Tuesday, November 25

Blink and it's Moving Day!

I cannot believe that it was a month prior to move the last time I posted.  We close on the new house on Friday so house limbo is definitely near the end.  Since we're paying the moving company to pack, it's not too crazy but there are things we want to take care of ourselves.  It's a little surreal.

Let's see...

  • My in laws have decided to help us with the move.  While I appreciate the help and love them dearly, I'm not sure it's a good thing for them to be around me while I'm feeling my most flustered and least able to answer questions.  
  • They arrive at noon on moving day so my parents are going to pick them up.  Somehow this makes both sets of parents feel useful while they go for lunch.
  • I'm not going to be able to find anything for quite some time because they aren't helping us move so much as they are helping us unpack.  So I'm not going to know what's in most boxes because someone else packed it and I'm not going to know where anything went because my in laws emptied them.  
  • It's just stuff, right?
  • Right?
  • And we did pack the "fun drawer" already so I shouldn't end up with too many embarrassing moments.
  • Maybe.
  • Gosh I miss sewing.  I have this mostly empty sewing room and a few boxes of fabric, but it's not really a good use of my time to sew.
  • That said, I made an exceedingly short elastic waist band circle skirt (say short enough for at home with Mr. Lina and select night time locations with opaque tights).
  • Probably the least amount of effort you can put into a skirt (circle, elastic, rolled hem foot for the hem).  I didn't even measure the waist so the circle ended up too big to fit into the elastic and required a few pleats.   That said, I've worn it to see Peter Hook & the Light (bass player for Joy Division and New Order) and a few date nights.  Good for dates, not so good for wind tunnels.
  • I've also attached buttons to a few shirts, mending that has sat for a while is just getting done.  
  • Isn't it always the way that we want to do what we shouldn't be doing?
So Friday we pick up the keys.  Saturday and Sunday we'll paint two rooms and move a few things ourselves (essentials, alcohol, plants, instruments, camera equipment etc).  Monday I have to give a half day training session for a client in their office (which is closer to my new house but still a 40 minute drive) and then I'm off Tues-Thurs for the packing/moving/unpacking extravaganza.  I figure by Friday I'll be ready to leave the insanity for a day and go to work.  Eeep!

Tuesday, November 4

One Month To Go

We have one month to go before we move.  We take possession of the new house Nov 28th, but it's Dec 3rd that the move is happening.  So one month from today I'll be unpacking.

There are pro's and con's to a long closing date when buying a house.

Pro's
  • Obviously, time.
    • Paperwork - lawyers, mortgage
    • Packing
    • Planning the move
  • Ability to live a little prior to leaving.  We're still hosting house concerts, Thanksgiving dinner, having friends over.
  • We can say "good bye" to things that make this neighbourhood great, but won't be so easy in the new house.  Things like our favourite restaurants.  I know I could always go back, but it's not going to be convenient and we'll have new favourite spots in the new community.
  • Using up food in the fridge, freezer and pantry, kind of highlighted how much of a food hoarder I can be.  We have a lot of roast beef to eat.
Con's
  • Everyone thinks I've already moved.  It's weird the number of people who think I'm already there and asking how the new commute/neighbours/etc are.  Mr. Lina's manager asked if he was going to vote on his lunch time last week.  Um, no, not driving 70 km to vote and turn around to go back to work for the afternoon...
  • I'm in a limbo of not wanting ANYTHING coming into the house - food, books, movies, STUFF.  If it can't be consumed in 30 days, then it's just another thing that needs packing and unpacking and is likely to get lost.
  • I sure hope none of the appliances break as we would have to replace them.
  • The excitement of the new house has become less tangible.  
  • I feel sad that I'll be saying good bye to this house and neighbourhood.
  • Limbo extends to hobbies.  I have a fairly empty sewing room, but no table to work on and most of my fabric is in storage and I don't want to make a mess.
Mr. Lina has been changing our address with, well, everyone.  Utility companies, Canada Post, banks and ID, on and on.  It's good, but getting the update of every single one is actually stressing me out a little.  Because I'm not ready to do that and I have ID that I have to change myself.  The things that I'd change easily don't seem to want 4 weeks notice.

I need to find some of the excitement again.  It is looking like we'll be going to the new house on Sunday to get quotes for finishing the basement.  Hopefully that kick starts the "ohboyohboyohboy" feeling that will make address changing and packing more exciting and less... scary.  


Tuesday, October 14

Happy Thanksgiving!

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada.  It's not quite the big holiday that it seems to be in the US, but I'm in favour of a 3 day weekend that is full of turkey dinners.  We hosted our traditional friends Thanksgiving on Saturday night, then my family had dinner on Monday.

After a weekend with a few late nights and lazy mornings, today sucked.  I'm still not feeling awake.  So let's see what I have to be thankful for...

  • Health, generally, I'm good.  That rash has cleared up, no idea why or what caused it but I sure am thankful that it's gone.
  • Mr. Lina - we're in a pretty good lovey dovey stage at the moment.  All this change feels exciting, so glad to have him in my life.  His attention for detail is coming in handy as he takes care of a lot of the details with our lawyer, mortgage broker and scheduling movers.
  • Finances - sure, it would be nice to win the lottery, but I'm appreciating that I have enough.  There is lots of food to go around, a big roof over our head and while money seems to be slipping through our hands because of the move (7 weeks away now), it's all okay, there is enough.
  • Friends - a big pillar in our our lives, having 18 adults, 5 kids, 2 babies for Thanksgiving sure did make me feel well loved.   We'll be moving about a 15 min walk from friends of ours and it was pretty cool to hear their 8 year old daughter say how happy she was about that.  You know I'm going to be really close to her school.  
  • Family - gosh I love my niece and nephews.   My niece is a chatty 2 year old, loves imaginative play and silliness.  One nephew has figured out how to crawl like a marine under barbed wire and the other is ridiculously chubby cheeked and loves to kick everything and anything.  He also seems to have good "timing" causing me to need to change my shirt (and his outfit) and then getting me again with a leaky diaper.  No one else was puked on.  Honestly...
  • I figured out this week I still have 5 vacation days to use this year.  That's going to help me stay sane while we move.
I think I covered all the big pillars there.  

We're going to be hosting David Bradstreet on Monday.  The guy has won Junos, a Gemini, produced for lots of other artists who are far better known than he is.  I'm excited to host someone with this kind of Canadian pedigree but I'm getting worried it's going to be another small audience.  Hopefully I get a few RSVP's this week.  Anyone local is welcome to come, I'll send details by email if you'd like.  Have a listen.


Tuesday, October 7

Falling Apart

Now don't take this too dramatically, but do you ever have little physical issues come up and feel like you're falling apart?

Last week, I had a bit of vertigo.  My blood pressure is generally low so it's not uncommon for me to need to touch things for a bit of balance when I get up in the morning.  Usually by the time I'm brushing my teeth I'm good.  I'll feel some momentary dizziness if I've been bent over (say cleaning the bathtub) and stand up quickly.  But Thursday it just wasn't going away so I took the day off.  It certainly wasn't as debilitating as what my mom has described as her vertigo, but it was enough I didn't want to drive.

Side note to taking a sick day.  I'm used to going through my "personal days" like popcorn at a movie theatre from fertility treatments that I was surprised to see I'd only used 2 this year.  Unbelievable.  That sealed the deal on not even trying to work from home.  Good thing too, it took three tries to find the word "cream cheese" at lunch, Mr. Lina was looking at me like I had 3 heads.

We had a great weekend.  Mr. Lina's birthday on Friday, spent Saturday with my niece, nephews, brother and SIL at a conservation area, Sunday was a charity smoker competition at Steamwhistle brewery in Toronto...  It was busy and a lot of time outside in a not so warm fall weekend.  Getting up on Monday morning sucked.  I guess I wasn't hiding that so well.   My manager and I were in one half hour meeting together and touched base maybe twice yesterday.  First thing this morning he said he was too busy yesterday to ask but I didn't seem like myself, was I okay?  

Last night Mr. Lina and I were relaxing.  Had some steak for dinner, a bit of red wine, it was nice to just be on the couch together.  And then I looked at my arm and noticed it was textured.  Like red and somewhat raised, a rash over both forearms.  I took an antihistamine, stopped drinking wine and mostly ignored it.  Well, it's still there this afternoon and now it's on my neck, chest, and chin and more annoying because it's a little itchy.  Based on the itch, I suspect it's in my scalp too.

I'm also realizing how much proof reading I need to do because I'm not functioning on all cylinders.  We have a house concert coming up, David Bradstreet on Monday October 20th.  I sent out a note to our mailing list last night about the show.  
  1. I wrote November in the body of the email,  but it says October in the subject line.
  2. Today I noticed that, sent out another email saying whoops, it's October.
  3. Then I noticed that the subject line in both emails said October 18th.  Not 20th.  The wrong day is probably a bigger problem than one mention of the wrong month.  
  4. Sigh.
Again, it's all just little annoyances, but I'd like all of them to go away and feel like myself again.  A less itchy, brain foggy, well balanced version of me.  

Monday, September 22

Misplaced

Moving has this odd mix of packed and not packed.

You would think what I've packed are things I don't need.

I look around the house and wonder why I didn't pack certain things (although the answer to that might be that they should be pitched).

And yet...

  • Not sure where my secondary wallet is.  This sounds worse than it is.  When I switched my wallet to a new one, I left some less important things in the other wallet.  At the time, I was trying to cut back on buying fabric.  Guess where my Fabricland card is?
  • I packed both my blender and my hand blender.  Soup making will be chunky until December.
  • I packed the coffee bean grinder, I mean, the coffee maker has a grinder built in.  Then Mr. Lina went to make his fancy pork recipe that requires grinding annato seeds and asked where the coffee grinder was.  
  • He bought a new one.
  • I'd like to make some panties, my cheeky lace ones, but I packed those too.  Hence the need for the Fabricland card.
  • Mr. Lina gave me flowers and I had to put them in a plastic spaghetti container because the vases are all packed.
Sigh...

Tuesday, September 9

The Good Kind of Change

I've been living in some surreal world the past month.  After so much time of talking and planning and thinking and packing but accomplishing nothing... stuff happened.  Lots of stuff.  Life changing stuff.

And boy it sure feels good.

Every time I tell another friend or coworker about the house selling or the house we will be moving to, I feel a glow.  A smile I can't remove, a sparkle in my eyes and face that hasn't always been there.  A smile that isn't a fake it 'till you make it kind of smile that doesn't reach your eyes.

Building on the changes, yesterday I called Children's Aid in the region we're moving to.  A university friend of mine works there and she discreetly asked her adoption coworkers the best avenue for me to proceed and they recommended calling to let us know we were coming.  It's nothing too formal, but now we're on their radar.

It was a good conversation mostly about us - who we are, where we are at mentally, emotionally, how stable our life is  (well, the move is the definition of lack of stability but past that nothing is changing), what we're looking for, etc.  The application package is in the mail.  I felt like I had a good rapport with the social worker.  Typically the worker who takes your call is assigned your case, I am hoping that is the case because I think it's a good fit.  I am glad we took the PRIDE training already.  I had much better answers to his questions and perspective on the intention of the question than I would have without it.  From his perspective, we are seen as a more attractive potential parent because that step is already done.

It seems like a good time in my life for the song "Happy" to be played damn near everywhere.  I saw this video of it on the weekend and it is so powerful to me.  It's from Deaf Film Camp - Camp Mark Seven - and it's all in American Sign Language with subtitles.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


Sunday, September 7

Sold!

Everything went pretty much as our real estate agent suggested.  We'd list, let people see the house and "accept offers" at 6pm on the Saturday.

Sure enough, we listed Tuesday, 20 or so people came to see the house, and last night 5 people made offers on it.  The offer we took didn't have any conditions so as of 8pm last night, our house is sold.  Enough over listing value to fund most of the basement renovations on the new house.  :)  I must say I like that part.

It's so nice to have that done.  I don't think it could have gone any better.

We've spent the whole day in the house.  I think after spending every night out, eating out every night, it's good to just be in the house and make our own food.  We can enjoy life again until it's time to move in December.

Wednesday, September 3

It's Up

The sign is in the lawn and the listing is publicly available on Realtor.ca.  Did you ever think my sewing room would ever look like this?


Hard to believe this is the same room...


I didn't think those threads would ever come out of the carpet.  Not to say it's perfect, but it is pretty impressive how few are left.

We've got viewings booked for tonight, so we are off to a good start.  We're going to see Guardians of the Galaxy while they tour the house.  I foresee popcorn for dinner.  :)

Tuesday, September 2

Happy...

Birthday to me!

Yep, it's that time of year again, another year has passed. Did you know I started kindergarten on my birthday?  I was so excited, school was going to be awesome.  How much better could a birthday be than starting school?  And then I was told you could bring in a bag of cookies on your birthday.  But it WAS my birthday and I didn't have ANY cookies.

Very disappointing.

It's okay, we evened things out by taking cookies on the last day of school which happened to be when my youngest brother was born.

Anyhoo... today is full of cookies for not-5-year-old me.  :)

  • My house is listing today, the sign should be in the yard when I get home.
  • It really does look good.  I'm quite pleased with our efforts.
  • We'll be going out for dinner tonight, my favorite seafood place, Lucy's
  • Hopefully people will be looking at the house while we're eating  :)
  • I am at work but you know, that just means more people get to say happy birthday to me
  • Although really, Facebook is kind of exploding with birthday wishes
  • I am having an "I look fabulous" kind of day.
Yay birthdays!

I will leave you with the short video that my team mate in Quebec sent me.  

Wednesday, August 27

Almost there

My goodness Mr. Lina and I have been working our asses off.

Tomorrow the photographer is coming to take pictures of our house which (if all goes as planned) will be listed for sale on Tuesday, Sept 2nd.  We've moved:

  • two book shelves
  • one wardrobe
  • one expidit desk (the kind that attaches to the shelves)
  • a crapton of boxes
  • $11 worth of empty beer/liquor bottles
  • multiple bags of garbage (which is challenging with a 2 bag limit)
  • multiple boxes/bags of recycling (which is fortunately not limited)
  • multiple bags of clothing and stuff to Goodwill
What furniture has been left has largely been moved around to make the house look bigger.  

It works, it does look bigger.  More like the mansion I thought I was moving into compared to our 1 bedroom apartment.  It's not quite done and I'm rather sure the agent and photographer are going to do more moving of stuff, but I am pleased with what we've done.  I really hope that after all this effort the house sells fairly quickly.  

I have been thinking at times about pitching things as a skill set.  One I sadly lack.  I'm still probably packing stuff that I should be pitching, but I'd like to think that at least I'm feeling more positive about it.  I think less and pitch faster and honestly feel better.  The overwhelmed feeling is gone because I can see what's already been done.  That's something for me to remember.

Possibly related to that is that I am still a bit forgetful but not teary and I've managed to keep my purse and phone with me all this week.  Shiny gold star.

I also had a conversation with my manager about my career and what my work arrangement will be like when we move further from the office.  Our house will now be a full 100 km from my employer and while my current client is closer, 78 km isn't exactly close.  As I have pointed out to my newest team mate, being an "on site" analyst means you actually go to the client office.  That means less flexibility for working from home.  And I'm bored.  I am dragging my feet on a lot of projects and I think it's because I'm just not interested in doing the same thing over and over.  So we're going to change that.  Not today, this is a domino that will impact others, but it's also good for my manager as he can offload more responsibilities on me.  Win-win.  I felt a bit scared asking for what I want, I've just bobbed along with my career so far, but it felt pretty good.  

Okay, time to get going on that last bit of decluttering.  Time to be sure every flat surface is empty... 

Tuesday, August 19

Dot the I's and Cross the T's

The home inspection was yesterday and for a 29 year old house, it's in great shape.  A few things need dealing with, some sooner than others, but nothing is really all that bad.  All of our conditions on sale have now been met so the house is definitively ours on the 28th of November.

One odd thing the home inspection pointed out is that there isn't a heat vent into my sewing room.  It wouldn't be hard to add one because the furnace is on the other side of the wall.  I am not all that concerned.  I can leave the door open (there is a vent just outside the room) for air to circulate and once the iron is turned on, the room will warm up enough.  How often have I ended up sewing nearly naked with my hair pulled up because I was too hot?

Lately I am quick to tear up and terribly forgetful (like not taking sleeping bags, pillows, chairs or Mr.Lina's camera with us for Summerfolk).  Some of it is probably because this is a lot of change all at once.  Some of it is because I'm tired.  I didn't realize we would be buying a car and house when we got tickets for the Argo game and our usual Summerfolk weekend.  Some of the tears make complete sense, but it's still flowing a little easier than it should.

Small picture hides the slightly puffy eyes.
We bought a new (to us) car last week, 2012 Nissan Murano.  We bought it on Saturday after seeing our house the first time, picked it up on Thursday.  I loved my old Alero.  12 years and 341,000 km of memories.  It was the first car I purchased, 100% mine.  Mr. Lina was with me when I bought it, but he had no involvement in payments or picking it out.  I was either the driver or in the car for more than 300,000 km.  As excited as I was to buy a new car, it was hard leaving the Alero behind and I cried at the dealership (which shouldn't surprise me, I cried when I signed the purchasing papers for the Alero).  I forgot to bring my cheque book which made making the down payment more difficult than it needed to be.  Let's just say that I was a bit of a mess and the dealership probably thinks I'm a complete flake.  Even driving away, the Murano felt foreign, rather than exciting new, I felt insecure initially and resistant to the changes.

It crossed my mind as my eyes were welling up and spilling over about how hard any change is and that this is a moment to remember when I adopt.  When I am matched with my kids, it's going to be such a happy event for Mr. Lina and I.  But it's not quite the same happy event for the kids, it's just one more change in a life of uncertainty.  I don't think they are going to believe us (or the social workers) when we say it is their forever home, that kind of trust and attachment takes time.  The happy part of being told they will live with us will likely be a suspicious happy.  It is okay to be sad about the good byes, good even.  If I'm confused enough to have tears and complicated feelings over a car, imagine how hard that turmoil is to express when you are 6, or 4 or 2.  I'm not sure there is enough crayons out there to express and explore those complicated feelings - where to put the sad part while everyone around you seems to be so very happy and appear to expect you to be happy too.

Now for more change.  It's time to do the last bit of work to list our house.

Wednesday, August 13

We Got It

Assuming there are no horror stories uncovered in the home inspection, the house will be ours.  :)  A bit of drama came with it yesterday (and what good story doesn't have drama?)



As I posted yesterday, we were waiting to hear the sellers response to our offer on the house.  The offer expired at 7pm.  Late afternoon, our agent calls.  He got word that another offer was being prepared for the house - did we want to revise our offer since we were not the only one?  

At this point, you have to put your best foot forward.  Our offer of less than listing was based on the premise we would negotiate up, it wasn't going to stack up to another offer.  We told our agent we'd go to full listing, but that was it.  We would walk away from a bidding war, as much as I love the house, there are others.  Our agent agreed and said he would wait to submit the revised offer until he knew the second offer was in writing.  

We had tickets to see the Toronto Argos play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL football, the older but less financially viable version of the NFL).  Mr. Lina bought these months ago, a conflicting game to cheer for when it's his current home vs childhood home playing.  Given the highway construction going on in Toronto, we chose to take the subway in.  

6:45 we get above ground, waiting for the call.  7pm we grab some food, I'm dealing with the food and money in case Mr. Lina's phone rings...  7:05 passes....

Just as I'm having my purse checked by security to go into the stadium, his phone rings.  And it freezes, so we didn't answer the call.  We got as far out of the way as we could between security and scanning our tickets to call our agent back on my phone.

It seems the other offer never happened.  They didn't want to get into a bidding war and walked away.  He had a counter offer from the sellers, accepting all of our conditions (which were pretty standard - home inspection, financing) and closing date but a price below asking, just not as low as we offered.

I suppose we could have done a little more back and forth on price, but it was fair and we had enough drama already.  It's so strange arriving to a football game with FABULOUS seats and I really couldn't care about how close the players were because I bought a house.


So here is a sneak peek of what will be my sewing room as of Nov 28th.  It's a bit of an odd shape and the closet/door are behind the photographer, it should do quite nicely.


Tuesday, August 12

Home

Home is often a feeling more than a space.  Every time I've looked for somewhere to live - be it renting, buying or even picking a university - I've felt that connection to the space.  I swear, three steps off the bus when touring my university, I knew it was home even if I couldn't explain why.

We've seen oh, 6 houses so far.  Not so many to be tired of the process, just enough to have a good sense of what is available.  There were houses I liked, houses Mr. Lina liked, aspects of every house we liked... but none said home.

Saturday, we found a house I could see my kids running around in, playing tag or catch in the back yard.  I could see me cooking and entertaining, talking to friends while the last appetizers were coming out of the oven.  Mr. Lina could see where his desk would go, where he could move from bottling home brew to storing kegs and building a bar, my non-team sport playing husband even mentioned that the back yard was big enough for a football game.  I would claim the basement office as my sewing room - laminate flooring, HUGE closet, a window and good lights.  My mom sews in the basement, I see the advantage of kids playing within ear shot.

But it was more expensive than what we had seen.  While I knew it was within reason, it was enough we wanted to sit with a calculator and double check.  Fortunately, the market we're going to is cooler than what we're leaving so not all decisions have to be made the day of listing.  We arranged to go back last night.  We also asked to see other houses of a similar size and price to see what the competitive set was like.

First house was lovely.  On paper, better even.  Newer windows, very well cared for, finished basement, beautiful gardens, $20K less...  and yet I wasn't happy.

Second house was the same floor plan as Saturday but 190 sq ft smaller - slightly smaller living room and master bedroom but still big enough.  I didn't like it at all.  Honestly, their real estate agent is not doing them any favours letting them show the house with lights missing or out, finger prints on the walls, furniture blocking traffic flow...  Where the first house was well maintained and loved, this one wasn't cared for and it showed.

And then we went back to our Saturday house and it felt like home.

From the minute we pulled into the driveway, I felt comfortable.

Happy.

Home.

So I'm now in the limbo where we put in an offer and are waiting for their response.  I figure there will be some back and forth on price and while I'm okay with that, we can't get into a bidding war that goes above asking.

But my heart feels good about this.

Tuesday, August 5

Blink!

When we drove through small towns, my mom would always say "Don't blink or you'll miss it".  I kind of feel like every time I blink, time is flying by.

Let's see...

  • Had someone come and clean my house.  
  • I can pack or clean, not both.  
  • Best money I've spent in a long time, selling the house now seems feasible.
  • I had no idea how many patterns I actually had.  
  • The box I thought might be half full of patterns and have space for notions was overflowing.
  • Real estate agent says houses in my area sell on average in 14 days, many sell in 4 days.
  • We're going to buy the house we want, have a 75-90 day close, then list our house.
  • We looked at 4 houses last week, they were all good but not quite right for us. 
  • Side rant on floor plans.  How can a house can have 1,000 sq ft more than my house and I am not sure where I'd fit some of my furniture?  Why would two of three bedrooms need walk in closets?  And come to think of it, the second closet touches the third bedroom wall, they could have made smaller (yet still walk in - yes it's that big but perhaps too narrow for a 4th bedroom) closets for both rooms.
  • Still haven't bought a car, but we've narrowed down what we're looking for.  We set aside Sunday to look at cars and then found out the dealerships that we wanted to go to were closed.  Oops.
  • So we had my parents, brother, SIL and nephew over for dinner instead of looking at cars.  It all worked out well, nice impromptu dinner party.
  • We've gone to two 40th birthday parties in two weeks.  Those milestone years are just one party after another, and you find out which friends are a year older than you.  :)
  • I've also had strep throat.  I thought I had a cold courtesy of my two sick co-workers.  Clearly I'm not a doctor.
  • Lots of time with Mr. Lina.  
August 21st will be our 10th anniversary.  Talk about blink and you'll miss it.  I feel like it was a couple of years ago that I was putting on my big white dress and dancing our first dance.  Maybe last year that we celebrated 5 years.  And yet, the days pre-Mr. Lina seem a bit faded and distant.  The past oh... month I guess, it's been a bit of a throw back to our dating days.  I suspect part of it is knowing that with moving to another community and kids to follow after that, our "family of two" time is coming to an end.  We've gone out dancing, we've been on real dates in new locations, we've been talking a lot.  I've found myself telling stories about when we were dating, some of the silly things we did in that rush of a new relationship.  Even at one of the 40th birthday parties, I was telling the birthday-wife our "how we met" story since she's only known us as a couple.  Even in Manitoba we were talking about how it will be different - from the practicalities of where do we sleep to how we'll visit with friends.  When we're in Brandon, we often go to a friends place or a pub and enjoy a tipsy walk home at 2am.

It is going to be different, not to say bad, just different.  We are appreciating the good parts of being a couple at the moment, the benefits of our current home, and it's like that new relationship excitement over the changes to come.

Tuesday, July 22

Ah... Vacation...

Well that blog break was a bit longer than intended.  We spend two weeks visiting Mr. Lina's family in Manitoba.  Very restful, saw lots of friends and family.  Prior to that, work got well... crazy.  It has been a while since I worked that many nights past 7pm.  So, not much time for writing.  Nor packing for that matter.

But, we're back now.  

And life is still busy.  My car really does need to be replaced - sooner the better.  I'm not putting more money into it and now another light has come on that I don't want to fix.  Our real estate agent is coming over tomorrow night to talk about moving.  Tonight is going to be a lot of "chuck things in boxes" so there is less clutter when he tours the house.

It's kind of scary to be honest.

I think I haven't written since we returned because I'm a bit scared.  I'd rather spend time hiding from all this change rather than embracing it.  I had Mr. Lina work with me on packing up my sewing room.  Not that he did much, but having him there kept me calm and focused.  I get side tracked by little things from high school or medical receipts for the clinic.  

As tempting as it is to look at potential new houses (online, not in person just yet) and we all know how much I want to be a mom, change is pretty scary.

On the weekend I went to a birthday party for a university friends' husband.  While I do know him, I don't really know his friends and family.  Two other girls from the group came and we stuck together.  I've been a bit of a hermit.  I'm the only one of that group without kids now, while I want to hear about their kids for about 5 minutes, it just feels... stressful to see them.  And sometimes it's sad when I leave.  Not that much has been going on as large group, but I haven't even been reaching out to them at all.  It was good to catch up with two of them and we actually talked more about ourselves than their kids.  Kind of refreshing really and a good reminder that I liked them before they had kids and that friend is still in there.

One of my friends is a social worker in the region we're looking to move to.  She doesn't deal with adoption, but she will know the social workers that I will be working with (when we get there) and generalities of adoption in that region.  It was really good and it brought up all the excitement I've been kind of hiding under the pressure to get the house listed etc.  

Anyhoo... I am alive, I'm doing okay.  We are almost there.

We hosted Charlie A'Court back in March.  Charlie really is that mix of musician AND entertainer.  Charlie is good one-on-one, he and my Australian friend had some banter in the show, he knows how to play to his audience and he is a talented guitarist.  It was one of the most FUN shows I've ever hosted.  Prior to the show, we were talking about what to expect from our audience.  It was a Saturday night, I said I was relaxed as far as start/end times went, odds are a board game of some sort would break out after the show because people would stay.  And I introduced him to Cards Against Humanity as the game most likely to be played post show.

In short, Cards Against Humanity is a question and answer game.  One person draws a question/phrase (some are fill in the blank), each player has 10 answer cards in their hand, they pick the most amusing.  The person asking the question picks their favourite and that person asks the next question.  Some cards are tame, some are, well... not.  Some phrases that sound pretty tame on their own are not when paired with the wrong question.  Also, there is a "Canadian Conversion Kit" with answers like Tim Hortons, Mr. Dressup, The Official Languages Act/Loi sur les langues officielles, etc....  So something normal like "_____ keeps our relationship exciting" isn't too crazy a question, but sounds worse when the answer is "Ooompa Loompas" or "Mr. Dress-up".  I've had moments in this game where my brother couldn't speak because he was laughing too hard.  

We ended up playing that game until 4 or 5 am on time change weekend (I think 4, but with spring forward that makes it 5).  I sent a very tired Charlie to his next house concert with perhaps 6 hours of sleep.

So you can imagine how amused I was to see that one of the options in his crowd funding for his next album is Cards Against Humanity cards written by Charlie.  Or you can buy the game AND the cards.

It's pretty cool that not only am I being impacted by hosting musicians, but it sometimes leaves an impression on them too.  I can't wait for our cards to arrive.


Wednesday, June 4

Adoption Training - Take 2

Last week I tired to blog about the PRIDE training class and well, it didn't work so well and I scrapped that post and wrote another.  That's not a bad thing, writing without posting still means I did some thinking and I liked the post I ended up with.  But let's try again...

We were given a binder for the course.  I kid you not, the paper in it is bigger than the width of my hand.  It's a whole lot of information being thrown at us.  Fortunately, we're not expected to sit there and read the whole thing, we aren't turning page by page during the course.  It's more for reference (and has "homework" sheets), but it really highlights how much territory there is to cover.  Some of it is technical or legislative in nature (did you know that what became the first Children's Aid Society was actually a branch from the Humane Society?  The Humane Society mandate was initially for children and animals), some of it is focused on the child's perspective of what they experience and how that changes their needs.  Guess which part is more interesting?

I read a few blogs about adoption - particularly Stellar Parenting and The Accidental Mommy.  They don't post all that often at the moment, they are busy moms and it's hard to write about this stuff.  Both do a great job of balancing their need for family privacy, but letting you know it's not all sunshine and rainbows.  I'm left with a positive perspective of adoption, they fight hard for their kids, there are rewards for that.  Through the PRIDE training, I found myself relating a lot of what they were saying to things those women experienced - be it the kids life prior to adoption or their behaviour or how the parents dealt with the behaviour.  Honestly, I found myself nodding a LOT in class because of their openness.

The session on attachment was naturally interesting.  Attachment is the trust that makes the parent-child bond strong.  Ideally, children know that their parents will provide for them - be it food, clothing, attention, love, they know it will be there.  As infants, they learn about the world through experience - I was hungry, I cried, someone fed me, isn't the universe great?  If there is inconsistency, the baby doesn't know that you're busy, or asleep (or drunk or high, or absent as the case may be), they just know that the world doesn't always provide, and they don't learn to trust that you're going to be there for them.  Makes sense when you think about it like that.

I initially thought of attachment as a binary system - you are or you aren't attached to an individual.  But it's actually a spectrum.  Sure there are strong attachments, but I think lots of us have insecure attachments for very normal reasons.  How can a mom of multiple kids be there every time a baby cries?  That doesn't make her a bad parent.  Some parents were advised to let their babies cry to make them independent.  That can also make the child less likely to ask for help and more likely to feel unsure that others are going to say yes.  I can see that in myself.  I LOVE helping others, but I have to feel really secure to ask people for help.

When I was a little girl, I capitol-L-loved Strawberry Shortcake.  For my birthday, maybe around Grade 3 or even 5 (I doubt Grade 4 because I had chicken pox), I was given Strawberry Shortcake talc that smelled (naturally) like strawberries.  I was thrilled and next time I went to the bathroom, I took it with me and dusted away.  My mom's best friend (I called her aunt kind of friend) asked me if I used the talc and said no.  I really don't know why.  It was an obvious lie, I would have reeked of strawberries and probably had white talc somewhere on my hands or clothing.  And doesn't it show appreciation for a gift to rush off and use it?  I remember this moment so well, where we were standing, how I felt...  My answer wasn't driven by logic, it was a fear she'd take it away from me.  Totally irrational, I have no idea why I felt so compelled to lie.  The risk of losing that talc was more than I could deal with.

When I look back on that now, what I find interesting is that lie came from such an emotional place for such a foolish thing.  The training course and (even more so) the home study are intended to make you look at yourself.  Learn what kind of attachment you have, what kind of parenting lessons you learned from your parents.  I wonder where that moment came from.  Why couldn't I trust that someone wouldn't take it away from me?  Why did I feel so strongly about protecting my beloved strawberry scented talc?  Is that how lying feels when you don't trust the universe to provide?  Is this at all related to how challenging I find it to ask for help?

Don't take this as an admission I have a poor attachment to my parents or they did anything wrong at all.  All I'm saying is all of our relationships are complicated.  Why would it be any simpler between parents and children?  I find the prospect of looking back with this lens interesting.

Out of the first half of the class, Mr. Lina in particular felt very positive.  A lot of the tricks to creating attachment with children are things he does instinctively with children who are hesitant.  Like letting kids set the rules to a game or imaginative play, or making them talk to you by explaining an activity.  As an example, Minecraft.  It's a computer game that seems to be taking off based on the references I see around me.  Mr. Lina plays it from time to time, but it scales down to children by changing the settings so there are more resources readily available and fewer ways to kill your character (at least as I understand it).  The game came up as an interest of a friends daughter and Mr. Lina had her explain it to him as if he didn't know much about it at all.  Which is true.  He knows how to play from a technical stand point, but an 8 year old girl has different objectives and strategy than a grown man so they don't play the same way.  You can see how an insecure child would get wrapped up talking about the game and forget she was feeling insecure.  Dialogue starts and it gets easier from there to build rapport.  Or how about Mr. Frog-a-Lina?  He wasn't setting the rules for play, he was following the cues from the kids and letting them drive where it went.

I've always had more confidence in his ability to parent than he has in himself.  But I'm his wife, like your Mom, I'm suppose to be supporting him.  To hear a social worker say X, Y, and Z are good things to do and realize that at some level, he does it, that has more impact.

And we're only half way.  We'll see what this weekend brings.

Wednesday, May 28

Writing Styles & Swirling Thoughts

One fabulous thing about blogs is that we each have our own voice, our own focus, our own style.  If you read back to early posts for a lot of bloggers, they don't sound quite the same.  I think it's because we ease into our writing style.

Sometimes, I write from the heart.  I am not saying it doesn't need editing or polishing, but it just... flows.  I miss that.  It was actually easier to write like that about infertility.  I don't feel that way very often.

Sometimes I have thoughts, but it's stuck between my head and my fingers.  When I write, excessive amounts of detail come through to the point it sounds like a play by play my life.  I don't think that's good reading.  Quite often I can trim these posts down to something manageable, removing sections, summarizing others.  

Sometimes I just start again.

Guess which day today is?

I have thoughts, big thoughts, swirling thoughts.  We started our 27 hours of parenting training required to adopt in Ontario.  Half of it was last weekend, we get this weekend off and then we wrap up June 7-8.  I can't seem to stop talking about what I've learned, what I see in other peoples relationships, what I see in myself.

But it's not coming out right.  And even when I trim my novel of a post down, the focus of the story isn't there.  Possibly because the class is only half way done.  

It's all straggly little trees of facts, without the forest of a story.

That's frustrating because this is exactly the kind of place I want to sort these swirling thoughts out.  I learn about my own thoughts while writing for my blog by looking at all those details and trees and try to find the theme, the basis of what I am thinking.  What the forest is.

So, part of this forest includes:
  • We're on the right track.
  • We have good instincts.
  • All of my reading, thinking and observing has paid off.
  • Dealing with the losses as they came was a good thing, I am ready for this.
Hopefully I can connect a few more dots and speak about my experiences without sounding like a lecture on attachment and parenting like I spewed all over my mom and my brother and his fiance and my coworker and....

Wednesday, May 21

Not-So-Fun Mom

Last weekend was a long weekend in Canada - Victoria Day.  We did the usual for us, camping with almost 30 people.  It was a bit chilly this year but mostly dry.  If you dress right, cold is manageable, but cold and wet is miserable.  I didn't pack quite enough extra blankets so it was a bit cold over night on Friday.  Thankfully we camp close enough to home I could pop back and pick up some flannel sheets so we were toasty the rest of the weekend.

The down time was good but certainly had some challenging moments.  Some friends camp with their kids, others just drop by for an afternoon, this year there were anywhere from 5-12 kids running around ages 10 right down to a visiting baby.  The one challenge with this kind of extensive time with other peoples kids is that I get a little annoyed with some of them.  It becomes clear to me, I'm not going to be a fun mom.  I'll be a good mom and there will be lots of love and fun moments, but I'm not going to be a fun mom.  My kids are going to hear no, and I am going to mean it.  When I read about adoptive parenting, I see the need for consistent and firm parenting.  I suppose with longer exposure to other families while camping, I see what happens when any child doesn't get that.  When no means maybe, or not yet, or someone else will say yes.  I see the manipulation that goes on and how often the kids win when no doesn't mean no and it irritates me over the weekend. 

Sunday afternoon, I was making dinner.  Jambalaya in my cast iron dutch oven on the fire.  It's a bit fussy only because it's hard to tell just how hot the coals/pot are but I'm getting better with practice and burning the bottom less.  I brought little silicone pot holders with me to the fire, they look like frogs and worked pretty well with the hot cast iron.
From Cilantro Cooks

Mr. Lina was wearing my pot holders and chasing kids around the camp site while the jambalaya simmered.  It was pretty funny as he stomped around snapping the frogs open and shut.  One of the (non-chasing) kidlets asked me for s'mores.  I'm not sure what made her think I was the owner of any marshmallows, chocolate or graham crackers as I watched my dinner cook.  I said no, she should ask her dad.  Which is also the answer I gave when asked if she could have a drink the previous day, and when asked for a snack earlier in the day.  You see the pattern?  She wandered off and came back with a huge bag of marshmallows (which I'm pretty sure did not belong to her family) and pestered me again to make her s'mores.  She wasn't the only kid around, another parent was giving his 3 kids popcorn as a post-dinner snack (hoping salty snacks would make for better bed time than sweet).  The middle kid (about 3 I think) in that family had been the focus of the Mr. Frog-a-Lina chasing and wanted in on the marshmallows, more because Mr. Frog-a-Lina was there and they wanted to feed the frogs popcorn and marshmallows.  At this point, Mr Frog-a-Lina got silly about the desire for popcorn s'mores, knowing I did not pack any of the required ingredients and could not fulfill what he was asking me to do and in my head I wasn't sure how well hot melted marshmallow, chocolate and popcorn were going to work on small fingers.  The popcorn wasn't going to offer much protection from the hot parts.  I got tired of  being pestered for stuff they should ask their parents for and knowing that at least one father probably didn't want his kids having popcorn s'mores and my inability to actually do what they (or I) wanted to do, and I lost it on Mr. Lina.  

Thus popping the bubble of happy fun time for Mr. Frog-a-Lina and the kidlets.  

We went for a walk so I could get away from the s'mores insanity and apologize for my behaviour.  I knew I was snapping at Mr. Lina because he was there and an easy target compared to the kids that weren't mine to discipline.  I don't lose my cool often so it has more impact when I do (at least on Mr. Lina, I don't think the kids were all that phased).  A few tears were shed and oddly not by me.  Mr. Lina loved running around and being silly, but it was also leaving him feeling sad that those weren't his own kids he was chasing after.  And boy, do I understand that.  Popping that happy bubble was pretty bad timing.  

After a little walk around, we went back to the site, we had dinner.  I had a little alone time while I changed into warmer clothing for the evening and prepped the tent for bed time.  Mr. Frog-a-Lina returned for more chase, with even more kids involved.  I could hear him (and the kids laughing) 4 sites down as I walked to the washroom.  I ended up with a 3 year old frog-chaser snuggling up with me as the sun was setting.  Not surprisingly, Mr. Lina fell asleep at the fire at dark o'clock (camping is not about clock watching).  Who knew pot holders could be such great exercise?  And did you know they come in monkeys and dogs and pigs and roosters...

Wednesday, May 14

Is Spring Finally Here?

You know how sometimes a room has to look worse to be cleaner?  Yeah....  I can barely get into my sewing room.  But I have shredded a whole lot of old financial statements and put less sensitive paper out for recycling, so I know there is progress.  Even if it doesn't look like it.  We were going to go to an open house on Sunday only to get there and it was cancelled.  Pout.  We are getting closer...

We did a little spending at the garden centre on the weekend and worked on making the outside of the house look pretty.  What is it with dandelions?  Do they hate us that much?  By the time we dug them all out of the back yard it looked like a heard of elephants trampled what little grass was left.  On the plus side, my perennials look much nicer without all the dead leaves from last fall around them.  I still have to plant the annuals but the risk of frost is still real here until May long weekend, so I'm not worried about that just yet. 

Speaking of annuals... I usually do some container gardening on our back deck.  A few tomatoes, some herbs, maybe some radishes and a hot pepper plant.  I wasn't going to bother this year, just sticking to flowers and herbs that would be easier to care for and still provide a little colour.  Then we saw Bhut Jolokia peppers (aka ghost peppers, one of the hottest peppers out there, 400 times hotter than Tabasco according to wikipedia).  Usually I can't find anything more exotic than cayenne or hot banana peppers (which is fine, I don't mean to complain) so I don't know that I'll ever see Jolokia seedlings again which made it worth the purchase.  We'll see how that goes, my backyard isn't exactly the same as it's natural home climate of Northern India and I'm not one for babying plants (hence the purchase of seedlings, not seeds).

This is the first week it's finally been warm enough to not wear socks.  At long last, my open toed shoes can be worn again.  Sadly with the warmer weather seems to come rain (mostly scattered showers/thunder storm, not all day depressing rain) and the temperatures are dropping slightly just in time for the upcoming long weekend (Victoria Day).  Figures.  We camp every year, in the rain and occasionally the snow.  Temperatures of 15C during the day and 5C at night aren't so bad if it stays dry.  If.

I really should make a water proof jacket one of these days.

I also think I should send my parents to the Northwest Territories for Mother's Day next year.  I swear this was the most sane Mother's Day I've ever had.  No tears, no stress, I was very relaxed about it all.  I didn't forget about it but I didn't really think about it.  I did buy my traditional gift of a fuchsia hanging basket and hung it up at her house so she'd come home to it when I picked my parents up from the airport.  Really, we might be on to something here.

Wednesday, May 7

How to Declutter - Film a Movie

We've been picking away at decluttering the house and we have made headway, but it seems that the key to doing it was film.  Mr. Lina filmed a short fake trailer on Saturday.  It's amazing the effort that goes into 90 seconds of film.  Somehow it managed to involve every room in the house except my sewing room.  Either it was in frame, space used by lighting/camera, or it was space to serve food and chill.  So pretty much every room needed some level of decluttering, admittedly some more than others.  My sewing room being the one exception.  Things were hidden in that room.

Here's a behind the scene shot of one of the death scenes in my kitchen.

Notice the vast quantities of fake blood on that actress (her shirt has white and coral stripes under that blood).  As much as I knew this was going to be a horror trailer, and in the 80's slasher style, I didn't QUITE do the math on how much fake blood would be involved.  Nor how far the splatter would go.  The upstairs bathroom (shower death scene being a requirement in most slasher films as an excuse to show a little more skin) looked like Dexter visited and forgot his plastic sheeting.  The bathroom and kitchen are cleaner than I think they have ever been because I kept finding splatters of fake blood everywhere.  For example, I don't think I've ever taken a tooth brush to the grout on the floor in my upstairs bathroom.  Washed the floor, sure, but scrubbing on my knees with a tooth brush?  Not really my typical cleaning style.  There was fake blood on the inside of my oven door, under the burners, on the back splash, the little indents under the counters...  It was just... everywhere.  There are a couple of spots I think we're going to need to paint because the red isn't coming out of the porous material.

No sewing was needed for this film set, but I did craft services again. Breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner for a much smaller group than some of the other film sets (a benefit of a 90 second shoot and a minimal crew).  It was enough to keep me on my toes.  Everything went so smoothly they finished up the shoot a few hours early.  Unheard of I tell you.  I think the only thing that went wrong was my spider plant falling.  This happened before the picture above, we were moving the other actors around and getting the lighting right when the spider plant got hooked on someones pants or something and fell, missing her head by maybe 2".
She's got reflexes like a cat that one.  I kept trying to see the plus side of things and for this one, it's that A) the actress moved and was fine, and B) that spider plant was pretty pot bound, it seems a new pot was in order anyhow.  We should have decluttered that corner too, but it wasn't going to be in frame.  Lesson learned.

Past that, it's okay.  I seem to be in a quiet sad spot at the moment.  Not teary or anything, but I lack focus and interest in work.  It's harder to get out the door in the morning, when I get there I don't know where to start, I don't want to call in for my client team meetings.  Not quite sure what to do about it or what to make of it.  I'm on week 2 of some PMS symptoms, I'm thinking that's probably a factor but not the only one.  It seems to be more work focused than home focused (I was a-okay fine on the film set, even with cleaning up the blood), maybe this 5 day a week client facing is just too much.

And amusing to me, my youngest brother Clone and his wife have decided that the name they picked for their son doesn't fit.  So they changed it.  I'm not quite sure why I find it funny, but I do.  Parents pick names so early and who says that it's going to fit the face and personality that you see when the baby is born?  I am pleased they made the change now if they weren't happy, it can't be easy to admit the name you picked just didn't work.  You know my parents only had a girls name for me (my paternal grandmothers name, most of Dad's family died in a car accident 4 years earlier) and only a boys name for Scot, and no name for Clone when we were born.  My mom was convinced I was going to be a boy (to the point she argued with the doctor when he said "it's a girl!") so it's kind of funny they didn't have a boys name for me but there you go.

Monday, April 28

Where has April gone?

I didn't want to be a blogger who apologizes for silence, but I seem to be about to do that.  Let's just get on with a list:

  • Both of my nephews are adorable, healthy boys with a good appetite.  I have spent time with both of them and only cried once and didn't go into any crazy-everything-has-to-be-from-scratch-and-perfect lady.
  • I finished crocheting a blanket for Scot's son.  I'm afraid I don't crochet fast enough for both to have a new blanket, but I'm figuring Clone would have the blanket I made for his daughter.  
  • Mr. Lina took pictures of the skirt I made but I haven't got them off his camera.  I'm wearing the skirt weekly so it's a total win.
  • Mr. Lina had surgery on his sinuses on Thursday to fix his deviated septum and narrow passage.  
  • Surgery went well but recovery is slower than promised.  He was told he could work his desk job the next day.  Ha!  Clearly these doctors have never seen him glassy eyed from Neocitron to know that he'd be completely useless on the pain relievers they prescribed.  
  • I did not go to work the day after because I was afraid he'd fall down the stairs.
  • My car felt that too much attention was being taken by Mr. Lina and decided to shut down just as I was about to park at the hospital.  In the parking garage.  A parking garage with ramps regular tow trucks can't get up.  As my phone was dying.  10 minutes before Mr. Lina needed to check in for day surgery.  Sigh.
  • CAA was wonderful, they took the car to my mechanics without me (I called ahead so they were expecting the car) so I could be with Mr. Lina, my brother picked us up post-surgery.  I can't say I like the bill or the timing, but it could be worse (say shutting down while I was driving on a highway or halfway to the hospital) and everyone went above and beyond the call of duty to make it easier on me.
  • A couple of years ago, The Accidental Mommy wrote a blog post about how much she loves crashing shopping carts.  The post stuck with me (who doesn't like a good crash?) and when I saw Killer Karts at the film festival in Germany, her post popped into my head.  I tracked down her 2011 post and put a little link to the trailer in the comments.  I was tickled pink to see that she liked it enough to repost her shopping cart post with the trailer at the end.  
  • Honestly, the timing of that repost couldn't be better as the car was still in the shop, Mr. Lina was loopy on meds and I had emergency laundry to do after Mr. Lina bled on the pillow overnight.  I needed a good giggle.
So that's what's been going on with me in April.  How about you?

Wednesday, April 16

Horrors of Horrors

Horrors of the movie/convention sort.  Mr. Lina and I spent the weekend at Shock Stock in London, ON.  They aired Tasha on Friday night, too early for me to make it after work.  The guys got a table at the convention - an opportunity to sell DVD's of The Post Lifers and show off some of the prosthetics used in the various films.  That kind of tied us to the convention hall side of things both Saturday and Sunday.

Not bad for being terribly hung over, scarf was purchased at our last house concert.
By "us" I mean Mr. Lina.  I figured there were 3-4 of them there that actually worked on the movies, they didn't really need me at the table so I drifted in and out.  I was mostly there for the socializing in the evening.  It was pretty cool.  I got to know a little more of the film making community that Mr. Lina is connected with.  Quite often I'm introduced to people but don't get to know them, I really enjoyed being able to spend a little more time with those people.
TPL Booth  - That is the mask Mr. Lina wears to play Humphrey.

The hotel that the convention used is all suites.  When Mr. Lina sent me the reservation receipt, I looked up the amenities.  French doors to the bedroom, wet bar with fridge and microwave, desk, sofa, comfy chairs in the living room area... perfect for having people over for pre/post-drinks.  As it turned out, we were on the same floor as the VIP party room, and sure enough, we had 5-12 people in our room pretty frequently.

Mr. Lina met "Scotty" (Hal Delrich) from the Evil Dead movie
One of the people I had met before but didn't know asked me what my role was in Mr. Lina's film making.  I looked around at the people hanging out, the snacks on the desk, the comfort of people and thought... this.  My role is setting things up so Mr. Lina can do what he needs to, figuring out things that he's going to miss, anticipating what will make others happy and comfortable and easier to work with.  It's not like a few pretzels, hummus, and sweets are all that important, but the next day someone mentioned how it helped soak up a bit of alcohol and I felt oddly vindicated.

The horror community seems to appeal to a particular subset of society, people who seem to take pleasure in proving they don't fit into mainstream society.  So me with my basic make-up, un-pierced body and tattoo-less skin, actually stands out as the odd person in the room.  During one of the socializing sessions in our hotel room, we were talking about a line from The Post Lifers.  The character Katie is a former porn star and spends the whole movie talking about sex.  At one point she gets upset saying don't pigeon hole her, she's read books - but then ruins it all buy saying that pigeon holing is awesome... look it up.  I had not heard of it, the writer thought he was making it up, but it is in urban dictionaries and I did explain it to someone I met on the weekend (ah... ranch dressing as lubricant so it ends up looking like pigeon droppings).  She found it rather amusing to hear such naughty words (I was a bit more direct in person) coming out of my mouth.  Funny how the people who seem to want to prove they don't fit sometimes put the same stereotypes they are fighting on others.

All that socializing came at a sleep debt cost that has made this week... challenging.  I'm feeling like I'm in a bit of a fog.  I am happy to help others out, face to face I'm fine, but finding the interest in my own work is challenging.  It's a very good thing that Easter is approaching and it's a short week.

Wednesday, April 9

The Week of Super Aunt Continues

My brother Scot is now a dad.  Under that little hat is a massive amount of blonde hair.


I'm told both baby and mom are doing quite well.  The little guy was born last night so my nephews have birthdays on the 5th and 8th.  I foresee many family birthday parties in early April...


Tuesday, April 8

Super Aunt!

Welcome to the week of Super Aunt.

You may remember that both of my brothers somehow had partners with synchronized ovulation and ended up with due dates one day apart - April 4th and 5th.  How that happens when they live literally 4,500 km (give or take depending on your route) apart, I'm not sure but it did.

Clone (the youngest of us) arrived in time to have a few days with his wife and my niece before my nephew arrived on Saturday, April 5th.  Both my nephew and my SIL are doing really well, I gather he's a pretty hungry baby and feeding well.  With my cough and congestion, I'm not in a rush to meet him, but he is adorable.

Skin time with his dad.
And I just got word that Scot and his fiance are on the way to the hospital.  My mom went to have lunch with his fiance and her mom (who came from Venezuela for the birth) only to find they were off to the hospital because her water broke.  So... more to come on that front.  We know they are having a boy too so I'm going to have a lot of nephew stories.

I'm not quite sure how I'm feeling about all of this.  Being sick is (again) giving me a reason to not join the family fray trying to meet the babies.  I would not wish 2 plus weeks of congestion onto the babies nor the new parents, it's best to keep my distance a little while longer.  While true, I think it also gives me a level of plausible deniability.

I love babies.  I want to hold my nephew (and soon to arrive nephew) so much but there is a cost to holding babies.  I know it's going to make me cry, heck just writing that is making me leaky.  I can't do it when lots of people are around and right now, it seems like it is parent and grandparent time more than aunt time.  I really can't do it with my brothers in laws around.  Being sick is a good reason not to go right now but really, it's an excuse for something I'd be avoiding anyhow.

Soon, but not quite yet.  That feels more honest and I have to be honest with myself about this so I can put on the brave face and lie when I have to.

Tuesday, April 1

Home Sweet Home

Ah what a trip...  5 days or so in York, UK, one night at the Manchester airport, another 5 days in Landshut, Germany.  I think it was about the right length.  I was sad to leave friends but my lungs had enough of their cats.  I had a great time in Germany but by the last night I was happy to know I'd be in my own bed soon.  I was not happy to have the vacation end exactly, but I was happy to be going home.  

The film festival was fantastic.  Again, I can't get over the quality of the films being aired.  I means so much to go to a film festival and enjoy watching almost every single movie.  Think of the last 20 movies you watched, did you actually like them all?  I saw 66 movies between Wednesday and Sunday if I got my count right.  I can think of only a couple that I didn't like, but even then I could find something good about it - maybe the cinematography or the originality of the idea. 

Full theatre for the first screening - Shock Block 6, Body Horror.  Just realized that's my head at the front.

Mr. Lina's film was eligible for two awards - a jury prize and a fan award.  The "Lieblingsschocker" was done by polling the audience for each block of films (there were 7 Shock Blocks) and then on Saturday night they aired all 7 of the best of the block and that audience picked their favourite.  Incredibly, Tasha won their block of "Body Horror".  Going into the finals, it was up against (links are to trailers):
  • The Man Who Could Not Dream (Australia)- narrated by Geoffrey Rush and closing song by Radiohead
  • Fool's Day (U.S.)- made by Cody Blue Snider (the son of Dee Snider from Twisted Sister) with a cast drawn from Law & Order guest spots and Broadway productions, won the audience award.
  • Death of a Shadow (Belgium)- nominated for an Oscar, won the jury prize.
  • Killer Kart (U.S.) - 4 best horror/comedy/short awards
  • Sequence (U.S.) - Winner/nominated for 9 awards at various festivals, I couldn't find a trailer.
  • Good Night (Slovakia)
Honestly, airing with these films is absolutely amazing.  Here we are making films in our own basements and living rooms, using friends for free/cheap labour and competing with Oscar contenders and narrated by Oscar winners.  It's a little surreal.

Mr. Lina (centre) doing Q&A after the Leiblingsschoker screening.

Speaking of surreal...  We went again because it was a good festival that lead to some lasting connections for us and gave us a fun place to go for vacation.  Half of success seems to be who you know and building relationships with other film makers and festival organizers is a good thing.  Still... it's a bit strange on the first day to have a photographer from a magazine recognize us.  Outside of having our picture taken last year, we didn't talk to her.  We also found out from German film makers that we're sometimes listed as an example of how successful the festival has become - people come all the way from Canada!  I think we may have even ended up on local television.  We had to "redo" our greetings to the festival organizer because there weren't cameras playing the first time.  It was rather surreal.

Silliness after too many Shock Blocks!
Anyhoo... I have come home with a horrible cough and head congestion and naturally a bit of jet lag from the 7 hour time difference.  I went to bed a bit past 8pm last night (I tried to wait for the sun to at least set) and pretty much slept through until I heard Mr. Lina in the shower at 7:20 am.  Apparently I was tired.  I was also very happy to be in my own bed.  For some reason, the hotel we stay in pushes two single beds together and provides two single duvets to sleep under.  It's a lovely hotel, we even got a free upgrade because our reservation was missed, but I find the bed & bedding situation a bit strange.  We don't get to cuddle (and we usually fall asleep spooning) without either feeling too hot (if our duvets overlap), too cold (if there is a gap between the duvets) or like I'm falling between the beds.  It's very... strange.

I'll have more updates to come, I have a skirt to blog about!

Tuesday, March 18

I sewed!

Sadly I'm not done yet so I don't have pictures to show you, but progress has been made.  It's been ages since I last sewed and I'd like to commemorate the event with a sewing room saga.

When my parents were in Florida, I had two pieces of corduroy shipped to them from Fabric Mart.  Sadly, I forgot to save the pictures from the web site and I haven't taken my own.  Mind you, black fabric doesn't photograph well anyhow.  So... piece #1 was black Ralph Lauren stretch pin wale corduroy and #2 is a dusky plum (hedging towards brown) very wide wale corduroy.  The reason pictures are moot is that they would not convey how soft both fabrics are.  I swear the dusky plum is like velvet in it's softness.  Both pieces are far better than the fabric I used for my grey skirt, the skirt that has me wanting another corduroy skirt.

I washed the fabric late last week.  I left it to finish the last drying over the railing in the upstairs hallway so it would be in my way, taunting me.  Sunday I had the whole day free.  I woke up and told myself I'm going to sew today.  And did I?  No, stupid Facebook games...

But the England/Germany trip is fast approaching (like two more sleeps approaching).  I thought of how much I want another somewhat casual skirt to wear.  So I did it.  I moved crap from my sewing room to the guest room, I chucked more stuff to clear off the cutting table.  And I was decisive and I cut.

A pencil skirt is pretty basic.  I have made a few skirts and didn't see an issue.  But then I started looking, I've mostly made A-line skirts, or patterns for stretchy fabrics (my mom loved Stretch n Sew patterns), or for a size 10 that would need grading even from the grading I did when I made it before, I couldn't actually find a pattern that was... perfect.  I have a UFO for the pencil skirt for Butterick 5147 but something went wrong at the zipper.  It's horribly warped and yes, I probably need to put some interfacing to stabilize it, but I think part of the problem is that my hip is not the right distance from my waist making it bunch up too high.  It was not the pencil skirt of my dreams.

Somehow, I thought it would be easier to work from a combination of a) measurements, b) the Lekala back skirt piece (no idea where the front piece is) and c) the front DRESS piece for Lekala 5432 just guessing where to put the waist based on the curve of the hip.  I've made Lekala 5432 many times, first as linked above for a wedding with satin and swiss dot, then again in a knit, then again looser in a light rayon.  Lekala has no seam allowances, but I also needed to add width.  The pencil skirt was 3" smaller than my measurements (with no ease),  I know that the dress I wore to the wedding that is the same size as the pieces is too snug at the moment and I used every bit of seam allowance, so it needed a little width too.  Added to this, I had the back pattern piece but no instructions (although it's no real loss, Lekala directions are well, worse than Burda), so I opened up another pattern to borrow the directions.  And yet, I chose to frankenpattern it up because the shape is right.  Mr. Lina loves that dress because he thinks it makes my ass look good.  I trust his judgement on something I can't see well myself.  I added the requisite inches (roughly) and cut away.

At that point, I became my usual terrified self.  What if it's too small?  I knew I wanted either lining or underlining, I've found tights get caught on my grey cord skirt. So I used the already cut corduroy as my pattern and cut out some Bemberg lining.  I sewed it up with the laziest (crappiest) French seams EVER, and pulled it on with lots of room.  Lots.

For my grey skirt, I finished the seams by zigzagging and while it works and it's fine now, there was a phase of finding loose threads everywhere until it essentially shredded back to the stitches.  While I was trying to find pattern pieces, I came across my shoe box of satin bias tape and I thought that would be lovely on the inside.  So now it's sort of a Hong Kong finish with ivory satin bias tape.  But in my slapdash mood, I just folded the tape over and sewed it up rather than two passes to sew it on like proper bias tape.  The plum stitching looks pretty on the ivory satin bias tape.

As I was about to figure out the zipper situation, Mr. Lina came up to bed.  A sure sign it's time to stop sewing.  I really didn't want to sleep with thoughts of how it could be big like the lining or too small.  In attaching the bias tape, I was also having second thoughts because the seam allowances were going to HAVE to be wider than the bias tape (and thus wider than my crappy French seams).  And the corduroy is a lot thicker than lining, there will be turn of cloth kind of issues, I used the cut cord pieces for my lining patters so the lining is naturally a little bigger... maybe it wouldn't fit...

So I set the longest stitches and sewed up the sides.  The zipper isn't done so I can't speak to the true fit, but it's going to be just fine.  It's not crazy potato sack big, it went over my hips and it's not obvious where my thighs end so I won't be crying as I give it away or wait for 10lbs to magically disappear...  it's going to fit.  I can't speak to the fit at the waist, I haven't sewn the front darts nor the zipper, but if there is a little extra room there I might add a little elastic to pull it in rather than using darts to remove it.  A little pretzel and schnitzel room so to speak.

I am going to wear it in Germany after all.

Tuesday, March 4

Movies and Movies and Migraines

I had a migraine on Thursday.  It's been a while since I've had one start at work and felt trapped.  I get auras before my migraines.  In theory, this early warning that life is going to suck should be helpful.  I can start taking medications before my head is about to explode.  The down side, I can't see.  The aura blocks part of my vision (like when a camera flash creates spots) so I have to wait for it to pass before driving home and the prescription meds make me stupid so I don't drive while taking them.  I got home at 6:20 on Thursday (the aura started at 4:30) and by 6:30 I was asleep in bed.  I woke up when Mr. Lina came home and when he came to bed at 11 (enough to wash my face and pee) and slept until the alarm went off.  For me, sleep really is the best remedy.  I have no idea how people manage with chronic migraines.

My migraines are usually tied to stress.  I can't find a single common food, weather pattern, hormone that ties to my migraines.  I used to get them far more frequently with my last job, where I'd say most of my stress came from boredom and feeling penned in than stress in the typical fashion.  I spent two years knowing I needed to leave that job but not sure where to go.  I'd say this job has more typical stress to it, and yet I have fewer migraines.  Sometimes my migraines seem to be my body saying "enough already", like the week of migraines that was my honeymoon.  I held it together leading up to the wedding, but I fell apart when it was done.

I suppose this warrants some thought on my part because I feel very migraine-like today.  I started getting a headache as I drove to work, I took Advil for it.  The pain is not bad, but my eyelids feel heavy, I feel stupid for lack of a better word - switching words, more typos, forgetful.  Something for me to keep track of I think, just in case this is the start of a pattern.

More fun stuff...  movies.

Tasha and Friends is entered into a contest.  I gather that Hellion is looking for a short film that is going to be on a screen in their movie.  To drum up entries, they are running a contest with each week announcing an audience favourite.  T&F is part of week one.  Right now, it has 10% of the votes (top movie has 26%), you don't have to watch any of them, but if you have a minute, I'd appreciate your vote.

T&F is also airing at the Landshuter Kurzfilmfestival and we booked our flight to go.  We went last year and had a great time meeting other film makers including Richard Stanley.  Last year we didn't have a lot of vacation time to put towards the trip.  This year, I have an extra week of vacation and we know what we're getting into.  The plan is to visit friends living in York, UK first.  We'll fly to Manchester (which after reading two Peter Hook books I think of as Madchester) overnight on March 20th, take the train to York and stay from Friday to Tuesday.  I'm hoping we can do a little day trip to Scotland given that York is pretty far north.  Then on the Wednesday we'll fly to Munich for the film festival and come home on the Monday.  A little less whirlwind than last year.  We saw Munich last year and know Landshut well, so we're going to explore other parts of Bavaria, it's not far from Austria and the Dachau Concentration Camp.  But we will likely play those plans by ear.

Booking the tickets makes it seem so much more... real.

Tuesday, February 25

Swiss Cheese Memory

I'm sure I blogged about this at the time, possibly just in passing, but my mothers cousin's husband had a stroke about 18 months ago now.  Sounds like a pretty distant relation, doesn't it?  And yet, in the way of families, I've always felt closer to him and his wife than my aunts and uncles.  Let's call them, oh Don and Ann

My mom and her cousin were close as kids and young adults.  Their grandparents often took them places together (a weekend trip to Ottawa for example), they were bridesmaids for each other.  My parents met about 3 weeks prior to Don and Ann's wedding, Mom brought Dad to the church for the wedding rehearsal and then the minister told my Dad to pay attention because he was next, Dad promptly turned red as a tomato.  Maybe the minister saw something because Dad did propose a month or so later.  But life gets busy with kids and I really don't remember spending a whole lot of time at their house as a kid.  I knew them from family events, but we didn't get together for play dates that I recall.  So the closeness isn't from spending more time with them than my aunts and uncles.

Still, when I was with them, it felt more like puzzle pieces falling together than with my aunts and uncles, a very genuine feeling of being comfortable.  Their daughter and I are like peas and carrots, birthdays weeks apart.  She's autistic and even when we were 11 years old, I liked being around her.  It is fascinating to see how her mind connects seemingly unique songs, phrases and toys/props.  But believe me, if you look, there is a reason she's quoting "The Music Man" or singing Lollipop at that particular moment.  

When I was working on my masters, I helped Don with his PhD.  He did survey based research that required statistical analysis and he didn't know his way around a computer or stats at all.  I think if it was my own research I would have run to the hills scared that it was beyond my skills, but somehow I helped him through it.  His wife was teasing that I was probably under the table at his defense whispering the answers to him.  

In exchange, Don would buy me a very late lunch and part of lunch would be a pint of beer.  But of course if two people are having a pint, it's not that much more to have a pitcher of beer...  Don would be driving home so I would get more of the pitcher than he did. I think I was drunk by 5pm every time we worked on his research.  In the end, I found out I liked dark beers and Indian food, and I gained a friend.  When my 6 year university relationship was ending and I felt lost, alone and hurt, I called him a couple of times when I was an absolute wreck.  He was a friend when I needed it.

So when Don had this stroke, I felt a fear unlike what I've felt for other relatives.  When my grandparents died, I felt they were old and had a good life.  I was sad to lose them and struggled with grief, but not afraid.  But Don is a friend, he feels closer to my age than my parents (which made his 70th birthday party a bit strange).  The other scary part of a stroke is that you don't know what's going to be left behind.  Strokes can be debilitating even for survivors, this was not a small stroke like my grandfather had and recovered from.

A year ago at Christmas, so a few months after the stroke, they had an anniversary party at the hospital.  It was helpful to have familiar people around him and it was great to see improvement from his initial days after the stroke, but it still wasn't... Don.  At the family brunch two weeks ago, he was there and I could see a little bit of the old Don.  But with so many people, and names not being a strong point, it was encouraging but I was still feeling out where the edge of his improvement was.

Wednesday night he phoned us (my favourite moment, I said hello and he said "I do know you!" - keep in mind, he phoned me, but I get it, he was pleased he had the right voice and face and name connected).  After the family brunch, Mr. Lina sent him some links for his movies (Don's background is in film, he's be so supportive and provides very specific feedback) but Don couldn't make them work.  We arranged to come over to watch them together, it's more fun that way anyhow.  

Last night we went to their house and it was lovely.  Don has a Swiss cheese memory - he remembers a pub that he and I went to for lunch 14 years ago, but still can't quite picture what my parents look like.  He could talk film with Mr. Lina - both from a film making perspective about layering sounds and the more hands on work involved with actual film stock.  There is some repetition to topics, or revisiting points because he needs the reminder or more context.  But his humour is sharp, he's building new memories and it was fun to talk about shared times.  Since Ann wasn't there for research days, it's often a new story for her too.  I can see him taking threads of stories and weaving a context for some of the memories he has.  One research day, he wanted to go to a restaurant in a nearby small town where he grew up.  The restaurant was sadly closed that day, but we drove around town and he pointed out his childhood home and told me that his high school principal lived down the street - he couldn't skip school if he wanted to!  And Don chimed in with the principals name.  

Those post-grad years weren't the best times in my life, maybe not the worst but I was pretty confused on a relationship level, scholastic level, what the hell am I doing with my life level...  It wasn't spiralling in the right direction and one insecurity built on the next.  Those times with Don were really good memories for me.  Helping him was good for me, made me feel more confident in what I knew.  He was a friend when I needed it and it was good to see that friend back last night.