Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oh Canada: Your Snow Is Sour But Your Maple Is Sweet

The weather was spring-jacket-beautiful and we rode that jostling wagon across the acreage to the sugar bush in the back of the farm, all five of us and our rubber boots and tightened adventure belts.

Holstein Maplefest, rubber boats

We were only ten minutes from home and this festival has gone on year after year but this was our first time and we were surprised at it's scale - for a homegrown, handmade, backwoods kind of thing.

Holstein Maplefest
Holstein Maplefest, sawing

It's all mud and snow and more mud and we wandered a long trail deeper into the trees until we found the barn where they'd been cooking pancakes for hours.  They loaded our plates. Pancakes. Sausage. Baked Beans. Enough syrup to make it a soupy, delicious mess.  This is how we began - with stomachs filling as a lady in full clown makeup crooned old country songs from a stage in the corner.

It was all very adorable and makeshift and we meandered around, learning how sausage is made and how sap is boiled and miles and miles of tubing connecting all those trees for all that sap.


It was a lovely afternoon of good old fashioned fun!

Holstein Maplefest, maple taffy station

Holstein Maplefest, zipline, cable ride

Holstein Maplefest, maple taffy, wagon ride, kettlecorn

Oh Canada, your snow is sour but your maple is so so sweet!


REMINDER: May is Joy Month here at SelfBinding Retrospect. I am partnering with DaySpring Cards Inc for a lovely little giveaway and hosting a Joy Link party opening on May 1. If you've got a post to share about something that brings you joy, whether it's old or new, be sure to come back on the first and link it up. I'll feature some of my favorites throughout. It's all about spreading a little happiness after this very long, soul-sucking winter.

SelfBinding Retrospect giveaway

P.S. You can jump start your chances on the necklace by liking my facebook page - it will award you 2 free entries into the draw the first time you enter - just click the button below. {You'll have to earn any other entries by sharing little Joy Snippets so start collecting them and you'll be able to enter every day in May!}

My Favorite Person Contest {Make A Blurb Book & You Could Win $2500}


(This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.)

Did you know that Blurb might give you $2,500 to read about your favorite person? All you have to do is make a book about a loved one filled with all sorts of kind words, creativity and insight, and if selected, you could win the grand prize! Whoever makes the best and brightest book about a loved one will win $2,500! For every book you make {there are seven different categories, so seven different chances to win} you will receive a 30% discount on the printed product.

Go to Blurb to check out the details of the contest to see what the categories are and when the entries are due. The 30% discount on My Favorite books will be applied at checkout when you use the promo code: MYFAVORITE. (And, even if you don't enter, you can still get 30% off on all My Favorite books or save 15% on all printed orders through April 30th!)

Not sure what to write about?




Monday, April 14, 2014

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are - SelfBinding RetrospectThe ruts are deep and jar us violently but we laugh through it - the red wagon rocking and us sitting on bales of clean straw as we traverse the Holstein fields deep deep back to the sugar bush.

I want a picture of the kids, of their flushed faces and those smiles and this adventure we're on but Liam ducks away each time I lift the camera.

"Liam, come on! Please?"

"No!" And he giggles and thinks it's a game.

"Please? Just one picture?"

"No!"

Zander holds onto him while I quickly snap one.

"You don't even know how beautiful you are!" I tell him.

You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are - SelfBinding RetrospectA woman sitting on the opposite side of our shared bale spins around and leans in.  "Oh my," she says.  "You are beautiful! Look at those eyes! That smile! My goodness!"

Liam is embarrassed. His blush sneaks up beneath his toque and he tucks his face against Noa's jacket, laughing.


"Your mother's right, you know," the lady continues. "This is one thing she'll always be right about!"

She turns to me, her eyes sparkling and the pale pale blue of a pure husky.  "It took me forty years before I believed it for myself. Isn't that the saddest thing?" She has two decades on me and smooth freckled skin that may have never seen a stitch of makeup. Her greying hair is wispy and wiry and she is beautiful in the way the world is beautiful - all surprise and no pretense.

"That's terrible," I tell her.

She smiles. "Yes, but now...." She turns back to Liam.  "You listen to your mother on this.  She knows!"


Thursday, April 10, 2014

When April Showers Roar

When April Showers Roar - SelfBinding Retrospect
When it was time to brush their teeth, Liam yelled out from the bathroom, his tone somewhat victorious, "There's no water!"

"What do you mean?" I asked, not really expecting him to have an answer because he was caught in some gleeful revere of 'Ha! That's what you get for nagging me about my teeth!'

It had only been a couple of hours since I'd finished the dishes and the water had been fine then.

After a quick investigation through the house, I found that water still ran in the basement  - though weakly - so the kids were marched down to brush their teeth and Liam spit his short-lived victory into the sink along with his toothpaste.

I called my father once the kids were in bed. That poor man. I wonder if he ever sees my number on his call display and considers not answering because it's sure to mean that I need something from him.  But of course he answered and said 'that makes no sense at all - check the breakers in the barn to see if something is off with the well pump.'

So into my boots and out to the barn I went. 

The breakers were fine.

But it sounded like Niagara Falls beneath me.

I tried the door at the stairs and it was jammed so I had to walk around outside, climb up over the huge pile of snow that had fallen off the roof and into the lower barn.

Water covered the floor.

I splashed my way to a little room in the corner, built to act as a root cellar with bins and shelves for storing things like potatoes and squash through the winter. It's a wonderful place. 

If you remember to put out rodent traps. 

I did not remember.

My squash have been nibbled to pulp!

Upon opening the door to this tiny room I was greeted with a freezing spray of water straight to my face.  Pipes run along the left wall and feed into an old laundry tub where vegetables can be cleaned before storage and the spigot leading to the sink had seen enough of this ridiculous freeze and thaw dance we've had and bit the bullet - went to splitzville - got crackin'.

Water was shooting violently from a very obvious fracture.

cracked tap, flooded barn
{The broken tap and the wet barn floor 24 hours later}
old spigot
I was getting soaked. The barn was flooded.

And all I could think about was a film we watched in grade school - an educational piece about water - and how they represented the entirety of the world's water with a full drinking glass and the amount of fresh water with a teaspoon - and how that totally freaked me out and turned me into a turn-off-the-tap-while-you-brush kind of person.

All this waste, spewing in my face.

Luckily there was a shutoff valve right there and all I had to do was close it off. 

Surely this is our last crisis of winter!

I waded through our new pool and back to the house to find that I had averted the tragedy and water was running in all the places it should be!

I am somewhat of a superhero! 

And as much as I love saving the day I would much rather throw my hands up and say, 'Enough Already!'

On a brighter note, the pussy willows are out, our snow is half gone and I found a darling clay owl at the Dollarama that makes me brilliantly happy.

sunset, pussy willows, clay owl

And speaking of happy...

May is Joy Month here at SelfBinding Retrospect. I am partnering with DaySpring Cards Inc for a lovely little giveaway and hosting a Joy Link party opening on May 1. If you've got a post to share about something that brings you joy, whether it's old or new, be sure to come back on the first and link it up. I'll feature some of my favorites throughout. It's all about spreading a little happiness after this very long, soul-sucking winter.

SelfBinding Retrospect giveaway

P.S. You can jump start your chances on the necklace by liking my facebook page - it will award you 2 free entries into the draw the first time you enter - just click the button below. {You'll have to earn any other entries by sharing little Joy Snippets so start collecting them and you'll be able to enter every day in May!}

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Dreaming of Summer Nights {and a great camp deal from Mabel's Labels}

I woke up this morning and it was snowing. 

I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted to crawl back under my blankets and just hibernate until Spring decides to get over it's schizophrenic bi-polar mood swings.

If snow can do anything {besides breaking my heart and freezing my toes} it turns me to dreams of summer.

I've already printed off camp registration forms for the boys and called the camp to reserve their spots because last year it filled up so quickly.  I've also registered us for a week of Family Camp because I would be a fool not to - one of the perks of my job is permission to attend one of our EMCC camps without it taking up my holidays - how amazing is that?!

Are you feeling the pressure to get your summer plans in order? Soon enough it will be time to sort through the piles of sunscreen, swimsuits and sneakers as you get your kids ready for adventure. Make their lives a little more organized {and yours a little easier} by picking up some Limited Edition Camp Combo Packs from Mabel's Labels . These UV resistant, waterproof labels and tags are designed for kid camp equipment — clothing, toiletries, swim gear, backpacks and more — and ready to take a summer beating. To complete the outfit of adventure, receive 20% off of an insulated water bottle from Eco Vessel with your Limited Edition Camp Combo Pack purchase

Let Mabel's Labels help you to get them sorted, tagged and prepped for a summer they won't soon forget. Plus, save $2 with early bird pricing now through April 30th! 

It would be a great victory to see everything that went with them to camp, come home again. We have yet to win that fight. Maybe this year will be different.

Happy Camping!


FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

We Took Our Love With Us

When we knocked on the door on Halloween night I still felt an ownership over that deck that I had stripped and cleaned. I saw the clothesline I had strung and the nail I'd driven to hold our welcome sign. I felt my shadow linger against the white siding I had washed with dish soap and my foot heard the familiar creak of the old wood beneath me.

The woman who opened the door was not particularly warm. She stood there beside a 'Zombie Entrance' sign and dumped candy into the kids bags.

"How are you liking the house?" Scott asked.

She shrugged and made a little disgusted noise in her throat.

"We used to live here," he told her.

"Well, I'm just renting it," she said and I could see past her to the pale olive walls that I had worked on into wee morning hours while the children slept and Harry Connick Jr. sang to me.  "It's pretty small," she complained.

We took our love with us

And it was. It was So Small. But I had loved it. I had been proud of it. Even in the first weeks when it was beyond disgusting and I had dumped countless buckets of black water from the carpet cleaner down the grimy shower drain. It had been ours. We had decked it's halls in our love.

And she didn't care.

She didn't care that we had brought babies home to those walls. That we had fought river rats and laughed over episodes of Seinfeld and grown beans in the garden and waved to neighbors from the kitchen window.

She didn't care that this had been home even though we took home with us the moment we closed those doors on that final day.

She didn't care that the main portion of Zander's childhood was spent there by the river where the mud stole his shoe.

She didn't care about us or our memories or that it felt like she was kicking our fondness of this place-now-foul right in the teeth.

No one will ever love that little house like I did. It's no wonder the ghosts came with us when we left.

A few weeks ago I was contacted by the woman who purchased our home. She gushed about how happy they had been, tucked up in that place I had made beautiful - how they loved the community and how their children were blossoming and how, the moment she first entered she had known how much love had been there.

But life had dealt them an unexpected hand and they'd had to return to the city and rent the house out to a terrible tenant who is now fighting against them maliciously because of a pipe that burst during the extreme cold of this terrible winter.

My heart goes out to her and her family. Perhaps we took all the good that little house had to offer. What an awful thing - to hear your thing of joy has brought pain to someone else.

All I can do is hope and pray that things work out for the best and that love, in whatever form it chooses, might return to those four walls. That it would breed happiness, not heartache. That whatever echo of our old life remains would inform the future for whoever dwells within.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Insults Will Not Define Me: Surviving Internet Bullies

When my parenting post received international recognition I was thrilled.  Trying to break into a writing world that's already so noisy is not easy and any little crack that lets you whisper through is a huge victory as far as I'm concerned. 

But recognition means more people. 

And not all of them are nice.
Compliments may affirm me but insults will not define me - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
Another blogger took it upon herself to publicly ridicule me through a post of her own while taking the message of my original article wildly out of context.  I would never expect that everyone would {or should} agree with me, no matter what I'm talking about. I am open to discussions that point out where I might be wrong, where I should take a step back or a second look. I am happy to engage in such an exchange where all parties are respectful and treated with courtesy.

Instead, I began to receive nasty comments here in my happy blog space.

Comments like:
Ah, shut your sanctimonious blowhole. You spent 2 minutes in line with this family and you spent how many HOURS writing an 'open letter' to him that he will never, ever see? Don't you have something better to do with half your day? Couldn't that time have been better well spent helicopter parenting your children? This is the stupidest, most condescending blog post I've seen in awhile. You apparently just need internet strangers to validate your judgement of others. I feel sorry for you. 

{I feel dirty posting that here but I want to give an honest look at what's been coming at me.}

Those kept coming all day.

And I thought I was okay.

Until I realized that every time my phone beeped it's little 'you've got mail' beep I was feeling an anxious wave of nervous energy shudder through my body.

It's ridiculous to be afraid to read your own mail. Words are only words. They are letters. They are alphabet soup.

I choked on the C the R the U the E and the L.

We all view the world through different coloured lenses and that diversity is what makes the world so unique and exciting. The problem is that I exist happily in this little space carved out for me, surrounding myself with people of similar values and morality and too often I forget that there are people beyond my borders who just don't care about me, my happiness or my opinions.  

I am naive. 

I believe in the general goodness of humanity.

And humanity repays me by making me the target of some hateful judgements.

This is a small demographic I'm referring to. The people I surround myself with did exactly that - they surrounded me and supported me and lifted me back up and dusted off the grime of ugliness with their generous kindness.

I am blessed.

But, if I'm to be completely honest, I'm also mad as hell.

This blog is my space. I am proud of it. I have poured my heart into it and I work hard to do it with integrity. It shouldn't be too much to ask that people play nice.

To have to enable comment moderation because I can no longer trust people to be respectful is infuriating.

To have to put a 'be kind' warning with the comment prompting is infuriating.

To find myself writing this post is infuriating.  {I'd much rather be telling you about Liam and how instead of asking for more coleslaw he asked for 'cold slop'!}

Maybe I'm being a coward by deleting the hurtful things but there's really no reason to condone or perpetuate such behaviour by allowing it a platform. Ultimately, this space is mine and I will decorate it accordingly with thoughtful discussion and the golden rule.

The most important thing this has taught me is that I'm a lot stronger than I thought. That compliments might affirm me but insults will not define me. That I will rise above the ugly and continue on in my search for everyday joy. That I will not take kindness for granted. That as I count my blessings I will quickly see how deeply I can bury the curses.

Did it hurt? Sure.
Am I broken? No way.
Will I let it stop me? Not a chance!

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