What if….

Den and I on Canada Day

I know this is not the norm for a blog but keep reading and hopefully it will explain this final post. I am Jackie’s Husband to be and will have to admit very social media illiterate  She had mentioned that she was doing a Social Media Digital Communications course and I was indifferent to the situation and let her do her thing most evenings and weekends without any biased opinions one way or another.  Keeping in mind that the only thing I am on the internet for is to check work email and see what kind of deals are on Kijiji.

Recently I asked to see what her blog was about.  Jackie was hesitant  for me to read her blog initially but eventually agreed and let me read her posts from the very beginning to the end.  I’m now grateful to have the chance to be involved in her new adventure and understand what she is doing.  I am a man of very few emotions and even fewer words as she will attest to, but reading this hit the heart and I thought I’d like to chime in.

Reading Jackie’s posts were somewhat inspiring as it made me think back on my things I swore I wouldn’t do and my life lessons.

I came from a broken  home and witnessed difficult relationships that didn’t work.  I was afraid that I would live what I had learned and so I decided I was going to live every man’s dream but on my own.   I Had a great career, owned my own house, had lots of toys. What else could a guy want? Right?  Wrong!

That’s were Jackie comes in. There is a time where your mind shifts from what would my life be like with this person to I can’t live without this person.  Something I swore I would never do and yet here I was in that position when Jackie came into my life.

What I have learned over the years is that our lives are full of things  we swore we would never do and lots of life lessons!  Sometimes these things will lead you to your biggest life lesson and your thankful it did!

I have known Jackie for a lifetime to some! We met over 20 years ago and have stayed in touch periodically over the years.  Circumstances had led us to be periodic acquaintances in each other’s live for most of that 20 some years but  we managed to stay in touch as occasional friends. I was busy with my career and she was busy learning her own life lessons.  Life isn’t easy and there is no manual to it! What I do know is the life lessons that we go through on this journey is what makes us human.

There came a time that the circumstances in our lives threw us back  together but did not pull us apart this time.  We were both finally in the same place at the same time.  Our friendship finally had time to grow and develop into something more.

We are to be married in less than an month and to be honest if there wasn’t any bumps in the road it would have worried me.  I have learned that everyone has regrets, things they would change but it builds character, and  helps to develop your current life circumstances.  My belief  is that was not the right time for us to be together before  now.  We were both busy growing and learning lessons to prepare us for each other and because of that, on August 19th I am marrying my best friend.

Day to day you can pick things in your life that you would change, but ONLY YOU can decide the things that  you wouldn’t change in your life.  In the end hopefully the things you wouldn’t change outweigh your regrets.  Personally for me I feel like I’m finally in that place with my new family.  I can’t help but wonder what my life would be like if Jackie had not stepped back into it?  That is one, what if, that I hope to never discover..

This will be Jackie’s last blog post but I can tell you that we both have learned something from this exercise.

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With This Ring……

34 days and counting.

Budget friendy wedding items

Some of my budget friendly items bought on sale at a Craft Store or Dollar Store

That’s how many days are left until I get married for the second time.  I can tell you that the first time around was a pretty big expense, I bought into all the hype about planning and having the perfect wedding and trust me I paid for it.  The end result was exactly the same, I was married.  The exception was that I was stressed, tired, and broke by the end of my wedding day.  I also had a very expensive cake that nobody ate, a ton of decorations that I had paid for and had no use for after, a $1000.00 worth of pictures in an album that never got opened and dishes that were rented for a day and sent back.

This time around I have learned my lesson.  We did some research and found a way to cut some costs and be a bit kinder to our budget. Here are some tips that have helped us:

  • We have a very large property that we love to entertain on so we decided that this would save us the cost of a venue and decided to approach it as a backyard barbecue or if you will, an I Do Barbecue.  We will be getting married next to our pond and setting up tables, chairs and food on the rest of the property.

 

  • We did rent a large tent for our “backyard bbq” since we can’t depend on the weather.

 

  • You can make your own invitations or use a service such as Vista Print.  I chose to use Vista Print and customized one of their designs to work for us.  As a new customer, I received a great discount for first time use and ended up getting 100 invitations and envelopes for under $30.00.  We were thrilled with how they turned out and the service was easy to use and shipping was quick.

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    Personalized Invitations from VistaPrint.com

  • We have a friend with a very talented 15-year-old daughter, she takes professional quality photo’s with a beautiful camera she received for Christmas.  She does it for fun and is always looking for ways to make little extra cash so we have hired her for around a $100.00 to take a couple of family photos.  We have also set up an account with Wedpics.com where all of our friends and family can share pictures of the big day that they take on their phones.  The great thing about this site is you can set it up well in advance of the wedding and it will provide you with  countdown, there are categories such as engagement, wedding shower, wedding day, etc so you can add pictures before the wedding day as well.  It’s fun to watch it grow, you can add the app to your phone and only the people you want to be able to see it can with the ID code that you provide to them.  The available tools are somewhat limited with the free account, or you can upgrade, pay the fee and have all the available tools and options.

 

  • We decided to use paper plates and cutlery for our outdoor nuptials since it fit with our backyard barbecue theme.  There are lots of really cute colours and styles of paper accessories that you can choose from.  Hopefully this will help with cleanup at the end of the night as well.  We can simply recycle them instead of collecting, counting, washing and returning.   You can see in the picture above I found some really cute red gingham plates, wrapped the cutlery in a matching napkin and tied it with raffia ribbon.

 

  • Real flowers certainly look and smell wonderful but its a large expense for them to be used, or last for only a day or two.  I found some beautiful pre-made bouquets at a craft store on clearance and used a 55% off coupon to get them each for $5.00 for the smaller bouquets and 24.00 for my larger one.  Since the Flowergirls are my teenage daughters, they will get to keep them at the end of the night and use them to decorate in their rooms.  I will also have a great memory of the day with mine displayed in a our home as well.

 

  • We will be doing our own catering/barbecuing and have asked close friends and family to help out with food preparation on the day so nobody has a lot to do and everyone can enjoy.  We have kept the menu very simple and with very few choices so its relatively stress free.  We will have a veggie burger for anyone who is vegetarian, beef on a bun, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and a vinegar coleslaw. We won’t have to be too concerned with things spoiling the heat if it’s hot outside and hopefully there is something for everyone.

 

  • I would say the biggest thing that we did to help our budget was our theme for our wedding shower.  We decided that since we both have established families and own our own home, it’s very difficult for people to come up with a gift option for us.  We didn’t want friends and family to spend money for the sake of spending money and where we put it if we don’t need it?  Instead we asked everyone to bring a bottle of their favourite wine to the shower along with some squares or cookies that could be frozen along with the recipe.  Since we aren’t having a cake, the squares will be dessert at the wedding, the wine will be served for dinner and drinks afterwards and I get an awesome cookbook full of yummy recipes to keep and make for later.  I had my shower this weekend and everyone had fun and was relaxed.  I got a ton of squares and some really beautiful wines to try at the wedding.  Everyone now feels like they have personally contributed to the wedding, money wasn’t wasted on a gift and it is a huge help to us in planning and purchasing for the wedding.

 

  • Our music will be playlist downloaded on an Ipad and a speaker attached to it, no professional DJ or band costs.

 

  • Check sales and Dollar Stores, they have some really nice items for a one time use for decorations, centrepieces, etc.  We bought a box for any cards that are given to us, centre pieces and chalkboard signs from the Dollar Store.

 

Centrepieces

Centrepieces from the Dollar Store will be filled with water and floating candles

  • And finally, I would suggest asking friends and family to borrow items that you may need.  Most people are happy to help and to contribute.

We are really excited about our wedding, our family and friends have been a big part of helping to plan and execute our special day and to all of us, it feels more personal because we have included so many people.  This might not be your style of wedding and that’s the really great thing about weddings these days, you can personalize your day to suit you.  Our’s just happens to be somewhat non-traditional in a lot ways but it’s very much like us. As the invitation says, Eat, Drink and Be Married.

Don’t forget to tune in for my next post with my guest blogger, the groom, Dennis Groves.

Wednesday’s Weird but True Facts

My previous post was pretty heavy and serious so I decided to take a break and offer some light fodder for thought with 10 Weird, but true, facts.

They are totally useless but may be a good conversation starter with a friend.

Keep following my blog in the next 2 weeks, I will have a guest blogger.  My soon to be husband has asked to have creative freedom of my blog for post #10. I have no idea what he is planning to post and perhaps I should be a bit nervous but I, like the rest of you, will wait and see as this weird event takes place.  Stay tuned, you won’t want to miss this.

1.  Everyone has a unique tongue print, just like fingerprints.

2.    The first man to urinate on the moon was Buzz Aldrin, shortly after stepping onto        the lunar surface.

3.   The average person spends 6 months of their lifetime waiting on a red light to turn green

4.  The average person walks the equivalent of 3 times around the world in their lifetime

5.  Nutella was invented during WWII, when an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his cocoa ration.

6.   Bob Marley’s last words to his son before he died were “money can’t buy life”

7.  Gorillas burp when they are happy

8.  Earth is the only planet not named after a god

9.  The human brain remembers more negative memories than positive ones. This is due      to the negativity bias the brain sets up as a defense mechanism

10. Giraffes are normally herbivores but will snack on bones, antlers, horns and ivory to       get much-needed calcium and phosphorous.  Check out the video here.

 

Mind Blowing

I do not help my wife

I do not help my wife.

A friend came to my house for coffee, we sat and talked about life. At some point in the conversation, I said, “I’m going to wash the dishes and I’ll be right back.”

He looked at me as if I had told him I was going to build a space rocket. Then he said to me with admiration but a little perplexed: “I’m glad you help your wife, I do not help because when I do, my wife does not praise me. Last week I washed the floor and no thanks.”

I went back to sit with him and explained that I did not “help” my wife. Actually, my wife does not need help, she needs a partner. I am a partner at home and through that society are divided functions, but it is not a “help” to do household chores.

 

I do not help my wife to cook because I also want to eat and I need to cook too.

I do not help my wife wash the dishes after eating because I also use those dishes.

 

I do not help my wife with her children because they are also my children and my job is to be a father.

I do not help my wife to wash, spread or fold clothes, because the clothes are also mine and my children.

I do not help my wife clean the house because I live here too and I need to clean it too.

I am not a help at home, I am part of the house. And as for praising, I asked my friend when it was the last time after his wife finished cleaning the house, washing clothes, changing bed sheets, bathing her children, cooking, organizing, etc. You said thank you

But a thank you of the type: Wow, sweetheart !!! You are fantastic!!!

Does that seem absurd to you? Are you looking strange? When you, once in a lifetime, cleaned the floor, you expected in the least, a prize of excellence with great glory … why? You never thought about that, my friend?

Maybe because for you, the macho culture has shown that everything is her job.

Perhaps you have been taught that all this must be done without having to move a finger? Then praise her as you wanted to be praised, in the same way, with the same intensity. Give her a hand, behave like a true companion, not as a guest who only comes to eat, sleep, bathe and satisfy needs … Feel at home. In his house.

The real change of our society begins in our homes, let us teach our sons and daughters the real sense of fellowship! ”

-unknown

This quote appeared on my Facebook feed a few weeks ago.  I immediately felt connected to it.  I am 2 years divorced and happily in love and planning a wedding with my new partner and the love of my life.
My first marriage started at a very young age, 22 years old.  The things I initially loved about my first husband where the things that later caused me to fall out of love with him.
In the beginning of my marriage, I admired the fact that he was a hard worker, not at home, but at work.  I wanted to feel needed and was happy to take care of him, my jobs were cooking, cleaning, laundry, eventually when we had children, they were my sole responsibility.  I remember an argument that we once had near the beginning of our marriage when he said to me “There is no pleasing you, you wanted to get married, I did that for you, you wanted children and I gave them to you, but you’re still not happy.”
What I wanted was a partner in life, someone to enjoy the good times with and to struggle and support each other through the rough spots.
I stayed home with our children for 10 years so they were my job and I wouldn’t change that for the world, but at the end of the day, when he came home, he expected me to have his dinner ready, while he relaxed and watched T.V.  I did the feeding, the bathing, the caring and the entertaining.  He never attended a doctor’s appointment, dentist appointment, parent-teacher interview, meet the teacher night and probably didn’t know their teachers names from year to year
During my 10 years at home, I wasn’t just a homemaker, I ran a daycare from the house to help bring in extra money, I was the bookkeeper for my father-in-laws-business, I was a Girl Guide leader and eventually when the kids where older,  I worked part-time at our local general store.  But to him, I did not work.
By the time our youngest was in kindergarten I went back to work part-time and very shortly after entered the work force full-time but guess what?  My jobs at home remained the same.  There was no sharing of duties at home, no time off work for him when the kids where sick, no attendance at appointments still.
I soon realized that I did not have a partner in life, I hated that he worked so much and didn’t want to take care of him, the children and everything else too.  I didn’t want to be needed anymore.  The final straw came when one of our children was going through a crisis situation and I was completely alone to deal with it and was trying to support them and myself  through a very difficult time.  It was then that I realized how alone I was.
That was the beginning of the end for me.  I made a very difficult decision to leave my husband and essentially broke up our family.  I became the bad guy in our community and with our friends and families because of that decision.  I was judge and there was lots of speculation.  To everyone, it looked like we had a perfect marriage but I spent 16 years trying to keep our house in order and I was exhausted and lonely.
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Before

I am now with a man who, as I write this post, is at the grocery store getting fresh ingredients to make me and the kids a surprise lunch and dinner.  I did not do any of the planning, the prep or will not be doing any of the cooking today.  Between us, we have 4 children, 3 of them are mine.  He shares all of the responsibilities and work load with the kids, doctors appointments, dentist appointments, school meetings, drop off and pick up, cooking, cleaning and supports me through all the rough spots we may go through.  Life is not perfect for us by any means, but I know I have a partner in everything we do and we do have some fun together.  This, folks, is what life should look like, this is my partner and my love.
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and After

Anxiety – One of the hardest lesson’s I’ve learned to live with

I am not an expert in this field by any means.  I am speaking from personal experience not professional experience.  I myself have suffered with anxiety on a very real level.  It is a medical condition that can’t be seen and many people choose to believe it’s not real.  My anxiety came on at a very late stage in my life trigerred by the death of my father and several other stresses in my life at the time.  My symptoms included:

  • Panic, fear (like a lion was chasing me all the time);
  • Sleep problems ( I was unable to shut off my brain long enough to sleep) and if I did, I usually woke a short time later and would immediatley begin to worry;
  • shortness of breath;
  • heart palpitation;
  • dy mouth;
  • nausea;
  • stomach upset (with frequent trips to the bathroom);
  • Cold, sweaty feeling

I was unable to eat and lost a lot of weight really fast, (not a weightloss program I would reccomend).  My husband got frustrated by me and was even embarrased by me.  He use to tell me “just quite thinking about it”,  if only it were that easy and if I could do that don’t you think I would?  I became embarased by it too and didn’t want to go get help.  I  had heard all of the stigmas and what people thought, including my only husband, “your crazy”.  Another lesson learned, I found out this illness was managable and more prevailant than I thought.

Image result for pictures of anxiety

I got the point that I no longer wanted to live this way and had no choice but to go and confess to my family doctor.  I can tell you that was the one of the best decision’s I ever made.  My doctor was amazing, did not make me feel like I was crazy and we started medication right away.  I also started going to councelling to talk to someone, judgement free, that was able to help me with some coping technics.

Something people may not realize is that when you start taking medication for depression or anxiety, it can take up to 2 weeks to start working.  You also might need to try several different types or combinations of medications before you end up with the right one for you.

Some things that worked for me where: Deep Breathing Exercises

    limit alcohol and caffeine
    increase daily exercise, yoga, walking or meditationeating
    healthy, well balanced meals
    talking to someone;
    medication if needed (based on the diganosis of your doctor);
    when you find something that makes you happy, enjoy it to the fullest to help increase or refill you seratonin levels.

There is help out there and I urge you to find what works for you.   The Canadian Mental Health Association is a good place for resources, talking to your doctor or hospital is also a good place to start.

Remember you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.  It’s ok to put yourself first sometimes.

 

Happy 150th Birthday Canada

This may be a day late, but Happy Canada Day to Everyone.  What makes you glad or proud to be a Canadian?

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Happy Canada  Day

Like most Canadians,I spent the day celebrating by taking in parades, face painting, eating and watching spectacular fireworks displays.  

 

But I started thinking about what it truly means to be a Canadian. Its more than just being thankful for an extra day off for me.  I come from a Polish Family that escaped their home during  World War II and found refuge in Canada.  When they left their homeland, they had nothing left to take with them across to Canada and were starving.  So they arrived with nothing and had to rebuild.  They originally settle in Toronto and eventually branched out to smaller towns and villages as the family grew.  I’m extremely thankful for a Country that allowed refuge to those in need.  My family has never been back to Poland and we now consider Canada home.

I’ve put together a few quick facts about Canada that you may not have known but will leave you thinking how lucky we are to be Canadian and how ingenious Canadians truly are:

  • Did you know that Canada has the largest Coastline in the World?
  • Did you know that Yonge Street is the longest street in the World at 1,896 km long?
  • Did you know the telephone was invented by  Alexander Graham Bell, who cultivated most of his knowledge while living in Brantford,Ontario?
  • Lets not forget that delicious mess called Poutine was first created and served in Quebec, Canada.
  • Maple Syrup (need I say more)
  • Did you know Joe Shuster, a Toronto Artist and his writing partner Jerry Siegel, were the first to create a comic book superhero.  Can you guess which one….Superman.

Beisdes fun Canadian facts, lets look at the practical Canadian facts

  • We live in a democracy;
  • Universal Health Care System
  • Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Not to mention the amazing seasons and scenery driving from one end of Canada to the other.

As a proud Canadian,  I could probably go one and one about the great things that make Canada the best Country in the world to me, but for now I say, Happy 150th Birthday Canada.  What makes you thankful to live in this great Country and what does Canada mean to you?

 

 

This Changes Everything

So you learned in my last post that I had 3 children.  Did I mention that if my last one had been born first,  I would only have had 1 child?  Yes, that’s right, he was enough of a challenge that I’m sure I would have stopped at him and not had anymore children.  Thank goodness he is extremely funny, super cute and incredibly charming….he’s also allergic to A LOT of food, has environmental allergies, asthma and did I mention the stomach reflux?  His first visit to the hospital was when he was 3 days old.  He was intubated, they shaved and put an IV in his head and called the ambulance to transport us to Sick Kids from our local hospital.  He was extremely dehydrated and couldn’t stop vomiting.  The Pediatric ward was our home for the next week.

This led to the discovery of a stomach reflux and dairy protein allergy.   It was also the first in a long  list of food allergies. Blueberries were next and our first anaphylaxis. Soon after we discovered his allergy to tree nuts, kiwi, soy, sulphites, chicken and turkey.

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How do you feed a toddler with a growing list of food allergies? Kidswithfoodallergies.org became my go to.  A website dedicated to information, recipes, and resources for people with kids with food allergies. (Strength in numbers)  This changed everything.  We now had options.  I’ll be honest, it was a lot more work than feeding my first 2 children, although I was already making my own, homemade baby food, I was usually making 2 different meals for supper every night now.  There was very little packaged food  in our house (because most packaged foods contain Sulphites), we scrutinized every label and planned every meal and snack.

I certainly didn’t plan for this when I started having children, but normal life now included carrying an epipen and benadryl everywhere we went.  The  Blue to the sky, orange to the thigh video 

became my mantra and I made everyone watch the video that would possibly be looking after my children.  We have adjusted and found ways to make the best of it.  Just in case you were wondering, yes, I nursed him, yes, i avoided nuts until he was 2, yes, I thought I was doing everything that I was told I should do, to avoid allergies and asthma, yet I still had to change the way I did everything.  Some things cannot be planned for but I have discovered that you need to find the resources that make it easier to deal with.  Seek out other families or people in similar situations and share what you know.

He has now outgrown the stomach reflux issue and we are used to feeding him a bit differently than the other kids. Surprisingly,  his dietary needs have mostly become a habit that we don’t think to much about.  If you’re in a similar situation, hang in there, life does become easier with time.

Tell Me Yours

Before starting this Blog and looking for some inspiration, I posted a poll on my Facebook page.  I asked people what things in life they swore they would never do and ended up doing anyway? Some of the answers I got where: I swore I’d never have kids and I’m now the proud mom of 2; I swore I’d never get married and I’m getting ready to celebrate another anniversary with my husband of 20 years; I swore I’d never drive a minivan and guess what?   I’ve started to share some of my changed opinions or decisions and there are lots more to come.  So I thought it would be fun for you to tell me some of yours.  What has been one of your biggest life lessons so far, or what is something you swore you would never do and did it anyway?  Please put your comment in the “Leave a Comment” section at the top of this blog post.

Never Say Never

couple gender resized    Related imagePIc of Kids

 

I thought I had found the love of my life, I  got married at the age of 22.  I had my life planned out, had everything under control and knew exactly what I wanted.   We were going to be married, I was going to stay home with my kids while my husband went to work and we were going to live happily ever after, stay married forever and grow old together.  As the youngest of 3 kids, I had watched all the mistakes my older siblings had made and I was sure I had all the answers. I was sure I knew everything.  After all I was the first one in our family to graduate high school and then went on to put myself through college and graduate with honours. I owned my own house and my own car so clearly I was super smart right?  Wrong.

I had 3 beautiful children by the time I was 26.  Yup, that’s 3 kids in 4 years.  I also had lots of ideas about parenting before I had children.  My kids where NEVER going to eat junk food, I would NEVER use the television as a babysitter and I would NEVER tell my kids No.  Wrong again.  In order to survive some days, to get a hot shower, drink a hot cup of coffee or make a phone call to Bell Canada, I’m not proud to say, that I did in fact, park my kids in front of the TV with Barney the dancing dinosaur on a loop and a bowl of Smarties or M and M’s to bribe them to be still and quiet.   Sometimes you do what you’ve got to do to get through the day.  My kids are now teenagers but I can tell you they learned to say no before they learned to say Mama or Dada when they first started speaking.  I broke all 3 of my own rules and this was the start of my next lesson, Never say never. Once you’re in the situation, you may feel differently.  Stick around for my lessons in marriage, coming soon.

Looking Back On It

Let me start out by saying that there was a time in my life that I swore, once I finished college that I was done with school and ready to move on and never look back.  Well…as it turns out, I’m looking back and not for the first time.  I am starting this blog as an assignment for a course that I am taking at U of T called Foundations of Digital Communications Strategy and Social Media #digitaledu.  While I feel like I’m completely out of my comfort zone (you know old dog, new tricks), I’ve decided to use this opportunity to share some of my experiences that have led to life lessons for me.  Thus the title, Things I Swore I’d Never Do and Other Life Lessons. I guess my goal for this is to not only provide a little clarity to myself, but use it as a form of therapy for me and hopefully I can connect with others that are going through some of life’s lessons.  There is safety in numbers and it’s easier to get through situations if you know you’re not alone.   Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have all the answers, I haven’t got all my proverbial @hit together but I’ve found a level of acceptance in my lack of control over some things in life and I’m at a spot where I can laugh about some stuff and take the lesson’s I’ve learned and put them to good use.  To quote Drew Barrymore, “I am not someone who is ashamed of my past. I’m actually really proud. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but they, in turn, were my life lessons.”

 

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