Eight weeks can change your life.

So something changed. On May 2nd I went to see a new doctor. It wasn’t a normal doctor. It was a hormone specialist. Let me back up? No, there is too much.  Let me sum up. (Points for anyone who gets the reference). I’m a 50 year old woman. I started to go through peri-menopause and was dealing with hot flashes. It was NOT fun. I went to my regular doctor and she was NOT helpful at all. Lots of “well you are middle aged” (fucking OUCH) and “it might not last that long”. So then I tried to find a local menopause clinic. TWO YEAR WAIT. So I finally found out about private clinics and decided that I should make an appointment. The private clinics are all about BHRT (google if you’re interested). I told them I can be fat, I’m love me and that is not why I’m here….but I can NOT go through hot flashes AND be fat. Like it’s too much. I’m at work dealing with back to back hot flashes while taking blood from patients. I’ve put my head in the freezer. Like come ON. Turns out they do all the hormone tests, not just the sex hormone hot flash related ones….turns out that I had HIGH fasting insulin. NOT a good thing. The doctor told me that there seems to be evidence that intermittent fasting can reduce high fasting insulin numbers. She also suggested that I read the book The Obesity Code by Canadian nephrologist Dr Jason Fung. She said basically ‘give it a read and we’ll talk in 8 weeks at your check up’. Side note* . i went there for the hot flashes and they are gone!! All my peri symptoms are completely under control. She also said for me to get a primary doctor in case i need to get a prescription for metformin (for the high insulin levels) because I would only being seeing her once a year for my menopause symptoms. So I got a new doctor who said “yup that’s high” and was going to refer me to a endo to figure out what was going on. I asked her to wait on the referral because I was going to try to get it down by myself. She agreed (well i’m pretty sure she thought “AS IF” in her head but she agreed) So for 8 weeks I followed EXACTLY what the book told me. I also read his book The Complete Book of Fasting. Well wait…..actually I read that one first because I honestly didn’t care about the weight thing, my primary worry was the high fasting insulin number. Also I thought the title wasn’t meant for me but that’s another issue. So for the next 8 weeks I saw the changes in my body. I started to feel so damn good. Every joint and muscle ache went away. My persistent plantar fasciitis? Gone. Oh and I started dropping weight like a MoFo. But i had no idea what was happening in my blood. I had to do my follow up blood work and wait until today to see if the changes were not only affecting my waist line but also my blood work.

So…..this news just in. My bloodwork is AMAZING!!!! No longer insulin resistant. No longer pre-diabetic. No need for metformin (which she hinted at last visit). Fasting insulin WAS 179 just EIGHT weeks ago. Which is WAY beyond the normal range of 35-140 pmol/L . And now it is 87. I cut it in HALF in eight weeks. Thats INSULIN PEOPLE. Not glucose. No doc had ever tested insulin as my fasting glucose was 5.1 and completely within range. So yeah I’m happy the weight is coming off but I am ECSTATIC about my risk of diabetes being GONE!!! So glad she suggest IF and said “you might want to read this book called The Obesity Code. The guy that wrote it is a Canadian nephrologist. Read it and we can discuss it at your next check up in 8 weeks” I think she was pretty sure I was going to need a prescription. She had “metformin + or -” written down to ask me if I’d found a primary physician. She said “well I’ll just cross THIS out now”. She was grinning ear to ear and thrilled for me. She was like “see you in a YEAR!” My support person at the clinic hugged me.

All the clothes Im organizing and selling so I can buy NEW clothes that fit me!

So the vanity side of me is super happy that in 8 weeks i’ve gone from my 1X clothes being tight to size 10/medium. But most importantly I am more proud of myself for changing my future. I won’t be a type II diabetic. I will NOT deal with all the issues that comes with that. I will no longer be starving myself on 1500 calories a day and being at the gym 2 hours a day/5 days a week. Now I go paddling, I go for 5 km walks/hikes, I go to yoga, I lift weights on the days i WANT to instead of going to the gym daily and seeing almost no results. I do physical activities because I WANT to and I enjoy the activity. So for all the people sending me messages asking What Did You DO? That is what I did. It wasn’t about getting skinny or not loving my body. It was about being at the beginning of a very scary health ride that I wanted to jump off of quickly.

I want to be VERY clear. I have never NOT loved my body. I love it curvy, squishy and delicious and I love it now. My hubby loves it no matter what. He is thrilled with me at ANY SIZE. Trust me. He legitimately doesn’t care what size the package comes in. What he does care about? My FEAR of that insulin number and what that might have meant for me in the future. He’s the most supportive guy I’ve ever met. Is he enjoying the new bod? Um yes but I think that has more to do with the fact that I now have a ridiculous amount of energy and am much more bendy LOL.


Here’s the last thing….in ALL the years I’ve probably had insulin resistance, PCOS and hashimotos (my best guess is over 20 years) NOT ONE DOCTOR I saw did blood work that would have shown what the issue was. And that was with me BEGGING to check my thyroid (i assumed it was my thyroid) and saying that something was up. They sent me to nutritionist. I followed EXACTLY what they said with absolutely NO results. When I would go back they would suggest that I wasn’t REALLY doing what they told me. I had binder upon binder of recipes and plans given to me by nutritionist. Nothing ever changed. Because all this time I was fighting against insulin in my body. So now I know and I’m healing myself. Thankful beyond belief for the staff at True Balance for how they listened to me and BELIEVED me. Today was a damn good day. I am BEYOND proud of myself and I’m excited to see where this journey takes me. And if you are interested….go ahead and pick up a copy of The Obesity Code or one other books by Dr. Jason Fung The Diabetic Code, The Longevity Solution & The Complete Guide to Fasting.

Me in a discount retailer trying on clothes from the $5 rack that are sized medium and being repeatedly shocked. I mean I want new clothes but I’m cheap AF 🙂 .

The first step to our future.

So the Cowboy and I have decided that we want to move to the country.  But of course it’s never that easy is it?  He’s still on the road.  We still have a couple of kids at home. I have a job.  We aren’t independently wealthy.  Land here is expensive.  BUT the dream of both of us has always been to live on some land.  AND to live on it together.  So we’ve started a plan.  It’s a long plan but in 4 years we will be moving out to our very own small holding.  (Acreage, small farm, homestead) .   We constantly have an eye out for something that will work for us and we are NOT so patiently waiting for the perfect situation.  While Cowboy finishes up his last 4 years doing long haul I am actively starting to learn skills that will make the transition to country life a little less drastic.  And this year I’m starting with gardening.  I’ve ALWAYS wanted to garden.  I’ve never really done more than a few pots so this year I’ve drove right in and I’m learning a LOT.  There are so many great resources out there and so many different ideas on the “how” and the “why”.   A while ago we had the bushes removed from the south side of the front of our yard.  We had a load of dirt delivered and I set about planning my new garden.  Keep in mind i have NEVER done anything on this scale before.  I follow so many allotment instagrams and had so many ideas.  I knew that i wanted to have a large variety of things in the garden and I knew I needed to try/learn a bunch of new skills so that when we move out in 4 years I can hit the ground running.

First step was ordering some seeds and making a garden plan .   Interesting fact, when you have no idea what you’re doing this stage is the MOST daunting.  I started some tomatoes in the house and some peppers.  This is a hit and miss for me.  I started some under lights ( a TONNE) but the tomatoes were not super successful (more on that later) but some of my peppers made it.  Next year I’ll be starting them much sooner with the lights MUCH closer so i don’t end up with leggy tomatoes.

I’ve spent a lot of time stalking allotments on instagram and let me tell you, people around the world LOVE them some no dig gardens.  I can now see why .   Here is my garden so far!  There are several sections.  The hoop garden is where all of the veggies in the cabbage family.  Apparently this will keep the cabbage worms from decimating my entire crop like last year.   I’ve put up some pallets to hopefully get my squash and cucumbers to climb up.  I’ve put up four teepees.  One is for beans the other three are for peas.  The majority of the garden is planted.  There are onions, carrots, beetroot, chives, swiss chard, corn and pumpkin!  I can spend HOURS in the garden and i do.

I did put some things in baskets after rabbit proofing the yard.  I seeded some herbs but also bought some that were already big.  I LOVE basil, tomato and mozzarella salads and I eat them all summer so I knew I needed a LOT around the yard.  I also planted dill in hopes that I can use it when (WHEN) my cukes come in!  I also am VERY hopeful that my strawberries will produce this year.

I’m VERY excited about the concord grape vine that I picked up.  See I made my first of many gardening mistakes, I put the winter litter from the chicken coop DIRECTLY into the bed against the garage.  Not good.  The chicken poop needs to spend a year or two before it can go into the garden or it’ll burn everything.  So upside no weeds but downside my favourite place to plant tomatoes is useless until next summer.  So I dug out an area added some potting soil and put in a concord grape vine.  I’m hoping I’ll be able to trellis it and it’ll take over the entire wall! Imagine the grapes!!

 

The girls are laying like CRAZY.  If you’re local and want to buy a dozen eggs let me know!!

One more thing before I FINALLY post this (it’s been over a week since I wrote this I just kept wanting to add more things).  I fell into an internet hole about regrowing veggies and thought I’d give it a try.  Here is my celery end that would normally end up in the food waste or the chicken coop.  i’m regrowing it!

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Since I started this post the regrowth has clearly become more impressive.  This baby is going in the garden soon!

 

Also since I posted there are flowers on the strawberries so we will be enjoying the fruits of MY labours soon.  Time to hit post before I end up having to rewrite the whole blog post!

Next up….the time Allison decided we should change our cute garden shed into a greenhouse and the time Cowboy decided he should get to the chicken coop door before winter hits…..

The Cowboy & The Cupid GET MARRIED! AKA we did WHAT?

Okay….we did a thing and if you’re reading this then we actually went through with it. I wanted to be sure that I kept a record for everyone so that after the fact people could share our journey.

WE’RE MARRIED!!

Shall we start at the beginning?
Six and a half years ago in Walmart.

How it ALL Began!

So we’ve been living our life happy as clams for the last 6.5 years and then one day in April after my Cowboy asked me for the MILLIONTH time to be his wife.  I said YES.  You read that right….I finally after 6.5 years agreed to marry my Cowboy.  To say he was surprised is an understatement.

Of course we were miles away when we decided to get married so he did what he did every week for over THREE years.  He sent me flowers and a card.  Just like when we were first together.

So since we did all this planning in private here’s a sneak peak into our planning process.     Shortly after Darren and I decided that we would bite the bullet and become man and wife we had to decide on the where and the how because clearly the WHY is obvious.  We are madly in love and we want to take the step of being husband and wife.

Little window into me getting ready for the big day!  I went shopping at Nordstom’s Rack and found the PERFECT dress on the first try.  Seriously….LOOK AT ME!  Damn I’m hot…..Cowboy is a lucky man.

 

I ordered some calla lilies off amazon and made my own bouquet (in secret in my bedroom so no one saw)

 

In the midst of planning our forever Mr. G remembered to make sure that I knew this was just as exciting for him and he is happy beyond words.

We told no one…but the kids and a few people we needed help from to pull off our perfect day.  So……Where?  VEGAS BABY.  When we told Elijah about eloping in Vegas we asked “what do you know about Vegas?” and he said “What ever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!”  In this case our marriage will be completely legal everywhere, not just in Vegas.  So we found an officiant  Julie at Custom Las Vegas Weddings and she has been AMAZING.  I can email her and text and she answers right away.  We wanted quick and easy with no big hassles and she has been the answer to exactly what we needed.   Her company has arranged the photographer, the officiant, the limo to and from the Aria where we are staying!  It’s been so stress free.  Honestly we could have just landed and gone to the nearest chapel but I wanted a day to remember and I wanted to be sure that there were GOOD professional pictures since it would just be the two of us running away to get married.   On that end I also booked a make up artist….I found Makeup 702 and let me tell you, I’m so very happy with the service I’ve received with them so far!  So obviously I wrote this blog post BEFORE we went away but from the service I received from both these vendors before the big day I’m pretty confident everything will be grande!

We are landing in Vegas on April 29th (earlier today) at 1030 am.  Checking into the Aria and then taking a quick cab to the courthouse to pick up our marriage license.  Then back to the Aria (hopefully time to pick up some tacos for lunch).  At 2 pm my travelling make up artist arrives.  The limo picks us up at 350 and we drive over to  arts district.  Ceremony (the place where we say I DO!) will be at the murals in Fremont.  Then we go to the Neon Museum for a photo shoot!!!   Finally back to the Aria to celebrate the culmination of our love (bow chicka bow bow).

Ooooo before I forget…..sneak peek of my NEW wedding ring.  I picked it up the Thursday before I left for Jasper.  So for all you people who are thinking my Cowboy got me drunk and tricked me, no, we actually planned this!

 

So now we are married! We want to preemptively thank every single one of the well wishes I’m sure will flood our way over the next few days.  Know that we are extremely grateful for the love.

Pictures to come.  Reception this summer in our backyard.  The Cowboy and the Cupid are married….finally.  Oh and tomorrow I’ll wake up and be 50.  So this is a new beginning in almost every single way possible.

2018. The Year of the Bucket List!

 

Do you know what today is?  Today is 483 days until I turn 50.  Yes, I have a countdown, yes it’s on my phone.   Yes I realize it’s just a number.  No I’m not REMOTELY upset about turning 50.  BUT the thing is it’s there…like super close.  It’s not something in the abstract that is decades away….. it’s RIGHT THERE.  And I have no fucking idea how it got so damn close.  Somedays I feel like I was just a kid, running around East View with all my other Buckwolders.  Or hanging out at Mr. Whiz at Market Mall playing Ms. Pacman.  Other days it feels like  was just a young mom with my sweet little toddler Emmett at my heels.  Granted I rarely feel like that when the 6’6″ hulk of a 26 year old is sitting next to me chatting about what shows we’re currently binging.  I remember turning 40 and most days it feels like I blinked and boom here we are at 50.  I remember my mother saying with a shocked voice how she can’t imagine how she was 50 (I was 9) and I thought it was so ridiculous.  Of course you’re 50, you’re super old.  I could barely wrap my brain around the idea of being 31 once the year 2000 hit never mind being FIFTY.  Super old people are 50….people who can barely move, don’t have fun and are the definition of “uncool”.  THAT’S what 50 is….obviously.  Except.  Um…..I’m 48.  So I’ve decided to reevaluate what 9 year old Allison decided 50 was going to be like….

So…..ugh…..I had this BRILLIANT idea a few months ago that instead of waiting until I was ‘just about’ 50 in january of 2019 that for this year I would make sure that my 50th year had NO REGRETS.  How you ask?  Well….but crossing off all my damn bucket list items that I always put off until ‘some day’.

 

First.  Back when I turn 40 I did it with 40 days of hot yoga leading up to my 40th birthday.  I loved it so much.  I was ADDICTED to hot yoga and had a daily practice.  Secretly I dreamt of becoming a yoga teacher…but I couldn’t.  I mean, get real, I’m old, I’m too big.  I don’t have a ‘yoga teachers body’.  Slowly my practice slipped away as we moved overseas and I never really got back into it.  But I always thought “what it”.  Well dammit.  This year I’m doing it.  I’m starting my yoga teacher training on January 12th with this amazing teacher!!!  Kick Your Asana

 

Second.  I am starting a weird, random & bizarre but super exciting new venture.  I’ve been too nervous to put myself out there about it for YEARS but this year I am doing it.  I have a great opportunity and really the only thing stopping me is fear.  I totally got called out on it after deciding that I can’t possibly do it and convincing myself no one wants to hear what I have to say.  So now I’m putting it into my yearly intention as it TRULY is a long time bucket list item and it was just the kick in the pants I needed.

 

Third.  I’ve put my body on the list.  This is a hard one for me.  All these years of loving myself and embracing the body I have has made it very hard to put my body on the list of things I want to change.  I feel like by saying I’m not comfortable in the body I’m in, I’m somehow at odds with the “love yourself!” movement that I’ve always embraced.  But this year I realized that wanting to change and get the body I crave to be stronger isn’t a bad thing.  It’s MY body and choosing to make it strong and healthy IS a gift to myself.  And the reason I haven’t done it before is because of my own fear of failure.  Plus, dammit, I’m almost 50.  If I want to go into the ‘second half of my life’ as Mr. Magoo calls it, being able to travel, work and having the energy i crave then perhaps I should do what I need to do in order for that to happen.  So 53 days ago I embarked on a new fitness regime.  The results are staggering.  I am so much stronger, I feel so much healthier.  I can’t wait to see where this path leads me.

 

So that’s it….these are my intentions for 2018.  The last year of my 40’s.  Holy.  Crap.  Thank god I look so amazing otherwise this would be fucking depressing…….

 

Want to see all my other intentions and how this all started???

http://www.foreveracupid.com/life-stuff/2013-the-year-of-awesome/

http://www.foreveracupid.com/life-stuff/would-you-like-that-sweater-in-grey-or-grey/

http://www.foreveracupid.com/the-new-me/2015-the-year-our-house-becomes-our-home/

http://www.foreveracupid.com/uncategorized/drumroll-please-2016-the-year-of/

 

Chosen.

20170415_112651 July  30, 2009.  That was a day that will live in my heart forever.

Ok, in all honesty I totally had to look it up.  I mean we were in the throws of moving to Germany and we didn’t even get notification that the adoption was final for MONTHS afterwards.  But that doesn’t diminish the importance of the day.  You see that was the day that Nadia (Miss Thing) became my daughter.  Legally.   And now after all these years and all the tears she is 18.  I honestly can not believe that we made it.  You see when you adopt an older child they come with their own set of unique issues.  Nadia was 7 when she first came to live with my ex-husband and the two boys.  She didn’t come alone.  She came with her bio sister. their younger brother went to another foster home.  They came with the absolute goal of family reunification.  You see I knew the kids because I worked at the elementary school that they attended.  They had been moved through several foster homes and the final placement (before me) was breaking down fast.  I got a call from their worker asking if I would be willing to take the two girls on a short term basis. SURE.  Small aside, when a social worker says short term basis it’s never short term.   Anywho…we had completed our foster parent training and were actually waiting for a foster to adopt placement.  We were looking for a kid that was already a permanent ward of the province and ready to adopt.  NOT for a long term foster placement.  But here’s the thing….I KNEW these kids.  I had seen them for months, two little girls making their way to school.  Missing so many days.  Every so often the younger sister would bring down attendance and greet me with the customary “Hello Gorgeous” that the kindergarten teacher had taught all his “Bees” to say when they brought down the attendance folder.  More days than I can count I had to call and leave a message “good morning, this is the school we are wondering if the girls are coming in today?”.   There was never someone answering, there was never a call back.  They simply missed school.  A lot. But when they were there oh how they loved to learn.  And how sweet they were, eager to join in and tried so hard to make up for lost time.  Their peers were moving past them because of all the missed days but still they both persevered.  Then one day they just vanished.  Missing weeks instead of the customary two or three days a week.  No phone call with made up excuses, they simply stopped coming.   And then the call from the social worker.  Would we be willing to take them?  Could we pick them up immediately?  Here’s an address.  OH. Um….I guess we need beds?  So we dropped everything and picked them up.  I still remember the faces of these two little scared girls.  They had been through so many houses.  The look of complete and utter relief when they saw my face was heartbreaking.  HELLO GORGEOUS!  Are we coming to YOUR house.  Yes, yes you are.  And I promise you’ll be safe and sound AND you can go to school every single day.  Hop in the car.  It’s been 11 years since that day and I can still see the smiles on their faces.  Pure relief.

So for three years we did the dance of the court dates.  At some point we realized that these kids were never going back.  It didn’t take long to realize that reunification was not going to happen.  But oh how we tried.  Bio mom tried, she really honestly did.  But the bar she had to reach was too high. The sacrifices that she would have to make were too much.  She loves her kids, of that there is no doubt but she simply couldn’t do the things that were asked of her.   And at some point we realized that the two girls needed a chance to attach.  I’ve tried to explain it many times but the best analogy I can come up with is that they were both drowning.  Both were flailing about in the water sinking each other.  Neither one could be saved because while they were together they wouldn’t allow the other one to swim or even tread water.  Her younger sister HATED living at my house.  Everything about our house screamed family, stability, normal.  And she hated it.  So from about day 7 she started plotting to get the hell out.  I’m sure in her mind getting out meant she would go back home.  So she did everything in her power to break down the placement.  After 6 months and with a heavy heart we agreed to move her.  I knew I could do so much with that kid, but she needed more than I could give.  And in order to save both, we had to let one go and hope that there was someone out there that could reach her little broken soul.  She told me years later how much she regrets pushing to move out of our home.  She was only 6 but she remembers how much she purposely tried to get out.  We were ‘too normal” and she had to get out of there.

And the little bird that at 7 landed in my house?  Well she slowly but surely started to fly.  Not by herself of course.  We did MAJOR therapy with the most amazing childhood trauma therapist.  For years we went weekly and we worked through all the years of trauma that had come before Nads was in our house.  SHE did the work.  I read everything I could get my hands on about childhood trauma.  People seem to think that it has to be some huge event that makes kids develop ‘issues’ related to trauma.  It’s not.  It can be the instability of moving every 3 months.  It can be neglect.  It can change a child’s brain in a way that has lasting effects.  And in my girl’s life the childhood she had lead to PTSD, OCD and the fact that she hadn’t slept in YEARS.  But she did the work.  She went from sleeping no more than 4 hours a night and hiding food to sleeping all night long and eating anything that was placed in front of her.  I remember on her 11th birthday asking her where she wanted to eat for her special day and she picked a Sushi restaurant in Heidelberg.  Seriously?  A kid who 4 years before wouldn’t eat a tuna fish sandwich was picking spicy salmon rolls for her special day?  Amazing.  Bizarre but amazing.

I get all sorts of accolades when people see my kid.  Especially people who knew her back then.  People who saw the damage, who saw how broken she was.  When we look back at pictures from when she first came she always remarks on the huge black circles under her eyes.  When we moved back from Europe there were many people who honestly couldn’t believe the change from the years before. What had happened?  What did you do?  Why was she thriving so much?  Well it’s simple.   It started with  a change to her environment.  I pushed her to be the person she so desperately wanted to be.  And never for one moment did I allow her to use her past as an excuse to not succeed.  I will NEVER forget the testing that they psychologist did when she was 9 or so.  There is was in black and white.  This kid was behind the 8-ball.  But.  But.  But.  I knew she could succeed.  I KNEW that she was desperate to succeed.  And I knew that I would do anything in my power to make sure that she did.

Have there been naysayers along the way?  Of course.  I’ve had people tell me many times that they don’t “get” my parenting style.  That I’m too lax or too strict.  That I should do or say or act a different way.  But quite frankly at this point I don’t give a fuck.  I may not be the best friend, or the best wife, or the best employee…hell there are a million things that I’m not the best at but let me tell you, I am ONE HELL of a mom.  I have three amazing kids.  And I’m proud of all of them but I am the most proud of the fact that I helped a little damaged bird of a girl go from fearful of everything to fearless.  I took her from paralyzing insomnia to sleeping through the night in the dark.  I took her from being scared to stay out in the sun because she was ‘dark’ to asking me what kind of lotion to use in the tanning bed. I took her from being ashamed of the very space she took up in a room to demanding her place in the world.

So why the long blog post.  Well she’s 18.  We did it.  While a SIGNIFICANT number of older child adoptions break down ours did not.  I’m not going to pretend it was easy.  It wasn’t.  I’m not going to pretend that there weren’t times when it came very close to breaking down, it did.  And now she is graduating from high school.  A feat so very few people thought she would accomplish.  Small aside I’m ashamed to say that in the beginning I set the bar for her too low because I believed the naysayers. I  remember I even said, if we can get her through high school and keep her from getting pregnant I’ll be happy.  I doubted myself and I doubted her.  I obviously gave my head a shake and raised the bar at some point.  She has goals (although like every 18 year old they are a mystery to me because she rarely wants to talk about them).  She dates.  She has friends.  Does she struggle?  Sure, she fights every day to form relationships that are healthy.  Sometimes she picks friends (and guys) who treat her like shit and tries to  earn their approval.  Sometimes she picks really sweet guys and then doesn’t know what the hell to do with them because they aren’t emotionally abusing her and she can’t wrap her head around being treated well.

But she is chosen.  She is my chosen daughter and I am her chosen Mom.  We might not be perfect but we have each other.  I have stepped in front of a train for this girl and I always will.  It’s not empty promises it’s real life.  She gets it.  She might not always show it but I know that she 100% appreciates it.  And I appreciate the fact that the bravest thing she has ever done in her 18 years is ask me if she could stay forever.  And the bravest thing I ever did was say yes.

 

 

 

20170415_123520

I left my heart in backwoods Ohio…..

Remember when I went to camp with 100 complete strangers last year in the middle of nowhere?  I did it again. Last year I couldn’t adequately describe what camp did for me.  I couldn’t put into words the affect the experience had on me and how it changed my life.  I mean I could, I just couldn’t put my finger on the ‘why’.   I could just write about what we did and the people I met.  I said it was life changing at it was.  People would ask me about the experience and I would describe it as “just like kids camp but with vodka and CPAP machines” .  We played games and we drank.  We danced and we sang 80’s song off key.  And I would repeat over and over “it’s not that kind of camp” when people would give me the side eye when I said I spent 4 days in the woods with a bunch of strangers.

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Well now another year of Camp Throwback is behind me and I can finally bring myself to sit down and put my thoughts into words.  YES I traveled to some hidden little  place in Ohio that no one who lives outside of Ohio has ever heard  of with 100+ internet strangers.  Twice.  The first year I was  scared.  I was careful.  I didn’t drink “too much” and I didn’t stay up “too late”.  And I made friends. And without a doubt, against everything I thought possible, I had the time of my life.  When I came home I immediately bought tickets for June 2016.  Last year I flew in the night before and stayed in a hotel by myself because i was worried to accept the many offers I had from people to just ‘crash at my place’ or ‘fly into Chicago we’ll pick you up”.  Um NO?  What sort of freaks just offer a complete stranger rides and places to stay?  No thank you.  I will fly into the designated airport and use the prearranged shuttle service.  This year?  I booked a flight into Cincinnati and just said “Hey everybody this is when I’m arriving who’s going to meet me”.  What was the difference?  The difference is now I understand the magic of Camp Throwback.  I know what it is now.  What Brittany Gibbons has created at Camp Throwback is a place that I never really believed existed.  You know that feeling you have when you go someplace new?  That fear in the pit of your stomach?  That little kid voice that no matter how old you get flashes through your mind and says ‘what if nobody likes me’?  Camp is the one place on the planet where that doesn’t exist.  It’s the opposite of that feeling from the second you enter the gates.  If you see a group of people sitting on a blanket you can just sit down and BOOM  brand new friends.  If want to dance by yourself to the songs of your youth, you can and NO ONE is sitting there pointing and laughing.  More than likely they will stand up and dance too.  You want to wear a bikini, wear a motherfucking bikini with absolutely no chance of someone saying that you shouldn’t.  More likely someone will say “oh my god, you look BANGING! Where did you GET THAT!?!”   Where you can laugh so hard your stomach hurts for DAYS because you’re playing Cards Against Humanity with some of the sickest/funniest people on the planet.

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What Camp throwback is to me is the one place on the planet where I hang out with 100 people who have shared and intense desire to be a good friend.  To make sure that everyone feels included.  That take the time to get to know you and would rather give a hug than a dirty look.  They have patience, smiles and laughter and they have pure joy at the experience.  And they do it year after year.  Camp session after camp session.  Sure Camp Throwback is the brainchild of one of my favourite people on the planet and I applaud her for this magical place.  BUT the camp experience isn’t just this one person, it’s every single camper.  It’s the girl who read about it online and books a ticket and a flight and shows up alone.  It’s the dude who is dragged there by his wife because she heard about it on some crazy online group and insists he comes along.  It’s the counsellors who make sure that everyone finds their way as they first pull up and step out of their cars looking around, eyes darting like a deer in the headlights.   It’s every single camper that comes to Camp Throwback and puts aside the outside world and embraces the idea that we are all just love.  Camp Throwback is a beautiful place in the middle of the woods where you can be 100% yourself and your faith in the human race will be restored.  Where you can exhale and let the problems of the world fall away.

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Sadly when you leave it all comes rushing back.  Work, meetings, those pesky children.  The world outside of Camp Throwback is not nearly as appealing or as accepting.  This year I’ve cried a lot.  Not only because I miss my camp family but because I now understand how beautiful it is and sadly how rare that feeling I have at camp is.  To finally find the place where you belong also points out how lonely the rest of the planet can be, how ‘not camp’ every day life is.  And not just the fact that apparently it’s not “socially acceptable” to have vodka for breakfast and say ‘motherfucker’ every other word.  But that it’s hard to take the time to just sit on a bench and colour dirty words while someone next to you is braiding a friendship bracelet.   I’m hoping that each person that ends up there comes out with a piece of Camp in their heart and spreads that love to their corner of the world.  Thank you my fellow Throwbackers.  You are forever my Camp Family and you hold a piece of my heart with you no matter the distance.

Cupid, draw back your bow….

It’s amazing how when you are feeling blue suddenly there is a light.  In my case that light is shaped remarkably similar to a 12 year old boy.  Last night my sweet Mr. Magoo decided to draw the entire family as Simpson characters.  I am drawn as Marge.  This might be my favourite thing ever.  My halloween costume for 2016 is sorted.  Just need to find a lime green dress.  I already have the red shoes!

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Today Mr. Magoo has requested that we watch “Bumpa’s video”  in honour of the 10th anniversary of his death. He’s been planning on watching it with me for over a month.  He reminded me last week “in case you forget it’s February 4th” Gee thanks Elijah……He is so proud of being one in the video.   So in honour of my sweet boy here is the video I made for all of Bumpa’s kids I can’t find the CD but thankfully I saved it in a million different places so I’d always have a copy.   He Raised Me Up…..

 

Drumroll please….2016 the Year of…..

But first how I got to this year’s intention…

She’s not the daughter I wanted.

Those words have shaped my entire life.  For those who don’t know me and probably a few that do, you may be shocked to find out that those are the words that have defined my entire life.  Those words were spoken by my mother.  Repeatedly.  My entire life.  To EVERYONE.  Back story.  I was the 4th born child in the bumpy and ending marriage of my mother and father.  After three boys my arrival was met with shock and disbelief.  I was supposed to be Christopher.  My mother was so convinced she was having another boy that early April morning that the midwife had to convince her I was a girl.  She was very happy, she FINALLY had her girl.  No more bitter disappointment.  I mean she LOVES my brothers but after 15 years of “jeans and t-shirts” as she liked to say she was more than a little thrilled to finally have a much anticipated and desired daughter.  And what a handful I was!  I was all girly and giggly.  I loved to dance and was a non stop talker.  I was the apple of my brother’s eye.  I was, in a word, perfect.  I had all the dresses and all the shoes.  My mother took her first maternity leave when I was born.  She stayed home with me for a couple years.  Later of course she would remind me how her pension was affected and it didn’t seem to make any difference so she probably shouldn’t have done it.  But then the inevitable happened.  I turned out to have my own personality.  When I was about three years old I decided I didn’t like the name my parents had lovingly picked for me and I changed it.  I didn’t ask, I just simply refused to respond to my first name.  “Call me ‘nother name” was demanded and from then forward I was known by my middle name.  Well they put up a good fight but I would just stare blankly at them as they yelled “KAREN” over and over until with a resigned sigh they would say “Allison” and I would happily answer!!   That probably should have been a hint as to how the rest of my life was going to go. Anyway…. my parents split, my older brothers moved away and I was left in Saskatoon with arguably the coolest older brother ever.  We were four years apart and we had a pretty damn good childhood.  We lived in the best neighbourhood with a million other kids.  It was a new suburban type neighbourhood with the best schools and fantastic teachers.  We grew up playing Kick the Can & raiding gardens for carrots.  I followed my big brother to the ice rink in the winter and rode my bike all over the place in the summer.   I’m still friends with a large percentage of the kids from back in the hood.  We all grew up to be pretty decent people.  Saskatoon raised some spectacular kids in the 70’s & 80’s.  Good, honest, decent people with dry sarcastic sense of humour or I suppose we could also be described witty smart asses.  It must have been in the water.  There were dips in the road along the way, I was molested by my babysitters husband and never really told anyone until years later in therapy.  Keeping that secret for so many years is probably one of my only regrets from old Toon town.  I have a crazy amount of guilt that my little 5 year old self suffered at this old man’s hand and I didn’t tell anyone.  My mother also struggled with what I now see was depression and I wasn’t very nice to her as a child.  I just didn’t understand how hard it was for her to be a divorced woman with 2 young kids in the 80’s with no real support system and so I never really tried to understand her sadness.  So I think that’s why I went down  such a bumpy teenagehood.  My mother didn’t really appreciate that I had my own desires and dreams.  She wanted me to live, act and feel what SHE wanted me to do.  There was no room for what I wanted in there at all.  It was stifling.  Prime example….when I was young I took piano lessons.  I never wanted to take piano lessons.  I wanted to take Violin lessons.  More than ANYTHING I wanted to take either the violin or the cello.  My mother told me I was taking the piano. I took the piano because that is what she had so desperately wanted to take when she was a child.   She was the poor child with a cardboard cut out piano dreaming of one day learning to play.  I was the child who had to fulfill that dream.  When I said I didn’t want to play anymore, I wasn’t allowed to quit.  YEARS of piano lessons.  I had natural talent and played beautifully and she couldn’t understand why i wouldn’t continue for ever. She was convinced that it was every child dream and as her daughter I must do it.  I quit the minute I could.  Ten years of piano lessons I never wanted, asked for or enjoyed.  And I never once got to learn the violin.  So we repeated the exact pattern she was trying to avoid.  I was in my bedroom pretending to play the violin just as she had been 40 years before.   Later when I was picked to play the bassoon in band she phoned the school and made them change it.  Not because she had any knowledge about musical instruments or that I had been picked to play one of the most challenging but because she thought it was ridiculous.   I was picked to play the bassoon because the band teacher knew I had musical talent.  The bassoon is a much more difficult instrument to master and he was sure I could handle it.  My mother turned up her nose and said ‘the bassoon? there’s no reason you have to play that, who plays the bassoon?”.  And therefore, I played the clarinet.  I mastered it in no time flat, was bored senseless and quit after 3 years.  The minute I turned 18 I moved out.  I gave up going to university because in order to do that I would have to stay at home and I just couldn’t.  She has thrown that in my face for the last 30 years.  The fact that I applied (and was accepted) into the college I wanted to go into didn’t help.  It wasn’t what SHE wanted me to do and from the minute I was accepted she started telling me how it wasn’t the right choice.   Look at what so and so’s daughter did!  Did you know that such and such’s son is a doctor?  You just left for NO reason. Well I was 18 with a 10 pm curfew…so I could vote but I couldn’t go to a late night movie.  Yes I moved out, I could no longer BREATHE.   My whole life I have been just a series of disappointments to her.   She’s made sure to let me know that every decision I’ve ever made has been the wrong one.  In her eyes I’m not a nice person.  I’m not a good partner.  She repeated told me that men just cheat and I should save my marriages.   I’m not a good cook. When I cook dinner for her she is beyond surprised that no one gets food poisoning and repeatedly tells me (in a shocked voice) how good it is.   I’m barely capable.  At 30 when taking my child on a vacation she didn’t talk to me for a ages because I didn’t take her.  Not that she wanted to see the destination but that she thought I shouldn’t be going alone.  “what if you get lost?” “but you’ve never been there before!” “you shouldn’t travel alone”.  The first  house I wanted to buy was dismissed by her as being unsafe.  She rescinded the offer to help with the down payment until I picked a house she deemed appropriate.   I love my mother and there are a lot worse out there. I absolutely understand how she became the woman she is but being raised by her  has made me doubt every single decision I’ve ever had to make.  The lack of confidence I have had my entire life has been crippling.  I promised myself that when I had kids I would be sure to let them know that I believe they are capable.  That I don’t have to agree with their choices, but that their choices are 100% theirs.  I will support them no matter what.  Even if I’m sitting here wringing my hands I will support them. And I will do my best for the first years of their life and then I will back the fuck off.  That I will happily give my opinion when asked but if I’m not asked, I’ll shut the hell up and let them figure it out.

 

So where does that leave me?  As I started to try to figure out my intention for this year i was struggling.  The Year of the House was a great success!  The new kitchen is 90% finished (pictures in the new year) and the house is now the home of our dreams.  The Year of Awesome that started it all continues to this day.  That first year of making an intention was really just a dream.  I was reaching out to the universe at the lowest point in my life with a hope for something better and wow…what a difference it has made in my life.  The year of Style was fun and although I started out thinking it would change my outside, it in fact changed my insides more than I ever thought possible. I ended up doing a photoshoot in my UNDERWEAR?!?!?!  So THAT was successful beyond anything I ever thought possible.  So 2016…what to do?  Where to put my focus?   “She’s not the daughter I wanted”.   The Year of Becoming.  That is what 2016 is going to be….the year of becoming who I’ve always wanted.  The year of becoming who I’ve always thought i could be but my self doubt and voices of my past held me back. To FINALLY stop playing that one sentence over and over in my head.   But what does it look like?  Well it’s a HUGE story.  One that I’m going to tell throughout the year.

Becoming the woman I wanted.  Hold on to your hats people.  This is huge.

2016 The Year of Becoming.

Out with the old….

My old kitchen.

Original cupboards were broken in a lot of places.  There was almost no counter space AND we had a dead wall.  The old owners had a little 2 person table on the dead wall but when we had a table there it just became a dumping ground.

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My new kitchen is all about colour and textures. You’ll see THREE different cabinet colours. Coloured appliances. Barn wood. Glass tiles.  Open shelving. My goal is to have it look like it’s been cobbled together with much loved pieces of many years.   I also wanted places to display some of my favourite treasures.

 

I’ve been “pinning” different kitchens since we bought our house.    And now those pins have all come to life.  We are soooo close.

So while I’m waiting to post pictures of the finished kitchen. Here’s a sneak peak at another new space in the house.  My new CRAFT ROOM!

 

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I found an old stool at an estate sale of some old dude who died and was a hoarder.   Recovered it was some gorgeous vinyl.  The table I made with a piece of MDF and 2 9 cube shelves from Lowes.    Painted the MDF and boom…instant craft table!

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I finally have a dedicated craft space and I’m already putting it to use making curtains for the new kitchen.

 

I KNOW I always go on and on about how amazing my life is.  It’s annoying.  It is probably the only annoying thing about me aside from my constantly being right and how ridiculously modest I am.  BUT when you’ve had the relationships that I have had in my past and then you find a true love, a partner and all your dreams come true it’s REALLY hard not to constantly be “oh my god, do you SEE THIS? My life!!”  I try to keep it to a minimum (yes this is a minimum) but I’m so fricking happy.   But this house renovations is truly been a dream come true.   I’ve been watching HGTV since it came on the air and I’ve never had the opportunity to do a renovation.  I’m so glad I finally get my shot.

And I’ve knocked it out of the park.  I can’t wait to show off the final product.

 

Here’s a sneak peak….(look a DISHWASHER!)

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The House to Home…..so far….

It’s back to school week here and while that makes for busier mornings we are all happy to be back into the groove with more of a routine.  Here is Mr. Magoo hamming it up for his annual Back To School on the front step photo shoot.

 

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The house is coming along!  Once you start renovations and you start to see things that you have been dreaming about fall into place it gets exciting.  I feel like I’ve been planning this renovation for years.  I probably have, even before we had this house.  I’ve been watching HGTV shows for 20 years and dreaming of some day having this opportunity.  I never believed it would happen but here it is!!

So first thing that happened was the house was painted.  Next the new hardwood floors went in and now the kitchen cabinets are about to be installed.  Along the way we’ve found a few new pieces of furniture and the place is coming together.  Here ya go peeps!

The arrival of the cabinets.  It was a long 7 week wait but they are here!

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Well more like ‘here’ waiting to be installed.

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So one of the VERY cool ideas that I had was to cover the bulk head above the sink with barnwood.  EVERYONE thought I was crazy.  I had one contractor tell me I should use hardwood flooring and everyone else who I told my idea to thought it would look really bad.  A few said so but they all thought it.  Cowboy fought me on this one ALL THE WAY.  But he did it.  He cut the wood and nailed it to the bulkhead even though I’m pretty sure he thought it was an insane idea.  Guess what?  It looks fantastic.  I love it so much.  In this pic Cowboy looks all happy, I think it’s relief that my hair-brain idea didn’t have to be taken down and re-drywalled.

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I found the CUTEST schoolhouse light fixture at Wayfair.com.  This company is my new obsession!  Not only do they ship to Canada but they do so REASONABLY!!  I have my eye on a beautiful area rug that is probably going to make its way here once the rest of the renos are done.  The CAD still sucks but the prices are good even with the shitty exchange.

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This is me making the love of my life stand there holding the new faucet.  I need visuals, I’m not good at ‘seeing’ the end result in my head.  BUT once the cabinets are in the granite people come to measure and the faucet must be here when they get here.  So I need to make a decision.  So Cowboy gets to stand there and hold a faucet while I take pictures and make sure it’s exactly what I want!

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And that is where we are….so close to the finish line!!

We also crossed something else off our list!  We couldn’t decide between a new door or an old barn one and then good ole Rona had the answer.  We picked this up today!!  It comes in plain pine and I’m going to stain it! (this is their picture) I think I’m going to do a white wash/grey/dark walnut mix.  It’s going to be in the living room as an entry it to what will some day be the pantry.  And by someday I mean next year because this current reno is a KILLER!  But next year we will convert the old single attached garage into a full pantry and we’ll go through this beautiful barn door in order to get there.

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A modern take on an old farmhouse.  That’s what our house is turning into.  And we are loving it!