through it. Sometimes, it really is okay.

Like Miss Moon and Shia say, sometimes, you just have to do it.

It’s Bell ‘Let’s Talk’ Day and It’s Okay to Struggle.

For the people struggling with metal illness and mental health issues on a daily basis, today is about creating a safe space for conversations to happen, to take mental health issues out of the dark, taboo places and insinuate them into the general population. To create awareness. To create empathy and understanding. To educate and attempt to eradicate some of the stigma that plagues any illness that is not physical in nature.

And I have a theory.

I believe that we all struggle with mental illness and mental health. Every single one of us. Depression, anxiety, addictions, narcissism, social dysfunction, phobias, compulsions, delusions, we all have something. Some of us battle daily. Some of us battle once in our lifetime. Some of us are triggered seasonally. And some of us completely unaware that we are suffering from an actual illness and think we’re just fine, but can’t explain why we do, think or say the things that we do. Not understanding why some things just keep on happening ‘to us.’ Some of us struggle our whole lives and some of us struggle with mental illness and health during various phases of our lives. The point is, no one gets out unscathed. This effects us all.

And that is okay.

It is okay not to be ‘perfect’ and have it all together, all the time. It is okay to need a little (or a lot) of help. It is okay to need medication, therapy, comfort, and to retreat to regroup. It is okay to not be strong all of the time and really, sometimes we are the strongest when we are the most vulnerable.

I am very aware of my imperfections, issues and struggles 365 days a year. The older I get, the more issues I realize that I have. And that is okay. We are all imperfect. We are all in this together. If I see you struggling, I will offer whatever help that I can. Be it an ear to listen, advice, chocolate, or, if we’re really good friends, help hiding the body.

My door (virtual) is always open (I’d keep my actual door open, but last time I left the screen unlocked a racoon walked into my kitchen and stole the cat food, so I keep things pretty Fort Knox’d now). If you’re feeling like you’re the only one who yelled at her kids, didn’t do mothering perfectly, fed her family whatever was around, screwed up at work, ate too much or too little, are overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on you – for your time, you attention, your affection, for your YOU – you are not alone.

My door is open. So for this Bell Let’s Talk Day, and everyday until the next one, Let’s Talk. 

#BellLetsTalk

Transition pains and birthday wishes

Lucky me. The New Year and my birthday conveniently occur with only five days between them. This means that I have barely the time it takes to eat a cheesecake before beginning (and failing at) New Year initiatives and deciding (and failing at) birthday initiatives. So, while earlier I blogged about my objectives for 2017, now I find myself trying to put words around more personal objectives and meanings as I pass into yet another (early) year of my 40’s.

It is my birthday on Friday, so the time to get this done is now as short as my skirts once were.

Turning 40 did not hurt. To be honest, it was painless because I did not (and do not) feel it. In my mind, I’m still the deranged, scattered, dippy teenage girl I was (except now I have a credit card, a car and a bunch of kids to drive around). Until now, I don’t think any age has really struck a chord with me. But this upcoming birthday has been bothering me, and I think that I have finally figured out why.

It is because this year, I feel very much like I am on the cusp of a brand new chapter and a whole new way of defining and living my life. And that is terrifying and exciting, devastating and energizing, mournful and celebratory, all at the same time (this may be a side effect of my basket case mental health status).

I have always prided myself on being smart and certain. Not muddled, not confused, not unsure. But muddled, confused and unsure is where I have been residing lately, during this ‘life’ changing of the guard, so to speak (and no, I’m not menopausal, thankyouverymuch).

This birthday is a milestone for me. It’s not a traditional milestone, it’s not 40, 45 or 50, but then, rarely in my life have I done things how and when I was supposed to. Chalk it up to a potent combination of the ‘nature and nurture’ forces from which I was created.

This year will be the year that I finally lay to rest my belief that ‘one more baby’ is reasonable, possible and ‘right’. This year I lay to rest my belief that my life circle and purpose is incomplete without mothering one more child. This year I move forward knowing that I have five beautiful, healthy, wonderful(ly infuriating) children who depend on me to help their worlds make sense and who also need me to  love them, protect them, feed them (possibly the most important item on this list), and mother them. Alas, this is the year that I stop thinking of my body in terms of its function and ability to produce and directly sustain the life of another and start thinking of it more as the irreplaceable, important and worthy entity for the sake of MY survival. To sustain MY life. Because my survival matters too.

Change has never been my forte. I am a planner, perhaps a bit of a control freak (as much as hippy-dippy and control freak go together, that is). I’ve been told (more than once) that I do not shift gears very easily or quickly, and as much as I dislike the sound of that or what it feels like it means about me, I have to begrudgingly admit that it is a true statement. I like things done my way. On my schedule. And I’m not terribly good at trilling “plot twist” and moving on when presented with an unplanned-for idea or event. But I am working on it. My personal goal for this year is to be better at plot twists and plan changes. Oh, I’m not giving up my lists, but this year their role will shift from that of an unforgiving dictator to more of a gentle guide for my days.

I’m looking forward to my birthday this year. I’m looking forward to doing the work that I need to do on myself, to be a different, if not better, version of me. I am looking forward to figuring out who I am and how I fit into this world now that my baby years are behind me and my future is still wide open.

~A.

This is the year

So, in keeping with my modus operandi, this post was slated to be published on the last day of 2016 and it is now January 1, 2017. To state the obvious, it goes without saying that I failed to achieve my final writing goal of 2016. Procrastination rules supreme, you can take the girl out of lazy but you can’t take lazy out of the girl, and all that. Moving right along (because enough about me being a slug), I am placing a fair amount of pressure on myself to achieve certain goals in 2017. I’m not sure that I would or could call them resolutions, but they are very definitely (hashtag-less) goals. Despite my joking and propensity for self-deprecating humour, I actually did accomplish a fair amount in 2016. As always though, I am left feeling as though I let myself (and everyone else) down.

And no, not because I’m still on intimate terms with the extra 40 (or 50) pounds I’ve been in a complicated relationship with for the past five years. Not because I have STILL not written a novella, novel or even a really great blog post. Not because I remain a low-wage earner. Not even because my house is still in a state of renovation and disarray, with no end in sight. No. I am left, here at the end of 2016, feeling as though I have let myself down because I know better and yet consistently do not do better.

I know that I should exercise (walk, lift, yoga, whatever), and yet I do not. I know that I should give up chocolate, french fries, Diet Pepsi, chips, meat, refined white flour, sugar and sweeteners and yet I do not. I know that I should be going to bed earlier, getting more sleep, rising earlier and getting more done in a day, and yet, I do not. I know that I should be writing every single day  and pursuing other creative and artistic endeavours and yet, I do not. I know that I should be ever patient, calm and serene with my children, and yet, I am not. I know that I should get those paint cans shaken (again) and get to painting rooms where it makes sense to do so, and yet, I do not.

You see? I know better and yet I do mediocre. I make excuses for myself. I’ll tell myself that I have a  lot to do, I have a lot on my plate with running the house, raising the kids, being a wife and mother, with working more and more hours outside of the home. And of course it’s acceptable that I don’t make time for myself or time to pursue what makes my spirit sing, you can’t make what you don’t have. Of course it’s acceptable that I burn the candle at both ends so that nobody, myself included, has a chance of getting the best that I have to offer. Of course it’s acceptable to take on more and more and more and to not acknowledge how overwhelmed or unfulfilled or unhappy I may be as a result. Of course it is.

Not.

So this  year, this year of 2017, will be a kinder, gentler year for me. A more accepting and relaxed year. No, I’m not quitting my family, marriage or work (going from low to no-wage earner is not an option), but I am going to work on actually (rather than just thinking about) making myself more of a priority and giving myself the time, care and attention that I NEED in order to be happy, fulfilled, healthy, and truly able to do better in all areas and give more to all the people in my life. Because the more I deny myself, the more that I am denying the people around me, which is counter-intuitive to my ‘healer and helper’ nature (stop snickering! I am very nurturing when I’m not being pulled in twenty directions at once).

So, instead of a list of resolutions (a.k.a. promises that I have no real intention to keep), this year I’m going to say ‘yes’ more and ‘no’ less. To myself.

How about you? What are your plans for 2017? We all have the same 365 days, what we choose to do with them is what will make the difference between having a year that we enjoy and celebrate and having a year that we merely survive.

~A.

Santa Claus Parades in the G.T.A. in 2016 – Updated

Updated – new, improved, and probably still completely riddled with errors and omissions. Meh.

2016 parades

Here’s my good deed for the year. I sure hope that Santa is paying attention because this actually took some WORK. But, of course, you should always check and confirm dates and times for yourself (all information is linked to an official page of one type or another) before bundling up your family and heading out. Because sometimes I 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 27, 2016 – 1:00pm

Bolton – December 3, 2016

Burlington – December 4, 2016 – 2:00pm

Cannington – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am

Etobicoke (Lakeshore) – December 3,  2016 – 1:00pm

Fenelon Falls – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am – 4:00pm

Keswick – November 19, 2016 – 1:30pm

Kitchener – November 19, 2016 – 10:30am

Lindsay – November 20, 2016 – 2:00pm

Maple – November 27, 2016 – 2:00pm

Markham – November 26, 2016 – 11:00am

Milton – November 20, 2016 – 1:30pm

Newmarket – November 19, 2016 – 11:00am – 1:30pm

Oakville – November 19, 2016 – 9:00am

Pickering – November 26, 2016 – 9:00am – 12:00pm

Sharon (East Gwillimbury) – November 13, 2016 – 2:00pm

Streetsville – November 26, 2016 – 1:00pm – 4:00pm

Toronto – November 20, 2016 – 12:30pm

Tottenham – November 26, 2016 – 3:00pm – 5:00pm

Weston Village – November 27, 2016 – 2:00pm

Whitby – December 3, 2016 – 10:00am – 12:00pm

Night Time/Later Start Parades:

Ajax – November 26, 2016 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Alliston – November 19, 2016 – 4:00pm – 9:00pm

Aurora – November 26, 2016 – 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Barrie – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm – 10:00pm

Beaverton – November 18, 2016 – 7:00pm

Bradford – November 19, 2016 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm

Brampton – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm

Flamborough – November 26, 2016 – 6:30pm

Havelock – November 19, 2006 – 7:00pm – 8:00pm

Markham – November 25, 2016 – 6:00pm – 9:00pm

Orangeville – November 19, 2016 – 5:00pm

Oshawa – November 19, 2016 – 6:00pm

Peterborough – December 3, 2016 – 4:45pm – 6:30pm

Port Perry – December 3, 2016 – 5:00pm (website under construction)

Richmond Hill – November 19, 2016 – 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Schomberg (King City) – December 3, 2016- 4:00pm

Sunderland – December 10, 2016  – 6:30pm (scroll down the site, 4:30am is a mis-type)

Sutton – December 3, 2016 – 5:00pm

Unionville – December 2, 2016 – 7:00pm

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. (Unless my server deletes posts again. In that case, I’ll just start on the Easter Parade list and call it a day 😕).

Ho! Ho! Ho! Go forth and Christmas on, my friends!

A mish mash of our summer so far

This summer, like every summer before it, is flying by far too quickly for my liking. On the upside, we’ve been so busy enjoying it that I haven’t had time to breathe, let alone blog. But, this morning, I have carved out a bit of quiet time (thank you, Scooby-Doo DVD and card games!) so I’m hopping on here to share a quick peak into the first half of our summer through pictures with just a pinch of words on the side.

We hung around at home, jumping, swimming, going to the park
HomeJuly2016
We headed up to the cottage

Fire, fishing, and flowers. Not my usual 'F' words, but they get the job done in this case. ????????????

Fire, fishing, and flowers. Not my usual ‘F’ words, but they get the job done in this case. ????????????

The smalls went to Latvian Cultural Camp for a week
Tervete2016

Mr. K.B. and I checked out Vermont and Mont Tremblant (recommend both!)

The world's tallest filing cabinet? Yes, please! There were some other cool things about Vermont, but really, how do you top that one?

The world’s tallest filing cabinet? Yes, please! There were some other cool things about Vermont, but really, how do you top that one?

We hit the drive-in and a couple other movies
DriveInJuly2016

We said good-bye to toddler beds and hello to ‘big kid’ beds (don’t recommend)

Good bye race car bed ???? This is the first time in almost ten years that we are without a crib, toddler bed or any other baby-related paraphernalia ????

Good bye race car bed ???? This is the first time in almost ten years that we are without a crib, toddler bed or any other baby-related paraphernalia ????

We checked out Fenelon Falls car show and flea market
Fenelon2016We helped a fella win a bet with his girlfriend

We don't know what the bet was, but Mr. K.B. helped the fella win. But I'd say we were the real winners, wouldn't you? ???? When life hands you plastic flamingo wine glasses, you have choices to make, people. Choose wisely.

We don’t know what the bet was, but Mr. K.B. helped the fella win by taking the set of four home with him. We don’t know what the fella won, but I’d say we were the real winners, wouldn’t you? ???? When life hands you plastic flamingo wine glasses, you have choices to make, people. Choose wisely.

So, that covers July. I’m ready for the second half of our summer (and a nap!!) now, I just wish we could have a third and fourth half too. ????

They love me because I feed them. Meh. I’ll take it.

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. I was spoiled with breakfast in bed (adventures in the kitchen for Mr. K.B. and the smalls – so yeah, it turns out, waffle irons don’t live forever ????), countless precious and priceless home and school made gifts and cards, and even a much-needed and appreciated visit from my own mother. (Quick aside: Happy Mother’s Day, Mum! I’m sorry I was such a ????head when I was a teenager. It was definitely not you. It was me.)

And as the day came to a close, and I put my four youngest babes to bed, I decided to revisit some of my gifts and proclamations of love from the day. To my surprise, there was a common theme throughout, which, put simply was: “I love you because you feed me.”

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

My Golden Ticket from Deacon ????????

So very, very Deacon ????

So very, very Deacon ????

I guess I have set the bar pretty low if, by merely feeding them, I have achieved “best mommy in the hole galixey” status.

One of the few times when I could care less about spelling ????

One of the few times when spelling does not count ????

Were they grasping for something nice to say or does the sum total of my mothering skills amount to short-order cook? Hmmmm. Could be worse, I say.

Mason design me my own Pokemon card. You'll notice that I'm still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.

Mason designed me my own Pokemon card. You’ll notice that I’m still serving up the grub. Even fictional me feeds the children.????????

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food...

And just in case anyone forgot about the importance of food…

I tend to (over) credit myself with wearing many, many different hats during the course of any given day in order to meet the needs of my family. As it turns out, I can shelve the various hats or just trade them for a hair net.

IMG_2512

Paxton appreciates that I feed him healthy food. ???????? Poor kid. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

Paxton appreciates that I feed him ‘helthy food’. ???????? My poor Pax. Have him brainwashed entirely, I suppose. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ???? I hope he's not coming down with something. ????

And last but not least, from Declan, who for the first time in my recollection, did not mention food. Not even once. ????
Geez. I hope he’s not coming down with something. ????

So. This is my life. It may not be glamorous. It may not be jet-setting. It may not be the envy of those around me. But goddamn it, there is food and plenty of it (everyday even. Just ask my kids).