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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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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Progress


“When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?”

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, lately, and thanks to WordPress, today I get to write about it.  I haven’t started with BlogHer’s prompts, yet, because WordPress’s have held my attention so far, but there appear to be some good ones coming from BlogHer, since January’s NaBloPoMo theme is ‘Pressure,’ and I feel like that topic can stir some stuff up.

Interestingly enough today, though, I can combine them both and talk about the pressure I’ve created for myself to blog well this year.

When I look back at my blog, this blog, on January 2, 2015, I really hope that I can say I’m proud of whatever I accomplished, regardless of what that is.  I have hopes and dreams for this blog, to be sure.  It’s becoming a baby of mine, in that I want to see it grow and flourish, and I want a base of readers built so that when I go to write my book (probably starting this year, I think I’m ready!!  …. that’s terrifying…), there will be people who want to read and buy it.  What’s the point in writing a book no one will read?

I gain followers with every post that I write, so I figure if I’m writing regularly, this trend in theory should continue.  And ultimately, I work much better under pressure so if I’ve created a little bit of pressure… perhaps I can create a diamond out of my blog?  This has inspired the theme change you may have noticed.  I figured after over 2 years with the same look, it was time for something new.  It may change a few more times in the next day or so… but, you know… New Year, new changes 🙂

 But my biggest hope and goal when I look back in 2015 is that no matter whether I’ve gained 1000 followers, or none, I’m able to smile at the personal reflection that writing lets me do, and that I’m able to smile and say I’ve done well for myself.  My ultimate goal in blogging is to reflect and express, so if I’ve done that, I’m happy 🙂

There’s No Place Like Home


I went home this weekend.  Like… home home.  Home to the town I lived in for 17 years with more cows than people, one stop light, and fields as far as the eyes can see.  I’m from the country, and I like it that way.  Sometimes, part of me yearns to go back.  The school board I work in extends just far enough that I could move back home and only have a 15 minute commute to a town in my board.  But, I own my house here and I love my friends and I like my church, and so as much as I miss home right now for the reasons I’m about to tell you, I am staying where I am…. and I have reasons for that, too.

So here we are:  Reasons I miss home:

1.  If I could live at or near enough to home that I’d be around for dinners with the fam jam and such, the fam jam would likely tend to know what’s up in life, and I therefore wouldn’t have to explain that no, I’m not teaching French anymore; No, I don’t actually live in Sault Ste. Marie (even though I never have and that question was confuuuusing); Yes, I love my job (the switch out of French was voluntary AND welcomed!); Yes, I love owning my own home; No, no, no, no… I’m still not seeing anyone…. Yes, I know I’ll be 29 on Tuesday.  Yup, believe it or not, I’m content.  My family would know me, ideally, or at least better than most of them do now, so I would be able to go beyond small talk at family gatherings and enter into meaningful relationships with the people who are supposed to be close to me.  (I did two Christmas parties in two days with two different sides of the family while I was home this weekend — it’s why I made the trip.  Lots of small talk.)  Now don’t misunderstand me.  I know that only being an hour and a half away, I could make the trip down more often.  Life seems to get in the way and I turn around and my good intentions have made way for “oh, it’s Christmas again already?!  How did that happen!?”

2.  When I moved, I left a lot of solid friends behind.  This is not to say that I don’t dearly love the ones I’ve made since I’ve settled, but it’s hard not to miss the ones you left behind.  They’re great.  I went to the church I grew up in on Sunday morning, and was bombarded with hugs and “I’m so glad to see you!”  I sat between two girls I literally grew up with, and the best part is that it feels like nothing changes.  But there were a few girls who weren’t there… a few who I really wish I’d have been able to see.  If I lived at home, I’d see them all the time.

3.  I miss there being acres between me and the house beside me.  I miss hearing coyotes and crickets at night… though admittedly the coyotes freaked me right out.  They always sounded so close.  I miss being a country kid.  I miss gravel roads.  I miss fields.

4.  Like I said in number 2, I went to the church I grew up in.  And I love that church.  I always have.  And if I lived even half as close… I’d probably make the drive.  An hour and a half is too far when I have community here.  I do like my church here, I really do.  It’s not home, though.  Even though the pastoral staff has changed, it still felt like going home.

Don’t get me wrong, I had reasons for leaving home, too.  Mostly, home couldn’t be home anymore.  My parents sold the house I grew up in and moved up North, and the people who bought it put up uuuuugly fences.  It doesn’t look like home anymore.  Not the home I remember.  You know how your childhood home always holds those memories… and when someone changes the outside, even though they haven’t changed any of the actual memories in my head, it’s hard to look at it the same way.

I love where I am.  I love my community.  I looooove my job.  I mentioned above that I could switch and could move home.  I don’t want to.  I really don’t.  I miss what I left, but what I have is fantastic.  I won’t trade it now.  But after a weekend at home, it’s hard not to wonder what if… ya know?

How I Feel About Endings (a Tribute to my buddy, Jack)


Today is November 30th.  It is the end of NaBloPoMo.

This means that when I wake up tomorrow morning, I will not have to think “I need to think about something to write about.”  It’s the end of the month.

I feel very similar to how I felt at the end of the summer, when I left Camp, went home, and didn’t HAVE to blog anymore.  The thing was, though, the habit had become so engrained after a little more than two months of blogging daily, that when I got home I felt like I was still looking for things to write about.

Today feels very much the same.  I know that when I get up tomorrow morning, I won’t have to think about what I’m going to write about later in the day….. but my reality is that I will likely write something anyway.  I just won’t be able to tag it “NaBloPoMo,” and I suspect greatly that my readership will take a bit of a nose-dive.  I do want to throw out a HUGE thank you, though, to everyone who read with me over this past month while I rambled my heart out onto these ‘pages.’

Endings are something that I’m not totally comfortable with right now.  Spoiler alert:  If you cry easily about dog stories, you may not want to read further.  My Mom has two dogs.  She has for ten years.  That means that I lived with both of them for a long time before I moved out of the house.

Jack and Keisha are brother and sister.  They were born to Jena in our kitchen in Wainfleet.  Jena was the first dog I ever really loved.  Prior to Jena, I’d been more of a cat person.  She broke down that wall in my heart that wouldn’t let slobbery dogs in, and she threw out all the pieces.

When I was in my first year of University, Jena got hit on the highway and was killed.  I sobbed for days.  Like… silent, gigantic tears running down my face the entire way through my first ever university exam, and I came home from it and collapsed in a heap on the floor and bawled… sure that I botched the exam because I couldn’t concentrate and even more sure that I would never get over missing Jena.

That wasn’t true, of course.  I did get over it, as great of a pooch as she was.  But we were left with her 2 month old baby girl — Keisha.  We’d found homes for every other puppy in the litter Jena had, and that left poor baby Keisha with no Mommy.  She’d go out in the yard and just cry, looking around… she did it for days.  When Jena’s life ended, there was sadness that I’d never experienced before.  I’ve never lost a close friend, a parent, or even a grandparent.  So far, my deepest-felt losses in life have been pets.  They really do become family.

A few months later, we got a phone call from one of the families we’d given a puppy to.  Their work situation had changed, and they couldn’t keep Shadow.  They wanted to know if in light of losing Jena, would we like to take Shadow back.  We did.  And we gave him his original name back — we welcomed Jack back into our lives.

It took Keisha a week or so to get over being a jerk to Jack, and they’ve been inseparable for the past 9.5 years.

But now… I have a heavy heart tonight, because Jack’s life is ending.  And this ending SUCKS.  I know he’s ten.  I know he’s ‘just a dog.’  I know he’s been sick for a very long time, and it’s the end that he needs because he’s in so much pain…. he’s being put down on Monday.

And it sucks.

And every time I think about it, I get a little weepy again.  It took a long time to make the decision.  Mom wanted to be sure she’d done everything she could before making the decision, but he’s in so much pain and he hurts all over.

So on Monday morning, I will have to say goodbye to my buddy, Jack.  And it will suck.  It will be so hard.  I don’t like this ending.  This is not a happy ending.  And it’s like Keisha knows.  You see, they’re at my house right now because my parents are down… and Keisha follows him around all over, and snuggles right up beside him for what little sleep he does get.

I am going to miss my buddy….

And that’s how I feel about that ending.

And with that, here’s a picture tribute to my buddy, Jack.

Jack as a baby - November 2003
Jack as a baby – November 2003
baby Jack - November 2003
baby Jack – November 2003
Jack at 6 months -- when we got him back.  2004
Jack at 6 months — when we got him back. 2004
Jack and Keisha... not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.
Jack and Keisha… not yet best buds, but even then Jack was smiling.  I like how the flash made a perfect heart right over his head when I took the picture of a picture frame.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him.  August 2010.
Jack with my baby Kloe sniffing at him. August 2010.
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Jack always likes to be cool… just laying in the snow. This was today.
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Relaxing with Keisha by the Christmas tree (taken yesterday)
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Ohana means family…. and family means nobody gets left behind… or forgotten. In this case, Keisha will be left behind, but I doubt Jack will ever be forgotten, even by her. (taken today)
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The three musketeers. (taken last night)

Weekly Photo Challenge: Let There Be Light!


Let there be light! Many of you already know that the photo in photography means light.  More often than not, though, we shy away from actually showing its source in our photos. In time for the shortest days of the year (at least in the northern hemisphere), let’s give our trusty light bulbs, flickering candles, and pedestrian street lamps their due respect.

We’re entering a truly light-filled season. Christmas trees, Hanukkah menorahs, and Kwanzaa kinaras are spreading their glow in homes the world over (or are just about to), while main streets and public buildings are being prepared for the winter holidays with an explosion of bright decorations.

Take a look around you. Choose one of the light sources you see, and make it the focus of your challenge entry. It can be a dramatic chandelier or a pair of dying candles; the moon, a row of glaring light bulbs in the parking lot, or a gaudy lava lamp stored in your attic: anything goes. The light doesn’t even have to be switched on: some lamps are just as fascinating for their shape as for the photons they emit.

 

The timing on this post could not be more perfect.

My Christmas tree went up this evening.  It’s a lot of work to get an 8′ tree put together… The biggest part of the work behind this tree… my BEAUTIFUL 8′ Martha Stewart Living, pre-lit, rotating tree…. that I got for 15 bucks at an auction ten years ago… is getting all the plugs hooked in together in the right order so that all three sections of the beast actually light up.  I’ve no joke nearly thrown the entire tree over both a 6th and 13th story balcony before… two separate apartments… never have I been more tempted to hulk something over the railings or out into traffic or something….

Anyway…. now that it’s all up and it was a peaceful set-up because my beautiful, dear Mother hooked it all up for me while I prepped the ornaments…. it’s sitting in the living room, it’s the only source of light (other than the television), and it’s letting off this super festive glow.  It’s stunning.  The picture does it no justice, but you can see the glow that the light gives off, which is the point, no?

I won’t say any more.

Check it.

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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.

Dodged Bullets — My Relationship Kevlar


Truth be told, this prompt actually really hits home.

Tell us about a bullet you’re glad you dodged — when something awful almost happened, but didn’t.

I honestly consider every single failed attempt at a relationship to be a bullet dodged.

Do I want to get married?  Yes, of course I do, I’m a nearly 29 year old single woman who’s never really technically been in a relationship at all… of course I want that.

But do I want it at the expense of it actually being good?  Nah, I cherish my independence and freedom too much to give it up for one who’s not worth it.  I’m sure there will be one who is, but until then….

Until then, I’m thankful for every hurt God has spared me from by never allowing anything to take off in the first place.  I’m thankful that every time I’ve earnestly prayed, ‘Lord please help me guard my heart,’ He’s listened.

I’m thankful that I don’t have a string of failed relationships behind me, leaving me with awkward baggage I have to explain when I do find a good one.  I’d so much rather explain why I haven’t been in a relationship than why I’ve been in a series of bad ones.  Truly.

So have I dodged a bullet?  Yup, every time I’ve had the wisdom to walk away from a guy I knew I wouldn’t be good with, I’ve dodged a bullet.  At the same time, every guy who knew we wouldn’t be good together and so he didn’t pursue anything — he dodged a bullet for himself, and let me dodge them too.

It’s like I’ve been wearing Relationship Kevlar.

Does that mean I’ve never been hurt?  Absolutely not.  I’ve been disappointed and let down, my heart has hurt for sure.  But has it been saved in the process from a lot of unnecessary damage?  Yes, I do believe it has.

Playtime (Daily Post)


Do you play in your daily life? What says “playtime” to you?

Do I play?  Yes.  I do.  Play looks like a lot of things to me!  Writing’s one of those things that play also looks like… but I don’t have a picture for it.  Writing, I think, when done well, is a lot of just playing with words.  Thanks for this prompt, WordPress!

I play violin, every day, and I love it.  The fiddle is legit the language of my soul.

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I play with my dog.

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I play board games with my friends when we get together.  But when we can’t get together, I have substitutes on my phone… My Ticket to Ride App gets a lot of use.

photo 2(1)I love to colour… which I realize makes me sound like a little kid, but it’s so much fun!  It’s very relaxing.  I love intricate doodles… and I love to outline everything in permanent marker, then shade it in with crayon.  It looks lovely.  I especially love colouring things that are doodle-style, so just a bunch of loopy, patterned lines where I can colour in patterns.

I love to play volleyball whenever I get a chance.

At the end of the day… I think if you’re not playing some every day… what’s the point?  Just because children play doesn’t mean we need to grow out of it.  The things we play with just need to grow up with us.

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.