Positive steps…

makes you happyFor the longest time my life was defined by being Katie and Colin’s Mom. Meals were picked with their palates in mind, activities planned around their interests. My free time was marked out by their bedtime; once the bath, stories, and lullabies were done… then I got to creep downstairs and do some activities of my own. At least before I got too tired to do them.

Then they got a bit older, Kait upgraded her name, and they had more freedom to explore, leaving me with a bit more freedom too. But even with that extra freedom my life revolved around their needs.

I’m going to be moving in a few more months and, for the first time since I was 25 years old, I am going to be on my own in my own empty nest. No one will be counting on me (other than the cats). I will be cooking for one and cleaning for one. And all my free time will be my own.

It’s a hard thing to wrap my brain around after almost a quarter century putting myself blog picturein second place. And it’s made doubly hard with depression and anxiety. But I am determined to do it. I’ve metaphorically dusted off my digital scrapbooking program and am making an album for our Dominican Republic vacation. Plus I’ve been taking time each night to sit in my swing chair and watch YouTube videos. I love music and this relaxes me before bed. And I see friends of mine several times a month to sing karaoke. The microphone is a cheapie that I picked up for twenty dollars but it works well enough for us. And singing with just the three of us gives us the confidence to branch out on songs we aren’t 100% sure of.

And even more changes will happen once I move. Their transit system stinks so I’ll be walking a lot more. Plus there’s going to be a Planet Fitness nearby which I’m determined to join (and attend). I’ve been told that there will be groups held in my new building, which means the potential of making friends with my neighbours. I’ve lived here for five years and I don’t think I’ve even seen some of my neighbours.

I used to write almost every day and regularly for several hours at a time (obviously while the kids were busy or asleep). I’ve got out of practise when it comes to writing and am hoping a quiet apartment with no distractions will help me get back into practice again.

I am looking so forward to letting the real me step outside. I’ll always be Kait and Colin’s Mom but from now on I’m going to be known mainly as Kathleen. And that feels good.


No longer hidden…

It was the ’80’s, the heyday of Much Music, a Canadian music video station similar to MTV in the States. Now we could not only hear the songs  we liked but watch the imagination of the artists (or their staff) when it came to the videos. The only disappointment was it meant the end of the Solid Gold Dancers and our chances of getting on stage in what looked like a gold tinfoil leotard and dancing to the hits of the early ’80’s. I know my sisters and I weren’t the only ones who pondered this career option.

I liked watching and listening to the music but there was very little out there that I liked enough to remember both the artist and the songs. One of those artists was Cyndi Lauper. I loved that she didn’t care about what people thought of her and wore what she liked. And I loved her song True Colours. The only thing I disliked was the relationships added to her videos. Time after Time mentions nothing about a relationship yet it permeates the whole video. And in True Colours she literally pulls some guy out of the water to kiss him before moving on. Relationships and physical intimacy made me uncomfortable, even though I had no idea why and having her add both to her videos bothered me. It almost felt like a betrayal, something I’d never try to voice and couldn’t explain.

It was years later that she came out as a lesbian, which wasn’t a huge surprise, although I still wished she’d gone more neutral in her videos. Maybe she didn’t have the option. [it was years ago that a friend of mine told me Cyndi Lauper’s a lesbian and today that a friend told me it’s her sister who is one. Thanks C. Proofreading’s always a help]

It was years after this that I discovered Pentatonix through a Christmas video playing on Facebook. I loved their harmonies and voices and started searching out more songs. Eventually I bought enough of their songs that half my exercise album is their vocals. We even went to see them in 2015 with Kait and her boyfriend J.

Something that’s not hidden (like it was in the 1980’s) is both Mitch and Scott are gay. Even so, I figured they’d end up singing about girls because, hey, that’s what happens. My heart lifted when I saw this:

… and it still lifts each time I hear it. I’m so glad times have changed.

An evening with friends…

The days are slowly ticking down to my summer move and I am anticipating a lot of things. One thing I’m going to miss though, is my biweekly karaoke dates with my friends A & S. We laugh, talk about our lives, and most of all sing. Trying new songs and sometimes failing spectacularly. I don’t recommend singing Hey Jude for example. Great song with 5 minutes of random syllables at the end.

One song I tried yesterday was Pentatonix’s Sing. I had no idea how hard it was to sing that song acapella. Wow! My impression of  them just soared and it was already high to begin with. I’m also determined to master that song. I’ll post it when I finally do.

Yesterday I videotaped myself singing Candle on the Water as sung by Helen Reddy. If you want to hear, please click on the picture 🙂

Happy birthday to me…

It’s my 44th birthday tomorrow and I had my party yesterday, which a whopping three people were able to attend. Ironically enough, two could only stay for an hour then they left and an hour later the third guest arrived, so I had my party in shifts.

P couldn’t attend as his husband M was working and he’s too shy to come on his own, but he sang happy birthday to me on the phone and promised we’d all get together soon. Emma’s at her boyfriend’s family cottage for the weekend but she booked my actual birthday off and is taking me out to our favourite Thai restaurant for lunch. And two more friends are taking me out for dinner on Thursday.

I was my usual scatterbrained self although, like usual, I went into the preparations with the best of intentions. I even made a list of chores just so we’d be organized. I was determined I would have all the veggies chopped for the tempura and start frying it by 4:30pm so I’d be ready for guests to arrive by five.

The morning started off quite relaxed. We both took turns eating breakfast and showering then I leisurely washed the dishes while Jeremy cleared all his electronic bits and pieces off the table, couch, floor, computer desk, and chair. Then he cleaned the guinea pig cage while I gave the piggies a bath and trimmed their nails. Okay, that part wasn’t relaxing for the piggies but they smelled a lot better.

By then we were both starving and took the time to eat at our newly cleaned table.

“You’re so pretty,” I blurted after watching Jeremy for a while.

“Not handsome?” he asked, looking at me quizzically.

“Handsome too,” I agreed. “Would you rather be called handsome?”

He shrugged then said, “Not really.”

“What would you rather be called?” I asked. He shrugged again. “How about fabulous?” I suggested.

Jeremy snorted. “Like that would even work,” he said with all the scorn a seventeen year old could muster.

“You look fabulous,” I pointed out. I could tell by his expression he knew I was right.

“Yeah, I guess…” he murmured. “How about good?”

“Okay,” I agreed. “You look good.”

We cleared off the table and went back to our chore list. I was still confident we’d be more than ready in time. I could see my table all set; a scattering of glitter sprinkled across, my rattan lights softly glowing, my cake all covered in the candles we’d bought yesterday (I’d been aiming for mini sparkler candles but Jeremy fell in love with the rainbow candles with coloured flames instead), and my snazzy paper straws.

Four thirty found me yelling at Jeremy, “What do you mean you used all the vinegar when you cleaned the guinea pig cage? What am I going to mop the floors with?”

He looked at the empty bottle and shrugged. “We’ve got red wine vinegar under the cupboard. Would that work?”

I pictured the apartment smelling like the dumpster behind a bar then realized it was moot, there was no way I could sweep and mop before five o’clock and I still hadn’t made the frosting for the cake, let alone decorated it… and hadn’t even started chopping the veggies that I was supposed to be cooking right this minute.

“Are you okay Mom?”

“Not last time I checked,” I replied. “Can you sweep?”

He made a valiant attempt while I got the frosting ingredients out. Then I pulled the cake out of the freezer and sighed. I’d already had to dump the centre of both layers because they were gooey (vegan here… I didn’t poison anyone with raw egg goop) but they’d sunk even more. I put a bunch of frosting in the centre, hoping to fill it out a bit then started spreading frosting over the top. Crumbs started rolling everywhere but at least I was coating the whole cake in Oreo crumbs so they wouldn’t show up. That was when I realized a cake covered in baking crumbs looks like it got dropped into the dirt then dusted off and stuck on a plate. Hopefully it would taste good.

Jeremy was quiet when my first two guests were here. He said “hi” then went right back to the computer and his game. Then my third guest arrived and he turned into a model host. He insisted on giving her a tour of the whole apartment, introduced her to all the cats, and showed off his electronics. She’s a new employee, he’s never met her before, but somehow they just clicked. He got out a charger so she could charge her phone then showed her some features. At one point in the evening he made a huge derp face.

“I’m so handsome,” he joked.

“I thought you were good,” I quipped. He looked at me like I’d completely lost my mind.

“No, I’m handsome,” he said patiently.

Alrighty then. He’s handsome in public and good in private… at least until everything changes again with no warning.

The evening moved on to sharing different songs. It turned out we all love Penatonix. We listened to a couple of their songs then my coworker had a song to share where everyone took turns playing the same guitars. I shared a version of Royals sung a capella by a teen using a cup for percussion. Then Jeremy plugged his speakers into his netbook.

“I have a song,” he announced. He could barely hold back his grin. That grin just screamed mischief.

“Let me guess, Diggy, Diggy Hole,” I said drily. “It’s a Minecraft song,” I added before I sang a bit of the chorus. I only needed to sing a bit, the song is very repetitive. Jeremy’s grin grew wider.

“I bet it is,” she agreed. “He’s got a suspicious look.” Jeremy giggled.

A few soft piano notes… this definitely wasn’t Diggy, Diggy Hole. Jeremy had put on Same Love.

He started playing Same Love about a week ago, ostensibly for me. I like the song but I’ve never hunted it out (other than when it first came out and I showed it to both the kids) and don’t have it saved on my computer. Jeremy has it saved on his though and plays it several times a day.

My coworker started singing along and Jeremy switched from an “it’s just a joke” grin to a genuine smile.

It was a great day.

My Oreo cake

Raising a Perfect Teenager

One thing I’ve learned about Colin over the years is he’s never wrong. He might be mistaken on occasion but wrong? Not on your life. This must be a burden but he manages to bear it.

Take yesterday for example (oh please, take yesterday). I commented to Colin that I was thinking about buying a song off itunes called Somebody That I Used To Know. He shook his head in disappointment.

“I don’t like that song,” he commented as he sat on the couch.

“Yes, I know,” I agreed. Neither him or Kait liked it.

“I don’t know why you like it,” he continued. “I mean you do know what it’s about.”

I looked at him in surprise. I had read the lyrics and definitely knew what the song was about.

“Umm, it’s about a couple that broke up,” I explained. He shook his head sadly and gave me a patronizing look. My fingers clenched.

“That might be what you think but it’s about abuse,” he said earnestly. “He even talks about the scar he left and the sunglasses she needs to cover it.”

I stared at him blankly. There wasn’t anything like that in the whole song. I said as much then pulled up the lyrics, reading them aloud to him.

“There’s more to the song than what you read,” he said, eyeing me skeptically.

I nodded absentmindedly as I scrolled through them. “Yes, there is,” I agreed. “But the song repeats a lot, I’ve read everything original.

“Can I listen to the song?” he asked. I nodded then opened the Pentatonix version as it was slightly easier to hear.

To be fair, I hadn’t understood anything the artist said when I first heard the song. I’d been googling “lights down low” to try and find it. Meanwhile those words weren’t in the song at all. It was entirely within the realms of possibility that he’d misheard something.

He sat and listened to the song intently then shook his head. “Maybe they took that verse out when they sang it,” he said.

I looked at him then sighed and opened the original. He said ‘maybe’ but that wasn’t what he meant. His face clearly said he thought they had taken it out.

This was a song I liked and I enjoyed both versions. I had no real problem listening to it again.

We sat together and listened through. At the end he sighed.

“The problem is this isn’t the official version,” he said. He scowled at our computer like it personally offended him.

“It is the official version,” I pointed out. “It was posted by Gotye and is listed as official.”

His scowl deepened then he rolled his eyes. “Mom, you don’t know anything about YouTube. If it was official, it would be on Vevo.”

I knew enough about YouTube to know this wasn’t always the case but I kept my mouth shut. He searched the song through Vevo and glowered when he came up with the exact same version I’d found. His expression grew darker as we watched yet another version with on screen lyrics then went back to the first set of lyrics I’d found and read through them again.

“There’s only one explanation,” he said as he stood up. “Obviously that guy bribed people to hide those lyrics.”

I stared at him dumbfounded as he walked away, finding my voice as he entered the hall.

“You really think he bribed everyone?” I asked. “Is it really that hard to admit you’re wrong?”

He wheeled around and came back in.

“What year was the song written?” he snapped. I called it up and showed him the date. He immediately went to a video called Musical Autopsy and started playing.

Song after awful song played in snippets, while the reviewer cut them to shreds. I started to wonder what the guy would say about the song I liked.

Suddenly Colin turned to me. “Mom? What’s the name of that song again?”

“Somebody That I used to Know,” I replied as Buckley slagged a well played song from last year. Just then the lyrics about sunglasses and a girl with a scar played, much to Buckley’s obvious disgust.

“I was thinking of the wrong song,” Colin admitted ruefully. His lips quirked into a half grin. At this point we’d been reviewing and replaying the song for a half hour. At least he knew he was mistaken.

Of course, in order to buy the song and listen to it while exercising, I needed to have my MP3 player… which Colin had borrowed.

“Colin? Where did you put my MP3 player?”

He rolled his eyes. “I gave it back to you Mom. I put it on top of the fridge.”

Note, those two sentences are diametrically opposed. I’m almost a foot shorter than he is. I can’t even see the top of the fridge. And, of course, the player wasn’t there.

“And my headphones?” I asked wearily. He insisted they’d been given back by being placed on the desk. They weren’t there either.

Thankfully the headphones were found on the back of the TV. Right beside his ipod docking station. Obviously he’d been mistaken again. And, while my tiny MP3 player is still missing, I found an ipod shuffle on sale. It’s now charged and loaded with my playlist.

I asked Colin which version of the song I should buy. I wasn’t surprised when he told me Pentatonix. I think I’ll buy both versions though. It’s the least I can do.