Thursday, February 27, 2014

Finding the good

I have been very distracted lately and not posting here as much as I want to.  I’m still dealing with the drama that has been happening between The Boy, his father and his step-mother and feel a bit like a lion tamer trying to tame lions that haven’t been fed in a while – stressed.  We’re talking about three hard-headed people, none of whom will bend enough to admit they are part of the problem.  Sometimes I just want to knock their heads together and see if one will crack……. a girl can dream……

Anyway, I didn’t come here to whine about that (okay, maybe a little bit); I want to talk about the good things.  Because of what I’m dealing with on that front, I’ve done my best to reduce stress elsewhere in my life.  I unfortunately, dropped out of the online class that I had signed up for because the deadlines of the assignments and tests were a pressure that I just didn’t need.  I still want to watch the lessons though and perhaps learn something.

One thing that I’ve learned this month is that when parts of your life are going to hell, to remember and experience the good things in life.  They never really go away but can sometimes be overshadowed.   Here some good things in my life:

-I finally got up the courage to watch The Walking Dead on Netflix.  I’ve wanted to dive into that show for a while but was afraid that I wouldn’t sleep at night.  It turns out that there’s nothing like binge-watching zombies chowing down on people to make you forget your troubles for a little while.  I’ve watched the first three seasons and eagerly anticipate Season 4 hitting Netflix.

-I’m not a big greeting card buyer but went out and bought my kids Valentine’s cards (and a small treat) to brighten our week.  My kids’ smiles when they got them brightened my day.  I even bought one and mailed it to my SIL, who has been a bright point in my life even if I haven’t been calling her enough lately.  Hopefully she’ll forgive me my quiet period.

-I’ve read a couple of good books lately that I plan to review here in the near future.  Reading is such a wonderful way to escape from life’s troubles for a little while.  It lets you escape to a different world and has a great calming effect on me. 

-I’ve even gotten out a couple times.  I know, shocking!  A couple of weeks ago, a group of us from work and a few others all went out for dinner in honour of a co-worker/friend who is going for surgery to remove a cancerous growth.  His outlook is good (caught quickly) and he has been overwhelmed with the well-wishes that have been coming to him.  It felt good to be a part of that.  We also went, this past Saturday, to The Boy’s girlfriend’s sweet-sixteen party.  Yep, he’s dating an older woman (seven months)!  It was really nice to get out, socialize and feel normal for a while.

-Last weekend when my balcony was clear of snow and ice and completely dry for the first time in a few months, I got out there and cooked on my BBQ.  Oh how I have missed grilled meat! 

-The days are getting longer.  I now leave for work and head home in daylight and boy what a difference it makes.  The good news is that I have managed to get through the darkest part of the year without sinking as low as I did last year.  That is certainly something to be grateful for.

-This past Saturday I put up a post participating in JC Little’s book blog tour.  Anyone who hasn’t already seen it and commented, get on over there!  We are giving away a copy of the book along with some other cool swag.  I’ve never done anything like this before and it has certainly given me something to be excited about.  I’m so glad that I took the plunge and volunteered for it when she put out the call last month because it gave me the nudge I needed to keep at the blog when I might have just wallowed in my misery and let it go.

-No list of good things in my life will ever be complete without my kids.  They can always make me smile and are the light in my life even when things seem their darkest.  Their love lets me know that I’m doing something right

What life lessons have you learned lately?

Mama’s Losin’ It


Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Last Snowman - Review and Giveaway

This is new for me - not the book review part since, as you know, I do love my books.  I have never taken part in a contest though so this is new territory for me.  Please be patient  ;)

When JC Little, also known as The Animated Woman, a super talented, Montreal-based, animator who tells vivid stories with her pictures and animation published a book based on a story originally told on her blog a few years ago, I was thrilled for her.  It is available as an ebook (which actually becomes animated as you flip the pages) or as a paperback.  I was even more thrilled when she put the word out that she wanted to do a blog tour and was looking for volunteers.  "Yes", I said without really knowing what I'm doing!

This is the story of a mother watching her fourteen year old daughter and her younger brother building one last, early-spring snowman that could easily be the last snowman of childhood for this young lady.  It is a touching, sweet story where the story is told as much with JC's expressive style of drawing as with the words on the page.

Any parent who has watched their daughter (or son, for that matter) slide into the teenage years treasures these moments when the child that they were peeks out and that is so perfectly captured here.  I love that this mom stopped to appreciate this moment.  Thank goodness her daughter's camera didn't come out in time or the promise of this rich illustration would never have been made.

I love the last line "I suspect that the Last Snowman is the first of many men who will fall for her".  Don't we all wish this for our beautiful daughters?  Okay, maybe not TOO many men, lol, but you get the picture.

This book would make a perfect gift for any parent or preteen/teen on your list.  We're even coming up on the right time of year for it since a lot of kids will soon be building their last snowman of the season.

Now, I did mention a giveaway, didn't I, so here we go:

Of course, the winner will get a paperback copy of the book.

JC is giving away a special Last Snowman mug from her Zazzle shop

Her featured sponsor for this blog tour, Boiron, a leader in homeopathic medicines will be sending a swag bag with samples of their products.  JC uses their products all the time and highly recommends them  :)

Also, featured sponsor Dot & Lil, creator of bath, beauty and skincare products (also right here in Montreal) has created a special edition Hot Chocolate Swirl soap just for this blog tour.  My lucky winner will also get some of her Shea Rescue Butter.


Does it get any better?  This link gives a little more detail as well as bigger pictures.

If you'd like a chance to win these great prizes, just leave me a comment!  This is open to both Canadian and US residents and a winner will be drawn on March 2.

Good luck friends!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting back in the saddle

I have been completely off the blogging grid for two weeks.  Sorry.

Yep, that's about right….
I have been experiencing a stressful time and have needed a chance to process it.  Things have kind of exploded at my ex's place leading to The Boy ending up with me full time (only for the moment, I hope).  Relations over there have been rather strained lately so I suppose the writing was on the wall. 

I have been struggling with how to handle this subject on my blog.  If I start going into the details and explaining the situation, I could end up bad-mouthing those involved.  Believe me, I'm plenty angry and upset enough with the whole lot of them.  The problem with this is that I would be breaking one of my own rules.  I do NOT bad-mouth the people in my life on this blog.  That's not what it is all about.  The occasional snide comment aimed at a celebrity or public figure is one thing; they are already in the public realm and can take it (some even invite it) but a regular person from my private life?  No.

Let's just say that there is enough blame to go around and leave it at that.

How am I handling it?  I'm angry, upset, stressed and feeling totally helpless.  I have always stayed out of their business over there knowing that sticking my nose in would be stepping on Stinky and his girlfriend's toes.  The fact that our son has been banished to my place, however, makes it my business.  All of a sudden, on the week when the kids are usually in their father's hands and I've been free to do as I please, there has been a teenager, who I am responsible for, underfoot.  Don't get me wrong, I love both of my children with all of my heart and would never turn either of them away but I also enjoy my "alone" time when I can come and go as I please and even walk around the apartment naked if I choose to (get THAT picture out of your head, lol!).  They (Stinky, The GF and The Boy) have taken a path that makes decisions about my life without me having any say in it.  Not one word!

I wrote him a letter telling him how I felt and offering observations on the situation that I hope he has taken into consideration.  I say "I hope" because he has not responded.  I haven't done a face-to-face with him yet because I'm upset enough that I know that I'll end up a big teary, snotty mess and that isn't exactly a "power position" now is it?   I'm basically sitting on pins and needles waiting to see what comes next.     

I've decided to step back from the online course that I started because the pressure of keeping up with that on top of the stress that I'm already experiencing is just too much.  I'm going to try to get back on the horse and at least "audit" it - following along without the pressure of assignments and tests - because I truly am interested.

I'm also going to get back on track with blogging.  This coming Saturday, I'm participating in a book tour for the talented JC Little so I need to move my butt on that one.  Please come visit to see my review.  There will even be prizes! 

Thanks for listening to me complain


Monday, February 3, 2014

You get what you give

Being nice makes you feel nice.

It’s a simple statement but is so true.  The problem here is that so many of us forget this.  We are always in such a rush to do something, be somewhere and see somebody that we forget the simple niceties that make life, well……. nice.  We stop at the store for milk and can’t say what the cashier who served us looked like two minutes after we have left the store because we barely made eye contact.  We have so much else on our minds and, these days, more often than not, have a smart phone in front of our faces so we forget to "be in the moment".

Personally, I never conduct a transaction in a store or bank while talking on my cell phone because I think that is rude so that part isn’t an issue for me.  However, I have been known to conduct my business and walk away, forgetting to say thank you, because I’m so distracted by life.  I’ll only realize afterward that I wasn’t as polite as I should have been.  It seems that I’m so easily distractible that it takes a while for my brain to catch up sometimes.  It could also be a sign of aging too…….  (we won’t go there though).

Lately, I have been conducting an experiment of sorts.  I have been trying to be “in the moment” when I am out and about.  When I stop at the store, the bank or just in Timmies for a hot chocolate I make the conscious effort to smile, say hello, say thank you and wish the person a nice day no matter how much of a hurry I might be in.  With those who I have done business with in the past, I shoot the breeze with them for a moment.  When I get on the bus, I greet the driver with “bonjour” and make sure that I say “merci” as I get off. 

Guess what happens.  You got it; people smile back and wish me a good day too.  No matter how crappy a day I – or they – might be having, this is one moment of light.  A cashier who was looking bored a moment ago now has a smile on her face; a bank teller who was looking frazzled visibly relaxes.  The pleasure centre of my brain take a little hit and my step is lighter as I walk away. 

Every interaction that we have with others, either in person or online, affects us either short or long term.  Our mood can be ruined for the day by one rude person who possibly doesn’t even realize that they are being rude because they are so wrapped up in other things at the time.  On the flipside, one pleasant interaction can change your mood for the better and change your day in a good way.  When somebody is nice to you, you are more likely to be extra-pleasant to the next person who crosses your path.

Perhaps this shouldn't be a little “experiment” but implemented as a full time attitude.