Saturday, March 27, 2010

80's Video Tribute

Thank you Reactive Candy for putting this great video on facebook! It was a 10 minute flashback of my life. As the video started, with each snippet of song I was transported back to some place in my past. Each song reminded me of some part of my youth. The memories are very specific about a certain party, a particular person, a perfect moment in time.

Until 1986.

I remember all of the songs but after 1986 I don't have a memory of an event to match up. 1986 was also the year when I became a mother. Is there a correlation?

Was motherhood the cause of this stoppage of song-related memories? Too busy with children to have a social life? I really do believe pregnancy zaps your memory (otherwise who would have more than one child?) Was I just growing up and my interests changed from music to other more cerebral things? What is the explanation?

Maybe the music in the late 80's was just too bad to enjoy with a memorable event. Whose idea was the whole big hair thing?

wake me up before you go go......

Let me know your thoughts of this video...thanks Candy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

March Break

It is now officially over. The annual week off from work scheduled to let us rest up to regain our strength to make it through the sprint of the last term of the school year. During my career I have spent March break in one of three ways:



hockey tournaments


sleeping on the couch

In the past I have travelled to a variety of places. There was the Carribean cruise I won in a contest. My father actually bought the ticket for me. I still remember the moment my mother called to tell me I had won the big prize and I was upset because I owed my father $10.00 for the ticket. I realize now the biggest prize wasn’t actually the cruise around the Carribean but the fact my parents agreed to baby sit the kids for the week. There were only two kids then, Greg was 2 and Kaitlin was 7 months old……I STILL owe my mother for that one. Years later, thanks to Terry staying home to look after the kids, I traveled to Italy and another year Greece with my colleagues.

Then there were the many years of spending March break in arenas throughout Southern Ontario and Western New York. Greg and Kaitlin both played travel hockey so there was lots of time spent watching kids play hockey at the arena and more time watching kids play mini sticks in hotel hallways. (Ed, do they play mini sticks in Germany?)

Then there were the last few March breaks spent sleeping on the couch recuperating from those years of travel, hockey, parenting, working and, and, and, and, and………As the kids aged and I wasn’t needed as a taxi driver any longer I finally had the opportunity to catch up on my much needed sleep.

This March Break was different. As an empty nester I was finally rid of parental responsibilities and I had enough energy to actually do something. While many of my colleagues were heading south I was most excited about the opportunity to DO NOTHING. I did not achieve my goal but I am quite pleased with all of the things I was able to do.

Here is what I did this last week:

  • went to a 30th birthday party and rediscovered my youth
  • cleaned and reorganized the walk in closet so I can find my clothes in the morning
  • went for Sunday afternoon drinks at Scorecards even though football season is over
  • celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with style at the Lions Hotel in downtown Port Dalhousie (see picture above)
  • went for five early morning walks (OK, not that early, but during March Break anything before noon is early)
  • interviewed 3 people in preparation for an upcoming article I am writing (improving your business through Social Media.....August edition of Business Niagara magazine)
  • networked and made contact with an editor of a new national magazine
  • confirmed two new articles to write -anyone know anything about eco tourism?
  • rented out the cottage for a couple of weeks this summer (certainly mixed feelings about this one)
  • hostessed a real grown-up dinner party (our neighbours are so much fun!!)
  • learned to make tea (don’t even ask why I didn’t know how to do that before!!)
  • gathered up all my stuff to get my taxes done (With a father as a CA this one wasn’t very hard)
  • had lunch with colleagues (three times)
  • visited with Kaitlin
  • visited with Greg and my new grand-dog Tyson
  • messaged Jennifer through Facebook to arrange her new apartment in Kingston
  • went on a bunch of walks with Journey because the weather was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!!!!
  • Shaved my cactus winter legs
  • Admired Terry’s new glasses he bought without my help (yes, that was stressful)
  • had breakfast with colleagues (OK, technically that hasn’t happened yet…but it’s scheduled for a few hours from now

The only problem is, in one short week I was able to restructure my lifestyle but now how am I ever going to fit going back to work into my schedule????

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's A Small World After All

The other night Terry and I went to a birthday party for someone turning 30! Initially I was a little reluctant to go as the last time we hung out with this crowd I didn’t think I kept up. After awhile there was only so much I could contribute to any conversation as they all work together, they are single, no kids and did I mention in their 20’s? (Just for the record I haven’t seen 20 in 25 years......OK its 28 years)

Something happened since I last saw this gang. They went from 20 something to 30ish. They are all now married with kids, and more on the way. I should have clued in things had changed by the time and location of the party. It started at 4:30 at Boston Pizza in the Falls. This is the BP with the bowling alley and tons of video games etc. Upon our arrival I quickly realized this was not going to be a party where I can’t keep up with the drinking, it’s going to be where I can’t keep up with the little kids in attendance! The party didn’t last long as the toddlers got tired and had to get home for bedtime. While earlier I was nervous I couldn’t make it through the party it turned out Terry and I were the last to leave!

While the young moms and dads were starting to pack up a woman Terry works with arrived with her new fiancĂ©. Well, he wasn’t exactly new. The story is they dated for a few years as teen-agers and went on their separate life paths. As they became single once again, now in their 50’s, they have reconnected and are planning to get married! It was such a sweet tale.

As I asked millions of questions, which I am told is what I do, I discovered her fiancĂ© and I were from the same hometown! Yes, we both grew up in Owen Sound, went to the same high school, were taught by the same teachers. Denis is a few years older then me but knew all of the older brothers and sisters of the kids I hung out with as a teen-ager. Names and places I hadn’t heard or thought of in decades came rushing through our memories. We had a great time connecting and remembering similar stories of our youth.

What a small world!

So while I thought I was spending the evening with a bunch of “young kids” I ended up reminiscing about my life when I was even younger.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Out House Renovation

As part of our annual girls’ week-end at Saskatchewan Lake, it became tradition to present me with hostess gifts. I did appreciate the gesture of a good guest but felt it was unnecessary for any more scented candles and other girly things at the cottage. After much discussion around the camp fire it was decided for the next girls’ week-end, instead of traditional hostess gifts, each guest would bring an item more appropriate for the cottage – specifically the outhouse.

The next summer guests arrived with their contribution. Unbeknownst to me, they had secretly decided upon a decorating theme, sunflowers. Before I knew it my sister-in-law Jenny was cutting through the outhouse wall creating a new window and my mother-in-law was on the roof tearing off shingles older than her. The outhouse redecorating project had become a full-fledged renovation! This was not a week-end of pampered woman indulging themselves; it was liberated women using power tools.

Suddenly the modern women image evaporated when everyone began screaming all at once. With the removal of the final ancient shingle, mice had appeared! Small innocent rodents were able to send six strong women off running in different directions.

Once we regained our composure we were able to finish the project. Our outhouse now has a new leaf-proof roof, a window to provide ventilation and much to Terry's chagrin, lots of sunflower paraphernalia.

While we were proud of our accomplishment, our subsequent girls week-ends have returned to the previous agenda, which does not included power tools.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Hamster

In an earlier post I mentioned a pet sitting adventure where Terry failed miserably, although I give him kudos for trying.

Jennifer was in about grade 7 and decided she wanted her own pet hamster. With her babysitting money she purchased the hamster as well as all of the paraphernalia associated with hamster ownership. To her credit she did a good job looking after it since I proclaimed loudly to anyone who would listen a hamster is just a rodent with a cute coat. Jennifer became a good hamster caregiver………..until that fateful day.

It was one of the first beautifully warm Saturdays in June. The pool in the backyard was freshly re-opened for the season and Terry was tending to the gardens. Just as I was leaving to get groceries for the week Jennifer put the hamster into one of those round toy hamster balls to let him roll around the backyard while she cleaned out his cage. She asked Terry to keep an eye on the hamster while she cleaned out the cage. He said sure….how hard could it be? OK, maybe that’s not what he said but I bet that was what he was thinking!

A few minutes later Jennifer returned to the back yard and asked Terry where the hamster was. So intent on trying to determine the difference between weeds and flowers Terry did not notice the hamster had rolled into the pool. Terry quickly took action and fished the hamster ball from the depths of the water. There were no vital signs. Terry desperately tried to save the rodent’s life. He started CPR on the hamster. He put the hamster on its back and gently pushed on his chest to try to bring him back to life. Jennifer was the one who convinced Terry to “call it” and the time of death was approximately 15 minutes after I had left for groceries.

While Terry was very upset his first attempt to safe a life did not succeed, Jennifer dealt with her grief quite well.

Less than an hour later I arrived back home with a trunk full of groceries. In the meantime the hamster had been buried in the garden, the cage and all hamster belongs had been washed and donated to the kids Jennifer babysat around the corner. Any signs of hamster life in our household were completely gone.

While I was the one who never wanted the rodent in the house in the first place it did take me aback that a “family member” could be so quickly and easily discarded. Let’s hope Jennifer never has to make the decisions if we get put on life-support!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jennifer and the Jessicas Follow Up

As I mentioned a few posts ago, Jennifer and the Jessicas spent a few days of their Reading Week here in Port Dalhousie. We live in a condo right on Main Street, a very brief walk from all the action …… the summer. During the warm months Port is the place to be for all of the university aged kids. There is a small strip of bars where all of the kids hang out which includes “My Cottage”, an indoor-outdoor bar which holds up to 2000+ kids doing whatever kids do at that age…..I’m not sure if I really don’t remember, or I am desperately trying not to remember because my kids are now that age.

Anyway……..the point is Port Dalhousie is a fabulous place for young people to hang out in the summer. Reading week is not summer.

Jennifer and the Jessicas arrived on a Sunday evening in time for me to prepare a roast beef dinner. I was trying very hard to be a Beaver Cleaver mother but I am sure I didn’t fool anyone. Fortunately someone gave us the game Cranium as a Christmas gift and the girls kept themselves busy while drinking Pepsis and red wine. The girls then took off to do a tour of the Falls. Living so close to Niagara Falls we often forget it truly is one of the Wonders of the World. February in the dark is probably not the best time to view the Falls. The girls had a good time however doing the touristy “Clifton Hill” thing and I have to admit I enjoyed the pics of their visit to Madame Tussade’s wax museum. They got there near closing time on Sunday night and were the only ones in the place so they got to pose in various positions with the waxed celebrities.

I believe it was after the museum visit they did the famed visit to Boston Pizza. All I know I woke up in the morning and the fridge was totally empty except for beautifully packaged left over meals from Boston Pizza. Having no prepared breakfast, no lunch to take to work, I pried open one of the packages and found these little morsels of food. I swear I only took two little bites…it was quite good for left-overs. But I realized it was not my food so I only took TWO bites, assuming it hadn’t been counted and weighed. I was wrong.

When I arrived home from work I was sharply accused of eating HALF of the meal. I did NOT eat HALF of the meal……..I wanted to, but I didn’t. So until this day I have ignored the question about the mysterious disappearance of Jessica’s food. (I don’t know which one of the Jessica was missing their food, I just know according to Jennifer it was the crime of the century)

So instead of Jennifer and the Jessicas having a nice visit drinking red wine playing Cranium, touring St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, Kilt and Clover and the Chili Pepper, shopping trip to the States, and all they can remember is that some of their left overs got eaten……hmmmmm….….why is everything always blamed on the mother??

My Happiness

I came across an article in the Globe and Mail regarding "Happiness". One thing led to another and I ended up getting in touch with someone compiling a book of essays about what makes people happy. She invited me to submit my own essay. I'm not sure what will come of it but in case the book doesn't become a best seller I thought I would share my essay here.

My happiness depends upon my cycle. No, not THAT cycle….. my happiness cycle.

After much reflection I have determined what really makes me happy. I had the AHA moment. I realized nothing makes me happy. I realized everything makes me happy. What makes me happy today will not make me happy next week. My happiness cycle is a gentle ebb and flow of thoughts, feelings and reactions to life’s events determining the degree of my happiness.

My family makes me happy. My children have grown to be independent, successful young adults. I believe my biggest achievement was the day they all moved out to be on their own. Yet I miss them. I miss the days of phones ringing and being needed for rides and food and mom advice. Now I look forward to their texts, their phone calls and their visits. Their arrival back home makes me happy. I bask in their energy and their youthfulness. But then I begin to feel the shift. I start to tire of being the responsible one, the one who is expected to know the answers to their life questions, especially when they choose to do what they were going to do anyway. When the door shuts behind them as they leave, there is peace and quiet and I am happy again. But a few days go by and I yearn for their return.

My job makes me happy. My job makes me feel successful and respected. It is a reason to get out of bed in the morning. I have a purpose in life and a pay cheque to almost pay for my lifestyle. But after too many days in a row of everyone needing me and having to crawl out of bed with too little sleep, I yearn for retirement. The stress starts to wear at my body and mind. The holidays always seem to arrive just as I think I am about to break. Much needed time off allows me to unwind and relax, but before long I feel once again the pendulum begin to sway and I long to be back to work, back to being needed.

Our cottage makes me happy. The first time we arrive in the spring we are welcomed by smells of nature and the view of the overflowing lake. The broken pipes and mice droppings don’t dampen my happiness at all. Nothing is as perfect as the first trip to the cottage in spring. Our time there in the spring is short, snippets of time we grab on week-ends between long weeks of work. Then summer finally arrives and I spend endless weeks at our lakeside retreat. As two weeks becomes three and four, my love affair starts to wane. The slowness of the lake begins to bore and I yearn for the return of work and routines of the city. The pendulum begins to swing back, marking my happiness cycle.

So what makes me happy?

Everything, until it doesn’t.

Until it does again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Good Ol Hockey Game

The withdrawal has been much tougher than I expected. After all, it was only an addiction of two week before I was cut off. The Olympics. I still find myself rushing home to turn on the TV only to find Oprah and Dr. Oz. No Olympics….although there is no Dr. Phil either, but that is OK….whatever happened to Phil….alright I am digressing.

Anyway, I am sitting here watching a new episode of House, working through my Olympic withdrawal pains and I hear the “ding” of my email. It is an email from Terry who is sitting just a few feet away. What could he possibly be sending me he couldn’t just tell me? When I read the email I quickly understand….he is enabling my Olympic addiction!

It is a link for a you tube video of the entire Canadian men’s hockey team gold winning Olympic run. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. What is a video worth? The words to the song, the great pics, this is a video worth watching.

Click on it fast…..the copyright people will yank it any time now….

Just when you think you are out, they pull you back in.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Pet Sitting

The kids have all moved out and got themselves pets. Jennifer has a cat named Sidney and Greg just got a new puppy named Tyson. Kaitlin could not be left out of the picture so she got a pet as well, a fish named “Fishy.” I don’t think Kaitlin’s business degree taught her much creativity.

Kaitlin went to the Dominican last week. She was afraid her roommate might not look after Fishy properly so she hired Terry and me as fish-sitters. She carefully explained to me the importance of feeding him each day and night with only 4 granules of fish food. She told me the fishbowl was freshly cleaned so it wasn’t necessary to be cleaned again until she returned. Unfortunately Terry wasn’t home when she left the directions about the feeding and care of Fishy.

The second day we had Fishy Terry decided to feed him. He put in about 4 pinches of fish food which equalled about 40 times what he was supposed to get. By the time Terry got home from work that day, the bowl was filled with cloudy water and Fishy was not moving at all. Terry decided to rectify the situation by cleaning the bowl and starting over. Terry somehow got Fishy out of the bowl and put him in a cup. He emptied the water, washed the bowl sparkly clean and re-filled it with fresh water. Terry realized the cold tap water might be a bit of a jolt for Fishy so he was even kind enough to wait a few hours until the water reached room temperature. Then the fun began.

Terry was working without a net.

Terry tried to fish Fishy out of the glass with his bare hands. Fishy was startled and jumped out of Terry’s hands and wriggled all over the floor. After a few minutes of flopping around, Terry was able to finally catch Fishy and return him safe and sound to his bowl. While everything turned out OK, there was a few frightening moments, although I am not sure who was more afraid, the fish or Terry.

Kaitlin returned a few days later and was pleasantly surprised Fishy was still swimming around. I don’t think she had much faith in our fish-sitting abilities as she still remembers the last time Terry babysat a pet. There was the time Terry tried to give Jen’s hamster CPR. But that is a story for another post.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Olympic Withdrawal Pains

I am going through Olympic withdrawal.

Yesterday once again I rushed home to turn on the TV only to remember there was no Olympic coverage. I miss it.

I still vividly remember the rush of the hockey game Sunday afternoon. Canada had been on a gold medal rampage and we needed one more gold to create a new record for the most records won by any nation in the Winter Olympics. We also had to win the game not just for the gold medal, but for our nation’s pride. We had to beat those Americans at our game!!!

I have to admit it was close. Too close for my comfort. The tying goal in the dying seconds of the game was a definite let down but it had to be. The hockey gods made it happen in order to allow Sid the Kid to become he next Canadian hero. His winning over-time goal is now the most historic goal of all time. Move over Paul Henderson.

The closing ceremonies were great……better than the opening ceremonies. My favourite was the revue style show led by the one and only Michael Buble. There was every Canadian stereotype imaginable. (I hope Americans did get the joke) The flying moose, dancing lumberjacks, the beavers and even the mounties made BC Place look like a giant gift shop on Clifton Hill (Niagara Falls). I laughed so hard when I saw everyone in the audience wearing their own personal moose antlers. Only in Canada, eh?

Neil Young sang as the Olympic flame slowly dimmed. Then the party got started!

Nickelback, Avril Lavigne, Alannis Morrisette, Simple Plan, Hedley, k-os, (yes, we do have black people in Canada). I quickly turned to NBC to get their reaction…..but no, they had cut out of the most glorious moment of the evening for…..wait for it……..”The Marriage Ref”. What the …….????????

I did get good news today. My new best friend in Vancouver, Josh Rimer was able to reconnect the camcorder he found to its rightful owner. Bill from Seattle was so thrilled to get his camcorder back because it had the last footage of his father who recently passed away. Bill was so grateful he told Josh to keep the camera! An affirmation for my belief……what goes around, comes around!!! Do unto others….

Help me recover from my Olympicitis.

Any ideas what to do with all my time now that the Olympics are over?