I’m Alive and I’m 45!

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It is that time of year again.  The time to be showered in love and indulgences.  Forty five years ago today I was born with an I.U.D. on my head.  My parents were going to adopt after they had my brother, but that plan didn’t stop me from coming into the world.  I pushed through that barricade called birth control and asserted my independence while being completely depended on my mother’s body to grow.  I persevered, and was born. The delivery doctor gave my mom some sage advice to pass on to her daughter.  “Tell her never to use an I.U.D. as birth control.”  I’ve come back to that advice many times through my life and it has helped me become the woman I am today.  I also found the pill to be less cumbersome.

My day isn’t over yet and it has already been a hit.  My girls crawled into bed with us this morning for a family cuddle, breakfast was made for me, and I was presented with an abundance of gifts.  The best one was the bag of birdseed I won last week at bingo that my youngest wrapped up for me.  There was some general lounging, and then Wini and I took the dogs for a very windy, and chilly walk.  We lunched at The Courage in Wellington.   We were all pleased and perfectly plump after our meal.  We capped off our Wellington visit with a walk on the beach.  The frigid winds chased us back into our car mocking us for being so foolish.  But as you can see the sky was fantastic.  Much more friendlier than that damn wind.

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After a lively discussion in the car, it was decided our dessert this evening would be chocolate fondue.  Our dinner menu will be individually dressed nachos.  We don’t like our chips to touch.  All toppings that can be reasonably delivered through a piping bag will be presented as such so that each chip is it’s own masterpiece. There will be no soggy chips on this girl’s birthday!

After all our celebratory eating is complete we will all snuggle into our couch in front of the fire and watch a family movie.  I don’t think it gets better than this.  Happy birthday to me!  And here’s to another 45 years!

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Happy 2017! Better Late Than Never.

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We had a lovely holiday break.  It was filled with lots of friends and family as every break should be.  So far January has brought me a large amount of tracksuit wearing and book reading.  I just can’t seem to get off my couch when I have a good book in my face.  I do have a list of home projects to work on, and I am working on them.  It’s just that the ratio of book reading to project doing is heavily skewed to the printed word.

We received some interesting gifts over the holidays.  Jess’ gift to the family was a hunting camera.  We are not hunters but we do love to watch wildlife.  We have been intrigued with the busy beavers down at the Mill Pond.  We like to track their progress when they are building and chewing down trees.  We recently watched Grey Owl’s video about his pet beavers.  It’s fascinating to see these beavers eat potatoes and hop into the canoe for a ride.  I think we all secretly want our local beavers to be our friends.  We set up our hunting camera near the beaver’s dam, but so far have only caught photos of raccoons. If you want to check out Grey Owl’s movie, it is right here.

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I think the kids would agree that the best addition to our family room is our trampoline.  Jess’ aunt gave it to us as her kids are all grown up.  It was always hard to get my girls off the trampoline when we would visit Aunt Jacquie. Now my kids are jumping before school, after school, in the evening, and all the parts in between.

After having three kids in three years, jumping up and down is not my best friend.  I instantly have to pee.  If I had to name my number one super power it would be my ability to urinate on demand.  If our great nation was ever in danger, and that danger could be stopped in it’s tracks with urine, well I’d be your gal.  Now if I was nominated for that job, I obviously would have to go into that interview with a super hero name, and a suit.  Of course the suit would be yellow, and made from material that always looked wet.  The name is always the harder one to come up with.  Just off the top of my head I can come up with The Piddler,  The Pisstler, The Whiz, and Liquid Excretory Producer.  That last one really roles off the tongue.

I guess I will have to add super hero naming to my list of home projects.  Now back to my book.

Constant Consuming

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I love a good gift as much as the next mid forties mom living in a small community, but I am struggling with Christmas this year.  I love the baking and the decorating and the parties, but I am tired of the buying.  It’s hard for me to think of a useful gift for my girls other than some quality books from our local book store.  I understand that my kids want stuff, but they don’t need it.  How many years have to go by until they appreciate each gift they receive?  Is that even possible in this day and age?  I know I have a coating of Bah Humbug on me but I just can’t seem to help it.

We are slowly trying to change things at our house.  More making and baking and less shopping.  Most of our gifts to friends are jams and truffles we’ve made, garlic from our garden and eggs from our hens.   We’ve been making our own decorations.  We asked permission from our neighbour to cut a tree from their land.  We wanted a scrubby Charlie Brown jupiner as they are native to this area instead of buying the perfect tree.  Jess and I keep reminding ourselves that the kids will remember the memories of the things we’ve done as opposed to the gifts they received.  But they still want stuff.  Our society has missed the meaning of Christmas.  It is not about what you can get, but what you can give.  And giving what matters, not just unconscious buying.  I know most of you know this, but then why do our kids constantly want more?

This is what I proposed to my girls this year.  Every kid gets a $200 budget.  They can choose $100 worth of stuff for themselves, and then choose $100 to donate to a local charity. They need to think about what issues matter to them and their community and then we will donate to their chosen cause.  Ruby and I saw some pamphlets for Reaching for Rainbows.  It is an after school program in Picton for young girls who need “a boost of self confidence, a smidgeon of good decision making, and a pinch of problem solving. ” Some of those girls attend my daughter’s school.  So that is our first donation.  Wini has always been an animal lover, so her choice is going to be related to animal welfare.  We need to do a bit more research on our local animal charities before we decide.  Reya and I were listening to Metro Morning on CBC this morning.  There was a reporter in Aleppo describing the horrors in that city.  We could hear bombs and gunfire in the background as he spoke.  Reya looked at me and said “I want to donate to the Syrians.”  Prince Edward County sponsors three families from Syria.  We have donated clothes, books, and household items to them in the past, but this December they get Reya’s $100.

My goal is that every year, the $200 ratio will tip more in the favour of charities, and less as stuff under the tree. Everyone has the ability to look around them and see the need or ignore it.  There are so many without family, housing, and food.  Find those people and reach out.  It doesn’t have to involve money.  Invite someone to dinner, donate your time, visit a neighbour you know is alone this holiday season.  And if you have money to give, then give it freely to those that need it.  You’ll soon learn you don’t need as much as you think.

Happy giving!

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Old School Bluegrass Camp 2017

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It’s back!  We had so much fun the last two years running our Old School Bluegrass Camp, we thought it would be prudent to run our camp for a third year.

Our line up of instructors is just as impressive as it was the last two years.  We have the great Sam Allison, the whole crew of the Foggy Hogtown Boys, and the one and only Kristine Schmitt who will be teaching vocals next year.

So forget the pair of socks, the personalized mug, and the box of chocolates, give the gift of music and happiness this year.  Make new friends, learn to play in a band, master your instrument, and have an awesome time with us at camp next July.  Plan ahead. Registration is already open and some spots are filling up fast.  You can check out our website right here.

If you need more information than our website  provides, feel free to contact me.  I can use a computer and the telephone machine.  I’ll leave it up to you as to how you  would like to communicate.  I also have very good hearing, so if you’d like to simply yell from your front porch, or out your window I will respond in kind.

Tis the Season to Craft

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I had to give up on my Christmas knitting project due to my knitting disability.  I was going to make a pair of mittens for Jess.  My knitting mentor told me it was possible and then dismembered my sad display of knitting.  So I turned to sewing.  I have been meaning to make my kids an advent calendar for 12 years, and 2017 is the year it is going to happen!  I just completed Day 22 last night.  I have two days left to sew, and fill their advent pouches with treats and little gifts.  After school, my oldest is going to help me cut, and arrange dogwood and fir boughs as a canvas for our advent calendar.

I have put so little time aside for crafting this year, and love that I have a project to work on right now.  I’ve been on a strict sewing schedule for the last three weeks to get it all done my December 1st.  I do love to craft and do anything creative with my hands.  It is peaceful and meditative for me.  I’ll need to find a new craft post December 1st.  I guess I could try knitting again but not sure if I can reach beyond the scarf.  I am very good at knitting but once the pearling, and the stitch counting begins I simply create a giant mess.  Pair that up with some conversation and a glass of wine and I might as well give up all together.

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My girls also love to craft.  Jess has declared that our Christmas tree this year will only be adorned with homemade ornaments.  He set up Craft Central on the stage.  There are a few tables with supplies mostly foraged from outdoors, a glue gun, scissors, paint and markers.  A spray station will be added once ornaments are complete and ready for their layer of shine.  He has also set up the band saw, and taught the kids how to use it.  The two rules are go slow, and don’t cut your finger off.  Really what’s the worst that could happen?  I dare you to show me one nine fingered person who is not living a full life in this day and age?

Jess and the girls have also begun experimenting with their truffle recipe.  They made a delicious batch the other night.  Full production will start soon.  We love to give these tasty treats to our neighbours and kid’s teachers.  Since I’ve been busy sewing on the couch in front of the fire most nights, my role in truffle making is mostly spoon licker and truffle taster.

I would also like to add some carolling to my Christmas agenda this year.  The word on the snowy street is that Christmas is all about agendas.  I’d like to put agenda back into Christmas.  Isn’t that the slogan I’ve been hearing lately?  I have fond memories of going to my mom’s friend Anne’s house when I was a kid to sing carols with all the neighbours.  I’m not sure I am one to go door to door singing for my neighbour’s but I would like to sing more.  I think I’ll start belting it out at home, and see where that leads me.  It may simply lead me to sing all by my loaf.  That’s still better than no singing at all.

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How Far We’ve Come

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Recently, a film crew came to film our house.  We have been chosen as one of the 12 top homes to live in across Canada.  It seems absurd to me that we are in the same category as Justin Trudeau, Wayne Gretzky, and Alexander Graham Bell’s original home.  But who am I to judge?  I just went along for the ride.

It did make me think about the amount of work we have done to this building, and all the different stages of it’s transformation that have occurred in the last three years.  Now that we are heat stable this winter, Jess suggested we have an annual Celebration of Heat in the coldest month of the year, to remind us of how things use to be during our first winter.  The celebration would basically consist of turning off the heat, and trying to cook dinner with our winter jackets and toques on.  I think I may be skipping that party.

Below are some of the before and after shots of the old South Marysburgh Central School that we now call home.  I thought you might want to walk down memory lane with me and have a peek inside.

Outside of our Building:

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Boy’s Bathroom

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Classroom #2

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The Gym

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Backyard

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Elsa Dog

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What will the next three years bring?

 

 

 

 

Giving Thanks

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I know we are suppose to be thankful every day but it is nice to have a yearly holiday that celebrates thankfulness.  I am thankful for so many things in my life that it is hard to list them all.  Since today is the most thankful day of the year, I am going to try.  The first thank you will go to not feeling awkward about writing a paragraph with six references to thanking in it.

I am thankful for being able bodied.  We have just returned from a family hike along the rocky beach near our house.  We climbed, we ran, we strolled, and we embraced.   I am not limited by my mobility.  I recently starting biking to work.  I leave early in the morning and cycle by corn fields, a sheep farm, my neighbour’s cattle, and through the fog, the smell of manure, and fallen leaves.  It is a wonderful time to be by myself and watch my world slowly pass by.  I am grateful that I have a body that works well with no pain.

I am thankful that I have a roof over my head.  When I was a teenager, my mom and stepfather went bankrupt.  The bank took our house, changed the locks, and left our possessions inside.  Everyday I am thankful I have a house to come home to.  I am grateful that my children don’t have to worry about where they will live or the financial stability of their parents.   I am grateful that we have enough wood for the winter.  When it is cold outside, we will have a warm space to shelter us.

Both my parents are dead.  I wept for them today.  Holidays are still hard without them.  There is no other relationship like the one you have with your parents.  I was lucky to have both of them in my life for so many different reasons.  They showed me that choices matter, and taught me by example how to live life and how not to.  Their deaths taught me about dying and the pain that accompanies it.  I am grateful to have a greater understanding of that journey.

Although my parents are not with me, I will be surrounded by family for our Thanksgiving feast tomorrow night.  Only three will share my DNA.  I am grateful for the love and support of my husband’s parents and siblings.

Last week I walked by a mother and her grown daughter with her newborn.  The daughter was discussing her dreams, and her mom was fully engaged.  I instantly missed that connection and those conversations that I use to have with my mom.  I also realized that I am no longer the daughter in that scenario.  I have three girls that are sharing their hopes with me now and my role has shifted to the mom.  I am no longer the daughter.  I am grateful to have been handed that role from my previous generation.  I am thankful I know what to do, as I listen to my children, because I had a loving teacher.

I am grateful for my husband, who keeps me laughing, and reminds me to love and be kind.

I am also grateful I snagged an awesome pair of rain boats at the thrift store for $10.

I have so many awesome friends whom I adore.  I am not sure I would be who I am today without my friends.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend in whatever form to takes.  There is always something to be grateful for, you just have to look.  If all the large items in your world are crumbling then be thankful of the small pleasures in your life.  And if all your bigger bits are intact then acknowledge and appreciate how fortunate you are and let the little things slide.  Enjoy the people at your table, hug them, love them, pet the dogs and tickle the kids.  And don’t forget to leave room for a slice of pumpkin pie.

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