Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And Now I Am The Mother Of A Teenager

And now I am the mother of a teenager - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
When I brought him home I knew nothing and the world was still reeling from the falling of the towers. I felt this horrible guilt for introducing him to an earth obsessed with a war I feared would come into our own backyard but he shook his tiny fists at my fear and reduced my war to only his needs. 

He was this chubby ball who did nothing but cry and I was a baby holding a baby and I felt immeasurable pride and immeasurable terror. All it amounted to was an abundance of love but it was enough to help me grow up right there alongside him.

And now I am the mother of a teenager - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakAnd I've watched this boy grow and turn and laugh and scowl and I remember how he was knit together in me and how I held my belly there below my heart with a kind of wishful glimpse into the future but never once though about watching this tiny whoosh-whoosh of a heartbeat someday becoming a man.

But now I do see and it's terrifying and spectacular - the lower voice and the matching height and the pimples and the whisper of a mustache and the closed bedroom door and the way his laughter {real, wrenched from the gut laughter} can take over a room and light the world on fire with a flicker of the joy he so often keeps to himself these days.

I'm not sure how to be the mother to a teenager. 

But I also didn't know how to be the mother to a baby.

That's the thing about motherhood, I suppose. It shapes us just as much as we are shaping the life entrusted to us. Day by day. Sometimes moment by moment. And it's a beautiful gift that has been mine for the last thirteen years and will continue to be mine as long as I have the privilege to walk this earth and hear that one sweet word that makes me more proud than anything: Mom.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thrift Blitz Episode Two

When Value Village emailed me last week to say that they were having a 50% off book sale and wouldn't I please come I was all, hitch up the horse, babe - we're going to the city! {Just between you and me...I don't have horses BUT my neighbour does and sometimes I like to watch them from the window with a cup of tea in my hand and pretend I'm in a Jane Austen novel.}

I love books. Books. Book. Books.

If heaven doesn't have books I may put myself up for a transfer.

Obviously I made the time for a little {long} shelf hunt during the sale but I ended up only purchasing 5 {2 of which I'm sharing here}. I wanted some beautifully large decorative hardcovers in my new writing room {stay tuned for that!} but The Complete History of Russia? An over-sized large print Far Side comic book? Yuck! No thanks! Funny how sale day comes and the shelves seem void of pretty things.

But first...

As promised, I've chosen my favorite from all the lovely participants who linked up their great finds to last months post.

And by 'all the lovely participants' I mean one.

And by one I mean my baby sister.




She found this lovely treasure in a trash heap by an e-waste dump site and texted me to see if I thought it was worth a rescue.  Um...yes!  Amazing?  I think so. It's so weathered and beaten and perfect for storing all her piano books!

If she hadn't grabbed it, I would have.

I wish the dear girl had a blog I could direct you to but alas...she seems to think she's too busy handling her daughters and her wacky husband and buying and selling a gazillion dollars of stock for crazy people who have a gazillion dollars to invest to manage a blog on top of it all.

The internet world is just a little less colourful because of it.

Now with that out of the way...


1. 'Wishes Really Do Come True' Curtain Panels {Value Village, $3.99/panel}


{You're getting a sneak peak at my writing room with this one.} I knew I wanted curtains for this room and I really love the black and white IKEA drapes that hang in my dining room - you've seen them over and over on this blog in the background of photographs {like here}. I love their nature-inspired print that's pretty without being feminine, and how light the fabric is while still hanging nicely.

It was with those curtains in mind that I began digging through the racks at Value Village. AND I FOUND THE EXACT SAME CURTAINS. Not similar. Not something along the same line. THE EXACT SAME! What's more - these ones had been hemmed by their previous owner TO THE EXACT PROPER LENGTH I needed.

Talk about providence.

I can't even tell you how much I love them in my new space!

2. 'A Blast From The Past' & 'A Laugh Your Pants Off' Book Party {Value Village, $2.49 & $1.99 respectively}

I have fond memories of my parents reading to me all about Anne with an 'E' and how I wanted to be her and say such wonderful things like 'I'm so glad to live in a world where there are Octobers'. This was the first book that taught me that a book could make you cry {though I didn't let it because my sisters would have shamed me}.

And Mindy Kaling's trip through hilarity? I borrowed this from the library a year ago and loved it so much that I posted this tiny review on GoodReads:

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a witty little gem that really brightened my day! At one point, sitting in the living room surrounded by my family, I actually snorted in an attempt to curb my laughter. It's really a non-stop goofy glimpse inside the brain of a brilliant comedian. It's a fast read and definitely worth the time.

 

Really I just got it so I could lend it to my sisters.  After I read it again.

3. 'Not A Wallflower' Red Skinny Jeans {Value Village, $9.99} 


First of all - do you even realize how hard it is to take a picture by yourself of pants that are on your body? It's ridiculous! Secondly - I am not a coloured jeans type of girl but I saw these and I tried them on and I liked how they fit. Plus it's October and red seems like a good fall colour... I've worn them a couple time and everyone else seems to realize I'm not a red-pants-girl too because they've gotten a lot of comments. Not bad comments. More like: You? Red pants? Good for you! Like I deserve an atta girl for wearing clothes.

And can we just take a moment to appreciate those shoes??? I adore them and had Thrift Blitz been up and running last summer I would have shared them then.  I'm pretty sure I paid $9.99 for them and - like the curtain story - on my last trip to Value Village I found the very same shoes again {but in a child's size 4}. 

I celebrated them back in June with this photo on Instagram:




4. 'If You Call Me A Hippie I Might Kiss Your Face' Necklace {Value Village, $2.99}


Every fall Value Villages across the country dedicate a huge section of the store to Halloween. They sell many new costumes but a lot of the stores also pull items from other places to make themed sections: clown, cowboy, hippie...and every fall I make sure I visit the hippie section because I can usually find an adorable top or special accessory.  

Friends, the Halloween section is not just for Halloween! 

I found this gorgeous pendant right between a set of love beads and a bandana collection. It's big and bold and pretty and it jingles when I walk - I love it's colours and it's odd shape. I think it's perfect!

5. 'I Can't Help It - I Love Me A Cardigan' Cardigan {Value Village, $5.99}

As cooler weather settles in {UGH!} a cardigan is a great way to add an extra layer against the chill. And I know last month featured a cardigan as well {also stripped} but I can't help myself - I love me a cardigan!


You're welcome!

6. 'Not Some Old Ladies Afghan' Blanket {Value Village, $4.99}


This was another piece I wanted for my writing room because it's a room without heat. When the door's open it will receive heat from the rest of the house but if it's closed it can get pretty chilly.

Cue a lovely, warm blanket.

This one is heavy and handmade and does not smell like a grandmother's attic. And I love the colour combination of purples and greys - it just screams cozy!


Now it's your turn. What great finds have you made recently?  Share them in the comments, link up your post using the inlinkz tool below, or tweet it with the hashtag #ThriftBlitz {be sure to add @alannarusnak to your tweet to make sure I see it, or just use the button below}.




Happy thrifting!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

How To Be A Child Bride

child bride sitting outside cabin

It's simple really.

Be a teenager in love.  Dress your stubbornness in a white dress. March yourself down an aisle.

Oh my poor parents.  God bless them for not throwing a fit.

I was a girl who {thought I} knew what I wanted and that meant marrying the boy who handed me Phillipians 1:3 while I was wearing saggy old man Adidas track pants.  You don't come back from that. The deal was sealed before we'd even had our first kiss.

getting ready for wedding

I was 18. Eighteen! I knew nothing about the world or about love or about how to cook chicken. I was completely gaga for this boy who looked like John Lennon and played Skydiggers on the guitar and grinned at me while I sang harmony against his melody.

walking down the aisle with both parents, signing the register

A child bride doesn't care about the little things {like the decoupaged pop bottle bottoms that became candy dishes on the reception table}. I cared about my dress and I cared that I had a center aisle to walk down. The rest didn't matter.

It would be so different if I was doing it today.  Today, with Pinterest and digital photography and bridesmaids that are no longer children themselves.

It took me an hour yesterday to find our wedding photos - tucked back in a dusty corner.  They are not good pictures. They are a huge regret. But it was 1998 - people had little 110 cameras.  {I would consider a vow renewal ceremony now just for the photos.}

But the message that pours out from those old pages is one of forever - that we knew and believed and promised and vowed that we meant everything that day stood for - and you could see it all over our faces.

How to be a child bride - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I have regrets about our wedding day.

He is not one of them.

Somehow we've navigated the inevitable ups and downs and now, sixteen years later, I still choose him as my life partner.

So, the question isn't 'How To Be A Child Bride'. It should be 'How To Be A Child Wife.'

But perhaps that's a story for another time...

Read about our perfectly imperfect wedding night by clicking the Slum Love photo on the left.

p.s. Today was my first day blogging from my new writing room.  I'll be showing it off soon!!

p.p.s. Thrift Blitz goes live on Monday - be ready to link up your super great finds!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

How To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week

How To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It's bound to happen once in a while, isn't it? A bad week? An entire five days of the Mondays?

That was my story last week.

I fit enough complaining for a year within the course of four days.

1. After a year of resistance, I updated to the Maverick operating system.  This took my computer out of commission for almost three hours. {They should really warn you about that before you hit accept.} I had to follow that up by updating all my programs which took another good hour. Everything that should have been accomplished on Tuesday didn't even get so much as a 'hey there!'

2. Because of a project I've been tasked with at work I had to install Word. I despise Word. I think Word is it's own curse word and somewhere a little demon is gleefully rubbing his hands together while I fume and rant and force-quit that CURSE over and over again.


3. Every year during performance reviews we have to set goals for the coming year. One of my goals for this season was to begin the recording/editing/uploading of our Sunday services so that we're reaching anyone unable to physically attend.  Because of all the upgrades I basically had to relearn how to use the programs and then converting the video files to an up-loadable size took HOURS and slowed down my now awesomely upgraded computer so that I could do nothing else but watch that little timer tick by.

{I am not interested in wasting time. It makes steam come out of the top of my head. I become a cartoon character. I am Lucy from the Peanuts with mad black scribbles in my speech bubble.}

4. Walmart sold out of their 79¢ turkeys.

5. It was flipping cold and the fire was flipping frustrating to keep lit - even it knows it's too early to have to heat your home!

This - all of this - culminated into a big black pot of angry yuck and the idea of thankfulness seemed like a bad joke.

But then Friday came. And I still managed to get through my list at work. And Walmart restocked their turkeys. And the country station started playing Momma's Broken Heart while I was doing the dishes and before I knew it, I was singing loud and chopping celery for my stuffing and looking forward to the twenty mouths I'd be feeding the next day.

Because all I needed was for that week to be over so that I could get busy getting over it.

And I shucked it off like a smelly coat and replaced the stench with the scents of sage and thyme and cinnamon and as the family poured in and their loudness multiplied into a symphony of chaotic blessing, I sat there beside my sweet Great Aunt and smiled at the mess and the volume and the pie crumbs on the counter and knew that this - right there in the heat and the noise - that was what I was thankful for.

A bad week means nothing when you've got the love of a family around you.

And gravy. 

And pie.

{But I still hate Word!}

How To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakHow To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
How To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
How To Make A Good Thanksgiving Out Of A Bad Week - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak


P.S. Thrift Blitz Episode Two will be coming soon and you'll be invited to link up your own great finds! Get your posts and photos ready!!

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It's downright gloomy outside and the wood hissed at me when I tried to light a fire yesterday. I hate being cold and I hate wearing socks and I hate how busy everything feels and I hate how grumpy all this hate makes me.

Because I'm not a hateful person.

I'm a glass-half-full, look-for-the-silver-lining kind of girl.

I'm a second-piece-of-pie, get-lost-in-a-good-book kind of girl.

I'm an always-look-on-the-bright-side-of-life kind of girl.

So, while the wind howls and the leaves take their final death dive, I've got to make my own sunshine by taking the best of the season and costuming my home.

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

And by the best of the season, I mean orange. Because ORANGE!

Sunsets! Fire! Sweet potatoes! The energy of red and the happiness of yellow.

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It doesn't take much to bring a touch of the good parts of fall into a home. {And no matter how cheesy you might think plastic gourds are - they're a cheap way to celebrate the season without breaking the bank.}

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Turning My Grey Complaining Into Orange Gratitude - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

It's ridiculous really, that a small little corner like this can turn my mood around.

But it does. So I'll take it. Because every day needs a little brightening.

How do you welcome fall in your home?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

10 Ways To Remember A Loved One

Memory is a living, breathing thing and it's death presents the moment we stop remembering.  There's something of the immortal in it - something eternal that follows us as long as we let it - a fingerprint, left behind by the one who left us behind.

Ten Ways To Remember A Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakWe're nearing three years since the loss of my father-in-law - since that moment on the day my son reached his decade upon the earth that we watched the very earth he spent his ten years upon fall onto the box that held the man we once knew as so much more than a memory.

Three years is awfully long in the eyes of a child. Much is learned and much replaces the person they were and no matter how we try they still seem to lose their grip on what once was so important. 

Because to a child, a memory of three years old is nothing more than a shadow, a brief passing, something they've heard other people talking about...somebody that they used to know.

So how do you help your children remember? How do you help them hold onto a piece of what was lost? How can you ensure that the legacy of a life-well-lived informs their character even if they can't really grasp the memory for themselves?

Memory cannot be passive.  

Memory is storytelling.

Memory is alive as long as you breath your own life into it.

And so it becomes a part of our every day. Little mentions that mean it - HE - is never lost.  That he lived and touched our lives and so his story becomes our story. And we pass it on. And it helps them love him even now, three years later.

Zander's best friend moved nearly an hour away this summer. It wasn't until I was to drive him for a visit that I realized we would be just around the corner from the grave site.

"Let's pick some flowers from the garden and we'll put them on Grandpa GiGi's grave," I told the kids.

"Why?" asked Noa, as she pulled a Black-Eyed Susan up by the roots. "Will he see them? Can he even see us from heaven?"

"No," I told her.  "But it will help us to remember him."

He is buried in the most beautiful cemetery, just a little ways from the stone of Canadian artist Tom Thompson where people leave paint brushes and coins and whiskey in his memory.  

There were wind chimes in the trees and they broke the peace with a fairy tinkle as we brushed some dried grass from the stone and the children laid their flowers.

Ten Ways To Remember A Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

"What do you remember about Grandpa GiGi?" I asked them.

"Perogies!" said Liam because he did a heritage project and learned that Grandpa was Ukrainian.

"Didn't he like to sing?" Zander offered.

"I don't really know..." Noa said. Because she had been so so young.

And so I told them the story again. The story of his comb-over - that long shock of grey hair that he combed from one side all the way across to the other as if he believed that we would believe he wasn't really going bald - and how I'd mess it up on him and he'd holler 'HEY!' but with a smile in his voice.

"Do you think Grandpa GiGi would like the flowers?" Noa asked.

"Of course he would!" I told her.
Ten Ways To Remember A Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
Everyone has a different process of memory and I've compiled a list of ten different actions you can take towards keeping a memory vibrant no matter your process...


1. Take flowers or trinkets to the grave. This may seem obvious but a stone stands in reference to the life it represents and the laying of a flower or small gift is a tangible way of paying tribute.

2. Uphold traditions. Holidays can be hard when darkened by the shadow of a departed loved one but you must remember that the one thing your loved one would want is for you to keep living your life. Christmas, Thanksgiving, Birthdays - instead of dwelling on the empty chair, focus instead on sharing the great memories of holiday's past.

3. Light a candle. One life can brighten the world within it's influence - just as one candle can light a hundred candles without losing it's own flame. Though there are many religious traditions that uphold the ritual of candle burning, it could be a simple, private moment in your own home for reflecting on the moments your loved one brightened your life.

4. Plant something in their memory. There's something ironically beautiful about putting into the ground something that will thrive and grow after the death of a loved one.  When my beautiful little nephew passed away at only five days old my sister planted a lilac tree in the front yard of what is now my home and every year, as the blossoms begin to show, I am reminded of sweet little Dylan.

5. Wear/use something that belonged to them. This doesn't have to be a shirt that isn't to your tastes or a belt that doesn't really fit. I have attached a pretty jeweled brooch to one of my purses to honor the memory of my husband's grandmother - it's a subtle but special way to keep someone with you.

6. Honor a special collection or hobby. My father-in-law collected model cars and we inherited many of them. I am not a 'car-girl' by any means and I would never purchase something like that for myself but I've found creative ways to use them through my decorating and now I really kind of love them. They have become a feature through our home in a way that makes sense to us and they are constant reminders of the man they came from.

Ten Ways To Remember A Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak - cut for cancer
7. Make a donation in their memory. It could be money or time. Or hair. Zander had these beautiful, Rapunzel locks but because he loved his grandpa and wanted to do something to show that love, he raised money for cancer research in honor of the grandfather he'd lost to the disease and donated all that gorgeous hair to make wigs for children. {You can watch a video of his haircut here.}

Ten Ways To Remember A Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak - terry fox run8. Do something in their honor. Much like #7, the simple act of naming your loved one as you participate in an event can go a long way to preserving and honoring their memory.

Every year the public school participates in the Terry Fox Run and this year, Noa came home with this on her shirt How cute is that?!

9. Listen to their song.  A couple years before he passed, Fred told me he wanted me to sing I Can Only Imagine at his funeral. It has now become an anthem to his memory and I can't hear it without seeing his face.

10. Tell their stories. Because, as I shared at the beginning of this post, that is the one thing that lives forever and it is how our children can intimately know the person they were too young to really remember on their own. Stories matter.  The silly and the serious. Because they sustain memory - they breathe a little life where there is life no longer - they uphold the legacy of the author of that narrative.

10 Ways to Remember a Loved One - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

How do you preserve the memories of your loved ones? Do have anything else to add to my list of suggestions?

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