You can always go home

Holy Amazeballs it is LOVELY to be home 🙂 While I’m grateful for Saskatchewan to giving us affordability and safety, Toronto will always be home.   One of the students I worked with remarked upon home and how he missed his hometown in Saskatchewan.  He too didn’t like where we were. Home is where your heart is  –  whether it be province, city, town, or house.  One of the biggest things I’ve learned on this journey, is I’m a city girl. Born and bred.  I am not a country girl.  Even after a year I still suffer from culture shock which leads others to laughter 🙂

Ontario Travel – I think I’ll be emailing you something awesome.

Seeing the kid after two weeks was also amazing.  I missed her so much and it was the most amazing feeling to be able to give her a hug.  Our adventure has been great.  Friends, family, Toronto, so much to do so little time.

I leave soon.  But the memories are forever and we will be back to stay one day.

……or maybe BC, Alberta…. the skies the limits huh?  To dream perchance to go where your heart takes you!!

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Pearson Airport. Felt alive stepping out into the chaos

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Strange as it sounds, driving in traffic was exhilarating. What you miss is wierd sometimes.

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Family to see 🙂

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NIghts to sit outside and just be.

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Sights to go down memory lane with.

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New attractions to experience. Ripley’s Aquarium Toronto. Loved it.

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University Avenue in Downtown Toronto – chillin watching the traffic.

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Queen West – Eatons Centre just up the road.

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Spending time with old friends.

 

 

Leaving on a jet plane …

This past Thursday morning saw me handing over the kid to strangers.  It’s okay though – I paid them to take her.  HAHAHAHAHA!!!  Okay – joke over.

The kid for the past month has been extremely excited.  The past year has been extremely difficult.  She’s been bullied, started two new schools (one because of the bullying), hasn’t made friends to chill with during the weekends….it’s been the same for all of us…this move hasn’t been the best experience for any of us….its affordable here though.

To give her a bit of break, we clipped the rope and let her go on her own to Toronto.  Okay – not on her own – we used Westjet’s unaccompanied minor program.  The days leading up to her flight she had the biggest grin knowing she was going home.

Wednesday saw us in Regina at the Days Inn – Airport West for the night.  With a 6:20am flight, I had no desire to travel 2 hours in the morning from our town to the airport to catch said flight.  That would be a big con of living in a rural far away city.  With the airport literally 4 minutes up the road from the hotel, it was perfect for the kid to get a bit more sleep before.

I sadly did not get the guys name who check us in, but Days Inn management – please see who it was.  He was absolutely fantastic.  He was jovial, he was professional, he was amazing at this job.  He also was from Ontario!! From London he said.  He came to Regina for the jobs that are available.  Days Inn, if you need me to work at a hotel let me know!! I loved the vibe there…..I need full time though 😉

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The hotel room was clean, spacious and decorated so well. The kid is ‘hiding’ under the burgundy foot blanket :l

After checking in we decided to go for a walk around the neighbourhood.  We ended up at a fast food place called Five Guys Burgers and Fries.   I honestly wasn’t expected it to be as good as it was.  It was amazing.  I love Harveys, and have been missing it since we moved to Saskatchewan a year ago.  These hamburgers were actually better then Harveys.  And Harveys hamburgers are amazing.  The only thing that made me go hmmmm, was on twitter @AshworthPR told me that the Scarborough, Ontario location had peanuts to snack on while you wait.  For the life of me I couldn’t remember if the Regina location had peanuts.  And I like food – so it’s kinda weird I don’t remember appetizers.

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A regular hamburger – is TWO hamburgers in the bun!! AMAZING BURGER GO!!!

On our walk we saw some nice foliage in the city.

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Lovely flowers in front of Lowe’s home hardware.

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At the front of a construction site.

Back at the hotel we went for a lovely evening swim.  Had the whole pool to ourselves.  It was wonderful.  As a 4 am wake up call was coming we went to bed quite early.

Thursday morning, the kid was so excited to go home.   The sidekick stayed at the hotel and slept as we only had one gate pass.  He gave her a big sleepy hug good bye.  My heart was breaking because I was going to miss her, but I was so excited for her as well.  I knew she was going to be surrounded by her aunts, uncles, cousins and friends who missed her all to deeply.

Westjet‘s unaccompanied minor program is fantastic.  From check in to passing her off to my brother, we have nothing but good things to say.  The kid was given the best treatment from Westjet employees.  It’s hard sometimes to give your child to people you know to look after,  it’s even more mind numbing to give them to strangers.  Thank you Westjet for the best experience.

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Smiling – the tag they gave her meant she was leaving to go home soon!!

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Last mom/daughter selfie before she boarded.

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T for Toronto – literally her hometown. That’s where she was born!!

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My last view of her as she followed the westjet employee to the plane.

I asked her on when she landed how the flight was, and she told me the crew were amazing.  They asked how she was doing and kept an eye on her.  She had a lovely flight and it was all over to soon she said.  I think the smarties had something to do with it … 🙂

I fly out with Westjet later, and I look forward to seeing the kid.  Going to give her the biggest hug.The sidekick sadly due to health was not allowed to fly or drive.  He could have taken a train I think, but a sleeper cabin is more money then I make in 3 months probably…This trip is look at jobs and rents back home.  Like I wrote before, this past year has been very challenging.

I know the kid is having the best time.  On skype she told me she didn’t want to come back.  Her friends and family have given her the love and support she’s been missing this whole year.  As I write this, she is staying with a friend for a couple of days just basking in the glow of being home and being with the girls!!

Faith, hope, work, and luck – it’ll all work out 🙂

 

Disclosure: I was not paid for this post.  All my own opinions.  This is to let family and friends know our experiences as we travel the road of life 🙂

You know you live in a small town when…

When living in a city that is far away from…well everything, one must embrace experiences as they come.  So this past week saw us go to the Yorkton Exhibition.  Walking up to the fair, it reminded me of a scene from a movie … a Reece Weetherspoon romantic comedy I think 😉  ….you know minus cameras and the funny dialogue that happens in a movie.

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You know you live in a small town when the view walking into the fair is so ‘countryish’ 🙂 

The sidekick and kid fearlessly conquered ride after ride…

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A bird’s view.

….while my stomach went up to my throat each and every time.  I can’t do rides anymore 😦 They make me nauseous beyond belief.  It wouldn’t have been pretty.

Though it was small town, the prices were not.  That surprised me a lot.  Just to get into the park was $40 for the three of us.  Parking was $5 – which is what I was expecting.  Then for the sidekick and the kid to get a braces so they could do all the rides was $40 each.  I really missed my childhood…. heck I missed 5 years ago when it didn’t cost so much.  The prices are a bit of a stumbling block for lower income families sadly.

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This is the only picture of me that day. Proof I was there darn it 🙂

The next day was the Yorkton Parade.   Honest truth, I have no idea why there was a parade.   Maybe for the exhibition?  As entertainment is hard to come by without traveling for hours (LOL), we asked no questions and made our way down for a bit of free fun.

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I thought this only happened in movies LOL. You know you live in a small town when …..

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The RCMP started off the parade. Awesome men and women who protect us everyday.

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You know you live in a small town when a tractor is a float by itself 🙂

It was a short parade … you can walk the main road in twenty minutes … but it was an enjoyable time out.

A not bad start to the summer.  Here’s hoping for a great continuation.

 

 

Entering contests will not pay for your bills in Canada

I’ve decided I need someone like Ellen DeGeneres in my life.  Before her receptionist was her receptionist, Jeannie entered into every single contest that Ellen had.  She won squat.  Ellen sent called her to say she still hadn’t won, but was sending her to a red carpet event.  As they sat on the red chairs talking about the experience, Ellen offered her a job of a every working non celebrity persons dream (at least my dream!!) of being close enough to celebrities to stalk meet them .  Plus Ellen sends her on cool little trips for work!!  I don’t know any other company that sends receptionists on work trips!!  I wonder if it’s at least business class…….

I remember a few years ago there was a show about people who won a whole bunch of stuff through contests.  That was a cool show.  From what I can tell though, the US has way more contests then Canada to enter.  That hasn’t stopped me though!!

I always have entered contests.  Now I have a little bit of a system down to keep track of it all. I’m entering everything I can!!

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Current every day list. It’s exhausting keeping track of this stuff 😉

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SO MANY CONTESTS!!!! This list of expired contests I and the kid have entered.

The kid and I have entered about 100 contests since I have started keeping track like this.

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Most have been daily entries.  So 100 x 30 days in a month x 3 months average for each contest… carry the one … minus the 6… add the circumference of the sun … well, we’ve A LOT of contest entries.  Hilton, Aspirin, travelocity, 1dsummer, chrysler, Ford, trips, … The kid and I have made a good dent with all the businesses in Canada.

Contrary to the contest show, you cannot pay your bills while only entering contests.  I have only won one contest and that one was one I had to work really hard at it.  I’m quite proud of my yummy mummy club / playtex entry and you should go read it.

Though I haven’t won anything more yet, I’m gonna keep entering contests. Dreams can be dreamt with the winnings.  Hope can be visualized.  Life can be pondered more with a trip to some tropical beach. It’s free!!

You can’t win if you don’t enter 🙂

And I’ll keep waiting for my Ellen Degeneres!!

 

 

 

Even in captivity only the strong survive #lifelessons

I wasn’t going to write about mother’s day.  I figured there are so many bloggers posting about it, the world didn’t need another one.  Plus the fact, the bloggers I follow have said it all more eloquently then I ever could.  But then today happened.  And it was good.

I did not receive any material goods today.  Best present EVER!!  (Diamond store trying to market to me on my tv – we don’t have the money for it anyway 😉 )   The morning saw homemade cards from both the sidekick and kid.  We then drove over to my parents.  My mom has lived in Saskatchewan since 2007.  She hasn’t had any of her 7 (yes, that’s right I typed 7!! not a typo!!) children with her here to celebrate in that time.  She was beyond happy that she was able to spend time with us.

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That was what today was about.  Just spending time with each other.  We drove to Fort Qu’appelle to explore more of what Saskatchewan has to offer.

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Our adventure begins.

We found a ‘fort’ of sorts to pose in front of.

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Actually the entrance to a camp ground which is pretty cool.

I realized the kid will be driving in 2 1/2 years.  #mindnumbing

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Where does the time go?

We found hills!!  There are hills in Saskatchewan.  You just have to look for them!!
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I was able to watch my family and give thanks for what I have.

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And come on??? WHO doesn’t want to visit a fish hatchery?

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Fort Qu’Appelle Fish Culture Station. Opened for 100 years this year !!!

We had a lovely tour guide whose name was Ben.  He was 12, and was extremely knowledgeable about the whole process.  I was quite impressed by him.

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Feeding the big fish

I honestly had no idea who much work went into making sure that fisher's have enough stock in our lakes.  Even though it was disgusting  at some points, it was actually a really good stop.  And best - FREE!!!

I honestly had no idea who much work went into making sure that fisher’s have enough stock in our lakes. Even though it was disgusting at some points, it was actually a really good stop. And best – FREE!!!

The other fishies bit off his tail.  Bad fishies :(He went down the drain :(

The other fishies bit off his tail. He went down the drain 😦

This one actually had me thinking.  Even in captivity, only the strong survive.  Which today sadly is also the human race today.  We have everything we could desire, but it’s starting to look like only the powerful have the resources to survive.  That revelation I had made me a little sad.

The day ended with ice cream.

Be Jealous.  This stuff is good.

Be Jealous. This stuff is good.

For me it was a reiteration of how much you don’t need gifts to show a person how much you love them.  The time my family and my parents spent together – that’s something I will treasure more then any flowers, diamonds, or massages….well maybe not the massage.  I’ll save up some more money for that one myself though 🙂

Week in Review

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It snowed…again…#snowbegone #ihatesnow

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Finding solutions to keep everything neat and tidy.

 

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Family time. I won 🙂

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A little bit of Ontario home in Saskatchewan 🙂

This week I’ve been silent with my thoughts.  Hence a post full of pictures.  It was a slow week but a lot was accomplished.  I can’t begin to describe how much I hate snow.  SUMMER PLEASE COME NOW!!

My journey in a small house.

On facebook, I think people were trying to figure out why for the past little while I was posting so much about small houses. They are actually making quite a mark on society right now. People are starting to live in them for different reasons. To be mortgage free, simpler way of life, of loss of income are just a few of the reasons.

We just moved into our small house. 600 sq feet of house. That’s right!! You read that perfectly!! No need for an eye test!! We moved into a 600 sq foot, 2 bedroom house with a washroom that is so tiny I can sit on the throne and brush my teeth at the same time. At least its not a 325 sq foot house!! Theres a family that did that. Crazy!!!

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See, I wasn’t lying 🙂

I’ll be honest, we didn’t move into this house for the greater Earth good. Some people move into small houses because it’s better ecologically. We didn’t move into this house for the simpler life – though my cleaning is cut by 93% as it’s so small. That’s a plus.

We moved here for the plain and simple fact, it’s affordable. I’ve written before, when the sidekick lost his sight due to diabetes, our world got turned around. Finances were the biggest thing. Why we moved to Saskatchewan was the affordability. Getting this house – it was the affordability. We can afford life, and don’t use a food bank back home. (Sidenote, there are no food banks in my small town. I had to tell them what it was. There is just an organization that brings you food.) If I told you how much my mortgage is and how big my property is, your head would explode it’s that cheap!!!! It still slays my mind that our house is worth 3x as much back in Ontario in our old neighbourhood.

Is it an ideal situation? Honestly, no. There’s a lot of snow here and we are summer people not winter people, so we probably will be cooped up for a large part of the year. We have begun to let go of things that meant the world to us. We have begun to learn how to really downsize. Our garage sale this May is going to be KICK ASS!! Maybe enough for a moving truck back home LOL 🙂 JOKE…..maybe….. 😉

Maybe if the dimensions of the rooms were different it would be a little better. Forgive the mess but we just moved in 🙂 We also are trying to figure out storage ideas. We do not have a linen closet, so the ottoman in the living room is our towel storage! It’s been interesting coming up with ideas on how to store things.

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This is the main bedroom. Our queen size bed is pushed up against the wall in order to have room to move. We only have two cupboards, and a small night table in our room. There is no more room for anything else.

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The kids room also is really devoid of furntiure. Her bed is the main feature and she loves her bed 🙂

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Our living room is just the right size. We had so much fun getting down to the original floors.

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Small space but functional. The family photo was done by my friend Jennifer Gilbert. If you live in the GTA, check her out. She is a wonderful photographer as person. The photo montage was the first thing we put up 🙂

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The kitchen is large, but no room for a small table. It’s a functional small kitchen.

That is our house – minus the horror set in the basement. We actually are the proud owners of a cistern. It is cement, and wierd and decidely an awesomeness piece of history of how people lived on the prairies. I shall take a picture of it for a later post 🙂

We are making due to our tiny house. It’s affordable, and I know Gail Vaz Oxlade would probably,hopefully give us accolades for making a move to gain better financial freedom 🙂

Though between you and me, I’m hoping for a miracle to go back home. I miss the convenciences of the GTA. It’s a hard life out here in the rural prairies. My hat is off to those who are living it. Imagine driving 3 hours just to go for a specialists appointment. I have a friend on twitter who has to drive 6. Way different life out here 🙂 But just like our tiny house, we will make it work somehow.

Crossing our fingers for a bigger ‘master’ bedroom though LOL!!!

Memories

People may scoff at my reality tv viewing habits, (the sidekick notes obsession), but Mama June from Honey Boo Boo has it right.   “It’s all about having fun and making memories”.  We may not understand everything they say, but they have a core understanding of what makes life worth living that people should take note of.  They’re not the perfect family – but who of us are?

While I would love to make memories like them, I don’t have a tv reality show or a sponsorship to afford all the cool things they do.  I would love to go on an air boat or do an RV trip.  I would have loved the opportunity to be on Family Feud – I was a little bummed when I found out Steve Harvey wasn’t impressed with the Honey Boo Boo Crew.  Though check out the link cuz he had me in stitches with his thoughts on the family.

Here – here it’s a little harder to find things to do all the time.  Back home you have so many options.  My favourite was driving to Oakville/Burlington and walking the boardwalk.  Going into Toronto and just people watching is another family favourite.  There is so much to see.  Here, you can walk but a tree is a tree no matter how many times you pass it.  But we looked – we found – we didn’t spend to much money.  Always a plus in my book.

Yesterday saw our adventures take us 2 hours into Regina.  We had lunch at Wasabi.

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So many bowls, so many choices. Apparently, the middle green bowl is wasabi. Which is meant to be used sparingly. My friend commented on this two hours after I had posted the picture on facebook. My friend could have posted this two hours sooner and saved my mouth from fire. Lesson learned, people don’t pay enough attention to me on social media when I post….. 😉

Next was the movie theater.  The kid had a coupon for a free movie, and I had a free movie from my scene card after I think 5 years of saving points.  Which tells you how often we go out.  The movie theater in our town is literally A movie theater.  One screen – from 1980.  My new twitter friend @MtnHolly, another Ontario transplant but to Alberta, told me her small towns burnt down … in 2008.  We consider ourselves lucky to have the one 🙂 Nonetheless, a modern cineplex was a treat.  After we wandered, tried not to spend money and let the memories set 🙂

 

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WE WANTED AGNES SO BAD!!  The kid was willing to selflessly write a review on her blog in order to get her hands on one.  Our town only has a small Walmart. When in the big city, you take opportunities to see things when you can. We wandered Toys R Rus, Walmart, and Target 🙂 We purchased the white chocolate M&M’s only available at Target. When living far away from major urban cities, you must stock up on supplies as you never know when a freak July blizzard will isolate you in your house.

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Downtown Regina traffic!! Much different then Toronto.

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Memory makers – On the 2 hour ride back home we stopped to take our picture over looking Qu’Appelle Valley. A beautiful spot. Snow outside and wearing just shirts. Ice fishing in the background.

 

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Ever the photobomber … check the middle 🙂

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Even though we’ve been here almost a year, sights like this still make me stop the car on the side of the highway to look.  As soon as we stopped, they bolted The locals think we’re weird about finding ‘everyday occurrences’ neat. LOL.

Today’s adventure to make memories had us shooting.  When the Apocalypse comes, you’re all invited to my house.  She’s almost a crack shot.  #food 🙂

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What about you?  Tell me how you make family memories without breaking the bank?

Saskatchewan is like the Hunger Games..and Divergent..

We went to the KidsExpo today.  It was a great day.  I’m also sad I ate the one cupcake I bought. It was divine.  I now have none.  Will power was never my strong suit..and dudes if that lady from Esterhazy lived in Toronto she would make a killing on those cupcakes!!!  They were AWESOME!!! $2.50??!?!? She could be charging at least $4.  I will put that post up next week.

Because you see, we also got coupons from Booster Juice at the KidsExpo.  So of course we believed this was a sign to go get yummy smoothies.  Mysterious  ways people…mysterious ways… They had a special smoothie named Fruit Faction based on the movie Divergent. The kid ordered it.  The kid liked it. The kid asked if we could see it….a decision I believed based on a smoothie but she tells me based on the commercial.

And as it’s been awhile since we’ve stepped into a theater….and my bank account was in the positive..even after the smoothies – we decided let’s go.

So my post this week is on our movie experience.

And it was an awesome movie.  On the ride back to house I asked the kid what she thought.

Kid:  It’s a cool movie.  Makes me want to see Hunger Games too..(silence) …. I just realized Saskatchewan is like Hunger Games.  One part’s like district 1, they have coal miners – we have miners.  They have farmers, we have farmers, so on and so on.  And every year they go to the Capitol aka Regina and they have the CFL aka the Hunger Games.

After I had stopped laughing enough to drive safely, I continued my questioning.

Me: So what did you think of the movie?
Kid: I liked Tris.

Me: Why?
Kid: She reminds me of me.   I like Dauntless because they were crazy.  But I would have chosen Erudite because I’m smart and don’t want to get killed.

Sidekick: You’re a thinker not a fighter.

Kid: Naw, I’m  a strategic fighter.  Think first.

Me:  I like Dauntless too.  But I wouldn’t have been good.  They would have said jump, and I would have been like “yeah..no..I’m factionless now.. bye :)”  What did you think of Four?

Kid:  I liked his bravery.

Me: I liked Four too.

Sidekick: I know you did.

The sidekick will be talked to about his side comments at a later time….deadpan humour is only appreciated when I do it.  (the kid as she reads this just stated, “What?? Only your humour is appreciated?   I don’t appreciate your humour.”   The kid will be talked to at a later time about family hierarchies and their relationship to subsequent matriarchal decision making).

This movie was really good.  Not just in the context of a good action movie.  The kid wants to emulate some of Tris’s characteristics.  You know the upstanding ones – individuality, courage, fighting for convictions.  She thankfully would think first before fighting.  A trait I hope continues in her life.  The beating people to a bloody pulp – she wasn’t into, so we’re thankful for that.  Win for her personality.  The kid has plans now to read all three books.  Win for her mind.  Her plans to become famous have intensified…I’m not to sure what win or loss that is..

While I loved the movie, it did make me feel a little old.  I remember being ‘young’, and thinking the world was mine for the taking.  I remember having the stamina to pull all nighters with friends talking, playing games or walking in Toronto till 4 am.  Now I like my bed and a book.  Both the sidekick and I don’t have 20 year old bodies anymore. While we have strengths now in our 30’s and 40’s, (ME!!!! I’M THE ONE IN THE 30’S FOR CLARIFICATION), I will admit I miss the magic of my 20’s.  Sometimes when I’m paying a bill or finding another wrinkle, I think WTH??!?!?! What happened?

In my head, I will be 21 forever more walking along Queen Street in downtown Toronto watching an eclectic population live life  …… with the wisdom of my age now 🙂

And the kid?  Well, I’m pretty sure she’s on her way to having a more magical time in her 20’s then I did.  I’m cool with that!

Disclaimer: We just went to go see a movie and it was good.  My own opinions. Was not compensated in anyway.

Olympians and you’re welcome

We may not have much right now, but for what we do have I give thanks.  It was a hard week in one aspect, which will come up in another post.  It was also a beautiful week.

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Hoarfrost – while a name that clearly someone didn’t really think about before making official.. really gorgeous however.

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The hoarfrost gives beauty to those ‘dead’ winter trees.

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What an amazing experience!!

So the kid met Canada’s own Sochi2014 Olympic Gold Medalist Kaitlyn Lawes.  The kid got to hold the gold medal and was much impressed by this tiny woman with so much strength.

Kaitlyn: Thank you for coming to meet me!!
My kid:  You’re welcome!!

Walking to the car,

Me: You’re welcome huh?  LOL

My kid: I panicked!!!

Never say I have never taught the kid good manners and common courtesy!!

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Free Skate

Our week ended with Free Sunday night skating.  I don’t go out on the ice because I would die if I did.  But it was lovely to sit and watch the kid glide around.

This is what life is supposed to be about.  I may not be where I want to be right now, but this week had nice scenery.  Those other people who make it about crap – phooey on them.

How was your week?