Budget? I thought you said fudge it….

Image

When did life get so expensive? Its never been cheap, but lately I have been taking some stock in our day to day expenses and I’m just not sure I can afford to have one much longer. It’s not that we live beyond our means, but I can see us moving into the neighbourhood. And let me tell you – the view from there is not all sunshine and daisies.

The reason for this is simple. We have a lot of kids. We didn’t mean to; it just sort of happened. We lived up North for a while, and I am convinced there was something in our water supply. Nothing else makes any sense.

So now that we have them, they tend to need stuff, constantly. Like, food and clothes and shelter and shoes. Which is fine, we have a budget for that. What I didn’t factor into the financial equation was that the growth of these needs would increase exponentially at the rate of … well I’m no mathematician, so let’s just say … a lot.

For example: in the past month I have bought my two eldest sons a total of twelve new pairs of jeans. Guess how many still fit them? If you said four, you would be correct. They go to bed at night, and in the morning when they get dressed, they appear to be taking the movie NOAH a little too seriously. Now, if a great flood does occur these two are all set, but as for this moment, not so much.

My youngest son goes through shoes like paper napkins. I do literally mean he goes “through” shoes. If he still has the same pair for two months, it’s only because he lost one of them for four of those weeks. Typically, we get about six weeks from the time we buy them until the time we must say goodbye to them. I’ve tried purchasing more expensive shoes to see if it is a quality issue. It’s not. He just wears them and then at some point they resemble Swiss cheese.

My daughter is graduating this year, so we remortgaged our house. At first I thought we’d be okay, but then we went dress shopping, and apparently her gown is going to cost more than my first car. Which is fine, of course. I don’t begrudge her that. The good news is that she will never, ever wear it again, so that will be money well spent.

When I go grocery shopping I usually fill 2 carts to the point where a degree in engineering would be of benefit, especially when I try and get everything back in them after I have paid. Yes, I’m the lady chasing oranges all over the parking lot because I failed to properly secure my produce bag. Don’t judge me; I’m a woman on the edge.

People in line behind me often ask if I’m having a party. I’d love to say yes, but it’s just not in the budget. Also, although I’m not sure if there is an actual test for the locust gene, if there is then I’m pretty certain my kids have it. I say this because I fill the cupboards and both refrigerators (yes, I said both) on Saturday and by Thursday we are typically coasting on fumes and sketchy leftovers.

We also consume so much milk in a week that I have actually looked into purchasing a cow. I’m not sure we are zoned for livestock though, so that idea is still very much in the infancy stage . No need to send the neighbours into a panic just yet.

So what’s the answer? A second job? Maybe. A revised budget? Perhaps. Child labour? I wish. The darn industrial revolution ruined that dream for parents everywhere. So I guess we will just keep on doing the best we can. Paying Peter while borrowing from Paul so we can raise four beautiful children and chase the fruit of our labour through the parking lot of life.

 

If it doesn’t fit…..you just convict.

Last weekend I decided to get a new door for our pantry. The old one and our family had had a parting of the ways. If I were to tell the story I would say that it was poorly crafted and lacked the required opening and closing ability that I require of a door. If it (the door) were to tell it, you would probably hear that the constant slamming and rough housing were responsible for its demise. Regardless I’m not about to play the blame game with a door. So out with the old and in with the new.

Now if you have been following any of my previous columns you might be aware that if there is an easy way to do things we will generally opt to not do it that way. I’m not sure exactly why that is but it does seem like it is a particularly common theme for us and (spoiler alert) this time was no exception.

So off to the home building store we went. I hadn’t done my usual on line pre shop so we were flying a bit blind, but we eventually did decide on one and brought it , home. The salesman had indicated that it was extremely easy to install and we should have it hung in about 15 minutes. Now I’m not saying that was the deciding factor on the one we chose but it definitely did make it one of the more appealing choices.

In the past I have generally chosen to let my husband handle the installations of most household upgrades. But with the wounds still rather fresh from the latest dishwasher escapade I decided to be an active participant this time. Facebook friends would have to wait.

We emptied out the pantry and prepared for the quick and easy hanging of our beautiful new door. It was 11am. The first sign that things were not going well happened about 10 minutes after. Apparently the door was a little too tall. This was all sounding a little too familiar for my taste and I was starting to get a little anxious. Why is it so hard to remember to measure things? Properly. The first time. I cannot answer that… It just is.

So okay next steps. Do we take the door back? No. Do I walk away and contemplate the limited options that are available. NO!! Been there and done that. I stood firmly beside my husband and said the phrase that always comes to mind when my house is being uncooperative.

” we should just move.” This house is too complicated for us. It doesn’t “fit” our needs”. It’s being totally unreasonable.

So after about another 20 minutes of back and forth speculation we came to a decision the flooring would have to come up. No big deal it was laminate easy to reinstall. After we had removed the flooring we tried to hang it again. No luck. So we decided to cut up the floor board. Yes we were now cutting things again.

One more time to no avail. Still not enough variance to hang this thing. My husband was eyeing up my tile with a little too much interest and I saw where this was headed. We were going all in and he was cutting out the tile. It’s 1:30pm and I was about to call that very helpful salesman and share some thoughts with him. Easy install??? I don’t think so.

Tile has now been chewed up and destroyed and I was having some serious flashbacks. The good news is that this time we were successful in hanging my beautiful new door. The bad news….well let’s just say one simple project has given birth to several new projects that will no doubt in time have babies of its own.

                                                                         Image

 

 

m>

 

You can still win….even if you don’t play.

image

I didn’t win the lottery again this week. I didn’t roll up the rim of my Tim Hortons coffee cup and become the proud new owner of a Toyota Corolla. I also didn’t scratch and win and I didn’t cry out “bingo”. There wasn’t even a knock at my door from the good people at Publishers Clearing House congratulating me and handing over a giant check. (Kind of crazy to give a person a check that big in my opinion. How would you ever get it in the bank machine?) but I digress.

I know you are probably thinking this is another one of my sad woe is me tales, and you’ve already grabbed your tissues and are mentally preparing yourself for a good cry. But fear not friends this is not one of those rants.

You see the reason I didn’t win anything this week is because I didn’t play. And I didn’t play because I don’t get gambling.

It’s not that I can’t grasp the concept, I’m not stupid. I just can’t fathom why people do it. Now before any of you Texas hold ‘em fans come at me all guns a blazing. Relax. I’m not judging. If it makes you happy go for it. I’m a closet Trekkie and love blue bubble gum ice cream. So who am I to tell you how to spend your free time?

But here’s the question that begs to be answered…does it make you happy?

Recently I had the pleasure of spending an evening with some friends who love to go to the casino. It is probably one of my least favourite activities and falls somewhere between cleaning out my fridge and grocery shopping with a 2 year old. But not wanting to spoil their fun I slapped a smile on my face and followed them to the ATM.

After paying a ridiculous amount of money ($3 )to take out $20 I was already feeling like this was not going to be my night. That $3 could of bought me one scoop on a waffle cone and would have lasted a whole lot longer than the $20 bucks I was about to hand over to the obnoxiously loud slot machine.

We picked what was sure to be the machine that would lead us all to financial freedom and settled in on our stools. The greedy beast swallowed my 20 bucks like the vacuum it was and so began the fun. I pulled and lost and pulled and won. Sometimes a whole 75 cents. It was a crazy and I was bored.

So I stopped paying attention to my machine and the crazy rows of mining elves that never quite matched up and started watching the people around me. What I saw was quite surprising.

No one appeared to be enjoying themselves. They didn’t smile or laugh or do any of the things people generally do when they are partaking in an activity they enjoy. They just sat transfixed, mindlessly pressing the spin button and waiting for Lady Luck to show up and change their life.

Occasionally there would be a ding ding ding somewhere in the casino which would jolt them back to reality and make them look around to see who had just become the latest big winner of a whopping $274.

I guess that person had a good night. Of course it was not disclosed how much he had fed the giant chrome beast before he hit his jackpot. I guess that’s not really the point. He won.

I won too, but then I lost….it all. At one point I was up $15.35 and then just like that it was all gone. Which was fine. I learned a long time ago that if I was going to make money in life I was going to have to work for it.

And then it hit me. Maybe the reason some of the people didn’t look like they were enjoying themselves was because they weren’t. Maybe this wasn’t them having a fun night out it with friends it was actually them trying to make money. Maybe at some point this had become a job for them and they were just waiting to get paid. Sadly, this boss rarely handed out big bonuses and there were no paid benefits.

Now I’m sure there are lots of people who do go to casinos and enjoy every minute of the experience. They allot themselves a bit of money to gamble and from time to time walk away with a little more than what they came in with. They laugh and joke and at the end of the night they can honestly say they have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

As for the others…a piece of advice. The house always wins, so go find the nearest ice cream shop, have yourself a double scoop of your favourite flavour, grab a newspaper and look for a new job. I hear they are hiring at Baskin and Robbins mention my name and you as good as hired!

 

 

Thank you but I don’t need a break

 

Just now, I threw another ball into the air. At this point I think the current number of balls I am juggling is about 3,978, give or take (margin of error on this number is directly proportionate to my propensity to exaggerate). Suffice it say there are professional clowns that are envious of my mad skills.

This week was beyond busy, and next week is shaping up to be just as bad. My To Do List is so extensive that I am experiencing carpal tunnel symptoms just writing it all down. Every time I check something off, I think of no less than three more things to add. Then my phone will ring, or an email will pop up, then I’ll get a text and someone will comment on my Facebook status and and and …

I know I am not the only person experiencing these challenges. I see the looks of quiet desperation on people’s faces when they are forced to wait longer than 2 minutes at the Tim Hortons drive thru. We might actually need to reassess our lives when we don’t have time to wait for coffee.

What are we trying to prove? We will never finish it. It’s a fools errand … Which reminds me, I have to pick up my dry cleaning and a new notepad so I can write more Lists.

Have you ever seen the hamster on the wheel chasing the cheese and never catching it? That’s me. Just a crazed animal, furiously chasing the ever elusive achievement of being finished … The List. Really, at this point I would be happy just to finish writing it; then at least I could get down to the ‘doing’ part of the exercise. Great, I forgot to write down exercise … I wonder, is extreme writing considered cardio? It’s times like this that having ADD can be both a curse and a blessing.

Squirrel.

So how do I cope? I used to say things like, “I just need a break.” I don’t anymore. Why, you ask?

It was about this time, 9 years ago. I was feeling so overwhelmed that all I ever seemed to say was,”I need a break.” I practically started and ended every sentence with those 5 words. Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘be careful what you wish for?’ The universe listens, and it thinks itself very funny. You see, as I was drowning in things I needed to do, and was calling out for a 5 minute timeout to pause and reflect, I was given just that.

I fell down the stairs and broke my back.
So I got the break I was looking for, with the added bonus of a literal break. I never ask for breaks anymore. Not a coffee break, a break in traffic, a spring break or even a commercial break.
I don’t even like to talk about checking my brakes; I just do this crazy little wordless play indicating to my mechanic he should check them. Thank goodness he gets me now, because I’m not going to lie, the first time I did this, I failed to properly communicate my needs. That led to a few awkward moments where the possibility of a restraining order may or may not have been discussed.

So now, I just ask for what I actually want; a vacation on a sunny beach in the Caribbean. So far, the universe has been pretty stingy handing those out; probably because this lacks the comedic irony it yearns for.

So where’s the ‘Ah Ha!’ moment of my story, the epiphany, the witty conclusion that ties this mad rant up in a nice bow and leaves you, the reader, feeling that all is well? To be honest, I don’t actually know. I do know that it was undoubtedly freaking brilliant. You would have been so impressed. It might have changed the very fabric of your existence. Sadly, I wrote it down on one of The Lists and proceeded to put it in a safe place so I wouldn’t lose it. We all know how that story always ends.

Image

If the truth hurts it’s probably a conspiracy.

 

There is an evil imp running amok in my home and, while I’ve never actually seen him, I know exactly when he’s been around. I believe he works at night and probably has other ne’er-do-well imps assisting him.  I’m sure he thinks he is amusing.  He is wrong.  The shenanigans he and his fellow miscreants get up to are both cruel and self-esteem-crushing.

What does he do you ask? Well I’ll tell you.

He has been slowly shrinking my pants and other articles of clothing that, only 6 months ago, fit me perfectly.  I think he has a little sewing kit; he sneaks into my closet at night and makes minor adjustments to the waistbands of my trousers.  Nothing too noticeable at first, just a nip here and a tuck there. He is obviously all about the long con.

It’s not just my clothes he’s been sabotaging either.  He has also managed to have all the bathroom scales set 15 pounds heavier.  How he does that is beyond me.  Clearly he has a background in engineering.  Or maybe he is invisible and stands behind me with a foot on the scale while I’m on it.  I really wouldn’t put anything past him.

 

                                                                     Image

Now, how he manipulates my mirrored reflection is beyond me. When I’m standing in front of it, it actually looks as if I’m slightly more robust than I used to be.  Maybe he was once employed at a carnival and was in charge of the House of Mirrors.  It makes sense; I’ve been in those places and they can make anyone look like they follow a strict diet of Ding Dongs, burgers and Big Gulp sodas.

Why is he picking on me, though?  What did I do to deserve such a blatant attack on my self-esteem?  I’m a good person.

I support local charities.  Why, just last week the girl guides came to my door and I bought 8 cases of their thin mint cookies. Not sure what became of them, though. I saw the boxes in the trash a few days later. Maybe the little imps got hungry and helped themselves to my stash.  I certainly couldn’t have consumed them all by myself, and I was the only one who knew where they were.

I am also doing my part to lower my carbon footprint. I used to work out regularly, which caused me to breathe harder and with more frequency. Recognizing that my increased out flow of carbon dioxide could potentially have a negative effect on our already fragile eco-system, I have sacrificed my exercise program for the greater good.  Don’t quote me on the science; I don’t claim to be an expert. I’m just one person trying to make a difference on this great blue marble we call Earth.  It takes a village, people.

Now while I cannot prove with absolute certainty that these imps exist, and that they have been slowly but surely wreaking their havoc on my existence, I have come to a decision which could prove to be quite lucrative. I’m going to start a home-based business. I will provide overnight clothing alterations for a nominal fee.  I’ll hang them up in my closet and put the little scamps to work for me instead of against me.  That will teach them to mess with an entrepreneur.

I have to run; pizza’s here and I have to make sure they didn’t forget the extra cheese. Did I mention how I support local businesses?

 

 

I’d like to report a crime

 

 

Somebody call 911!  I’ve been robbed of an hour of my life, and I want it back!  Apparently, a thief slipped into my house last Saturday night while I slumbered and took it upon itself to steal my time.  At first, I thought the batteries in my clock been removed to power an Xbox remote. In our home, good batteries are almost as rare as unicorns and full jugs of milk.  Upon closer inspection though, I noticed that the hands on the clock were still moving but did not reflect the same time as my other devices.

 

This was shaping up to be a real Scooby Doo mystery, and I was becoming increasing perplexed.  I decided to turn on CNN and see what it said because everyone knows television doesn’t lie.  My mouth fell open in shock as the heinous truth was revealed to me.  It was one hour later than it should have been.  I often think I’m on borrowed time and for someone to just walk right into my life and help themselves to 60 whole minutes ….well suffice it to say it was a devastating blow.

 

This isn’t the first time he’s attacked, and apparently I am not his only victim. I find this act of treachery unconscionable. Time is precious to humans. We never have enough hours in a day as it is and to have one arbitrarily cease to exist is completely unacceptable.

 

There is no telling what I could have done with that hour, what I could have accomplished.  I might have solved the mysteries of the universe or at the very least figured out the Caramilk secret.  It was definitely the hour I planned to go to the gym, and now I’ve lost the momentum. Thanks to him I will be shame spiraling at the beach all summer.  

 

I’ve been running late all week thanks to this criminal.  I could have received a speeding ticket trying to make up for lost time.  And try explaining that to a police officer, I dare you.

 

“I’m sorry officer. I left my house at 2 am and somehow a mere 60 seconds later it was 3am.  Is this a radar trap or a worm hole through time? “

 

At best you’re going to receive a sobriety test and at worst be held on 72-hour psyche evaluation.  This thief could potentially have you serving time for a crime that he himself committed.  Diabolical that’s what he is…

 

 

The sad reality is we know who he is and when he strikes, but the authorities are powerless to stop him. He goes by the name Daylight Savings Time, and his crimes go back almost a hundred years.

 

                                                                           Image 

 

Death of a Dishwasher

Recently, my dishwasher passed away. We held a small funeral; immediate family members only. It was a sad day, but as I’m not one to dwell, I put on my big girl pants and started shopping for a replacement. Sounds callous, I know, but I think wherever old Dishy Mcdisherson is, she understands.

It didn’t take long to find the “one”. She was perfect. Gleaming stainless steel with a heavy load capacity. She even had a food disposer, which is great for us because my children think pre-scraping is something that happens right before they start a fight with one another.

I was in love, or at the very least, willing to stop seeing other dishwashers.

I purchased her and brought her to her new forever home. Weird how I refer to her as a her . . . Perhaps because doing the dishes is a woman’s job . . . Said no woman ever. I just put that in there to see if you were paying attention.

Anyhow, back to my story.

I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to have her moved in so she could begin making my dishes sparkle and my silverware shine. I called my husband and told him to strap on his work belt, charge up his power tools and channel his inner handyman.

When I arrived home my hubby and I brought her in and carefully carried her up the stairs and into our kitchen. I should qualify the word “carefully”. We may have hit a wall or two on the way up, which will probably require a smidge or so of dry wall repair and a dab of paint but luckily, she came through unscathed.

At that point, feeling I had done my part, I left to share the big news with my Facebook friends. Just as I was about to send my exciting status update, however, I heard my husband express himself in the most colourful way. Judging by his tone and his preference for words that rhyme “truck “and “spit”, I immediately knew that something was amiss.

I called out, asked him what was the matter. He then said three words to me that I will never forget.

“It doesn’t fit.” Just like me in high school, she was too tall.

I couldn’t believe it. How was this possible? I had done all the research, asked all the right questions. I had even stared into the salesman’s eyes and asked him “is that your best price?” This situation was unacceptable. I told my husband to take the wheels off and any other non-essential parts; make it fit. Sadly, he had already thought of that.

So I walked away. I needed time to think and my husband was starting to become poor company to be around. It wasn’t five minutes later that I heard the sound. It didn’t make sense at first; it was just this loud buzzing and grinding noise.

I followed the sound into the kitchen and it was there I found the source. My husband was wielding a jigsaw like Jason from Friday the 13th, minus the hockey mask. It seemed that he had concluded, in his infinite wisdom, to cut our kitchen counter in half and slide her into place. When I asked him how he had come to this decision he said “it didn’t fit…so I made it fit.” While I did argue the method I really couldn’t fight the simplicity of his logic.

So what began as an innocent quest for cleaner dishes ended up as a rather extensive and expensive kitchen renovation.

You might be wondering what the moral of this story is, and that, my friends, is surprisingly simple.

Measure twice ….cut NEVER!!!

 

                          Image

 

 

I Can’t Remember Where I Left My Mind?

 

Missing one mind last seen about 19 years ago. Known associates slender figure and perky boobs. If you should find it do not approach. It is more than likely happy and blissfully unaware that it isn’t exactly where it should be. I like to imagine it living a life full of existential thoughts and brilliant hypothesis on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean.

For a time my mind and I were inseparable. Now I find myself losing it on daily basis. When I was a student we worked together learning new skills, challenging antiquated ideas and strategizing the exact amount of effort required to stay wake during calculus. I was for lack of a better word, brilliant.

I thought that my brain and I were capable of just about anything. Maybe not curing cancer or time travel but I definitely should have been able to pitch my own reality show. Now when I see shows like the Kardashians I am reminded how deep into mindless mediocrity I have sunk.

Now it’s not like I was ever offered a MENSA application but I did have days when I could remember where I parked my car at Costco. Now I just push my cart with the broken wheel around the lot 2 or three times muttering to myself like a lunatic. If anyone asks if I need help I just laugh and tell them that my personal trainer suggested that this kind of exercise is all the rage in Europe and if they would like I could email them the literature.

I remember days when I used to find my keys before I lost them. I could remember appointments without obnoxious prompts from my smart phone. You could ask me the name of best friends aunt that I met that one time at the beach in 1986 and I could rattle it off like it was no big thing. These days if I am able to identify the name of the child I am addressing in less than 3 attempts I feel like I just won final Jeopardy.

I know it’s too late now. My mind has moved on and it forgot to leave me a forwarding address. Sadly if it had left me one I probably would have just put in a safe place with all of my other important stuff. These items much like the body of Jimmy Hoffa are not likely to be located again in my lifetime.

So what happened? What changed?

Is it sleep deprivation? It might be I haven’t slept through the night since….wait what year is it? Suffice it to say it’s been awhile.

Could it be stress…studies have shown that there is a definite link between stress and diminished cognitive function. Although I can’t remember where I read that.

My best guess is my mind vacated the building about 19 years ago this coming March. How can I be so certain you ask? That’s when I became pregnant with my first child and it’s never been the same since. I think my mind had to leave to make room for the rest of me. I became a tiny bit enormous.

It’s not all bad news though, I do occasionally I have intermittent moments of cohesive thoughts. I usually try and do something constructive when they come on like balance my check book or figure out where I left my cell phone, but today I chose to write this instead.

Will my check to the electric company clear this month? It’s possible, but I should make a mental note to buy some candles and put some matches in a safe place.

Who am I kidding chances are this time next week my house will be plunged into darkness and for a moment or two I’ll probably think…Zombie apocalypse? 

 

 

                                            Image

 

 

Am I A Crazy Canuck?

                                                        Image

It has come to my attention that while watching Olympic hockey some Canadians have quite literally lost their minds. We as a nation are proud of 3 things the first thing is hockey and the other 2 are….well other stuff..

Sadly, a lot of us are probably genetically predisposed to so called hockey fever. However there are times like these when something almost primal takes over and we take our passion to a whole other level of crazy.

And as I believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…..here are a few warning signs that may indicate that you too might need a 2 minute time out in life’s penalty box.

1. You refuse to wear anything but your teams colours on game day which normally is just patriotic but maybe not so much when it only includes body paint and hair dye.

2. You prefer to be home alone while watching the game because your so called friends have a habit of saying things like:

“Calm down it’s only a game.”

or my personal favourite:

“Are you going to pay for my TV …..cause you just put my kids Xbox through It?”

3. You tend to have conversations/ arguments with the referees that may or not be construed as threats against their person. This may happen pre or post game and usually only if you can sweet talk/bribe your phone company into giving you their home numbers. I’m not saying I’ve done it…but I’m not saying I haven’t..

4. Sometimes you forget to breathe for such a long period that you feel light headed and disorientated. A simple solution is to wear an apnea monitor which will alarm in case of a prolonged absence of breath.

5. During the game you turn off and tune out anything that could become a distraction. I might have once heard a fire alarm and smelled smoke in my building during a playoff game but I can’t be certain….the good news was that we won the game and apparently the fire was contained and on another floor.

6. You scream at your television set using language that would make a porn star blush.

7. Your doctor has recommended adjusting your blood pressure medication and having you continuously monitored for signs of acute angina during the game.

8. You stop drinking liquids 24 hours pre game as to not be conflicted by a call of nature during what might be a pivotal play.

****If you skip this step…and you know who you are…you will more than likely be the proud owner of a port a potty. ( one more reason why watching games with others is not desirable)

9. You are by nature a pacifist but 3 minutes into the first period you are encouraging your team to commit acts that in every day life would have them serving 5 to ten years for attempted manslaughter.

10. And finally ….you know you have a problem when your neighbours have circulated a formal petition to have you sedated and your cable turned off prior to face off tomorrow morning.

If any of these things are affecting you or someone you love, take heart we are a mere 24 hours away from go time…..or as I like to call it gold time. And by this time tomorrow we will be back to our normal polite non confrontational Canadian ways. That is until the NHL play offs begin in April.