Reflections, Resolutions and Wishes for 2016

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goal_plan_wishAs 2015 winds down it is natural that we look back in reflection.

What were our successes?

Where could we have done better?

What changes need to be made moving forward?

This year had many highs and lows for me. Personal gains that sent me soaring followed by struggles that seemed to haunt me and sent me spiraling down rabbit holes of doubt and fear. I suppose that is fairly normal, although as a society we don’t tend to talk about those rabbit holes. Struggles are glossed over. “Give it the ol’ College Try” they say. Or “do your best, that’s all we can ask for.” Another great one is; “you’ve made your bed, now you have to lie in it.”

But is that really the way it works? If you do your best and still don’t “succeed” (get the top mark, land the contract, earn enough, you fill in your own blank), you’re asked why? What went wrong? The emphasis on doing all the right activities, looking a certain way, owning the right toys, is so strong. It is nearly impossible to stem the tide and say “enough!”

I am enough!

I have enough!

I do enough!

This has been my quest for the past six months. Finding my ENOUGH. I was working part time outside the home at a retail job until this June. The environment had become stressful to the point that I dreaded going into work. What demanding customer would I have to acquiesce to today? What unrealistic target would I be expected to meet? What issue would be yet again not dealt with by my manager? The meagre paycheque wasn’t worth the time away from my family and the constant drain on my energy reserves any more. So, I said “enough!” and quit.

That’s right, I said quit. Sometimes, it’s okay to use that word. It’s not another 4-letter word.

I walked away and haven’t looked back!

I took the opportunity to go to Phoenix to meet many women I’d been communicating with online for years. To take a vacation from my Mommy responsibilities and have some fun! Also move further along the journey I’d started earlier in the year of delving into my own psyche a bit. Discovering who I am when I’m not ‘Mom’, or ‘wife’, or ‘PAC volunteer’. It’s a crazy trip at times! From that weekend developed a friendship with one particular person that has been so unexpectedly (and hopefully mutually) satisfying. We are putting our creative heads together and I am super excited to see what can come out of it.

Also from that trip came a) a renewed sense that I was on the right path, and b) the strength to continue to say “enough” when presented with unreasonable (and sometimes down right rude) requests of my time. It’s a funny paradox of the volunteer world that once you say ‘yes’ to one thing it is automatically assumed you’ll continue to say yes to every request made of you. No matter how outrageous! And when you have the gall to say ‘no’ you go from “person of high importance and reliability” to “pariah” quicker than you can say “volunteering my time out of my own good will”!

Um, no thanks!

But that’s not to say the past six months have been easy. Saying ‘no; is one thing, watching as the thing you’ve been building for years is dismantled in seconds is hard. The desire to step back in was great but I managed to resist. Mostly! Saying ‘yes’ to the events that had meaning for me and my family was easy. Running them to be successful was demanding. Hearing people you have learned to respect praise your efforts was so rewarding!

Life since my last paycheque have been tough on the bank balance. Since the age of 18 I’ve been financially independent and secure. Irresponsible money management, house and car purchases, all my years at home with the children and a little thing called the ’08 crash have changed all that. It’s a bit of a hard pill to swallow for both my husband and myself. Thinking of his salary as OUR income. I know, 99% of the married population just said “say what?!” But that was our own little misguided set up that we are working towards correcting. We live in one of the most expensive areas of the country where surviving on one income is next to impossible. Now, to be fair, it was my intention to look for work once the summer was over. And then … well, I liked being home again! When we first started having children my husband and I made the choice that I would stay home with the kids. It was something we wanted to give our children and at the time we could afford to. Eight years later it was apparent that I needed to find part time work. But apart from the particular stressors of that job, I really felt like my main job, my true calling if you will, was not being completed satisfactorily. I was failing my girls! That was harder to take than any disgruntled customer. And made my decision to quit so much easier.

I doubt any of them would say I had failed them as a mother but I guarantee they like the Mom I’ve been able to be the past little while a whole lot better than the one I’d become. They are older now and more independent. Our eldest is old enough to be in charge of walking her younger sisters to and from school and babysitting them when my husband and I want/need to go out. They still need a lot of prompting to get out the door on time with everything they need, but they’ve been making inroads into independency – like packing their own lunches and doing each others hair. Okay, I did have to re-educate the six year old on what constitutes a healthy lunch – granola bar + fruit snack + pudding do not fly with me!

On the subject of healthy meals, I liked planning out our meals again, and I liked actually eating with my family again! While I was working, a lot of my shifts had me away at dinner time so the task of meal prep fell to my husband. Let’s just say there were a lot of pre-prepared meals eaten during that time! He was usually coming home from soccer/ballet/basketball at or after dinner time so ended up having to cook, feed, and then get the girls ready for bed. To his credit, he never complained. He just did it. I’m the one that hated it! We’d started the habit of planning out our weekly meals early on in our marriage so we could get away with one, maybe two trips to the grocery store a week. Knowing what is going to be for dinner every night is one less thing I need to stress about. That equals a “good thing” in my book! But what with work shifts all over the place and three kids in too many activities (totally over programmed, let’s call a spade a spade here), that ritual all but disappeared in my last year at the store. It has been so enjoyable to resurrect it!

Another thing I liked was being available to help with homework. Not my favourite task to be sure but necessary. Our middle daughter has struggled with speech issues since she learned to talk, and these have affected her reading, spelling and comprehension. Not being there to help with her home reading and spelling each night, compounded with the knowledge that, while doing his very best, my husband was just not able to get to it every night, really ate at me. Since September of this year we’ve been working hard to maintain more regular routines around here. Specifically dealing with screen time (TV and computer/devices) and homework time. Taking that regular time every night to review spelling and go over tests has already seen results. While her report card may not have been full of ‘A’s’, she received what we consider to be fair marks. And all ‘G’s’ for work habits which says a lot. And her teacher’s comments were so reassuring. She is clearly learning a lot more in the classroom than just the three R’s!

So what’s in store for me in 2016?

How can I continue to BE ENOUGH?

Finding gainful employment for starters. I am petrified of going back to that life where my husband and I kiss each other in the driveway as he’s getting home and I’m leaving, so a retail job is not on the wish list. Finding something that can keep me balanced at home is now so much more important than a paycheque. Sorry Hon! Where does this leave me? Not too sure. I’ve been trying the working from home thing but it’s a fair bit tougher to sell the types of things I’ve been making than I thought! As I hinted above, I’ve been doing a ton of volunteer work at our school organizing various fundraising events. I’ve discovered that I quite like it! And I’m not half bad at it either! If only it paid!! I love order and pretty things which is what drew me to Interior Design in the first place. I’ve got some education in that field and would love to actually use it! While I may not have read the famous tidying up book, I do own it and have heard enough about it’s philosophies to put it into practice for myself and for others. I’ve clearly got an artistic bent and can colour match just about anything! That’s got to count for something, right?

But in all seriousness, the biggest thing I’m doing right now is planning.

I am planning what will be happening on this website.

I am planning what major projects I’ll be taking on as far as workshops or classes for scrapbookers, card makers, and other paper crafting types.

I am planning my meals for next week. No, seriously! I took this week off (Christmas was like planning two weeks in one, right? I get a holiday from the kitchen, right?) Once New Year’s is over and done with though, reality comes a knocking!

I am planning new health goals, strategies, and targets.

I am planning where and what kinds of jobs to apply for.

I am planning on how we can finally renovate our moldy, slowly falling through the floor master bathroom without bankrupting us.

I am planning for 2016 to be the year of ME. You know, when I finally figure out what the heck I want to be when I grow up. Oh, wait a minute, I’m 42!! Guess it’s time to grow up! LOL!

Want to stick around for the ride? Be on my email list for starters and follow me on my social media sites too. This day and age, that’s where it all happens!

For now though, let’s welcome this new year in with open arms. Let’s enjoy the high we all get with a new, blank slate. Before anything gets written on it, let’s embrace ALL the possibilities. ALL the dreams. ALL the goals. Let’s all practice saying “no” and BEING ENOUGH!

And then we can get to work on cleaning the kitchen.

Here’s to a great year everyone!

PS – As I’ve read through this again and again it has become apparent that my Word for 2016 may need to be ENOUGH. I’ll do more soul searching on this and let you know what I pick soon. Until then … Happy 2016!



Back To School?

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It’s September 6th. My children should  have just completed their first week of Kindergarten (well not really due to a ridiculous gradual entry program – but that’s a rant for another day), Grade 3 and Grade 5.

But they are still home.

Why, you ask? BC is in the midst of a Province wide Teacher’s strike. Again.

It’s a long and complicated story that I won’t get into right now. Suffice it to say they have legitimate beefs with the Provincial Government and I fully support them in their fight for smaller classes, more help in those classes for the myriad of students with developmental, learning and language disorders (both diagnosed and UNdiagnosed!) and a well earned wage increase. Teaching is a job that is not for the faint of heart or short of temper (namely, me!!) I applaud anyone who chooses it as a profession. My mother was a teacher. Both her sisters were teachers. I have 3 sisters-in-law who are teachers and countless friends too. They are ALL awesome and deserve better working conditions, better support both at the school level and the legislative level. I want them to stand strong. Fight the good fight. Show “The Man” (or in this case The Woman – our Premier Christy Clark) that they’re not going to take it any longer!

At least, that is what my brain is saying.

My heart and my “OMG my kids are driving me nuts” part of me is yelling at them to get back to work so I can send my kids back to school!

I have a part time job at a retail store working evening and weekend shifts to accommodate our family value of having me at home with our children while they are small. But I am tired of days that start at 6AM and end at 11PM. I’m tired of getting maybe one or two family meals a week. I’m tired of kissing Greg in the driveway as he comes home and I leave to go to work. I’m tired of missing ballet class viewings, soccer practices, soccer games, basketball games, swimming lessons and home reading. I’m tired of getting barely an hour of “quality time” with my husband at night before we fall exhausted into bed to do it all again the next day. And the next.

Repeat.

This September was supposed to signal the beginning of the end of all that. Once the ridiculously long gradual entry program that is so completely unnecessary  … sorry, got off on a tangent there … Once my 5 year old was at school all day, I was scheduled to switch to day shifts. You know, 9AM – 2PM kind of shifts. The kind that allow me to send my kids off to school with hugs from Mom and then pick them up at the end of the day with more hugs from Mom. The kind that allow me to not only cook healthy, yummy meals but also BE there to eat them with the family. The kind of shifts that allow me to share the after school activity taxi service that most parents run these days. The kind of shifts that allow Greg and I to (gasp) catch up on each other’s days as we chill on the couch once all the kids are put to bed!!

Radical, right?

But all of that glorious domesticity is on hold until our wonderful, well deserving teachers work things out with our perpetually onerous Government Know-It-Alls.

Until then, this is my new reality.

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Home schooling?! Never thought I’d be doing this!

If you need me I’ll be the one hiding in my Craft Cave playing Candy Crush and/or laying on the floor in a fetal position waiting for the melt downs over the latest writing assignment in their work books to die down. Send help! Preferably in the form of wine or coffee. Either will work at this point!!


Blanket-gate 2014

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When I was growing up in England I had a teeny tiny bedroom that I shared with my brother until I was about 6. It had a set of bunk beds – old school ones with the metal bed springs I used to push on at night to bug my brother – and a giant wardrobe. I used to love to hang blankets all around my bed and pretend I was in a cave or a castle or just about anywhere my imagination could take me.

I don’t remember taking down all my blankets into the living room to create a room sized fort. That sort of thing just wasn’t done.

Blanket Fort Continue reading »


Planning

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My husband and I had one of those conversations last night that all couples should have but I’m not convinced ARE having. The “what happens to our children in the event of our deaths” conversation. No, we have no plans to leave this Earthly plane anytime soon! But given my own personal history, this is something important to me. Continue reading »



LOAD213 – Day 6 Do It Now!

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What page have you been putting off? Your wedding? Your child’s 1st birthday? Your own birthday – maybe a big one like your 30th or 40th?
That was the prompt that Lain gave me for today’s LOAD213 page.

At first I wasn’t sure that I had been putting off any pages. I’ve been pretty good at scrapping current photos lately as well as digging into that pile of “memories to be scrapped”. But … there’s always a ‘but’ isn’t there? … I have yet to start Christine’s baby album so that’s where this prompt led me.

And I came up with this.

My sister-in-law Christine threw me a surprise baby shower. What do you get a 3rd time Mom who knows she’s expecting her 3rd girl and therefore already has everything? Frozen meals!! I’m telling you, this was THE BEST gift anyone could have given me!!
I have used these papers in Marley and Paige’s baby albums so am keeping consistent and using them on Christine’s album too. Here are some detail shots.

Found some old Dear Lizzy chipboard stickers in my stash that were perfect for this soft colour palette.

Like the colour of an embellishment but the wording is wrong? No sweat! Just change it!!

Added this one to show you how some of the elements have been attached with pop dots.
Thanks for stopping by. If you’re participating in LOAD213 then I’ll see you on the message boards!