Friday, December 31, 2010

And we start all over again....

do we really though?

The passage of time is a strange thing. We are about to mark the end of 2010 and welcome in 2011. We will spend the next year looking forward to (or dreading)  the same dates we did in 2010; birthdays, anniversaries, holidays....
the only thing that changes is the year.

I'll admit, this final 2 weeks of 2010 has not been a good one. I'd like a do over but that's not going to happen right? I've been feeling foul for the last couple of weeks, grumpy, moody, in a funk. My patience has been none existent for the kids, Sean, my mom. I truly feel like this was the worst Christmas ever.
And the thing is, there is no reason for it. I had my family and my friends and my Tassimo. What more could a girl ask for? I had two weeks off work to spend with my family. I didn't have to wake up with an alarm (okay - I did, but human alarms named Connor don't count)

But yet, I still feel like I'll be glad when this holiday is done. (Of course, after about 3 days of work I'll be counting down to spring break!)

So I've been thinking about what I want for 2011. I guess this is the adult equivalent of asking Santa for things.

I don't make resolutions. They aren't kept, they are way too lofty and let's face it, I can resolve to lose 30 lbs like I did last year but I can also promise you that this time next year the chances that I'll have lost those 30 lbs are slim. I don't have the gumption to do it right now. It was like all the years I resolved to quit smoking. Every December 31 I would smoke my "last" cigarette before bed and every January 1st I'd be smoking again within an hour of waking.

I will lose 30 lbs - when I'm damn good and ready, just like I quit smoking when I was damn good and ready. (6.5 years ago!!)

I'd like to be really lofty and say something like I'm going to cure cancer or save the world in some other way but, well, that's not likely either. So let's be a little realistic shall we?

I'd like to have more patience in 2011. More patience with Sean and more patience with the kids (especially Mary) I find lately that that little girl makes me quite insane. I don't want her to be the 'middle child' or the black sheep. I don't want her to be 'outside' of our family.
I am going to spend more one on one time with each of the kids, talking with them, playing with them and in general enjoying their company. Less time getting angry or frustrated with them.

I'm going to try to better with money. Last year I said I was going to pay down 50%  of the window debt and not accumulate any more and well, that just didn't happen. It was lofty though considering I was working at home in a job I wasn't totally in love with and not making a whole heap of money.
But now - I'm working a job I love and I'm making good money so I need to really focus and if I still live on the shoe string budget I was on when I worked at home I can direct all that extra money to the debt. I could conceivably be debt free in 36 months. (a little longer if I get Sean the tent trailer for his 40th birthday like I want to.)

I'm going to try to reconnect with an old friend. I have one old friend in particular who shared a big part of my life and though we'd gone our separate ways, we connected again a few years ago via facebook. I was sad to see that friendship move on and I'd really like to see if that friendship can be rekindled.

I'm making it a goal this year to meet at least one of the other Pumpkin Patch Mommies. I don't exactly know how but I will. They have become an important part of my life. The group as a whole has inspired me to be a better person by how everyone looks out for everyone else. I've said it before, I know most people don't 'get it' they are 'just a bunch of strangers you met on the internet' but really they are so much more and I am truly blessed to be a part of their group.  So, hopefully, I'll be lucky enough to be able to connect in real life with at least one of them. (the goal being to meet as many of them as possible over the years)

There are have been a lot of changes in my life on the past year, most notably career changes. I've really done things in the last year that I'd not have done even 5 years ago - I lacked the confidence. I've come out of my comfort zone - got a new job, met new people, didn't play the shy wall flower that I really am. I made an effort to get to know people at work and while I'm not as outgoing as some of the other people at work, I think I'm doing alright.  I've joined the volleyball team at work - this is HUGE since A: I'm not athletic B: I've never played volleyball outside gym class as a kid and C: I'm really really stepping outside of my comfort zone.  But in order to get to know some of my coworkers I need to get involved in these things - 20 minutes in the staffroom at lunch isn't going to cut it.

So I resolve to continue on this path of getting out of my comfort zone and trying new things. It's opening up the world to me and that is good.

Overall, 2010 was a pretty decent year for me, certainly one of the better ones in recent memory so here's to hoping that 2011 is good too.

And to you, my dear readers, I wish you all peace, joy, love and prosperity for 2011. May all of your dreams come true. I hope you are able to finish the year with those you started it with and maybe a new friend or two as well. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Time to get back on that horse

You may (or may not) have noticed a sudden decline in my sewing. I had to take a break when I started working and only did custom jobs and the Christmas gift bags.
But June 3rd is just around the corner as is the Oshawa Relay for Life  so I need to get my butt in gear and get some more bags made and cards printed.  I had a thought on a way to customize the bags even more but I'm going to keep this idea a secret for a bit and research my options first.

So, starting tomorrow night I'm getting back into the swing of sewing. I'm going to aim to make 4 bags this week and then my goal will be 1 bag a week from January to the end of May.  That should give me roughly 22 bags plus the ones I still have available, plus a few sets of cards to sell at the Relay.

And now, the shameless plug. I have a lot of new readers so I'd like to direct your attention for a minute to my other blog Papa's Pride.  This blog is dedicated to my Dad, who I lost to cancer in 2009 and my efforts to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society through our participation in the Relay for Life.  From there you can chose to make donation to our team (aptly named Papa's Pride) or you can purchase one of the custom tote bags or photo greeting cards from my Etsy Store and all proceeds are donated directly to our team.

But barring that - at the very least, if you are on Facebook, please go to my FB page and click "Like" The more likes I get the more traffic is generated and the more money we can potentially raise.

Everyone is touched by cancer in some way.  No effort to fight back is too small. We can all make a difference.

Gimme head with hair, long beautiful hair.....

This is one of those posts in which I remind you of how cheap  frugal I am.

I don't go and get my hair done. In fact, up until last year I didn't even go and get my hair cut by a professional. I just had my mom trim it.

The two years ago one of my daycare parents gave me a Christmas bonus so I decided to take the money and get my hair professionally cut, styles and highlighted. It cost me a small fortune but I fell in love. It was gorgeous and I felt like a million bucks. Great hair makes you briefly forget that you're packing an extra 20 lbs or that you've got a couple of PMS induced zits on your face.

I vowed that every 6 months I would splurge and get my hair done.

This turned into going to Great Clips and buying hair dye kits. It still looked okay but it wasn't salon great.

For my birthday last summer my mom gave me money to go get my hair done in preparation for returning to work. But not having worked for 3 months meant money was tight and I couldn't justify spending $150 on my hair and then getting groceries on my already maxed out VISA. So I went to Great Clips, bought a Loreal hair dye (I found one I actually liked) and spent the rest on feeding my kids.

For Christmas, Sean got wise. He wanted me to get my hair done but rather than give me the cash he went out and got me a gift certificate for the salon. So I have no choice but to use it there. So this morning in an hour and a half I'm going to get my hair done.

I don't think I'm getting it cut or styled, I'm just going with the highlights. But we'll see.  Maybe I'll get it all chopped off. (actually I would, I think short little cuts a la Meg Ryan are cute but you need to have a tiny face and well, let's be honest, tiny is not a word to use about me.)
Maybe I'll do something crazy like blue streaks.

Or maybe I'll play it safe, get my red and blond highlights and call it a day. Either way, it's gonna be hot!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking ahead

Wow - what was up with that pity party yesterday huh? It was Christmas, the happiest day if the year and I'm feeling sorry for myself. Someone slap me.

It's okay, I'm over it (or should I say I've passed the hormonal stage in my cycle)

So the other day I was re reading my New Year's Day post from 2010 and it's interesting to see just how much has changed in the last year - and how much of what I'd hoped for this year has actually happened - and what has not.

I didn't lose any weight. I didn't gain any either so that's got to count for something but short of getting a gym membership I don't see me losing any weight anytime soon. I'd like a gym membership but I need Emily to be old enough to babysit Connor on a regular basis I can actually go to the gym.

I did not pay down 50% of the window debt and I did accumulate more but it's still manageable. (yeah, I'm trying to justify it)

I did continue to get A's in school (while I was going) but I gave up school and my goal of opening a new daycare centre in favor of my new fabulous dream job.

I did learn to use my new fancy camera and I did take the kids picture this year for the Christmas card. I've gotten pretty good with my camera. I'm hoping for Mother's Day to get a new lens so I can take even better pictures.

I am finishing 2010 with everyone who started it with me and I did in fact finish it with some new friends.

Not a bad year overall I think.

I'm going to think on what I want for 2011 and I'll get back to you.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Why all the hype?

I am suffering from Christmas let down.

Sometimes I wonder if it's not better to just  forgo the Christmas hype in favour of going somewhere as a family and spending time together.
We spend obscene amounts of money for 'stuff' and for what....I'm betting most of what Mary and Connor got will end up freecycled within the year.
Emily was thrilled with her $250 electronics but was still longing for the elusive Bench jacket (which she snagged on sale for boxing day today)

I feel sorry for myself because I picked one of my gifts so it wasn't wrapped (a leather jacket) and I got a wad of cash with an IOU for another (the Tassimo) because they are sold out, quite literally everywhere so it felt like I really didn't open anything for Christmas this year.

I feel sorry for myself because it was the first time in 8 years that Sean and I were both off work together for the entire holiday and then he got sick for 4 days of it. So I worked up the fun, family time in my head and it didn't happen.

And then I think - you dumbass, Christmas is for the kids - they loved it.
And then I see my mom, sad, depressed and wishing not for presents but to have my Dad here with her and I feel about this big for feeling sorry for myself over something so trivial.  Sean might have been sick in bed....but at least he was sick in bed.....

I think when my kids grow up I'll do just that, skip Christmas...just like in the John Grisham book (which was made into a stupid movie "Christmas with the Kranks" with Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis and  Dan Aykroyd - the book was much better)

Of course, by then we'll probably have grandkids and then I still won't be able to skip Christmas.

Next year - I'm going to be realistic.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I feel.....

So this morning I was looking at my blog stats and I noticed someone was referred to my site from another one I'd never seen before. Most of my visitors either link from FB or come directly here. But this one came from this site

So naturally I had to check it out.

And when I did, I found this.

And now I'm like a junky. I can't stop clicking the little dots and getting glimpses of how people feel. And if you click the text it takes you to the blog it came from.

Apparently my hit came from my post last night....where I said I feel festive.

So, I feel honoured to have been found.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just having fun

Photoshop's not just for photos.  Heehee.

Also, I saw this on FB and thought I'd share it.

Doesn't hurt that it's got one of my favorite Christmas songs in it. I get goosebumps everytime I hear the song.

I'm feeling festive today. Can you tell?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas bootie

There are few guarantees in life. The sun will rise in the east. Tomorrow will always come (okay, not for everyone but for someone it will) Children will give their teachers candles for Christmas.

On Friday we had a class party, lots of treats and loud Christmas music and fun. And in the afternoon my teaching partner and I opened our Christmas gifts from the kids.

I want to be clear about something. I'm not a snob. I am so overwhelmed that anyone thinks to buy me a gift at all, frankly I don't care what it is. I truly am a "it's the thought that counts" kind of person.  Consider also that I work in a school with a high percentage of low income families, many of whom can't afford some of the basics. So really, while I love the gifts, I loved, just as much, the hugs I got from the kids who didn't bring gifts.

One little girl picked out a necklace and earring set. I'm going to be honest, it was ugly. Really, really ugly. But the pride beaming out of this child's face when I opened it was something else. She obviously picked it and I'm sure she thought it was the most beautiful thing ever. And because of that, it was.

I made sure to coordinate my outfit on Friday so I knew I'd match my lovely new jewelery (pink) and after lunch when it was time to start our party I put on the necklace (think Mr. T meets Bollywood) and earrings. When she came in and saw me (us) wearing the necklace and earrings I thought she was going to burst. Her little face lit up like a Christmas tree and she told all of her friends that the teachers were wearing the necklaces she bought us. By the end of the afternoon my ears were killing me (sensitive ears) and I sounded like Santa himself with the jingling coming from around my neck but a little 4 year old girl was happy....and that made it worth it.
And Emily and Mary made out well, they split the earrings and necklace and are tickled with it.

I got a new endless supply of candles and the obligatory Teacher mug (which, by the way is awesome because it's huge and I like prefer big mugs) but again, it's all good because while some people may chuck that stuff aside without a second thought - I love it all, because someone took the time to think of me at Christmas.
I'll be honest, some of it will get re-gifted, and that's okay. It's not that I don't like it, just that I have no need for it (photo albums are wasted on me)

But much like my Christmas tree ornaments, my collection of 'things' given to me by children I've cared for (and now students) grows because I keep almost all of it. I've got things given to me by daycare children 13 years ago. And I still remember who gave it all to me. Because they cared enough to give me something...the least I can do is care enough to remember.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Another Ramble....

I have a few shopping related pet peeves I'd like to share. Sometimes it's good to keeps one from going postal (forgive the euphemism if you or someone you love is a postal worker of the non disgruntled nature)

1. I had to take the elevator in the mall yesterday. (This is a big deal as using elevators are second on my biggest fears list - right under losing one of my children) This elevator pet peeve is two fold - the first being people who take the elevator in the mall - yes the one right next to the escalator - despite their being young and apparently perfectly fit - and despite their being a line up of people with strollers and old ladies with walkers and even two guys in wheel chairs. Take the freakin' escalator so those of us who can't don't have to wait here forever.

The second part of this is when you are in the elevator and the door opens on your floor and there are 6 people standing on the other side waiting to get in - right in front of the door - so you can't get out. It's Christmas. The mall is packed. Did you really think that when the elevator doors opened there would be NO ONE in it who might want to get out first??? Get out of the freakin' way dumb ass! Stand to the side. MOVE!!!

This happened to me three times yesterday. Finally, the third time I didn't get out of the elevator. Some slack jawed yutz stood there staring at me...waiting for me to apparently walk right through him with my stroller and my three kids. So I stood there and stared right back at him, waiting to see if the light bulb went off and he moved so we could get out. He didn't, the door closed and we went back down. Emily was pretty confused.  When we got back up the idiot was gone. I guess he was one of the above mentioned young and fit fools who should have taken the escalator in the first place.

2. People who hum and haw about their orders in places like McDonald's, Tim Horton's, Burger King.....
What is there to think about? It's McDonald's. It's not selecting a fine wine or a retirement's a hamburger...and not a very good one at that. Tim Horton's has coffee. I'm sure they have other stuff too but really...let's be honest, Krispy Kream has better donuts.  It's not something that needs to be pondered and if you haven't decided what you're having before you get into line DON'T GET INTO LINE!! And if you don't know what a double double is....don't ask for one (specifically to the lady on Friday who ordered a double double with three sugar and one milk. Huh??)

And as a side note to #2 - when you are in line getting ready to order something...please have your money ready. It's not free. You're not going to win a you're-the-5 millionth-customer-served-so-it's-on-the-house-prize. Common sense dictates that if you are in line to purchase something you will have to pay for it, either with cash or debit don't leave it to after you've been served to dig through your 40 gallon purse to find your $1.58 in nickles to pay for your 3 sugar/1 milk double double.

I'm not normally low and patience during the holiday season but this year it just feels like people are getting stupider. (maybe I'm getting smarter?) Common sense seems seems to have gone by the wayside.

I decided to do a bit of shopping today after work. I left school as quickly as I could so I could squeeze in a half hour of Christmas shopping before I felt too guilty and picked Connor up from daycare. Apparently those 30 minutes were too much. I found him lying in his teachers arms all limp and pathetic. He'd been running a fever since he woke from nap but they didn't bother to call me since I'm normally there within 20 minutes of nap ending anyway. So naturally today was the day I wasn't there until like an hour after nap ended. I can't catch a break from that Mommy guilt. Ever.

On a lighter note...this morning I was looking at the little map at the bottom of my blog and I noticed a new dot. Upon closer inspection I see my little dot is in the South Atlantic, just off the Ivory Coast.  Odd that the little dot is in the ocean. Some guy on a boat with nothing better to do that read my blog? Is there is teeny tiny island there? A shark with a Blackberry? (everyone else has one!)

Likely a little mislaid dot but it gave me a bit of entertainment nonetheless.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Beauty Within

I got a package in the mail yesterday from a dear friend. I've mentioned her more than once before, she lost her own Dad to cancer not long after my Dad died. We were able to be there for one another (though only in spirit as she lives what seems like a world away)  It was (and is) reassuring to me to know someone else who was going through the same thing at the same time and understood what I was feeling.

I do know a lot of people who've lost parents to cancer but I think over time the feeling changes and I'm sure that while I do understand the myriad of emotions that go along with it, I don't know that I could be the same support to a friend who might be going through it now that I've come out the other side as I was then when I was in the thick of it myself. Does that make sense?

Anyhow, the point is, that while infertility and the blessing of our October 2007 babies brought us together I think it was cancer that built our friendship. (could it be that something good comes from cancer? Truth be known, if it meant we could both have our Dad's back I'd rather not have her as a friend at all and I'm sure she'd say the same.)

This post was not supposed to be a debbie downer...and it's not. It's about, as the title implies, the beauty within.  It's the beauty within a person, within a friendship and within a heart.

I truly hope one day to meet my dear friend Jenny and to give her the big hug I can only send over the internet. She deserves it - and so much more. And I'm truly blessed to call her a friend.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Russia huh?

So every now and then I check my nifty stats bar on my blogger dashboard and I've noticed a trend. I seem to have some new but returning readers. In particular I've noticed a visitor or two from Russia every couple of days. I'm assuming it's the same person (people). It's a big internet but it's a bigger world so the chances of a variety of random readers, all from Russia stumbling upon the blog are not likely.

Anyhow, I just wanted to send a shout out to my Russian reader(s)

Привет, спасибо за посещение моего блога. Есть фантастический день!

(Google translate ROCKS!!)

And yes, it has occurred to me that the person reading this probably reads the whole thing in Russian so the fact that I've got that little blurb there in Russian will be totally lost on them....but if they are reading it in English then it won't be!  :)

Have a fabulous day!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

See the irony?

I need to get something off my chest. I'm confused. Now I know this post might not win me any friends, it could in fact lose me a few, simply because I know some of them are reading this very post on their Blackberries or iPhones.

First, watch this commercial.

I don't own a Blackberry or an iPhone. In part because I don't want to shell out all sorts of cash for a data plan. I have internet at home. I have it at work....I don't need it on my phone. No, make that, I don't want it on my phone. I'm cheap (remember that? I say it a lot...I really am cheap) I just figure if I'm forking out $50 a month for high speed at home why do I want to fork out an additional $100 a month for internet on a phone.

I was at a Christmas party the other night for work and everyone at my table except me and Sean had a Blackberry. They were exchanging PINS (I say this like I know what the hell a PIN is...truth be known the only PIN I know is my debit card PIN)   They were all fixated on their phones. I honestly waited for some of them to begin texting one another at the table.

I do understanding the merits of having access to the internet on your phone sometimes....I'm sure there are times when I thought it would have come in handy...and I did in fact even look into a Blackberry at one time but then I thought - do I want to be THAT accessible? All the time? Do I want to feel obligated to answer emails or texts or phone calls because everyone knows I have it?

I don't have a landline phone. (well, I do but it's Emily's phone) I have a cell and that is our home phone. But it's a basic, run of the mill cell phone, no data plan, not even a texting plan. And guess what....I ignore it when it rings....a lot. I have call answer...if it's important leave a message, I'll call you back right away.

It could be just because I hate the phone in general. I hate talking on it. I find it too impersonal, which is actually funny since my preferred method of communication if not in person is via email - which more people find impersonal. Maybe I'm just weird.

I have to laugh at the commercial above though....the advertise it as the phone that gets you in and out so you can get back to life.....

But I think the fundamental problem isn't the getting out to get back to life's the getting in in the first place.   Have we really become so dependant on our technology that the thought of not being connected at all times frightens us?  I guess so. Because this phone provides the answer...stay connected without missing out on life. And yet...I don't think it's the phone itself causing us to miss out on's the user causing him/herself to miss out on life. And I'm sure in a head to head someone using a Windows phone will spend just as much time browsing as someone on an iPhone or Blackberry.

I don't judge....I'm sure there are plenty people who think my blogging is a phenomenal waste of time or my sewing or anything else I really like to do. What floats my boat doesn't for another and vice versa....

But I really had a good chuckle at the irony of that commercial. (and because I do know someone who actually dropped his phone in a urinal and still uses it....feel free to gag now)

Best Christmas Song Ever

My personal favorite.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Always the skeptic.....

I don't mean to have this untrusting side of me. I do want to believe in that everyone is good and that there aren't jerks out there but the truth is I've met too many of those jerks and been screwed over one too many times to trust blindly. And yet, there is still that one small part of me that wants to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

Last month I got a bag order  - for 3 Christmas bags. I was so super excited because it was my first official bonafide stranger - not even a friend of a friend order. So I promptly mailed the bags out and let the buyer know they'd be there in roughly 2 weeks (shipping to the US)

Last night I got an email from the buyer that she hadn't received the bags yet.

Now here's my problem. I didn't send it via parcel post which provides me with a postal tracking number. Partly because it costs roughly $10 more per package to send and the point is to keep costs low to raise more money...
and partly because in the last two years, between my Papa's Pride bags and my Pumpkin Patch friends I've sent more mail to the US than I can count and I've NEVER had a package not arrive. Between the Canadian and US Postal Services, I figure they've got their shit together.

So this brings me to conclusion #2....the one that makes me feel like shit for thinking it. Perhaps she's lying, she just wants another set for nothing. She's pulling a fast one. She's scamming me.

But then I want to believe in honesty and integrity and think - nah, why would she do that? I mean it's not like they're great, expensive products - they're homemade gift bags. They cost her $10.

Then I think - what is she thinking of me?!?! She's thinking  "That bitch - here she's selling these things, trying to guilt us into buying them by saying the proceeds are all going to cancer research and then I pay her and she stiffs me and doesn't send me a damned thing. SHE'S SCAMMING ME!!!"

And holy crap, I can't fathom anyone thinking anything like that about me because seriously my conscience wouldn't allow me to be that dishonest. Sure, I once stole some red fabric napkins from a Keg but I was young and stupid. Just two weeks ago I realized that the cashier at WalMart didn't charge me for a $1.00 holly branch and because I felt so guilty about it I put $5 in the Salvation Army kettle on the way out (normally I just throw in whatever small change is in my pocket...this time it was full on Paper Money!)  Money can clear your conscience when used appropriately.

So, I wrapped up three more bags and mailed them out to this woman first thing this morning....via parcel post...with a tracking cost me $15 to send the bags. Yeah, the bags she paid $10 for. (insert eye roll here)  I'll swallow the loss. Shit happens. But it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Live and Learn.