Shopping for Prom

30 05 2013

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I am dreading the words “Mom I’m getting married” to come out of my daughters mouth. Not because I don’t believe she will be successful in finding a worthy mate. The man who risks his life by taking on my daughter as a partner is going to be highly respected by me. She is a wonderful but head strong girl who speaks her mind freely and has no problem at all letting people know when they are not wanted in her bubble. I am dreading those words because I just finished enduring the marathon of her high school graduation year.

When I was in high school we did not have a winter formal, or the Gothchya Grad game, we had one grad campout not 10, and I do not remember the intense pressure of what to wear or how to do my hair. This past year has been the most stressful year as a parent so far. It seems like the festivities started the last day of grade 11. It was all of a sudden her graduation year.

The dress…. Apparently shopping on the island was not good enough. She had wanted to go to New York during spring break to choose her gown but thanks to the invitation by her father to join him in Mexico ona vacation I was off the hook and we were able to agree on a weekend trip to Vancouver.

I booked the hotel room, reserved the ferry and had planned the route that we would take along Bridal Row in New Westminister. I was actually dreading the weekend. My daughter knew what style she was looking for and I know how hard it is to have her decide on what she wants for dinner let alone pick out an article of clothing that will apparently define how her post high school life begins. I was prepared for it to be more painful than my first bikini wax which I still to this day remember with vivid detail.

We arrived in New West before the stores opened so we opted to go for breakfast first. The mood was lighthearted and full of a lot of laughs. I was optimistic that the shopping may go well with her current mood. We ventured to the first store. We walked into a buzz of activity. There were excited brides waiting for their first appointments to try on gown and nervous brides waiting to try on their dress after alterations. Then there was my daughter and I. We explained that we were looking for a prom dress and were quickly ushered to the back of the store and told to look around and hunt someone down if she was interested in trying something on. There seemed to be low priority on high school graduates.   I’m sure because the commission on a prom dress would probably cover a latte at starbucks but with the prices of wedding gowns the paycheque would allow the sales person to purchase the new designer leather boots she had had her eye on.

I knew we were in trouble after the first two racks. My lighthearted girl at breakfast had turned into a bit of a pit bull finding an issue with every single dress on every rack. They were too shiny, to heavily beaded or just too ugly. We lasted a whole 5 minutes in that first store. No one even noticed we were leaving as they were too busy concentrating on the clientele that brought in their bread and butter.

We walked across the street to “ The Bridal Gallery” There was the same buzz happening as the first store but we immediately felt that our sale mattered just as much as the brides. We were escorted up the beautifully appointed staircase to the second floor that housed all of the prom and bridesmaids dresses. The routine started again. Through the prom dress racks she flipped with lightening speed finding fault in every single dress she touched.  I started to sweat. It was worse than one of my peri menopausal moments when I feel like I am stuck in a pizza oven with no way out. I suddenly realized why all of my girlfriends turned down the invitation to join us on our dress hunting trip.

 The Manager of the store noticed my frustration and came over to save the day. She asked my girl what she was looking for. When she heard the words simple, no bling she suggested that she look at the bridemaids dresses as they tend to be more simple.  She escorted us over to the other side of the floor and supervised the agonizing trip through the first rack. Then the 6 words that would change the entire shopping experience came out of her mouth “Have you seen anything you like”? My daughter said no and then said “well actually I did see a dress  on the Sherri Hill website”. The manager turned to a junior associate and asked her to take my daughter to the computer and look up the Sherri Hill site so she could show her the dress.  When the dress was identified the sales associate took us to the change rooms told my daughter to get undressed and that she would bring her dresses that were similar.

I wanted to go and hide in one of the racks because as the first batch of dresses was delivered to the dressing room she called me over and said that there was no way that she was trying on the first dress because it was the ugliest thing she had ever seen. I quickly moved it to the back of the pile and passed her the next one.  “ Who in the world would wear this”  she called out to me? I took a look and said it isn’t bad honey” ( I was trying to use calming endearing words to try and soften the mood).  “ Well it damn well isn’t good”. I made the mistake of going out on the floor and choosing some gowns my self. Note to moms out there . Let the sales lady pick the gowns so that they have to endure the pure hatred of a girl who does not like the choices that they have made. At one point upon reviewing my selections I swear her head turned completely around like the girl from the movie “ The Exocist”.

I mulled over in my head it if was child abuse to leave my 17 year old daughter in the change room while I made a mad dash to the car and left her behind while I headed back to the ferry to take me home. I came to the conclusion that some type of charge could be laid so I decided to stick it out.

All of a sudden the sales girl appeared behind me and said “We just happen to have the gown that your daughter liked from the Sherri Hill site but in a different colour. Honest to god I felt a ray of sunshine come in to the salon and I heard the sound of angels playing harps over the sound system. My daughter was handed the dress and then it was complete silence for about 3 minutes. I was praying to every god from every church that I had visited with my friends as a child that this would be the dress.

The curtain opened on the change room and all I saw was my daughter with a huge smile! “ Can we order this in the jewelled purple” ? she asked because my best friend ‘s dress is this colour and I don’t want it to be the same. I held my breath until the sales girls returned and said that yes she could order it in the purple and it would arrive in time to do any alterations.

I was shocked and amazed. We had only been shopping for 90 minutes and we were done!!!!  We decided to head back home that day and all I could think of on the way home was if she knew what dress she wanted why the heck had we not looked for it in the first place in Victoria??????

 





Christmas Spirit

25 12 2012

The holiday season and what it means to me has changed many times over the years. As a child it meant baking my grandma’s sugar cookie recipe with my mom, and presents from Santa. We would sometimes visit with my mom’s family in Calgary or my dad’s mom would come to visit from Pincher Creek. It was always spent with family and we made many fond memories.

My spirit disappeared when the truth about Santa was discovered. As a teen I was still interested in baking but I wanted to bake with my friends and was more concerned about what my gifts would be than what the meaning of Christmas was.

When my children were young my spirit returned and it became all about the magic of Christmas once again. I was excited about baking with them and helping them decide what Santa could bring them on Christmas Day. There were letters and visits to Santa paired with picking up last minute items from the mall. I loved having our family pictures taken so I could insert them into the Christmas Cards that I had taken time to write a personal heartfelt message in while listening to Christmas carols in our home.

Then something changed for me. I am not sure when it happened but all of a sudden our home had 11 Christmas trees( not exaggerating) which I started decorating as soon as the Halloween decorations were tucked away. Each tree had a theme and I spent many painful hours (because I felt everything had to be perfect) decorating the trees and my house to make others have a smile on their face when they came through the door. There were many comments about how beautiful my trees and our home was and how it all looked like something out of a magazine.

We had always invited people into our home on Christmas Eve to enjoy appetizers and home baked goodies. It started out as a small gathering and over the years it turned into over 100 people dining on appetizers a full homemade buffet dinner and goodies. I would spend weeks in my kitchen cooking and freezing dishes in preparation for one night.

I was so stressed and so busy that I could no longer take my kids out on Christmas Eve for the traditional picture with Santa. I had to ask my husband to do that “chore”. When had it turned into a chore and why?I was stressed because I wanted the house to be perfect and for everyone to enjoy themselves and have a great time. I know that the days leading up to Christmas Eve I was difficult to be around because there was always so much to do and time was running out and I was snapping at anyone that looked at me the wrong way because of the stress I was feeling.

As always the Christmas Eve party would go off without a hitch. Everyone had full stomachs, Santa would make his appearance and each child would receive a Christmas ornament and have a picture taken with Santa. We would play the gift exchange game and fight over how many steals were allowed and how to actually play the game. There were a lot of smiles and laughter and everyone made it home safely in anticipation of Christmas morning. I would not sit down once the entire evening and never had the chance to enjoy the evening or catch up with the people I only saw once a year at our Christmas Eve get together. My husband and kids would go to bed once the guests left and I would spend the following two, or three hours cleaning up, assembling anything that needed to be assembled. I’d fluff up a few bows on the presents (for one of my best girlfriends who always made a note for me to fluff up the bows on the presents she sent out to us) and I would collapse into bed.

Sometimes there was only and hour from the time I went to bed until the time the alarm went off. I set an alarm so the tree could be lit up for the family and to put the final touches on the Christmas Breakfast dishes I had prepared ahead so I just had to pop them in the oven.

The number of gifts from Santa and from family and friends were ridiculously plentiful. When the kids were little we took the time to watch everyone open their gifts one at a time but as the years passed we lost that tradition and seemed to race through the opening so that no one really saw what anyone else had received. If we watched everyone open all of their gifts we would be spending hours and hours opening gifts. I am pretty confident that my kids would not be able to answer who gave them what because the number of gifts were overwhelming. I’d hate to accuse my kids of not appreciating the gifts they were given but how can you appreciate them when their were to many to count.

Christmas breakfast was one of a few times a year that we all ate breakfast together with Easter and New Years day being the other two. I loved Christmas morning breakfast because I knew that everyone loved what I had prepared ( it was the same dishes every year) so there was never ever any complaining because someone didn’t like something. Everyone was happy around the table and I could look at my children and reflect on how much they had changed from the year before. This was the one part of Christmas that never changed for me.

Then my life had a big shake up! I found myself in the middle of a divorce that I had initiated. I was forced to look at my life and figure out what it was that I wanted for myself and my children. I realized very quickly that I wanted a simple life. I wanted to spend time with my kids, my extended family and my close friends. I also wanted a simple traditional Christmas. I wanted to go back to the way it had been when I was growing up and when my kids were really little, before consumerism got the best of me and Christmas became a stressful and not the special time of year it was meant to be.

I used to say that Christmas was my favourite time of year and I then I realized that, that statement had been a lie for many years because I had come to hate Christmas. So this year, I sold, gave away or donated most of my Christmas decorations keeping only what meant something to me. I spent time looking through all of the ornaments my children had received and made over the years. I decorated one tree and decorated our home simply and did not even put up outside Christmas lights.

I wrapped all of the gifts in my spare time over a few days rather than taking weeks to complete that task. I have gifts under the tree but they are not taking over my living room as they have in the past.

I have spent spare time with friends at the ceramics studio (Danielle’s) making gifts for family and friends and have discovered that I am actually quite creative with a paint brush. It is amazing how much more excited I have been about the gifts I am giving knowing that several were made by me and not just a shirt that I picked up from a large fashion chain. If you do receive a shirt from me, I don’t love you any less it just means that you are probably male and would appreciate a shirt more than a hand painted plate or platter.

Michael Buble’s Christmas CD plays constantly in my car (sorry kids but if momma is nice enough to give you a drive you have to put up with me playing track 5 & 12 over and over) where I, have taken the time to listen to the words to the carols because my mind is not filled with a huge to do list. I will be spending Christmas Eve with a few best friends, my brother, our parents and my amazing boyfriend while our children spend the evening with our ex’s. Christmas day will be spent with my children where we will open our gifts one a time and enjoy and appreciate each gift we receive.

Christmas evening will be spent with my best friend and her family which is a tradition that my children and I enjoy probably more than any other Christmas tradition. We will dine on a meal fit to be served at the Empress and play the gift game (can’t wait to see who ends up with a fondue pot). There will not be any stress just friends family and making magical memories.

The Christmas Spirit is back and alive in my home and my heart and I promise I will do whatever it takes to keep it there permanently this time.

Merry Christmas! I hope that the Christmas Spirit is alive and well in your heart and your home.

 





Amanda Michelle Todd- Teenage Suicide

12 10 2012

A beautiful young girl took her life in Vancouver yesterday. She was the victim of bullying at school, in her neigbourhood, via text and on the internet. She cried out for help and tried to make people around her aware of the damage they were doing to her and to others whose self worth is crucified by people around them by posting a video on You Tube. I became aware of the video when I was checking my Facebook page and saw several people posting R.I.P. messages as their status. I googled Amanda Michelle Todd and came across her You Tube Video. I pressed play and at the end of the 3 minutes and 37 seconds I found myself crying. Crying, because this young beautiful girl, could have easily been any of the young teens in my neigbourhood. This very well could have been one of my very own children’s friends or a neigbour and she did not have to die.

This tragedy starts when a teen boy asks Amanda to flash her breasts to him and she did. This young man took a picture and then told her that if she did not put on a show for him that he would send the picture to everyone and when she denied his request he sent it out and it went viral in a very short period of time. This was the start of incessant bullying and physical attacks on Amanda. It damaged her self worth to where she was cutting herself, drank bleach in an attempted suicide before she was successful in taking her life last night. I hope that this young man realizes that his actions started the events that eventually caused Amanda to feel that she had no option than to take her own life.

We have to be pro active with our children. We tend to react after someone attempts or commits suicide and do not spend time discussing the repercussions of bullying before someone takes their life. I hear all the time about girls in my neigbourhood giving in to requests from boys for sexual favours. As adults we all know that these girls are simply looking for attention and just want to be popular amongst the boys. We have to teach our boys to have respect for girls and teach our girls that they do not ever have to do any sexual favours for boys in order to be liked.

As parents we need to help make our kids into leaders who will stop incidents from happening. I can all but guarantee you that if the most popular boys in school took a strong stand against bullying and told his friends that requesting sexual favours was not cool that the number of boys requesting sexual favours to try to fit in with the popular crowd would diminish. The same would happen if the popular girls in school would stand up and tell the girls with less self esteem that they do not have to perform sexual acts in order to be popular. If they do they will be popular but not the way they had intended.

The second most common cause of death in teens 12-18 after motor vehicle accidents is suicide. In a recent study done of teens that had taken their own life they found that over half of the teens had school challenges and/or were victims of bullying. We cannot leave it up to the schools with anti bullying programs like The Rock Solid Program that Victoria Schools benefit from to educate our children. Programs like Rock Solid should only have to reinforce what we already teach our kids in our own homes.

Amanda’s tragedy reminds me of a very powerful book called” 13 Reasons Why” by Jay Asher. It is a story of a young girl who commits suicide and leaves audio tapes with instructions for the tapes to go from student to student like a chain letter. The tapes explain the 13 reasons why she took her own life and are directed at each of the people that contributed to her taking her life. I highly recommend it for teenagers and parents.

I also strongly recommend that every parent watch the Amanda Michelle Todd You Tube Video with their children and have a very open discussion about why this beautiful young soul felt that her only option in life was to take her own life. We can make a difference and help to prevent suicide if we educate our children.

For more information on teen suicide prevention please visit the sites below.

http://www.mcf.gov.bc.ca/suicide_prevention/index.htm

http://www.youthsuicide.ca/





Maranda’s Rainbow Connection

29 09 2012

So, you want to make a difference in someone’s life. You have always thought of different ways you would do it. You have imagined yourself winning the lottery and paying off all of your friends and families debts and then taking everyone on an exotic vacation. Perhaps, you have had images run through your mind of yourself plucking a homeless person off of the street, cleaning them up and helping them get back on their feet.  Maybe, after reading a story in your local newspaper about a family who has lost everything in a fire you have pictured yourself purchasing new clothes and furniture so the victims did not have to go without.

Maybe you give back to the community already. You may coach a local sports team, sit on an executive for a local charity or serve on the Parents Advisory Committee at your child’s school.

These are all commendable ways to make a difference but you can make a huge difference in someone’s life right now without winning the lottery or putting in endless volunteer hours. You can make a difference in someone’s life by simply grabbing a piece of paper and some crayons and drawing a picture of a rainbow.

Maranda is a 10 year old girl living in Regina Saskatchewan who suffers from an undiagnosed syndrome. Part of her illness is caused by Microcephally which is when the head is smaller than normal because the brain has stopped growing .Miranda has a long list of medical difficulties and suffers from repeated illnesses. She has seen some of the best genetic doctors and specialists in the world and so far no one has been able to determine just what to diagnose Miranda with, her prognosis or how to treat her.      

Maranda loves rainbows and says that they are universal and connect the world.  Through her facebook page (Marandas Rainbow Connection) she is requesting that people take the time to take a picture of or draw a picture of a rainbow and send it to her. Her goal is to receive a rainbow from everyone in the world. As an adult I know that this is virtually an impossible wish but I do know that if we all work together in our communities and spread the word to everyone we know by word of mouth, email and social media that we can do a pretty damn good job of making sure that Miranda  has thousands upon thousands of pictures of rainbows arrive at her front door.  

I would love to see entire schools, offices and families take this on as a community project. I have been involved with fundraising the community for many years and have always felt a sense of extreme satisfaction when I have the opportunity to give back.  I was afforded the luxury of having time to volunteer and give back to my community because my ex husband and I owned our own business and I was able to work around my schedule to enable myself to put in hours within the community. Not everyone has the opportunities to give back because of their personal circumstance don’t allow them to. If you have always wanted to give back and have not had the opportunity please take a few moments to draw your best rendition of a rainbow or dig out that picture you took of a rainbow way back , include your name, city and country. If you live in my home town of Victoria, B.C then please drop them off at the following locations

Top Dog Pizza – 2 locations – 3218 Jacklin Rd- Western Communities and 262- Island Hwy – View Royal

Breathe Athletic: 1031 Fort St

The Condo Group-Burr Properties: 3388 Douglas- there is a mail slot for after hour drop offs.

 If you are not in the Victoria area please mail them Maranda’s Rainbow Connection C/0 Shoppers Drugmart 2028 Park St, Regina, Saskatchewan S4N 2G6.





Happy Birthday!!

17 09 2012

Madison ( middle) at her graduation with her friends Mackenzie and Nicole

Yes, the rumours are true. I know it is hard for you to all believe because of my well maintained youthful appearance (thank you Arbonne) but today I am the proud mother of an 18 year old. I remember this day 18 years ago vividly. Thirty four hours before I gave birth I was sitting in a Taco Time having a soft taco because I had been told that Mexican food could cause you to go into labour. I had been told that castor oil works well also but with my easily triggered gag reflex this was not going to be an option for me. I ate my taco and prayed to the labour gods to please make this happen quickly.  I remember going to bed that night feeling that tonight was going to be the night. I was had an uneasy feeling (not just heartburn, I had already downed half a bottle of Gaviscon to alleviate that issue) and could not sleep. I had been having troubles sleeping lately because that is when the munchkin inside of me liked to play (still a night owl) but this was different.  I just lay there waiting for the labour to begin!

Low and behold at about midnight I felt a pain I had never felt before. It was an extreme tightness. Not the type of tightness you feel when you first put on your jeans right out of the dryer but a feeling you would get if your body was trying to expel a melon from your insides. Then it happened again and again and again. Oh crap!! I remember thinking. I am going to have this baby!!

I called my mom and girlfriend who were both accompanying me to the hospital and remember thinking (while rechecking my hospital bag for the millionth time) that when I arrived back home with my little bundle of joy (I did not know what was I was going to have) that I had to write a thank you note to Taco Time and suggest that they promote their soft taco’s as labour inducers.

Off to the hospital we go. I was well prepared. I had two of everything all of the guides instruct you to bring in your bag. That is one thing I can say for myself, I am well organized and always have a plan. I had a plan for the birth of my baby as well. I would arrive at the hospital with my hair done perfectly and with my make up immaculately applied. I was going to dilate at mach speed and have an easy labour with no tears, tears or tribulations. This was going to be one of those births where you tell your story at a baby shower about just how easy the whole process was for you and all the other women who had less than a wonderful experience look at you with daggers shooting from their eyes and call you a bitch. I wanted to be an “easy labour bitch” if I ever had to be referred to as a bitch at all.

Well, right from the start my plan was off course. Because it was just after midnight when the first labour pain hit and I was a little panicked at the idea of the labour being real. I had to settle with my hair being quickly touched up. The makeup was not perfect at all but since I had not taken the time to remove it before I went to bed I simply removed a smudge or two and was on my way.

Checking in was a breeze because I had done all of the pre check in paperwork through my pre natal classes and now I was raring to go and wanting to use every single breathing technique those classes has taught me.

They wanted of course to check out what was happening inside and I was more than willing to let them because I was sure by the sheer agony of the pain ripping through my body that they were going to say “Well Cheryl, You are 10 centimetres and fully effaced and you can start pushing now!! I was sure to be on the cover of Parenting Magazine as the woman who had the perfect birthing experience.

I of course was stunned when the nurse said “you aren’t even a full centimeter”.  You have a long way to go my dear!!” “We will see about breaking your water”.

Now for those of you who have not had the experience of having your water broken in a non natural way I will tell you that although I was not impressed with them putting what resembled a very large crochet hook inside me to break the membranes I very much enjoyed the feeling of the warm fluid. When I am not feeling well I like to have a bath and this very much felt like that. It was warm and comforting and I would have been happy if it flowed during the entire labour.

About24 hours into this whole wonderful, amazing, life changing experience they sent a specialist in to examine me and just as he was about to check me my male bff who had come to support me says “hey doc, before you go there can you help me out with this crossword”? What’s a 4 letter word for a medium used for growing bacteria in a lab?    The doc without hesitation replied” AGAR”.  I will never ever forget this because it put me 30 seconds further away from having my baby and trust me I wanted this child out of me more than I ever had.

Now, this doctor, the specialist just happened to have the largest hands I had ever seen on a man. All I could think about was where they had to go and I remember whispering to my girlfriend that small hands really should be a pre requisite for being and obstetrician. I was however, willing to endure almost anything at this point because after 22 hours of my labour pains progressing but my insides not I just wanted this over with. “Well my dear” he said after the examination “you are not quite over one centimetre dilated”. “I have good news and bad news he said.” The good news is that we will put you out of your misery and order a epidural for you, the bad news is that your baby is in some distress because it is trying so hard to get out and can’t so we are going to order a caesarean section so that you and your baby don’t have to suffer anymore.” He said that there weren’t any anesthetists available at the moment so he wanted me to try the laughing gas to labour with and that I was next on the list for an epidural.

I swear that my brother who had also joined my ever growing audience heard nothing about an epidural, caesarean or the baby being in distress because he was way too excited about the laughing gas. He in fact took the first hit of if before handing it over to me. I think he became more annoyed at my contractions than I was because when I had one he had to hand the mask over to me.

An hour and a half later I received an epidural. The most painful 45 seconds I have ever endured was when they first injected the painkilling drugs into my back (via a fine hollow needle) into me but I would still recommend it as the rest of my labour and delivery was pain free.

It was shortly after receiving the epidural that they prepped me and took me down to the operating room.  This was a harrowing experience for someone who before becoming pregnant would feel faint at the thought of even receiving a needle. I was happy to see the same specialist and the anaesthetist who had administered the epidural in the room with me. I opted to have my girlfriend in with me as well and she had planted herself firmly up by my head. I was all ready to go!!!The
one thing I can say without a doubt about my mother is that she is an
attractive woman. I have had men inquire about her before but I never expected
the anesthetist to inquire as to whether my mother was single or not. He was
quite taken with her and so I agreed that if he continued to keep me topped up
with the pain killing drugs that would ensure that I felt no pain I would see
what I could do about setting him up with my mom. I also had requested that he
serenade me during the surgery. A girlfriend of mine who had experienced a
c-section told me that she had heard sounds of the scalpel during the surgery
and I knew that I could not endure that. I would of course be listening for those
sounds now that I knew that they could exist. The anesthetist was more than accommodating
and did his best rendition of all of the Elton John favourites that I had
requested. My child had listened for nine months in uterine to songs like “Tiny
Dancer”  so it was only appropriate that
he or she hear something familiar when first emerging into the world

 

Fifteen minutes later I heard the words that I had been dying to hear.  “You have a beautiful baby GIRL”. My Madison Lily Jean was finally in my arms. I had not used any of the breathing techniques from pre natal and I definitely was not going to be on the cover of any magazine portraying the perfect labour but it was over and I had the most precious gift I could have ever asked for.

Happy 18th birthday baby girl. You have been worth every stretch mark, labour pain, grey hair, argument and sleepness night. You are one of the best things that has ever happened to me and I can’t tell you how proud I am of you!!!!





Arnold Churgin

13 09 2012

From the moment I saw you I wanted to be inside you. I love your smell, the way your tongue feels, the way you tighten and loosen as I move-mmmmm I love my new shoes!!!!

Aw a one week in Calgary. I had intentions of calling all of my cousins and aunts and uncles and arranging visits. I had my list of names and numbers all ready to make some calls and set up lunches, dinners and coffees where time permitted. I had seven days in my second favourite city and thought for sure that I would be able to fit in a lot of visiting time. Problem is, that I was staying with one of my best friends who I very much love spending time with and I really needed a week to just relax and escape the craziness of my life back home.

I had two musts for my trip! One was to visit the zoo and see the new addition of penguins and the second was to go to my absolute favourite shoe store- Arnold Churgin. I found myself being way too comfortable just hanging with my bff that all of a sudden it was the last day of my visit and I still had not made it to visit any of my family or to the zoo. I was disappointed in myself for not really giving my friend an answer when she kept asking me what day we were going to go to the zoo but it just means that I will have to go back to Calgary to visit the penguins. The one thing however I was not going to allow myself to miss was the 0opportunity to visit my favourite shoe store.

There is just something about Arnold Churgin that has always excited me. I am pretty sure that my mother brainwashed me at an early age that it was the be all, end all of shoes. My family would visit my grandparents in Calgary as often as we could and every trip always included a trip to visit Arnold. I know my mom used to disguise the trip to the mall by offering to take my Grandma to Sears. Grandma loved Sears so my mom knew it was a slam dunk. Grandma would be happy going to Sears and my mom would say at the end of the trip that she just wanted to pop into Arnold Churgin to see if there was anything that she could not get back home in Victoria. I think my mom’s pure excitement (she is not easily excited) made me excited and so the annual visit to this particular shoe store always left me with happy thoughts.

My recent trip to Calgary just could not end without a trip to see Arnold. I was on the hunt for a pair of boots that were the same colour as a purse that I have and the matching wallet that my bff had given me as an early birthday present. I didn’t have to trick my friend to take me there. I probably could have if I needed to by asking her if she wanted to go to Starbucks but it was not necessary. I mentioned the words shoe shopping and she has purse in hand and was heading to the door before I finished my sentence.

We took a trip to Chinook Center where I visited Arnold Churgin as a child and where I expected it still to be, tucked into an obscure corner of the mall. I think my heart skipped a beat and I felt an anxiety attack coming on when I saw that the door was locked and all the windows were papered so I could not see in. It was gone!! My favourite shoe store on the entire planet was missing. I was panicked for a minute. What was I going to do? The thoughts raced through my head. Would I have to change my favourite store to Town Shoes or Aldo? No it couldn’t be!! I want to have my fav store be a store that is not everywhere.  Remember when you could only shop at Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch if you were lucky enough to have your parents travel to the US? You would have clothes that not everyone had. You felt special if you have a Hollister t-shirt. Now they are venturing in to Canada and have a strong online presence so everyone is wearing their product. It is just not special anymore.

Don’t get me wrong Aldo and Town Shoes have nice shoes but you are bound to run into someone in your city that has the exact same shoes. I love having unique shoes that no one can buy in Victoria!! There is nothing worse for a woman to hear than “Oh I have those shoes, aren’t they great?”

Honestly what was I going to do? I looked at my bff in a mad panic. I felt my blood pressure dropping and my breathing getting shallow. I swear I was about to faint when I heard her say “the sign says they have moved to South Center Mall.” What???? They moved Arnold Churgin??? Why would they move Arnold Churgin?? Hmmm quite possibly I thought that perhaps they wanted more room. More room meant a larger store and a larger store means……..MORE SHOES!!!!!

Off we went at mach speed out of Chinook Center and back into the car and headed to South Center.   My friend had me google the store on my phone and call them so that we could find out exactly where in the mall they were so we could park strategically!! In case you are headed to Calgary and want to check them out they are on the second floor just outside of the entrance to the Bay.

When I saw that wonderful back lit sign with Arnold Churgin written ( not printed)  in the font that I love so much I felt my heart racing but this time out of sheer excitement. I entered the store and saw that it was indeed it was larger and a very beautiful store. I was overwhelmed by the spectacular leather smell and all of the choices. I took a stroll throughout the entire store first so I could take a look at all of their stock and then strategically chose two pairs of boots to try on. I was approached by a clerk named Anna Lee and told her what size I required. By the time she returned with them I had 6 more pairs that I wanted to try on and off Anna Lee went to collect those for me as well. I honestly felt like a child in a toy store when they are overwhelmed with all of the choices and just don’t know what to choose when their mother or father tells them they can only go home with one new toy.

At Arnold Churgin as always I received the personal touch. Anna Lee put every pair of boots on my feet herself. She was very knowledgable about every single pair I tried on. I modeled all of the ones I was interested in for Anna Lee and my girlfriend. I was amazed at Anna Lee’s patience. I probably drove her a little crazy that day. I kept trying on and taking off the same pairs of boots 3,4 and 5 times. I wanted to make sure that I made the right decision. If I was in Aldo or Town Shoes I  could change my mind the next day and return them to the store but I did not have that luxury so I had to make sure my decision was the correct one. I finally narrowed it down from the 16 pairs I eventually tried on to two pairs and with much encouragement from my friend and Anna Lee I decided that I would take both!! I informed Anna Lee of my decision and she quickly disappeared into the back and came out with a smaller box and pulled out a pair of very nice flip flop sandals. She slipped one on one of my feet and asked if it fit. I was puzzled and said yes and she said “my gift to you”. She was probably just so excited that I had finally made a decision and was rewarding me for it.  I felt a little bit like a puppy who had finally shaken her paw and was rewarded with a tasty morsel. My tasty morsel being a free pair of flip flops.

When we arrived up at the counter to pay we saw a sign that was offering a free pair of flip flop sandals if you purchased two pairs of shoes.  Aw, she was not rewarding me for my decisiveness she had to give them to me. I would have been appreciative either way and was happy with them as they were pretty cute and they bear the Arnold Churgin brand logo.

My trip was finally complete! I could now head to the airport knowing that my trip had been exceptionally successful! Thank you Arnold Churgin for another fantastic experience!!

You can find Arnold Churgin at several locations in Calgary.

Downtown:   227-8th Ave and in both Market and Southcentre Malls

 





Facebook

15 08 2012

Aww Facebook, most love it or hate it. I am somewhere in between but I am leaning more towards the love it side. I will openly admit that one of the first things I do when I get up in the morning is to take a glimpse at it on my phone and see whose statuses have changed since Ipeeked at it before I went to bed the night before.  I use facebook as a way to keep in touch with friends and relatives. I agree that it takes away from the personal touch of picking up the phone to have an actual conversation with people but I think I keep in better touch with people because I can quickly send them a little note to say hi without trying to figure out when I can fit in the time in my crazy busy life to sit down and have an honest to goodness conversation with someone.

I love it when my sister- in- laws post new pictures of my nieces and nephews. It is not easy to hop on a plane to England or drive to Alberta to visit the ones who are not local. Lord knows that even though you constantly hound them to send pictures and they promise to do so that an envelope containing actual printed off pictures is not coming until you are lucky to find one in the yearly Christmas card and that is if your store bought card isn’t replaced by the e-card which is growing in popularity.

Facebook is quickly becoming the modern woman’s therapy. I am curious as to whether or not psychologists and therapists are arranging symposiums on how to overcome the phenomenon of Facebook. Seriously why pay $100 an hour when you can post your problem on Facebook and have a plethora of comments offering suggestions for whatever problem you are experiencing in your life. People feel better about what they are going through just because someone clicked like on their status.

Facebook is way more informative than the newspaper. For instance I glanced at my Facebook when I woke up this morning as I usually do and so far I know that the local lacrosse team lost in overtime last night, that my cousin in law has heartburn ( she is pregnant and I struggled with that during my pregnancies so I will probably offer a suggestion to her ), my cousin’s girlfriend is excited about seeing her niece this weekend ( that will get a like), and I know what awesome items will be arriving at my friends yoga wear store this week (Breathe Athletic – best store ever).

I know from a friend that has taken a look outside her window already that the sun is shining (again it will get a like), It is Buddy from Cake Boss’s sister and nieces birthday, It is friendship week, a realtor that I follow has a new listing ( Ian Jules)  and I know what another friend had for dinner last night (this may prompt a heart burn status from her today as well).

Facebook reminds me of birthdays I would have forgotten had they not posted them for me. The trick with Facebook birthday reminders it to actually text Happy Birthday to the person so that they think that you genuinely remembered their special day instead of sending them a message with the 105 other people who posted a Happy Birthday message on their Facebook wall.  Just wait however until you see a few other Happy Birthdays go up and the birthday girl or boy post a thank you. It is ever so embarrassing when you wish someone a happy birthday based on a Facebook notification only to have them send you a message back saying” thanks auntie but it is not actually my birthday. Since I am under 18 I had to make up a birthday”! Seriously kid why would lie about the day and not just the year. Do not fall in to that trap that I did!!

Many would argue (mostly men because they do just don’t understand why women like to be up on things) that Facebook it is all very useless information and it is a waste of time.  I can tell you that it now saves me the $6 a week I would normally pay for a People magazine because I get all of the local  and celebrity gossip all in one place. I knew right away that Jennifer Aniston was engaged and did not have to wait until next weeks magazine to find out.  Facebook may be a waste of time to some who say that all that is on there is useless information but I like it because it is a fun distraction from the craziness of everyday life.

Time to finish up. I just realized that the $6 a week I save from buying People  is $312 a year and I can now afford the new boots I saw on my favorite shoe stores ( Arnold Churgin in Calgary) Facebook page. I am off to do some online shopping!!!





Hachi’s Tale

10 08 2012

Over the years many movies have been recommended to me. Everyone has different tastes so although my friends enjoy a movie doesn’t mean it will be my cup of tea. I have friends who think that Mike Myers is best comedic actor ever and I can’t stand to watch him in anything he is in because his characters quite honestly freak me out.  So when movies are recommended to me I put it away in my brain in my movies to consider file and rarely every seek them out.

An old and very dear friend of mine reappeared from my past recently and in the midst of our reconnection conversation he happened to mention a move called Hachi’s Tale. This is a movie that I have never even heard of so I was intrigued. He said that it was by far one of the best movies he had ever seen.  I was warned that if I was going to watch it that I should have a box of Kleenex ready and that it might be a good idea to watch it alone.

I am not an avid movie watcher and often fall asleep while watching them. I often say that I have watched the first 20 minutes of many movies because if I have to sit still for longer than that then I am often out like a light for the rest of the night. Whenever my kids would ask me to watch a movie I would try to watch while I was tidying up or would watch from the kitchen so I could keep busy and stay awake.  This honestly did not make for quality bonding time but was probably better than the 20 minutes they would get with me sitting beside them on the couch.  This is why I started watching movies in my bed. If I did fall asleep then I did not have to pull myself off the couch to try and find my way to my bed or wake up in the morning feeling like I had just slept on a couch all night long- Wait I had.

I looked up the movie on the internet, researched what it was about and decided that it was something that I would like to watch it so I found it and ordered it from Amazon. Hachi: A dogs tale was to arrive a few days later and I anticipated its arrival.

The movie arrived this morning and I thought that I would take a break from my day, make myself some popcorn and settle in for 93 minutes and watch the movie starring Richard Gere and Joan Allen.

I do not want to give away any details of the movie but I will tell you that this is the best dog movie I have ever seen. It is a true love story between a dog and his master/best friend. It made me think about my commitments with my friends, family animals and my children. It is a heartwarming yet heart wrenching movie that has made me understand and respect more than I did already, the relationships that my friends have with their critters.

I was kept captivated through the entire movie and did not feel my eye lids closing once. This does not happen very often. I am not often affected by movies but I have not had a movie evoke such emotion in me since I saw Schindler’s List and the Titanic.

This is definitely not a first date movie because you will both be blubbering idiots and that wonderful make up job you started your evening with will very quickly disappear. It is however a movie very much worth seeing and I recommend it very
highly. Perfect for that Sunday afternoon where you just want to cuddle up and take in a great movie.

 





My Friend Rog

5 08 2012

I have always liked the game of football. I had asked early on in my marriage if my ex and I could make our annual anniversary outing a trip over to the mainland to Vancouver to watch a B.C. Lions game. It wasn’t the men in the tight pants that drew me to the game I actually enjoyed watching it. I remember being 18 years old and staying up all night long with a guy friend I had at the time watching games he had taped over and over so that he could explain the rules to me. I don’t like to watch a game if I don’t understand it so an all nighter it was in football rules bootcamp. I don’t profess to know all the rules in fact I probably am a pain in the butt to the person sitting beside me at a game because I ask a lot of questions. Why is that a penalty? Why can’t you grab a player from the opposing teams face mask ? It seems a like a pretty good way to stop a guy by grabbing his mask rather than jumping on him and crushing his bones now doesn’t it?

A very good friend of mine Roger Wade is alumni of the local junior football team here in Victoria. He is a city councilman, has a beautiful wife and 3 children as well as his own business, and when he can coaches baseball. Adding the Title of President of the Westshore Rebels to his already crazy life is something that most people as busy as he would not even consider taking on But Roger is passionate about the game and about this team. When the original teams ownership moved the team to Nanaimo Roger worked tooth and nail to put together another team so that Victoria could still enjoy a good game of football.

Roger has been asking me for the past 7 years to join the board of directors and help him with the team. As with Roger I have always worn a lot of hats in my life and don’t like to take something on unless I know I can take the time to do a good job so every year I have turned him down. This fall he asked me again if I would help out and join the board of directors to help get them organized and whip them in to shape and this time I agreed.

When I first met with Roger about the team and what he needed help with he spoke with such passion and it was immediately apparent that the only reason Roger is involved with The Rebels is that he is passionate not only about the game but about every aspect of the team. It is hard enough being the president of any club let alone one that is responsible for giving up to 65 young men between the ages of 18-21 the opportunity at a scholarship or a career in the CFL or NFL. I have known many presidents of associations or clubs that are merely figureheads and leave the actual day to day operations to other board member or simply delegate to volunteers. Not Big Rog, he has his fingers in every single part of this team from the 50/50 sellers to dealing with the local media.

Tonight was the season opener for the Westshore Rebels. It was a 7:00 game against their arch rivals the Nanaimo Raiders. It was still 30 degrees , sunny and hot at the stadium at game time. Most people would expect that the President would be sitting in the Team Suite enjoying a beer waiting for the game to start. Roger was down on the field mic in hand welcoming everyone to the game and thanking everyone who has volunteered and the fans for coming out on such a beautiful night. He stood on the field and watched proudly as the team was announced and it seemed like he felt that each of the young men were his own. Once the game started he was making sure all of his guests in the suite were enjoying themselves, searched for sponsors he did not know so he could introduce himself and personally thank them for spending their hard earned money to support his team.

While I was in the suite I noticed for the first time a plaque on the wall that honoured Rog as the volunteer for the year for the league a few years back. A very fitting honour for a man who gives so much to this team. I am convinced that the only reason he does not receive it every year is that they have to change it up once in awhile.

This is Rogers birthday weekend and I am sure the boys on the field and the coaching staff were hoping to give Big Rog the gift of a win on opening night but it wasn’t in the cards. The boys lost 44-14 but because of my friend Roger Wade hundreds of fans were able to enjoy a great game of football out on the Westshore in Victoria.

Happy Birthday Rog!!





Lake City Inn and Suites -5*’s

30 07 2012

My life as a mom with kids in sports has brought me to many different cities and many different hotels. We have our favourites, where we stay all the time and there have been some where we have only made an appearance once. Our fav’s of course are the ones where they have a continental breakfast so we can send our ravenous kids down to fill up on cereal, fruit and the muffin of the day before we head out to an early morning game. It is hard to find a perfect place where the kids can play outside without having to dodge cars in a parking lot and where parents after a few cocktails do not have to worry about disturbing other hotel guests if they were to by chance raise their voices a little after the kids have gone to bed

The more we travel the more we have stayed away from restaurants and fast food joints. Our kids do not want subway for lunch as much as they used to and ask for home cooked meals instead of going out to a fav restaurant to eat dinner.  The novelty of eating out wears off after many many years of tournament road trips. So when it came to booking a hotel for a 5 night stay  because we were headed to provincials in Vancouver I ( team manager) decided to find a place where we could have all of our needs met.

I remember hearing several times about a little motel off the beaten path in Burnaby by the parents of an opposing team. They have stayed there every year while attending a tournament that each of our associations had enjoyed attending (until we went undefeated and ended up in 5th place but that is a whole other story) for years. They said it had everything, a grassy area for the kids to play on, kitchenettes so they could prepare all of their meals at the hotel, an outdoor pool with a great deck to socialize on, a commercial kitchen that they allowed teams to use if they wanted to make team meals and even barbecues that they allowed their guests to use.

I asked one of the dads from the other association for the name of the hotel and he told me. The Lake City Inn and Suites. He said that if was definitely not a place to bring a date but it was clean and perfect for a travelling team.   I immediately googled the hotel. Wow, it looked great. The room on the website was older I will admit, but the beds looked comfortable and it was definitely clean!! It looked like there was a lot of grass, the pool area looked spectacular. I read reviews and the only negative review was from a guest who had said that they noise from a visiting hockey team had kept them up late. Well since we would be the ones making the noise I decided that the hotel was perfect. I immediately called the hotel and booked a block of rooms for our team.  We just had to hope that our team performed well enough to get us to provincials.

Our team won the “Island Championship” to take them off to provincials so off we headed over to Burnaby the night before the tournament began. While on the ferry I received texts from a good friend of mine whose son is on the same team as my son and had already checked in to the hotel.

Friend:  Lower all expectations about hotel. Poop on bathroom floor, dead bugs in room but isolated so boys can play. Bum going through garbage….ask for room close to me.

(I was thinking that maybe this time it wasn’t because we are friends and we like to be close to each other but because she was scared to be alone.)

Me: No, really? I was told that it was older but really clean w a great space for the kids to play.

Friend: Carpet in my room at least 20 years old. No grass near my room, maybe opposite side? I don’t know. My room is pretty gross to be honest. Fridge is mini. Maybe the other rooms are better? Cigarette butts outside both doors. Not very well kept. No joke- poop on the bathroom floor.

Me: Oh god!! I brought so much food

Friend:  Me too, I so regret it. I don’t even want to cook in the room.

Me:  All of the reviews are good except one talking about how a hockey team kept other guests up late with their late night socializing.

Friend: Maybe it’s just my room

Me: No offence but I hope so

Friend: Me too! Its all good anyway, it makes for good stories.

Me:  Exactly

Friend:  We will make great memories but I’m bunking with you if your room is better.

When we pulled up to the motel my heart sank!! It was obvious that a good camera angle was responsible for the appearance of grass at the hotel. The boys in my vehicle asked if this we really where we were staying or of it was a joke.  I immediately prayed that the rooms were awesome and that everyone would think this little diamond in the rough was perfect for our team.  It also ran through my mind that the dad from the association was leading us astray as payback for us always beating their association!!!

I stepped in to the lobby with one of my good friends who was also checking in and ran into a dad from our team who immediately told us that one of the families was thinking about moving hotels.  I felt terrible. I was the one who had booked the hotel so I was the one responsible for people possibly being miserable for a good part of a week.

Checking in was a painful process. The guy behind the desk was useless. It took him forever to check us in. My friend texted me while we were both standing at the counter “I’m pretty sure I could do this faster”. “Maybe I should go behind the desk and do this for him.

Me: This is ridiculous . I need a job. I could do it until Saturday

Friend: LMAO

Me: Do you think we can get this place by the hour?

It was kind of scary I will admit and I was taken back when they made me pre pay for the entire visit up front. It made me very very scared of what my room would look like. Once we were checked in and went to our rooms, I started calling around to all of the hotels that we knew trying to find someone who could give us 18 rooms.  I knew it was a long shot. I called many different hotels and no one could accommodate us. I honestly wanted to cry.

We all resigned ourselves to the fact that we had to make the best of it! I am not the type of girl who insists on a 5 star hotel room every time I travel but this was the worst hotel I had ever seen.

My girlfriend and I took a peek in one of the coaches room and were shocked as his was nice. He had a new bed and his room was renovate. We immediately recognized it as the room shown on the website. A little bit of false advertising I would say if that was the only room that looked half decent.

My girlfriend and I RAN back to the front desk and asked if we could change to a renovated room if there were more that had been spruced up. I am not exaggerating when I say that we stood there for 20 minutes while he continually pressed keys on his keyboard stopping only to glance at a piece of paper a couple of times and then he would type again. I am completely convinced that he was playing a video game and just pretending to be looking into other possibilities to appease us. (We actually tried to sneak a peek of his computer screen through a back window to see what was on the screen).  We wanted a renovated room and he finally admitted that he did not know which rooms were renovated but offered to let us see a room that was available.  We went and took a look and took a look out the back window to see the view and on the roof were pieces of full size poop. Not sure if it was human or animal but we were not sticking around to figure it out.

We ended up staying 4 nights. The beds were horrible, some suites were infested with ants, there was no consistency with water pressure or temperature, the pull out couches had huge stains on the cushions so guests used sheets to put over top. The free continental breakfast that the website boasted turned out to be $3 per person so we opted out not only because of the cost but because of the un sanitary conditions. There were pry marks on the doors, the windows did not lock and each room had its own special aroma. I preferred the odor of sweaty lacrosse gear over the stench that oozed out of some of the rooms.

The one saving grace was that the pool and surrounding area was clean and well taken care of. It was nicer than our rooms so that is where most of the parents gathered. The parents and kids were all great and said that it was definitely an experience that they would never forget but they were all good sports about it. Next year I will most definitely be going with hotels we know!!!

If ever in Burnaby do NOT stay at the Lake City Inn and Suites. Be ware of reviews!! I am now convinced that the hotel clerk was probably the one posting the good reviews!!