Six hundred and fifty-three

Happy New Year!

Instant Infant

I can’t believe it’s 2013 already.  Is that a cliche thing to say?  I hope everyone had a fantastic holidays either celebrating Christmas, or just enjoying the break.  I spent a lot of my holidays talking about how much my mother wants me to have babies and whether I would consider having one on my own through insemination.  Yes, she really is that desperate to have grand babies.  I laughed at her and told her that she’ll just have to deal with whatever it is I choose, and NO, I am not getting artificially inseminated so I can raise a child by myself just for her!  I’m pretty sure my boyfriend would have a problem with this as well.  My aunt got me the “Instant Infant” you see above, so I kept joking that I’m now off the hook and mom should bug my brother and his girlfriend instead.  She was not impressed.

Christmas at the Schwietz household is a busy time of year, with all my aunts, uncles and cousins.  One year I think we had over thirty people for dinner.  This year dad organized a scavenger hunt around their big yard, which included a couple of “shot” stops, a beer, wine and cheese barn party, and scratching a lottery ticket in which I won $20 from!  We have so much fun, but it is a lot of work and energy that left me with a bit of an excitement hangover (literally and emotionally – probably letting my brother mix me a nightcap shot was not the best idea I’ve ever had…).  After the highs of the holidays, it’s easy to feel a little low, but grateful for my family and everything we have.

I don’t really do new year’s resolutions, because I figure we should be doing things we find challenging and living our life in the best way we can all the time, but I do plan to continue to do yoga and eat healthy.  My recuperating from my ups and downs was definitely helped by a little downward dog and cooking a yummy turkey soup.  And then of course my writing and a bit of painting I did with the new paints and easel I got for Christmas from my wonderful man.

I’m not really sure of my point for today’s post, if only to wish everyone a wonderful year.  I am grateful for every day I have and every thing in my life – the challenges and the triumphs.  Now I just have to get this book published so I can really celebrate 2013!

I’ve been on a bit of a photography kick recently, so here are a few I took over the holidays.  I hope you like them.

Bird house

Baby's First Christmas

Yes, this was mine from when I was a baby!

Camel on tree

Christmas Eve Cosmo

Christmas Eve Cosmo

Fireplace Angel family

Three hundred and sixty-five

A big thank you to my supporters

This is a MAJOR thank you to all my supporters out there over the past year.  I really couldn’t have done it without you.  Whether you are people I know – friends, family, co-workers, or friends of friends of friends.  Or you’re people I’ve never met who’ve found the blog somehow and are entertained by it.

Each of you have a role in the success of this past year.  Some of you have helped out – held a camera, took me to a pottery class, forced me to practice stand-up comedy (this is still going to happen – I promise), went on a date with me, ate weird food, held me up on an escalator when I was too tired to keep my eyes open.  Some of you have been put into the blog without you knowing ahead of time and have laughed about it.  Some of you have commented, or in some cases debated, to add more depth to the topic of the day.  Some of you I’ve been hurt by and some I have hurt (and I’m deeply sorry to those people).  Some have made me smile and feel so loved.  Some of you have followed along my journey and each “view” that I see on my blog encourages me even more.

My mother will probably kill me for this photo, but as she’s on holiday right now, I won’t hear it right away.  This is the look she gives me when she ends up in the blog – again.  Probably the same look the Jackass** parents give their kids when they involve them in a prank!  Love you, mom!

** I talked about falling down the rabbit hole of research the other day and here’s a perfect example.  While looking up Jackass online I came across this:

A Montana man named Jack Ass has sued MTV’s parent company, accusing the music channel of “plagiarizing” and “defaming” his good name in connection with the show “Jackass.”

The 44-year-old Ass, who legally changed his name from Bob Craft in 1997, is seeking at least $10 million from Viacom, which Ass contends is “liable for injury to a reputation I have built and defamation of character I have created.” (thesmokinggun.com)

There are some interesting people in our world.  (Apparently he changed his name to raise awareness for drunk driving, after his brother and friend were killed in a vehicle accident. )

Tomorrow is my last post of the project, but don’t fear, I will still be updating the blog at least once weekly, plus you’ll have the book to look forward to!

Two hundred and seventy-eight

Tea parties, Paddington Bear and tree ornament crafts!

Is doing something you love and get as much out of as the receiver considered a good deed?  Are you doing it for yourself or for them?  Does it matter?

I’ve had many a debate with an on-again, off-again friend of mine about whether it can be both something you do to help someone else (doing it for them) and something that makes you happy (so doing it for yourself as well).  He argues that people only do things for their own benefit and that we are an inherently selfish species.  I argue the opposite.  Probably why he’s an “on-again, off-again” friend  – who really wants someone around who every time you think they are doing something nice, you find out quickly it’s because they want something from you?  (This is a huge debate that I will delve into a lot more over this month…)

My cousin Josie is 5 years old.  She goes to junior kindergarten and is so smart and fun and I love to play games and do crafts with her.  While visiting my family in Ohio, Josie and I had tea parties, crafted fantastic Christmas tree ornaments to give everyone, and made “beurre d’arachide au chocolat” (peanut butter chocolate cups – she loves French things).  We read Ivy + Bean chapter books with Auntie Lulu and mom and dad, drew portraits of each other to put on our fridges, and played dress-up with Hannah Montana wigs and Glinda the Good Witch gowns.  We laughed and ran around until we were exhausted.  We had so much fun.

This is where the debate comes in.  Was this a good deed?  I’m sure every parent loves to have someone around to have fun with their child.  But I had fun too.  And I wanted to do all of those things.  Who wouldn’t want to wear a blond wig while sipping “tea” (water) out of miniature pink teacups sitting next to Paddington Bear?

I’d rather think of it more as a mutually beneficial deed, where all involved got something out of it, but we all helped each other as well.  Good deeds all around.

Note to my Uncle Jim and Aunt Colleen: Sorry I didn’t get a chance to come over and clean your house as my good deed.  I was too busy having fun with Josie!

Two hundred and seventy-seven

Helping family

Sometimes the simplest things are the best good deeds.  Especially when it comes to family.  Everyone could use a little help around the house.  Taking out the garbage if it is full.  Washing dishes.  Helping around the house.

I am visiting my family in Ohio, staying with my aunt Jen, uncle Jerry and my five-year old cousin Josie.  They are so lovely to have us stay with them.  The least I can do is help them out when I can.  While my aunt was out I secretly folded the laundry that was just out of the dryer.  I’ve done some other secret things, but they read this blog so I’m not going to give it away and take away the value of the good deeds!

And I don’t want people to think I’m just doing this because of the blog.  I would do it anyways.  I love making my aunt and uncle’s life easier.

Sorry, this is a short post as we’re off to see Happy Feet 2 at the cinema, then to Grandpa’s for dinner!  Great day!

Two hundred and fifty-six

Remembrance Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

Today we remember all those who fought for their country and served during wartime.  We honour their courage and sacrifice.  At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year two minutes of silence is held, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I hostilities between Germany and the Allies in 1918.

There are many events happening throughout the Commonwealth countries to commemorate the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.  In the United States the day is referred to as Veteran’s Day and in France and Belgium it is Armistice Day.  See here for some events happening in the Toronto area.

Both of my grandfathers served their country, one Canadian and one American, and every November 11th I think about the sacrifices they made for their children, their grandchildren and all the future generations.  My boppa, who I visited his grave for All Soul’s Day, would never talk about the war.  It was too much for him to speak out loud.  I thank them for what they did, as well as all other men and women who have served for us.

Whether you believe in the need for war or not, do not forget.

Recap of Forget Me Not Day

Funny how “forget me not” comes right before “remembrance” day.  The importance of not forgetting those important around us in a small scale, to remembering those who allowed us to be able to have the freedom to keep those important people in our lives in a large scale.

Yesterday I called a woman who helped raise me, who played a part in who I am now, who I am grateful to still have in my life.  Mary was my babysitter/nanny from when I was a newborn until I was old enough not to need a caregiver anymore.  My mom worked shifts and my dad worked 9-5, so when we were old enough to go to school and get home on our own, Mary would be at our house to keep us company after school until my dad got home.  In those two hours we made crafts, she helped us with our homework, we played games and chatted about what was going on in our lives.  She is family to me, even though we are not blood related.

Mary is now in her 80s and is having a hard time.  She was sick with pneumonia twice this summer, had an infection on her hand and her toe, her sight is deteriorating, she’s had multiple knee operations.  She is strong, though, and still lives alone in an apartment, walks to the grocery store to do her own shopping, cooks her own meals.  She is an inspiration to me.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made enough of an effort this past summer to see her.  I can list off excuses, but none are good enough.  Today I called her and we chatted about life.  I’m going to go visit her next week, as well as my Nana (who is always giving me guilt trips about not seeing her enough – she reads my blog and I’m going to get in trouble for writing that…).

Sometimes we need a little nudge to connect with those people who we don’t see every day, but are dear to our heart.