Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween

I love Halloween. It's bugged me that as we age, it becomes less acceptable to dress up in costumes for the day, so I was pretty pumped to have two days to dress up this year!

First, my sister hosted her annual Halloween party. I had been having difficulties coming up with an idea for Scott, but when my grandmother offered me an apron, I figured it out rather quickly. If I went as Alice, Scott could go as the White Rabbit! And because I was so budget conscious this month, we spent a grand total of $1.12 on this one - and that was only because I didn't want his big head stretching out one of my headbands.



On me: American Apparel Bandeau dress (proving it is so versatile it can be worn every way... including as a costume!), white tights, black mary janes, apron (from my grandmother) and white dress shirt.

On Scott: his new navy pants, orange shirt, silver vest (from our wedding), the bow from my Shabby Apple dress, flopsy bunny ears and, of course, a pocket watch!

Today, I'm helping organize a staff party over the lunch hour, including a costume contest. While organizing that is helping me overcome my fear of showing up as the only person dressed up in my department, I do still have to contend with riding the bus. Eep!  The Minnie Mouse costume came together at no cost to the board - woohoo!


On me: a dress from a costume of mine from high school, black tights & sweater, yellow shoes, some ears I threw together with the bow from my Shabby Apple dress.

Since my sister stole one of my costumes from years gone by to wear to her party, I thought I'd recap some of them for you!

Charlie Brown & Rainbow Bright
Futurama's Leela &Zoidberg
Ms. Frizzle (The Magic School Bus)

Monday, October 29, 2012

#bekind #hardbattle

To the best of my knowledge, the hashtag #skinnygirlproblems is right up there with #firstworldproblems, as many people tend to feel those are pretty much #notrealproblems. And it's true -- no one wants to listen to a girl complain about being skinny, or having too much money, or what have you. And that's why this post has been weeks, nay, 18 years in the draft stages.

Every fall, without fail, I am faced with the fact that I will be cold, and that someone will inevitably say: "Well you wouldn't be so cold if you put on some fat." It happens on a weekly basis for a good two months every year, with comments coming from strangers, professors, colleagues, sometimes even family. And every time, I offer a measely "shut up" and every time, I fester on the comment for hours, thinking of the retorts I should have said (Foiling them with science: "Actually, muscle mass would be a better means of providing heat," with witty word play: "Being cold is a sacrifice I make to look this hot," or with equal rudeness: "can I borrow some of yours" -- but don't worry, I'd never say that one!!). And I vow that next time, I will take more of a stand.

But the next time comes, and I find I shrink inside myself. I'm not a 28 year old, successful, educated, confident female. I'm back to being the 10 year old girl in the grade 4 hallway after everyone has has left. I still hear from behind me the taunts of a boy lingering after a missed bus. "You're so scrawny! You're like a twig! It's creepy! It's UGLY. YOU'RE UGLY." Sometimes, if the "put on some fat" comment happens a little more frequently, or on a day when I've been beating myself up for something else, I merge that memory with another involving the same pipsqueak "You sound like Kermit the Frog! It's so annoying! I bet you can't even stand to hear yourself think!" I still want to run home, as I did that day, and hide under my blankets crying, too afraid to tell my parents what had happened, not wanting to have to explain it and relive it all again.

So while the professors, colleagues, friends and family may have the best of intentions, not believing their comment will cause any harm, it scrapes the scab off of old wounds, and they become indistinguishable from my childhood tormentor. My #skinnygirlproblem goes from the realm of #notrealproblem to the dark realms of a damaged psyche.

And all with an off the cuff, likely well intentioned comment.

But I also know that next time, I won't slice into them with my razor sharp tongue, even if it is sharpened by wit or logic. Not only do I know my demons won't magically stop taunting me from within, but also that everyone carries their own demons in them. Their comments could be just as much about their problems as my own. But I will hope that for every time someone, out of ignorance, sends me shame spiraling into my past, it will remind me to be careful I am not doing the same to someone else


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Queries, or some weekend homework

As Scott wraps up his work internship this next week and hopefully (mal)adjusts to his unemployed status (I do want to keep him motivated to find a job! Oh, and I'm a terrible wife. I'd never marry me!), I'll be busy making sure he fills his hours with job hunting, resume writing, cleaning.... and of course designing a new website for me.

Naturally, he wants my input. I should be happy about that, but he starts to mention ideas that get me scared to leave the safe confines of a blogger hosted blog for a fully self-hosted custom site with some kind of CMS (content management system) that sounds like a game involving droopy boobs. (Great, remind me not to check my keyword analytics for the next few months).

So naturally, I'm doing what I do best: delegating.

You're my readers, so I want to hear what you think! Answer as many or as few questions as you'd like!

1. What is your favourite way to follow a blog?
2. When you visit a blog (not in a reader) what do you like to see?
3. What are your thoughts on commenting systems?
4. eeep... are you likely to follow a blog when it jumps domains and feeds?
5. What are some pet peeves you have about blog/site designs?
6. What is a blog that really does something well with the design/function?

I'm not so worried about content this time, as much as organization, design and function. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Giving It Away!

This weekend I did two things. I got rid of somethings. And I brought in somethings. It's quite literally a case of one person's trash being another person's treasure. I pawned some of my clothing off on my sister on Saturday. Sunday was spent going through my grandparents' basement for items that either fit into our new decor (which is coming together much slower than I'd anticipated) or had high emotional value.


What never fails to amaze me is that despite the fact that I've been visiting my grandparents at this house since I was born, and the fact that I even lived there for my first year of university, I still find items that I've never seen before, like this copy of "You're You, Charlie Brown".  Since Scott a) likes Charlie Brown, b) dressed up as Charlie Brown one year for Halloween and c) is called Charlie Brown by a few people, I knew it had to come home. Similar logic followed with the "All About Sandwiches" brochure from Agriculture Canada.

Even though I know that we don't have a lot of room to store things, right now, I just couldn't turn down some of these items.

Do you have any items from family that you have to have - but that doesn't go with your decor?

Friday, October 19, 2012

I love my life.

I wrote Friday's post on Sunday, as I was having a lazy day, which inevitably turns into a "feel sorry for me" day. It was a rather narcissistic, whiny post about the rudeness of what is really an insignificant comment frequently made to me which really says more about the people saying it than it does about me. But I digress. I had scheduled it to run 7:30 am on Friday.

At 9:15 pm Monday, I knew that blog post wasn't the message I wanted to broadcast about my life.

Did you know October is Down Syndrome Awareness month*? I'm sure many of you are aware of it through the 21 for 31 blogging challenge - an initiative that raises awareness of the extra 21st chromosome that develops in 6000 children born in the US each year. This challenge not only sheds light on a frequently stigmatized syndrome, but also treats blog readers to daily posts for the whole month of October.

I had navigated to a blog partaking in this 21 for 31 for my daily dose of amusing anecdotes and touching photos mixed with a sprinkling of philosophy.  I initially skimmed over the lead video embedded in the post. Despite being somewhat of a technophile, I am not into vlogs or video clips. But the title of the post stuck in my head: "I would rather be slow to learn than slow to love:" a quote from the video. In a very uncharacteristic move, I clicked play.


Julie Tennent's desire isn't simply to raise awareness for a syndrome which she loves, as it makes her unique. The message emblazened across her shirt, across her website and across her smile is simple: Julie wants us to know she loves her life.

Julie's enthusiasm is infectious to say the least. However, lingering behind each sentence, you know she has faced adversity. "[My grandfather] said that when people make fun of me, it's because they are missing something, not me." While literally true, and an amusing turn of phrase, it highlights the truth: Julie faces the curious and dark side of human nature, likely a much cruel side than any of us see that regularly. While I sulk on my couch, fretting over offhand comments and backhanded compliments, Julie continues to love her life.

It's a good thing Blogger has a "delete" button. I do not have a shirt like Julie's (available for sale here) to clearly state the meaning of my life, or even the message of this blog. But every post I write, and every day I live sends a message out to the world. And for that reason, I don't want to dwell on what others say about me, but rather focus on what I am saying to others.

If you had one message you had to share with the world (and it had to fit on a shirt!), what would you say?

*In the States. Canada's Down Syndrome Awareness week is the first week in November.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In 8 Bit Colour

I made my niece the awesomest mobile when she was born.

Turns out it's hard to top that when a nephew comes around (and intends on using said mobile).

While my first baby-boy-focused craft is maybe not as much of a keepsake as the mobile (because you'll make one of them keep it, right, Deb?!?!), it certainly was fun.

Our local Zellers is closing, having been bought out by Target, which meant that during my every-second-night practice drives, I took a spin through the clearance sales, eventually collecting a rainbow of onesies.

The bright colours reminded me of the NES, namely the Super Mario Bros franchise. The 8 bit characters seemed easy enough to recreate.

I drew the outline of the characters on cardboard, and traced them onto the onesies with a bleach pen. The blue one needed only 5 minutes, where as I did about 45 minutes for the orange, and, as you can tell, it's the least clear of the designs. While the designs are not evenly bleached, the 'Lil Bit can only wear one at a time, especially since they're different sizes, no one needs to know!!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Clothing Creativity

Never before have I truly understood the idea of shopping your closet before shopping a store as I have over the last week.

We have been in the mindset that Scott doesn't have any clothes. In a mad panic, we blew large sums of money pulling together a wardrobe that would take him through his internship and, hopefully, into at least the first month at a new job.

Since we thrifted the grand majority of this new wardrobe, and hadn't yet laundered and altered many of the new pieces, Scott worked himself into a panic after the first day of work, when he wasn't quite sure what to wear on that second day.

Opening his closet revealed 16 button down shirts, 14 of which fit and were in good condition, 12 of which could easily pair with the solitary pair of black pants which were ready to wear.

For a boy without any clothes, he sure had a lot of options.

That being said, I do know large holes existed in his wardrobe - not just in condition of the clothing, but in options. He was desperately in need of pants, and could definitely use some sweaters. After getting what we would likely consider a minimum of these ("we" referring to those of us who pass our time dreaming up new outfits and colour combinations), I set to work showing Scott what outfits he could pull together.

Even with few pants and sweater options, selecting one simple white shirt made over 30 different outfits.

While not every shirt in Scott's closet could merit that many outfits, assuming they could each average about 20, the few pieces in his wardrobe paired with his 12 work-appropriate button down shirts could last an entire work year without repeating an outfit. And that was without considering the different combination with vests, ties or shoes (all of which Scott considers: "additional pieces of flare" and not actual clothing items).

If 12 shirts, 6 pairs of pants, 4 sweaters, and 2 jackets can yield approximately 240 outfits, it really does beg the question as to why I (and likely many of you) stand in front of our crowded closets and complain: "I have nothing to wear". The options truly are limitless, we just need to get creative.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Me time

Life has been upside down inside out crazy, and I'm not entirely sure why. I do know the context for the crazy, but it does not make sense as to why it is affecting me. Scott finished school last week and has started an internship. While buying him excessive amounts of clothes (for a job that doesn't pay no less) did hit me where it hurts the most (bring my closet), he should be the one experiencing the "life as I know it is changing!" disorientation.
Signs of these changes are very present in my life. No homework for either of us means we finally have time to spend together on evenings and weekends. It also means that we no longer have excuses for leaving laundry until the last minutes, letting food dry on dishes, and ignoring the fact that we haven't seen the vacuum in weeks. Finally, the time has come to implement....... a routine.
It turns out that after 3 years of wanting desperately to do so, it's hard. Groceries on argues day has always been in place. Laundry on Wednesday functions well in a shared laundry room environment, as who thinks to do laundry on a Wednesday? And cleaning the apartment on Thursday just makes sense for freeing up the weekend.  But suddenly having plans THREE nights a week is imprisoning.
Despite having all this free time and help to get stuff done, I've never been so overwhelmed with the prospect of it.
But perhaps that's just it. With a schedule, it's not free time. Maybe it never was (as these jobs all still needed to be done and I certainly didn't change the hours I had available to do them). Instead, I'm finding I have to make the adjustment that all that wonderful "Me Time" has now become "We Time"
But I'll admit that waking up in a clean house on a Friday morning feels like a pretty good way to head into this weekend.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Clean in the Closet

"No, Scott! Why are you washing the floor with my facecloth?!?!"
It's a common complaint on a Saturday morning when I've reached my breaking point for cleaning. Admittedly, when I introduced Scott to my rag pile, it was confusing. Old face cloths, torn up sweatshirts, and unidentifiable fabrics look very much like new facecloths, accidentally destroyed clothing, and my sewing fabric stash. In order to stop the confusion, and reduce the anger we both inevitably feel when we go to put the laundry away, I finally took the time to build an organizational system.

Of course, I'm including this in our $50 apartment makeover, so I saved up cereal boxes for months. I gathered those up and my three favourite tapes: masking, duct and measuring!

  1. Remove everything from your linen closet and divide up into groups, roughly by how you'd like them to be on the shelf
  2. Measure your shelf and mark it out on your floor with masking tape. It allows you to work somewhere a little less inconvenient than in front of the closet, if your linen closet is in as high of a traffic area as ours is!
  3. Figure out what boxes will work best on the shelf, and what needs to be boxed and what can be free standing. I refuse to fold rags, so I needed a box I could just toss them in. I also like separating the kitchen towels into dish-drying and hand-drying, so it's a little less confusing for Scott. 
  4. Play with different arrangements within the taped shelf to see what will work best. Keep in mind you won't be accessing from above but from the front!
  5. Think of ways to keep like things together. We have entire bedroom sets (bed skirts, pillow cases, shams, etc) that don't necessarily mix and match with what we're currently using, so we've bundled everything from each set into a single pillow case, so we know where everything is when we feel the need to switch it up, without having to worry about everything toppling out together. 
  6. Even once you've figured out what fits together on the shelf, think about on which shelves things should go. For us, our kitchen towels and our bathroom towels are our most frequently used items, so those go on the middle shelves. 
My favourite part about this subject (other than it's a great way to distract my mother whenever she tries to snoop into our not-quite-done-and-thus-a-mess bedroom)? How easy it is to put everything away, so now Scott doesn't have an excuse for washing the floor with the same cloth I use to wash my face.

 Oh, and the fact I did it all at no cost!!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Stuck in a rut or finding my groove?!

I have been getting dressed, all these months, even if I don't have photo evidence. It's been fun not stressing about clothes. At the same time, it's also been harder to notice patterns, analyze success, or even remember whether I've worn a certain article of clothing (and thus whether to find it in the drawer, because it's not dirty; on the chair, because it's not that dirty; or in the hamper, because it is!

So as an experiment, I've taken pictures of three outfits from the last week or so.

How does one decide whether one is in a rut, or has found their groove? Similar colour palettes, similar silhouettes, heck, even the same pose!?!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A cut above the shoulder

As I mentioned on Monday, I was id'd, and it made me re-thinking my image. So while I'm still not entirely sure how the "white-trash-sports-car" (whose subwoofer definitely kicks out the bass despite my attempts to NOT rattle the windows in the neighbourhood) fits into my image, I do know I don't like having long hair.

That's not entirely true - I love the option of pony tails and updos to avoid the daily mess of washing hair, drying hair, straightening hair, styling hair. However, I don't think long hair works on me. My neck is too long, my jaw too undefined.

So I took the plunge. I instantly trusted my latest hair dresser (after months of disappointments, followed by pleading my mother to cut my hair in the middle of her kitchen the day of a wedding), and chopped off about 6 inches of hair.





It was almost immediately that I felt that not only did the hair suit me, it also suited my age, my job, and my life.


That is, until I tried to hit the gym on my lunch hour, and couldn't resort to the post-shower sock bun.  And this last weekend? Both Scott and I were id'd buying a bottle of scotch. Because that is what under aged kids drink, right?

But despite the inconvenience and the ineffectualness of the haircut, it's still me, and that's what matters!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just like being 16 again

The first week of term, we went out to celebrate surviving the re-introduction of students into our milieu by hitting up the on-campus watering hole. At the door, I was asked for ID. I will admit, I kind of snarked at the guy as I presented my license. Upon examining my date of birth, his eyes widened and he responded: "Oh WWOOWW!" in reaction to the fact that I have been of legal drinking age for over a decade. Add to that the moment when I was stopped in the hallway on campus and informed of a student rally happening to protest the high wages of faculty and staff. I had no choice to inform him that I was, indeed, one of those "high paid staff member" and not the student for whom he had mistaken me. Needless to say, I revamped my image that week to appear a little more age-appropriate.

Late 20s are that time when you finally feel the confidence you lacked as a teenager, the direction you lacked in your early 20s, and have not yet had the paralyzing fear of age that I hear comes with the 30s. I certainly feel no need to re-live or appear to re-live the days of my early youth.

And then we got a new car.

No, I didn't go through a midlife (or quarter life) crisis that involved going out and buying a fancy sports cars in a vain attempt to recapture my youth. I went through a late night quasi-emergency in which our definitely-not-a-sports-car failed to show any signs of youth and just barely chugged its way into starting with some not so subtle persuasion from me. And then we got a not-so-fancy let-pretend-to-call-it-a-sports-car.

While I have found it a little difficult to form any kind of bond with Scott's middle brother, and he and Scott aren't the closest of siblings, he gained major points with both of us when he offered us his old car, including registration and insurance. There was only one catch: it's a standard.


I assured my husband's family it wasn't a big deal, I'd driven standard before. I even managed to go through the 5 minute test drive with my brother-in-law only stalling once. Fortunately, he chalked the jerking and the grinding to not having driven a standard in about 10 years. The real reason? Not only had it been 10 years, but I'd only driven standard, twice, briefly both times, and one of those times may have been a tractor.

While the oversight in mentioning that did mean that we were handed the keys, I failed to see the downfall. I would have a very steep learning curve to overcome on my own.

Remember learning to drive at 16, with a frazzled parent in a passenger seat, and inevitably one of you would bolt into the house in tears after a lesson? Now imagine all that same anxiety, but without the support that you knew - but denied - was lurking under the surface from your cautious co-pilot.

What you're left with is the exact same feeling I have now, as I accidentally peel out of my parking spot, as I lurch into first, and unexpectedly rev my engine at stop signs. Certain, at every intersection, I'm going to stall; at every merge that I'm going to kill some one, and with every turn I'm going to embarrass myself, I force myself into the driver's seat every second night and make myself drive a little further out of my comfort zone. But as the weeks wear on, there are fewer and fewer nights I bolt into the apartment in tears.

I'm sure in a few weeks, I will feel a little less like my 16 year old novice driving self, and that in a few years, I will look more fondly on my youth. But in the meantime, I will be very appreciative of having supportive co-pilots my first time through gaining my fledgling wings, and, above all, to appreciate the age that I am at now, where I have the confidence I need to face the ghosts of my 16 year old self, only this time to face them alone.