Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Twas the Week Before Christmas....

Christmas is here.

Don't fool yourself - that it's only the 25th, because honey, we spend an entire MONTH preparing for this, so in my opinion, it's all part of Christmas.

So with boxes slowly melting away and Christmas decorations being pulled from their storage, we have a house that is an interesting blend of "Art Reno" and "Martha Stewart's Christmas Nightmare". Every candle I have been given that says "Christmas" is in the large front window, and in the 10 seconds I dash through that room, they call to me, begging for organization, thought, design.

Sure, later.

I have six squares done which is approximately, one...two...three....SIX more than I planned to make. So thumbs up for me! I don't, however, have all the wrapping done. At this point, the dining room has paid for itself as a storage facility for wrapping paper, bows, tape and every present I've bought this year. You have no idea the amount of satisfaction I get in pulling the door closed and walking away from that disaster.

As mentioned previously, I side stepped Christmas cards by issuing Thanksgiving/Halloween/Christmas greetings before we moved. My logic was to provide those near and dear with our new address and be able to relax in the weeks leading up to the "Blessed Day."

While those I have received do have the new address on them, I have vowed that whoever does NOT send me a card this year will NOT receive them from me in the future. Harsh? Yes. Un-Christian? Most likely. Rewarding as all Hell? Definitely. After 17 years of buying, scribing and paying postage for cards, I can say I've done my due diligence for those who have enjoyed and not reciprocated. YOU ARE CUT OFF!

The Big Guy and I have decided to take a year off gifting each other. Basically, the house is a gift enough, aside from the fact that the new TV is my gift to the family. We don't need more and we're trying to share this concept with the boys.

Fortunately, I've heard comments such as "When can I wrap Second Born Son's present Mom?" and "Mom! I have a couple of ideas for Christmas for First Born Son!" They get the idea of giving and we've already told them that in the grand scheme of things, they will not see a lot of presents under the tree this year. Ironically, it hasn't fazed them in the slightest - they are more excited about going to church Christmas Eve!

Which tells me we are heading in the right direction with this parenting thing. Cue the Angel Choir!

Friday, November 26, 2010

SH!# They Don't Tell You About Moving

The move may be over, the fallout is still everso evident.

With the priority being to set up the boys rooms, I can honestly say, I haven't been in their rooms, other than to drop off laundry, for two weeks.

Has it really been two weeks????

Sadly yes, and I actually have figured out where the squeak is in the hallway and how to avoid stepping on it early in the morning when head to the bathroom.

No more boxes have been emptied the boys bedrooms because they need their shelves screwed to the walls to display the neverending assortment of trophies, medals and other "essential" display items.

Every trip to the garage is a return route with another box. How did we get so many freakin' BOOKS?

With each box marked KITCHEN I feel like a kid at Christmas. Will THIS be the box that has the dish drying rack???? NO, APPARENTLY NOT.

I also cannot find the HD Box for the fibre hook up. So I have a kick-ass TV which has poorer quality than a computer monitor. Niiiiice. I have actually taken the time to sit on the new sofa, if for no other reason than to make sure it's as comfy as I remember it being in the show room. The Big Guy has fallen asleep on it already - so it's officially been christened.

If terrorists burst into my home and took an appliance hostage - it had better be the microwave, because when my new dishwasher comes in the door, it will become the most prized posession (ahead of some of the individuals for that matter) because hand washing dishes is just about killing me. Aside from the time it takes, my hands have suffered enough with the brutal weather chapping them. My dreams of being a hand model have been dashed. That being said, it would be CONSIDERABLY easier if SOMEONE WOULD FIND THE FREAKN' DISH DRYING RACK!!! HAVE YOU EVEN LOOKED????

I love the concept of finding a place for something, then someone else (you can guess who) comes along and doesn't think it's a logical place for that item, and then relocates it - without sharing with the original individual where it has been relocated to. There are also the random calls at work or on the cell to ask where such-in-such is now being stored. Good Times.

Sparky the Wonder Dog is actually starting to relax - THANKS BE TO GOD. For days he would go out the front door, do his "business" 10 feet from the door and high-tail it back to the stoop and whimper to be let back in. Pretty lame for a big strapping mutt, not to mention the front lawn was giving an unusual aroma to the front entrance when the wind hit certain angles.

We even tried to get him out to the back lawn to explore the 2.5 acres we bought for this very purpose. Within seconds of hitting the deck, he was instantly around to the front entrance again, fearful that we might have forgotten he was out there.

This weekend marks the first official event at Casa on the Hill. Second Born Son's birthday is coming up and we'll celebrate with family this weekend. Here's hoping we don't have to use boxes to seat everyone around the table!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Can you have more than one Wedding of the Century? Just askin'....

I'm a Royalty fanatic - particularly British Royalty. Loved Princess Diana, to the point that a friend and I even went to Toronto to see her collection of dresses when the exhibit was on tour.

So for years I've been waiting for an engagement announcement from Prince William and his long-time accessory - Kate Middleton. You can imagine my annoyance when I discovered in bits in pieces of radio new broadcasts during my move two weeks ago, that he had indeed popped the question.

I didn't have my fibre hooked up yet - I was without TV or computer. Yup - it was ugly.

So my first few days back in the loop saw me scouring for any and all information on the engagement. It wasn't hard to find! Along with the details of the announcement were every Tom, Dick & Harry's take on what they wore and specifically, THE RING.

Let's face it - we girls know it's all about the ring. Even if you aren't a huge jewellry fan - the ring is what tells the world the status of your relationship. The style of the ring tells more about the personalities of the couple, and to some people, the size indicates their affluence.

Kate got Diana's ring. (In case you've been in a cave for the past 30 years - it's a beautiful Sapphire surrounded by diamonds.)

Suddenly, all the experts in the world start spouting off about how the ring is cursed - "Look, Diana wore it - had a miserable marriage that fell apart and then she DIED!" "The ring is a bad omen - will Kate have to worry about a Camilla in her marriage?" "What does Diana's ring mean to Kate and why would William give it to her?"

1. A ring is not capable of controlling fate. It was pretty much determined inanimate objects didn't have mystical powers around 400 years ago.
2. Yes, Diana made the ring famous, but she also took it off once she was divorced. It was left to her sons at the time of her death, for them to share and whichever son decided to propose first would have the option of using the ring. William asked Harry and he agreed that Kate should get the ring.
3. William has wonderful memories of his mother. He is a very thoughtful individual - remember this is the man who as a young boy would tuck tissue under the bathroom door for his distraught mother. Suffice it to say - anything he does, he does with purpose.
4. The fact that he gave Kate THE RING says more about the man he has become. While some would thing he's living in the past, I would suggest he's ready to shape the future. If he was tied to the sad mystique of the ring, he would never have given to the woman he wants to be his wife and future queen. It's because he loves the ring, his mother and the memories of his childhood, that he wants to bring these elements together in his future. I'm sure the rest of the Royal Family wasn't thrilled to have THE RING take centre stage - but again - William is proving he is his own man. Brava!
5. Call me crazy, but I'm fairly certain if Kate was opposed to wearing THE RING, she wouldn't be. Any woman with half a brain realizes this is a beautiful piece of jewelry. Kate can give it a happier ending and eventually, it will be known as Kate's Ring.
6. A couple who have been together for eight years (save for one brief break) has nothing in a couple who met and married within 18 months. Prince Charles spent his entire youth dating every eligible (and some ineligible) woman between London and Vancouver in hopes of finding someone willing to put up with his oddities AND the burden of becoming a Queen of England. I must admit - it's ironic how the rules have changed - Lady Di had to prove she was a virgin before her wedding, and yet Kate has basically been living with William for over two years. I'm pretty sure it's not so he doesn't have to worry about late night post date transportation....

Inevitably, there have been comparisons to Diana, and I love the fact that Prince William led the charge by pointing out the ring means his mother could be a part of his engagement experience. Again, as much as the Royal Family would prefer to leave mention of Diana's name to a tacky fountain in a park, her son is bringing it front and centre; as any son would do during such a joyous occasion as a wedding.

I look forward to buying MANY magazines, taking in any TV programs dedicated to the April nuptials and perhaps even picking up a book or two after the fact. I still have the book I bought in 1981 when Diana & Charles were married, back when it was called the Wedding of the Century.

Perhaps the second time is the charm?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Letter To Our House

While normally I would have a thoughtful tribute for Remembrance Day, I can say with confidence that I don't have the brain matter to do that right now.

With the remaining brain cells I have left, I can only focus on one thing. We move tomorrow. There is only one thing I could write about today....

A Letter To Our House
Dear Little House,
I must admit, when I first met you, it was not love at first sight. But I'm sure you thought the same of me. I didn't bring much to the table and you must have cringed when you heard some of the ideas I was developing.

With your little green roof and your orange brick, you looked like a big peach sitting without benefit of shade on the quiet little street. The back patio was made coarsely from masonry material and therefore chipping away. The single little tree on the south side of the back yard could have snapped off in a strong wind.

But your were OUR first home. You are the home where I learned how to be a wife and eventually a mother. We became a family here with you. You tolerated our dogs and friends with kids as crazy as ours and with every transformation we put you through, you seemed to get better with age.

We planted trees to give you some privacy and shade; designed gardens to enhance your features and eventually, threw on an addition that allowed us to stay with your 8 years longer than we would have otherwise. We made you a little cottage home.

The Big Guy and I have looked at houses almost from the time we moved in to you. You never gave us a moment's grief and yet we spent 17 years looking for something else. If the sale never happened, we would have been fine to stay with you. We would have continued to make improvements, and reinvent you. But this is where we part.

Thank you for being our shelter. Thank you for being the frame for some of my fondest memories - and some of the more difficult ones. I will never forget the feeling I had when we brought Second Born Son home from the hospital in a brutal snow storm. "We are HOME!" I will never forget the indigation both boys had when a neighbor's party left evidence on your front lawn. I was so proud of how they felt - frustration, anger, indignation. They know we took care of you, and they learned how to value their things by taking care of you too.

After tomorrow, I won't come by even regularly - I don't believe in looking back like that, but when I drive by, I will wonder if the mural is still in First Born Son's room, if your new owners love the bench in the back hall as much as I did, if they can appreciate the back yard for what it was and is now?

I hope and pray they live as happy a life there as we have had, and that they come to love you as much as we do.

May your eaves always drain downhill,


Monday, November 8, 2010

"The boxes are stressing me out!"

I like Sunday evening dinner. It's a nice end to the weekend, gives us a chance to connect as a family and gives me much needed leftovers to kick off the week.

Second Born Son was going to miss Sunday evening dinner. He was happily kidnapped after his hockey game by a fellow player's family. A mis-read of the clock meant the "hour to two" visit was only going to be 20 minutes, unless, that is, he could accompany his friend to his sister's hockey game.

I did pause. I do like Sunday evening dinner. But then I realized, sometimes, you just have to mix it up. I agreed that he could go.

"Thank you," said the friend's mom. "He said he would like to stay. He said "The boxes are stressing me out!"

She laughed. So did I, except I knew he really felt that way. All week he's been like a little clock, but instead of winding down, he's tightening up. He's picking fights, being moody and more than a little cheeky. For the first time in many months, he's been sent to his room for a time-out. Did I mention he's three weeks away from being 10? Thanks an entirely seperate entry.

First Born Son is coping in his own way. He's become very clingy. Lots of hugs - all the time. This wouldn't be such a stretch, except for the fact that he's come off a year where he would pull away from you if you even suggested a hug.

With the last four days ahead of us, moving has been real, and at the same time, surreal. I can't imagine living anywhere else, yet I can't stop imagining what it will be like in a new home.

Where home used to be a place we could relax and find refuge, it has now become a place where we can't catch our breath or find our space. our personal items are being removed. We are losing our hold on this home.

So yes, SBS missed Sunday dinner. But it's ok, it's what he needed to do. Sometimes, you just do what gets you through.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Mixing Business with Pleasure

As she speaks I'm scolding myself for allowing my eyes to drift around the room.

What will that wall look like in Spanish Moss? Would the TV work where she has hers, or should I get some wiring put in at the other end?

It's surreal that I'm here at all - a moment of bravery/stupidity and suddenly I'm in the door of the "new" house with the "old" owner. What started out as a simple business discussion quickly became a social call, and I wasn't minding in the least.

While it was easy for me to envision what the floor would look like without the shag carpet, it was much more difficult for me to imagine her husband supervising the construction of the house. Mostly because I've never met him. She tells me the stories that made this house her home; how her husband made a statement with a load of poor quality lumber; how he chose a rounded arch to make their entrance unique. He sounds like a man after my own heart. She stops herself to show me a feature of the windows, top of the line in their day - and are still in great condition.

The longer I'm there, the less I feel like positioning my furniture in my mind and more like I'm being given a great opportunity that I should appreciate.

We chat about the auction sale the weekend before and although she's interested to know that some things did go to "good" owners, you can tell it pains her to talk too much about the life she had being sold off. We laugh over the fact that I bought a desk that belonged to her husband.

"Had I known, we could have just left it here for you!" she smiles.

Personal posessions not needed or wanted went to the highest bidder. The accordions her husband treasured hadn't been around as long as I thought. He bought two of them second hand and only one was new. He taught himself how to play at the age of 60. I'm admiring the two of them more and more. He would sit on the front porch and serenade the neighbor, because he actually could play well.

She speaks of her daughters and how helpful they have been. The packing and cleaning and organizing they have done to help her in her transition from their family home to a modest two bedroom apartment. She would move closer to them, if it weren't for the fact that he's still in town and in a nursing home. He counts on her visits and looks forward to seeing her. Their 56-year marriage is tested by Alzheimers but she's willing to be near him as long as she can.

I'm stunned when she tells me her age - turning 82 in December. She doesn't look it, until we stand to seek out another feature of the house. Her hip and knee have tightened up, making walking difficult. In spite of my protests to return to the couch, she insists on showing me all of the thermostats, as well as the quality cleaning job she has done on the Rec room. Was there ever any doubt?

From time to time we talk about what The Big Guy and I plan to do with the house - mostly redecorating. She apologizes for the dated appearance but we agree it would be pointless to go to the expense of painting only to sell and have someone change it to suit their tastes. I gauge her reaction to things and carefully redirect the conversation to her when I see there's a saddness to her. It can only be expected, but after her generosity, I don't want to be thoughtless of her feelings.

She then tells me how the kitchen is one of the warmest rooms of the house, thanks to the oven and the southern exposure with a large window and sliding glass doors. While she is warm blooded, she would often seek refuge in the cooler living room to the north. I find myself daydreaming about baking on a Sunday afternoon, sunlight flooding the kitchen and it's warmth keeping me toasty as well. In my current kitchen, I get sun only late in the day through one window that faces West.

At some point we discussed the business - the purpose of my visit, and while she never offers me a refreshment, it was obvious she was not keen for our time to end, following me down the stairs and out the door. She shared more stories about the house and the flower beds. By now it's dark out and for the first time I see the view of the town with the lights on. My house on the hill has a beautiful view during the day, but it never occurred to me how lovely it would be at night.

Before I leave I extend an invitiation.

"Things are going to be crazy the next couple of weeks, so I'll say this now. If you would ever like to come back to the house, and see what we've done, you are welcome to do so. I know you might not want to, and I would totally understand that."

Her face lights up and while there is still a sadness to it, I can see she is considering it. If she never comes, I wouldn't blame her. You can't ever really go back. I don't know that I would have any great desire to see in our old home again.

The next day, I'm packing with my Mother and she's commenting on the various attributes of the little house we are leaving. How much we've improved the property and put ourselves in to it.

"You'll miss your oak cupboards," she says, removing pots from a lower cupboard.

"No, I don't think I will," I reply, instead thinking of the sunlight kitchen, the house with a history and a home with a view.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Treading water, but just barely....

This one is for Susan - who said "What's going on with the blog?" and to which I responded - "I HAVEN'T HAD TIME!" and for that I'm truly sorry....

The only way to do this right is to catch everyone up on the past two months which honestly seems like the blink of an eye, when I look back on it. Forgive me if break this up, because at some point, you'll want to sleep or eat or at least use the plumbing.

Mid August, the fam goes on holidays. We need to get away from the stress of the house selling and we decide to do something equally stressful - buy hockey equipment. On the way home to another ball game, one of the boys decides we should go camping. Sure, great idea, we can pitch the tent in the back yard...

"NO MOM - we mean REAL camping!" It was like Surround Sound. So, with a game ahead of me, the camping gear packed away and The Big Guy ready to book a site at a nearby campground, I realize, we should maybe let our realtor know we will be away from civilization for 48 hours. Make a mental note to call in the morning - as I will be up to midnight shopping (thank GOD for 24 hour grocery stores)and packing clothes.

Naturally, I forget to call said realtor in the morning, but instead he calls US! There's another offer on the second house we bid on and now we have to fish or cut bait. We know we want this house BAD, so we put the offer in and hope for the best. The Realtor says we should have an answer by the end of the day.

So by 10 a.m. we are off for our camping adventure - all the while laughing about what we might do with the house if we get it.

"You really shouldn't do that you know," pipes up Second Born Son.

"Do what?" I ask

"Get your hopes up, you'll only be disappointed if it doesn't work out." he replies.

I'm gobsmacked. We just got schooled by the 9 year old.

We set up our site, discuss our plan for the day and eat lunch. After some splash time in the river, we head out for a walk about the park. It's a 45 minute hike and we are on the way back to our site when we look across the valley and see a car remarkably familiar heading down the remote lane to our little campsite. It's the realtor's car.

The Big Guy and I look at each other - not a good sign - it's only been two hours and why would he come all the way here unless it was bad news? We are disappointed and the walk seems much longer as we find our way back to the little tent by the river. WRONG - it's GREAT news - we got the house, he brought the paperwork for us to finalize the deal and initial some minor changes. The camping adventure goes from fun to depressing to FREAKIN' AWESOME. The down side is - we won't move until Nov. 12 - and oh ya, we have to sell our house.

Now my sister had a philosophy. She said the offer on the first house didn't go through with our conditional sale because she feels we were buying the wrong house. So within 10 days of putting an offer on the second house, we have not one, but THREE offers on our little house. It's a whirlwind as we sit with offers around us and The Big Guy is in his glory because, yes people, THIS is what a Bidding War is all about.

In the end the deal is done, we are moving and just when we think there is SOOOO much time, it's back to school, hockey tryouts and just dealing with every day life.

...and it's two months later!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Get Your Head in the Game

I've been assistant coach for First Born Son's ball team for many years now - like far too many to be honest.

I wasn't going to do it this year, but let's just say I was put in a "position". What amazes me is that in spite of all the skills a player may have and the practicing and drills a coach may run, little if any time is given to the "Mind Game".

That's usually what I bring to the table.

You can practice bunting all you want. You can have the best change-up in the league. You can launch a ball off a bat that burns up in the earth's atmosphere. But your head isn't the right place at the right time, you are SCREWED.

I've seen this too many times to mention. Lots of attention is paid to correcting a stance or perfecting a technique, but little if you are having a mental block at the plate - well, you just better get yourself out of that funk.


The brain operates all of the other functions of the body. If your head is busy doubting that you can perform at the plate, your arms won't make it happen.

Never more was this demonstrated than in last night's game. We were facing a rival who has just come off of a B-Side Championship. It's a solid team but not indestructible.

First inning was stellar - we hit well and fielded expertly. We scored two runs and didn't let them near home plate. As the game progresses, there's a bit of bad luck with bad bounces and some near-miss moments, but the team is still positive and talking it up.

Then our catcher, who is physically likely one of the most co-ordinated and has loads of strength, launches a ball down the third-base line over the head of the third baseman. Why? He wanted the out at third, however, the runner wasn't off the bag. But you can bet for damn sure he was when that ball sailed deep into left field.

This pisses off the catcher, who yips at the baseman. The only person who speaks to him is the coach - who sets the record straight about the play - but in essence the catcher doesn't appreciate the dynamic of the play and he stays in a funk.

The next inning, the catcher is still in a foul mood and when the short stop has a messy catch and throw to first, he snaps and calls him out for it.

THAT is when we lost the game.

The coach marches out and speaks to catcher about his negativity and tries to build up the team. But the damage is done. We might as well have walked off the field.

I've tried to explain to players and coaches alike that you can't pound someone over the head repeatedly and then expect them to perform like a full-fledge member of the team.

Kick a dog enough times, and he'll bit you.

Here's hoping we can teach an old dog new tricks before we face this team again Monday night.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We can wrap this up...any time now.....

So two months into the adventure that is selling a house and the ride is still like a roller coaster.

We've had a showing a week, save for two weeks, and we have conditionally sold the house. We are waiting for the buyer to sell his home - and although he's had viewings, the offers aren't there yet.

So we keep showing the house. The Big Guy is awesome about it - even taking the idea of Staging a home so it's in it's best "light". The boys are terrific - making sure that they keep things cleaned up between the time we finish the actual cleaning and the arrival of the prospective buyers. Not an idyllic way to spend a summer!

Take today for example. We were called yesterday for an 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. showing today. Totally jazzed, we get the place shining. The boys have a list of things to check on before they head out for the viewing. At 8:45 a.m., First Born Son calls me at work to say the real estate agent left a message cancelling the viewing.

I call the office and reception tells me that the buyer's mother had a heart attack, therefore, they won't be coming to see the house. Well - that's life. No one could blame them for not coming. The house looks awesome, but it's all for naught.

Speed up to 11:30 a.m. There's an urgent message from reception at the real estate office saying "CALL ME!!!" Another couple would like to see the house - can they get in ASAP. I call the boys who are just sitting down to eat. Fortunately, they finished their list of jobs before the cancellation call came in. Now they have to inhale their lunch and head to public swimming early to be clear of the viewing.

Not a easy way to go about things.

The other night Second Born Son said to me "I can't wait until the sign says SOLD, Mom." "Me too!" I told him. The summer is flying by and the weather is gorgeous, but it seems like we are in our Sunday finest every day. Just last weekend we had friends in for dinner - the first time all summer!

Here's hoping our patience pays off - we'd love to reclaim some summer relaxation!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Spreading the Good Word - of a fashion

There are some things you never discuss in polite conversation, Politics and Religion are usually at the top of that list.

Ironically, I feel I can talk about just about anything with anyone. It's HOW you talk about it that determines the success of the conversation. You can believe whatever you want, and we can share our opinions, but I'm not going to cram anything down your throat and in spite of how hard you may try, you won't be cramming anything down mine! Maybe we'll both learn something.

So when it comes to how a person demonstrates their faith, you could consider me more of a behind the scenes kind of gal, rather than a front and centre with a spotlight.

I absolutely believe in God. And Jesus. And even if you want to argue the validity of the Bible, I would suggest the meaning is there, if the message seems to be a bit handed down.

For me, living my belief is most important. Case in point.

Got my new truck (Santa Fe) back in February. Two weeks later, I bump (literally - a gentle slide) into another vehicle on an icy street when I'm backing out of a driveway. It was parked and unattended. I got out and had a look. I take pictures (because I always seem to have my camera around at the right time - lol!) and go to the house. I give the owner the info - it's a young mother and she's almost in tears, so grateful that I've come in to "confess" and not simply drive off.

I get home. The Big Guy is understandably upset. He says "Why didn't you just drive away if no one saw you?? Do you know how much this is going to cost?!?" (Keep in mind we have JUST bought the truck, taxes are due and both boys have $$ hockey tournaments around the corner - oh, ya and my sister is getting married in two months...) I look him calmly in the eye and say "Because that wasn't the Christian thing to do!"

I told him about the young mom and how I figure we can afford to fix her car easier than she can, and I simply couldn't expect to raise my kids to do the "right" thing, if I couldn't. IMMEDIATELY, he felt SO bad for what he had said, admitted it was likely the proper thing to do, but was still sullen about it.

The upside....(read here - GOD AT WORK) the body man agreed to fix both vehicles at COST! $100 for mine (it's a tank - you can't hurt it) and $500 for hers. It would have EASILY been $3,000 at full price and our insurance would have been impacted if we claimed it. In the end - doing the RIGHT thing was cheaper!!! THAT is my belief. THAT is what I feel I need to do to spread "The Word". My husband, my children, my family will know how to do what God would want us to do - and hopefully others will see what we do and will conduct themselves accordingly.

The Gospel According to Me...now where's the Offering Plate?!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

In Praise of the Momma Bear

A friend of mine is hurting right now.

Without coming out with an "I told you so", I'm trying to be as supportive as I can. It involves her daughter and a relationship she is just getting out of. The boy she was with is a complex character - he's hurt other people, including First Born Son with his unique talent of bullying and mind games.

When my friend told me last fall they were an "item" she asked me about him. Without hesitation I said "Remember all that stuff I told you happened to FBS and that other kid....HE was the OTHER KID!"

Now there were two options here. She could have said "Dear Gawd, I'll put an end to this at once!" or "Well, let's see how this plays out." She chose the latter since she felt strongly about developing her own opinions and experiences with this teen.

I admitt - I've done this myself. Just because you've had a problem with someone, doesn't mean that I will. Maybe you were hitting him/her the wrong way. Maybe there are other people involved in the problem you are having? Who knows!

But in a more severe case as this, I hope I would be open to listening to someone else's advice. The sad part is, a relationship between these two kids has hurt the friendship between her daughter and FBS as well as strained the friendship the mother and I enjoyed.

Be that as it may - it's over now. The boy in question has now moved into familiar territory, name calling, rallying the troups, poisoning friendships and being hurtful to this girl in particular. Why did things change? Because he found out she was friends with a boy he didn't think she should be friends with! Yes, control issues can be evident before the age of 16!!!

The girl has moved on and is "dating" a boy who is much more stable, low-key and genuinely cares for her. We all know this is supposed to be a carefree time in a kid's life, but the antics of the past few weeks has put a cloud over this girl.

Hopefully she'll learn from the experience and not repeat her mistakes. Because her Ex is bound to repeat them...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dollars and Sense

At times when I'm faced with spending a quantity of cash, and right now that would be for a house, but in the past we're talking; vehicles, Christmas - I get very cranial about people and their relationship with money.

I believe in every relationship there is the "Saver" and there is "Spender". In my marriage, I'm the latter. This is mostly due to the fact that I have the task of buying groceries and household items, clothing for the children and am genuinely interested in consumerism. Note I did not say "consumed". But there are different kinds of Savers like there are different kinds of Spenders.

A woman I know is currently not in the workforce, mostly by her own choosing. Her husband has taken ill and in spite of the fact that they have a very comfortable lifestyle in suburban T.O., they are now starting to feel the crunch. He can't earn the coin and she's chosen not to. She prefers to shop. This is a Toxic Spender. I would classify myself more in the Gathering Spender category. I can go days without even thinking about buying something - including groceries, but when we run out of something, it is inherently my job to acquire or "Gather" it.

Because The Big Guy and I work FREAKIN' hard at more than one job, we have evolved in our relationships with money. For me, when it comes time to make a larger purchase, such as our truck earlier this year, I'm all about doing the research. I will scour the Internet, magazines, ask others for input and general become a Private Investigator, looking for any and all information relating to the item I'm looking to buy. Did it with my camera, the fridge, dishwasher, flooring....you get the idea.

But when it comes time to seal the deal, lay down the cash TBG and I have very different reactions. Because he works so hard for his money, he feels a certain frustration - could be in how much he feels the item is actually worth, how long it has taken him to earn that much cash or just the fact that he'd rather see it come in than go out. In short, he's not the kind of guy you want to have around when you go Christmas shopping.

I've chosen a different path. I knew how expensive my camera was going to be before I bought it. I could have chosen a more moderately priced model, but the reviews were better for the one I selected and the price tag was justified. I knew I was going to be able to make money with the camera and had the entire thing paid for in just over a year. The day I bought that camera I was like a kid in a candy store.

When I signed the paperwork to take ownership of my new truck, I was positively giddy - not because I was being immature, but because I work for every dime I earn and if I don't get enjoyment out of spending that dime, the the time I spent earning it was wasted.

Now I'm not giving the "all clear" for people to spend what they don't have. The hole gets deep quick when you are going in, and even more challenging when you have to try and get out! I'm talking about the natural progression of ones lifestyle and the needs and demands we all have.

Most of us work because we HAVE to. While if I won the lottery, I must admit, I would likely take some time away from the 9 to 5, I would still volunteer. But the reward of work is not just the satisfaction of a job well done. Cash is the great motivator. What do you use that cash for? To acquire things, be it food, shelter or "other".

To work 3/4 of your life and not enjoy the spoils of what that toil affords you is indeed a waste of an existence.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The only part of my life that can relate to The Bachelor

I admit, I'm not the best at being in "limbo".

Actually, I really suck at it. I'm a "take charge" kind of personality. Not that I have to be the one at the head of the pack - although I have been. I'm totally ok with adding my pull to someone else's lead.

So waiting for an offer on the house is a bit of a bummer. I remain rather objective about the entire thing - again - what will be, will be. But harping after the kids on summer holidays about keeping the house at roughly 80% cleanliness is tough on the family dynamic. Not to mention, the a/c conked out in the midst of a FREAKIN' heat wave. Not good for showings - or our dispositions.

We have had two viewings in two weeks - both out of town agents, and neither of whom bothered to "report back". Apparently this is very bad form in Real Estate etiquette. We had a near-miss on a bidding war with another buyer who moved in on the house we were looking at. And suddenly, I had a revelation.... This is what it's like to be on The Bachelor.

All these women are vying for the attention of one man. You can tell by the numbers that the odds aren't great - BUT, they are in it for the chance it COULD be them. At some point during the process, it stops being about falling "in luv" and more about being the winner. That's where these experiences are the same.

The sense of entitlement one gets when faced with the prospect of losing out on an opportunity to someone else is rather powerful. The Big Guy and I discussed what our ceiling was, what the value of the property was, what the potential for the property and the neighborhood was. We put in our offer. So did the other couple.

Both offers were returned - apparently they were virtually the same and the vendor is looking to see how far he can take this. We discuss adding to the pot, the fact that we can't remove our condition. We agree to resubmit our last offer and if it ain't good enough, then that's all she wrote.

I chastise myself for getting ahead of the game. You shouldn't covet what isn't yours - and in this case - AND THE BACHELOR - it can result in frustration and even heartache. Don't imagine what Christmas would look like in the living room. Don't fantasize about him proposing - you are still in the "group" phase.

Yesterday our agent called - we got the house. The 30 second happy dance was quickly replaced with - holy shit - we've got to sell THIS house! Ironically, the office called this morning, another showing is booked for this week - that's three shows in three weeks, in case you are keeping track. It's probably asking too much to hope there would be a decent offer....

But after all - there is one girl who gets the ring at the end!

DISCLAIMER - I don't watch The Bachelor, or The Bachelorette - I just pick up enough of what I need to know from the commercials and non-stop crap that is out there on the Internet. I can't afford to lose the few brain cells I have left by actually watching it!!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Closed Door on Open House Policy

So Day 10 rolls around as our little house practically sparkles, it so clean. Many cars have rolled past, barely creeping along the street, then take off again. Conversation with friends and family begins with "So have you had anybody go through the house yet?"

And the answer is "No". The Big Guy and I aren't sure if we should take it personally or not, but at the risk of being a micro manager, I include this vein of conversation with our agent. After clearing the air about some other matters, I ask....

"So, what should we expect with regard to bookings? Like is there a ration per week or per month?"

"No, it varies," he assures me.

"Ok, well what do you think about having an Open House?" I continue. This was put to me by my sister-in-law who has done the buy/sell thing a couple of times.

"In 25 years of selling Real Estate, I have yet to sell a house at or because of an Open House. In urban areas, it's pretty much the ONLY way to buy a house. People actually go out to shop for houses by going to Open Houses. In my opinion, it's just a chance for your neighbors to come in and nose around your stuff. But if you really want to do the Open..."

"Uh - NO." I state firmly. "You got me at "nosy neighbors".

He tells me we will be in the next edition of the paper, which apparently always generates interest (Who knew? Certain not me!) and tells me he expects I'll have a viewing at some point in the next couple of days.

Sure enough - yesterday the message was left that people want to see our house. OUR HOUSE!! We all do a little happy dance and then reality sets in. We have to orchestra an INCREDIBLY efficient evening if we are going to pull this off. Meetings, swimming lessons, ball games - we have to weave these all in between strangers coming to look at our stuff!!!! The Big Guy and I orchestra a massive touch up to get the house in tip top shape, and we fall in to bed around midnight, wondering what the odds are of the first people going through the house making a decent offer.

Cuz I don't know how long we can keep the house this clean!

Friday, June 11, 2010

So....NOW what do you want to do?

If I close my eyes, I am back on the front steps of the house. You can't stand on that little porch any more because we put a much larger deck across the front.

I remember walking into the house and the furniture was all over the place, randomly positioned. There was a strange glow to everything - like the lighting was wrong and there was a haze in the air. I was convinced this was April, but apparently, it was November!

Each room had it's own unique look - pink shag with hot pink walls in one room, matching green shag and walls in another, so naturally, the third room was blue. There was no character to the house. It was just over 1,000 sq ft. and from the outside, looked like a big peach box with a bright "Farmer Green" roof. The main living area was an odd shade of Harvest Yellow that matched the rather dated linoleum floor in the kitchen and the dark brown shag carpet adjacent to it. Once we moved in, we would soon realize the walls were actually off-white. The nicotine stains from the farmer's heavy smoking had stained all the walls with a very antique layer of crap that had to be scrubbed off before we started to paint.

I was keen to buy, not because it was a fabulous piece of real estate (mind you the lot was HUGE by town comparisons - but nary a tree for privacy.) but because The Big Guy wouldn't set a date for the wedding until we had a house. He was afraid people would think we weren't going to start life off right if we didn't have a home. The plan was to rent it out for a year or so, then freshen it up for our new life together. (Don't get me going on the perils of waiting 2 years and 2 months to get married!)

We came back the next day - because this particular house was going to be sold by AUCTION. The family of the late owner, a farmer...surprise, surprise....had his entire estate ready to spread out on the lawn.

The Auctioneer stopped the bidding twice because the minimum asking price was not reached. We recognized two of the opposing bidders and fumed - more retired farmers with more coin than we hoped to have in a lifetime - bidding up this plain little house. The Big Guy had veins popping all over the place - could have been because he'd never bid on anything in his entire life, never mind a HOUSE! I removed myself from the stress by walking the lot and spending a lot of time in the area where our children now have a sandbox.

Finally, we got the winning bid. We were home owners. It was a combination of wanting to jump up and down and scream, and projectile vomit.

We became a couple at this house. We became a family here too. We raised plants, dogs and then kids. When we outgrew the house, we adding roughly 200 sq ft. and made the plain little house a smart little bungalow, complete with a custom kitchen and massive master bedroom with en suite bathroom.

We entertained friends here. Had our babies first birthdays here. Their heights are marked on the stud in the basement. The Big Guy has fixed all the quirky things about the house and he knows where all the pipes are buried.

But today, it's going on the real estate market.

And - maybe nothing will happen. It's truly a fishing expedition. We have found another house, that needs some love and attention, but there is more space for TBG's modest landscape business. It's in a beautiful area of town with views in three directions. I've always liked the idea of being up on a hill - to see far away from where I am. I also want to live on the water. Not sure how to make this work - but given the river is not far from either of these houses - I'm going to take it!

First Born Son and Second Born Son are equally jazzed at the idea and have tackled their rooms with a zeal rarely seen. I will spend the weekend packing up personal photos and items that should not be left lying around when strangers come through your home.

As I signed the paperwork to list the house, I had an instant flashback to the day I signed the paperwork to buy the house - two feet away from where I was sitting. Life is an interesting journey and if this is meant to be, it will be.

If not, I will gladly hunker down in my little house for many more years.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Royal Wedding - Part II Recap - The Saga Continues

All perched on the stairs, the girls did well. Then the music starts - Soul Sister by Train. Unorthodox, yes. Perfect for LS and her groom. Each girl slips down the aisle and takes her place, then LS glides down the aisle.

As long as I've known her, she's had a nervous giggle. She laughs at the most inopportune times. And there she was, a vision of blonde curls and champagne colored fabric smiling and giggling her way down to her groom. We later learn that there is a bet between my two nieces on who will cry first - the bride or the groom. It's pretty much a tie as the groom steps forward to bring her to the minister.

The Pastor is a long-time friend of the family, who immediately puts everyone at ease. He infuses humor and radiates sincerity. The Best Man, who is the father of the groom, appreciates the sense of humor and rests on a strategically placed stool so he can participate in the ceremony, but still be comfortable. Mid way through the service the Ring Bear - the Groom's son, has to pit stop, but makes it back in time for the Family Vows the Bride and Groom have each written. Following the marriage vows, exchange of rings and "the kiss" - we sign the register and the minors follow their parents to a table set up behind the Pastor. Each one has a vial of colored sand and each member of the family pours the sand into a larger vase, signifying the joining of two families.

Finally, it's done. We leave the church and congregate on the steps of the building for a group shot. And another. And another. Then it's the groom's family - and another, and another, and....I lose track. The Bride's family gets in for a shot or two, then the bridal party is hauled off to an orchard where the photographer makes the group jump through dandelions while navigating thistles and at this point I'm resigned to thinking - these dresses are friggin' toast.

After more than a hour of photo time, I take the kids back to the hall where the caterer is patiently waiting. With the service starting late and running a little longer than estimated, we are now over 45 minutes behind. I was given the impression the Bride & Groom are soon to follow and we carry on, and watch the clock mark another 20 minutes. I'm about to get back in the car to locate them, when they walk in the door.

In spite of the huge delay, dinner is excellent. The hall is beautiful with stone and timber accents, wrought iron fixtures and a lovely feeling of the medieval. Also medieval is the MC's ability to keep to the script. We are off track and off schedule immediately following my speech, which happens to be the first one. It started out as a roast, but ended up as a touching tribute to my little sister and her ability to persevere for all the right reasons.

My boys did me proud by doing a mock "swearing in" of their new uncle - asking him to swear on a Bible that he would - among other things "Promise to show them how to drive a motorcycle!" First Born Son then blew me away with a poem he wrote during the meal. As the Bride and Groom needed a song or a poem to be prompted to kiss, FBS simply scribbled on out - and it was FRIGGN' AWESOME! LS wants a copy to keep.

As speeches can get out of hand, the one thing the Bride and Groom asked was that the floor not be opened up for just anyone. The groom's large family would have hours of stories about the childhood of their youngest sibling, and the happy couple felt it would only necessary for one or two people to speak and keep the night moving.

It moved along for those who smoked, as the MC attempted two smoke breaks! Finally the newlyweds addressed their guests and thanked everyone for their support - the Bride's speech showing considerably more preparation and depth than the Groom's whose basically comprised of - "Ya, what she said!" Typical man.

While most Victoria Day weekends are desperately cold, rainy affairs, this one was hot and muggy. In spite of air conditioning, the hall was stifling and the music was LOUD. A combination of the decibels and the beginning of the long weekend meant some guests left early, allowing us to wrap up the dancing around midnight. Given the lack of sleep I and the Bride had, we were not disappointed in the slightest. The highlight of the festivities was the "She Wolf" dance where the Bride and her attendants danced a choreographed number which resulted in the Bride seating the Groom who then "helped" her with her garter.

So all in all - good times, good fun, little glitches, but hey - it wouldn't be a family event without one or two hiccups!!!


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Royal Wedding Part II - Recap - Part II

SIGH - so more than my sister reads this site because I've had a couple of people say "What.The.Hell?"

SO - FINE! You want blow by blow.... pull up a comfy chair sunshine, cuz you are about to get numb-bum.

Leave work early and get the boys packed to head to the hotel. The Big Guy is already gone to pick up the "Wish Tree" at a nearby nursery that we are making double-duty as a wedding gift (Butterfly Magnolia) and decor item. My contribution was research saying it is a Dutch tradition to make wishes for the bride and groom and tie them to a tree. I'm thinkin' "PERFECT" this tree will ROCK! Mom and I spend about an hour and three trips to a ribbon store (two weeks prior) to get enough ribbon for all Little Sister's guests to scribble down their best wishes to the Bride and Groom. Since the Groom's parents are "off the boat" Dutch, we all agree this is a nice way to incorporate something from their heritage without being overly stereotypical.....or have the bride wear wooden shoes....

After check in and settling the stuff in our room, the boys and I are back on the road to the rehearsal only minutes away. The Big Guy has joined us and we are very excited. The minister is caught in traffic coming out of T.O. so we entertain the troops. First Born Son and Second Born Son along with TBG are 'ushers' in that they will help people to their seats, but not stand at the front. Instead, they will join my parents in very comfy leather chairs right at the front of the congregation. The hall is beautiful with the centre aisle lined with large wooden pillars made by C2 (the groom). Each pillar has a large ivory candle and either a soft green bow or chocolate brown bow.

Finally the officiant is here and we have the bride, bridesmaids, groom, best man (groom's father) and ring bearer (groom's son). The sound man is missing, as is the videographer, but it's now roughly 10 minutes to bedtime for my kids and all the younglings are getting restless, so we go on without them.

After a quick snack at a nearby restaurant, my boys head back to the hotel with their father and I head back to LS's house with the girls. We walk in the door and just about weep. Apparently out of town guests didn't clean up after themselves and we are faced with a house in shambles. LS puts the girls to bed and I start cleaning. At 1:30 a.m. we finally fall into bed ourselves, after doing dishes, cleaning, printing and assembling bulletins for the wedding (a job someone else was to do, but "just didn't get around to.")

Morning comes far too early. I hear the sounds of little feet in heels practicing the stride we are using to walk down the aisle IN THE BATHROOM. We all grab a bowl of cereal and head out for a morning of pampering. LS owns a "green/environmental" hair salon and detox spa so we meet our mother there for hair and makeup.

LS and I debate on what style on me makes me look like an alien from "Mars Attacks" and I actually win!!! We depuff the hair a bit and I move on to makeup. My youngest niece "Libby" is the first one in the chair - and will be the last one out as her butt length hair is going to be in ringlets -0h the joys of having a mother who is a hairdresser. I would have run screaming from the chair 45 minutes into the process!

My eldest niece M&M is being transformed from a tomboy into a goddess - but not, thankfully, a tramp. That honor is being left to me. The makeup artist who is working on me is obviously nervous - given that she's doing the "Boss's" sister for the "Boss's" wedding. I come out of the experience with bland eyes and two large diagonal slashes - one on each cheek - which is suppose to be a blush. "You know we are going to have to fix that," LS says to me as we drive away. "Ya think?" I laugh. "Hooker" isn't usually a good look for a bridesmaid.

LS's stepdaughter is ready to go and when Libby finally has her corkscrews on tight, we load back into the car. Mom heads back to the hotel to wrangle my kids (including their father) and they are to meet us back at LS's house.

Ten minutes after we get through the door, it rings. We have flowers - hurray. Ten minutes after that, a photographer. I've been busy running to and from the door, tying sashes and begging little girls not to jump around - REMEMBER THE DRESS IS DELICATE LADIES!!

LS and I rebuild my face and she hopes in her dress. I get a hairy eyeball from the photographer because I'M not in my dress and I quell the urge to take her Nikon and cram it. She gets pictures of the girls, of LS, of my parents with LS, the girls with LS and then me (in my dress) lacing up the back of the dress. These are very tongue in cheek photos and include me with my foot on her butt and faking a Scarlett O'Hara moment with LS out of breath.

She takes pictures of all of us on LS's king size bed (?!?!?) and I'm forced to go into poses that no grown woman should have to do if she's not a gymnast. She gets shots of the girls JUMPING on the bed and with each bounce my mother and I clench our teeth harder, praying "Please God, just let the dresses make it through the ceremony!"

Finally, the photog is ready to leave and I have to ask "Please ma'am, may I have a photo with ma sista, please? Just one, ma'am?" Punishment for not being ready when she wanted me? Dunno, but we squeeze off two quick shots, both of which seem like unnatural poses and prominently feature my more than ample bicep. NIIIICE.

After the chaos of the photo shoot, we survey the damage and see that all four of the bridesmaids dresses are falling down in the skirts because, ironically, formal wear isn't meant to double as lounge wear.

LS immediately hauls out her sewing basket and she starts sewing some puckers into the dresses. At least she didn't have time to get nerves. We jump into the cars and head to the church 15 minutes late (and I'm assuming my sister is in a different time zone to the rest of the world because the minister insists we are 30 minutes late.)

Regardless, we are "in the house".

More to come......(don't you just hate that!!!???)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Royal Wedding Part II - Recap

Sorry it has taken so long to get pictures posted. I was trying to find images where we weren't all sweating like pigs or getting the bridesmaids dresses restitched.

Ok, so wedding recap is as follows:

1. The bride was GORGEOUS.
2. She was fashionably late at the church (because she was sewing the dresses).
3. The groom showed up - always a good thing.
4. The wedding took place.

Everything aside from that is just window dressing. But the window dressing included:
1. A really good meal.
2. BEAUTIFUL hall.
3. Very cool wedding cake/cupcake.
4. Cute "Family" ceremony.

In the end the most important thing is - they are married. CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Royal Wedding - Part II

So tomorrow is the big day. Little Sister is getting married. It's been an interesting journey since none of us has any experience in second weddings.

We all, however, were terrified of doing something wrong when it came to etiquette.

Originally, LS wanted to get on a plane and get married down South. A beautiful island wedding that would eliminate the need for a big affair, the pressure for guests to buy presents and yet still have an amazing backdrop for her wedding with close family members.

Except my future brother-in-law has two kids and get them in and out of the country would have been a MOTHER of a problem - if you know what I mean.

The second option was to hold the wedding at my parents' home. Ironically, I wanted to have our wedding at Mom & Dad's but The Big Guy sided with my mother and they refused my father's and my pleas that we could get a tent and beat Mother Nature. So I ended up in a church. LS isn't getting her way either, since my parents are that much older and are not keen on the idea of 50+ people trotting through their home looking for the washroom that connects to the back yard septic. Flush that idea....

She was able to find a church that had been purchased and renovated by a private investor. The facility is beautiful and unique. The ceremony will take place upstairs in what was the sanctuary, then we leave for photos, followed by a reception in the lower level. Think exposed wood beams, stone walls - a very Medieval look. Once the ceremony is over, the staff will dismantle the seating and set the area up for the dance. So for anyone coming a distance, they don't have to drive until it is time to go home.

The next question was, how big a wedding is this going to be? The groom has 7 other siblings, so that answered it pretty quick. Even without friends the invite list was 36 people - including my family, the bridal party and necessary children. I believe the final count is 58 for dinner.

What about gifts? What is the appropriate wording for NOT asking for a gift. Many of the nearest and dearest of the 100 who made the final invite list had already given gifts to the bride and groom's first nuptials. I suggested donations to a local charity and anyone who was particularly adamant about giving a gift could do so. You can't stop someone from giving you a present!

Does the bride need to be "given away" again? The joke around the house lately has been that Dad gave her away the first time, and it didn't take! She's decided to walk herself down the aisle and then have a father/daughter dance. There won't be a veil, but there is one kick-ass dress and as I've mentioned previously, we have bridesmaids and ushers - though in a less conventional fashion.

I can't give away too much more for fear of being kicked out of the wedding party, but suffice it to say that the only rule about second weddings is that there are NO RULES. As long as you don't try to be too gaudy (which, let's face it, you try to avoid in first weddings too) then you are likely on the right track.

Hopefully we'll have a pix or two for posting next week.


Monday, May 17, 2010

When More is Simply Too Much

Since when is "more" better?

I prefer to err on the side of "less" especially when it comes to public displays of affection, demonstrative actions etc. unless it is something truly funny. Funny needs to be shared.

But lavish, meh, not so much.

So I'm standing in the bridal salon that I shall not name because I'm still mad at them, waiting for the rolly polly seamstress. In the wall of mirrors I'm watching a tiny young woman leafing through wedding dresses. Honestly, she weighs about as much as my thigh. She's with her mother and while the young woman is very collegiate looking, her mother looks very tired, dishevelled and not nearly as current in her wardrobe as her daughter.

The woman sits in the middle of the room on the bench and watches her daughter fanning through the gowns and I notice she only looking at short, strappy styles. I figure she's having a small wedding and doesn't want to overpower her small frame with a large gown. In my head I'm giving this girl a lot of credit - she's going to spend about half to three-quarters what she would have spent on the larger dress.

I'm annoyed at the mother, who doesn't seem engaged in this time with her daughter. Instead of revelling the time to being with her to pick her wedding dress, the woman looks and acts like she's afraid to touch any of the dresses, and that she's not buying into the idea of the wedding at all. I'm annoyed big time. If I've learned anything in my many trips down the aisle, it's that the wedding is not about anyone other than the bride and groom - egos and attitudes need to be checked at the door.

Then grandma walks in. Wiry white hair cut bluntly that frames her face, makeup stylish appliced and a kick-ass outfit that makes the mother look even more frumpy. Her artisan jewelery plays off beautifully with the chic hand-crafted wrap and dark-wash jeans she's wearing. She looks impecable and carries herself with an air of sophistication reserved for Katherine Hepburn. As soon as the woman walks in, the young girl starts to squeal, and the mother stops talking entirely.

Grandma fawns over the young girl, pulling out various dresses and suggesting various alterations to make the dress "her own". My pleasure at seeing the older woman relishing the time with her granddaughter comes to a screeching halt when the younger female corrects the sales associate.

"Oh, this isn't my wedding dress," she said. "I already have my wedding gown."

dead air

"This is for after the service - and pictures - for the reception," she clarifies. Now I understand why Mom is hanging her head. She can't afford this. And the daughter - a recent grad, can't either. So thank goodness Money Bags showed up.

"I LOVE my dress," she said. "But I just can't imagine wearing it ALL DAY!" she gushes. "I mean it's SO big and SO heavy, I would just DIE wearing it ALL DAY - it's going to be too hot!"




So you are getting married at the end of June - you've picked your dress - DON'T YOU PICK YOUR DRESS BASED ON WHEN YOU ARE GETTING MARRIED? I felt like asking, "What are you wearing, Angora wool? RAYON? PIG IRON??"

Unless this woman is marrying a multi-millionaire, she is about to start her married life under a grave misapprehension. It's clear she wasn't raised with a lot of money, but money is around her. She is having a wedding with TWO wedding gowns because, after all, didn't Jennifer Lopez or Katie Holmes do that? The cost of having a second dress was over $750 - how much did you pay for your initial gown? Likely between $1,200 - $2,500 - and I'll bet the farm it was closer to the top end amount. So now, you are looking at well over $3,000 AND TAX just for one day.

Because there was no time to order the dress in, the girl was negotiating the cost of alterations and the sales rep was having a dandy time trying to calculate how much it would cost to alter and cut down a sample dress. Grandma never blinked at the cost. She only concurred with her granddaughter - one dress simply would not DO! Mom just sat there like she was watching it all happen to strangers.

I wondered if she had tried to instill a sense of frugality in her daughter all these years, knowing she had limited resources. Had her mother then trumped her and usurped her rights as a mother when she felt she had the overpowering right as a grandmother? Did the daughter see this dynamic and play one off the other? At what point would the grandmother stand down and let this girl see things for what they are? Maybe the girl was embarassed that her mother was not in the same world as her grandmother was, but I daresay, unless her grandmother planned on supporting her for the rest of her life, the young woman's wake up call was going to greet her the morning after her honeymoon.

It's a disturbing trend, young people starting out expecting the best of everything. My parents were the most fortunate of all their friends. They had saved enough money to buy a house when they got married. Many of their friends had to rent an apartment for the first couple of years, finally saving a down payment in time for the first baby to arrive.

Homes were furnished with miss-matched furniture and dinnerware, save for the nicer items they received as wedding gifts. You worked hard and gained throughout your marriage. You had goals and dreams and set targets for yourself, including one day, GASP, buying a NEW car.

When did we decide it was ok to start at top? Newlyweds moving into homes that are fully furnished and model-home ready. Neither of their cars are more than 3 years old. A trip up north or to Niagara Falls is not be considered a worthy honeymoon, and if it didn't include either a cruise or a number of spa treatments (for both of them)it simply wasn't worth writing home about.

Methinks we need to adjust our expectations. Otherwise, what do you have to look forward to, other than a mountain of debt and a divorce decree?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Give or take an inch....

So with the Royal Wedding Part II looming on the horizon, I thought it would be a good time to haul myself into the bridal salon to get my dress on - extra five pounds and all.

Fortunately, I had been down the week before with Little Sister to try on her gown as well as help out with the three young'uns who also needed fittings. This gave me an idea of what LS was looking for and how receptive the seamstress was to change/suggestion. In a word - she's "not." Therefore, I pulled on my dress and was delighted to see the extra winter poundage means I don't have to alter a thing in the bodice, which previously was a little loose.

I'll work on the Winter Five next - I'm just glad we don't have to alter anything!

Then I pull on my shoes. Amazingly I have a pair of metallic strappy low heels - around 2 inches - that give a nice lift without making me an Amazon. As soon as I straightened up I realized, things were going to head south.

The dress was perfect for me when I was in bare feet. It's too short with the heel. Did I mention it is a floor-length dress? Oh - ya, so now we have a lovely little gap and on top of it all, when I stride you can just about see too much of my foot. Not the look for a floor-length gown.

Also, the style of the skirt is very now. The runched, slightly messy, yet elegant look. The only way it works is if it is even and distributed throughout the skirt. Mine was definitely not even or distributed. The seamstress sighs when I point out the obvious flat areas that will need to be fluffed. She groaned when I asked her to re pin an area that was poorly done and then the situation went from bad - to worse. Now the gown is easily two inches too short all the way around.

My seamstress is convinced she can "fix" this - and re pins all the gathers she has just redone to make them shallow and allow the length to fall. The skirt looks like CRAP. The week before when my niece "M&M" tried on her dress, the seamstress tried the same thing - except LS pointed out the point of the dress was the full, soft gathers and they needed to look deliberate, not pinched and hastily done. LS was getting what she wanted and I totally had her back. When you pay over $200 for a dress, sista, you might as well make sure it's what you want!

With this in mind, I know that this is the look LS is going for - I try to direct the short, rotund woman, who is now perspiring and on the verge of wheezing as she pins and re pins the skirt.

Round and round we go - pinning and re pinning. "Fixing" and re"fixing". I even suggest a different look for the skirt which she refuses to do. Now I admit, I'm no seamstress and I'm not even on friendly terms with needle and thread, so I'm conceding when I say to her "I'm going to have to call LS about this and see what she says," and head to the change room. We book an appointment for this week and I head downstairs.

There is a cloud of brides and their mammas and grandmammas all cooing and clucking and hovering. This is the kind of energy that makes me wish I worked in the bridal industry. That and the billions of dollars it makes every year.

Over the din one of the sales associates calls over to me, "How did everything to up there?" I survey the area and debate. Do I tell her I think her seamstress is past her prime? Slander the woman in front of all these customers? Do I start on a rant about how we discussed extra fabric for my dress because I'm tall and obviously they didn't do it and SHOULD HAVE? No - let's see how the "fixing" works because I'm not carrying the dress out with me and I'm not letting my mouth write cheques my bank can't cash.

So it say it. "FINE." And I leave.

After discussing with LS - she calls the salon. Speaks with one of the sales associates who pulls my file. Under height, she tells LS, it says I'm 5'8. THERE is the problem. I'm not 5'8. I don't ever say I'm 5'8 because I'm taller than that. If I say I'm shorter than I am, clothes are always the wrong proportion. I look like I'm wearing my younger sibling's wardrobe.

Now add a 2 inch heel and you've got the beginning, middle and end of the problem.

LS advises the associate that this needs to be fixed immediately. The sales associate points out that I didn't say there was a problem when I left and LS replies that it was only because I didn't want to make a scene in front of other customers - for which they should be appreciative.

So THIS week, I'm going back down to see what miracle this poor woman has had to conjure to make the floor meet my floor-length gown.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm a bitch, I'm a lover
I'm a child, I'm a mother
I'm a sinner, I'm a saint
I do not feel ashamed
I'm your hell, I'm your dream
I'm nothing in between
You know you wouldn't want it any other way.

~Meredith Brooks "Bitch"

I remember the first time I was put in the same context as the word "Bitch".

I was 13 years old and my mother was in the middle of a nasty exchange with her sister. A bitter and eventually vengeful person, this woman had some beef and laid out her anger in a letter, including the reference that my mother's eldest daughter was "a bitch".

This wounded my mother terribly. I can only imagine how she felt inside as I know how I would react if someone made a derogatory comment about one of my children, never mind my sister.

At the time, I was shocked. I remember thinking I knew what incident she was referring to, but didn't think that action would qualify me as "a bitch." It took me a while to process the idea that there were people out there - in this case, a family member, who had a very dark impression of me.

Kinda heavy for 13.... That kinda crap messes a person up for a while.

I can remember referring to this branding throughout my teen years. Kind of an excuse for anything I felt contrary to - because after all, I was "a bitch".

Over time the brand became a badge of honor. I had a backbone I'm not sure I would have discovered as young and my ability to stand my ground comes from the fact that while you have a right to your opinion, I sure as Hell have a right to mine. Don't confuse my ability to concede or defer with weakness. I simply don't care as much about the issue as you do. Because if it matters to me, I will go down for the count. And there are very few people whose opinions truly matter to me any more.

As soon as I realized this, the better I felt about myself. A type of empowerment, if you will. Why worry about other people's opinions when there are very few whose opinions truly matter?

Which brings me to last week. I'm assistant coaching First Born Son's ball team AGAIN - long story there I won't bore you with - and it came time to hold the first practice.

Faced with 13 12-13-year-old boys, I realized there needed to be a strong impression made. The hormones are working. Some of them are as tall as I am and a couple of them easily out-weigh me. This is where you have to go for the weak spot - the brain!

"When I'm talking, no one else is talking," I started, which beautifully shut two of them up. "When Coach J is talking, no one else is talking. That's just common courtesy. When I'm here, I'm not FBS' mother. I'm Coach Sarah to him, just like I am to you. He's not my kid when we're here. There are no favorites. You will work hard. Don't get me wrong, I like to have fun and I'm not a prude - I'm not hung up on swearing or being frustrated when you are practicing. When we are in a game you WILL represent your town to the best of your ability, which means NO swearing, NO trashing the other team AND DEFINITELY NO tearing down your team mates. When I tell you to run, YOU WILL RUN. Softball is a running sport. When I tell you that you will be running an extra lap you, will do it, because gentlemen, I bring my own vehicle for a reason - and that's to stay here until the lights come on if that's what it takes. I will wait you out - that's right, I am a BITCH.

At that point, one kid fell off the picnic table.... All of their mouths dropped open - except for FBS - he knows about my bitchiness.

Three practices later, if someone speaks while I'm speaking, I merely stop talking and look at them. They immediately stop and usually they blush. When I'm running a drill and they are not executing the way they should - I stop - spell it out for them and they immediately adjust their actions. They speak to me with respect, or genuine friendship, since they realize that 90% of the time, I'm very easy to get along with and truly want for them to improve. I despise shouting.

While I would not suggest telling young girls they are bitches as a means to create character, I would have to say what started out as somewhat of a damaging experience has since become something that I would not change even if I could.

I'm a bitch, I'm a tease
I'm a goddess on my knees
When you hurt, when you suffer
I'm your angel under cover
I've been numb, I'm revived
Can't say I'm not alive
You know you wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Counting the days....

So we are now past the 1 Month marker regarding the countdown to The Royal Wedding - Part II.
Plans are made, dressings are being fitted, lists have been prepared - along with, ironically enough, a speech from yours truly.

When you plan one of the biggest days of your life, you can't foresee the issues that can arise. You hope for good weather, pray the Best Man doesn't lose the rings, but there are things you just cannot imagine happening on your wedding day.

On the day I married The Big Guy, the main thing that upset him was the popping of the microphone provided by the community centre where we had our reception. To be fair, it was a loud POP, but it wasn't anything we were doing, and there didn't seem to be anything we could do to fix it. He still talks about the microphone.

I've told him there are worse things.

Back when my sister and I were being raised on a farm, we had neighbors with children roughly 5-10 years older than us. Their only daughter was getting married and the family was kind enough to invite us to the nuptials. As luck would have it, my parents alone had an invite to a second cousins' wedding, so we decided that I would take my sister to neighbor wedding and Mom and Dad would go to the family wedding.

Sis and I walked into the large United Church and noticed the church was pretty full, but seemed to be thinned out near the front. Normally as neighbors or friends of the couple, we would be seated nearer to the back, but we lucked out with seats almost directly behind where the family would sit - the 4 empty pews on the Bride's side.

Now I thought nothing of this, because often times the parents and siblings arrive just before the bride. But before you knew it, the organist was playing a rousing march, the bridesmaids were cued at the door and making their way into the sanctuary.

Ok, so maybe her parents and brothers were going to escort the bride to the front - a little avant guarde for the 1980s, but hey, whatever.

NOPE! As the bridesmaids arranged at the front of the church, the groom came across the front of the altar, up the bride's aisle and gently reached for her - walking her to the minister.

What. the. hell? Immediate a murmur rippled through the church as guests on both sides of the invite tried to figure out what happened to the Mother and Father of the Bride, the brothers...and, upon further inspection, the aunts and uncles. It looked like a pie lifter had removed the front section of the church. As the nearest neighbors, people asked my sister and I if we knew what had happened - which as young teens, we were not privy to.

But by the time we got to the reception, the word was out.

The Groom, who was a very motivated, hardworking guy, had a falling out with one of the brothers of the Bride at the rehearsal the night before. The lot of her brothers did not have the same work ethic her new husband had. There had been frustrations in the past - the groom being asked to help with a chore any one of their own three sons could have helped with, he was called upon to do things while their own boys would take days off the farm - you get the idea.

For whatever reason, words were exchanged, the final straw between them was broken and the Bride's parents announced not only would they not grace the nuptials with their presence, the would advise their families to do the same. Apparently word got out to enough of them that roughly 20 people failed to show.

The speech the Groom gave his Bride was one of the more touch, heart wrenching, sincere declarations of love I have ever heard. Without revealing the behind the scenes drama, he told her he had tried to prove his love to her throughout their years together, that he adored her and could not imagine ever leaving her side - he wanted to be there for her. He pointed out that some people have trials throughout their marriage, but if they could get over one of the biggest hurdles at the beginning, then he forecast a beautiful life together.

Everyone cried. Everyone.

I can remember telling my parents the events of the evening. Apparently my cousin's wedding was not nearly as eventful (thank God!) We all shook our heads at the logic used to boycott your daughter's wedding. Especially when you were on the short end of the argument!

Many years later, the Bride became a mommy. Time and a new baby appeared to heal old wounds and eventually she enjoyed a relationship with her parents. How comfortable her husband was with all of this, I don't know. The embarrassment of that day was never discussed again.

But there no photos of this girl with her parents on her special day. Her father was not there for her to walk her down the aisle. Her mother didn't help her get dressed. There was no speech welcoming her husband to the family. Things you can't do over or take back.

Somehow that popping mic just doesn't seem so bad.

Monday, April 12, 2010

When a loss is actually a win

Last year I mentioned to First Born Son that there was a spring hockey program that was new to the area - he might want to check it out.

He passed. I couldn't blame him. He had a crappy year and didn't want to prolong the agony into a 9th month of hockey.

But a lot of his younger friends took advantage and some of them, whose skills were about the same level as his were selected. He decided he wanted to try out this year. So we went for the three tryouts. Not expecting much because we knew what kind of season he had - if it was a grading situation, I would have assigned him a 75%. However it was something he expressed interest in and we want to encourage the kid as much as we can.

First tryout goes well. The Big Guy is happy with how FBS performs. He even gets a moment with one of the coaches who tells him he's doing a great job. I take him to the second tryout and at one point he shuts down a fast breakaway with multiple rebounds. Second Born Son and I look at each other and declare "Whoa!" Goalie boy is on fire!

Third tryout is THE day. I'm not anxious, but FBS is even though he's trying not to show it. We've discussed the odds of him being selected for this team - six goalies, two positions. There are well over 40 kids skating for the team and over half are going to be disappointed. The hardest part for FBS is the three other players who go to his school. Instead of being supportive and encouraging, are puffing themselves up on facebook and in person - while pushing him down. One of them is also a goalie, who FBS has dealt with for years. Raging ego. Talented, but could be more so if he focused and wasn't sloppy. He's big and strong, but not disciplined or fast, or flexible. He mouth makes up for all of that.

So we've discussed why FBS wanted to go through these motions. Primarily to see what other coaches have to say. To determine if he's capable of working to a higher standard when he needs to. To be evaluated alongside other goalies. He came home smiling from the first two tryouts. We tell him we don't expect him to put the kind of pressure on himself that other parents would expect. We tell him to HAVE FUN. And because of that - he plays very, very well.

Sunday comes, and the coaches - in the great tradition that is sporting cruelty, post the list for all to see. If you are on this list - you made it. If you are THAT list - you didn't and EVERYONE WILL KNOW IT.

FBS calls me on the way home to tell him he didn't get picked. He's not going to be on what is pretty much a Triple-A team. He has disappointment in his voice. Before he can get too far, I remind him of why we did this. I point out that his father, brother and I have seen him play the hockey we KNOW he could have played in the season. It's up to him to believe in himself - he proved it in three tryouts. (Note: Only one of the kids who was on his team this year did make the team, but none of three from his school were named - yup that Karma is a BITCH!)

I tell him I'm proud, and I love him, and I'm glad he TRIED.

He sleeps well and I know he's made peace with it. It's enough to keep him motivated until the fall when the madness starts again....

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Walking the Tight Rope - Part Deux

Remember all that business a while back about what the right decision was - to force my kid to play ball or not?

Ya well, he's playing.

I gave First Born Son several weeks to ponder on his own, then set a deadline and advised him if he didn't have a summer sport selected before the end of the week, he was going to be signed up for softball.

Not too much resistance. I was cautiously optimistic.

Then Saturday came. He kicked up a bit of a fuss but agreed to go to the Community Centre where we signed him and Second Born Son up for their teams. He's happy, strolling around and checking out the display of BALL GEAR ARRANGED NEAR THE MINOR BALL REGISTRATION TABLE. Things get a little confusing, cheques are written, forms are completed.

I'm so flustered, I tick two boxes - one I meant to - to volunteer to help on SBS's team, and the first box, which was a Freudian slip - to volunteer to help on FBS's team. Not wanting to make a scene and being on a rather tight schedule, we leave and I explain the situation in the truck on the way home.

"So I DID tick the box on your sheet, but I don't need to be a coach for your team," I explain to First Born Son. "I meant to mark down on SBS's form."

He's not overly concerned and spends the next 10 minutes debating the pros and cons of having me involved with the team. Apparently I'm more of an asset than a liability in his eyes. I, however, have not yet decided how I feel on the matter. I've enjoyed coaching, but with boys in the 12-13 age bracket, I'm not sure I can handle their hormones, and those of their little girlfriends.... The Head Coach has asked me to return again, but for many reasons, I'm firmly on the fence.

The Head Coach happened to be at our house for an unrelated matter when FBS comes in the room and announces that not only is he playing, but I'm helping coach the team.

My mom figures that his motivation was less than honorable - perhaps he figures if he has to play ball, I have to coach!

Like mother, like son.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hitting the PAUSE button for Easter

It really occurred to me last night that I'm going to screw up Easter for me kids.

Scratch that.

HOCKEY is going to screw up Easter for my kids. Normally we're done weeks before Easter. Now I'm faced with packing up the crew and delivering the dog to it's Grandparents and THEN watch four games of hockey in a tournament before Easter Sunday.

There are no window clings up. There are no eggs dyed. There is nary a single piece of green plastic grass to indicate to the outside world that we celebrate Easter. It's like this weekend was WEEKS away and I am in denial big time.

And although the kids have yet to notice, I feel like I've let them down - dropped the ball as it were, as a parent. I'm the mom who DOES this crap. I DO the pumpkins at Halloween - not just one - but one for each member of the family. I have banners that scream "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and I have hand painted ceramic Peter Rabbit with a wheelbarrow that I made B.C. (Before Children) that is really kick-ass. The kids love it. He's in a closet.

Can I tell you what I've spent my free time doing? Not really, but I can tell you, I haven't been sitting on my ass eating bon bons. One night bedtime was actually 12:50 A.M. because I was making muffins for snacks so we could be frugal during our big weekend in the city. THAT made for a fun day on the phones at work. There was the furious trip to a neighboring town to drop off The Big Guy's suit for dry cleaning before The Royal Wedding. That and the subsequent shopping took up the entire evening.
The only saving grace right now is that we will have an Easter celebration at my sister's house. But with the insanity of planning a Royal Wedding, putting finishing touches on her new home and recouperating from the stress of launching an environmental hair salon, I'm sure she's in worse shape than I'm in - and we expect her to COOK!

I now have to figure out how the Easter Bunny is going to arrive. Is he going to hit the house while we are away? (Imagine me filling plastic eggs with chocolate eggs and stashing them around the house in the 5 minutes I will have to "go to the bathroom" right before we leave as the kids sit in the truck) or do I say "Screw this" and set something up in our hotel room.

Right now - I'm at "Screw this".

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I didn't realize there was a TEST!

Happy Easter everyone!

Tis the season for warmer days, lovely flower bouquets, chocolate and emails questioning if you are a "real" Christian.

Funnily enough, I always thought I was, until I started reading the contents of my Inbox. My "favorite" is the one that lists in graphic detail how Jesus was crucified. Now don't get me wrong - the death of Christ is the cornerstone of Christianity. Christmas is lovely and all - but Easter is the real deal people. (*Note - I find it amusing that Easter Monday is NOT a stat holiday but it is the pinnacle of what it means to be Christian - belief that Jesus rose from the grave.)
So I suppose the blow by blow account of how many litres of blood he shed before it became water is a little to CSI for my liking.

I've also received a number of emails telling me that Satan is the reason I won't forward a religious email. I'm a bad person for forward Wal-Mart emails, if I'm not also going to be an electronic Missionary.

FYI - I also delete the fanatical Muslim emails too - along with the overly crude jokes and boring and unimaginative Dumb Blonde jokes. That doesn't make me a Muslim, a prude or a Blonde. It means I can think for myself thankyouverymuch and I don't appreciate someone judging my faith based on whether or not I hit on an email.

So enjoy the holiday with your family - take in a church service. Hunt for your chocolate eggs. Devour delicious foods and bask in the beautiful weather we are experiencing.

I think that will make you a good enough Christian!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Change for Change sake

So I changed the blog again....

What can I say, I get bored easily. Just trying to build a better mouse trap I suppose.