Thursday, January 30, 2014

A childhood pet……. where are they now?

Well, it's Thursday and I'm back at Mama Kat's Writing Prompts.

No filter, just a REALLY old picture!

Since my favourite childhood pet was a cat and I’m now forty-four years old, it’s not too hard to figure out where he is now.   He was an orange cat with an attitude whose name was Rusty.  My parents got him as a kitten when I was a toddler so we grew up together. 

He absolutely loved kids and was always all over me and my friends.  He was, without a doubt, MY cat.  He could always be found at my side no matter what I was doing.  He could often be found next to me while I watched TV, sharing my popcorn (yes, he liked popcorn!) or curled up on my bed. 

He also loved women.  This was back in the day when women used a whole lot of hairspray, practically giving themselves a helmet of hair.  When somebody would visit, he’d get up on the back of the couch where they would be sitting and get so enrapt with seeking their attention that he would actually get his claws caught in their hair.  My mother’s women friends learned to invite him to sit beside them on the couch for his attention seeking.

Where does the attitude come in?  He hated men; all men.  My father was a mechanic and had enough engine crud ground into his hands that they never looked entirely clean.  We think that he learned to associate that nasty smell with men and so the die was cast.  The stairs leading to the basement opened up to the hallway to the kitchen and, when any man visited our house, the cat would crouch down on the second step and lie in wait.  When that man would walk by, he would spring out and attack their legs.   That was always a heart-stopping moment for anybody new!  Needless to say, regular visitors learned to dance a little avoidance-jig when walking down our hall, lol! 

Mama’s Losin’ It


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - Birthday Edition!

This is what 44 looks like - at 7:00 am


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Blood and Bruises to Come

The Boy has joined rugby at school.  This thrills me because I played it in high school too.  Unfortunately, I only played for one year (my last) but at least I got the experience.  This, of course, is one of the roughest sports you can play in school so it should be interesting to see what wounds he comes home with.

He went to his first practice this past Tuesday and came home totally excited.  He likes the coach (a former student) and really enjoyed the scrimmage that they had.  He seems enthusiastic and I hope he continues to feel that way.  He spends far too much time exercising his thumbs with the Xbox; it’s time to move the rest!

I remember the girls’ games were rough enough with plenty of bruises, bloody noses and even some stitches for one poor girl.  Thankfully, I escaped mostly with bruises.  The boys were another story all-together.  For some reason, our school thought that it would be a good idea for the shirts (both boys and girls) to be mostly white with a couple of stripes for the school colours.  What were they thinking?!  The girls’ shirts got pretty stained but the boys’ shirts were works of art.  By half-way through the season, the guys’ shirts had a vast assortment of grass, mud and plenty of blood stains.  They looked like they had been through hell!

So, this is what I have to look forward to this spring; lots of gross laundry and probably plenty of boo boos to kiss better (not that he would EVER let me do that!!)


Yep, pretty much says it all!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Better Times

I was looking at my calendar and realized that we are in the third week of January and I’m feeling pretty damned fine.  This is completely different from a year ago.  Last winter, I was really slammed by the “winter blues” and was feeling pretty low but this year (so far) I haven’t sunk like that.  I know that there are a few reasons for that.

First, I had a really good holiday season.  I started my Christmas shopping early so I was in better shape, financially, by the time the actual holiday came.  I even had some of my bonus left when New Year’s went by (truly amazing!).  I was far more prepared than in previous years so I had less stress and was able to concentrate on enjoying myself.  And enjoy myself I did!  I got to spend time with loved ones and see family that I don’t get to see very often.  There was plenty of good food and wine and laughs to chase the winter blahs away!  I even treated myself to some things that I have wanted for a while.

For the first time in a while, I didn’t ring in the New Year alone.  I joined in a ladies’ night that was a blast!  Again, lots of good food, wine and laughs.  Do you sense a trend here?  Is it possible that spending time with other people is good for me?  Who’d of thunk it!  Looks like I have to plan more things like that…..

Second, as I told you about in my last post, I have signed up for an online course that should challenge my brain and keep me busy through the dark month of February.  I’m looking forward to learning new things and will definitely share some of my new knowledge with you.  It’s nice to have something to be excited about at this time of year rather than just being in hibernation mode with only spring to look forward to.

Something else to look forward to is that I have signed up for a Blog Tour for a book that has been published by the very talented JC Little of The Animated Woman.  That will be happening in a few weeks and there will be a giveaway!  I’ve never done anything like this before and am super-psyched to be doing it.

This brings me to another reason for my lighter mood – this blog.  I made the mistake of stopping for a while there and don’t intend to do that again.  When I stopped blogging, I lost this community.  I still read some blogs but not like I’m doing now and I missed that interaction.  Not every post is a winner but they don’t have to all be winners.  I’m learning how to not only be imperfect but to be comfortable with it.  I have joined a FB group called Bloppy Bloggers, a community of bloggers who support and encourage one another regardless of how big or small each of us is.  This has encouraged me to create a Facebook page for this blog (check out the box on the right side of this page).  I had always hesitated to create one but have taken the plunge.  (this is a not so subtle hint to give me a “like”, lol).
I started writing this post a few days ago.  Last night I was talking to my SIL, both of us all excited about having started the first session of our online course, when she brought up this very subject that I have been writing about here.  She spoke of how much better she feels now compared to last year and how happy she's feeling.  Is it just us or is it something in the air?  Are we perhaps affecting each other?  You know, one of us feels better and it spreads to the other and just keeps going in a circle?  Whatever the answers are, I hope that whatever is happening keeps on happening because I'm liking it!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Expanding my mind

In keeping with my quest for self-improvement, I have taken the plunge by signing up for an online course.  I'm not doing it alone either; I've managed to take DJ Chick (my SIL) along for the ride.  We're both pretty excited about it!

This course is being administered by McGill University and more importantly by Dr. Joe Schwarcz and two of his colleagues at the university.  Dr. Joe has a popular column in The Gazette and a radio show on CJAD on Sunday afternoons.  He also heads the McGill Office for Science and Society where they try to bring science to people in a way that we can all understand (here's their FB page).  Obviously, I'm a bit of a fan  :)

This course is called Food for Thought (here's a story about it).  Basically, it aims to teach us how our bodies use the nutrients that we take in and how our health is impacted by them.  They will use this to help debunk some of the myths and fads that seem to be all around us and give us some good, basic knowledge with which we can judge future "discoveries".  It looks like a really interesting course as well as a little bit challenging (got the schedule last week; hoo boy!).

We have the option of just "auditing" the course, which is following along and learning something new without necessarily submitting assignments and tests, or we can go all the way and earn the certificate.  DJ Chick and I intend to go all the way and put our brains to work!  Of course, the class is free so, if it truly is too hard and stops being fun, we can back away with no loss.

We won't do that though - or perhaps I should only speak for myself - because it's not a true challenge if you let yourself give up.  Who knows, if I have fun with this one, I may go on to look at other similar courses.  You never know where the quest for knowledge will take me next!


Friday, January 17, 2014

A Friday Funny

This is the Dilbert cartoon from January 3.  It tickled my funny bone and is now the wallpaper on my computer screen at work.  I thought you could all use a little Friday laugh

It actually inspired this short post.  I wanted to put up a post yesterday but I've been having back problems all week and have spent as little time sitting at a computer (outside of work) as possible.  We had some very icy conditions here last week and all of that shuffling along that I had to do to keep from falling on my butt did a number on my back that I've been trying to get back under control for days now.

Trust me, spending most of your free time lying down with pillows under your knees is definitely NOT condusive to interesting blog posts. 

That being said, I do have things brewing in my head that won't look like they were written by monkeys on crack (I love that line!!) so you'll hear from me again soon


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

I'm reading…..

I gave into temptation and bought a hard cover book in the after-Christmas sales.  I rarely buy them because, at the rate that I go through books, buying hard cover would become very expensive, very quickly.  Talk about a budget-buster!  However, this was reduced to $15.00 and I’ve been dying to read it.  I’m usually pretty patient when it comes to waiting for the paperback version of a book but, when I saw that price, my patience crumbled.  Of course I’m talking about…… 

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King!   Eeeeee!!

This is the long past-due follow up to The Shining where young Danny Torrence, who now goes by Dan, is an adult dealing with his “gift” of the shining.  He is an alcoholic (like dear old dad), using booze to keep the shining at bay and moving from place to place when he finds a place that fits and manages to go on the wagon.  His life eventually collides with that of a child named Abra ,who has the shining more strongly that anyone he’s ever met, and a dark group called The True Knot who will destroy her if given the chance. 

I haven’t gotten very far into the book yet so can’t honestly give a full review but I can say that I am already hooked.   Any fan of Stephen King will be in fandom bliss over this one!  Mr. King has the ability to grab you right from page one and not let go of your imagination until he’s good and ready to.  There have been books of his that have stayed with me long after I closed the book after the last page was read. 

Now there is one other thing, besides price, that usually keeps me from buying hard cover books – the weight.  That bloody thing weighs a ton and makes my purse feel like a suitcase!  It’s worth it though 

What are you reading?


Sunday, January 12, 2014

Weeknight Yumminess!

We had the most yummy supper the other night.  I pulled out my trusty Crock Pot and filled it up for an easy weeknight meal which makes my life so much easier.  I don’t know about you but, for me, EASY is the key word on weeknights around here.  By the time I get home from work, I’ve been gone for eleven hours, am tired and have two kids to feed (every second week, anyway).   

Here is what I threw in: 

28 ounce can of diced tomatoes 
A little under half of that can filled with water then added milk up to about the two thirds mark 

Use a whisk to mix that up 

A couple of spoons of diced garlic 
Ground black pepper 
A dash of oregano 
A dash of parsley 
I have a Costco sized container of shallots so I diced up a couple of them but regular onion would be fine too 

Mix all of that up and add some boneless chicken thighs (I had about nine or ten) 

Make sure that the chicken is fully immersed and turn that sucker on low for the day! 

When I came home to that drool-worthy aroma, I added some frozen peas and left the cooker on warm to heat them through.  Of course, you can prepare whatever veggie tickles your fancy. 

The chicken came out so tender that we didn’t even need our knives.  My tomato sauce was fairly liquidy so, for those who like it a bit thicker, you can just add less liquid than I did.  I happened to have some naan bread (from the same Costco trip as the shallots) so I served it with the naan to dunk in the sauce.  This would go just as well with some noodles or rice. 

Something like this is so versatile that you can pretty much add any herb or spice you would normally put in your pasta sauce and make it your own. 

Happy cooking! 


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Ten Years

One of the writing prompts from Mama Kat’s writer’s workshop was to post a picture of yourself from ten years ago as well as a current one and describe how you have changed in that time.  I almost didn’t do it.  Why?  Well, first of all I tend to be the one behind the camera, especially back then, so there aren’t a lot of pictures to choose from.  Second, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to revisit that time.  This picture is acually more like a dozen years old but is pretty much as close as I can get.

Ten years ago, I was in the midst of the long, painful end of my marriage.  It was a very dark time for me (okay, for us) when I felt worthless and unloved.  Let’s face it, I was a mess.  We both fought the idea of divorce because, even as the marriage was unravelling, we still had deep feelings that we just couldn’t let go of.  If I’m going to be honest, I have to admit to being terrified of the big post-divorce “unknown” as well.

I have learned a lot about myself since then.   

When I finally made the break and moved into my own apartment, it actually felt good.  The burden of the pain we had been going through was mostly lifted from my shoulders, not living under the same roof anymore.  Also, until then, I had never had my own place before.   I had gone from living with my parents to living with Stinky so had never lived alone before.  Running my own household, my own little spot in the world with no partner to back me up, inspired a kind of pride that I had never felt before. 

I have learned that I am strong and, as much as I would like to have a partner, I don’t NEED one.   

I am learning more about myself and what makes me tick; the experiences and influences that have formed who I am. 

I have learned to let go of the relationships that don’t nurture my soul and treasure the ones that do.  I don’t do “drama” anymore and those who do are kept at arm’s length. 

I have learned to let go of the past and live for the future.  I may not always forgive or forget but have learned how to put the past where it belongs. 

I have learned that I don’t have to be a perfect mother in order to have two smart, beautiful, outgoing and just-plain-likeable kids.  I just have to be there with love, support, discipline and encouragement.  I am enough. 

I have learned not to beat myself up over the small stuff. 

The woman in the second picture is far more confident and accepting of herself.  I think that I like her. 

Mama’s Losin’ It


Monday, January 6, 2014

Changing Attitudes

There are days when I get blog ideas from things that I see in the news and posts from fellow bloggers.  When it's the latter, I always give credit (no plagiarism here!) so here comes some credit:

One lady who I follow is the fabulous Erica Diamond of Women on the Fence.  If you don't already follow her, please go check her out.  I met her a couple of years ago at a tweet-up (yes, she's a Montrealer), found her charming and upbeat, and have followed her blog/Facebook/Twitter/etc. ever since.  She is a Certified Women's Life, Business and Success Coach, blogger, entrepreneur, author, speaker, has a weekly parenting segment on Global, is a brand spokesperson, is married to her best friend and is the mother of two gorgeous boys  (yes, I'm paraphrasing the "about" section of her blog with a couple of gushing additions of my own).

Erica is the first person who will stand up and fight for every woman in her quest to "get off the fence" and follow her passions no matter what they may be.  This is why the Facebook status she posted the other day left me scratching my head:

Even someone as accomplished as Erica can (even temporarily) fall into the trap of thinking that our work in the home is not as important as other goals.  Instead of leaving her first sentence to stand as it was, she qualified it with "sad, but true" as if this perhaps is not quite a worthy resolution.

To be fair, perhaps she just meant this as a funny mocking of her own household skills (I'll bet that is the case) but it still struck a chord with me anyway because of the mission that I have been on lately.  I have been trying hard lately to make my family's food (mostly) from scratch rather than buying it pre-made or doing take-out.  Of course, the holidays kind of shot that to hell but I'm getting back on the wagon now that life is returning to normal.   I have also been trying to streamline my home to make it less cluttered with useless "stuff" and acquire only the things that help me achieve this goal to make our home a more pleasant place to be.  I have been trying to take "domesticated" to heart; not always successfully but I'm a work-in-progress.  Remember my New Year's resolution to embrace my imperfection? I really don't beat myself up if I end up using a jarred pasta sauce one day rather than making it or ordering a pizza when I'm totally wiped out.

This is the message we tend to get:

You make bread for your family instead of buying it?  That's quaint.

You got that new account at work?  That's great; good for you!!

I may be exaggerating a bit but you get the idea.  Society as a whole tends to recognize and commend our accomplishments outside the home at work and in the community but wanting to make our house a "home" for our family just isn't recognized as an accomplishment.  This is a trap mind-set that we all fall into sometimes.  I'm trying very hard to move away from that.  Please don't think that I am only talking about women here; this applies just as much to men.  As a matter of fact, a father who puts a strong emphasis on domestic responsibilites tends to be ridiculed by his single friends who will be his strongest supporters if he plays a good game of hockey or gets that promotion.

Of course, those who place more value on our "outside" work will be the first ones to accuse us of being bad parents; of not "being there" and providing a good home environment for our kids if one of them does something wrong.  This is a double standard in our society that sets us up to be torn down rather than built up.  So many of us do a balancing act of career-family-self that equal support for all of these aspects of our lives would make us all healthier.  There truly needs to be a shift in attitudes here in North America to empower us to concentrate more on our homes and families than on the goals of the workplace.

I should probably leave it at that before this post becomes too ranty (yes, I make up words).

Erica, thank you for showing me enough trust to give me the green light to use your Facebook post.  You truly are an inspiration to all of us looking to "get off the fence" and do what it takes to make our lives what they were meant to be.


Sunday, January 5, 2014


I do have another post in the making at the moment but had to slip this one in.  We have gone a little appliance-crazy here over the holidays, crossing some things off the ever present wish list.

All year, The Girl has been bugging me for an ice cream maker.  It was on her birthday list as well as her Christmas list.  Well, I gave in and got her one for Christmas.  I didn't cheap out on some crappy model that would die on her either; I went for the Cuisinart one.  Only one question though - why the heck did I wait so long to get this?!  We made some strawberry ice cream last week and it was absolutely heavenly!  Of course, I probably spent more on the out-of-season strawberries than I would have spent on a container of store-bought ice cream but that doesn't matter.  It was that good!

Then came the Boxing Day sales…….  that combined with an Amazon gift card that I received for Christmas got me my heart's greatest desire; a KitchenAid stand mixer!!  It arrived in record time and I have been spending this afternoon baking.  I've done peanut butter cookies and chocolate chip cookies and I have homemade bread and meatballs in queue.  I have been wanting one of these things for so long that just seeing it on my counter makes me smile  :)

Am I finished?  No way!  I have finally gotten myself a small chest freezer.  I only have an apartment-size fridge here with a small freezer and it makes me nuts when I can't take advantage of a sale because there isn't enough room in my freezer.  Of course, once I had the freezer, I just had to go shopping for meat to go in it.  I've definitely been having some shopping fun over the holidays!

I think that we can pretty much call my Christmas bonus finished now but I'm starting the New Year with some majorly wished-for appliances, paid bills and a full pantry/fridge/freezer.

Okay, 2014, bring it on; I'm ready!!


Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Here's the prompt that I chose from Mama Kat this week - choose a theme word to live by in 2014 and tell us why you chose it 


I have been spending some time thinking about what I want for 2014.  What would I like to change?  What kind of goal should I set for myself?  I had many half-formed thoughts but was having a hard time nailing down what felt right.  I even took to Google to look for inspirational quotes to see if anything would “speak” to me.  Amazingly enough, one did speak to me and it wasn’t so much something to lift me to new heights but to be more accepting of myself in my own imperfection: 

“Remind yourself that it’s okay not to be perfect” 

How darned simple is that?!  Actually, when you think about it, it’s really not that simple at all.  How many of us spend time beating ourselves up for perceived faults?  You let your kids have too much junk on a day when you came home exhausted, you stumbled on your words during a presentation, your jeans are tighter than you want them to be after the holiday eat-fest that is Christmas…….  I won’t claim to know where men sit in this but we women are so damned hard on ourselves.  We expect ourselves to live up to expectations that aren’t realistic and then criticize ourselves when we don’t reach those goals. 

This year, I want to embrace my imperfection; inside and out!   

I am always the one behind the camera.  I have plenty of pictures of my kids but not many of me with them or, when there is one with me in it, I criticize how I look in it and often will hit “delete”.   So what if there are circles under my eyes or my cheeks are redder (and rounder) than I would like!  My kids see my face every day looking as it does and love me anyway.  It would be sad if they looked through the pictures after I’m gone and don’t have very many to remember me by just because I didn’t feel that I looked perfect. 

Let's start with this one (even after many glasses of wine)

Would I like to lose weight?  Of course.  Do I have the impulse control to go on an all-out self-depriving diet to accomplish this?  Realistically…  I’ve always felt that it is all or nothing as far as food goes and, when I do try to diet, beat myself up when I cave in and eat something I shouldn’t.  This takes me completely off the rails.  The thing that I am slowly coming to realize is that no diet has to be perfect in order to be healthy.  Slipping into the realm of junk here and there is not the end of the world as long as you are also making a lot of healthy choices.  So I am going to try to make good choices most of the time and not worry about those times that the chips call my name. 

I am not a perfect parent and have often put myself through guilt-trips when I felt that I have not lived up to expectations.  There are days when their meals aren't as balanced as they should be.  There are days when my nerves are frayed and I've snapped at them.  Do these things make me a bad mom?  No, they make me a human one and humans are not perfect.  My kids are smart, happy, well-mannered and well-adjusted all without a perfect mom.  That's something to be proud of.

So, this year, I will stand tall and be happy with my imperfect self.  This, my friends, is probably the best stress buster there is.

Mama’s Losin’ It