Friday, December 28, 2012

Is Online Renting Like Online Dating?

Let me start by saying that I hope everyone reading today had a great Christmas. I know I did, but not for the conventional reasons you're probably thinking. I had a great Christmas because it was relaxing and I didn't have to fret about what to buy people. In turn, I was elated that I didn't have to force my excitement opening a reciprocal gift bought out of sheer obligation. Did manage to surprised with twins with a couple of nice things but I did it for exactly that... the surprise. 

Taking in the sites with the Pups!
Taken: December 27th, 2012
I'm not going to lie. I was worried about taking this amazing trip that I am absolutely enjoying. Probably because I knew I was burnt out and had been for quite sometime.

Upfront, I knew that bringing the dogs would present challenges and it has; also knew it was nothing we couldn't handle, which we have.

What I didn't expect, is that the pets would travel better than the twins, which they did!

From the time the trip was put on the table the dogs were in the mix. Hell, I decided to take the pups before I ever mentioned the travel option to the twins. I had hoped they'd want to come with but boarding the dogs was never an options. After all, they are a very big part of our family.

So many things run through your mind when planning a vacation and a pet-friendly vaycay is even more complicated. I never took into account what was needed for them to cross the border, nor the stress involved with renting a place sight unseen online. Suffice is to say when renting, you are forced to take a leap of faith, before you ever leave home. Then, with great angst, you hang all of your hopes on a couple of low resolution photos. Seriously, after scanning websites for hours at a time (for the perfect place to land), I can totally appreciate online dating and the faith it must involve.

Just for fun, on Boxing Day we ventured to the condo that I had cancelled. I was apprehensive in cancelling because I was very familiar with where it was located. We'd stayed in the area previously (a decade ago) and the photos looked amazing. As we turned off Ocean Blvd I could see the buildings. My heart sank until we pulled to the front of the property and there was a very crowded trailer park between the balconies and the beach. All I could do was sigh with relief.

Our Perfect Christmas Eve Sunset
Taken: December 24th, 2012
Searching for a house online is like agreeing to go on a blind date. I've only gone on one blind date, I was 20, and his name was Jeff. I remember Lori telling me that when he asked her boyfriend about me he offered three units of measure...

"Is she HOT?  Is she cute...? Or does she love her parents?!"

Our Beach House is Africa HOT. The cancelled condo? She definitely loves her parents. Matter a fact, she's is sooo butt ugly that she's still living at home and most certainly will never EVER get laid!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canada's Waiting 4U Darin... Seriously!

Darin Pierce Designs - Muskoka Divison
2013 Summer Staff Meeting

So tomorrow is the last workday before we break for Christmas. I've never been much of a Christmas elf but when it comes to my workplace team, there's always been a festive camaraderie. We have a dancing 5 foot snowman at the door, the office is nicely decorated, and though we never have a gift exchange, we always have an Open House to wish each other a Merry Christmas. It's great fun but this year, due to logistics, Darin can't make it.

Darin is an Architect. The firm he works for (in New Orleans Louisiana) was hired to do some design work for a build and a renovation happening on Lake Muskoka. Just like my boss, his boss delegates things; as a result, Darin and I got delegated to work together.

As fate would have it, within the last six or seven months, we've chatted almost daily and become acquainted (over a boat load of laughter and and a sprinkle of frustration). Due to some extenuating circumstances, the design process was arduous. So much so that one day he mentioned "after all this work I am never going to get to see this boathouse!" Instantly, I responded, "yes you are, because I am going to bring you to Muskoka, to see it for yourself, when it's complete!!" What he doesn't know is that I was dead serious.

He and his significant other will be our welcome guests. We'll share Orillia Lake with them, then take them to my friend David's place on Millionaire's Row in Beaumaris (so they can experience what a true Muskoka summer home is all about). Just for fun? We'll hop in a boat and cruise by the projects we've worked on so he can finally see them for himself. 

I would be remiss if I didn't touch on the picture of us that is attached. When it comes to a gift, the old saying has always been "it's the thought that counts." I racked my brain on what to do. I wanted to do something special for Darin; so as a result, I commissioned this illustration of us sitting on our dock, and I did it for a couple of reasons.

The first being that I wanted to wish him a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Secondly, I really wanted to formally extend our 2013 Canadian invitation.... and lastly, I felt the need to send him a very special three word sentence.

Thank You Darin!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Remember This...

I am the first to admit that I have put some really big shoes on my children's feet and expected them to dance. They were never the coolest footwear on the market, nor were they designed with the intent they be the easiest to manage. (I can also assure, that my three were forced to endure said shoe ugliness, with zero bargaining power.)

Admissions aside, the hideous shoes they were expected to wear were always woven from love. A pure and honest love with the intent that they'd help protect them through their upcoming journeys in life.

Never lose sight of this..... No matter what.
About seven years ago I bought a small piece of canvas art that read, "Remember this, that very little is needed to make a happy life".

I recall my son asking me "why I would hang such a thing in the dining room" and my reply was very simple.

Point blank, "you're leaving and you're not taking my credit cards." 

I feel I should share that when my husband and I started to build our life; he had a bed and a stereo, and I had a couch and a television, nothing more nothing less. Neither of us came from independently wealthy backgrounds but it made no matter. With our mutual focus, we managed to work hard enough, to scratch our way to the middle.

A tremendous amount of hard work had us fortunate enough to pay down our home and purchase a cottage in 1999. It instantly became a haven where we could shield our children from certain outside influences. A place where we could let them take off those big shoes I had so firmly glued to their feet.

They may have run barefoot at our new cottage... but that very first summer I purchased five fridge magnets. My intent was they be a constant reminder about life in general. All these years later, the cheesy 2 by 3 inch dollar store magnets remain. They read as follows:

a) "The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary."
b) "When arguing with a stupid person make sure they aren't doing the same thing."
c) "Always tell the truth it will give you far less to remember."
d) "Treat people the way you want to be treated" and
e) "Smile... it improves your face value"

As their teen years came to fruition (and shit happened) a sixth was added which read "Cleverly disguised as a normal family"

No matter how I word it, nothing prepares one for being a young adult. Hell, I can speak first hand when I say, nothing prepares one for being a parent! All I can say is that no matter who you are, the time will come when you become responsible for whatever shoes you choose to wear.

On that note; it's been my experience  (in the shoe department) life offers us a couple of choices. You can buy yourself a pair of shoes because they look great on someone else, or head to the cobbler downtown and design your very own pair. I can promise that when complete, the designer pair will feel totally amazing to wear and you will always be able to call those shoes your own!

Life lesson #101. Big choices are never easy but at the end of the day they are exactly that.... choices.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On!

After an unexpected turn of events last evening; I ended up in my home office, with my Sirus radio cranked to the 70’s on 7. I don’t know about you, but no matter how freaking shitty I feel, music never seems to fail me.

Exhausted and asleep by nine thirty, I was wide awake from two until four this morning watching Love Actually. After falling back to sleep, I woke bright and early to discover one hot mess. The freezing rain outside was brutal and very dangerous; so text messaging over coffee, I decided my day off would be a bit of a chick flick/closet cleaning/get rid of a bunch of bullshit marathon.

Overall it's been a very quiet day. Every once in a while my eyes would get damp; but the blowing of my nose came primarily from the dust bunnies that I captured in whatever closet I was cleaning. Jumping into something big like rearranging furniture or reorganizing every single closet in the house is cathartic for me. It brings me a sense of balance as well as feeling of accomplishment. It's something I usually push myself to do especially if there happens to be a dark cloud hanging over my head.

As you can guess, yesterday was a productive day that very unexpectedly turned downright crappy. That said, I am proud of how I handled my latest challenge just the same. The glass half full part of me is impressed that it produced a bit of ah ah-ha moment. Which is something positive right?

Who knew after all these years, when I would raised my voice (with a compliment of tears) the people closest to me automatically presumed that "she's mad"? When that very statement was verbalized last night, for the very first time in my life, I confidently admitted what I thought was obvious; “I’m not mad… I'm hurt!

I found this sign at a Vintage Store this summer.
Taken: August 2012
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I really don’t like being a bitch. In my mind, I have already approached something from a hundred different angles before I get dark (with a standard house volume that is far too loud). As you can expect, with my excess volume comes a painful razor sharpness to my words.

Almost 24 hours later all I can offer is an apology. I’m sorry if you missed my stellar performance last night. It wasn't my best and at the same token it wasn't my worst.

All I can say to those in attendance (for my one night limited engagement) ... REMEMBER IT.

Why? Because this theater is officially closed!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pass Me My Shades & My Walking Shoes

YES this was rented for Dottie & Puddin'...
& YES they will have their own bedroom!
Destination: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
So after seeing Dave last Sunday, our Christmas plans changed yet again. 

For instance; in the eleventh hour we've gone from a two bedroom condo (on the third floor with a balcony), to a four bedroom home located directly on the beach. 

The guys at work were all like "WOW" but it’s the off season. Why travel that far and not truly enjoy the surroundings? Everyone making the trek should be happy right? Then we agree, both the two legged and the four legged travellers deserve to enjoy!

Though I'm not looking forward to the drive with the dogs; I'm ecstatic that I will get to eat my lunch outside, on the deck, with my sunglasses on in December. I'm bummed that my hamstring is still bugging me, so I don’t suspect I’ll run. What I do know is that I will walk for miles and miles. I’ll walk with the dogs and I'll sing. I will sing every single showtune I know, as well as the 400+ song I have downloaded. I'll decompress, and I know I will relax.

Not going to lie, I am seriously vibrating at the thought of my increasing my natural light intake. Until the Muskoka days start getting longer, I generally feel lethargic and at a little bit lost. As a result, I am constantly ambulatory at work. I wander from window to window, like a drug addict looking for a hit (or in my case a glimpse of natural sunlight). It's so bad for me this time of year, that when I wake in the morning, the first thing I do is turn all the lights in the house on. 

Not sure if I'm alone when I admit that I need/crave the natural light. I suffer so badly that if it's a bright day, I walk at high noon in hopes of helping my disposition. I walk to work in the dark and I arrive home in the dark. I find the days really long and my patience really short. I willingly admit it’s time, and that I really need a fix. 

As bitchy as ever, I guess the bad news is that I’ve just about had it. The good news is I said just about. The great news is I’m gonna make it. By the time I return in January, the slopes will be open, and the white snow will be brighter than the beach sand I left behind. 

Makes me smile and say "take that long Muskoka December days"... TAKE THAT!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What A Difference A Year Makes

It started with my daughter calling me at the office. When I was buzzed and told "...that’s your daughter on the phone" I instantly knew something was up. Sure enough, she was worried about her twin brother. It’s hard to explain the connection they have. They are very different people but share this really cosmic bond.

Doing what was requested, I instantly called David. When I asked “are you okay” I knew by his voice he was not. I automatically worried he needed money. I've offered a number of times to help but he's always turned me down. He can be overly proud that way, so I try to respect the whole “I’m gonna make it on my own” attitude. He's become very independent and has always been some what stubborn

2011 PRINCE Concert Weekend
Taken: November 26th, 2011
What a difference a year makes;  not to minimize that he wasn't proud a year ago, but I sense he feels that he is expected to handle this particular challenge alone. 

To prove my point, I posted this amazing photo. 

My hope is that it reminds him what a significant weekend this was for me personally, and just how lost I really was. 

I want him to remember how easily he carried me and that I am forever grateful.

Like most things in life, there is always calm before a storm. 

This time last year, David was my chosen lighthouse keeper. He was my beacon, my sounding board and my well respected friend. 

Has the last year offered highs and lows for both of us? Absolutely! Did we make it through? We did, because we love and support each other. Truth of the matter is this week proves we  ALL unconditionally support, respect, and love one and other.

I hope my post makes him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I hope that when he hugged each and everyone of us this morning he felt our love and energy. I hope in the next two weeks he gets plenty of rest in preparation for our trip. 

Why? Because I am going to kick his ass on the golf course and seriously brag about it! What? You think he doesn't feel the same way? He most certainly does. Hardest part for me to admit is that I know my buttocks is going to get served to me on a platter! 

Bring it GOOB! Just bring it my friend !! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Beautiful Three Part Harmony

For a number of reasons, today was one of those reflective days when I asked myself where has the time gone? I gave birth to Anthony James in 1990; Staci Elizabeth and David Earl arrived two minutes apart, two years later. Thank goodness I am one of the fortunate few that has an amazing life partner, and we've happily raised our children together.

Saying 'arriving at today was a lot of hard work' would be an understatement. Their Poppa lived three doors down and was a saving grace. The added bonus was my best friend (their Auntie Andrea) lived next door, and treated them as if they were her own. They say "it takes a village to raise a child" and with the help of our village (two decades later) our children have harmoniously grown into something more than siblings. They have become life long friends.

Staccs,  Goob & Jukebox (aka: JdotP)
Waiting in the rain at the Canada's Wonderland Gate
Taken: July 2009
Their relationship wasn't always a perfect Broadway musical. Like any siblings, they had their own set of challenges.

Growing up, Staci always seemed cast as the icky squeaky wheel. First and foremost it was because David idolized his older brother Jamie.

I remember the three of them sitting at their plastic picnic table (ages 6 & 4) and halfway through lunch, David felt the need to share. “I love you Jamie” he said... “I love you too” was Jamie’s immediate response. Without a flinch of hesitation, Staci grabbed both their plates and threw their sandwiches onto the lawn to the dog.  Like any human dynamic, when it came to this trio, three was more often than not a crowd.

As they grew older, their interests changed. They began to favour a two on one offense. (At times, a two on two,because if her brothers made her cry; Staci always had the luxury of her father stepping in to help.) Through all those years, no matter how bad the fighting got, a truce was always called as we enjoyed the ritual of our "Sunday Supper".

As part time jobs were introduced, all three were expected to be home no later than 4pm every Sunday. From at least 2002, Sunday evenings were OUR time. We would laugh and vent, as well as talked openly about pressures and drama we had going on. To this day, I still miss setting the table and having the dining room occupied every Sunday night.

With Sunday dinners a thing of the past, it amazes me how they've learned to appreciate and love one and other for who they are individually. They have become so closely woven that they have found their own balance. It warms my heart to know they unconditionally compliment and effortlessly support each other no matter what...

In my opinion, they have become, the perfect three part harmony. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I’ll Never Give Up!

Strategy or stupidity? Talk amongst yourselves...
When I woke this morning I cranked the tunes, jumped in the shower, and knew I was going to have a really great day.

Seriously... I felt so gosh darn good that I decided no matter how many lemons were thrown firmly at my head, I was going to make lemonade.

As a direct result? I arrived early for work, I ran a series of solid morning meetings, and I sat perched at my desk wearing a great big smile and uber-positive outlook the entire day. Also pleased to report that I made a couple of large pitchers of PINK lemonade (just to prove that I could take my self imposed challenge to the next level)!

OK. For those of you not in the loop, I am an extremely driven, not to mention goal oriented person. On any given day, my feet work as hard as my mind, and twice as fast. I really do love a challenge. Lord knows I've had my fair share (of every single type imaginable) in the last eighteen months.

For most of those challenges, I was smart enough to put on a helmet. For others, my helmet surfaced about half way through the situation at hand. Regretfully, a couple went all "MMA at the ACC" and for those memorable few, we are all left with some broken bones. My glass half full is pleased to report that after all this time some of those injuries only ache when it rains (others may always offer a twang of pain but only time will tell).

With a great day under my belt, I am living proof that life will always offer constant challenges. All I can say is thank goodness I can totally rock a red helmet; but for my own protection, I am thinking I should just start wearing that puppy 24-7!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Let The Festive Party Season Begin

20' Christmas Tree at Red Leaves
(The white decorations are full poinsettias
plants set directly in this amazing tree)
When I fell asleep Friday night my eyes were heavy and my feet were sore. When I woke in the morning, I was amazed by a couple of different revelations.

Firstly, I was shocked that I was actually able to stay up past midnight dancing. Secondly, I was impressed that I could physically start my day without the aid of a walker and/or wheelchair. Using personal history as a benchmark, I know for certain that I had a really great time.

This weekend was the annual MBA Christmas Gala at Red Leaves. Every year it's the very event that officially starts my festive party season. From the time my purple lace dress landed downstairs, it was perfect. Lisa and Jennifer definitely know how to throw an amazing event!

I can 't help but brag about how great an organization this is. I have an innate respect for the tightly woven group we are, not to mention the good we do within the industry. This year, I was grateful to meet those attending for the very first time, but sad to report that some of my favorite MBA members had conflicting engagements. They were missed. 

As I sit here and type, I have to ask. Am I the only one that I can't believe that yesterday was December 1st? Today was our annual Santa Claus Parade and it poured rain outside! No matter what type of precipitation Muskoka's experiencing, my life is crazy busy right now, and I'll have something going on until the Christmas break. 

I am away next weekend on "festive business" but my next dance-a-thon is set to take place Saturday the 15th. I'll give you a heads up; after I attend that Xmas event, I won't have the ability to blog for a couple of days. Oh, and zero photos will EVER surface, you can take that bet to the bank. What can I say? I love FUN. It's how I roll!

Happy Holidays Peeps...