Birthday Giveaway!

28 Jul

In one week I will be thirty-one years old.

There will be no big parties but, like last year, there will be a reader giveaway!

To enter, all you need to do is leave me a “birthday wishes” comment!

It’s so simple!

The contest will close at midnight on August 3 and I will have one of my children pull a name on my actual birthday, the 4th.

So…what are you playing for?

A lot!

Last year, on my thirtieth, I gave away a gift certificate to my favourite restaurant, The Sovereign Room. This year, I’m give away a whole bag full of my favourite products!!

A whole bag!

In fact, the bag is one of the products. Observe:

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I love CBC Radio. I grew up listening to CBC and it has introduced me to so many wonderful people, both locally and nation-wide. Of course I am an LU Radio girl, but the CBC is a Canadian institution. If Stephen Harper would leave it alone and stop trying to destroy something so wonderful, the CBC will hopefully be around for generations to come.

Next:

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Scrubbie – I don’t actually know what this is called, but it is essentially a high quality scrubber sponge. You can use it on any surface (counters, bathroom appliances, cupboards, stainless sinks, floors, dishes) with or without soap and it cleans anything. It might not get off, say a rust stain in a stainless steel sink, but anything baked, caked, or otherwise stuck is coming off with this scrubber! You can use it for about a year with regular washes in the dishwasher or washing machine. I started noticing these scrubbers around town at a few locally owned boutiques and bought one on a whim. Then I was hooked and had to buy more. I gave some away at my birthday party last year, I gave some as Christmas gifts, and I even convinced my American cousins to buy some during their last visit! A true marker of getting older is being excited and entranced by a simple scrubber, but there you go.

Next:

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Buncha Farmers Stain Remover – A few years ago, while searching for information about essential oils, I came across a product called Buncha Farmers Stain Remover. Of course the name intrigued me and I wanted to know more! I looked online for Canadian sellers of this product and I checked out all the major chain retailers hoping to find it. My search proved fruitless and I gave up. Then a year ago, I found it in a local boutique and excitedly grabbed it, screeching something like, “I’ve been looking for you all over the place!!” I took it home, tried it, loved it, then went back to the store and bought more! This stain remover is a solid rectangular stick of wax-like consistency and made with a combination of several essential oils. You are to rub the stick on a stain like a crayon, then wash normally. Even the toughest and oldest stains are supposed to come out with minimal effort. I rubbed the stick on all my stained baby clothes (back when I had a baby) and it got rid of them all! Then I – this is the real selling point – rubbed the stick on old blood stains and, within a few washes, the blood was gone! Amazing!

Next:

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Poo-pourri – I heard the name and I was intrigued. Then I found it at a local boutique and bought it. I didn’t know if it was going to work, but dear readers…it does. What you do is spray into the toilet bowl a few times to ensure the water is coated in a thin film of poo-pourri. Then you do your business, flush, and that’s it! The film of poo-pourie on the water acts as a barrier and doesn’t let scent escape. It’s not such a big deal if you’re at home, but it’s a great product for your purse (it comes in travel size) and a much appreciated luxury for when guests are over. I know, I know, everybody poops, it’s natural blah blah blah. I don’t like smelling anybody’s excrement and that’s why I love this product. I’ve tried it out several times (in public washrooms) and now I always carry the travel size in my purse. Just in case! And watch the commercial, it’s hilarious!

Next:

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Painted Stone from Art by: Cat Free – I love Cat’s art because so much of it focuses on trees and rocks. Trees and rocks are two incredibly Canadian elements and it’s ever-present in Cat’s artwork with her bright colours, simple brush strokes, and beautiful designs. I’ve written about Cat here for a previous collaboration and she was generous enough to allow me one of her adorable and quirky painted stones for this particular giveaway. More of Cat’s artwork can, of course, be viewed in her Facebook group.

Next:

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White beaded three strand necklace from H-C Creations Jewelry – Another familiar face: I’ve written about Tara and her jewelry business twice before and I count her work among my favourite. Of course, it’s not all my style, but that’s ok because she has so many difference styles to choose from! The variety of jewelry is vast and plentiful. I get overwhelmed because there are too many choices. I took the choice out of the equation for you by picking an elegant white necklace for this giveaway. If you’d like to see more of what Tara has to offer, please visit her Facebook page. A jewelry making sabbatical will likely be in effect soon as Tara will be giving birth any second…but keep watching her page and I’m sure she’ll start updating when she’s ready to get back into the beads! You’ll also find her (or a helper) at the Westfort Street Fair on August 23rd from 9-5. There’s a good chance she’ll be toting a tiny infant.

Next:

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Turtle Island Painting by Minowewegabow Art (also known as Kevin Belmore) – One day, I saw a man at the Farmer’s Market surrounded by prints. He was hunched over a piece of paper, working meticulously on a painting of blueberries. I said, “That is awesome!” and he said, “Twenty bucks!” I said, “Sold!” I bought it and took it right home; the paint wasn’t even dry yet (he warned me to wait until it dried before framing it). After that, I continued to buy bits and pieces of Kevin’s artwork, including special commissions as gifts, prints for myself, and greetings cards. Kevin has also been kind enough to donate artwork for LU Radio events, as well as this Eating Dirt “event.” He is an amazingly talented artist and an extremely down-to-earth family man. He doesn’t advertise his work on a personal website or Facebook page, but through word-of-mouth he has been able to provide artwork for a huge variety of clientele all over North Western Ontario. You can find Kevin at the Thunder Bay Country market.

I know this grouping seems to be a real mish-mash of products seemingly unrelated. You could actually put them into two categories: art and household cleaning products (haha!). But what really ties these items together is love.

Yes love!

As in, I love all this stuff! I want you to love it too!

Y-art sale finds

26 Jul

Every July, Definitely Superior Art Gallery hosts an art sale combination yard sale in the park. It’s a delightful gathering of artists with an eclectic mix of antiques, vintage clothing, regular yard sale items, and dozens of homemade creations and paintings.

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Jason and I have been going to the sale for years; I love the chance to support local artists and artisans and small business owners. The sale seems to be expanding and there were more artists than in previous years, despite the foggy wet weather this morning.

Take a look at what I found; I’m beyond excited and thrilled!

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An original water colour by local artist Barbara B (couldn’t find a link)

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An awesome owl print by local artist Janna Z

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An adorable collaboration by Janna Z and Kyle Lees

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A cute and simple puzzle key magnet by Eating Dirt regular, Cat Free

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A striking graffiti heart by local spray paint artist Teemu (couldn’t find a link)

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Unfortunately, I can’t remember the artist’s name (I will find out). When I saw this book lamp, I had to get it. I just need a lampshade and it’s all set. She had many different kinds of up-cycled book creations for sale. I wanted everything. (couldn’t find a link)

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A velvet and silk coat, handmade by Tuija, owner of The Craft Collective. This coat is undoubtedly worth a lot more than I paid, thanks to Tuija for the amazing deal!

If you missed it this year, you better put it on your calendar for next year!

Joy On His Face

23 Jul

My brother and I used to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings. I remember cartoons like The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, Garfield and Friends, Tales of the Green Forest, Shining Time Station, and Beetlejuice. Sometimes, just for fun, my brother and I would loudly scream and screech as each new show began. We were young and ridiculously happy and our biggest concern was the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.

I’ve been deliriously happy plenty of times since that particular memory, but somehow adult enjoyment never seems to encapsulate the all-encompassing joy of childhood (provided of course that you had a happy childhood).

One of my favourite things about having kids is experiencing the world through their eyes. I love watching their eyes light up and their faces fill with joy.

My oldest was a very happy baby, but he grew into a more serious toddler and child. He still smiles and laughs a lot, but his good moods just can’t compare to the jubilance we see pour forth from my younger son. Little JP had a rough start to life, with stomach issues and plenty of crying, but once we figured out how to solve those issues, he turned into an incredibly happy child. And he stayed that way.

He has tantrums like any other three year old and he cries when he gets hurt (physically or emotionally) but I’m constantly in awe of this guy’s good natured personality.

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The pure joy present on his face helps see me through the toughest days of parenting.

Red in the Toilet

22 Jul

This morning, RJ approached me and said, “Mom, I don’t want to alarm you, but lately I’ve been seeing lots of toilet paper in the toilet and some of that toilet paper is red.”

Whoops. Forgot to flush. Again.

How old were you when you first discovered the wonderful world of menses?

My mom explained all the mechanics of menstruation to me when I was about ten years old (maybe a little younger) and then gave me a book about it. I knew about it but it wasn’t very real because I’d never actually seen it or experienced it before. The commercials on tv where blue liquid drips on the pads meant nothing to me.

One summer, out camping, my mom and I were in the public restroom brushing our teeth and going pee. We were getting ready to leave and I approached my mom as she was exiting a stall. I caught a glimpse of red in the toilet before she flushed and exclaimed, “Mom, why is the toilet all red?” She was like, “Leah!!” and only then did I clue in: Oohhhhh, this is the period blood she told me about! I immediately felt embarrassed that I didn’t wait to ask my mom until we were out of earshot from the other women in the bathroom.

Obviously none of those bathroom ladies would’ve been shocked about period blood, but many ladies don’t like advertising their time of the month. I don’t feel embarrassed about it anymore though; now I just feel sorry that my mom had to endure a family camping trip while bleeding and cramping. If it had been me (and it was in later years), I would have been miserable.

As I said, I was about ten years old when that all went down. Is there a correct age to talk about this stuff with your children?

It probably depends on the child.

Shortly after JP was born, RJ wanted to know everything about reproduction. He wanted to know all about girl parts and boy parts and how the baby grew and how the baby got out. He wanted to hear his own birth story over and over; his favourite part was when the doctor put him on my chest and he was completely covered in ewie gooey slimy stuff.

Interestingly enough, he’s never asked how the baby actually gets into the uterus in the first place. He probably will soon enough.

Now that he’s seen the tell-tale red toilet paper, I figured there was no reason to make up stories about what it really is. He knows the correct terms for everything so I gave him a little explanation about a period:

“Many ladies have a uterus and that is the place where a baby grows. A baby isn’t always there but the uterus is often getting ready to hold and nurture a baby. It gets itself ready by building up a supply of blood which would be a good environment for a growing baby. But once the blood supply gets too big and there’s no baby cells around, the blood has to leave and the supply starts building up all over again. The blood leaves through the same hole that a baby would come out of and it usually can be seen clearly in the toilet. This happens to most women and it’s totally normal. Do you understand?”

RJ said, “sounds like an interesting procedure, mom!” Then he continued playing his super hero game.

If JP told me the toilet was red, I wouldn’t give him the same explanation. I might say something like, “mommy just had an owie” but realistically, JP probably wouldn’t even notice different coloured toilet water. He is a different kid than RJ and isn’t able to understand the same kinds of things RJ is.

The things I told RJ at age three, I wouldn’t tell JP now because he wouldn’t get it. RJ knew about Fallopian tubes at age three whereas River is just beginning to grasp the concept that babies grow in tummies. He was quite sure my friend Tara was hiding her baby under her shirt, but really it was under her shirt, under her skin, and in her uterus! You have to know what kind of information your child is ready for.

What have you told your kids about babies and periods? Every little detail or a more sanitized version?

Bussing Across Town

18 Jul

I have some lovely friends who live waaaay on the other side town. Looking at a map, my street is at the very top and their streets are at the very bottom. It can sometimes take half an hour to drive the route, depending on traffic. It takes much longer on the city bus and, of course, I am a city bus girl.

Yesterday, the boys and I braved the sweaty weather and the long bus ride to make it across town for a play date. I like to plan my across-town play dates in the afternoon because then we only have to bus one way; Jason can pick us up after he’s done work.

As usual, before we left for the bus stop, I made the boys go pee because, after all, there would be no more toilets until Tara’s house! I had a big back-pack full of snacks, extra clothes, and anything else we could possibly need. Plus we had a bag holding Tara’s baby present (for the, presumably, adorable unborn boy-child).

We arrived at the bus stop at 1:40 and immediately JP said he had to pee. I asked, “are you serious? Or are you just joking?” He assured me he was just joking…but I should’ve known something was up. But he did JUST pee five minutes earlier so I believed that he was joking.

We boarded the bus at 1:45 and our adventure began. Fifteen minutes later, the bus pulled into the terminal (where all the busses meet and people transfer). We didn’t need to switch busses so we stayed put. Five minutes later, we pulled out of the terminal and, almost immediately, JP said, “I have to pee mommy.”

Argh!!

I told him he had to hold it because we were still very far from Tara’s house. He said he could hold it. Ten minutes later, the bus pulled into the mall parking lot and JP looked at me hopefully and said, “The mall has bathrooms!” Indeed he was correct, but I told him there was no way we could make it to the bathroom and back to the bus in time. I said to please keep holding it and he said he would.

The bus pulled away from the mall and JP started holding his crotch: the tell-tale sign that the situation is getting dire. At this point I realized just how bumpy a bus ride can be… Every bump had me convinced JP would let loose all over the bus seat.

We were approaching the City Hall terminal (all the busses meet around City Hall for more transferring opportunities) and I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to have to leave the bus and use the public bathroom inside.

After about five minutes of driving, I explained what we were going to do, put on my back-pack, and grabbed a hand from each boy. RJ was in charge of holding the baby present.

When the bus pulled into City Hall, I ran with the boys to the front of the bus and asked said to the driver, “He has to pee, how much time do we have?!” He said, “Good luck!” Ack! I grabbed a transfer slip and pulled the boys along behind me as I ran towards City Hall.

We got inside and ran to the washroom…and it was full! Ack x 2! I ran over to the security desk and asked the guard if there were any other washrooms. He could see that I was on a frantic flight and said I could use the bathroom behind his desk.

I shuffled JP into the stall, plopped him and the toilet and said, “PEE!”

He peed and we exited the stall, I grabbed two hands, screamed my thank you to the security guard, and practically flew back outside. The bus was still there so I continued flying, dragging the boys behind me. We re-boarded the bus and I breathlessly said thank you to the driver as we made our way back to our original seats.

Phew!

A few people congratulated me on my flawlessly executed pee plan.

The bus pulled away from city hall at 2:30 and I got my map out to make sure we disembarked at the correct street.

Ten minutes later, I pulled the cord and we got off the bus with a final thank you to the driver. We crossed a street and I told the boys to look for a certain address, one that started with the number one.

When I looked at the house numbers, my heart sank. The numbers all started with three. We got off at the wrong stop and we were on the wrong block.

Argh!!

Normally, that wouldn’t have bothered me but the boys were starting to really feel the heat. JP was making a continual high pitched whine/cry noise. Plus, he was walking really slow. It was really hot and the street had very few trees for shade coverage. Every few houses, JP pointed at a house and said, “Tara lives there,” and promptly sat down in the front yard. I kept saying, “We are so close! Keep going buddy!”

I should mention that RJ was being extremely helpful throughout our entire ordeal. He was well behaved on the bus, business-like on our venture into city hall, and very encouraging while walking up the endless street to Tara’s house.

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RJ and I kept a good pace while continually calling to JP and telling him he was doing a great job. It still took us nearly 20 minutes to walk up the street – what a long and sun-baked street!

Finally we made it to Tara’s house. RJ and I exuberantly cheered, though JP kept whining. He stopped whining as soon as he saw Tara’s yard full of toys though.

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In the end, though it was a rather stressful hour and a half, it was worth it. Aside from JP whining and walking slow, both boys were extremely well behaved. Last summer while making a similar cross-city trek, JP kept trying to run into traffic; this was a greatly appreciated improvement.

I had a lovely visit with Tara and the boys had fun jumping in the wading pool, climbing on the play structure, saying hello to the dog, and eating fruit and Popsicles.

We will undoubtedly make the trip again, but with a few minor adjustments. There will be two forced pees prior to leaving for the bus stop and I will remember to get off at the correct street!

There you have it: a day in the life of a mom on the bus!

Tattoos (continued)

15 Jul

Yesterday, I listed some of the comments I’ve received as a visibly tattooed woman.

Thankfully, most people aren’t rude. I’ve seen eyes move over my body with sneered expressions but that’s not as annoying as the people who do think they need to say something out loud. Unfortunately, it’s often the rudeness that makes the most memorable impression.

Some comments I’ve received, plus my responses:

It must be nice to be able to afford tattoos.

Yes, it’s nice. People will use their money for what is important to them. With regards to superfluous non-essentials, we do not have fancy sound systems, brand new furniture, new vehicles, designer clothes/shoes, boats, ATVs, a swimming pool, or exotic vacations. That stuff might be important to other people and that’s fine. We bought tattoos because they are important to us.

Oh, another one?

Yes.

Why would you want to ruin such a cute body?

Well-done tattoos do not ruin bodies, they enhance them. Also, I don’t need random strangers commenting on my body.

Don’t you think you have enough now?

No, but thanks for asking.

You’ll regret it.

Maybe, maybe not. Either way, it’s not something you have to worry about. Also, many non-tattooed people have regrets.

What are you going to do when you’re old and wrinkly?

When I’m old and wrinkly, I’ll be old and wrinkly. I will hopefully lead a life full of love and adventure. I’ll have colourful saggy skin but I doubt it will impact my quality of life.

It’s time to stop wasting money on tattoos.

If it’s a well-done tattoo, it’s not a waste of money. I consider buying cigarettes to be a waste of money but I don’t say that to people I see smoking.

How are you going to be a productive member of society with all those tattoos?

I’m intelligent, educated, responsible, open-minded, and full of joy; I’m already a productive member of society.

What if you want kids someday?

Then I’ll have kids. (Or in present time, “I have kids.”)

What does your husband think of all those tattoos?

If he didn’t like tattoos, we probably wouldn’t be married. Considering we met on a tattoo website, there was no chance of that happening. Also, my husband doesn’t own my body and doesn’t get to tell me what to do.

Or my favourite…

What will you do if your kids want tattoos?

When they turn 18, they can get a tattoo. Why is this even an issue? I will try to impress upon them the importance of keeping their hands and necks and faces free of ink until they’ve decided upon a path, but the rest is fair game.

Honestly, who knows what my kids will do. If they want to rebel and be different from their parents, maybe they’ll swear off all forms of body modification. That will be ok. Maybe they will be covered in ink; that will be ok too.

I started thinking about being a tattooed parent a few days ago while watching this scene play out:

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Ridiculously cute!

My boys were born into a family with tattooed (and pierced) parents. It’s just their reality and most of the time, they never give it a second thought. Having said that, sometimes they play tattoo parlour and talk about the designs they will have when they grow up.

But you know what they haven’t done? They’ve never once expressed concern or curiosity about the tattooed and pierced “freaks” we see around town and on the bus. Different body art and expression is normal to them.

And returning back to the question of, “How are you going to be a productive member of society?” I’d say I’m doing a decent job of raising non-judgmental children who will grow up to value and embrace diversity.

Tattoos

14 Jul

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I love tattoos!

Most people have tattoos nowadays. Or, to be more precise, most people between the ages 18 and 45 have at least one small tattoo.

Obviously, I don’t have researched data to back up that statement, but in my various social circles, the number of tattooed people outnumbers the non-tattooed people. Tattoos are becoming more common-place and it’s no longer shocking to see a bit of ink peeking out from underneath clothing.

Despite tattoos being more common, you’re less likely to see people sporting large pieces that cover a lot of skin. Without getting into the politics or the sociology of it, a person with full sleeves will be perceived and treated differently than a person with one or two pieces of ink. And a woman with lots of tattoos will be treated differently than a man with lots of tattoos.

I am a tattooed person and some of my tattoos are visible most of the time. I don’t know how many there are because some of them kind of blend into others. At best guess, I’d say there are about 15 tattoos scattered around my skin. In my opinion, it doesn’t feel like a lot, but compared to someone with a solitary tattoo, I guess it is a lot.

I’ve wanted tattoos since I was old enough to understand what tattoos were. I got my first tiny tattoo at age 18 and received very positive feedback.

Oh cute tattoo! Adorable! I can’t believe you did it!

When the tattoo collection started growing, the comments started changing:

It must be nice to be able to afford tattoos.

Oh, another one?

Why would you want to ruin such a cute body?

Don’t you think you have enough now?

You’ll regret it.

What are you going to do when you’re old and wrinkly?

It’s time to stop wasting money on tattoos.

How are you going to be a productive member of society with all those tattoos?

What if you want kids someday?

What does your husband think of all those tattoos?

Or my favourite…

What will you do if your kids want tattoos?

Tomorrow I will be addressing this ignorance and sharing a cute photo that started me thinking about these kinds of comments in the first place.

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