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!