Fun Photo Comps

To help me stretch my creativity, I found this awesome site called http://www.gurushots.com. I get to enter some of my pictures into competitions, and get the opportunity and privilege of seeing some Amazing photos from outstanding photographers. Check it out!

DIY Pool Escapades

We have always had a pool of some sort since we’ve had kids. The typical hard round Mr Turtle pools, blow up pools, pools where only the top ring blows up and as you fill it with water, it rises up to its end shape, and even rectangular pools with ‘U’ bars to hold it up with a solid top frame, and is basically a heavy duty liner as the pool.

Now all of the above have one very important thing in common. None of them were permanent.

Even so, they have always been enough for our family, and the kids friends as they got older. Until this happened…

Last year was the first year we didn’t have a pool and I have to say, I missed it.

We’ve been ‘himmin & hawing’ about whether or not to get another one all year, but with our kids now adults, off and running all the time, the husband didn’t think it would get used enough to justify the time it took for him to keep it clean, the cost of the chemicals, and ‘put up, take down’ energy.

So air conditioning it was. More time spent indoors than out. Especially for me. (My Fibromyalgia coupled with the constant hot flashes that have become a 24 hour pain in my ass since I went into early menopause [breast cancer fuelled by estrogen = all female parts removed, and no medications for relief].

I can’t even begin to express how uncomfortable I am ALL the time in the heat and mugginess. So I don’t go outside unless it’s to take the dogs out.

We are now into the last days of August when we come across an ad for a 24 foot round, above ground pool for a really good price, and it was already tore down. We just had to go pick it up.

After convincing my husband that, yes, it would get used, we bought it. It came with everything it needed and It wasn’t very old.

Since the weather is still scorching hot we decided to put it up this year, knowing that we no longer to have to tear it down every season.

This is the weekend we decided to do it.

Of course,there are no instructions that came with it. The husband watched a YouTube video.

He then spent all last week prepping the ground for the install, making sure it was level.

The frame went up 2 days ago, and we began installing the liner yesterday.

It was a fly by the seat of our pants kinda thing and it didn’t seem to have enough ‘overhang’. There were also places that needed to be patched. Nothing very large, but with those two things, we wanted to be safe instead of sorry.

We called a local pool supply store and they had exactly what we needed in stock. We took a quick trip to town to pick it up.

We had already been fighting with the old liner, and the pool coming out of the track, for hours. We arrived home with the new liner thinking we would pop it in and fill it up, no problems.

Yeah right.

Everyone’s patience was thin at this point.

It was hot. We were tired, and each of us had our own ideas on how it should be done.

You would think we would have looked up how to install a pool liner for an above ground round pool before we attempted it.

I am the only female, therefore the only one willing to seek advice about the correct way to do it.

Tempers, mine especially, flared.

Finally, I looked for a video. I found a great one online but had a hard time getting anyone to actually watch it from start to finish so we could all be on the same page.

Needless to say, whether it was not enough sand along the inside edge, not properly ‘sealing’ the liner to the pool walls and bottom, or by being impatient and putting the water in before we should have, we now have this problem.

Liner pulled on one side

Because we are out of money now and the pool has water in it, we have 2 options…..

1. Drain out all the water…..again, and tear the pool down until next year(we spent our cushion cash on the new liner, and can’t get the extra sand we need) or

2. Put more water in it so we can keep it up and winterize it until next year, then drain it and do it all again.

The husband who HAS put the majority of the time, sweat and tears into the pool, believes number two is our best option.

I think it is going to ruin or rip the new liner and we will have to buy another new one next year.

We’ve got a bet. $100

So when I win the bet, I will happily and lovingly give him back the $100 to use towards the new liner we’re gonna need.

I’ll keep you all updated.

For now at least, it is still possible to use the pool…gently. As long as no one creates any large waves of water that would allow water to flow over the duct taped liner. No canon balls this year.

It is still in the 30’s (high 80’s) here even though it is September, and I will use the pool for as long as I possibly can if the weather remains like this.

Quality, Not Quantity is the key to True Friendships

A person will have many types of friends over the course of their lives.

They fit into categories or stages that change, as you change and grow. Friends fill the need that we all have…to not be alone. To have someone to share good news and bad.

The friend we played with in the sandbox though, doesn’t have to be the same friend you run track with in Highschool.

The changes we go through, our experiences, and the dynamics of each of our family’s are not going to be the same.

Therefore our personalities, our likes and dislikes, our goals and values, won’t be carbon copies of each other. Your friendship needs will evolve.

You’ll have your siblings or cousins, who are usually the first friends you’ll have. This is where you learn the fine art of sharing, communication, and compromise. You’ll learn that it isn’t acceptable to hit your ‘friend’ over the head with your Barbie car, or biting the hand reaching for your favourite Tonka Dump truck, when they reach over to play with it. It doesn’t matter if you were already playing with something entirely different. Your toys are no longer just YOUR toys. You are told you have to share them. Because That is the polite and proper thing to do.

Then there are the school buddies. They kids you play with at recess, eat lunch with or walk back and forth to school with. Casual friends.

The friends that you hang with at school but not after.

Some of these people are your ‘smoking Pit’ buddies. The only thing you have in common is that you are all corralled into a small space on school property , that is barely big enough for all of you. You have to be friendly with a person when you’re crammed in like sardines….when some part of you is touching some part of them.

There’s the friend you have a class or two with. You sit beside them for every class, sharing pens, paper, or maybe homework. You joke about the teachers ‘comb-over’ and how it’s clearly not working.

The really lucky ones will have One Special friend, who you’ve known for years, or even decades, and that has walked alongside you from the very beginning of the friendship. The friend you can tell all your secrets to, and know they are safe. That friend, who, with all of life’s up and downs, will stand beside you, no questions asked. Even if you’re standing in the middle of a manure pile. That same friend who, even if they can’t tolerate the person you’re seeing, or dating, or marrying, will still stand beside you as your Maid-of-Honour, or Best Man and will be there to pick up the pieces of your broken heart if it doesn’t work out.

There are boundaries.

The romantic relationship that a friend may have, is none of your damn business. It shouldn’t have anything to do with the friendship between the two of you.

People have the right to chose. And to chose what they believe is right for them, even if its not what you had hoped for them. As a friend you can voice your opinion but you have no right to interfere.

As a friend, no matter what happens, you should just be there.

That is my definition of a True friend.

A day that led me here.

I’m not sure if it’s a weather thing or a “me” thing.

Outside it’s overcast, with a hint of rain and the almost fresh smell of an approaching storm. Or It could be, the change of seasons creeping closer with their shorter daylight hours.

More than likely it’s a combination of the weather and of my near-constant guilt these days wearing me down.

There is this disconnection between me and the goings on around me, like I’m living on a different plane of existence than everybody else, one step down, and separated by a veil of darkness and despair.

I’m sitting on my front porch in my ratty black housecoat and flip-flops. I haven’t showered in at least a week which is evident by my greasy hair that’s pulled back into a stub of a ponytail. The bags under my eyes are impressive.

I’m feeling confused, bitchy, out of sorts, and wondering why this has become my life.

Fibro…began in 2005, on a blustery winter’s day.

I was on my way to my contract- job.

The weather here in South-Western, Ontario was crap. The wind gusts would push you off the road whenever you were exposed to the wide open spaces of flat farmland between houses. The roads were covered with black ice, but you couldn’t see the road for all the blowing snow. I despised driving in that kind of weather.

I would get to the flat fields and have to hold the steering wheel against the gusts, and as soon as you got to a house or other sheltered area you would have to quickly adjust for the difference. Nearly my whole drive was like this. I was blown off the road, and as I tried to correct the shift, I hit a patch of black ice.

I spun around a couple of times before nose-diving the van into the ditch on the opposite side of the road.

Thankfully traffic was almost nonexistent. I suffered a severe whiplash. And that triggered the beginning of my symptoms.

I try to do my best, but I know it’s not good enough.

With the cocktail of Anti-Depressives, anxiety pills, sleeping pills, and pain medication you would think I’d be either in a blissfully spaced out vegetative state, or the flip side, racing about, in constant motion as if I were drunk on caffeine, am I right?

But here’s the thing, even with all the ‘medical intervention‘, I feel like I’m barely hanging on by my broken fingernails.

They say that Fibromyalgia is not a progressive illness, but I beg to differ. The symptoms are forever changing in both severity and location. The fiber that is your body, is attacking you. Every nerve ending, licking like flames.

My husband Mark, who is an absolutely wonderful man and has been with me through everything, is starting to show the cracks in his veneer. It has not been an easy road for My Love, My ‘caregiver’, my partner in crime for the last 24 years.

Neither of us signed up for this, it just…is.

I wish it weren’t so hard for him. I see the added stress, accumulating on his soul. It has changed him.

Every single day I wish I could set him free, to enjoy the rest of his life, but I’m selfish. I couldn’t survive without him, and he’d never go anyways. That’s not who he is. For better or worse, in sickness and in health. Those vows we made to each other the day we got married he would never break.

He tells me I’m his whole life, as he is mine.

The unimaginable guilt I feel every single day, in every task, he does that used to be my domain, my half of our partnership, goes deep into my heart like a hot fireplace poker, branding me. Every poke releasing all of the self-loathing, bad wife, worse mother, terrible housekeeper, waste of time and space negativity, into my body and deeper into my brain.

Pain does this. It attacks the physical, emotional, and spiritual pieces of me, making it so hard to get a grip. It is a vicious cycle. My horrifying reality, that after 12 years it hasn’t gotten any easier for either of us.

I do have some good days, and I cling to them. Make the most of them.

I do everything that I haven’t been able to help with. I zip around like a hummingbird, attempting to make our house feel like a home again.

There are feelings of hope that flow into my heart, filling in all the holes of self-hate, encouraging and allowing me to believe the possibilities, of getting back to who I used to be. I can go for hours and hours on those days.

I can get shit done!

Unfortunately, I pay dearly for it. For overdoing it, not pacing myself, not doing one small task at a time. Not Managing my self better.

But nobody understands how difficult it is for me to do that. When those precious days appear, I need to make the most of them. I need to feel like I am still a contributing member of my family. I need to feel like I still deserve them.

I worked a full-time job for the first 7 years of my new-normal, medicating myself just enough to still be able to function at an office job, then morphing into a useless blob, and in bed by the time I got home.

In 2012, due to “company restructuring “, my position became obsolete, and I was given my walking papers.

It hurt. There was no warning.

The shame of having your co-workers…your friends, watching as you clean out your belongings was tough. I sat in my mini-van, that we had bought just 2 months prior, in the parking lot, sobbing about my failure and waiting until I could safely drive home.

That was in February.

In hindsight, I was missing more and more days near the end.

To just shower in the morning and get ready for work wore me out. My arms weighed a thousand pounds as I lifted them up to blow dry my hair. I couldn’t even sit up straight….it took too much effort to keep proper posture.

I suppose it was a mixed blessing.

If I hadn’t been let go from my job, I wouldn’t have been wallowing in my own misery and could have missed it.

I found the lump that December, but that’s a story for another day.

My mind is now mush from my ‘pity party of one’.

It does help to be able to vent and share my experiences. Maybe it will even help another person, in a similar ‘place’ know that they are not alone.

A ray of hope pushing through the clouds. Peace🌈

Another Year Under My Belt

Today…one more year passes, quicker than one of my posts, it seems.

I am coming up on my 5-year mark of Cancer-free(ness) this November, and all is well there.

The older I get though, the more my body revolts. The Fibromyalgia makes mornings almost unbearable until my medications take effect, and I can walk upright like an actual human being.

I have decided to try Yoga…I just need to physically start, but also need to mentally prepare.

I will do it at home and not in a class where I would more likely than not fall on my face. More preferable for sure to protect my pride. I have videos, and now that we have reliable, unlimited internet, I can YouTube till my heart’s content. Now it’s just a matter of doing it

Trying new things is scary, and I am more of a stick-to-what-I-know kinda person. I still eat like a teenager most of the time and could live on cereal and Kraft Dinner. (My cereal is Raisin Bran though). With Fibro, fiber is a must.

My Dad and ‘Mom’ stopped by yesterday and brought me the best card that had me laughing.

It made my day.

I received a text this morning from my step-son. Simple and to the point…..Happy Birthday! Perfect.

My 18 year old ‘baby’ posted on Facebook:

Then there’s Josh…..

My 1st born. The child that made me ‘grow up’ along with him. His loving tribute

The one and only who who post a pic of his Mother in her housecoat, looking 10 months pregnant. Flattering, right?

Good thing I love him, or I may have had to kill him…lol. His Birthday will have a surprise from me, his generous and loving Mother. Game On!

It’s the little things that make the biggest imprints on our soul. These are so important.

Kindness.

A gentle touch.

Loving concern.

Acknowledgment.

Understanding.

Pearls of wisdom for everyday life.

I am going to spend my day relaxing, crocheting, having a birthday dinner down the road at my in-laws, and spending time with my family.

Who could ask for more?

I am very blessed to have them all.

And Happy Fall everyone. My favourite season full of colour and cooler weather.

Have a wonderful day and Thanks for listening.

Nikki

Alone, but not Lonely

Today was the first time in a really long time, that I was the only person in the house during the day. The kids were at work,and their girlfriends were working or signing up for school.

I enjoy having them around. Most 18 and 22 year olds don’t spend a lot of time with their parents. They are out living their lives.

But we have been very fortunate in that regard. They are home-bodies, and don’t mind hanging with us ‘old’ people, watching movies, or playing on their phones.

So, It was me, and the menagerie. Four small dogs, one very large dog and a blind cat occupy the indoor spaces.

When I take them outside in the yard, another three to five outdoor cats come running for petting or playing.

But even with all the animals, I accomplished more today than I have in weeks. My pain levels and mood have been a huge factor in my lack of motivation. Who really feels like ‘creating’ or ‘designing’ when your mood is dark. Although with Halloween right around the corner….

Without stress or constant distraction, my Fibromyalgia was livable.

I even progressed quite a bit on the pattern I am writing for one of my winter hats. It is coming along nicely and should be finished tomorrow.

My crochet projects are comforting for me when they come together quickly and as they are supposed to. But rarely do they work up without a hitch. Your chosen stitch pattern just doesn’t look good, so you ‘frog’ it… rip it back and start again. Or you can lose count of those stitches when the doorbell rings and all your pets go crazy.

This can happen multiple times, and it’s good to be able to focus, so your mood doesn’t sour too quickly.

This is also the first year that we didn’t have the dreaded ‘Back to School’ shopping. All of my chicks have grown up, graduated and are now on to bigger and better things.

The time really has gone quickly. The day my each of my kids was born, is still as fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday.

When you’re in the thick of it, doing your best to teach this totally dependant bundle of crying, pooping, and awe inspiring miracle how to survive, each sleepless moment seems like an eternity. You wonder if you can do it. The responsibility is ginormous.

Then, one day you wake up and they’re grown. And you long for those early days. Another stage of life ends.

But maybe, just maybe, if you’re very lucky, you can use all that knowledge and patience on your grandkids… just not too soon.

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