Traditiiiiiiooooon! TRADITION!


(so this title only works if you’ve seen Fiddler on the Roof.  If you haven’t, please stop reading, go watch it, then come back.  Ok I kid… don’t leave, but at the same time, it’s great.)

Alright, so WordPress’s Daily Prompt today is to talk about traditions, and with March Break so close I can taste the freedom, I thought I’d talk about my March Break traditions.

I don’t have tons that are set in stone, but I couldn’t come up with anything else to say tonight rather than to talk about the excitement that will befall me around 3 pm tomorrow.

Every March Break, though, I go do something.  What it is that gets done is never set in stone.  A couple years I’ve gone on vacation, one year I just went to my parents’.  Last year I went to Savannah, Georgia with my Mom.  The year before that I think we went to Niagara Falls — it was the year that March Break was like super hot.  It was fantastic.

This year, however, I’m decorating my kitchen, living room, and mud room.  It’s a huge undertaking.  Lots of paint, new counter tops, some new furniture… epic.  I can’t wait to do before and after pictures!

For now, you can see my colour palette.

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My Writing ‘Voice’


It’s funny, that as I sit here watching The Voice… I’m being asked to write about my writing voice.  Many of you … most of you … have never heard me speak, before.  If you have, though, you know that I write how I speak.

My writer’s voice is not dissimilar to my speaking voice.  Granted, when I write, I tend to throw in a slightly more flowery vocabulary, probably because I have the time to think through what I’m writing and while I do type with great speed, I speak much more quickly.

That said, I’ve had many people comment that after the first time they’ve read something I’ve written, it’s very easy for them to hear me reading it in their heads while they read the pages themselves.  This strikes me kind of like all those memes where something random is written but it’s pasted on a picture of, like, Morgan Freeman… and I don’t know about you, but when I see words written on a picture of the likes of Morgan Freeman, or James Earl Jones… I can’t help but hear them reading it in my head.

Granted, there are tools that help me accomplish this.  I am a huge, huge fan of two major punctuation marks.  The ellipse ….. and the comma.  They accomplish for me the pauses and effects that I use in every day speech.  The ellipse especially, if you’ve been reading my stuff for any length of time, you’ll know I use frequently.

I love my writer’s voice.  That’s probably best since it’s so similar to my every day speaking voice.  The only (small) issue is that given how similar my writing and speaking voices are, I find that when I try to write in a voice other than my own, it’s so deeply engrained that it’s very difficult.  It tends to be why (I feel, anyway) I excel in my own ramblings, and less in fiction.  I struggle to separate myself from individual characters when I try to write fiction.

And there you have it, there’s my writing voice!

This post was written for BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, which, for the month of March, is focused on ‘self.’

5 Things About Me


This feels a lot like those American Idol “5 Things About You in 20 Seconds” dealies.  So… here it goes.

Five Things About Me:

  1. I love music.
  2. I believe in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
  3. I want to write a book.
  4. I speak, read, and write French fluently — and want to add to my language arsenal.
  5. I am addicted to hash tagging and selfies.  #legit.

Keep tuning in in March through BlogHer’s March NaBloPoMo, and you can learn lots more about me!

Also — this took far longer than Idol’s 5 in 20.  I’d have been buzzed out with a giant x for sure!

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The Things I Can/Can’t Live Without


So I’ve dropped the ball.  Another NaBloPoMo started yesterday, and I didn’t figure it out until yesterday at like 11:45 pm and by then I was tired, so I didn’t write.  It hadn’t occurred to me that it was March 1st.  In theory, I should’ve been writing anyway because I did sign up for February’s NaBloPoMo as well, but I guess I dropped the ball on that one, too.  March 2014’s theme is Self.  I actually had a conversation with a good friend tonight about how I don’t like talking about myself with complete strangers — I tend to clam up.  But give me a keyboard?  Watch out.  I realize that in actuality, this means even more strangers read the deep thoughts that spill through my fingers — but that’s just it — they spill much more freely through my fingers than they do from my mouth.  So if you don’t know me very well yet, prepare to learn new things about me through this month’s Self blog.

There’s no prompt for today, so I guess I’m left to my own devices right now.

But I was struck with an original thought this morning!  Sometimes I have those.  I was sitting in church listening mostly intently to the sermon (I could summarize it for you, I was listening, but it’s about to sound like I wasn’t).  I was sitting with a dear friend, her husband, and her three girls.  After the younger two had disappeared off to Junior Church, it was us three adults, and my friend’s 9 year old, who was scribbling furiously in a notebook she’d brought with her.  Curious, I glanced over.  I noticed a couple of things.  Firstly, I noticed how neat her printing is.  She’s a Grade 4 teacher’s dream.  Lovely penmanship on that girl.

But then I saw what she was writing.  She was writing lists of things she can and can’t live without.  At that point, I stopped being so snoopy and I let the girl write.  Her Momma peeked at some of them, and shared some of them, but I turned my attention back to the sermon and tried not to let the now-mulling blog post inspiration (gleaned from a 9 year old… maybe she’s 10… anyway) distract me from the deep meaning that was in this morning’s message.

But now that I’ve had the afternoon to think this through, please enjoy getting to know me by experiencing the top ten things I can and can’t live without.

I Can Not live without (only a couple of them are in order — for example, Jesus is definitely number 1, but peanut butter isn’t the second most important thing in my life):

  1. Jesus
  2. Peanut Butter
  3. The Bible – every inerrant word of it.
  4. Music — all of it.  Mostly the fiddle though.  And country.  And…. ok Music.
  5. My fam jam.
  6. My dear, dear friends.  The ones right here in my city, the ones I only see at Camp, the ones I left in Niagara when I moved away from home, the ones all over, and that random one in Wasaga Beach whom I think I’d miss even if I’d never met her 😛  You know who you are.
  7. The dog.  This face.
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  8. Carbs.  It’s been a proven fact.  Science! :p
  9. My cognitive ability to express myself through the written word — even if it comes at the expense of my willingness to be verbally expressive.  Oh, and books.  This has to go here or I’ll go over ten… and I know I make the rules, but top 11 lists are just bizarre.
  10. Facebook.  Legit — think I’d perish.  Social media in general.  Maybe this is bad?  I dunno.  I refuse to buy into that.  Probs my phone, too… let’s be real.
  11. I caved.  Had to go to 11 anyway.  Disregard the rant in 9.  Movies.  They can’t go away.

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And now, before I snooze, the 10 things I most definitely CAN live without:

  1. Mean peeps, and general awko taco situations.
  2. Snow.  All of it.  Be gone.  (except on December 24-25)
  3. My slow metabolism and the resulting occasional bout of low self-esteem.
  4. Math (this probably isn’t true, though it’d be fun to try)
  5. Report Cards.  Gosh.  You’d think as a writer I’d hate these less, but… not true.  Loathsome things, they are.
  6. Going to the dentist.
  7. The sense of entitlement that is so prevalent in many of the kiddos I teach right now.  Note:  I am not saying I can live without the kiddos.  I love them.  They just need to understand that they don’t just deserve stuff… not just because.
  8. Staff Meetings.
  9. Car and House Maintenance — things need to quit breaking.  For real.
  10. Bathing Suit shopping.

 

Get ready to learn lots about me this month!  It’s gonna happen!

Explaining Blogging to an Alien


Most nights, I get home, and my brain is full of stuff I have a hard time sorting through.  As I’ve developed my craft, as I am beginning to refer to it, I’ve found that it’s so cathartic to sit down and spill my guts onto the computer screen.

It feels impersonal — it feels like no one will know that these are the thoughts in my head.  I don’t know why it feels this way, because I know many people who read my randomly spilled out thoughts… including my parents and grandparents.

To be truthful, I’m not very open when I speak.  I like to keep many things closed up and not let them out, but I’ll be totally honest when I say that sometimes it was starting to feel like that was killing me.

A little over a couple years ago now, I went to lunch after church with a dear friend, and began relaying the story of a hysterically AWFUL date.  I mean… I didn’t think it would ever be topped.  It now has been, and that story is so sad that it’s funny.  But… as she listened to me spill my guts, she summed up her thoughts by ending with “hun… you need to write this stuff down.  People will read this.”

She was right.  People have been reading it.  I have 499 followers.  Isn’t that nuts?  And it gives me all these chances to just pour my heart out in a spot that feels safe, even though technically, anyone on the internet can read it if they want to…

Even when I’m just following a prompt… like this one that I’m following today… dropping words onto a page still feels like it expresses anything I need to express that day.  I somehow find a way to tie a seemingly disconnected prompt into what I need to get out.  And it’s wonderful.

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This post was written in response to a BlogHer prompt, which asked writers to explain what Blogging is to an Alien who was visiting and wanted to understand it…. without ever using the word Blog.  I guess I used it in this little description… but… there you have it.  That’s why I blog.

 

I’m the Worst Blogger EVER


So this is a NaBloPoMo Month… and I haven’t written a single thing in just over a week….

Except, you know, the 30+ solid hours I’ve spent writing report cards (that’s a rough estimate… I lost count somewhere over the weekend).  I had reservations about starting a NaBloPoMo in January, knowing that report cards would do me in…. but I thought nah, I can pull this off.

Well, I’ll be back in full force tomorrow, because I’m happy to announce that as of 7:30 pm EST this evening, I finished writing my report cards!!

Hopefully tomorrow’s prompts are fantastic, because my brain is officially fried.

Anyway…. I’ll be back.

To Be Continued…


“Get our mouths watering with a description of your favorite dish, but make us wait for the recipe.”

That’s one of the several options for WordPress’s Weekly Writing Challenge this week.  I haven’t done one of these in a while, but this topic grabbed my attention.  Mostly… I’m excited because I tried a new recipe tonight and it was delicious, and I will make it again and again, I’m sure.  Easy enough to look up how to make it… but with a twist.

So I made Spaghetti Squash.  I’ve never made it before, and I loved it.

It’s a pretty simple concept, really:  Replace your pasta with a vegetable if you don’t want the carbs that convert to sugar that convert to fat, which I don’t.

Here’s a link to a blog post with pretty similar instructions to mine, but this blogger took much better pictures as she went along, so if you need the visuals, here ya go 🙂

Step 1:  Buy a spaghetti squash.  If you’re like me, and you’re totally useless in the kitchen and by extension, in the grocery store, you’ll want to take a friend with you to show you how to pick out a ripe one.

Step 2:  Cut spaghetti squash in half.  This may actually be the most challenging part.  Use a good, strong knife.

Step 3:  Scoop all the seeds and stringy-ness out.  Like you’re gutting a pumpkin to carve it.  Side note:  Has anyone ever toasted the seeds of a spaghetti squash?  I had no idea its innards looked like those of a pumpkin.

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Step 4:  In a large-ish, glass baking dish, put a couple inches of water in the bottom, and place your spaghetti squash on the bottom so it looks like you have two yellow domes sticking out of your dish.  The part you just cleaned out should be on the bottom.

Step 5:  Put in an oven preheated to 350 for 45 minutes.

Step 6:  Remove from oven.  Take a fork, and shred all the spaghetti-like but totally vegetable goodness out of the shell of the squash.  Careful!  The baking dish as well as both halves of the squash are VERY hot.

Step 7:  Serve with your favourite pasta sauce, here’s what I did for mine.

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*Note:  Even though it’s all vegetables (and I added some meatballs), it’s deceptively filling.  I will never presume that I can eat half of a squash on my own again.  I champed it, but I was full.  I either need to buy a smaller squash, or split it into three meals.  I think without the meatballs I’d have been fine, though.  Who knows?  Maybe my portion sizing is way out of whack.  I don’t care, it was all I was eating.

Sauce.

Step 1:  Buy a can of crushed tomatoes.  Not spaghetti sauce.  I’m trying to ditch sugar, here, and this is one of many good places to cut it out.

Step 2:  heat over LOW heat.  Make sure you either cover your pot or stir constantly.  I forgot this step, and had to scrub crushed tomato sauce off my cupboards when I was finished.

Step 3:  Add the most delicious blend of spices I’ve ever concocted…. that I’m not going to tell you about.

There’s your cliffhanger.

To be continued.

Procrastination…


I am a professional procrastinator.  Legit.

Today’s BlogHer Prompt asks us …. “Do you have a tendency to procrastinate, or do you like checking things off your to-do list?”

I procrastinate my procrastination.  Earlier this evening, I decided I wanted to play Mario Brothers on my Wii instead of blog.  But there were no batteries that were alive in my Wii controllers… so I played a game on Facebook for an hour.

I work considerably better under pressure….. or at least, I have been professionally convincing myself of this since…. about the 6th grade.  Once I figured out that I was conveniently intelligent enough that I didn’t technically have to work that hard for my grades, my work ethic was flushed down the toilet.  It got worse in high school.

And trust me, it got worse in University.

I don’t think I knew how to study before University.  But I got there, and all by doing my homework on the bus on my way to school or sitting in front of my locker before the bell rang (I lived a ways away from my high school… the buses did two runs… we were first run.  I was always at school early).  To be perfectly honest with you, I have no idea how my Grade 10 math teacher read ANY of my homework.  If you’ve ever tried to ‘show your work’ while on a big yellow school bus on back roads, you’ll know that nothing gets written legibly.  Sorry, teach.  I don’t even remember her name… was high school that long ago??  Gosh.

All this to say… I procrastinate.  I still do it, though I’ve gotten moderately more responsible.  I can remember the paper I wrote for my History of the American Revolution class in 3rd year of University on the Causes of the American Revolution…. I had a presentation from 9-10 pm on Tuesday, the paper was due at 10 am Wednesday.  I finished the presentation, then since I commuted to Uni, I had a 30 minute drive home to start working on this 10-15 page paper that I hadn’t even thought about yet.  I got to the parking lot, and my car wouldn’t start.  I fought with it, pleaded with God, called my Dad in tears… everything… I needed to go get started on this paper!  Had not occurred to me that I could have started two weeks prior…. well, it’d occurred to me… but… Facebook had JUST become popular, and, well, there were notes to write and surveys to post, and people to poke.  Trust me.  Not a good scene.  (and very little has changed)

Anyway, finally got the car started.  I left the school parking lot, determined that I was going to drive at a sane rate of speed toward my bedroom and my computer, and get.  to.  work.

Worst snow I’d ever driven in… started five minutes out of the parking lot.  My thirty minute drive took seventy minutes.  It took me an hour and ten minutes to get home, because it had been icy and foggy, and then it started snowing.  Underneath the growing piles of as-of-yet not plowed, not sanded, not salted snow… was a substantial layer of ice… and as the snow blew in my headlights, the fog rolled in off of the empty fields.  I drove home very slowly, arriving home at 11:30 pm.

I booted up my computer and started researching and writing.

I don’t know if my fingers have ever typed that quickly.  I don’t remember the stretch of time between 3 and 6 am, but I obviously wrote like my life (or teacher’s college acceptance) depended on it.

I hit print at 6:15 am, and, knowing I didn’t have to be at school until 10, I decided to go to bed until 8:30 am.

I unburied my car (remember how much it had snowed the night before), and… you guessed it… it wouldn’t start.  You can’t imagine the measure of panic (well maybe you can) at the idea that I literally stayed up all night long to write this paper… and I thought it was brilliantly done at that (even though I didn’t remember a straight three hour chunk of writing)… only to not be able to go dump it in the drop box in the History department.

More tears.

Not being able to get the car to start at all, I called our lovely next door neighbour (my parents were away somewhere, I forget where), and begged Jennifer, bless her heart, to drive me to school.  She was happy to do so, thankfully!  I dropped the paper off, on time, explained to my TA that my car wouldn’t start and I’d been driven in by a neighbour so I couldn’t stay, but here was my paper… went home, and slept off the panic.

After reading this story, you’d think that this would be the turning point in my life where I’d decide that in the future, especially in fourth year when my papers had to be 20 pages long each, and they were all inevitably due in the same week because no one in the history department ever conferred with each other… you’d think that I’d decide that this was the end and that I should plan things out in advance.

Well, I started planning a LITTLE bit more efficiently.  I adopted the ‘to-do’ list… and eventually started to use it.  But it took until my first set of report cards before it really had to happen.  And even then, they still get left to the last minute because otherwise I’m not motivated what.so.ever.

I do create a list so I know what sections I have left to finish, but am I a ‘put my marks in in December as I finish them’ kinda gal?  Absolutely not, and I doubt I ever will be.

So to answer the question… do I prefer procrastination or check lists?  I’d like to think that I prefer the check list… but if history shows anything at all, it shows that I completely prefer procrastination, and that I will only get on board with the check list at the last minute, when it really matters, because it’s do or die.

**Disclaimer:  To be clear, I do think that post-secondary education is an incredibly invaluable experience, and while I found most of it fairly easy to tackle, I can appreciate the struggle that many have as I’ve struggled in other areas.  And to any University students reading this, thinking “hey, I knew procrastinating was fine!” I’d like to throw out my biggest regret:  Slacking left me without the skills I needed when it really counted.  By the end of third year and by fourth year of my degree, when my marks counted the most for teacher’s college, I was so overwhelmed by my workload because I’d never learned how to manage my time, that I was in a constant state of either panic or stress, and it took years to learn how to combat that.  I still fight those habits.  I didn’t get into the school I wanted to for teacher’s college, and it cost me thousands more dollars than I wanted to spend, because I had to move away from home and pay rent and buy my own food.  Everywhere I’ve been has led me to where I am now, and so that’s ok because I’m happy where I am, but I honestly think that had I learned the skills necessary to avoid having to do everything all at once, I’d have saved a lot of tears and frustration.

The Last Thing I Hid


I’m so glad that BlogHer’s prompt today is one I can write easily.  NaBloPoMo is coming to a close in three days.  I will be happy to continue blogging daily very regularly, but the lack of pressure to HAVE to crank something out daily will be welcomed.

Anyway — BlogHer wants to know what the last thing I hid was.  That’s an easy one.

I was on the phone with my Mom yesterday afternoon when she reminded me that she and my Step Dad will be arriving late tonight to stay for a few days.  I wasn’t at home while we were on the phone.  In fact, I was sitting in the Shopper’s Drug Mart parking lot, waiting to go in looking for someone’s Christmas present.

When I got home, I looked around my kitchen and realized that because I’ve been pro-active with my Christmas shopping, I subsequently had both my Mom’s and Step-Dad’s Christmas presents just laying on the kitchen table.  (I’ve been trying to avoid getting trapped in malls and stores when they’re painfully busy — no Black Friday shopping for this girl!  I’d curl up into the fetal position and cry like a baby.)

So I hid them.

I will not reveal my hiding place, cuz my Mom and Step Dad both read this blog fairly regularly… not that I think they’d go snooping or anything… but that’s the last thing I hid.

Have you started Christmas Shopping yet?  Over at Olive To Run, there’s a debate waging about whether to decorate before or after Thanksgiving — being Canadian, Thanksgiving’s been over for a month and a half, but I’m happy to announce that I will be putting up my decorations tomorrow after school/work (they’re the same thing for us teachers, no?  Doesn’t feel less weird to say ‘after school’ to a bunch of adults, though).  It’s tradition to decorate with my Mom, and with her here, I am so stoked.

Skinny Jeans and my very first friend.


Some nights I feel like the prompts to write with are icky, and I don’t want to write anything about them, nor do I feel like I have anything to say.  Some nights I’ve wandered off the ‘prompt’ path and I’ve written my own stuff.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that; I’m not trying to justify myself to any of you.  Today though (well, and yesterday), the prompts were great!  So I’ve chosen to tackle two of them.  Both are BlogHer NaBloPoMo prompts, not WordPress prompts… which is also a bit of a new thing for me.  Today I will be writing today’s and yesterday’s BlogHer prompts.

Today’s asks us to “Describe an outfit that makes you feel good. (It can be from any period of your life.) Double points if you post a picture of yourself in the outfit.”  I chose….. a very current outfit.  I may or may not have bought it on Saturday.  You see, at the moment, I am a plus-sized woman.  I have been most of my adult life.  There was a brief stint in there where I wasn’t, but even then, I still felt like I was too… um… solid…….. to pull off skinny jeans.  In my opinion, they were named ‘skinny’ jeans for a reason.  Then I see girls in skinny jeans and boots, and not all of them are super skinny, and that’s completely ok, and they all look really good!  It’s a really classy look!

I tried to buy skinny jeans once before.  In the spring, I was in Wal Mart looking for dress pants and came home instead with a pair of aqua blue skinny jeans.  Well, they don’t fit great (not sure what I was expecting, shopping at Wal-Mart), and it’s hard to match clothes with them…. shocker…. so I don’t wear them very often at all, and I should probably give them away.

I gave into the sad fact this week that I am in fact a plus-sized gal once again.  I haven’t been for about three years, but the style of clothes I’ve been wearing those past three years are simply not looking nice on me at present.  While I don’t plan to remain a plus-sized gal, because I miss my size 10 and 12 jeans, I think there’s something to be said for dressing for the size that you are instead of what you want to look like or where you hope to get.  As a result of this acceptance…. I walked into Pennington’s for the first time in three years.  For those of you who aren’t lucky enough to live in the glorious land of Canada, Pennington’s is a plus-sized women’s clothing store.  Check them out.  Apparently they ship to the US, so…. shop happy.  Warning:  it isn’t cheap.  To be fair, though, cheap clothing never lasts very long, and I find especially with plus-sized clothing, if it’s cheaply made, it fits terribly.  At this point, I was willing to pay full price for something I could feel good in.  Though… I only technically paid full price for the jeans (I got two pairs… skinny jeggings are my new favourite thing….).  The tops I bought were all on sale, and the amazing wide-calf boots were 50% off.

I found my search was completed in the skinny jeans/high-heeled boot/long, flowy top combination.  I feel amazing in this outfit, and even though I weigh a solid 50 pounds more than I’d like to (or more), I feel like I look good in this.  If you disagree, feel free to keep that to yourself, as I will not be approving your comment 😉

Apparently I get bonus points for posting a picture…. what can I use my bonus points toward??

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My First Friend

The other prompt that I thought I should cover is today’s.  Write about my first friend.  For her privacy, we’ll call her Jenny.

I lived across the street from Jenny for a long time.  We were in Junior and Senior Kindergarten together, as well as Grade 1.  We played all the time.  ALL.  THE.  TIME.  We got in trouble together a few times, too…. especially the time we took off without telling our Moms where we went so we could go to the roof of a friend’s apartment building and try to save what we thought was a pregnant, dead frog…. we didn’t realize at the time that frogs lay eggs, not give birth, and so the pregnant-looking tummy was actually postmortem bloat, not pregnancy.  Nevertheless, we tried our hardest to save those baby frogs inside that tummy with tongue depressors.  In hindsight, I am SO GLAD we heard our Moms looking for us before we pressed on that postmortem bloat too hard………

After Grade 1, my parents informed me that we were moving.  25 minutes away from Jenny, into the country.  Where it stunk.  Really badly.  I cried for weeks.  We moved in and settled, and I cried for a few more weeks.  Sure, our parents would drive us to see each other every once in a while, but nothing compared to living across the street from each other.

Through elementary school, we still hung out as often as our parents would drive us to see each other… we’d spend March Breaks and weekends at each others’ houses.  We made the best of it.  By junior high, we’d spend hours and hours on the phone, just catching up on life.

By high school though, we were different people.  We had different sets of friends and we got busy lives.  We drifted apart.  We’re friends on Facebook now, and when we run into each other it’s great to catch up.  It doesn’t happen very often since I moved an hour and a half away from home, but still.

I think our first friend is a really important person in our lives.  They help teach us how to love someone other than our family.  The saying friends are family you choose for yourself is a really valid one, I think.  Even though Jenny and I are no longer close by any stretch, I would like to think that the years I spent being friends with her have helped shape me into who I am today.