Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I got around buying Christmas Cards..tee hee...

Just had to share this picture of the fog on the weekend. If you look closely you can see Bella and my Joe. It was so creepy walking in the woods with pea soup fog. The kids and I LOVED it! LOL!

Have been busy preparing for Christmas. The house is decorated in and out. I must have 12 arrangements about the house and the tree and the mantle and the outside lights. I wonder when I did it all? It's such a whirlwind really. This week is at the school for the Christmas store. Parents donate gently used items and the kids get to pick a present for Mom and Dad and get it "professionally" wrapped by one of us Moms...lol...The kids love it! I enjoy it too. When that little boy finds the perfect dusty candle for Mom....it brings tears to your eyes..literally..lol...But seriously...it really is fun and most of the stuff is pretty good.

Instead of giving out cards this year I did up a Christmas letter that I had to print out in black and white...including photos...as office supplies were an exception given my job. I had a pack of cards from last year I found but will save those for quick hellos. I shared a bit of what I learned this year but will elaborate further in a later post as I have learned A LOT this past year and if requires more than a quick reference.

Here is the letter:
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
It's been a busy year for all of us with many changes. We started the year on a quest to avoid buying retail until 2012. There have been a few exceptions to the rule but for the most part we have stuck to it. Of course Ron blew it the first day when on January 1st he decided he needed sweat pants and went to Urban Planet. UGHGH! LOL! There have been a few more bumps in the road...and a few complaints from the kids that they did not give out goodie bags at their Birthdays...But along the way we have learned of some really great second hand clothing shops. Found second hand furniture as well. Have embraced online swap and sell sites and the kids were on board for the most part. It's made us all really think about our impact as consumers and to get back to basics.

We went to Qualicum Beach for Spring Break with my brother and his family. A wonderful time exploring and relaxing. The sea lions at Fanny Bay were a hoot! Englishman Falls were a natural wonder and the Horn Lake caves a challenge to explore with our helmet lights and all the rocks.  Bella came home smelling like dead crabs and matted everywhere! Oh what a ride home..GAG! The challenges of the cocker spaniel..lol..

We spent the start of the summer exploring Alberta and BC....no Bella this time. Visited our family on the colonies and loved every minute of it. The kids were in the cow barns at every stop and learned more and more about farming. Ron and I enjoyed the company of family and of course the delicious FOOD! Yum! I got to fulfill a lifelong dream to visit the Columbia Ice Fields...it was amazing! In Jasper we saw many bears and enjoyed the scenery....but the next morning we all woke up and just wanted to get HOME! We drove the 10 hours home that day....to a very happy Bella and a very put out cat. Krypto forgave us the next day so all was good.

We got home in time to say our final goodbye's to my dear Grandma Poi Poi at the age of 92. A very tough time as it had not been a year since we lost Mom...but we pulled together as a family, put one foot in front of the other...and continue on.

The boys and I went to Galliano Island for a week with my sister and her girls. It was BLISS! So relaxing. The kids explored the beaches and I read many novels in the sun. Our backs hurt from lounging so much...LOL!

Ron came home at the end of summer for the funeral and we left for Kelowna the next day for 5 days on the beach. Rented a boat and explored the lake. What a beautiful part of the world. We will return one day. We did learn that the north side of the lake requires going up and down a cliff.....good thing we hike! I bet we did the stairs 12 times a day...lol...but the water was warm and the dock ripe for jumping off!

School started and it's been a world wind of activity. Busy with the PAC at school. Ben started high school and loves it. He was ready for the independence. He continues to be the kind, hard working young man we expect. He has his friends over for sleepovers and I affectionately call them "The Stomachs in the Basement." The only time I see them is when they come up for food and drink...lol...Joe is in Grade 5 and doing very well. He is making new friends and learning how to use an I pad to help him in school. He is growing up so fast and asking the hard questions..gulp...but thanks to Ben I'm prepared..lol..Sam is in Grade 3 and really improving his reading this year. He is still all boy...lol...but charming as can be. He is making new friends this year too. The kind that get him playing outside a lot. Yippy! Ty is in Grade 1 and is a complete funny little man and very smart. His drawings are quite good but he loves to tell knock knock jokes more..lol..They all love their teachers...phew! And they all seem to be happy. Our after school time is spent with friends, hiking, making muffins, drawing or just snuggling watching a movie. Took some time off of sports to regroup this year. It's been really nice not to have that crazy schedule. Baseball starts in the Spring and we will be there 4 days a week so I'm grateful for this time.

I got to go to Mexico with my best friend for a week in November...no kids...no husbands. Ron did great looking after the boys. I don't think any of them missed me....so will do that again...LOL!

Ron and I will celebrate 14 years married this year on Dec. 20th. He will be flying home on the day. Hope we can sneak a night out together...which is usually dinner at the pub and playing Keno....lame I know but it's a night without kids and sometimes we win enough to cover the babysitting and dinner cost..lol...People always ask us what our secret is. I mean...let's face it...We are POLAR opposites philosophically. He thinks Stephen Harper is brilliant and I'd like to run him over with a truck(kidding)....but you get the point. I guess we just have the same core principle of kindness and I have SUPER human patience...lol...He also puts up with my "bleeding heart"...which has not changed since we met ..one of those things that you loved about a person when you met but after time really annoys you...lol...I put up with his inability to clean up after making a sandwich and his loose budgeting skills. :)

We have learned a lot this year. Well, I have learned a lot this year...Ron and the boys just go along with me. It helps to be the only female in the house. They can all argue their side and I get the final say...lol....though I let Ron think he does sometimes...lol....SHHHH! By not buying retail we have managed to squeeze in two extra mini vacations...so worth it! We are also saving for our dream vacation to Europe. The whole family for a month. Will take a few years but we will get there.

That pretty much sums up our year.  We feel so grateful to have such wonderful, loving, kind people in our lives.

Hoping 2012 proves to be full of Joy and Love for everyone.

XO
Ron, Susan, Ben, Joe, Sam, Ty and Bella
(In keeping with the no retail quest please accept this letter in lieu of an Xmas card. It's in black and white as I am allowed office supplies as an exception and my printer is not coloured. Revenue Canada prefers this....Red and green are too much colour for the government I guess. .lol...and if you didn't get an envelope we are saving our pennies for Germany. With the four cowboys in tow Ron and I will need Steins as opposed to pints...lol.. )
I know...tongue in cheek kind of stuff but it was fun to reminisce.

I do have to declare another 2 days of retail. I found Sam the helicopter he has wanted for 2 years on sale half price. Needles to say the Playbook is coming to ME! LOL! I bought some tupperware at HUGE discounts (Got my aunt's name from the hat and she had to have the salad spinner and got the beach toys for my cousin who is 18 months) I also ran out of flowers for the arrangements so went into the loonie store to pick up a few pieces. Here is my latest creation for the administrator at our school (a ROCK for all us parents)

(the base is wrapped in newspaper so it doesn't fall over but the vase was beautiful..donated by my Dad)

So we are at 37 days of retail in almost 12 whole months! What a year! Will be adding two more days to that I'm sure as I have a few more gifts to buy for family members.

Happy, crazy Big Momma love to you all! XO



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Have been in Thrift Store Paradise!


I like to make fresh arrangements at Christmas. I walk the woods and pick up the stuff the wind blew over or take a few specimens off the tree...carefully and I never take too much. Then I put the greenery in a vase and put in fake flowers, birds, holly etc to finish it off. I went to MCC in Abbotsford and Mission and found LOADS of the fake stuff in bags for $1. Some of the things I won't use but I'll just re-donate it back! It's GREAT! They also had board games still in plastic for $1. Stocking stuffers and books for 50 cents. I walked out just today with two huge boxes of stuff for $42. Woohoo!

This is one arrangement I made for Ty's teacher.

This is one I made for my mantle.

Recycled vases, recycled materials and fresh greenery. No retail! But there is some....gulp.....I found these gorgeous butterflies at a loony store. Butterflies represent growth and change to me....they are a symbol of my Joe and how he went from being cocooned to being the bright, funny, smart boy he is today. I HAD to get them...and put them in the arrangements for his teacher and dear Mrs. Workman. Taking the hit! It's a personal touch that Mrs. W will completely understand. I did hers in blues and silver too. Her favourites. The pics did not turn out though.:(

I also needed a new coffee table and an end table and took a trip to the MCC furniture store...scored two solid oak tables for $50. The coffee table needs a new coat of varnish but that's not hard to do. I'm not one for matchy furniture anyways. Here's a pic of my groovy bookshelf made for my Mom's mom by her much younger boyfriend(18 years younger ;)) in 1968.


I couldn't buy that in any store and it means the world to me that my Aunt let me have it. A piece of family history. And is it not super groovy? LOL!

I do have to say...Xmas is a crazy busy time for us ladies. For the most part we do everything. One Mom said to me.."Stop doing it! I bet he pitches in next year!" LOL! Ummmm....hard to pitch in when you are 3,000 miles away. But I get her point. It's really ME pressuring ME. I just want this time of year to be wonderful and magical for my kids. Not the toys per say...the decorations, the goodies, the music, the time making things together, the walks in the woods.  For those overseas, Christmas in Canada is a wonderful time of year. There is a feeling of giving more so than any other time. It's happy, fun, busy, colourful, musical...the kids believe in Santa...and despite the threat of no presents with bad behavior...are off the wall with excitement! LOL! It's family time! Friend time! It's that time of year when you re-evaluate your priorities (well for some) and really think what is important to you and what you will do in the next year to make the changes you seek. Or maybe you are just happy with the way things are. Good for you!

I'm truly happy with my life for the most part. At a time in my life that I know WHO I am and act accordingly. Truly love my family and true friends. BUT....I feel the winds of change and a big move coming up this next year. Will fill you all in when I know more. It's time for the kids to know their Hutterite family better and for my husband to be home more. :)

So my last score was 33 days of retail...it's now 35. I shopped at a loony store and got a few things at Fields yesterday..Ty fell in LOVE with a blanket...what can I say? He's just too dam cute some times. :)

Big Momma love to you all...and may the force be with you the next few weeks as you prepare for the BIG day. XO



Thursday, November 24, 2011

Went to the MALL! And on a serious note....

A sign at a kiosk in the mall. LOL! My friend Shannon and I howled with laughter. First time I have been to a mall in 2 years? Something like that...it was fun! I was just going to look then saw La Senza and decided to replace a few worn out bras and yes...bought myself NEW pajamas. Taking the hit...I love them so and they will be wrapped for Xmas. Had to have the greasy Chinese food too...so much for weight watchers! LOL! And am I ever tired! Who knew shopping was this exhausting. :)

And on the serious note....The consequences of bullying! One of my kids has been targeted by a group of girls! The administration is on it....and hoping for the best. I'm very sensitive to bullying as I was bullied as a kid...until age 10 when I kicked the snot out of a kid...tee hee. But it can have very serious consequences if left unchecked....suicide the worst of it.



I decided to consult with some professionals in the field and will share their information.

First I called my best friend..lol...then I called a child psychologist. She gave me lots of information. So here it is:

The basic elements of bullying are:
  • Unequal power: One child has more power than the other child (or at least it seems that way to the children involved)
  • Hurtful actions: Physically or psychologically harmful behaviour takes place
  • Direct and indirect actions: The behaviour may be face-to-face or behind one's back
  • Repetitive behaviour: The hurtful actions keep happening so the child being hurt finds it more and more difficult to escape
Not only is it repetitive it ESCALATES! Parents need to go to the school, identify the culprits and get some intervention. This does not always work. In many cases the child has to change schools or is home schooled. Can you imagine the psychological trauma for these kids? It is even worse if a child exhibits any kind of homosexual tendency...the boy that likes pink can be targeted as young as 6! "Why can't a boy like pink and be straight?" I asked. He most likely is straight she explained. Okay....so what triggers a bully? Their feelings of inadequacy. I know one of the kids bullying my son....she comes from a good family...or so I thought. Do you really know what happens behind closed doors? Ummm....no...but I'm hard pressed to believe these kids feel inadequate. I'm still not convinced.

So then I made a few phone calls. Talked to a special education teacher that shared with me the rate of suicide among bullied youth.  Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth aged 10-24, following motor vehicle collisions. 10? Are you kidding me? Around 2.5 to 3 per 100,000 from the ages 10 to 14 and up to 13 per 100,000 for 15 to 19 year olds. 42% of boys in grades 6 to 8 reported that they had bullied in the past two months. Bullied...not the victim. Huh? Cyberbullying is the most significant influence to the increase in youth suicide. That scares me. With the age of Facebook and Twitter and all these nasty sites that post anything without thought to the person involved...makes one want to move to the bush and cut wood for heat. Tongue in cheek but then how do we control it? How do we help those hurting?

After listening to the experts I have come to one conclusion...YOU as the parent are the one that can make the difference. Mirror compassion to your kids. If you see them getting out of hand on the playground...reprimand them! If you see any kids displaying bullying behavior...report it to the school. My girlfriend said to me "The hell with reporting it. I'd take that little bugger by the ear and bring him home to his parents." LOL!

Which brings me to the adult version of bullying. I'm on the playground last week. It's just me and two other ladies and a bunch of kids. I go to move towards them to talk and they BACK AWAY! Granted I don't know them but I talk to everybody. I text my GF and faintly hear.."Don't talk to her...she hangs with that group that wife swaps." WHAT! I didn't react and kept texting....my mind reeling! There were further whispers...caught a few snippets! WOW! What a bunch of gossipy BULLSHIT! So NOT true! So it happens in adulthood too...and if I ever see them again I will confront them. How dare they make judgement on me about untruths about others? Maybe one of their girls is one of the bullies at school? Bullying by children is making more sense to me now.

So my score is 33 days of retail this year. It will climb with Xmas but am taking a trip to Toy Traders in Langley in the next few weeks. Used toys! Lots of them!

Big Momma Anti-bullying Love to you all XO

LINKS:
Kid friendly resource.
http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=how%20to%20stop%20bullying&source=web&cd=4&sqi=2&ved=0CJUBEBYwAw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fkidshealth.org%2Fkid%2Ffeeling%2Femotion%2Fbullies.html&ei=6AXPTo_9OenRiAKqy8kK&usg=AFQjCNFrfbFSK1-GSSRyU5_2gCohr1EpRQ

This link has an online support group.
http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=how%20to%20stop%20bullying&source=web&cd=12&sqi=2&ved=0CMcBEBYwCw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bullyingcanada.ca%2F&ei=6AXPTo_9OenRiAKqy8kK&usg=AFQjCNFgleaOstmT-tpjy8GSS9kJNYNWHw

How to stop Bullying.
http://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=how%20to%20stop%20bullying&source=web&cd=12&ved=0CFMQFjABOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.howtostopbullyingblog.info%2F&ei=kg3PTrPEJqmqiQL_7KHmCw&usg=AFQjCNHsx0hXXC3RTHUhMl587NeE2XqpLQ


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Budgeting! And my crazy system that took years to perfect...sort of.

My girlfriend read my post yesterday and told me I should share my budgeting skills. None of the purchases I make are on credit. Or if they are I pay the credit card company the same day.



The above pretty much sums up my finances about 5 years ago. My husband works 5-6 weeks away and is home for 2-3. He doesn't get paid the weeks he doesn't work so there are times when I don't see a pay cheque for 3 to 5 weeks...depending on the amount of time off. In the beginning this was hard to manage as we always had weekly or bi-weekly pay cheques and I could budget quite easily with consistency. When that was taken away I fell into the credit trap for a few years. With no income for 5 weeks and having to pay for everything still I turned to credit cards to make up the difference and within a few years made a huge hole for us to get out of. That's when I put my accounting skills to work and revamped our finances.


So I came up with a crazy system that works for us. It doesn't work for everyone. Though I do have simpler systems I can share with you all if you are interested.

I set up "jars" so to speak in various bank accounts and tax free savings plans. Here is how I break it down:


1 - Pay yourself FIRST! Ideally 10% of your income but even 2% is better than nothing. If it's $5 a week so be it. Plan for the future. My Grandma taught me that all my life and have been pretty good about it. With my first accounting job I started an RRSP...to the tune of $25 a month...but hey! I was 21 and making peanuts.


2 - Pay all the basics - Minimum DEBT! Rent/mortgage, utilities, insurance, life insurance, car payment etc - the have to be paid or else bills. I count School fees in this category. Tuition/Preschool fees etc. I also count sport fees in this category too but budget for it throughout the year(see part 5).


3 - Budget for groceries and stick to it. I can't take $150 a week and stick to it. It makes me crazy if I have to buy extras like TP or laundry soap. I take a monthly budget and make it work. How you make it work is up to you. Cook from scratch, coupons, bulk..etc...


4 - Budget for extras like gas, oil changes, clothes, shoes. I budget about $125 a month for these. I may spend only $49 one month but carry over the balance to the next. Sometimes I go over...especially when all the boys need shoes at the same time..ughg! But then I watch for the next few months to keep on track.


5 - Discretionary income...this is what you have left over after all that. I have to set aside a % to cover weeks we do not receive a pay cheque and keep a defined amount in that account at all times. If it means not going to the movies so be it. I also have a holiday account and a Christmas fund. This is a personal preference as we like to travel and I refuse to use credit ever again to finance Christmas. I also have an account just for home renovations/maintenance. It can dwindle quickly so we put off projects until the account has the funds to do it.
After I set aside monies for these 4 accounts then I have what is truly our discretionary income. Sports fees first. Then Ron and I decide how much we need for the week/weeks ahead. He can have unforeseen expenses so I know to keep my allowance lower than budgeted..lol...But it is enough for the kids to go swimming, go to birthday parties, have some treat days or a night out for dinner. Stuff like that. We order pizza on Friday...or I make it. Those little extras come from the discretionary fund. Do I ever have any extra at the end of the week? Sometimes...but usually when the kids are sick..lol...

6 - Anything left over goes straight to debt...you can put an extra partial payment on your mortgage...a little more on the line of credit...a little bigger payment on the credit card. You decide but do put EXTRA on the DEBT every MONTH! I can't emphasize this enough. Minimum payments will not reduce your debt in a timely manner and you will be paying so much in interest for that dinner out it will cost you thousands in the end. I know...I've done it! If you have many credit cards carrying a balance get a low interest line of credit to consolidate...cut up all but one (for emergencies or online shopping or car rentals or hotel rooms) Unfortunately one needs a credit card for some things.

The average consumer debt for Canadians was over $90,000 last year! OUCH! And that is not your mortgage. "A $1,000 charge on an average credit card will take almost 22 years to pay, and will cost more than $2,300 in interest ($3,300 total) -- if only 2 percent minimum payments are made." (Debt Help Canada) 


It's a balancing act! No doubt about it. It has taken me years to perfect and I still sometimes have to rob peter to pay paul. But I get back on track and try to keep disciplined.


I have counselled many people on how to budget and some need to physically have the jars in their home with the cash in it. It works for them. And once they got the system down and realized that those daily Starbucks coffees were costing them a trip to Disney Land they are shocked and grateful for the system.


You got to treat yourself sometimes though....save a little each week and go for a pedicure! ;)


Hope this helps. If you want one on one help just email me and I will be glad to send you my spreadsheets....no cost.


PS...down 9.8 lbs with weight watchers. Woohoo! Gained a bit in Mexico...lol...but back on track.


Big Momma Budget LOVE to you all! Xo

Monday, November 21, 2011

How am I going to do Christmas without retail?


I don't remember if I shared this T-shirt yet. My Dad got it for me. Pretty much sums up how I feel about our economy. Globally even. Which kind of makes my quest to avoid retail more important. How to live a simpler life that we don't give out hard earned wages to the giant corporations? And with Christmas coming up....what do I buy for the kids? Where do I get used games etc? How do I give them a great holiday with the same Christmas morning excitement?

So I came up with a plan. Really you ask? LOL! They each get TWO new items. Including my husband. I went into Liquidation World and they had Wii stuff really cheap so I got Ty the Tony Halk skateboard game (complete with skateboard) and Joe the Wii sports adapters and a new Basketball (more on that later). I got Ty a soccer ball and my hubby a HUGE coke bottle piggy bank (we are saving up for Germany - which will take us years and many fills and rolling of change but it will be so worth it) He wants to see his family's farm from 1535...it's still there! On the same day I ordered from Toys r US..free shipping right to your door! I got Ty the leapster Ipad thingy...he has a quick temper and I was not going to buy him an ACTUAL Ipad. And I ordered for Sam a Blackberry Tablet (not cheap but on sale for $200 from the Source).

So that leaves one more new for hubby and 2 more new for Ben....the stomach in the basement wants a recliner for his room! LMAO! He has a chair that we somehow got from somewhere. Old blue recliner with the springs sticking out at the bottom. I figure...whatever! He's 13...what more does he need? Apparently a nicer chair...lol....and all new bedding. Yep! My 13 year old asked for all new bedding. That will have to be bought new but I do think I can find him a chair either on Craigslist, Kijiji or the auction.

And guess what hubby wants? A CHAIR! A recliner! LOL! Priced them out...really expensive! So I am willing to offer him a compromise. We need a new couch. An unnamed son jumped on the one we have and broke the leg....split it into 4 parts. My couch is being held up with two of text books from accounting school...LMAO! You can even see the study notes sticking out...lol..Ron and I looked at couches last time he was home but we had one day. So we will find one when he gets back and was thinking of getting the kind that has a recliner on each end. That way he gets a recliner and I get a couch!

But I did find the most special present for him in Mexico. We discovered an artist that sculpts the most whimsical, funny Mexican characters and fell in love with one in particular. At the time they wanted $500 for it. YIKES! I went back to the gallery with Loesha and IT WAS STILL THERE 3 years later! And discounted to $150! HAD to buy it.

By Rodo Padilla...a very popular Mexican artist. And it's art so it doesn't count. Ron is going to FLIP! WOOHOO! (the pic doesn't do it justice...or we have really bad taste...lol...)

So my last score was 31 days of retail. Have to add one more...I get a lot done in a day..lol...which brings us up to 32 days of retail this year. Will do my best to find Ben a chair used..but in decent condition. Will try to find a couch at the auction even. You never know! One can only try!

PS. Joe had is very first basketball game last week. He was SOOOO nervous. But he did GREAT! I cheered so loud I lost my voice. He scored a basket and was a great defense man. They won the game! A reminder that life is what you make it...don't let fear be your guide. Joe doesn't...and never ceases to amaze me and inspire me to try do the same.

Happy Christmas shopping BIG MOMMA LOVE to you ALL! XO

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Regret or Foible?


Came across this photo of Joe...pre-verbal skills...and Sam and Ben. Must have been 6 and half years ago. I would have been pregnant with Ty or he was a newborn?...I think he was born by then...lol...I don't remember! Regret that! How could I not remember? Hold on....Sam was just over two...now I remember..he had HAIR! LOL! Ben would be about 7 and Joe about 4. Okay..Ty was born and would be new..lol...Funny how your mind works.

I keep seeing all these posts on Face book about Life is too short...Don't have regrets....blah blah blah..and I think...Where have you been? Where have you been living...or what the hell has someone got you to believe? I'm not saying hold grudges..or be sulky..I'm saying life is just that...full of regrets that you have to forgive yourself for every now and again. Maybe that is the message...poorly conveyed...but to hold yourself to perfection is ludicrous. Of course you say this or do that or forget this and forget that...which brings me to a CONFESSION! I forgot my sister in laws birthday today. We have been dear friends for 29 years. She used to help me torture my brother in high school...and then they got married! LOL! Been together 22 years and still going strong and if it wasn't for face book I would have forgotten. BAD! But not really...LIFE! I don't know...when I think regret I think BIG problems....maybe we should have a new phrase...like FOIBLES! A minor eccentricity...not a game changer...just a foible! And foible is kind of fun to say..."I didn't forget your birthday..I merely missed the day...these darn foibles of mine." ;)

And do have to confess to Halloween shopping. Got Joe the COOLEST costume...CREEPER JESTER. Paid way too much but it will fit the other two..hahahha...and he loves it and have never bought him a new costume before. He just didn't get it until now. Halloween is supposed to be scary...fun scary..and Joe doesn't even want to trick or treat now..he just wants to scare the kids to death with his costume...lol...I don't think he will go all the way...jumping out of the bushes etc...but he is getting the concept of scary, creepy, fear. That is HUGE for a kid on the ASD spectrum. It's NOT literal..it`s conceptual. He comprehends more than the school gives him credit.....but I don`t REGRET that at all...maybe it`s a foible of mine but I think the more they believe he needs help the more they will give him attention....the attention he has needed to finally understand Halloween!

So we are 28 days in 10 and half months of retail......it`s getting hard with Xmas approaching. Any ideas to avoid retail are WELCOME!

Foible Big Momma love to you ALL! XO

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Farming, Coupons, Rubber boots and Pokemon!


A mine road where my husband works in Mexico. See the road behind him? It leads to the mine. He was coming down and saw this couple in their field and had to stop and talk to them. He remembers farming this way when he was young. I look at these photos and it reminds me that a lot of this world still farms with animals. A simple way of life but gruelling.

I don't live that way. But I do have to think about saving money. Started researching coupons and went into a tizzy about it until I realized that Canadian stores do NOT accept US coupons and vica versa. And in Canada we don't have nearly the choice that the US has. That show Extreme Couponing had me convinced that I could feed my family for peanuts....Ummm.....not true. Maybe if I lived in the US but here there are more rules and way less coupon choices. I have saved a lot though. By getting coupons from various sources and the backs of cereal boxes I have managed to save some money. If the UPC codes on the coupons are different you can use multiple coupons for one product. Got bleach, laundry detergent and Febreeze candles for almost free. But I find most of the coupons I will not use. So I trade them for ones I will. Or give them away. Formula and diapers coupons I always give away. So I really suck at couponing but am still learning! Not going to the US to shop even though it's half an hour away. With GMOs and growth hormones and all the other pesticides they allow I'm leery of their products. Silly to some...I understand. I am a bit of a freak about it.

Pumpkin Patch field trip came up and Ty grew out of his boots. Found a great pair at The Cottage downtown for $3 and he loves them. Real Black farmer boots with the red soles..lol...He's farming now! LOL! Helped supervise and LOVED IT! Pouring rain...but I like rain...and the kids were so cute. I actually supervised Sam`s class. Put a bunch of quarters in the feed machines and off they went to feed the goats. Not one of them was really scared so it`s nice to see that all these kids have had a chance to see animals up close and know how to feed them. Sam had grown out of his boots too but my dear friend Shannon came to the rescue and loaned me a pair. Thanks Shan!


I do have to declare some shopping....the kids are really into Pokemon...gag! But I did promise cards for them if they all did their homework, chores and a few extras for Canadian Thanksgiving so I caved. I think my last score was 26 days of retail so will declare another. I will go back and check and fix the stat if I`m wrong. So we are 27 days of retail out of 289. But Christmas is coming up....GULP! Have bought a DS system used for Joe...and looking for more such deals. Sam got one for his 8th Birthday that I got used and they love it!

Sorry for the uninspired post. Just wiped out with Thanksgiving and work and kids and hubby gone 5 weeks now. I always hit the wall at the 5 week mark. 10 more days until he comes home...I can`t wait! I get to go to Cabo San Lucas with my best friend for a week. Already have the 6 books I`m going to read ready to pack..lol...I know...I`m a Geek!

Geeky Big Momma love to you all. XO

PS. We all really missed Grandma this past Thanksgiving...actually both Grandmas. A few tears by all. It doesn`t get easier when holidays come up. It gets sadder in some ways as the losses mount up. That is why I have been so quiet on the blog as of late. Just need time to think a bit...and cry a bit. We will all be okay. I promise. xo

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A quick update


It's a dog's life..lol....Pic of my Bella fast asleep in my bed. Yes...she is spoiled rotten but a great companion and good watch dog too. She went to get clipped this week as her Cocker Spaniel hair is impossible to manage with daily hikes. She gets sticks and mud and all sorts of trail bits in her hair. Then she fights me on brushing it so goodbye hair! But one thing bothered me...she had flees! And I give her that pill every month that kills flees and ticks and worms. The little monkey was spitting them out! LOL! So time for the other stuff that you squirt onto their shoulder blades...grr! Stubborn girl....just like her Momma...lol..

Lost 6 pounds so far on Weight Watchers. Feeling really good. Eating very "clean" and exercising every day. Tried a spinning class....Fantastic! I was wiped after but what a good work out. Taking Zumba once a week and an Abs class on Mondays. Hiking everyday and have more energy than EVER! People that see me every day are like...oh no! Susan has MORE energy? Is it possible? YES! LOL! My crazy energy is crazier than ever! LOL!

Closed down my previous Facebook account. Friends of friends could see and comment on my pics and that freaked me out! My kids did not sign up for FB and have to protect their privacy. Have shared pics on this blog but carefully chose them. My FB had intimate family pics...vacations....birthdays etc. Some glitch allowed others I didn't know onto my page so started fresh! And will be very careful what I post for pics....but will still voice my opinion! Really? LOL!

And NO RETAIL! I don't even miss it at this point. I went into London Drugs to get a passport photo and looked up every isle...bought NOTHING! AM I cured? LOL! Probably not but conscious!

Big Momma ENERGY hugs to you all! XO

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

You have just GOT to love BOYS!



Yesterday was the last "nice" day for some time and in a moment of absolute craziness I volunteered to take two of mine plus 3 more from other families on a hike. The Moms of the kids coming with me were like.."Oh thank god!" See ya! LOL! All the other Moms were like "Are you crazy?" LOL! 5 boys 7 and under? In the woods? By yourself? Yep! And it was FUN!

Of course they started off all energy and running and not listening....until the big thud of a tree. 'SHHHH" I said...it could be a bear. Stay close. That solved the running away problem in an instant! HAHAHA! Sam and Ty knew where they wanted to go and show the others this and that. Let them lead the way. Up this hill and down that one. 2 boys started getting scared so they held my hand. "Spiders won't bite you...just use a stick to push them aside". Okay...okay...then I had 5 little boys with sticks. UMMMM....what was I thinking? LOL! But they were all so serious about keeping those spiders off of them that not one poked the other.



We go down a ravine and two of the boys are scared. Held their little hands and showed them the side ways walk...and to grab onto the ferns if you have to. They got to the bottom and bolted to the creek. A "camp" was set up by some "green" teens. There is a "tent" made of trees and benches and garden ornaments and even a sign to remind all who visit to be respectful. I read it out to the boys and they all nodded....then proceeded to jump the creek!




 All except one boy who was too scared...so I held his hand across and he just beamed! He made it back across all by himself and was so proud! Six years old and beaming! I almost cried....such pride in that little boy face. Can you be any cuter?



Up the ravine we went. The new hikers grabbed onto what they could...my boys rammed up like mountain goats..lol...Bella leading the way.



 To the Bridge! Where they threw rocks and got soaked to the bone...well 3 did..and yes 2 were mine..lol....it's just water!



 While we were there a boy on a bike came by and told me it was "dangerous" for them to be there. LMAO! Told him it was fine...we go all the time...and he looked like he wanted to join us. But he didn't...off he went. I think his parents have it grilled in his head to be "safe".

Up the stairs we went...made it a game. They all looked at it and said no way..LOL! Race to the top? Ty was last...he had on only socks as his shoes were wet and I wasn't going to carry him....hell no! LOL

A great hour spent with those beautiful little boys. They were challenged and had fun. I was challenged and had fun. The woods is my most favourite place and was glad to share it with them. Safety is important but if you don't challenge those little bodies and little minds how will they know how strong they are? How will they ever face their fears? How will they ever have the skills to think during a crisis? It's just ravine hopping and getting wet. The odd spider and yes a bear...but we were so loud I'm sure he left the area.

Broke down and paid the $10 for sewing for Ben. Taking the hit as I know the teacher bought supplies retail. Which brings us to 27 days of retail in almost 9 months.

Big Momma "Gotta Love Boys" love to you all. XO

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What a difference a year makes...and I am CLUELESS with high school


Pic of my Mom in the "cookie" jar...according to my youngest..LOL..It's been a year today since she passed away and never a day goes by that I don't miss her. Do the loving ever STOP missing the missed? I don't think so...it's just that kind of love. The drawing of the Lion of Lucerne was done by my brother...Mom was an artist and so was he...back in the day. Both very talented. Both never pursued it. Both never picked up a paint brush or charcoal after the death of a parent. Wish they had. What a beautiful way to vent! What can I do? Crunch some more numbers? LOL! That's inspiring...lol....

Lost 3lbs this week....would have been more if I hadn't eaten the dam Weight Watchers prepackaged meal that had 680 mg of sodium! For a person with kidney disease that is just torture! 8 lbs of water overnight! Don't eat them! Cook from scratch! Even if you are healthy that kind of sodium will kill you over time....it almost did me in completely! Couldn't pee for 24 hours....my body swelled like a raccoon in fall......which brings me to the next event...

A raccoon discovered I have a doggie door and decided to enter! Ate all of the dog's food and peed all over my wood floors...grrr!..Dog woke up when the coon dropped my tea cup ON MY KEY BOARD! I have NEVER seen my dog so mad! She chased that big bottomed coon through the doggie door and up a tree. Was close behind when my cat jumped off the table...yes I peed my pj's a bit thinking it was another raccoon..lol...then the cat casually looked out the doggie door to check out the action. Went outside and at this point the neighbors were up too! "Bella treed a bear?" "Um...no...just a big ass raccoon that was in the house!" That coon killed my key board, made my house wreak with coon pee and dumped the dog water everywhere! Bella didn't sleep last night...she is on guard for ME! LOL! She is still keeping vigil....and my cat? Just watched the whole thing..lol...

No retail this week..except a new keyboard...which falls under office supplies...so it doesn't count. But must get sewing supplies for my oldest in high school. He has SEWING class..lol...Have a few friends that sew and have offered stuff....what the hell do I know about sewing? NOTHING! I FAILED grade 8 sewing...lol...and paid a friend to get me through metal work. NOT my thing and don't think it's Ben's either. He better be creative in his bargaining is all I can say..lol...


Love and hugs to you all...missing the missing..XO....and busy figuring it all out..XO

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I know what LOVE is! Grief is just a small part of it.


Picture of my Mom and Dad and Grandma taken 3 years ago. Lost my Mom last year...September 18th, 2010 at 6:30 am..to cancer at the age of 67. Grandma....age 92...my dearest Poi Poi as we called her..passed away yesterday..July 30th. 2011 at 10:45 am. The two most important women in my life are gone! Just like that...like a snap of the fingers. But it wasn't..it was suffering for both and I knew the time was coming...and I grieved for them while they were alive. Death by cancer or death by old age...both are labour...for the ones dying and the ones living..its an excercise in LOVE!

I am sad...I am still grieving for Mom..but I also think..LUCKY ME! To have loved so much as to grieve so much....that's the thing about grief....to FEEL this much sadness you must have LOVED that much! I LOVED! I still DO! I'm ALIVE and AWAKE and PRESENT! And drew on the strength of those two women over and over....and they shared it! They gave me strength in their wisdom and humanity...their laughter..their senses of humour...their giving hearts. One private and one open but both equally influencing the woman I became. Both my most beloved women in their own way..my teachers..that truly LOVED me!

The thing about grief is...you can let it overcome you...you can let it take over....it's so easy to just wallow and be sad and say the hell with it. I sure hope you have something to snap you out of it...kids..close family and friends...anything really....those deep, dark moments are not easy to snap out of....that feeling of hiding...of absolute giving up from the sadness. And it comes and goes...something will trigger it...a sound...a smell....a picture....and that's okay...but if you stay in that place for a long time you will stay in that place....You get what I am saying? To love so deeply is wonderful...to grieve so deeply is torture...but you have to go on! It's what your loved one would want if they truly LOVED you. My Mom and Grandma want we to go on and be the best woman I can be...this I know for SURE!

So with tears and LOVE I say goodbye to my dearest Grandma...and know that in LIFE she showed me how to be a STRONG, LOVING, OPINIONATED woman without regrets. To be true to myself...to KNOW who I am!

And I will have those moments when the covers shadow my head....when I need to curl up into a ball and cry about the loss of her....but know that I will get up and be the person I am...to give in to those moments but not let them dictate my life...and know that Mom and Grandma would be so proud of my strength! My love for my family! My love for them as I march on! That is what a legacy is...marching on!

Biggest LOVE for POI POI Big Momma LOVE to you ALL! XO

I can count on more than both hands the ones I love....because of those two loving women...because of them I get the true sense of loss....I get that they spent time with me because they LOVED me. How lucky am I?

Will miss my Gram...will miss her smile.....her wisdom...her sense of humour. 41 years!  Fantastic!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Exceptions and Confessions

The pool in the back yard. It seems the entire neighborhood of boys has clued in that it's full, warmish and clean...lol....It's good though. I like knowing where my kids are. The back yard mecca is not complete without the pool up. They have a trampoline, swing set, "tree house", hot tub and an area for riding bikes, chalk art and painting. They also play ball games back there. It's a well used, busy busy yard. But I do have to keep pool chemicals on hand and went out and stocked up. That many kids requires a daily testing and dosing. I'm going to call pool chemicals an exception. Good luck finding them used. Got some from a friend that closed her pool down but have not found any leftovers any where else. And it`s important to keep the pool clean with that much use so it just has to be an exception.

The confession is the new POOL TOYS! Some blow up volley ball games, some new rafting tubes. The others were toast from last year. My kids are hard on toys...especially the blow up plastic kind. I know you all know what I mean. I have THOSE kind of boys. Rough and tumble is an understatement. The testosterone in this house is ridiculous at times. Add the sun and water play then you get the picture....it`s Lord of the Flies! LOL! So taking a hit for those. Looked in a thrift store and only found barbie pink water wings.....ummmm...not going to work...lol! But I did stock up! Ready for when they break..or Shan`s dog comes over..lol! Love Magnum but he is a huge ass puppy that eats everything in sight. Funny!

So that brings the score to 24/186 days of retail...or 12.9%. A friend told me about a thrift store in Abbey that just opened up. Can`t remember the name but it`s by Buns Masters near Seven Oaks. I think the mosquitoes have sucked some of my brain power..LOL! Or the sun finally shining! I also compared my spending from last year at 6 months to this year....I`ve saved into the thousands! I`m NOT kidding. It adds up so quickly. I really thought I was very frugal....not even close! We saved enough to go on a super vacation. Not just the colonies any more. I get to fulfill one of my deepest wishes...hiking the Jasper Columbia Ice fields! Have dreamed of doing it for 20 years....and we are doing it as a family...even better!

Frugal Big Momma love to you all. XO

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day to all!

We just got back from the big celebration in the park. They had bouncy castles, pony rides, rock climbing, hay rides, lumberjack shows, dog agility shows, extreme biking show..etc...etc..The kids had a blast. Went to see Dad at the Elk's trailer and got the foot long hot dogs with onions, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, hot peppers and mustard. YUM! They had all kinds of concessions. And the stage was always busy with dancers and musicians. Well done! A terrific turn out from the community too. We love our Canada....and a good party too...lol...
Off to a BBQ to celebrate some more. To live here is a privilege. I honestly feel grateful to be born and raised in this country. The access to clean water, food, education, housing...the remarkable people I have met over the years. Volunteerism is alive and well in Canada. So is political activism. Something we are allowed to do without fear of reprisal. It's easy to take our comfort and safety for granted.

So here is a big CHEERS to Canada! We love you so!

Proud Canadian Big Momma love to you all. XO

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I feel like it was my fault


I am writing this post with a heavy heart. Recently a friend posted an article written by a journalist that described her PTSD and her need to re-enact a rape to get over it. It brought back a flood of memories of my dear friend and study partner in accounting school. There were 4 of us that were really close. To protect their privacy I will call them A, B and C. A was the single mother of two and the kindest person you could ever meet. B was a married Mom of 2 with an ambition to succeed like no other person I have ever met. C was my age and single like me and we both had no clue about a lot of stuff but liked to have fun. We all studied hard together, shared notes, complained about instructors....and shared our deepest fears....our desires..our insecurities. We cried and laughed. It was a wonderful 2 years...until the unthinkable happened.

C was slipped a date rape drug and repeatedly raped. She woke up naked in a hotel room and had no idea where she was....who did what..how many....how long. The police never caught the guy or guys but she was injured both physically and mentally.....a shell of her former self. She wouldn't go out...go to school...go anywhere for months. We tried but to no avail...then she showed up on my doorstep one day all giddy and showing me her new tattoo. I thought great! C is coming back and needs to self express with a tattoo. Then came another and another and another. Okay I thought...it's a bit much but whatever helps her feel whole again. Then came the men...all ages, shapes..from all walks of life. I thought okay...she is enjoying sex again. "A" was worried and "B" was disapproving but I was the most supportive friend a girl could have. Then came the S&M...for the most part not dangerous and really role play...So I thought...um..okay...if she needs to feel in control then she needs that...I supported her decisions whole heartedly...not understanding it but just going with it...but it got deeper than that...it got to whips that hurt and strangulation during sex. I still didn't say anything negative....I still was supportive and thought she knew what she was doing. At this point "A" just kept hugging tighter and "B" was disgusted.

On June 4th, 1994 I got a call from "C's" Mom...she was found dead in a hotel room from strangulation at the age of 24. Almost 3 years to the day she was raped. The next day I open the paper and there was a huge article on PTSD..Post Traumatic Stress Disorder...The Iraq war in 1991 had led to an increase in PTSD in many soldiers and was an issue at that time. I read it and cried my eyes out! I had encouraged every behaviour that was a sign of PTSD...every single one of them!...sigh...I in my stupidity was thinking I was helping her when all I was doing was feeding her stress...VALIDATING IT! FUCK!  "B" read the same thing and called me up and told me point blank I was responsible for her death....I gave her behaviour "credibility"...I was the scapegoat for her. "A" called me and cried and we went for a walk and hugged and cried some more.

17 years later I still feel responsible some how...of course know what to look for NOW but back then I didn't...I just accepted "C" for all she was..I accepted the things I knew in my heart were not her nature but then again I had not been drugged and raped and left alone to wake up naked with blood all over my body. Who was I to judge? I should have judged! I should have done some research at least....I should have...I could have...I DIDN'T! The biggest most heart wrenching mistake of my life...my ignorance was just that...complete and BLIND ignorance. Could I have changed the course of her life if I knew? I don't know but I would have fought like HELL to do so...instead I gave it "credibility".

I guess my point is if some one you love or even just know is behaving the opposite of what they usually do...they may have a problem....they may need your support to seek therapy or drugs or anything other than what they are doing. I weep as I type this....a kind and thoughtful woman lost herself and I encouraged it....Don't make the same mistake....do SOMETHING!

This is the first and last time I will talk about it...."A" died of cancer two weeks before my Mom died last September...."B" died of cancer two weeks after Mom died last September....I loved all of them. I'm the last of the "Number Warriors"....Miss their laughter over that...over everything.

Regretful Big Momma love to you all XO

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Officially have a teenager!

Ben and his 4 closest friends...I call them the stomachs in the basement...lol...sometimes I have all of them down there and you never see them except for food and drink runs upstairs. I can sure HEAR them though. The other boys bring their TVs and game systems and they set up gamer heaven in the rec room...lol...They venture outside to play soccer or jump on the trampoline or sit in the hot tub but for the most part they are "The stomachs in the basement". I really love these boys. And am so proud of them as they have all graduated Elementary school as of today. My stomachs are teens! My oldest is a teen off to high school!

The school put on a Grad ceremony and it was lovely. Lots of talented kids played guitar, played the violin, skipped, danced and made speeches. Ben didn't do any of it but that is who he is...the quiet observer...that notices EVERYTHING! He wants to be a Homicide Detective when he grows up....which surprised me at first as he is such a gentle giant but it does make sense. His mind is geared that way...he has a mind for detail and logic and I think he would make a fine police officer. But there is work to do first....getting through high school...GULP!

My Mom always said the hardest T years were NOT the toddler years...it's the TEEN years and I now get it.....you hope you layed the groundwork for them to make good choices....you hope they get that their actions during these years can affect them their entire lives.....wear a condom Ben...PLEASE! Don't do drugs! Don't party like an idiot...then get in a car. Don't speed around with a load of buddies and crash and burn. Don't skip school because you want to play games...Don't smoke...Don't smoke pot!

I could on and on....and am sure many of you out there can add to the list or share your experiences...and please do! I need all the help I can get...lol. Know of many families that have lost a teen due to their young, invincible, stubborn..."it will never happen to me" attitude. I know it could happen...that's the thing....good kids do stupid things that they regret for the rest of their lives or they don't get to live the rest of their lives....you can be the BEST parent in the world but there is no guarantee that they won't behave the opposite of what you taught them. Look at the Vancouver riot....mostly young people...I bet their parents are mortified that their kid was involved....I would be...yet those kids did it....knowing it was wrong....using the excuse they were "caught up in the moment". So everything your parents taught you for the last 15+ years went right out of your head just like that? YES! Pretty much they became their alter egos and destroyed property and hurt others....Comforting eh?

So I embark on the teen years with my Mom's words in my mind...know where they are...get phone numbers...make them get a job at 15...remind them daily that they are responsible for themselves! Every time they walk out the front door they have to make the right choices....and I will be reminding Ben daily to do so....and hope with all HOPE that he does!

Big Momma with a teen LOVE to you all! XO

Would love to hear from you parents out there with teens. Any and all advice is most welcome.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Boots are Strapped ON!



CRAZY few weeks....more to do than a person should have but typical of every Mom I know this time of year. The end of the school year means field trips, teacher luncheons, hot lunch days, sports days, kindergarten graduation and grade 7 graduation. To make it even busier Grandma has been hospitalized over an hour away and getting there as much as I can. Hubby came home for a bit and decided to build a tree house that turned into a 3rd story deck and now he is gone until mid July. Phewww.........

So this is how the weeks have gone.....Grandma is hospitalized overnight and we rush to see her the next day at home....lovely visit but ankles swollen...hmmmm....and sure enough that night had trouble breathing and was rushed to hospital again where she has remained. Congestive heart failure and minor strokes and at age 92 she is most likely to remain there until she passes. We are all on edge and very very sad. Hard to watch a person that has meant so much to you fade away...and that is what it is...a fading of life. Big SIGH!

Deck is being built during this time and then Ron leaves...the next day was the teacher luncheon...
Four of us had spent HOURS decorating and setting up the day before...the Great Gatsby Tea Party vision that kind of got away from us...lol....but we wanted it perfect and "THE" vision. We sheered the walls with white lights behind and had flower garlands draped on those. Fine china plates and cups and saucers (which we rented) and fine serving dishes and spoons. Vases with fresh flowers...that I had to beg, borrow and steal to fill...lol...and so many Moms cooked homemade delights. Tea for all and punch too. It was beautiful! Some teachers cried....some were in shock. It was so totally worth it...but a demanding job to say the least. Next day was hot lunch that I rushed to help with as I had to take the dishes back. Then grocery shopping before school was out....pheww!
Busy weekend with many a child sleeping over....and many kids just hanging out. I had the pool set up and it was nice so the neighborhood came over..lol..

 First field trip....WHITEROCK! And it rained!

Here is my drenched Sammy but we had fun and discovered lots of slimy stuff...lol..

Visits with grandma and typical Mom stuff the rest of the week until Thursday when I was up at 5:30 am to get Ben to school in time for the bus to Victoria...and overnight stay where they got to see the Parliament buildings, stay at the U of Vic dorms and tour the university. The Bug Zoo and all other kind of fun stuff. Picked him up Friday night and he was exhausted! LOL! But he loved it and when he got home he crashed pretty early. Father's Day was spent at the Old Car Sunday in the Park event. My Dad was running the Elk concession so we had to go and say hello and buy a few foot long hot dogs. I had an extra boy then picked up another boy there...lol...

Look at my little guy....almost half his size but he finished it and had an ice cream.....where do they put it? LOL!

So that was my few weeks in a nut shell. Have 2 more field trips, sports day, Grade 7 graduation, kindergarten graduation and another hot lunch day in the next 8 days....cue William Tell Overture! LOL!

Have not shopped and it was the consensus that fair trade shopping is allowed! I do not have to score a point as it's direct from the artisan. WOOHOO! Except we now have a postal strike so no shopping for me..Last score was 148/171 days without retail. 23 days of retail in almost 6 months.....not perfect but I'm getting better.

Exhausted Big Momma love to you all. XO

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Does Fair Trade count as Retail?


I had to get some more clothes for the colony....went looking for long skirts and found a few but was really uninspired. Do I have to wear blah for the next 6 months to avoid retail? Then I thought...duh! Fair trade clothes! Did a search and found many great links to online shopping for Fair Trade clothes. Found the above skirt in the clearance section that was hand made in Thailand by a group of women that make a FAIR living creating long skirts. I have asked for more information about them and when they return my email I will post about them.

During my search I came across so many organizations that support and sell Fair Trade items. You can get just about anything from an artisan from just about anywhere in the world. Some offer free shipping. Some offer to buy a uniform for a girl in Africa if you buy a T-shirt. Some have so much turnover that the styles change weekly. It's AWESOME! LOL!

The following links are the best I found:

Livingethically - from the UK but has so many links to Fair Trade and green products. I spent a lot of time checking it out.

Globalgirlfriend.com - Fair Trade by women for women

Organicsfairtrade - lots of organic cotton clothes

Commonthreadz - if you purchase a tshirt they will donate a uniform to a girl in Africa

Thehungersite - loved it! so much to choose from and support of so many causes

Mercadoglobal - higher end styles

Novica - an offiliate of National Geographic that not only sells Fair Trade items but you can actually give a micro loan to a poor woman overseas.

Nomadsorginals.com and Secondworld.com are good too but not a huge inventory.

The skirt fits...it said one size fits all...but a little snug. If you are built like me and a little bigger then you had better check their sizing. Fair Trade clothes tend to be a bit smaller than Western sizing.

So the question is....Is buying Fair Trade considered an exception as the items are purchased directly from the creator? No sweat shops....very few middle men taking their cut...most if not all of the profit goes to the people that make it. If we buy Fair Trade are we not doing a GOOD thing? The skirt was mailed to me from Thailand...so there is the environmental impact to think of.

What do you think? Can I buy Fair Trade or do I have to take a hit for my score?

XO

PS. If you say I can buy Fair Trade don't tell my husband...lol....the credit card may take a bit of a hit. The clothes are so unique and the art work fabulous!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Just take a Pole dancing class...


Amanda and I at Cabo Wabo in 2007. Amanda was my nanny for 5 weeks...and much younger and MUCH smaller than me..lol...and has worked with Joe since he was 2 1/2. I needed her for support and her knowledge of our family and Joe's "quirks" at the time. He was 6 at the time and just started talking but still had anxiety issues. We "moved" to Cabo San Lucas for a few months thinking we would relocate on a permanent basis. It didn't work out. My kids were not happy...no hills to climb...no friends...no lakes. We swam a lot at the ocean and in the pool at the villa we rented but they got bored really quickly. Paradise? Maybe for retired adults but not people raising a family...playgrounds barbed wired as they were for use for the school only.....the military with machine guns walking around..the constant vendors...kids as old as 7 in pull ups so they don't take a pee break...not the atmosphere I wanted to raise my kids in. Not to mention the drunken fools walking around at all hours of the day...the young people with barely any clothes on...good for them but not for my kids. And it really made me think about body issues...

At the beaches the Mexican women wore jeans and t-shirts in the water....very few had real bathing suits. It is frowned upon in their culture to wear a suit...so saw many many women in full clothing swimming. And then you had the retired crew....they didn't give a shit what they looked like and wore the teensie eensie teeny weeny bikini or speedos....they were there to ENJOY the sun and surf and at their ages could care less what people thought. Then you had the expats...the people from the US or Canada or Germany or wherever...that lived there year round. They wore whatever they wanted too! The tourists let it all hang out...BIG women in bikinis...BIG men in speedos. So strange to me as a person that grew up in a rain forest..lol...but that had beautiful summers too. The atmosphere is if you don't like it don't look....in our culture we are so consumed with what we look like we tend to cover up the flaws and all...we don't embrace the body we have at all! We have grown women in their 40's with eating disorders...REALLY?

Come on! Get over it already...we love you for you not your body! That time in Mexico made me see the light! I saw the poverty...the hard working people that live in shacks...and the hordes of people half naked that were NOT super models... and realized that my body has NOTHING to do with my self worth anymore....we have issues in this country and in this world that require our FULL participation. We have issues that we have ignored for so long in our consumer culture that we have dropped the ball on our own HEALTH! GMOs anyone? We have been brainwashed by the elite to believe that our bodies are the TRUE reflections of our self worth that we have forgotten that human compassion and debate and dissent are required by us to create a functional world. We LET the corporations take over as we went to tanning booths that kill us...as we went to fast food places to drown our sorrows...as we went to every weight loss gimmick in the book. Many had "procedures" that would feed a hot lunch program for a year...but they got the big boobs and the big lips or the butt implants? What the hell? In Brazil they have more plastic surgeries per capita than any place in the world...yet they have "killing" teams that hunt down homeless children and shoot them on the spot. TRUE! Google it! And you are worried about how good you look naked? REALLY?

I know I preach...I preach and I preach and I preach......I just wish we would all turn our focus on something OTHER than our bodies....we have been brainwashed to do so! 20 something models selling us eye cream? Really people? You going to buy it? How about getting some Vit E cream and giving a few bucks to the food bank....or sending a few bucks to your local PAC to buy new equipment for the school....or a few bucks to the woman overseas that has nothing and has 7 kids. I was THERE! I get it! Now come to the other side ladies....just let all those hang ups go and come to the other side of it. They never go away but when they show up you know where it comes from and you can laugh about it...and stop it in it's tracks. I "need" a tummy tuck and a boob lift but I would rather go to Europe with my husband and see the farm his family left in 1535. THAT is what life is about. He would rather go on a family trip to Alberta...and show the boys how to drive a combine...THAT is what life is about.

Standing in front of the mirror naked I feel beautiful. I ain't no super model...or porn star for that matter..lol....but my saggy creased body is mine! Every inch has a story...every stretch mark has a child attached to it...sometimes all 4...lol....it's not beautiful by consumer standards....I know that...but it gives me the ability to be the best I can be...

Let's jump in the ocean together...I won't be in bikini...not a good look for me..lol....but I will be in a suit and snorkel and swim and play and have fun...LIFE IS SHORT! Enjoy it! And PLEASE PLEASE think about something bigger than your breasts or your thighs....it really doesn't matter in the scheme of things. Take a pole dancing class and hang upside down...it's liberating! Your body is meant for more than to look at..it can move and play and tease and help...and create change!

Big Momma Ass love to you all...XO

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I do Declare some shopping!


I have to declare some retail therapy...We are putting on a Teacher appreciation luncheon at the school and came up with the theme of Tea Party. Like they have at the Empress Hotel in Victoria. It's a garden tea party. So another Mom and I volunteered to decorate. Formal teas give out party favours. Found these sweet hot pink boxes and sage ribbon to put chocolates in. Michaels! And yes...made in China! So I got to looking around and they had the most gorgeous spring flower garlands for 60%! So I bought some of those too. Riffled through my sheets and curtains and found enough to cover one wall and putting white lights behind them. The garlands will hang off of the curtains. And what is right beside Michael's? Bed Bath and Beyond! Oh no! I just HAD to go take a look...gulp....and you guessed it! I bought myself a whole new bedding set....including 4 matching throw pillows, two sets of sheets and matching bed skirt and shams...all for $159! I have not had new bedding in 6 years so I figure I'd treat myself for my birthday...lol....And yes...Made in CHINA! UGHGH! I feel guilty but I'm so happy with it at the same time. My bedroom looks all grown up like now..lol....even the kids were like "Can I sit on the bed Mom?" LOL!

So in the next week I will be begging people to borrow their fine china tea sets, fine serving plates, linens etc to create this whole other world for the teachers. I'm also in charge of making mini quiches for 40 and am looking for recipes. I need to find side plates as well. Think Great Gatsby Tea Party and you get the picture of what we are trying to achieve. Wish us luck!

Hubby is home for a week and what did he decide he had to do? Build a tree house! UGHGH! That man cannot sit still for a minute. I thinks it's sweet of him but can I catch a break? Please! I just need some down time. Can't shake this cold and feeling really run down. I need some sun for more than a day I think...lol...

So we are now 128/151 days without retail....23 days of shopping for retail in 5 months. Good thing we are heading to the colonies in a while...no shopping there at all! LOL! I will be learning how to slaughter chickens this time....gulp! I want to do this though....it's important to know the process from beginning to end. If I'm going to eat chicken then I better have the gumption to look it in they eye and kill it. Maybe this will break me from meat for good. I'm also going to be learning the Bee business this time. That should be very interesting. I have asked to help in the gardens too. Will let you all know if I'm allowed.

Big Momma love to you all! XO