Tuesday, June 30, 2015

elementary dear watson

Amber graduated from grade 8 last Tuesday. It is hard to believe how time seems to fly by. I remember her starting school. She was so excited leading up to her first day. The back pack had her sold....I think it was Dora.

As John and I walked her to school her mood changed. She looked incredibly sad.  I remember John saying that she looked as though she was walking the green mile.  She never cried...she was close though.

She had taken a special token for those first few weeks.  A picture of Gran.  Once she got into the groove she really loved all that school was.

I didn't feel nostalgic last week.  I think that I am at the point in life where I have settled into watching my girls grow and change and it does not affect me like it use to.  I wonder sometimes if it is because with each step they take toward becoming independent, there is less on my very full caregiver plate.

I took Amber to get her make up done.  It felt nice snagging her away and having some time with her alone.  That does not happen as much as it use to and so I really did enjoy it.

She let me do her hair which was a total shock with that whole my mom isn't really cool stage she is in.  She wanted pictures in her basketball gear.  I love this picture.  It is a I can be a girl and be strong type of picture.  The type of message I hope they all take with them throughout life.  

And then a picture with the heels.

Amber had a fantastic year academically.  She graduated with honors distinction, athletic distinction and citizenship distinction.  As well she received a co-curricular award which is an award that highlights the fact that she was able to achieve excellent grades while being exceptionally involved in extra curricular activities.  We were so happy for her and very proud.

We were reminded during the ceremony, as one of her teachers made a beautiful speech prior to awarding one of her classmates with an award (her mom passed when she was young and the teacher made a point of acknowledging her mom and how proud she would be of her accomplishments), that life is uncertain.  We must live each day well and with love towards others.  There is no room for mean words....conditional love....there are no do overs...so what you do today...what you say to someone today.....this moment, those words, those actions....stay here always.  That sort of thing makes me want to live well...be better.  It was a beautiful moment and it humbled me.

Her and her friend Marissa with a change of footwear ready for their dinner and dance!

Amber has said that she is ready to leave elementary school.  I am sort of happy to be done the whole elementary phase as well....I think again it falls into less being on my plate....as well the public system is not getting better...funding is constantly taken away and the schools suffer and ultimately the children suffer...so I feel like we got out just in time in so many ways.  

She is ready to take on high school.  I think she will do high school well.  I think she will strive to be her best both in the classroom and on the basketball court.  And I know above all else, she will have so much fun getting involved and leaving her mark!  Cheers to you Miss Amber!!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

warning: long ass catch up post

We had a visit from the cutest baby ever a few weeks ago and I had fully intended to blog about it and then a week turned to like five.  John's nephew and his wife brought their sweet Logan in for a visit. My heavens that baby is beyond sweet. I kissed his head way too much.

Well he came to see Shelby after her graduation last week.   My heavens he has changed in those few weeks....he is bigger and so inquisitive.  We strapped him into Shelby's seat belt.  It made it so much easier for her to hold Mr. Squirmy!!!  His smile is infectious.  He is such a little gem!

Parenthood looks good on Christopher and Lee-Ann.  I loved the early times of motherhood but it wasn't easy.  I have weathered the storms of motherhood not many people talk about....the whole loving it and hating it. The exhaustion of it all some days...an exhaustion that knocks you to your knees.  Sometimes feeling jaded by your experiences as a mom.....for me, special needs, little relief and feeling overwhelmed often.  It is lovely but equally hard to be a parent. I hope that they never field these sorts of challenges.......although there is a part of me that knows it is near impossible not to suffer from the blows parenthood throws at you.....not suffer from the impact parenthood has on you as a person, on your marriage....on everything. I feel a pang in my heart at the possibility they will at one point have these challenges. The saving grace is that with all of those possibilities comes a feeling of accomplishment when you do a great job parenting......particularly through adversity.

When I think of motherhood and its impact on my life, I know that I have done it well.  Certainly far from perfectly but I have done a not too shabby job.  The girls are older now and the tide has shifted somewhat to them finding their place in life and living their lives well....I am able to step back somewhat and breath a sigh of relief.  John and I are slowly getting time back that involves just the two of us which is so amazing.  One thing that I think can be hard is still finding a place for each other once you have that time back.  John and I have no issue with enjoying the heck out of "our" time.  We have taken a leap.....we booked an only us trip for the fall.  I am beyond excited at the prospect of him and I alone for 7 days at a very beautiful resort in Mexico.  We have never been away like that.  It will be so rejuvenating for our bodies, souls and minds.  I stress about the cost. There are things that need done around the house....I think to myself that money should stay in savings......but then I take a moment and remind myself how tough our parenting path has been and how much we need this to continue on that path.  I foresee a new bikini in my future and a real great beach hat!!!

Back to that college graduate. Shelby was beautiful on  her special day.

I had her disability counselor send me this message after I took a moment to email her and thank her for all her help over the last few years.  Her help made this special day possible.

I will miss seeing Shelby around the college but I wish her much success!  I will also miss you, you represent a stellar example of supportive parenting- being there so that Shelby could succeed, but backing off enough to allow her to find her own way.

It made me smile and feel proud.  The last few weeks as this special moment had inched closer I had had moments were I had got lost in the thoughts of how much it all has been for me to help her along this path.  How many meetings I have gone to, how many times I have planned to make sure she had the workers in place to toilet her, the planning of transportation, the times when I had to go each day and toilet her when services were not in place and then rush to work.....the weight of realizing how much that put on my shoulders stops me in my tracks. It was often terrible to navigate. Her words make me realize that as a mom you make it all work, you support your children, you push your limits to see their successes happen and you do your best to raise them up to be their best. Above all you must love unconditional.  Then in the end you take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for doing your best.  Then you drink.

Okay kidding.....no drinking.

Well you end up being celebrated on your special day.  Mother's Day.  I wanted to talk about Mother's Day sooner but somehow times slips by way too quickly some days. Mother's Day is one of those days that really is just another day....as Gran often said....she liked the everyday. I am the same way but I won't lie and say it wasn't sweet to have John take me to breakfast at a very cute diner. The Harbour Diner.  Another great little whole in the wall place that was featured on You Gotta Eat Here.

Everything a great little diner should be.  No frills menus.

Crazy old lady wallpaper.

Mismatched tables and chairs.

Little nooks and crannies.  We sat up a few stairs in the front window.

And of course delicious food.

Then when I came home Amber had cleaned the kitchen and did something so sweet....she navigated the dog pooh in the yard to pick a few flowers for me. That honestly made my heart swell.

Later the girls gave me some gifts....one of which was a gift card to Michaels and because it has been so long since Mother's Day I actually spent some of the gift card on this awesome rustic light up arrow....40 % off which was a bonus!

My mom did something so amazingly sweet for my sister and I for Mother's Day. Last year we made a special gift for her. Well all year as she read those each week she wrote and reflected on each one. She did it all up in folders for each of us to enjoy. I actually waited until the Monday after Mother's Day....when I knew I would have no interruptions.  I made a pot of tea and sat down to read them all. It was a beautiful gift. One I will cherish and re-read often.

I had the chalkboard all ready for John when he woke up on Sunday.

There was cake too!!

We were away last weekend for a basketball tournament. I was able to get the coverage I needed for Shelby's care to get away for a break.  It was very nice.  I always love watching the girls play.  I made a point of taking my camera.  I sometimes get stuck on using my phone a lot and there is something nice about pictures from my good camera.

Amber had a good weekend with her teammates.  We had good food and shopping and they played hard.

During one of the games I snapped this photo of John taking with the girls during a quick time out.  I applaud John. I am proud of him.  When the girls were young a lot of it fell onto my shoulders.  It was hard and there were times I was angry at him and resentful that he did not help more.  The thing is that I would do all those younger years over again just as they were because I have been able to witness John become an absolutely amazing father.

I am thankful and appreciate all he does for the girls and for me.  It is hard on him....there are days that he just does not get what being a girl entails and I am sure he feels lost and out numbered often but he handles it well and continues to give his time and love to his daughters.  I think he had a pretty great Father's Day!

I leave you with my idea of gardening, orange juice, yet another banner and a surprise visit!

I use to have gardens everywhere and quite honestly they were far too much work.  As I have gotten older I have really acquired a distaste for dirty finger nails and the very huge possibility that I will in fact kill whatever I plant.  Pots are perfect!!!  They are non committal and they have a very low disappointment rate if I forget to water them.  Pots leave far more time for the important things in life like knitting!!

Speaking of knitting I am working still only on that sock yarn afghan.  Slowly I am moving closer to it being finished.  At first I had thought about going to 500 squares.....I am at I think like 410 but then I thought maybe I should just finish the pile of sock yarn I have.  I am undecided but each time I finish a ball of the yarn I get a real high!!!  A few balls getting smaller and smaller!!!!

Oh right the juice!  Homemade orange juice using the Vitamix!!!

It is so amazing.  You honestly won't want to drink it from a carton again and from what I have been reading lately.....our orange juice isn't as "pure" as companies would lead us to believe!!!  Go have a little look here.

Amber celebrated her 14th birthday back in May.  Honestly hard to believe.  I think of one of my first posts was when Shelby was turning 14 years old.  That was almost 9 years ago!!!

There was the banner.  The times when I doubt doing them.....or rather loathe doing them because I have again left it all until the last minute, usually 2 a.m. of said birthday.....I am reminded on the morning of the birthday why I do it still.

The first thing she did when she woke up.....went to check out the banner.  I think I am screwed....these banners are happening until I am old and gray!!!

There was a surprise from my parents on her birthday.  They showed up unexpectedly.  We were so fortunate to enjoy a few days with them here.  We actually went for breakfast one morning at The Harbour Diner!!!  It was so nice to see them!!!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

nothing like from scratch

The other week my neighbor was having a garage sale and I scored this amazing cake stand for seven bucks.  Deal or what!?!

I have had a bit of an obsession over this cake (icing) recipe I told you about awhile back.  Well with the stand, my obsession has increased and I ventured out to try another recipe.

I ate a piece for lunch.  Oh my lanta.  So amazing!  It reminds me of the homemade cakes Gran use to make for everyone's birthdays.  I love the glass stand.  Nothing says welcome home, relax, have a cup of tea....like a cake siting under a glass lid, on a glass stand, on the counter.  In my opinion anyway.

(a picture from when there was left over chocolate cake last week)

Then the next weekend she had another garage sale and I got this portable cake container for $10.00!!! John said to me.....you never take cakes anywhere...why do you need that?  Well I never did because I never had one of these. 

 I can not wait for the first opportunity to take a cake somewhere.  In fact I may just make a cake and take it to work next week.  I am off tomorrow for Shelby's graduation and I am suppose to be going to a basketball tournament in Syracuse for Amber's team for the weekend, which I was so looking forward to, but the help I had for Shelby's care had to cancel due to a death in the family and now I am waiting to see if I can cover what needs covered somehow.  I may end up eating the whole cake if I don't get things figured out!

I must share a bit of green in such a sugar filled post.  I started making my own green juice.  There are a ton of reasons drinking green juice is a good practice...do a google search and you will find a multitude of sites explaining them all.  Ingredients like cucumber, ginger, lemon, parsley, coconut water, all working to boost you up with amazing health benefits.  

I don't own a juicer and honestly I don't have the space to store one but I stumbled across this!!!  Hell to the no...I can use my Vitamix you say.......to juice?!?  Yes you can!  Awesome pulp free green healthy for your body juice.  Go check out how!!  It takes about a half hour total and you are doing your body a million times of good!  It is a great daily ritual that you won't regret!!!

There has been other blog worthy news....a visit from the cutest baby ever, a birthday, a real nice mother's day, a surprise visit from my mom and dad but for now I leave you with the local swans.  Seven sweet babies.  My sister and I have been keeping an eye each week, incorporating a walk along the water with a doughnut run, to see if any hatching had been going on.  It has been fun to anticipate such beauty.  John and I took Shelby down to see them the one night.  She was able to get her chair pretty close to the edge of the water and snap a few pictures.  I hope you are seeing some of those little beautiful anticipated moments that bring a smile to your face each day.

Monday, May 4, 2015

i am a baker....not a cook

Okay so here is the thing...I am a baker.  Give me a new cookie recipe to try and I am on it with bells and whistles.  Cooking.....mmmm....not so much so.  I think that at one point I liked to cook.  I recall making dinner when I was younger....making dinner at home for my parents when I was a teen.  I recall at one point liking the whole holiday feast preparation.  There definitely was shift to my thoughts on cooking that probably can be narrowed down to having children and the expectation that the mom cooks dinner.....years and years of being responsible daily for feeding your kids is just exhausting.....unless you have a personal chef or eat out all the time.  I have hit my I fucking hate to cook plateau.  Anyway bottom line is I truly loathe cooking.  I do pretty much whatever I can to get out of cooking meals....or cooking meals that require no more then three or four ingredients.  If you can make it in one pot even fucking better.

My lack of enthusiasm for cooking does not mix well with John's eye for picking out a recipe he sees and showing me.  A while back he found a recipe in the LCBO seasonal cookbook.  Well let me tell you, if you decide to look through one of these "seasonal" cookbooks and if you decide to try one of the recipes, well you will need to be high on crack cocaine or three sheets to the wind to actually enjoy making it.  That is why it is in the LCBO cookbook.....they expect you to be drunk.  At least that is what I think...because what sober person would subject themselves to the chaos that is making this recipe.  I have decided a minimum of four shots of tequila will be needed before I make this again.

(A version of the recipe can be found here.  Martha's has a few less ingredients.  In case you want to make something like this.  I suggest you don't though.  Open a can of ravioli and call it a day.  This will allow more time to knit.)

The recipe in the LCBO suck you in by the front cover make you think this is a great recipe for entertaining cookbook version has twenty ingredients.  That's right...t.w.e.n.t.y ingredients. That is a good sixteen more then I like to see in a recipe.  There are nine paragraph size, intense instructional steps to preparing this dish. As well it takes hours to make and the dirty dish fallout is horrific!!

I usually start out feeling good about making it.....I am doing something sweet for John....I know he appreciates it...he sees me meltdown as I make it and thanks me profusely afterward.....but by step four I have lost steam and from that point on I inwardly and outwardly curse the fucking recipe and vow to never make it again.....this time I left a note at the top of it to remind me of this fact.

As well the whole time I am making this recipe that has been printed in the depths of hell, I have to contend with this...

 I must have said, "Max move" fifty plus times the whole time I was cooking this dish.  Honestly...right in front of the fridge.

Now the good thing is that that pan does a ton of meals and can be frozen in containers all ready to go.  The bad thing is that I don't feel like cooking anything for like a week afterward.

We have an away tournament for Amber in a few weeks.  A whole weekend away where I will not have to cook anything for anyone.  I can not wait!!!  

Friday, April 10, 2015

chalk board violation

The last few weeks have been busy.  I finished up a course I was taking.  It started out very badly.  My logging on the first week reading the first two lectures, thinking what the heck have I got myself into and not logging on again for two weeks.  Marc coding.  Thankfully, after getting only 49.5% on my first assignment, it started to make some sense and my assignment marks improved.  I got 91.5% on the exam and ended up with a final grade of 82%.  I am so glad it is done!!!  I am taking a break until September.  It is tough taking courses....even just one.....when your life is full.  I want to continue to focus on my exercise goals over the next few months without a course hanging over my head. This last one kicked my ass.  Working out is changing my body in so many awesome ways.

I have been rocking my fitbit flex.  Clocking step after step and seeing some great progress because of it.  I feel amazing.  There are days I feel like I could tackle the world.  I was kind of not seeing progress until I compared a before picture with a newly taken picture.  Well hello!  I was so stoked by this.  I feel so strong.  I am back running and doing weight resistance....and actually liking it.

It has been years since I have felt this good.  I had a rough time a few years ago and during that time my thyroid went out of whack.  Once the thyroid was under control I think that my body still needed to recover.  Recover from years of doing so much.....pushing myself to the brink both physically and emotionally and I believe that my body needed that time to find balance before I could get back to being active.  I am so grateful every day my body gives me the gift of a strong workout.

Porscha played for provincials back in March.  I never blogged about it.  They went to a gold medal game and came away with silver.  Unfortunately she did not play because a bunch of the girls off of many different teams ended up sick and barfing.  Maybe a food poisoning thing.  It was all she could do to sit on the bench for the game.  I am not sure she would have played even if she was well.

 It has been a tough season for her.  She started out fantastic and then ended up with her ankle injury back in the fall.  It really sidetracked her and by the time she got back on track she saw her playing time dwindle by quite a bit compared to prior to the injury.  Some games she played not even a minute.  One game not at all.  It was frustrating for her....as parents you hate to see it but it is competitive ball and that is how it goes.  I am always in awe of her.  She was unhappy at times but handle it all with grace.  The year wasn't what she had hoped for but she has pushed through the adversity of it and is looking ahead to next season.  She will be playing at a different college in the fall.  She is planning to go away.  There will be a lot of amazing changes for her and hopefully a stronger season playing ball.

Amber's team competed in their home tournament two weeks ago.  They came out of it with a gold medal.  John and his assistant coach did a great job with the girls.  John said it felt like the tide had changed somewhat...that things were starting to click for some players.  It is hard to be a coach and I give John props.  I could not do it.  Telling players over and over what you expect them to do to have them not do it.....the frustration level they must feel as coaches constantly would have me poking my eyes out, rocking in a corner somewhere.  So it was nice to see it coming together and all their hard work as coaches and time volunteered showing some pay off.

John had a double extra great weekend.  Not only did they win gold...it was his birthday.  We did the cake thing.   Homemade icing is his favorite.

I was so happy to have a extended weekend with Easter.  I felt like I accomplished a ton.  First I actually got decorations up!  A far cry from Valentines, that almost seem to go unnoticed in the decoration department.

Oh my chalkboard.  I love it.  So it is like I live with a house full of frat boys.  After I had done this I came home to a little change.  The bunny tail was removed and "male bunny" shiz was going on.  I said how I obviously did not hide the chalk well enough, to which I was told they have a stash of chalk somewhere so they can screw with my chalk art.  It is a good thing they are cute or I would have ate them when they were young.  Now I am sure some people reading this will cringe at the fact that they drew a penis and testicles on the chalkboard in the kitchen...well that is my authentic life.....we fart, we have a messy house 90% of the time and well we draw penis pictures.  I am hopeful they are well rounded young adults but I am still a little on the fence with that one. I won't lie....the chalk penis has me worried a bit!

I found this great idea.  I wasn't sure how I would feel about bunting made just out of paper.  I am a fabric and thread kind of bunting gal but let me tell you I adore it!!!

We had an issue this week with one of the support workers that comes to assist with Shelby's care.  I will share the story another time.  I still am hoping we are wrong and the missing item will resurface but I kinda think there is a greater chance of pigs flying out of my ass.  Talk about feeling suckered.  It knock me on my ass emotionally.  I felt so out of sorts this week.  The worker will no longer be sent into our home, which is good.  Shelby seems to have taken it in stride.  I never want her to feel uncomfortable with her workers.  Thankfully she seems still positive about her other workers.  We know that great workers far outweigh bad workers.

Well I am hoping for the great weather they have called for this weekend.....I am looking forward to it!!!   

Monday, March 23, 2015

loving my fitbit flex

I have been eyeing the Fitbit Flex for quite some time.  I decided to get one.  Well let me tell you I absolutely love this thing.  I have had it for about two weeks and have only taken it off to charge it.

One day I might bite the bullet and get one of these funky covers.  I love them and how they make the band look like a great piece of jewelry.  There are also these great gadgets that slide onto the band that comes with the Fitbit....very cute too.

Okay so back to the Fitbit.

We all know that it is recommended that we take 10,000 steps in a day.  If you think you are taking that many...you might be surprised that unless your making a point of exercising daily.....you are no doubt falling a few thousand steps short of that healthy goal.

I have been challenging myself since the beginning of February.  First I committed to a whole month of purposeful workouts.  Workout clothes had to be on and I had to be doing something everyday. Some days it was just 10 minutes and others days an hour.  Then when March rolled in I began a running challenge.  A ten minute run everyday.  Some days I have just done the ten minutes among my treadmill walk and some days I have surprised myself pushing well into a 20 minute run.  Either way I am moving and once I put my Fitbit Flex on a few weeks ago, I felt such a motivation to push for more steps in my day.  I have added in extra walks with the dog or sometimes a friend and there are days I have pushed way beyond the 10,000 steps.  It honestly is a high.

It also tracks your sleeping patterns.  I sleep well when I get to sleep.  My issue lies more in the fact that I cheat myself often of sleep.  I feel the need to get everything done and some nights I am getting into bed with the possibility of only getting 5 or 6 hours of sleep.  So I use this feature to remind myself that I need to treat my body to a good nights sleep every night.  Nothing is more important then my body getting the sleep it needs to rejuvenate.  I work at trying to get up past 7 hours. Sometimes it is tough.  It is a habit I am working on breaking.....improper sleep.  The Fitbit Flex is definitely helpful in this quest.

The whole moving more has a domino affect...you feel compelled to eat better.  One of my new favorites is rice cakes with peanut butter, Nutella and banana.  I love this combination.  It helps curb my wanna eat a whole bag of cookies sweet tooth.

As well I made these amazing fruit and seed bars from the book Weelicious Lunches by Catherine McCord. They were super easy to make, taste delicious and are jam packed with healthy goodness.

I feel so fantastic finally getting back on track and treating my body well.  These changes....the bad habits I am breaking...it all is paying off.  I am well on my way to some really great fringe benefits that healthy mindfulness creates.  

Were my thumb is was were I was doing my belt up back in January.   I was not wearing my jeans a whole lot back then because they were tight...uncomfortably tight and my belt was on it's second to last set of holes.  A different story now with two months of eating healthier and most of all moving...you really can't have one without the other if you want lasting success!!!!  I love these sort of victories.  They motivate me.  They give me that push I need to get in an extra walk and to remember the bigger picture and that is to bring my body to a place that is balanced and healthy.   

A place were homemade peanut butter cups are okay with tea!!!!

I am sitting here working on an assignment....the last one for the course from hell I am taking and beside me sits a painters drop cloth and black felt.  I have ideas people and it is killing me not to be venturing into elbow deep craftiness.  

One of these kinda of banners a'la Alishaized.......I might forgo the felt and just jump in with a trusty can of black spray paint.  I haven't decided yet.  Plus the possibility of chalk board paint and a homemade reusable bunting along the lines of this one....maybe minus the lace.....not sure I am a fan of that.  And while we are talking painter drop cloths......go now and do a Google search for painters drop cloth diy.....seriously go.  Now click on images.....oh the possibilities for a mere $15.  I am thinking drop cloths might be a new addiction in my crafting world.