surprised by joy

I didn’t expect to be here.

When I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up, it was not HouseWife, Farm Dweller, Struggling Entrepreneur.

I was to be a trend-setter, successful, popular, quasi famous. A designer, perhaps some kind of artist (commercially of course, because i had been told that “You can’t make money from Art”) I was to be educated and experienced. pulled together and professional. Dressed for success, so to speak. I couldn’t see any children at all in my future, let alone a husband.

I was so wrong. God had other plans.

“I’m jealous of your life.” my best friend from high school said to me, after 5 or more years of losing touch.

“WHAT?!?” I had been thinking the same about her. She had it all, I thought, an exciting career. She got out of the house every day and spoke to actual adults, face to face. No kids to tie her down, and a husband she was planning on leaving for another man.
But she was unhappy.

I realized that there are days when I want to change things, things about my life I don’t like, things I am discontented with, but I am not un-happy.

And I am surprised by that.

I didn’t particularly have a great time through childhood, and I wondered, still do, if I can overcome my parent’s, my family’s mistakes in my own children. There have been days lately where I realized that my kids are great kids, and they are doing fine.

I wanted to sob with relief.

You’ve heard me complain about the state of my house, the permanent construction zone. It’s messy, disorganized and badly laid out, but you know what? We built this house with our own two hands. Every nail hammered in with love and hope for the future. It looks like a shack, but it’s *MY* shack, paid for with our own blood, sweat, and tears. Nobody can take it away. I have also come to realize that my house is more than that; it’s a home. And wherever we go together as a family, we’re always home with each other.

There are other days when I am at my worst, physically, emotionally, wearing slovenly clothes, like a stained T-shirt I slept in, stretched out bra (if any), wool sock in 16 colours (to use up the yarn ya know), and maybe I’ve worn this charming outfit for two or more days.
That’s usually when Ron walks in the door from wherever he’s been, could be work, could be a quick trip to town, takes one look at me, with THAT look, and says “I love you…” as he gathers me in his arms. I can see in his eyes that he means it, really means it.

On those days, like today, I am blind sided with gratitude. My life didn’t turn out like I wanted, nor expected.

And that’s okay.

Every day so far has been some kind of adventure, and I’m sure there is more to come.

some weight loss promises. Here’s where it gets interactive.

I often lack motivation for things, and I have to trick myself into accomplishing some tasks because of my lack of self dicipline.
With that in mind, I am announcing that I will attempt to lose 30 pounds. Not “I want to lose 30 pounds.” but “I will (at least) attempt!”. My theory goes something like this: If I tell all you out there in Internet-land, some of you will keep me on my toes. I’ll have someone else to answer to. You see, I can talk myself out of anything.

And nobody write to me saying I don’t have to try to live up to some immposibly thin ideal woman image. I am not doing this for numbers, I am doing this for me, for a change. I’ll even go out on a limb and say I’m doing this for Ron, because love me still as he does, he knew me when I was skinny too. And he liked it a lot.

It’s not just the “looks”, folks. I was a skinny young thing before. I didn’t know how good I got. Somehow, between kid #2 and #3, the metabolism or something went kaput. Or maybe it was breastfeeing for 18 months, and still eating for two. Maybe it was the Depo-Provera after that. There’s a lot of excuses, the end result of which is this, all looks aside:
I don’t feel healthy.
I don’t look healthy.

I’m not healthy.I have no energy when I used to be a dynamo. I’m winded after a short brisk walk up the drive when I used to jog over to Wendy’s. Now I drive over. I didn’t need help to get up off the floor before. My knees hurt when I stand too long. My arches are starting to fall as my legs twist a bit to make room for the extra bulk in the thighs. And you already know I have trouble sleeping and getting comfortable.

When I think of ME, inside my head, the picture I see is a lot different than the ME on the outside. So much so I am often quite shocked when I look in the mirror. When did I start looking 5 months pregnant *all* the time? Where’d that extra chin come from? How come all these fitted clothes gap open at the boobs? (well, okay, Ron is certainly not complaining there!) Who put those love handles there? My neck got fatter, too. Disregard the fact I have no clue what to do with my hair. I mean, I think I can handle not looking like I’m 19 any more, just, How did this happen?

So enough of the depressing part.

Genetically speaking, there’s good news. The women in my family all spread out a bit after having children, Mother included. She used to be a size or two bigger than I am now. She’s now the size I *used* to be. I discussed with her how to go about it, and she proved my suspicions correct.I can actually eat whatever I want, I just have to get off my lazy butt and exercise. She lost something stupid like 50 pounds by going to the gym every day, literally for something like 6 months. It worked, though.

Unfortunately there’s no gym within 50 miles of here. I’m making a deal with Ron which he has to help me enforce. One of those positive-reinforcement things. I can do something I like (read my internet journals) after I do a required task (like exercise – or maybe housework…).This may actually work for me.

I’m a prayer-type person, too, but I’ve slacked off a bit. One time I prayed for not wanting to eat potato chips (my downfall – I usually eat the whole family size bag, with onion dip, fat free of course). This worked for about 6 months. Every time I ate a small handfull, they would taste like crap, literally, and I’d have mean, mean heartburn afterwards. I got so the sight of the big yellow bag would turn my stomach. Eventually, I came back to it.
So if you’re a prayer believin’ person, you could help me in that department.

In any case, you can e-mail me and nag me to death when I write here what junk I’ve eaten and how I didn’t exercise. It just might help.

I guess maybe I should instruct the kids to polish off the rest of those doughnuts from the drive home from afternoon church…It would be a good start.

I do some construction and rant a bit. .

I’m making myself sit here and write this. Don’t expect brilliance.
When we last left our saga, I had my nose all out of joint because of the lack of work done around here. Okay, some of that was my fault, too. So after uploading the last entry, I wandered upstairs and took a look around. My choices were:
a) balance Ron’s company chequebook
b) do dishes
c) build a closet in the girls’ bedroom.

So, you know me, I dug out some spare 2×4’s (yes, they were literally lying around – well, propped up againt the wall in said bedroom), found the Workmate Workbench, and various other tools including the circular saw.

I followed the carpenter’s creed of measure twice, cut once, and DANG! wasn’t I shocked when everything fit. Well, close enough anway. One ceiling joist was warped or something so I had to tap the closet wall in place. Some of those 2×4’s were spruce, and that has got to be one of the hardest woods there is. It was a pain to cut, and a bigger pain to nail. Hubby, like a lot of men who build things, has a collection of perfectly fine used nails, which were the only nails I could find without any effort.

Partway through my sweaty task I was interrupted by the Avon lady. Yes, they still exist. I felt guilty because I didn’t want anything. Well, there were a couple things I *wanted*, but she also likes to be paid, so I had no order for her.

Back to the closet.
Really, since it is only a closet tucked behind the door (or where the door will be) I had one 20″ wide wall to build and nail in place. I didn’t drywall or spakle or anything fancy, either. As a matter of fact, the dowels (empty plotter paper rolls – those are sturdy) are just resting on their cleats because I’m not sure how to anchor the ends without a drill bit big enough. A router would have come n handy, but that’s one of the few power tools we don’t have.

All in all, it made me feel like I acomplished something.

Today so far I went to the store and the post office. I mailed about 30 or 40 more catalogues to Quebec and Ontario. I also picked up bread becasue I didn’t feel like making any. It was on sale for $1.19 a loaf. I remembered this morning that no, I can’t sleep in tomorrow because the girls are going to a Girl Guide rally with 100 otehr screaming girls. The last time I went as a leader. This time, I’m dropping them off and squealing my tires as I leave.

The one thing that bugged me about it before was pretty incredulous, I thought. For our group, we have to leave at 7:30 to get there on time for 8:30. Most of the girls that were there had a 10 minute drive, if that. It wasn’t even the scheduled snack time when the girls in my group were complaining they were hungry.
“Whatcha have for breakfast?” I asked, figuring it must’ve been some sugar coated cardboard or something.
“Nothing.” a lot of them answered.
“WHAT?!?” I couldn’t beleve they had *nothing*, Its not like the majority were from poor families that wouldn’t have ahd any food in the house, you have to have money, and lots of it if your girls are involved in this sort of thing. And this was a military base town.
“Yeah,” one little girls volunteers, “My Mom said we were in too much of a hurry this morning.”
“Mine too,” most of the rest pipe up.
So I let them eat some of their snack, what else could I do?

I mean it’s one thing if you skip breakfast, but to not feed your kid is another. It’s not like they were driving, they can eat in the car for that matter. Fruit transports well. Unfortunately I have the sneaking suspicion that the kids who go to school hungry, at least some of them are hungry not becasue of lack of food in the house, but because Mommy and Daddy couldn’t be bothered. Why not? Someone else will do the parenting for them.

And that’s all I have to say about that. The time is 12:05 and my kids are hungry. I have to go feed them whether it’s convenient for me or not.

How I made a million in mail-order

Alright, I’ve had a couple of those foggy-brain days. I’m sure it is not the lack of sunlight because the sun is getting up earlier these days. I think partly it’s lack of sleep.
I need my sleep. I need at least a solid 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. It’s not like I stay up on purpose. I just keep waking up. That and sleeping on my elbows until it hurts. I also discovered another nasty bruise on my thigh with no idea where it came from. We finally figured it out. When Ron and I “spoon” at night, if I throw my leg over him, his bony hip digs into my thigh… right where the bruise is. Dang, my legs are too heavy.

I have so got to lose weight. It makes me depressed. On to the next topic.

I was sorta discussing with Jan about how I started my business, so here’s the whole story, excerpted from an e-mail to some business list I’m on.

It was back oh about 5 years ago, a bunch of us were gathered as usual at a local craft sale at the fire hall trying to sell our wares. There was much discusion about the need to travel for a half hour or more (to Town) to get anything resembling craft supplies.. i was flipping thru a magazine, and saw a large ad for a craft supplier in Alberta where there is no sales tax, hence *fabulous* prices… I showed my friends the ad.. “great prices” they said.. “but the shipping wouldn’t be worth it, even if we went in it together…” *sigh* Well someone should open a craft store around here, says I, and a round of “Oh yes”es followed… *ding* i could do that, I figured…
So I scrounged up a spare (?) $200, applied for a sales tax number, and sent off an order to above mention great place. When it came in, I set up a table in the corner of the living room (!) laid out the stuff on it, figured out a markup, mostly based on the going rates in town… and called up my friends. Hey, it worked! When more people found out, and started asking “could you get such & such” i looked for another supplier to add.. The one I found had a catalogue with seperate price list, and I thought, gee I can show the book to the customers and write in the retail prices, then I thought i should have a party like tupperware and pass round the book and take orders. That worked too!

So.. my premise was, sell the stuff, use the money coming in to get more stuff (now I call it inventory, like a real business person), and then figure where i was going to put it. Every so I often, we did have to “cover” order totals fom suppliers (read:invest more money), but I think it only worked out to maybe $2000 at most of our own money (capital) went into inventory. The rest has grown exponentially from sales (or net profit).

Our house is built in the shape of a barn, and our living space is the upper floor. We converted half of the downstairs garage area into a seperate “real” store. And that’s where I’m at today. I get to work at home, so to speak. I found out things as I went, and I’ve had lots of growing pains, but we’re doing okay. We now have a mail-order catalogue and a web site, and I’m continually looking up.

Talk about a fluke, eh?

I did leave out some details, like how our house wasn’t finished on the inside (still isn’t – this is common in this area so customers didn’t mind), and I started when the children were 7, 4 and 2 ! And I started homeschooling around the *same* time!

So it’s really a miracle I even got off the ground.

Anyway, I have had at least two or three ideas a day on journal entries, I’ve just been too lazy to write them. I’ve sat in front of the computer and totally wasted time. I’ve ignored legitimate work, too. Well, I did do some major work for my on-line catalogue, which isn’t up yet. I coded 15 pages into HTML, so you can see how on Monday maybe I didn’t feel like writing a journal entry. Ron has been absent for most of each day this week. He helps prod me into working when I don’t feel like it. What’s he doing, you ask?

Well, a friend of ours has started a new church which we’ve been helping with, in addition to attending our regular church.THat’s part of the reason we’re in a church of one sort of another for most of Sundays. We have a new building now and it needs a lot of work. Read: needs to be finished, have flooring, heat, lights, paint, the whole nine yards. So he’s rolled up his sleeves and pitched right it. Well, I’m happy about it, but I still feel a little shorted because our house certainly is in worse shape, and if they can all pitch in to work on that, why can’t they all come over here and pick a room?

I told you I was in a mood.

Happy 84th Birthday Gramps.

So we finally made it down to my grandparent’s with all of us there. We wound up picking up Addison from school at lunch time. He only had something called and IDU, which is like a unit study. it was the first class on it, so he says its mostly planning etc.. something he can catch up on easily.

Anyway, it was snowing a bit and I was getting a little worried, but the roads were okay both ways. Grampy met us at the door of the apartment bulding with a shopping cart for the comuputer we were bringing him.

“Where’s the laptop?” I heard him ask Ron, who was ahead of me.

“Right here,” he said, and I could here the grin in his voice as he held up the tiny briefcase. The look on Grampy’s face was priceless.

“I guess I didn’t need this then.” as he shook his head and moved the cart out of the way.

The men went right into Grampy’s room to set everything up and transfer stuff back and forth. Nanny & I sat down to chat while the kids pestered us for food and attention. Addison always wants to play a board gaem with Nanny while she’s trying to be hostess, making sure the tea is on. She showed me their 50th Wedding Anniversary album she was working on. Yes, I was there, but she’s just getting around the organizing the album nicely. Next year will be their 60th. There were some old photos in the box too. Its funny looking at the blush of youth on people you’ve always seen as “old”. Well, not “old” old but, you know… older. (yeah, that’s it…) Meaghan thouht Grampy looked just the same. I could tell when Grampy looked at the picture of Nanny at 18, he could see it in Technicolour, and not the sepia tones it was. “Golden curls..” he said with a smile, “These were all golden curls on her head.” and he looked up lovingly towards Nanny.

We also got out some other pictures to show the kids that Grampy used to roller skate and do a puppet show with my father and uncle. We also walked a bit down memory lane, of course. One picture of Nanny was at the old house, which she really misses. They moved out because they realized they were too old for the upkeep after Grampy fell of the roof and broke his arm. I think he was around 75 or so when that happened.
I said to Nanny, “If I could draw better, I bet I could draw every room in that house from memory.”
“Well why don’t you then?” she said. Maybe I will.

They had one of those cute cottage-type houses, down by the Saint John River, in Grand Bay. Nice country village type. It’s a proper town, now. Their house, like other grandparent’s, was crammed full of stuff in every room. Not like they were pack-rats or anything, they just had a lot of “Stuff”, thing with memories attached. Grampy and Nanny had seperate bedrooms, and I never thought it was weird. Grampy’s was off the living room and Nanny’s was off the kitchen. Hers had two single beds in it, one for me and one for her. The bookshelf that was right next to the door is now in the girl’s room. Grampy had one room called his “office” where his radio equipment and files were kept. Later, there would be a Commodore 64 on the desk. Their bathroom had purple fixtures and yellow tile work. The year before they sold the place, Nanny found a wallpaper border with pansies on it that matched the bathroom. On the kitchen wall, off to the side when you first came in the door, was a map of England that my aunt painted. It was bright yellow and looked a little bit like Woodstock (as in Snoopy and..).

I better stop on the description.

Nanny likes to take photos of serious family groupings, but we were all crammed on and in front of her loveseat sofa, so we had to squeeze in. Then the kids and Ron decide to ham it up a bit. It will probably be one of the better photos.

We drove home with a warm gushy feeling surrounding us all. When I got home, I even had to call down and let her know we arrived safely. “Thanks for coming,” she said like she always does, “It really brightened up this dreary winter!” It takes so little to make some people happy.

Next month Ron and I will have our 10th anniversary. I’m looking forward to the next 50 or 60. Especially since Nanny & Grampy are our role models.

put on a brave face

She was trying not to let anyone see her cry.

Anyone who may have professional writing course noticed was politely looking the other way.

I had noticed one of her shower guest go over to her, have a whispered conversation, a hug, and then they left. I thought it was a bit early for that as I watched them leave. That’s when I turned around and saw her trying not to cry.

I wiggled my ample bottom on the edge of her plush chair and asked her if she was alright.

“I didn’t expect them to show up,” she said. ” Over Christmas K was three months pregnant, then she lost the baby. I really didn’t expect her to be here today”. No, not to see her in her much-longed for maternal state.

I put my arm around her as she kept talking. “I mean, I know what its like, watching others with their new babies when you don’t have one anymore. I even thought I didn’t have a right to be sad, considering I didn’t really have a baby there..” Her voice trailed off. She’d had what’s known as a molar pregnancy. Conception occurs, but for some reason the only thing that develops is a grotesquely deformed placenta. It threw us all for a loop when it happened.
“I’ll never forget,” she said. “I’ll always wonder what it would have been like.” She looked at me and apologized for having gone on long enough. Its okay, I said, I’ll listen.

“I know you will,” she said. And with a smile, turned back to her guests and their presents for her brand-new son.