Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Canada Day!

Well, I've already started to backslide on my blog. But what can I say? Those last couple of weeks of school are CRAZY! I have an iron or two in the fire that I'm hoping to share in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Canada celebrates its 150th birthday today!

We contemplated celebrating our first Canada Day in the area by going downtown and checking out the festivities, but as it's such a big one, and as we'd be dragging along an autistic tween with crowd and noise issues, and a surly teenager with embarrassing parent issues, it seemed like more of a punishment for us than a celebration. So we decided to stick to the activities available to us in the immediate vicinity, which are actually plentiful and impressive.

You know what else is plentiful and impressive? The RAIN we're getting this grey, miserable Canada Day! Here's a look at an hour-by-hour forecast of what we're in for today:

Universe, strike me down now! It's Canada's 150th birthday, and I'm not sure we're going to be getting any fireworks tonight! How exactly am I supposed to blow my hand off and take advantage of our amazing access to universal health care?!

In addition to this fun, my youngest gets air pressure-related migraines, so it's going to be a memorable Sesquicentennial all round!

I hope all my other Canadian friends are having better weather today than we are. Watching your fireworks on TV might be the best we can hope for! But take heart! Rain or shine, there is always one important thing to be thankful for on July 1st, perhaps this year more than any other: WE ARE CANADIAN!

Have a great day, and a wonderful long weekend, my fellow Canadians!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

That Darned Cat

After we had to let Finnegan go (and I swear I'll stop talking about this soon. Every time I start a new blog post, it seems to come out again. This is cheaper than therapy.), I must have been suffering from some residual guilt or something, because I got into this mode where I was obsessed with making life more luxurious for my remaining two pets. So, off to the sewing machine I went and made new beds for them. Then I went a step further and decided that the cat needed me to convert an old IKEA table into an activity station for him, with his new bed underneath. Here is what that looked like:

Note that there is no sign of the cat anywhere in this picture. That is the normal state of his activity station/bed.

Instead, this is where the cat can generally be found at any given time of the day or night:

On someone else's bed.

Under a completely different table, surrounded by clutter.

On the floor, in Finnegan's old spot.

In the laundry basket.

So I think it's safe to say the cat station can be converted back to an IKEA table. And someone really needs to remind me of this the next time I decide the animals don't have it quite cushy enough.

And while we're on the subject, what is going on with this situation?


Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Sunday Before and After

With a big cross-country move comes some big changes. I spent my last three years in Manitoba substitute teaching at the kids' school. Returning to work on a part-time basis was literally the best thing I could have done for my mental health, and I miss it a great deal. Unfortunately, there are factors that make getting onto a sub list here difficult. We'd need a second car, I'd need some kind of backup child care plan for my youngest, and not being bilingual here really limits me, to name just a few. So it looks like that goal will have to wait a while. But fear not! You know me. I roll with the punches!

To keep myself busy, I have been working VERY slowly on getting our boring newly-build house looking like humans actually live in it (the kids and pets have been doing their part by systematically demolishing the finish on the hardwood floors). And what I've lost in hireability here, I've gained tenfold in thrifting opportunities. This area of the country is an absolute treasure trove!

I'm trying to keep focused (a minor issue with me) on one room at a time, so as to keep the momentum going. So I've been working on my dining room. Last fall, I found a sideboard at a used furniture store one town over for $30 and brought it home to see what could be done with it. It took me a while to get around to it, but here's the before-and-after:

Now, I will never pretend to be a professional refinisher, but for our purposes I think I've taken a yucky old brown thing from the 70's and breathed some new life life into it. I'm not a fan of spray-painting, so I just got a regular old can of semi-gloss from Canadian Tire and had at 'er! I did spray the hardware silver, but am debating replacing it with something a little more plain at some point. We'll see. This sideboard turned out to be the perfect size to house my large collection of cookbooks, and that big window is very sunny, so Finnegan's ashes sit right on top (surrounded by a TARDIS or two for extra protection) where I can say hi to him every morning.

Yes, it's wildly off-centre. And yes, that IS a random yoga ball sitting to the side of it. Did you really expect any less from us?

Due to the nature of thrifting, I've collected up a LOT of old wood furniture pieces to play with, but due to the nature of my scatterbrained existence, I'm currently overrun with befores, and a little short on afters. More to come as I get my act together. What?! It'll happen!

Enjoy your Sunday!!

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Here We Go Again!

This blog is like the abandoned amusement park at the edge of town. Most of the time it sits around collecting dust and looking sad, leaving passers-by to wonder if anyone has died there. And then, just when you think someone's going to come along, bulldoze the whole thing and build a new cookie-cutter neighbourhood, the old ferris wheel slowly lurches back to life in the middle of the night. Maybe if I had a van load of teenagers and a talking dog to sort things out, I'd have a working operation on my hands.

So, I left you more than a year ago in buggy Manitoba. We are now back in good old Upper Canada, where life is rather different. I like to start with the bad news and then finish up on a high note, so here's the update:

The title of my blog is no longer entirely accurate. Back in March, we had to have our 16 year-old dog Finnegan put down. Despite having the blood work of a puppy right to the bitter end, he'd been suffering with increasingly severe arthritis since the age of 12, and he wasn't enjoying his life anymore. It's an experience that has clarified a lot for me about issues like assisted death, quality of life, and the importance of listening to my gut. Finnegan's ashes now sit in the sunniest spot in the house, just as he always did. This is how I like to remember him-- a shot from happier times:

To be honest, I'm still not over it, so let's not dwell. Onward and upward!

Relocating from a secluded old farm house in rural Manitoba to a newly-built bungalow in a neighbourhood just outside our nation's capital has definitely taken some getting used to. I love that just about everything is now within walking and biking distance, and that we're so much closer to family. The kids have really gotten to know their cousins, and both have made very smooth transitions to their new schools. The autism funding here is flabbergasting, and we've been keeping very busy running to and from activities, and even when we do need to drive to a nearby town, the scenery alone is worth the price of gas. That said, town living is SO loud! Lawnmowers, chainsaws, sirens--I forgot all about this stuff living in the middle of nowhere! We miss our wonderful neighbours and friends too, but I'd say overall we're very happy where we've landed.

Rather than regale you with paragraph after paragraph about the past year, I'll leave you with a few photos.

The perfect shot detailing the drive from Manitoba to Eastern Ontario. Case of beer wedged between children, cat wandering with impunity all over the car. I'm pretty sure that disposable cup is still on the floor somewhere.

This was our first family selfie after crossing back into Canada. A bit fuzzy--my only excuse is that we were delirious to be back on Canadian soil. Sadly, I did not think to get a photo of the drunk woman asleep in the bread aisle at a Northern Michigan Wal Mart, or the hefty police presence prompted by her afternoon nap. Next time.

No furniture for the first four days in our new home. Luckily, Firstborn inherited my talent for creativity.

Naturally, when you move to the National Capital Region, you high-tail it right over to Parliament for an obnoxious, braggy Facebook photo op.

Therapeutic Riding is one of the many wonderful activities available here for kids with special needs. You can tell by the look on his face, RB is tired of being embarrassed by his mother and her camera.

It turns out that January in Eastern Ontario is no better than January in Manitoba. So we went to Florida!

The Brevard Zoo is a great stop if you're ever in the Orlando area. Peaceful and lovely, and you can pet the giraffes!

Best of all, we have family in Florida, so no staying in hotels. My sister in-law is a photographer, and despite being 36 weeks pregnant during our stay, ran around the beach with her camera to grab us the very first professional family photo we've ever had done. I am so thrilled with it! Getting my youngest looking at the camera AND smiling is nothing short of impossible, but look at that toothy grin!

And that's our year. You're all caught up! The amusement park is back in business!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Quarterly Update

Maybe if I make it sound all official and business-like, I'll be more inclined not to neglect my blog. So here is my update for the first quarter of 2016!

First up, have a look at this awesome project spearheaded by my sister in-law, who is a 6th grade math teacher in Tennessee. I love this project for so many reasons. I am old enough to remember a time when every child in class was expected to sit still and shut up for hours on end, and got the strap and a reputation for being a troublemaker if they couldn't comply. We've come a long way in education since then, thank goodness. At our school here in rural MB, it is not unusual to see kids (my own included) sitting on yoga balls and squishy cushions right at their desks, and in some cases it is literally all they need to go from mentally scattered to focused and ready to learn. Research shows over and over that implementing sensory strategies to regulate a child's nervous system for learning is significantly more effective than expecting them to regulate themselves and using punishment to motivate that. So, if you're in a position to help out by donating or sharing this with your friends, do consider it. If you know any billionaires, that would be even better! Either way though, check it out. It's a pretty cool idea!

In other news, our posting to Ottawa seems to be going ahead this time, and things are in full swing around here. Our crazy house was listed last week, and we hope to find an eccentric millionaire who wants to buy it in the next month or so. We are excited for this next chapter in our lives, and a little light-headed at the housing prices in the National Capital Region, but this will pass once we get used to the crippling mortgage payments. The kids are alternately excited and a little nervous, but as always we will get through the next few months together and do what we have to to have everyone end up happy and well-adjusted. Firstborn feels that this will be best accomplished by us buying a house with a hot tub.

And now for the bad news. Look at what my dog did this morning:

That is my favorite mug. I got it as a 40th birthday gift. It is the perfect size for my morning gallon of coffee, and it has just the right amount of personality to let people know I am not to be trifled with. My dog is lucky I love her, because this was a euthanasia-level act of naughtiness. At 14, she really should know not to be up on the counters, scrounging around for food. But at 14, she is also daft and deaf, so I suppose cutting her a little slack won't kill me. In the meantime, the hunt is on for a new coffee mug.

Happy spring, blog buddies! Surely it's going to warm up soon!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

Look, it's my second post of 2015! Pathetic. My blog is officially all but abandoned. If it was a dog, the SPCA would have seized it by now.

I've changed how I make resolutions. Saying hippie-dippy things like "I will simplify my life!" while staring into space and raising my right hand ever-so-slightly like I'm Hamlet doing a soliloquy is all very dramatic, but there's no point to it if I'm crying into my massive pile of clutter and lamenting the futility of my existence by the first week of February.

Nope, daily goals. Daily goals are the new fad. If there's anything I'm really good at, it's jumping on the latest fad!

So, here it is: I will spend 15 minutes decluttering every day. I suppose I will also spend 30 minutes a day exercising. I'm not so enthusiastic about that second one, but I guess I can set aside 30 minutes a day to work towards something that (like it or not) is kind of necessary.

So, that's 45 minutes a day spent trying to better myself. Maybe I can round things up to an hour with 15 minutes spent working on my blog. I kind of miss it, and I think I will eventually have those extra 15 minutes a day that have been lost since I started working again.

Which brings me to some exciting news. We're told we'll be posted to Ottawa this summer--land of no teaching jobs whatsoever! So, we will triple our cost of living and I will have no income! It's the perfect storm! I won't be able to afford to do anything but declutter, work out, and blog!

I really can't expect that anyone will think to check in here at this point, but just in case you're all still out there, wondering what's become of me, I hope 2016 is your best year yet. I could go on and on with my well-wishes for all my old blog pals, but the incomparable Neil Gaiman will always say it a million times better than I ever could.

Happy New Year! Bring on 2016!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Extra! Extra!

As I'm about 50 posts behind, having not blogged since last JULY (Yeesh!), I imagine there's no one left out there who is still checking in to read this. But I am a former student of journalism, so when I find myself privy to a scoop, my journalistic instinct kicks in and I simply must put it out there. So, if anyone stumbles across this post, just remember, you read it here first!

Today, my little sister Mel was the only Canadian to run the Chicago Lakefront Ultra Marathon. For those not familiar, that is FIFTY FREAKING KILOMETERS! I complain if I have to drive that far! So, while she has shamelessly shirked the proud family tradition of sitting in front of the TV eating chips and complaining about being fat, she's made up for it in other ways.

But that's not all. She finished this feat of madness in the ridiculous time of 4:19, and was the 4th female finisher, missing third place by less than 20 seconds! And she placed 13th overall! That's not just an exciting Facebook brag for her friends and family. In my (completely unbiased) opinion, here in Canada, that is NEWS!

Here's a picture of Mel at the starting line. I dread to think what she must have looked like at the finish...

I've harassed her local paper to ensure she gets some real media recognition for this, as she's humble enough to just quietly go back home and carry on as normal. Because this event does not get the same media attention as something like Boston, this could easily get brushed under the carpet. Frankly, it is my journalistic duty to see that that does not happen.

And now that I've beaten the competition and gotten this hot story out there (I can't confirm anything officially, but it is rumored that I was the inspiration for Kate Mara's character on House of Cards), I'm hoping tonight she will take a break from her grueling training schedule to eat a large bag of Doritos in front of the TV.

You know, for old times' sake.