Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in a small town.  I was always in the same room of the same house on the same street for all the first nineteen years of my life until I moved to the big city.  So really, my hometown and my parents’ house still feels very much like home to me.  I will always look at the place I grew up as home.

The back of the house I grew up in

However, I have now lived in the city for almost 9 years and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else again.  I’m used to the pace and the constant stimulation that you don’t get back in the country and probably will never leave again.  Or at least, not for many years.

A view of the city I live in from the apartment I lived in a few years ago

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Abundance

Hey all! I’ve decided to try and keep up with The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge as much as possible.  For one thing, it’ll have me out using my nice camera more and practicing taking pictures and for another thing, it’ll help me with my postaweek2011 challenge as well.  So, in essence, 2 birds 1 stone.

This week’s theme is abundance and I immediately thought of this picture:

The kittens

This actually doesn’t do the situation justice, but this is a shot of the litter of kittens that Mr. Pip Squeak came from.  His mama Gypsy gave birth to 8 wee black kitties in my mother’s garage and they were the most adorable things ever.  They’d run around in a little group and my mother would call it “The Mongrel Parade”.  They all looked mostly the same except for our little guy and my sister’s choice, Maximus, who was fluffy.

Random Observations from a Hospital Waiting Room

Recently, my sister had a baby and I spent an entire evening and some of the very early morning hours of the next day waiting to meet my first nephew.  You would think this would be incredibly boring, not because of what I was there for, but because I wasn’t actually involved in any way regarding the birth.  I went to her room a couple times and chatted with her but for the most part, it was my mother and bro-in-law that were in there with her while me and my father waited around in the waiting room.

At first, I kept myself busy watching some television and catching up on some notes for work.  Then things got a little more difficult to keep my mind distracted.  They closed the Tim Horton’s around eight or nine so I couldn’t keep wandering down there for coffee and snacks so I had to rely on the sparse supply of vending machine provisions to get me through the hours.

As I was wandering down to the Timmie’s, I did make some observations.  One, there are an inordinately large amount of ATM’s in the hospital considering it’s not really a store of any kind.  On my way from the third floor maternity ward down to the little Timmie’s, I passed at least four and noticed a few others in my various wanderings throughout the night as well.

I also noticed that every person I passed in the halls, employees, visitors, or patients, never said a word.  You would perhaps get a slight smile but it was as if there was an unspoken rule that no one was allowed to talk…EVER.  I could see this in the later hours, but this was the same around seven when I had just arrived to the hospital.

There was one exception to this rule.  A woman who was pushing a cart of cleaning supplies and had a heavy accent started laughing almost hysterically at the sounds of an obviously excited father-to-be telling the mother in the room down the hall from my sister to push.  He’d say it several times and she laugh and then say it as well, continuing to laugh hysterically.  I couldn’t help but laugh with her because she was so funny and enthusiastic about her imitation.

The revolving door at the entrance to the hospital was somewhat of an enigma.  It was automatic so you didn’t have to push it.  However, when you were still about five feet away, it would start rotating so you’d step inside and it would suddenly stop and say, “Please step forward”.  You would then have to shuffle forward a foot before it would start moving again and let you either in or out of the hospital.

There was an aquarium in the entrance lobby to the hospital with tropical fish and I found myself watching them while I was waiting for my mother to go to the washroom.  They were all very beautiful but I notice one little angel fish that was somewhat gimped up.  He was swimming fine, but on an angle.  I couldn’t figure out why as there was nothing really wrong with his fins or anything and he didn’t look sick.  He reminded me a lot of Gill from Finding Nemo.

Gill, the injured angel fish from Finding Nemo

Eventually, as it got later, the only thing available to keep me entertained was the small television in the waiting room that had cable up to channel 14.  I now remember why we ditched cable at our house.  There was absolutely nothing on but crappy movies, television shows I don’t really like, or the news, which was as it always is; boring and depressing.  Eventually though, my mother left the room so the sister and the bro-in-law could have their baby and I was able to chat with her until the big moment arrived.

A Second Snow Day: Beating Cabin Fever

I awoke this morning to much of the same weather as the night before.  The snow was coming down like a white blanket outside my window, the lane way looked like we hadn’t used the snow blower at all the night before and there were people up and down the road in all directions shoveling like their lives depended on it.

I dutifully checked the local college website and informed the boyfriend that his classes were canceled for the day and he could stay in bed.  He mumbled a rather unintelligible yet distinctly celebratory noise, rolled over and went back to sleep.  I then checked my work email, hoping for good news and that I could go back to bed as well.  Unfortunately, there was only an email saying that the office was open and if we felt it was safe enough, we were to head on in.

Wanting to keep everyone informed, I sent a quick note saying the college was closed in case anyone had kids that were attending and went to have a shower and work up the courage to dig myself out of the lane way.  I got dressed, I put my hair up a la ponytail style (that’s right, I’m all about cutting edge fashion) and I said goodbye to the boyfriend.  I then decided to check my email one more time and lo and behold…SNOW DAY!!

It was official, I didn’t have to go to work.  I decided not to go back to bed as I had already showered and was wide awake, so instead, I sat and watched about five episodes of Intervention and did some work from my laptop.  Yes, I’m just that exciting…working from home on a snow day.  However, I also cleaned the house which was the inspiration for the boyfriend’s motivation to put the tree up this afternoon/evening.

So that is what we did to keep ourselves from going insane because we couldn’t leave the house.  We dragged the giant box of Christmas decorations up from the basement, organized everything, got rid of a few things that were ready to go away, and we set to work decorating.

The mishmash of decorations in the lovely storage box that lives in the basement 11 months of the year

The pile of stuff the started accumulating after we went sorting through the storage bin

The boyfriend sorted all the decorations into various categories such as indoor lights (for the tree) outdoor lights (which we are estimating are over 20 years old), run of the mill decorations (shiny, coloured balls, garland, etc..) and sentimental ornaments to name a few.

While he was doing this, I used non-tree decorations and made other areas of the two living rooms look a little spiffier.  I used green and silver garland for the upright lamp posts in either room and they turned out looking rather nice.  I then set to work on jazzing up the lovely new entertainment stand.  I put green, leafy garland on it and we set most of our figurines on the shelves.  I have since noticed that we have a great deal of penguin paraphenalia.  When the boyfriend and I got together, little did the two of us realize that we both really liked penguins and between the two of us, we have a lot of them.

It looks a little cluttered, but I couldn't bare not to put them all out

When I was finished doing that (while at the same time torturing the boyfriend by making him listen to the Glee Christmas album), we started in on testing the strands of lights.  This proved to be difficult because some of them were mine from when I lived on my own and some of them were the boyfriend’s which had been collected over approximately the last 10-15 years.  So in testing them we found that some of the lights didn’t work but the others would come on.  We would simply replace the defective lights and move to the next one.  Some, however, were the ones that if one light didn’t work, the whole strand didn’t work.  After much frustration and swearing on the boyfriend’s part, we decided that we could make due with two working strands of lights as they were kind of long and if we were sparing, we could manage to get the whole tree done with them.  I don’t think we did too bad of a job considering he’d moved on to testing the outdoor lights (and diligently making sure they all worked and no two like colours were side by side) while I tried to string the lights on the tree.

This was problematic for several reasons.  The small amount of light strands, as mentioned above, the fact that I’m just not very good at stringing lights, and lastly, the fact that we have a rather fat Christmas tree and I have rather short little arms that will not reach around this.  The tree itself is in a corner and I could not just walk around it, so I had to get creative and reach behind the tree, throw the lights over the tree and generally stretch my wee little arms to the limit.  This was the end result (only of stringing the lights, this is pre-decoration):

Its kind of sparse in some areas, but overall, not to bad.

During all this rigamaroll, Mr. Peep decided to hide in his usual cautious place; the mat in front of the kitchen sink.  I’ll admit that it’s not the best hiding place, but he actually usually blends in quite well and he likes to sit there when there’s something going on that he’s curious about, but too afraid to get close to while it’s still happening.

He sits on the very furthest side of it and stares into the living room whenver we're moving things around

After this came the final stage of decorating (for now…outside stuff will come later when we can move through the yard).  We put the ornaments on the tree.  I would like to point out that none of our ornaments have any kind of theme or reason to them, they’re just a collection of things we’ve accumulated over the years.  Sometimes we will decide that a few are too ragged and they will get tossed.  This year we parted with a whole bag of strung beads and various other things for donation.  We each have our various sentimental ornaments that were gifts over the year that must go on the tree.

I always tease back and forth with my friend about how her tree must be perfect and matching have a theme and she always just stares in awe at the tacky mismatch and disarray of mine every year.  The year we lived together in an apartment was the best because I was the one that owned the tree and it was spectacularly tacky that year on purpose just for her.  You can see her well decorated and nicely themed tree on her blog here.  I will admit its very lovely, just not my style.  Even the boyfriend looks at our tree now and then and shakes his head.  After it was finished and we had all the supplies put away, Mr. Peep ventured out to check out the scene, immediately placing himself under the Christmas tree and chewing on the branches.

Our Christmas tree 2010

He has already knocked off one decoration...I expect to find more

Letter to Santa – The Finished Product

So today I wrote my letter to Santa Clause and will be sending it out in the mail tomorrow.  I chose a very lovely stationary with snowflakes and Christmas trees.  It ended up taking 3.5 pages but not because I’m greedy.  My handwriting is atrocious and very big, so it takes up a lot of room on unlined paper.  Below is a picture of the finished letter and a translation underneath so you can see what I wrote.

My very pretty letter to Santa

Dear Santa Claus,

I know that it’s been a while since I wrote you a letter, probably almost twenty years, but it’s never too late to catch up, right?
How are the reindeer? Are the elves surviving these hard, economic times?  I hope so, they always seemed like such a jolly lot.
Anyway, I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so here is the list of things I was kind of hoping to get for Christmas.

  1. A new boxspring for my bed. It was damaged in a freak accident and now my side of the bed dips. This makes for a most uncomfortable sleep at night.
  2. A pug named GIR so the Peep can have a friend and stop torturing the boyfriend on a daily basis.
  3. Fuzzy dice to hang from the rearview mirror in my car. Because Bob the Car is just that classy.
  4. A belted sweater for the boyfriend because I can’t find them anywhere. His favourite colour is orange.
  5. Another Snuggie. I know that I already have one, and I love the way it’s warmth and coziness invades me while it steals my soul, but I can get cold at work and would like to have one there as well.
  6. I’d really like someone to make a She-Ra movie. There are no good cartoons left in the world and that was one of the best and greatest roll models for girls and she was the best. Boys got a He-Man movie and I’m still waiting for my She-Ra film. I’m sure you have connections in Hollywood and can make this happen.
  7. By the way, since he doesn’t have opposable thumbs, Mr. Peep would like cat food that is easily opened so he doesn’t have to wait until the boyfriend and I get up to eat his tasty breakfast. Because, trust me, Mr. Peep is not impressed with his humans sleeping in.
  8. I know that this is a very nerd-like request, but please bring back Buffy and Firefly. Please????
  9. A new duvet would be lovely because the boyfriend stole mine two years ago and I haven’t been able to snuggle into it’s pillowy goodness ever since. I miss my duvet, Santa, a lot and I’d be very appreciative to have another one. We don’t share blankets very well, so no, that is not an option.
  10. Lastly, Santa, I would like a winter coat. I used to have several and somehow, they have all disappeared. It may be the boyfriend’s way of getting me to buy a new coat as the old ones were ten years old. I live in Southwestern Ontario. It’s freaking cold here and the moderately rated one I have isn’t really cutting it.

So, in closing, I would like to thank you for your time and tell you that its been wonderful writing you a letter again after so long. I hope your trip is good this year and Merry Christmas to you.

Thanks again,

Shannon.

How NOT to Name Your Children

I was listening to the radio in my car today and I heard something that both disturbed and disgusted me.  According to statistics, the most popular names of last year (2009) were Edward, Jacob and Bella.  In case there are any of you out there that are unaware of the origin of these three particular names, they are the main characters (vampire, werewolf and fawning, empty-headed love interest of both respectively) from the Twilight novels/movies.

Before any “Twi-hard” fans out there freak out about the last paragraph, let me explain what has brought this disdain upon this information.

I have read the Twilight novels, so I know where I’m coming from when I say that they weren’t something groundbreaking/life changing.  They were typical romance stories, involving some paranormal characters that happened to go to high school.  I have not seen the movies, as I made the decision that the novels didn’t really deserve the hype the movies were getting and if it was going to be all over some actors who were “so hot” and about five to ten years younger than me, then I wasn’t having any of it.

I would also like to say that this has nothing to do with the actual names themselves.  I have nothing against Edward or Jacob, they’re very nice names and for a while, before this series was dumped all over the public, I actually really loved the name Isabella (Bella for short).

Herein lies the source of my disgust at this revelation.  As soon as this series became so very popular I dropped that name option for any future daughters in a heartbeat because I knew what would happen.  Every unoriginal, easily swayed dimwit on the planet would name their kids after characters in a movie that was popular when they were young enough to think that the fictional characters were real and wanted some stupid connection to a fad that will eventually fizzle out.  Lo and behold, I was right.

This is my problem with this development.  These parents are indulging their own fantasies and not thinking of their actual children.  Just because their parents obsessed over a sparkling, wuss of a vampire, they’ve now gone and labeled another human being with the same name as a million other kids.  There was no creative thought process, no originality  and no thought as to the actual child that would be saddled with the name forever.  Just something like “well, if I can’t actually have my own Edward, I will name my child as such”.

So my message to all you would-be parents out there who are trying to figure out what to name your kid, please don’t go with the popular vote.  The only thing you’ll end up with is a kid that has the same name as fifteen other kids at their school.  Pick one that means something to you, perhaps a family name or something else but don’t subject your future offspring to blending into a background of thousands of other kids named after a popular vampire from a cheesy romance novel aimed at love starved teenagers.

The Perfect Accessory for Any Child?

Courtesy of Google Images

Today, while I was stopped at a red light on my way to work, I saw something that, to me, was intriguing.  A young mother taking her dog for a walk, properly on a leash.  What intrigued me was the fact that toddling along behind her and the dog, was a child…also on a leash.  Not only was this tiny human attached to the end of a leash, but she was BEHIND the mother and the family pet on the walk.

Now, I’m not a parent so I know that I have no real idea how hard it is to raise one; to watch what it’s doing every second and make sure they’re not wandering off or darting into traffic, but really…a LEASH? It just seems like the quick and lazy way out.  Your child is full of energy and running all around?  Well then, just hook it to your arm with a leash from your local pet store and you’re good to go!

Okay, I know that it was probably a government approved, safety-tested, specific to humans kind of leash, not available at your local Pet Smart, but still, not really all that different either.

On the other hand, something like this is the perfect solution to one of the biggest irritations in this day and age.  Unmonitored kids running around in shopping malls and other public areas with no apparent supervision from an adult of any kind.  I’m not talking about a kid that’s wandered a few feet away from Mommy and is playing with the toys on the shelf or something.  I’m referring to the fact that I’m seeing more and more kids just zipping around the stores at breakneck speeds, screaming at the top of their lungs and there is no parent in site at all.  Note even keeping an eye on them from a distance.

Not only is it one of the most annoying things about doing any shopping lately, but it’s downright irresponsible and dangerous.  Anyone could nab one of these kids as they’re running by and take off, which would make it quieter for the rest of us, but is ultimately bad for the child.

I think hooking all those little buggers up to a leash and attaching it to the table in the food court is the perfect solution to multitudes of kids running around, bumping into people who are standing in line, screeching at the tops of their lungs and basically interrupting everyone’s day.  That is, of course, except for their parents who are sitting around and enjoying themselves thoroughly as they converse with each other and ignore their offspring.

I’ve seen some kids run up to strangers and bother them blatantly and their parents didn’t even notice.  I even once saw a kid get completely outside the food court and end up halfway down one of the halls before his mother sighed like it was the biggest irritation ever and stomped off after him.

Seriously, if you don’t want to watch your kid when you’re out in public, hire a damn babysitter.  And here’s a fact that some parents don’t seem to understand: if you can’t get a babysitter, sometimes you just have to go without and take care of your child.  That’s what happens when you have one.  You are responsible for a life for many years after their birth and that’s just the way it is.

So if you can’t actually take the time to pay attention to your kid, apparently there are child friendly restraints available on the market.