Friday, September 26, 2014

the 80's came calling

A few months ago the 80's came knocking. John and I had an opportunity to see Platinum Blonde and Glass Tiger perform at Seneca Niagara Casino in Niagara Falls, NY.

We went for a bite to eat before the show.  At Mister B's.  A total hole in the wall type restaurant. Dark and kinda sketchy.  We were a little apprehensive to be honest.  A co-worker had suggested it to me.  John is always nervous of my ideas.  I get it....sometimes I am way out there.  In the beginning this idea was not looking so good to him.  From the outside it looked fun!



The food looked amazing in the pictures.


My sweet sister and her husband.


Her husband had to use the flashlight on his phone to get a good look at the menu.


John and I in the shadows.


It was one of those places where all the guys at the bar were regulars.  Were every inch of wall was covered in memorabilia.


So the verdict was still out at this point with John.  He felt like we had driven through the ghetto to get to the restaurant.  Here we were in this shady looking place were a flashlight was needed to read the menu and the guys at the bar were on a first name basis with the bartender.


Once the food arrived and we began enjoying our dinner...well holy heck, the best little hole in the wall restaurant ever.  Amazing food.  Too much of it.  The price was so reasonable.  Great service. We would visit there again for sure!!!!

On our way to the restaurant I saw so many sad houses.  You would be driving and there would be a family out front of their house and then a few doors down a condemned house boarded up, sad and vacant.  House after house.  This isn't something you see a lot of in our neighborhood.  Yes sad houses that need some work...ours was one of those.  But vacant, make you wonder were the family went that lived there houses.  In fact when we crossed the boarder into Niagara Falls, NY, you would assume that there would have been a booming little neighborhood.  You have people coming across to the casino all hours....there was store front after store front boarded up.  It was like a ghost town.  It was sad.  





I could not help but feel a pang of guilt for enjoying such a nice meal just minutes before I took these photos and a pang of guilt that my girls have such a secure life.  It isn't fair.  It makes me very sad sometimes.  I don't understand how the world can be so uneven.  How a child can be going without, how a family can lose their home and just a three hour drive away, a family has what they need.......heck two doors down a family has what they need.  I have a hard time wrapping my head around it all.

In a neighborhood where there were such sad lonesome homes....boarded up store fronts....there was also bright and amazing that danced over that bit of gloom and somehow made the neighborhood sing.  Made it happier.



If I recall this was actually a church.  Amazing.  So much fun and colour.  It was like a ray of sunshine spreading out across those sad lonely empty homes.

We ended up at the casino for the show.  So a few things.  First there is smoking in the casino.  I did not even think places could legally still do this but apparently they can.  For that reason I would probably not ever attend a show there again.  It was gross.  There wasn't smoking inside the show but in the lobby/casino....you had to walk through a haze of smoke to pee.  Gross.  Gross.  Gross. Second, Platinum Blond needs to stop performing.  Way past their prime.  Defiantly expired.


During the intermission we were sitting there and I snapped a photo of our hands because I wanted to remember a few feelings I was having.  A bit of a longing for the easier years in our relationship. When we were just teenagers listening to this music and life was easy.  There was no complications.....no stress....it was just easy.  It made me feel like crying to be honest.  Also just that there we were listening to that music from over twenty years ago.  How some way we always seem to make it work.  How we slowly are growing older peacefully and gracefully.  There is a comfort that has worked its way back into my life.  It was gone for awhile and I missed it very much.  At this moment I felt its presence around me.  


The second act...Giant Tiger.  Well they seemed far less comatose on stage and so I suppose if they continue to perform that is fine although I can't say I would seek out going to see either band again.


The 80's were fun but I am kind of glad we got through them and have moved on.  It was a fun night out.  We enjoyed good company and a run to Walmart for chocolate and beer after the show.  Gotta have your chocolate and beer for Walmart!!  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

renovations and tune ups

I have been meaning to blog about the renovations we had done back in June. These photos in no way do the space justice.  The space we have gained that was wasted before and the ease in which Shelby is able to come into and out of the house now is amazing.

The before is truly awful.  That space as never really been nice looking and although I tried to make it appealing over the years with a cute little bench, table, throw rug etc. at the far end; it was never finished. It certainly never was an extension of who we are. It was cold in the winter and at times way too hot in the summer.  It was the first thing people saw coming into our home.  Shelby had to struggle through that second door and although it is hard to see the door in the before you can see the space minus the wall in the after. Only after the renovation do I see what we missed for so many years.  What I love about this new space is the way in which we are slowly being able to make it our own.

before                                                                          after

The biggest part of this reno was the front porch.  It was the focus and were the funding went that we were given.  It was amazing what the workers accomplished and we will be forever grateful for this.

We continued through into our living room.  John and his nephew gutted the living room.  John's dad helped him do electrical work and then we insulated it all.  Then the workers took over and finished it off for us with the drywall and paint.  It was worth us to pay them to do this.  It was a huge job and one less thing we had to worry about.

We had the windows in prior to the renovation starting but once that wall was gone we really could see what we had been missing as far as natural light.  We rarely have lights on until later into the evening.  Before you constantly had to have a light on in the living room because there were no good windows.  The breeze we get through here as well is beautiful.  The house stays cooler then it ever has....even on hot days and I imagine it will be a lot warmer in the winter.


One of the things I am so in love with are the curtain hangings.  With John's help I made these.  We distressed the wood and the outcome was so fantastic.


I also love this track lighting.  John picked it out.  It is perfect for the space.  I had suggested to John to hang his guitars.  He had two on stands in our bedroom.  Our bedroom is small and just the one day we were contemplating what to put were in the living room and I just thought they would be better off the floor and that space is so funky...it needed something different.  With only two (the two on the right) it looked a little off and I mentioned to him that he would need to get another guitar to even it out.  I had forgotten he had one from when he was a teenager in our attic.  Although it is unplayable due to some damage it fit nicely as the third puzzle piece to finish off this fun space.


We got this great ceiling fan from Home Depot.  It really matches well.  Slowly it all is coming along.


There is still more to do.  We need new flooring, a closet door, a few more walls to decorate, more trim and stuff like that.  It takes time and money but slowly we are making it ours.  The only bad thing that has been going on is our one cat scratching at the new walls.  Oh my.  John has had to patch and repaint in quite a few areas.  


Fortunately he can do it and you can't notice but it is extra work we don't need.  I made a scratching post and I sprayed the walls every few days with a deterrent spray for weeks and weeks.  I would take him to the scratching post and hold him there while going through the scratching motion with his paws.  Yes I know.....the visual of that has you laughing I am sure but it worked!!!  He began scratching the post!!!  It has been over a month without any new scratch marks in the drywall.  


You can see on the post were he is scratching the wood up real good!  Absolutely perfect!!

There will be no more new cats in my future...ever. Cats are exhausting...at least my three are....between our big boy and the $400 vet bill for blood work and antibiotics for an infection and the exorcism that took place each time I gave him the medicine and his new diet that costs us $40 a month....(granted he has lost a lot of weight)....not to mention I have to keep him blocked in our backroom when no one is home because I don't trust him not to pee or pooh somewhere he should not (he set in motion the making of the coffin of no more cats ever again), our sweet lovable drywall destroyer (the scratching has really been the last nail in the coffin of no more cats ever again) and the little girl kitty we have who got her sorry ass sprayed by a skunk a few weeks back after she bolted out the front door yet again......yep totally done with being a cat person.  I mean all that on top of the fact we have had cats for over twenty years...I am so done with cat box clean up and hairball barfing.....done....done and done.  Love them but boy they are too much trouble.  I will live vicariously through other peoples cats instead.



John has been picking away at the front of the house.  I blogged about wanting to go with a board and batten lighthouse red siding.  Well it was hands down a fantastic choice.  It is coming along so great. It was a bit of a running joke with the contractor, my obsession with having a black front door but boy oh boy our beautiful black front door is the perfect match to this amazing siding!

I am off today.  Happy to have a free and clear day.  Our weekend was busy.  They always are. Yesterday Amber had a very early basketball practice.  I started teaching one of the moms how to knit. She did fantastic.  I am so happy to be passing the knowledge of knitting onto someone else. 


We ended up getting some family photos done yesterday as well.  I have wanted to do this for such a long time.  I just felt like time was ticking by and before we knew it the girls would be out of the house leading their own lives...maybe starting their own families, doing their own family photos and there would not be an opportunity for a family photo for our family.



I had some fun making a bunting with our surname.  From what I have seen the photos are fantastic. The wind was against us a bit but for the most part I think we will come out of it with some great shots.  

I won't lie...upon having a sneak peek of the photos, my first thought was my weight.  I have a distorted view of myself...I know this.  My friend and co-worker, the sweet Alisha small....told me they look great. That I look great and that when your husband (because John tells me this all the time and did when I expressed my dislike over my non-photogenic presence in the photos) and another woman are telling you you look great you need to listen.  She is right.  So I am trying to listen.  

I guess over the years different things have allowed me to doubt myself....sometimes there are people with no filter and some off handed comment sets you up for feeling like crap, other women can be brutal and I know that when that happens, when a woman is not supportive in all ways, that you have to see where it is coming from but it still does sting and can stay with you.  There is that constant comparison that some of us fall into as we are bombarded with images that society tries to tell us are the norm.  So I gave myself a pep talk today....I reminded myself that my goal is my health and if I am healthy and do my best to take care of myself that I need to embrace that.  I have dealt with my share of stress in my adult life and so much adversity and I have come out on top every time....not many can say this.  Sometimes people are taken down by far less then I have to deal with on a daily basis...that makes me beautiful inside and out....my strength.  So my perception of myself needed a tune up and I did my best to put those negative thoughts away and embrace my beauty, my beautiful family....my handsome husband and my sweet beautiful girls. I am so grateful they all did this for me.

   
I am thinking maybe we need to do a Christmas card this year...been a very long time since I have done photo cards at Christmas.  This beautiful photo inspires me and I hate to say this....has me thinking about Christmas cards!!  Sorry....I now....bad...bad...bad....but there is only 94 days left.........just saying.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

goo goo dolls and a bff

So quite a while back, like back in July,  Shelby and her very first best friend whom she met in grade one, met up to attend a Goo Goo Dolls concert in Toronto.  Rachel actually is living and attending school in Toronto and so aside from texting and facebook they both had probably not seen each other in person for probably a good year.

Growing up Rachel and her sister Michelle became very good friends with Shelby and often slept over and hung out with Shelby.  What I have always loved about both Rachel and Michelle is their ability to slow down and fall into sync with Shelby.  They have always made Shelby feel like a very important person.

Many times they ended up in our kitchen decorating our favorite sugar cookies.  There would be colored sprinkles everywhere and Rachel would always try to eat too much raw cookie dough.  I offered to make Shelby a batch to give to Rachel because Rachel loves these cookies. One year we gave Rachel a batch for her birthday with the recipe written out and titled "Rachel's Sugar Cookies".


Getting to Toronto is very easy.  I can't say enough about how wonderful Go Transit makes it for a person in a wheelchair.  I would say that 95% of the time the service is fantastic.  Completely accessible and really any issues that fall into the 5% I would say involve a driver (for us it was issue with bus drivers) who just probably have very little understanding and maybe even limited patience for a person with a disability.  Hopefully one day across the board we won't have situations were service is compromised due to ignorance but I will take the 95% and run with it.  Shelby has had some great outings into Toronto lately and those outings really boost her self esteem.  I think that even though I have to follow along and be close by for her toileting needs, there is an element of independence she gets from going there.  I think that for the few hours I get lost and she is there doing her own thing....life actually feels normal for her.


Waiting in Union Station for Rachel, I was remind of all the wonderful times I use to have taking the train to Ottawa to visit my grandpa each summer.  It is such a beautiful building.  Unfortunately there is so much construction underway there and it is hard to see the beauty through the chaos but I hope at the end of it all it will enhance the amazing parts of such a neat landmark.
  

What I love about Shelby and Rachel's friendship is how it is like they just saw each other yesterday when they are able to connect.  Those are the people that stay in your life always.  Distance may get in the way...life's obligations may get in the way but when the stars are aligned and you get to see that person again it is like no time has passed.


Of course Rachel loved her bag of goodies.  She was happy her boyfriend was away for the weekend. It meant she could go home and not have to share her jar of cookies.


Shelby had a photo of the two of them from when they were very young.  I love this photo of Rachel taking in the beauty of that photo.   


Once they were on their way to the concert I hooked up with John and we headed off to get a bite to eat.  We were planning to visit a little place called Say Cheese that had been featured on You Gotta Eat Here. Unfortunately it had since closed.


Not all was lost because on our way down the street to Say Cheese we passed a placed called Hey Lucy.  So we wandered back that way and gave Hey Lucy a whirl.


The decor was fun.  Full of that uniqueness large chain restaurants can not accomplish.  It oozed what I so enjoy from these sorts of one of a kind restaurants.


I could not get a good zoom in photo but at the back of this photo was the stone oven. 


Deep fried macaroni and cheese.  Heaven.


The pizza was amazing.       


I always thoroughly enjoy the times we can sneak away for us time.   I love it even more when we stumble across a new restaurant to try.  These little times rejuvenate me.....rejuvenate us.   


Friday, September 12, 2014

special hooks

Years ago when Shelby was just a baby we had a therapist named Stephanie that would come into our home to visit with Shelby and with us.  She was a wonderful person.  She had so may great ideas to help Shelby's progress.  She was there to listen and support us in all aspects of our lives.  When you are thrust into the world of special needs there is an element of isolation, Stephanie made that isolation more bearable.  

She said years later that she tried to step back from us when it was time for Shelby to move into the next program that would help bridge that gap that being premature can create and to help her make the most of her limitations, but she could not.  She said how because of the connection that took place between us it was impossible to not become friends.  She was plagued with many health issues over the years.  When I was pregnant with Amber she lost her only daughter.  Over the years as her health declined, I was often unable to see her but would send her regular notes and pictures in the mail. After she passed her husband told me that the days mail would arrive from me he knew she would have a moment that made her smile.  I often think that the reason I met her was to be that bit of sunshine during the days she needed it.  

Way back I read a book by Regina Brett called Be the Miracle: 50 Lessons for Making the Impossible Possible.  So first you must make a point to read this book or really any of her books. This was my second book by her.  In the book, the one lesson...specifically # 10, is one that stuck in my head.... If you want to see a miracle, be the miracle.  It is such a simple thought.  When we think of what we think needs to happen to  be considered a miracle, we sometimes set ourselves up by thinking too darn big.  By assuming that the only way to be a part of a miracle is by it being monumental......well the way I see it, life...the good shit in life, is made up of a lot of small acts....small miracles.  Before I read this book I often felt like my life was not extraordinary.  That I was living a life that was mediocre.  I wasn't some famous artist whose work was touching people or some amazing author who was touching people through the words in their best seller books.  I wasn't a part of a charity that was doing amazing things for people on the other side of the world.  I felt I wasn't a part of the bigger picture, at the time, that "miracles" fell into in my mind.  I realize now and particularly after reading this book and generally with having a different way of looking at life, that I was a part of a miracle when I sent those small notes to Stephanie.  I made her smile during some of her toughest days...that is a sweet little miracle that I can hold in my heart always.  It is that sort of stuff that allows us to leave a lasting legacy.  Our little miracles will be told in a story to someone.

After Stephanie's daughter passed away she gave me many things she was saving for the day when she would have grandchildren.  I am so sad that she did not have an opportunity to have that while she was alive.  One thing she gave to me was a coat rack her father made for her when she was a child.  I used it in the girls room for years and years and finally after a few too many bumps by Shelby's wheelchair and being over loaded with this and that it became just too wobbly and so I parted with all of it but the hooks.  My plan was to one day take those hooks and make something special.   

When we gutted the living there was some old wood in the ceiling.  Wood that had sat untouched for many many years.  It had knots in all the right places.  It seemed like it might be just the perfect match for those hooks that have been waiting patiently for new life.


John cut a piece of the board for me to sand.


Once it was sanded I painted it with a clear varathane.


The outcome was just perfect.  We hung it behind our front door in our amazing new space.  


There is a rule I have implemented about it.  Only company can hang their coats on it.  This is my sisters coat and purse.

Now I realize how crazy that sounds.....a coat rack that no one in the house is allowed to use.  If I didn't set that rule in place this beautiful space would be cluttered with way too many coats and hoodies as well as stinky basketball bags....well no.  I have waited such a long time to have a nice entry into our home and I pretty much have no patients for the clutter that would without a doubt cover up such a beautiful project if I didn't make the rule.....so it is a company only coat rack!!!  I love it so very much!  

Monday, September 8, 2014

22

Well I fell into today grateful for the ease Mondays are now offering me.  I don't have to work on the Mondays anymore and what a huge relief this is.  After some weekends, like this one past, it is so needed.


The weekend saw us finishing up Amber's basketball tryouts.  She will be playing with John again his year. She was offered a spot on the triple A team but for a few reasons she declined.  First she wants playing time. Taking the spot on this team would have seen her lose playing time for sure.  Second, with how she was treated when the team was coached by a different person, her potential being completely over looked, her not being utilized properly and then she was cut from the team with no reason given what so ever.....well that sort of stuff stings.  It has taken her a full year of very hard work to get back to the player she was before that huge clusterfuck.  I will say that the coaches now in charge of that team showed her nothing but respect and understood 100% her reasons and essentially our reasons why taking that spot at this time is not a fit for her. They told her if she got sick of daddy to let them know.  I think had she chosen to play on that team it would have proven to be a far better experience then in the past because of different coaching dynamics.

John unfortunately could not breeze through the tryouts without an enormous amount of drama and ultimately stress he did not need, thrust onto him by one person and their general stupidity.   The sad thing is when you see someones true colors it is frustrating that others continue to drink the kool-aid said person is serving all around and the person with the integrity ends up being made to look like that bad guy.   I am a firm believer in karma. What comes around goes around.  People who do shitty things will have it come back at them.  John handled himself with such amazing grace and above all......integrity.  His girls are lucky to have him as a coach. I am hoping that the drama has ended and he can get to the task of teaching some really talented young ladies.

I found myself canning this weekend.  First time I have ever done this.  Our neighbor had given us a batch of tomatoes.  The first time I use them for chili.  This time there was so many....and more cucumbers.


He had given me cucumbers with the last batch too.  They end up in the green bin.  We just never ate them. This time around I did not want to waste any of it.  I found a good blog here with instructions on how to do the tomatoes and the pickle instructions came off the pickling spice container.


We ended up with quite a few jars of goodness.  It is definitely an all day task...which makes the Mondays
off nice too after a full day of canning.  I also got really crazy domesticated and made some lemon and vinegar cleaner out of the peels from the juice I used for the jars of tomatoes.  It has to sit for ten days. Hopefully it works.


Today was Shelby's birthday.  Twenty-two.  My how the time has flown by.  Sometimes I feel like my feet have not touch the ground in those twenty two years.


This is her very first photo.  I look at it with so many emotions.  Even so many years later the wounds of what should have been are raw.  They never really heal.  Every once and a while they break open and you have to tend to them.  Usually this happens in private and no one ever really knows that even 22 years later that pain is there, it is real and it hurts like it all happened yesterday.  Thankfully it gets hidden under so many other awesome things.


Her smile and successes.  Her humor and what she brings to the table each day...sheer determination and awesomeness.  I think there are times I have not been a great momma to her.  It wasn't an easy road for me. I was stretched to limits that others would have easily broken under.  I do my best to cut myself some slack because I am human.  Last night I washed her hair while she was in the tub and on purpose I took my time and really thought about the love that is in my hands and thought about it encircling her and keeping her safe and well always.


There was a banner showered with My Little Pony pictures.  (Another day soon I will share a My Little Pony costume I made her for Fan Expo)  She seemed very happy with the banner even though I felt it was a rush job.  She loved her Batman balloon as well.


Cake of course.  Peanut butter cups too.


She wants a new tattoo and has booked a consult.  She has some money in gift certificates to go toward it but we offered to pay the remaining.  I wanted her to have something to open.  A few weeks back she showed me a photo of a mug and said something to the effect of getting that for her birthday would be awesome.  So I decided to copy the mug for her.



Using Sharpie oil based markers I did up two of the design she showed me.

--shhhh

--almost

--now you may speak



So her!!!  Then I found two other ideas.  I bake them for 30 minutes.  I am not sure how they will wash so I think I will hand wash these.  I plan on doing them again and at that point I will maybe do one up and wash the heck out of it in the dishwasher and see what happens.

She was so happy with these.  She honestly had an amazing day.  I am tuckered out.  Far too much going on the last 72 hours.  I am heading to bed with my book!!!