November 27, 2015

The Bawl Ball

Winona Ryder

Often our expectations don’t live up to reality of a situation. This is why I try to keep my standards high, but my expectations low. This is a strategy shared with me by a friend. In her case, she’s referring to dating in her forties, but it applies in most life situations—essentially, don’t ever accept being treated as "less than", but also readily expect to be disappointed. Sometimes reality bites.

I forgot this lesson recently and as a result, it wasn’t pretty.

But you know who IS pretty? This girl.

happy girl

A friend generously offered Avery a pair of tickets to a Father/Daughter Charity Ball. Her family couldn’t use the tickets and the mom, who is kind to the core, knew how much our girl would love the spectacle of it all. The evening is sparkly and pink and musical and magical. Plus, dancing with daddy. All the things she loves.

As the ball approached, we shopped for a dress and shoes. Avery spun around in the store and used the twirl test to choose a pretty black dress with golden flowers.

We did her hair and make-up, she wore jewelry and fancy shoes, and her dad matched his tie to his little girl’s dress. I cried no less than seven times before they left the house.

About an hour in I texted, “How’s it going??”

No response.

I was anxious to hear what was happening. Were they having fun?

A few hours later I heard the garage door go up. I jumped up, eager to greet my belles of the ball.

I expected happy faces, tired maybe, but not distraught.

Avery was crying so hard she was hiccuping. My husband looked utterly shattered.

“What’s wrong?!” I asked in a panic. Had Avery choked? Did she have a seizure?

Adrian slammed the car door and as he brushed past me into the house he said, “It was brutal.”

It took a few minutes to get the full story, but it seemed we had a clear case of expectations not meeting the reality.

I felt awful. “I should’ve warned you—prepared you." I said to my husband. "I’m used to it so it’s easier for me to handle. I’m so, so sorry.”

Please understand, nothing particularly horrible happened. Avery simply tried to connect with a few girls at the ball, but they were excited and busy and tiared. They weren't interested in befriending the girl who stammered and chased after them.

It sucks, but I get it.

As I watched a video clip of Avery by herself on the dance floor, happily spinning and clapping, I smiled. She was okay. She was having fun. But then she approached a girl dancing near her, holding a balloon. The music was loud and I couldn’t make out what Avery was saying, but I could see the girl mouth, “What do you WANT?” She then turned on her heel, leaving Avery standing alone.

My jaw clenched and I got that annoying lump in my throat that I get right when I'm struggling not to cry.

The video ended there. Her dad stepped in to dance with his girl.

“Where are all my friends?” she asked him.

She didn’t feel excluded‑just confused and eager to find somebody to play with. What upset her really was the silent auction. She and her dad put in a bid for a large pink stuffed bunny. When another girl won it, an over-tired Avery burst into tears.

There was some confusion between "shopping" and "bidding."

My husband—my soft-hearted will do anything for his family partner—found it all rather devastating. Not losing the bunny. In fact, he was happy not to have to lug that thing home. He was simply crushed by the reality of exclusion.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “But just seeing her on the outside like that was... hard.”

Like I said, I should have prepared him better. The other kids weren’t being cruel. They were just being kids, at a ball, having a ball. They don’t know Avery. If she had gone with a friend, things would’ve been different.

So her first ball wasn't what we had imagined. But when you ask her about it now, she says it was "bootiful" and that she'd love go again.

Some realities do bite. Winona Ryder was right about that. However, it also depends on how you look at it. Avery was invited to a ball. She got to shop with mummy for a sparkly dress and wear make-up and clip-on earrings and have her hair curled. She got to enjoy an adult meal under twinkling lights. And she danced with a daddy she loves her with all her heart.

So the evening didn't exactly go as planned, but the reality is, she is beautiful and happy and healthy and loved. That's a pretty great reality.

As for her dad? He said he was glad they went. He said it's important for both parents to "live it." And that next time, he'll know what to expect and how to handle it. And, perhaps to avoid the Silent Auction.

father daughter ball

The conversation about this post is on Facebook right HERE. C'mon over! I'll make mojitos. Or tea. Depending on what time it is when you stop by.

November 15, 2015

Protect Your Shoes And Make Them Last

My cat may not be excited about shoe care, but what does he know? He doesn't wear shoes. Though, I know he'd look adorbs in a pair of kitten heels. (Sorry. Had to.)

Did you know I once brought a pair of battered boots back to life? True story. I wrote about it and in the post mentioned how I was saving up for a sweet pair of brown boots I had been coveting for years.

I’m thrilled to say, I have finally been united with these booties. It’s a rather touching love story really…

At an outlet mall with my mom last month, we popped into the The Bay outlet. I don't usually find anything in there, but something drew me in. Shoe serendipity maybe? As I glanced towards the size 8 shoe rack, I spotted the logo. I froze. Could it be? Were these THE boots? And 40 percent off??

I lunged and grabbed the box from the shelf. Like a post–ball Cinderella, I slipped one on my foot and prayed it would fit. It did. With the second one on, I paraded back and forth in front of the mirror.

Then I marched across the store in the boots…MY boots (well, as soon as I paid for them it would be official) in search of my mom. “Ahem. Ahem.” I coughed to get her attention.

No reaction.

So I ahemed again while dramatically pointing to my feet.

Are those THE boots?!” she asked. Sadly my close relations are all fully aware of my obsession with this footwear. It's ridiculous.

My husband thinks I’m nuts when I say that shoes/boots are an investment, but I stand by my claim. Especially when it comes to pricey classics like these. I’ll have them for years to come.

So, I plan to treat them right by treating them right.

This is where the Tana shoe care specialist steps in… (in her cute shoes) to teach me how to treat my boots.

I met with Aisha at Stance Shoes and she walked me through the products that will protect my babies. Did I say babies? I meant my babies. Er, my boots.

Of course, if you mess up and muck up your shoes, don’t freak. The damage can be undone. Read this post about "Giving Old Skin The Boot"and learn how to restore your shoes, boots, bags and belts to “like new” condition.

However, if you want to ensure your favourite footwear looks great for millions of steps, protect them from the start. And maybe sleep with them under your bed in case of boot burglars.

Shoes are sexy. Shoe care products? Maybe not so much. But, they're sensible and smart. And THAT is what this post is about.

Confession: Until a few years ago, whenever a shoe retailer would ask me at the point of sale if I wanted to add a can of shoe protector spray to my purchase I would give them a side-eye and be all like, "Ya, no. I'm good." I assumed they were just trying to up-sell me.

Not so.

A can of shoe protector spray is a few bucks. But my nubuck Uggs were a lotta of new bucks. I didn't protect them and after a harsh winter, they looked awful. I was able to rescue them using the right products, but I was never able to completely restore them to their original salt-stain-free state. #UggUgh has all kinds of products to help you keep your shoes, boots, belts, and purses looking great. I sprayed my new boots with Tana All Protector spray to protect them from the elements. And I'll treat them a few times over the season to keep them boot-iful.

We have a box of shoe care products (sprays, creams, cloths, extra laces, polish) in our front hall shoe closet. Cleaning, spraying, buffing... it doesn't take long, and it's worth the effort.

To get the info out there so people can protect their shoe investments (I still stand by my claim despite my husband's eye rolling) Tana is offering three ways to learn more about what their products can do AND they are providing some pretty amazing prizes in the process!

You can WIN big with Tana by:
1. Entering the Tana “Weather The Winter” contest for a chance to win 1 of 5 Bi-weekly Prizes of $500 and the Grand Prize of $2000! That's a whole lotta shoes right there. And again, you can't win if you don't enter. 

2. Showing off your shoe love by playing a little game of "shoe & tell!" Post a pic of your favourite footwear on Instagram with the hashtag #TanaLovesShoes and you'll be entered to win weekly Tana Shoe Product prizes! (Bonus points if you include Tana shoe products in your photo submission.)

So before winter unleashes its fury on us, protect your favourite shoes and boots! 

Disclosure: I am taking part in the #TanaLovesShoes program. Though I am receiving compensation for my participation, the advice, the opinions and the obvious affection for my new boots and the dedication to their longevity are honest and sincere.

The conversation about this post is on Facebook right HERE. C'mon over! I'll make mojitos. Or tea. Depending on what time it is when you stop by.

The conversation about this post is on Facebook right HERE. C'mon over! I'll make mojitos. Or tea. Depending on what time it is when you stop by.

November 8, 2015

Tears Of A Ukulele

Family is everything. I could easily end this post with that.

Because when you boil it down, your family loves and supports you.
And they go out of their way to make your life better. Mostly.

Without my family, I honestly don't know what I'd do.

They make life easier, happier, safer, greater.

I love you my family.

This weekend my sister-in-law kindly lent us her family. While my handy bro renovated all three of my bathrooms (SO gorgeous... just wait until you see the after photos!) my niece and nephew hung out with us. It was a glorious cousin palooza.

Avery is obsessed with her older cousins—not at all surprising considering they teach her so much and make her feel like the most important, most loved kid.

When Sunday came and the big kids were packing up to leave, she just couldn't bear it. So without a word, she slipped upstairs to the music room to express her emotions. With giant tears and her pink ukulele, she composed this song.

I snuck upstairs to record her—not to mock her very real pain, but because it was so ridiculously cute, creative, and heartfelt. I simultaneously snort laughed and choked back tears.

You can watch her pitifully beautiful ballad below. 

The conversation about this post is on Facebook HERE
C'mon over! I'll make mojitos. Or tea. Depends on what time it is when you pop by.

November 6, 2015

The Easiest Way To Get What's Broken, Fixed!

My husband is a lot of things. A handyman is not one of them. It's okay though—he's cute and he brings me snacks whenever I'm curled up on the couch, too comfy to get up.

Hot man-servant...check.

But there's still the matter of the toilet in the powder room that only flushes every other Wednesday, and the light that won't turn on in the crawlspace, and the pressing issue of the gas fireplace that will no longer ignite. How am I supposed to enjoy my snacks all comfy-like if I'm cold? Sitting beside a toasty fire this winter would make life much comfier.

My husband "looked" at the fireplace last year. Looking involves head scratching, random grunting noises, followed by some cursing—fun to watch, but not effective in terms of igniting my flame. Ahem.

This year I'm on a quest for fire. Our daughter is now old enough to understand the dangers of the hot glass so we're good to go. All we need now is ignition!

Enter Jiffy.

First of all, how much do I enjoy the name of this company? Jiffy…. that’s going on my Word Love List.

Need it fixed? No handy-friend to call upon to fix it for you? Because THAT’S choice number one obviously. Labour costs can, you know, cost you. However if your roof is leaking, or your furnace dies in the dead of winter, or your toilet is backed up, or (and this one happened to me last year I kid you not) your tap gets stuck in the ON position and you don’t know where the OFF valve is…you don’t have the luxury of waiting until your friend’s handy husband can squeeze you in to fix the lock on your patio door. You need things like these fixed….now.

So if you need a job done and you're busy (and if you're not busy... well, look at you nailing the whole life balance thing. Kudos) and need a handy hand in a jiffy, this company is worth a look.

Here's what they do:

Jiffy instantly connects you with nearby, available professionals in a variety of trades from top ranked companies.

With a few clicks on their website, I was able to locate the service I needed (under gas services) and could view the hourly rate as well as the service minimum cost. I placed a request for a technician on Monday morning and got a call that there was someone available in my area who could be on site within the hour. My job request was accepted, filled, and underway that same afternoon. #instantgratification 

Rick the service guy arrived promptly. He was polite and efficient. I wasn't nervous to open the door (I generally don't let in strangers) because contractors are vetted ahead of time. This is reassuring for the vast majority of Jiffy clientele who are stay/work at home moms trying to get ‘er done during the 9-5.

Rick removed a decade's worth of nasty spider webs and crud from the fireplace and cleaned the glass on the door to a shine.

He quickly determined why the fire wasn't staying lit—the igniting panel or whatever the thingy is that lights the pilot light was corroded. He showed me where the sad little flame was struggling to rise up amid the rusty bits of metal. He searched the database for the part and emailed me a quote within an hour.

So like our cavepeople ancestors before us, we have succeeded in our quest for fire! The entire process was quick and easy. I didn't have to lift a finger.

So pick a job and get 'er done! It feels great.

If you give Jiffy a try from now until November 30th, 2015, first time users get $50 off their first service call. Simply enter the promo code TRYJIFFY during checkout.

Disclaimer: I received a free service trial to facilitate writing this review.

November 4, 2015

Operation Christmas Child—A Hands-On Lesson About Charity

operation christmas child

Some people are born with an innately charitable heart. But I know that others have to work it at.

To be fair, things happen along the way to mold us into the adults we become. Sometimes the 'things' aren't so good, and sometimes lessons are missed or never taught.

I'm certain that one of the contributing factors in how we ultimately view the concept of charity comes from the example set by adults during our formative years.

It's one thing to tell your kids to be kind. It's another to show them what it looks like.

I want my kids to be the "I've got your back" breed of humans, so we talk about a lot about what it means to be kind—why it's important, what you can do, how it makes you feel. We also physically participate in acts of kindness and giving (to both humans and animals) in lots of ways throughout the year.

The other day, on the heels of talking with my daughter about kindness (she nodded in understanding, confirming to me that she got it and that I obviously nailed this lesson in compassion) she looked at me and said, "It would be kiiiiiiiiiiind (said with exaggerated enunciation) for you to make a snack and play Barbie with me right now."

Sigh. So, we’re not quite there yet.

This year we are participating in Operation Christmas Child. It's a very simple way to teach kids about charity/sharing/giving/kindness/empathy—all the good things—by packing shoeboxes with gifts for children in need.

A good and visual way to introduce your kids to this concept is by showing them this video:

And then watch this one so they can see kids on the other side of the world actually opening the boxes…it’s quite emotional.

Then get started!

(Yes, this initiative is spearheaded by a Christian organization. No, the Thornburys are not Christian. However, the core values here are the same, so that works for me.)

Here's how to pack your shoebox: 

charity gift boxes

1. Select a box. A plastic shoebox with a lid is ideal so kids can reuse them.

2. Decide if your box will be for a boy or a girl and choose an age category (2-4, 5-9, 10-14). My kids chose recipients who were the same gender and age range as themselves. You can print these labels here.

3. Fill your box with hygiene items, school supplies, toys, books, etc. *Note: Candy, including gum is no longer permitted due to customs regulations. (We noticed this restriction after we packed our boxes but removed the gum and Smarties before delivery).
You can shop anywhere. Yes, even at the Dollar Store. But if you do, please don't buy garbage. Nobody wants the gift of crappy toys. We found a few quality items at the Dollar Store, but we also shopped at our Superstore, Winners, and Costco.

shopping for charity

How much to spend is up to you but to give you an idea, we were able to pack each box for about $25-$30 each.

You can also pack your box online instead. But for us, physically going through the steps made the process more relatable.

4. Have your child write a personal note to include with a photo in the box.

5. Make your $7 per box donation to help cover project costs--including shipping. You can make your donation online or place your cheque or cash donation in an envelope inside your shoebox, on top of the items.


6. Drop your shoeboxes off at specific “Collection Centers” during National Collection week November 16-21. Collection Centre locations can be found online HERE.

For more information about Operation Christmas Child visit: – this link has lots of info including HOW to pack a box, WHY to pack a box and WHERE to deliver it by the collection deadline.

You can also join the conversation online—

Twitter: @OCC_Canada
Instagram:  occ_canada
Facebook: Operation Christmas Child Canada
Hashtag: #OperationChristmasChild and #OCCshoeboxes 

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you by Operation Christmas Child, but the images and opinions are my own. For more information, please visit