Part of it is just being so busy. My work schedule is nuts to say the least. My hours were doubled at the start of the year. Financially it was a godsend but physically and mentally it was extremely taxing! Back in January I didn't know how I'd survive it with my commute and everything -- back and forth to my Mom's and work and school, driving all over hell's half acre on top of the long shifts I work. Somehow though, I made it to September. And it went so quickly. Even the tough days. Time doesn't just fly when you're having fun. Life is a roller coaster full of ups and downs and going WAY too fast.
Of course you never forget how to ride a bike, especially when you have training wheels. Michelle was excited to ride her bike until we had gone around the block and she started saying her legs were too tired to go on. I wasn't buying it. This from a girl who is in perpetual motion, who runs around the yard non-stop, who's like a friggin Energizer bunny on cocaine! I told her she had no choice but to keep going anyway since we were almost home, it would take longer to walk than ride and I wasn't about to carry or drag her bike back with us. We made it back home. I may try taking the training wheels off next year but definitely not yet when she has a hard enough time WITH the training wheels.
Although my hectic work schedule was unavoidable I felt bad leaving her so much and tried to have as much quality time with Michelle as possible. I tried to make it up to her by taking her fun places on my days off. I usually let her choose where she wanted to go. At one point Michelle complained about us driving so much. She was getting fed up with the commute back and forth to Grandma's. That instantly ruled out one of the fun adventures I'd been planning -- Canada's Wonderland -- because it's a VERY long drive. Also a VERY long wait in line at each of the rides. I told her if she couldn't tolerate a long drive then we wouldn't be going. In a way I was relieved because it's expensive and a lot of waiting that tries my patience as well. I miss Wonderland but the fact is I wouldn't even be able to go on my favourite rollercoasters (the scary ones!) with Michelle. Maybe I'll wait till she's old enough (or tall enough!) to go on the really fun coasters!
Being a control freak it is always a little hard leaving Michelle (other than school and the odd birthday party I have NEVER left her with anyone.) It was only for a few hours and she had a great time. Her friend's Mom said she was a doll and she's welcome any time. At one point she called to ask if I minded her taking the kids for ice cream. I said no of course not. Right after there was a terrible thunderstorm. I started to panic. Of course I drive in thunderstorms all the time but when it's someone else driving with her... They were fine, naturally. I was relieved when I could pick her up though. It was pouring rain when I got out of the car. Of course it was.
It's so cute it makes my cheeks hurt! I got the kitten to look by making a kissing noise. That kitten is just too adorable for words! I love Michelle's sweet Mona Lisa half smile too! And their blue eyes! Honestly I could stare at this photo all day! LOL It's my happy place. If there is anything on the planet cuter than kittens and kids then I don't know what!
Michelle didn't want to leave so I figured I'd take advantage and snap some pictures while I was there anyway. I'm so glad that I did. This is gold, baby!
Normally I have my windows up and the A/C on when it's 30 degrees and humid but there was a bit of a cool breeze so I just kept the window down. I was at a red light near the mall when all of a sudden I was getting drenched inexplicably! Like it was raining INSIDE THE CAR! "WTF?!" I'm pretty exhausted and half asleep most of the time on dayshift (like a zombie on no sleep) so it took me a second to register what was happening. I rolled the window up and yelled "WTF?!" only to see this complete a-hole in a white pickup truck next to me giving me a greasy smile. "You f-ing CREEP!" I said and let him pull ahead when the light turned green so I could take down his license plate. The door to the back was down and the truck was full of construction gear. I guess he was a contractor. I still managed to get the plate. Not that much could be done anyway about a drive by H2O shooting.
I guess I should be thankful he just shot me with a water gun and not a real gun (because sometimes that happens!) So yeah, it wasn't life-threatening but it was annoying AF. My whole left side from head to waist was wet. I was MAD. I dried off my glasses and tried to dry out my hair a bit with napkins I had in the glove compartment. It must have been a water machine gun because it was a LOT of water just in those couple of seconds. I don't know what on Earth this creep was trying to prove but I was NOT impressed. I guess if I was a laid-back, easy-going gal I might have laughed and said "Thanks for cooling me off!" (If it isn't already ABUNDANTLY CLEAR -- I AM NOT A LAID-BACK, EASY-GOING GAL!)
Oddly when I told my Mom the story later, instead of having any sympathy for me she asked "Was he cute?"
"WHAT?! No he wasn't CUTE! He looked like an uglier version of Mike Holmes from Holmes on Homes. Like a big old light haired beady eyed freak! And that slimeball smile was GROSS! Anyway how is that RELEVANT?! If anyone shot me with a water gun unexpectedly I'd be mad! Even if he looked like Ryan Gosling!" (Though in fairness, if it was Ryan Gosling I MAY have forgiven him! LOL)
"Well maybe he was just trying to get your attention," my Mom suggested.
"If that's his pick-up technique -- 'Hey you look hot, cool off!' -- it's an EPIC FAIL because I did NOT find it charming or funny and I mostly just wanted to punch him in the face! Stupid a-hole!"
To me it made no sense. I couldn't see it being road rage because I hadn't cut anyone off or anything. And why did he smile at me? The whole thing was just creepy and weird. In retrospect, considering he had construction supplies and looked like Holmes on Homes maybe it WAS! But I doubt he'd behave so abominably. I might have gotten his photo or autograph though...
Anyway after that bizarre incident I was paranoid and kept
my car window rolled up! Especially if there was a car in the left lane beside me at a red light. After spending some time in the mall I was mostly dry. Ironically when I stepped outside to head back to work, it STARTED TO RAIN. Of course it did. "Are you f-ing KIDDING ME?! I JUST DRIED OFF from my drive by watering and now you RAIN ON ME?! Nice." (Yes I talk to the sky because why not? I have to vent to someone.) I wound up telling them my tale of woe at work. When I got back to my desk my boss had put an Oreo blizzard on it for me. Ice cream to cure a bad day? It works! Faith in humanity restored. But you can see how I'm not making it up: That rain cloud over my head can even be INSIDE the car! What are the odds?! This sh$# could only happen to me.
Everyone was so relaxed they didn't want to get up to pose for the obligatory group shot but I wouldn't take no for an answer as you can see!
There's rarely a perfect shot where everyone is looking and smiling but I settle for what I can get. They may grumble about it and not feel like posing but I love these big group shots. The Pincivero clan is a big gang and I love it. Michelle and I are a tiny family but it's nice to have this larger network to get together with.
Michelle had a ball playing with her cousins. After the beach we headed back to Uncle Mike's for a BBQ. Michelle had a blast playing in the backyard too with their swingset and a new TRAMPOLINE!
Michelle has a very large collection of stuffies, including many stuffed cats of all colours, but she doesn't have too many that are this size! It was very cute. I wondered if she'd want to bring it everywhere with her like she often does with her new stuffies (in the car etc.) It would be a bit of a challenge since it was almost as big as she was.
Evie wound up getting a large stuffed dog as well. Michelle and I are mostly cat people (though Michelle loves dogs as well I explained why we can never have one. They're just WAY too high maintenance and we're not home enough.)
Michelle doesn't see her cousins Evie and Kayla too often (usually just a few times a year. She often mixes up their names -- calling Evie Kayla and vice versa.) Michelle is notoriously bad with names. Worse than me. I remember when she started kindergarten and she didn't even know her best friend's name that she played with every day for weeks!
There were changes happening at work in August. It was a change for the better because we moved to a new building while the old one (which was falling apart and EXTREMELY NOISY with construction going on) was being renovated. Still, even a change for the better can be stressful when you're a creature of habit. The first shift in our new digs, with new phones and computers I felt a bit like a fish out of water trying to get used to things being different. Before long though I was happy with a new room and WITH A VIEW (huge windows instead of the tiny dungeon-like windows we had before.) Without saying where I work (because even though I reveal so much about my life I have to keep some things private here) I spend a lot of time there, with long shifts, so having it be a nicer atmosphere helps. My long commute became a bit shorter as well which is nice. (But I still drive A LOT and usually on no sleep. It's not easy. It's actually excruciating much of the time!)
Ironically I have over 10,000 followers on Twitter now! It's different online. I can say anything when it's just words on a screen. Actual face to face human interaction is scarier.
My girl can be quite a Diva. Sometimes she doesn't want her photo taken. Other times she's striking poses like there's no tomorrow. She started parading around the yard doing a catwalk strut and flipping her hair. I can't imagine when she's a teenager. I AM DOOMED! I love this shot of her flipping her hair though!
She wants to take ballet lessons. It was one of my dreams as a child. I definitely want to put her in dance it's just going to be tough with my hectic schedule. As well as financially. I'll do what I can though. I don't want her to miss out the way I did.
Here we are with the rainbow unicorn that Michelle picked out and bought herself at Toys R Us with her gift card. She has a collection of unicorns (as well as bears, cats, you name it) but of course the rainbow unicorns are the best.
Here it looks like she's almost poking me in the eye with it. There's another pony in the background as well. Sometimes our cat Ali will sit on the stairs and pose with us but let's be honest, cats don't do what you want them to unless it's entirely their idea. So the stuffed animals are a better choice. Even when their rainbow horns poke you in the eye.
Michelle was so excited and happy to see her and the store was so beautiful! I wanted everything in it! I settled for a beautiful scent (which can be used as a perfume or a room spray) called Baltic Amber. I just LOVE IT! The store was so cool. Michelle was excited to see her teacher. As we were nearing the end of the Summer Michelle was actually looking forward to going back to school (which was good because if she was dreading it, it would have been even harder for me to deal with. I was depressed enough about Summer ending.)
I'm so proud of Michelle -- how clever and imaginative and talented she is; how sweet and loving and kind she is. Her teacher is proud of her too. Michelle was happy that she would have the same teachers again in September for Senior Kindergarten. That's just how they do it now -- you're two years in the same class for junior and senior kindergarten. Presumably you do different things each year...I think a lot of it is free play but I can't be sure because it was always like pulling teach to get Michelle to talk about what she did in school!
I couldn't believe the Summer was almost over and we hadn't even been to the Zoo yet! But there were so many other things I wanted to do. I had a list of things to cross off. We managed to do most of them except Wonderland but then Michelle decided she didn't want any more long drives anyway.
We picked a day where it wasn't too hot and humid for a lot of walking and set off to the zoo. With a blue leopard in tow. (He waited in the car.)
Taking pictures really is my happy place. I live for cute photo ops so I was absolutely in my glory at the zoo! I was happy that my camera had survived the incident. I wasn't even sure where to shop for a camera anymore if I had to replace it. I mean, I'm a little behind the times (and by a little I mean for example I still have an i-Phone 4. And like it's gone up to i-Phone 8 now. Actually there's even an i-Phone X for over $1K. So like the poor i-Phone 8 is already obsolete? Forced obsolescence at warp speed now! They even have facial recognition instead of a home button?! This is some Brave New World sh$% here. I'm resistant to technology. But I'm rambling....) Most people don't have old school "cameras" anymore. Their phone is their camera. I can't even take photos on my i-Phone 4 anymore (Apple deliberately upgraded to screw over dinosaurs like me. I started getting a white screen of death and basically can't take photos with it anymore. So I stopped Instagram too.) I don't plan to buy a new fangled phone. And I wouldn't want my phone to be my camera anyway. I take way too many photos. I like being able to get SD cards and fill them up and then get a new one.
I was hoping to get one where he looked right at me but I was glad to at least get one where he was awake. Cats, even the big ones, nap a lot of the day!
"More grass Mama!"
There were people feeding bags of seed but the deer seemed just as happy (or happier) with the grass. All the grass inside their cage had been eaten. The grass really IS greener on the other side of the fence in their case! LOL
The deer were so cute. Michelle feeding them was even cuter. She wanted to keep feeding them and I was happy to keep snapping photos of it. Other people were buying bags of feed to feed them but they seemed just as happy (or happier) with the grass so we went that route. Their enclosure was dirt covered so it looked like they'd grazed all the grass there.
Maybe I should have a deer to eat my lawn so I wouldn't have to mow it! (I'm sort of kidding!)
Yes I can't resist a cheesy photo op so I made Michelle pose with her face in the cutout. I wanted to get one with both of us but there wasn't really anywhere to place the camera for a self-timed shot. (They'd moved a nearby picnic table where I sat the camera last time.)
It's a bit of an awkward strained smile but it somehow suits the monkey face!
Michelle had fun playing in the playground as well. She ALWAYS winds up making new little friends.
Another ritual/event we attend every year/season is visiting the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation Dream home. We usually dress up to go because when you're visiting a million dollar home you might as well dress for the occasion. Michelle and I wore blue dresses as you can see. Michelle loves dressing up so she was game and I like dressing up now and then. This blue floral dress was one I had ordered online -- I fell in love with it when I saw it. It was a little different in person but I was still happy with it.
Unfortunately we had to walk quite a long way from the designated parking area to the house. Grandma wasn't thrilled.
"Mama can we LIVE HERE?!"
"Sure baby. We just have to WIN it first!"
"There's so much room to dance around!"
Yes. So much room and so beautiful. It's hard to imagine being sad in that house. Until you look at your bills I guess. They say money can't buy happiness but I'd be happy if I NEVER HAD TO WORRY ABOUT MONEY AGAIN! Am I right?!
She wants to take ballet lessons and I don't want to let her down because it was one of my dreams as a kid and I never got to do it. It will be tricky though trying to work in lessons with my insane work schedule, school and everything else. I will find a way though. Dreams are too important. And I think Michelle could be a great dancer. My little drama queen. She is so expressive in so many ways -- as an artist, writer, singer, dancer. I don't know where she gets it from... LOL Ok, yes it's in our blood. I love all those things too.
Ironically, the President (supposed to be a grown man but acts like a child) didn't heed warnings not to look at the eclipse and there were even photos of him staring up at the eclipse WITHOUT the protective eye wear that he'd been given! I LOVED this headline from the Daily News: "Not Too Bright!" It was perfect! The sun may be bright but Trump is definitely NOT. An imbecile who impulsively tweets from a golden toilet. A selfish scam-artist, admitted sexual predator, White Supremacist The most embarrassing unpresidential President EVER.) Let's face it, Trump is like a big defiant child so you can't exactly tell him what to do or not to do. Hopefully they impeach him before he blows up the world. He and Kim Jong-un (another childish narcissist) have gotten into a battle of words -- #DotardTrump vs #RocketMan and threatening to nuke each other. Hoping that Mueller can sort out the whole #RussiaGate thing and get Trump out before he does too much more damage...
She had wanted to bring her floatie lion but I forgot it so at least I had a good excuse not to let her go into the water. I'm always worried about it being polluted as well though there always seem to be brave souls out there swimming without worrying about it.
Michelle would love to have a dog but she understands that logistically it's just an impossibility for us. We're not home enough. A cat is different. Cats are independent. Dogs are extremely dependent. They need a LOT of attention. They can't be left alone for a whole day.
Our cat Ali is pretty good. She's pretty self-sufficient but she's always glad to see us when we get back. She's OK with her litterbox and endless food and water bowls. The only thing is that occasionally she'll urinate on a mat in the basement and I have to throw it out. (I'm not sure if that's her retaliation for being left when I have to work etc.)
I love this picture of her laughing in the sand. Even though it wasn't so funny trying to get all the sand out of her hair in the bath later that night...
I tried to tell Michelle we should only go to the indoor playground on a cold or rainy day because if it's nice out we could go to a park or something outside and enjoy the weather. But sometimes she really wanted to go to the indoor playground and I just wanted to make her happy. Other times it would rain and Michelle would be excited we'd have an excuse to go. She loves running around and playing and I like getting photos of her. I do stress out sometimes when she disappears from view.
I like this photo in a spot with the giraffe looking over our shoulders. When it's so crowded it's really hard to set up the timer. Sometimes I have to wait until the end when they're about to close and the crowd thins out.
Michelle, like me, loves animals, birds, frogs, snakes, mice. She's not really afraid of anything although she's not a fan of bugs. Except ladybugs and butterflies of course.
It wasn't my favourite task disposing of it. Michelle wanted me to bury him! I said that I wasn't holding a funeral service for a frog I didn't even know. (I was 99% sure it wasn't the little one we'd met a month earlier.) Just a random big old fat frog. It made me think back to high school and how I avoided taking Biology because I refused to dissect a frog. Now I was scraping one off my driveway. (With a shovel, by the way.) Not my favourite thing. I know it's the circle of life and all -- I would just prefer if things wouldn't die on my driveway!
Sometimes the light reflecting off the scratches comes across as white blobs in the photo. I try to position us so we're at least not whited out by the blobs. I really should look into getting a new camera but I'm attached to my Nikon and resistant to change. As I'm sure I've mentioned many times.
I don't date and haven't dated since her father left me 4 months pregnant. I have nothing to do with men aside from receiving professions of love and marriage proposals from random admirers on Twitter. Since hitting 10K followers I have had quite a few claim to love me, offer to fly me around the world to see them etc. I take it all with a grain of salt. I figure they're scam artists/out to get something. One was impersonating a prominent military figure and I actually reported him to the REAL Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. Some of it is bizarre but I just laugh it off. It would be hard to trust anyone never mind online where people can just say anything. Even if the perfect man fell into my lap somehow I think he'd have his work cut out for him earning my trust. I wasn't careful enough when I used to date but I'm extremely cautious now that I am a Mom. I would never let someone into our lives unless I was 100% sure of him (and realistically can you be 100% sure of ANYONE?)
She also had to wear socks which I'd forgotten to bring so I had to buy a pair from a sock machine (like a gumball machine, but with socks. Yes. Apparently it's a thing!) It was a loonie for a pair of socks but I only had a toonie and the guy couldn't make change. He said I'd have to go to the snack bar but the line was a mile long. Luckily I ran into a guy from work who kindly gave me a loonie. Then I left Michelle in Playland (Plajland), reluctantly, and watching through the glass like a total control freak before finally walking away and shopping in the store. I couldn't really relax for worrying about her. Even though they had her in an enclosed area with some nice young female IKEA employees watching the kids. Even though no one else could go and get her because I had the pager numbered to match her shirt number (it was all very strange to me.) I was relieved when it was time to pick her up (I was actually there early and watching through the glass.)
We planned a day at the pool with Auntie May. Unfortunately the day that we picked wound up being very cool. (We couldn't seem to catch a break. Every time we made plans to go swimming either it would rain or be cold.) We decided to go anyway because at least the pool was heated. It was a very nice place.
The pool had been newly renovated and was so nice and clean. It also wasn't crowded since it was September and it was a bit of a cool day. The cold air didn't seem to bother Michelle. Shannon was anxious to get warm and was cuddled up in her sweatshirt but the rest of us enjoyed the water as long as we could.
"Look Mama! I'm SWIMMING!" I really would like to get her swimming lessons. I never had lessons as a child and I think it's an important skill. I learned to swim on my own and while I can swim and float I've never been a confident swimmer and I don't go into deep water. Just the thought of leaving Michelle with someone else in the water almost makes me throw up but I will try it at some point (I'll be nearby having a panic attack no doubt.)
I found these shirts at Justice. They were on sale for $9 so it was a no brainer. And I got her a little stuffed cat there as well. Because she didn't have enough stuffed cats. As if anyone could have!
I wanted to do something fun with Michelle before she had to start school and I heard there was going to be a local fair so we were all over it!
Michelle was thrilled. So was I. It's all about the photo ops for me. The cuter the better!
"Do llamas spit Mama?"
"I think sometimes....Or maybe that's camels?"
This one didn't spit. Then again he/she was wearing a muzzle...
"I did it Mama!"
"I know! I saw! You were so brave!"
I was encouraging her along the way "You can do it honey!" I was afraid I'd have to go up there or someone would have to go rescue her but she faced her fear and got through it. Heights didn't scare her on ferris wheels and other rides but something about walking across a rickety wobbling wooden bridge in the sky is a bit nerve-wracking!
I had fun on the rides too. It wasn't exactly Canada's Wonderland but at least we didn't have to wait in hour long line-ups.
We went on a spinning ride, a rollercoaster and a ferris wheel. I of course couldn't resist getting photos.
After the maze you get to the staircase that leads to the fun house mirrors. I was bummed that ALL of these mirrors made us look short and stout. This fun house didn't have the elongating mirrors that the other one (from Ribfest) had. I was hoping for a selfie of a more slender me with mile long legs but it wasn't in the cards that day. And then we went down the slide to the exit.
I got several selfies of us smiling as you can see. I love sharing these moments with Michelle and having them captured forever in pictures means I can enjoy reliving them again and again. That's why I take so many pictures and why I do this blog. I like to record our journey together and our adventures. We may not get to travel around the world (yet -- still waiting on that lottery win!) but we can have fun close to home. And I get to keep the smiley happy photos to counteract the moments that are not smiley or happy at all (a lot of those too. They're just not in photographs...)
I love the breeze in our hair and Michelle's excited expression. I was so glad that I found out about the fair because Wonderland was the one thing I didn't get to cross off our list this Summer (we'd been to Port Dover Beach, Wasaga, Legoland, the zoo etc and I had wanted to try Wonderland for the first time with her until she said she couldn't stand any more long drives.)
I really had been looking forward to going on some amusement park rides with her so this was a nice substitute at least. I was just wishing I could go on a rollercoaster...
And then we did! They had a dragon rollercoaster and I went on with Michelle! I even managed to snap several selfies, camera in hand as we went around. I had the strap wrapped around my wrist so it wouldn't fall as we were jostled around. It was fun. Still not as scary as I like (my favourite coaster was always the Bat at Canada's Wonderland) but still a treat when I've gone so many years without being on one at all. I was glad I wasn't too big to go on it with her. At Ribfest she'd gone on a dragon coaster with Reggie several times but it was just for kids. This time I got to be a kid and enjoy it with her though I wasn't quite as animated as she and Reggie were in the photos.
I LOVE Michelle's face here! Her excited expression as we sped around the roller coaster track is priceless.
I was the only one taking selfies during the ride and people probably thought I was nuts but I can't resist a good photo op and this was definitely it! I almost wished I'd matched her expression but I don't like showing my teeth in photos.
"Isn't that cute?" someone said.
"That's my girl!" I said proudly.
Yes I've created a monster but in this instance, I love it!
When the ride ended she was on the opposite side. I had to go around to find her. She was asking a female stranger to help her down when I came by. It sometimes worries me that she's so friendly with strangers. I told her that being friendly with strange kids her age is one thing but to be wary of adults. I told her you just never know, even if someone seems nice, you don't take a chance.
"I won Mama! I'm better than you at games!"
"Yes baby, you're better than me at a lot of things!"
Next we went to the army exhibit where Michelle went through some boot camp exercises!
I even managed to get a selfie of us with the T-Rex (is it a T-Rex? I think so. With those awkward little arms...)
Later Michelle got to sit in the driver's seat of an OPP cruiser which she thought was pretty cool.
"You definitely never want to be in the BACKSEAT of a cruiser!" I told her but she didn't really get the joke.
"Does he bite?"
"Is he poisonous?"
"Is he friendly?"
Of course these are the sorts of things to ask BEFORE you pet the snake!
I was really tired by this point and my feet were killing. I also hurt my back lifting Michelle up on my shoulders for a piggyback because we were late to the dog show and it was so crowded she couldn't see. After a few minutes I told her I wouldn't survive this for much longer and we left. I'm a cat person anyway.
I popped a Tylenol extra strength and hoped I wouldn't suffer too much from the piggyback. I'm constantly injuring (or rather aggravating old injuries in) my back and shoulders. Mostly from lifting Michelle. She is getting pretty heavy for me to still carry her. My Mom says I should just refuse to do it but I don't.
This wall was so colourful I had to get a picture with it, even though looking at it now it is on the creepy side. I'm not even sure what creeps me out the most but I think it's the mask. Masks are always sort of sinister looking to me... Masks and clowns...
We're so small next to the wall that you barely see us!
Michelle wanted to go to the indoor playground. I wanted to make her happy.
She was going to be starting school soon. Thankfully she was excited about it. I wasn't too excited. To me it was sad. I would miss Michelle and Summer had gone by WAY too fast. How could it be ending already?!
There was a little girl there who wasn't able to reach the rope and wanted me to lift her. "Where are you parents?" I asked. More often than not the parents are camped out somewhere on their cellphones and not even watching the kids. I'm one of a dying breed of hoverers. Even I try to chill out at some point and just let Michelle be. But I still have to check in every few minutes to see where she is and make sure she's OK. People occasionally ask me if Michelle is my first.
"First, last and only. Yeah. Does it show?"
For grown ups it's trickier. I do occasionally have people say "Hi," or tell me I have the best seat in the house when I managed to score one of the comfy corner leather seats.
"I know, right!"
Or someone will commiserate about the decibel level of multiple children screaming. But after a few words, what else do you say? And most of them are married so it's harder to relate to them. I always feel like I'm the only single parent in the world because EVERYONE else is coupled off. If there are single parents in my neighbourhood or the places we go they are well hidden!
Again we waited until the crowd thinned out so we could get this shot. In the midst of the chaos and kids running amok there would just be no way to set the timer and not get photobombed by random kids.
One night I had a nightmare that I was kidnapped by Vladimir Putin. Little did I know I'd be seeing him in a store later that day! One thing to look forward to in September is the Halloween store Spirit Halloween opening up so we decided to go after the playground. We found Trump and Putin. I'm not even sure which is creepier/scarier. I think it's a tie. Michelle was a little nervous around the animatronic monster displays. Even though some of them weren't even hooked up yet. They didn't have the werewolf that she liked from last year.
"Michelle, YOU wanted to come here and now you're scared! You were less scared LAST year!"
"These things are a lot creepier than last year!"
There were certain aisles she would not even walk past. So maybe even my brave girl has her limits.
It's strange because I am not especially brave but I used to be a goth and I loved horror movies. Now I haven't seen one in so long. I'd love to see Stephen King's "It" apparently it has broken the record for the highest grossing horror movie (dethroning the Exorcist in the 70s!) but I don't have anyone to go with. And I don't really watch horror movies anymore now that I don't have a boyfriend to watch them with (aka protect me from the monsters that will come out after I've seen the movie! LOL)
I was glad Michelle wasn't dreading going back to school or it would have been even harder for me. As it was she was excited to see her friends and her teachers again. It was me that was dreading it. Getting her up early and getting her to school on time was always stressful. Plus it meant longer days and more commuting for me with my work schedule. It also meant Fall was coming and that was just depressing AF!
The lazy river is my favourite part of the water park. Unfortunately it's also kind of nerve wracking because I have to leave our stuff while we're on the river. You can get a locker but it's a nuisance to keep going to the locker before and after everything you do. It's easier to just have it nearby. I never bring my whole wallet, just a bit of money, and I'm sure no one in their right mind would steal my old camera or phone. Still it always makes me feel vulnerable to have our stuff just left unattended as we float around.
The day we went it was crowded and we had to wait a long time for a tube. Michelle wanted her own tube as well instead of riding along with me like she used to.
There weren't many kids in the splash pad area so I got to snap Michelle with all the props and no photobombers!
This turtle is so cute. Michelle wound up posing with it quite a bit!
Here she is bravely standing under the mushroom shower, getting soaked and laughing about it.
"I don't mind the water in my face anymore Mama!"
"That's great baby. You're getting more brave."
After the splash pad we went to the pool though it was a rude awakening after being in the heated pool with Auntie May! Being in a heated pool on a cool day is easier than being in a cold pool on a hot day. I couldn't get used to the water. My teeth were chattering the whole time. Usually after a while you get used to it and it seems warmer. No such luck there. I was anxious to go.
"Anytime you're ready to leave honey, just let me know. Like ANY TIME...Hey want to get an ice cream?"
And we were gone.
I wanted Michelle's last day off before school to be fun. She was happy with our trip to the water park.
The first day of school in Senior Kindergarten!
I was glad Michelle was excited about it because I definitely was not. I was dreading the whole routine: dragging her out of bed and getting her ready for school (dressed, hair brushed, sunscreen on, breakfast, vitamin, brushing her teeth), packing her lunch and getting her to school in a mad rush trying to beat the bell. It's stressful. Then I miss her. But of course there is barely time to miss her because school is only 6 hours and by the time you try to run some errands, do some housework, get caught up on things -- it's time to pick her up again. Or I'm working nightshift and only get a couple of hours sleep between dropping her off at school and picking her up to drop her off at Grandma's before heading in to work my 16 hour shift... Yeah my life is nuts.
At least Michelle was happy and that's all that matters. She was excited to dress up for the first day of school as well. My girl is a Princess. She love dressing up.
Yes I'm tearing up. Yes I'm a sentimental fool. I cherish these moments. That's why I take so many photos. I have no choice. It's the only way I have to hold on.
Michelle was excited to see her best friend. They were hugging each other so much that her friend actually knocked Michelle over. Of course I was there with my camera ready.
They are in the same class together again which is nice.
After playing outside the school Michelle still wanted to go to the park and she made another little friend (as she usually does, everywhere we go.)
She can go pretty high on the swing after her starting push and is quite proud of herself.
Other kids just swing in a mundane way, expressionless. Michelle is always excited and happy and smiling and saying "Woo hoo!" It never gets old. I'm glad my girl is so enthusiastic and has a zest for life. I envy her that. I'm not quite there. In fact I can't remember the last time I said "Woo hoo!" about anything...
I can almost feel my Seasonal Affective Disorder coming on...
Michelle in one of her cat ear headbands and holding a cat heart eye emoji from McDonalds. Of all the emojis I think the cat heart eyes has to be our favourite. The poop is funny but I kind of refuse to let Michelle carry poop around. Even if it is stuffed.
Speaking of stuffies, Michelle has MANY but she got a craft kit for her birthday to make one -- a "Fuzzeez" bunny. I knew what was going to happen and my fears were well founded -- I ended up making the damn bunny myself.
Michelle wanted me to "help" her -- and of course an adult has to help with the instructions and everything but she went from saying "I want to do it myself!" to "You do it, Mama." So I stuffed it and sprayed it and put the clips on the mold and put it in washer and dryer.
But it is cute. And at the end of the day if you get something cute out of it, it's worth it, right? (No. I think I'd rather just BUY a pre-made stuffed bunny and call it a day.)
And look how big his feet are?! What is with those feet?!
Her friend walked her out and gave her a hug goodbye before we left. I was afraid she'd knock Michelle over again and we didn't have time for that.
When I was pregnant with Michelle I used to sit on my own garden swing and read. I should get one again but I'd need help putting it together (it was a gift from my Mom before and my brothers helped to construct it.)
Michelle loves to swing but I like it too. In my hectic life it's nice to have at least a few moments to take a breath of fresh air and relax...
And when there was a hot day & I was off, we headed to the beach! Michelle may have started school but it was still technically Summer (until September 22nd, the first official day of Autumn!) and with some of the hottest days we'd had.
So we suited (and sunscreened) up and headed to our favourite (local) beach -- Port Dover!
Michelle even brought her stuffed fish for the occasion (though Fishy had to wait in the car. Stuffies and sand really don't mix.)
It was cute though so even though I told her no I still couldn't resist smiling and snapping pictures of her doing it.
I caught a couple of disapproving looks from people but if anyone said anything I was ready to pounce in defense of her.
I thought of the "Feed the birds, twopence a bag" song from Mary Poppins...but then I started to get teary and told myself to shut up.
Another occasion to dress up...
My Princess (complete with tiara!) in a pale blue dotted dress and me in a white floral. Yes I'm wearing white AFTER LABOUR DAY! Hopefully the fashion police don't arrest me. I've been told that rule no longer applies. Or maybe it only applies to wearing white PANTS after Labour Day, not tops and dresses. And truly if the weather feels warmer than Summer you should be allowed to wear a Summer dress of any colour!
We were heading to my Mom's for Uncle Mike's birthday party...
Michelle's IKEA panda and turquoise teddy bear (from Build a Bear) and little elephant (from Metro I think it was? She has so many stuffies but somehow twists my arm to get her more when we're out "PLEASE Mama? He's so CUTE!" and how can I say no? I can't obviously. So we own a stuffed zoo basically. Any animal you can think of she probably has one, at least one. Maybe 10 of them. This is possibly the longest parenthetical statement ever. And the most pointless!)
Michelle wanted to dress her animals up for the party but I told her it wasn't necessary. then she did it anyway. Most of them are wearing a bow or some sort of accessory.
We were disappointed when the campaign was over and the chocolate chip cookies DIDN'T have smiles anymore. But I still get Michelle a cookie when I stop by Tim's on our long commute. It makes the trip a bit sweeter.
I once got Tim's to draw a sad face on a cookie when a co-worker was going to be leaving. I think sad face cookies would be a good idea when someone is feeling down. I could go for one quite often.
I love that tree. (It used to be mine in another life back when I had planted a tropical garden. It was going to be ripped out and sodded over by people who weren't in love with my backyard beach idea so I rescued it and a bamboo tree and planted them at my Mom's...It looked like it was struggling when first transplanted but then grew stronger and I was so happy to see it healthy. I smile when I see it. I'm glad I got to save something from my old yard...And I'm glad I got pictures of it to remember. It was a crazy idea to try to create my own tropical beach backyard, minus the water, but it was kind of cool. Just not practical at all. Nor was the convertible I also had at the time. Those were the days!)
Christina brought this amazing jumbo Jenga set and the kids had a ball with it though it was a little scary when the blocks were about to fall! It makes you jump even when you play with the tiny blocks never mind a bunch of wood slabs!
Poor Reggie managed to knock them over a couple of times (through no fault of his own, just bad timing/luck of the draw.) I was afraid the kids would be hurt if all that wood fell on them but they stayed back so no one lost a toe or anything! "Timber!"
"Hell YES!" I said and suggested the whole gang pose in front as well. So there we are. Even my dad who had been missing showed up for the last shot.
"Happy Birthday to you..."
The cake. The song. The photo.
I didn't even realize Evie was in the back corner and had to run to get in. She's still in it, though mid-run and Barb is turning to look/say "Hurry up honey!"
My Mom's cakes may not wind up on Pinterest but they are made with love and always taste delicious!
I almost got into the shot as well in the background. The filters don't always allow more than one person/animal but sometimes they do.
It's a really good thing I don't have this app on my i-Phone or I'd be addicted and everyone would have cat ears, like ALL THE TIME. And that probably wouldn't be a good thing. OMG though I just thought if I could get a group shot of the whole family WITH CAT EARS?! But it probably only allows 3 people, tops. Not 16. So that dream will likely never come to fruition!
I suppose I've created a monster with all the photos I've taken. Michelle is a little Diva and loves posing. She was wanting to try Shannon's i-phone and take selfies but then she holds it too close and it doesn't always turn out right. This one was better with Shannon taking it for her. I love her sweet expression and her hands folded in her lap. My cute little Michelle Mouse. "M-I-C-H-E-L-L and E, Michelle!" (In the tune of Mickey Mouse which is actually how I taught Michelle to spell her name when she was 3 and it worked!)
Shannon loves selfies too. Of course she's part of the whole Instagram generation. I'd like to point out that I was taking selfies long before it was cool but mine are different -- setting up the self-timer on my old school Nikon (with a scratched lens and I still can't part with it!) Most people just hold their cellphones out and shoot. I see them doing it everywhere. People have even started taking photos of their dinner etc. Recording their whole lives. And hey, you might as well. It goes so fast. Photos are a way of slowing it down, capturing every moment. That's why I'm a photoholic!
Shannon looks adorable here. She suits the animal ears and large anime eyes... She's a living doll!
We weren't the only ones there either. When Summer makes a comeback you might as well take advantage.
She made a couple of friends as she always does, my little social butterfly. I could never do it -- just randomly approaching someone my age and saying "Hi!" and start hanging out with them. Of course as an adult it's 100% more awkward. Even if you're not painfully shy.
I told her to make sure she has a nice smile when they take her photo.
"Like this?" she asked, forcing a smile showing all her teeth in a maniacal clown grimace.
"Ummm no. A natural smile. Not a silly smile."
I was hoping for the best but the reality is that I would have to buy the photo no matter how it turned out. It's just what I do. My Mom never bought my school photos and yes it hurt. She argued she was never crazy about them. So I took that to mean I was ugly. And even the ones she liked, she just kept the proofs! Usually with the word "Jostens" across my face! I mean how cheap can you get?! Some of them she even put in frames. Words on my face and all. I am not doing that to Michelle (even though the proofs now just have a small watermark above their heads.) I'm all about the digital shots anyway. If I can't post it on Twitter and my blog what's the point?! (But yes I also get ones for my wallet, copies for my family etc.)
I don't have 1/10th of Michelle's energy. Ever. Of course I'm usually sleep deprived, fatigued, barely have the energy to function. But somehow I managed to drag myself around for Michelle's sake. At least she lets me just sit at the park while she plays, except when I have to give her the starting push on the swings...
I told her that she could play in the sand at the beach again, weather permitting. The way September was going it seemed to be a distinct possibility.
I never tire of Port Dover Beach. We park ourselves under the palm trees and life is good. Michelle plays in the sand, I listen to the waves, the seagulls and watch her play and the stress of life melts away, temporarily at least.
The beach is our happy place. Getting to go there in the Fall is a treat.
When the beach was crowded I told Michelle she can't feed the gulls or people would get mad. Some people (Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe for instance!) even have a phobia of birds. At the very least most people wouldn't appreciate having them so close and begging for food. (They can be loud.) But with no one else to complain, Michelle was in her glory feeding the birds.
So we went. Michelle had a ball, as usual. It turned out that it wasn't the best idea on a school night. I thought it wouldn't be as busy as the weekend at least but it was still a madhouse! Apparently any time you go, any day of the week is busy. It didn't help that someone was hosting a kid's birthday party there. A lot of people do that. Any day of the week as well.
She even did a portrait of Sara as you can see. I love it. So adorable. And she even included details like the curly pigtails, the turquoise pjs...
She talked to Sara and brought her everywhere. It was like a little sister. It made me sad to think how much Michelle would love a sibling and will likely never have one (short of a miracle that is. At the rate I'm going I can't even imagine dating anyone again.)
The closest I've come to dating is getting marriage proposals on Twitter. I just roll my eyes. After uncovering one scam artist/military impersonator I just stopped following back any US military accounts that followed me and ignored their messages. I don't get the whole "Catfish" thing. What fun can it be pretending to be someone else?! I did sort of miss the flattering messages I used to get from the phony US Army Chief of Staff "My Darling Queen..." In my entire life no one had ever called me a darling queen! But I have no time/patience for BS. If you're pretending to be someone else then f%$# off!
Then I had another would-be online paramour. His photos just looked like a regular guy (pleasant looking but not a model, not a celebrity, just a guy next door type) so when he messaged me asking how I was doing etc I messaged back not thinking too much of it. He seemed nice. Then as the messages became lengthier red flags started to go up. Was this guy legit? Was English his first language? (He was supposedly Canadian but I had my doubts.) Was he really who he said? I asked him to send a photo holding a note "Hi Ann!" to prove he was the guy in the photos. (My Mom suggested sending one holding today's newspaper. I also considered asking him to hold up his DL.) He ignored my request and the next time he wrote to me he totally changed the subject. I decided to call BS. I told him my suspicions. Then I did a reverse image search and found that yes, as I suspected, he was a scam too! Those were stolen photos used by a few scam accounts! I sent him a link to the site with the same photos used on a bogus FB site. I expected him to confess/apologize. Instead he said he was hurt and felt betrayed by my mistrust and that he had real feelings for me. He said one day he'd show up at my door. I said I'd have him arrested faster than he could say criminal harassment! (But no he didn't know my address or even what town I live in. I'm careful not to discuss that online for various reasons.) I couldn't believe it! It was too ridiculous for words! I sent him an expletive-filled tirade against some creepy a-hole trying to prey on a single Mom. I mean I don't know what he hoped to gain. I have no money. I would never have a romance with a stranger and what purpose can it serve having a fake online relationship! I told him to get a life, preferably HIS OWN THIS TIME. So from now on I just ignore Twitter messages. Unless it's someone I know or a verified account etc.
For some reason there seemed to be a spike in followers/admirers since I hit 10K followers. Maybe they think I'm a celebrity? "A minor celebrity creating a minor stir." (Line from Seinfeld! LOL) Anyway, ain't nobody got time for that! I'm not remotely interested in a fake relationship with some weirdo. Twitter is a fun place to share my thoughts on politics, my shows, my life etc. It is also fun to connect with other people but to the guys who try to play mind games, just buzz off! No I'm not moving to Dubai, no I'm not going to marry you, no I don't believe a word you say and unless your account is verified or you send me a photo of yourself with your ID, I'm assuming you're a phony baloney! My time is precious. I'm not wasting it on a liar.
Michelle said she misses me when I'm at work but she has fun playing with Grandpa in the backyard. We love the nice weather. I enjoy getting a bit of fresh air before/after my shifts.
Without saying where I work (because I don't mention my job online. Ever.) people almost always say "That must be stressful. I don't know how you do it!" And when people hear that I'm a single Mom without help (especially when I was pregnant and alone) they say "That must be tough. I don't know how you do it!" The reality is that it's tough raising a child, even when there are TWO parents. As a single Mom, with a stressful job, and no social life and no support network (I have my family and they're my lifeline but they're not local...) it's unbelievably tough to be on your own, to feel isolated. Sometimes it feels like I carry the weight of the world on my own and no one understands and no one can really relate. I feel like I'm the only single parent in the world (or at least in my neighbourhood). I'm surrounded by married couples. I lost touch with my single friends from years ago. And I don't even drink. Not that alcohol is a healthy escape by any means but a lot of times people joke "Go have a glass of wine after a bad day!" and I have to say "I don't even drink. I'm sober to deal with this sh%$."
Michelle has several headbands in various colours and styles. She has a few sets of cat ears. Then I found this pink set of unicorn ears and horn and I couldn't resist. So I dropped my little unicorn off at school.
She had Vampire or Dracula Mickey from Halloween last year. Then she found a Vampire Minnie and wanted her as well. How can I say no?
My girl is all that keeps me going so if there's anything she wants and it's within my power to grant her wish? Why the f*$# not?
Apparently there was a prophecy by some doomsday Christian guy that the world was going to end on September 23rd. I was scheduled to work nightshift so I thought, "Great. I'll have a front row seat for the Apocalypse!" The world didn't end but it sure felt like it. All Hell broke loose. It was one of the busiest, craziest nights I'd ever seen. Some were saying they'd never seen anything like it in 20 years. At one point (I guess I was swearing or my head was spinning or something) my boss pulled me aside to ask if I was OK. I said "No. I'm not OK. But what can I do? It's busy and we don't even have time to be having this conversation."
The next week I got a link to an article about Cumulative PTSD. I'd always thought of PTSD as being reserved for war veterans and victims of violent crime -- a reaction to one disturbing event. But apparently there is also Cumulative PTSD -- it is more an accumulation of traumatic mental stressors. It's not one event but a build up of toxic events that chips away at you until you reach your breaking point. One article compared it to being a redwood tree -- you don't chop it down with one blow but if you took a swing at it every day for 17 years (how long I've been in this field) -- a little nick here, a big chop there, eventually the tree will fall. I was falling.
I made an appointment to see my doctor. The moment I set foot in her office I started bawling and couldn't stop. I told her what had been going on at work and how I'd been feeling and how I'd heard about Cumulative PTSD and maybe this was what I was going through? She recommended I take some time off to rest and recuperate. She was also referring me to a psychiatrist but she said it would could a few weeks to get an appointment. In the meantime I sought out a counselor, an expert in PTSD and she was helpful. Just having a break from the stress of work was a help.
The counselor asked if I was a danger to myself (it's a standard risk assessment when someone is in crisis.) "No," I assured her, "I could never do that to Michelle. I'm all she's got." I'm Michelle's Mom above all, no matter what I'm going through, I have to be there for her. And thankfully she hasn't seen me at my worst. I was able to hide it from her though it's tough. Sometimes it feels like I step out of a horror movie (at work) and into Disney movie Mom mode and the contrast is jarring to say the least. When I see what's going on in the world (at work, in the news etc) it certainly seems like the world is falling apart and yet people drop their kids off at school, mow their lawns, have mundane conversations, act like everything is normal. Sometimes it feels surreal to me. Sleep deprivation doesn't help. Being constantly exhausted makes you feel more fragile and unstable. I can't sleep and when I do I have nightmares. Sometimes it feels like life is a nightmare. But Michelle is happy and healthy and her life is perfect. Thankfully she isn't affected by the dark reality that I've been living in.
I felt so fragile I worried I was having a nervous breakdown. I always wondered what it actually means to have a "nervous breakdown." What happens? I pictured someone just stopping their car in the middle of the road and primal screaming until someone finally comes and takes them away...Or a woman dressed in a tiara and evening gown with mascara dripping down her face and clown lipstick, going into a grocery store and emptying boxes of Fruit Loops onto the floor. But maybe it's not as dramatic as that. Maybe it's as mundane as what I was going through -- just crying and crying. Crying at work. Crying as I drive. Crying as I take Michelle to school. Crying in the grocery store. At the doctor's office. Thank God for sunglasses. Thank God for people being so wrapped up in their own lives that they don't notice you breaking down right in front of them.
I was a jangle of nerves. Crying at the drop of a hat. Irritable AF. So jittery I'd jump out of my skin at any sudden noise. I was losing it. The only times I felt somewhat calm were when I was laughing with Michelle or my sister, doing yoga. In those moments I could be present and find my Zen. Unfortunately I didn't seem to be very good at holding on to it when I was in the midst of chaos. That's what I had to learn -- how to breathe and find my calm centre even when in the middle of a stressful situation.
Writing has always been therapeutic for me. I wound up writing a song about Cumulative PTSD:
The Tree -- an original song by Ann Marie Pincivero:
When you're fragile and on edge you can have an extreme reaction to everything. It's hard to tone it down. You're on high alert all the time. You can't deal. Lack of sleep alone can drive you nuts. You're so exhausted you feel fragile. And even as tired as you are you can't sleep. You lay there and think and worry. And then even if you fall asleep you have nightmares, wake up and can't get back to sleep. Some days I'm just a stressed out mess! One day my face was twitching so bad I almost couldn't see. I was shaking. I felt like I was literally going to fall apart. Like a cracked vase barely held together with glue in the middle of an earthquake. I was worried everyone would stare at me but they probably didn't even notice. We think people see our flaws but most of the time they have their own stuff going on and probably couldn't care less what's going on with you.
I know that there is a wide arsenal of anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications out there. I don't believe in popping pills. I've seen what they can do to people. As far as I can tell sometimes the side effects are worse than what they're supposed to cure! It seems to me that drugs either bring you up or down artificially and it's far from a perfect system: Anti-anxiety meds cause depression and anti-depressants cause anxiety. It's like a teeter totter playing with your brain chemistry. They can't get it just right. I don't trust it. Now everyone is different and if you have found something that works for you and does not have harmful side effects, then more power to you. But what works for you may not work for everyone. We are all individuals with our own unique brain chemistry. I don't even drink and have never tried drugs (aside from prescription pain killers after surgery which I was careful to limit) because I don't like the feeling of losing control to a substance. I would just rather work things out behaviourally instead of popping pills. I would rather learn tools to relax and become more resilient. I would rather just find my peace than to become dependent on something artificial to escape being me. I still want to be me. I would just like to be a more relaxed, less stressed out version!
My sister May is amazing. She always manages to make me laugh through tears. She knows just what to say to put things in perspective. Talking to her helped. The counselor helped as well. I'm not OK but I've been told it's OK not to be OK. And I'm working on it. I'm doing deep breathing and yoga. I even booked a massage (for the first time EVER!) I'm not shy about admitting I need help. I need to relax. I am trying to do relaxing things. Unfortunately life happens. It seems there is always something to stress about...
Sometimes life gives you signs. My brakes were making a scraping noise. "Great," I thought. "One more thing to worry about!" Breakdown/brake down... It's no wonder of course. With all my commuting I do more kilometers in a year than some people would in 10 years. I took the car in for service. I was not thrilled about it. The price tag was even worse than I thought. I thanked the guy at the desk for calling me "Miss" instead of "Ma'am" anyway. I hate Ma'am. "Well why would I call a young girl Ma'am?" Again, thanks for calling me a young girl. Of course he was just trying to soften me up before he dropped the bomb. I needed my brakes FRONT AND REAR, replaced. Great. It was sort of a metaphor for my life: Pushed to the limit, scraping metal, nothing left. I needed to SLOW the F&*% DOWN! I had a visit with my sister to cheer me up while they worked on the car. The shuttle driver was probably sorry he started a conversation about current events. The news was on the radio. There was another shooting. Yes the world has gone to Hell. The driver got an earful about my anxiety over the world falling apart. A different driver picked me up afterward. He had classical music playing and didn't say a word. It was definitely much more calming than news radio. Focus on the beauty...
When I went in to pick up my car and saw the invoice I said in a deadpan voice "Well I hope you know you've murdered Christmas."
The guy at the desk chuckled nervously.
"I guess I'll tell my daughter that Santa died of a fentanyl overdose like everyone else."
"You're really funny!" the guy said.
"I'm having a nervous breakdown," I replied.
Of course I'm kidding about Santa. I would never say anything like that to Michelle. (Though my Mom told me one of our relatives during the Depression told the kids Santa had committed suicide and that's why they wouldn't have any presents. I really hope she's making it up or it's an urban legend because that's messed up.) No. Santa is alive and well. No matter what Michelle will still get her present from Santa and presents from me. It will just be a little tougher. But there always seems to be $omething. Last year it was the furnace. Sh#* happens. Especially around Christmas time.