3rd Crain-iversary

August 7th is the third anniversary of  my brain surgery. On August 7th 2015 I had a crainiotomy to remove a meningioma tumour. I blogged all about my brainy experiences pre and post surgery, and if you are interested in the gory details they are all there in the BRAIN TUMOUR tab at the top of every page.

The meningioma that I called Timmy lived in the cerebellum region of my brain which is the part of the brain that coordinates muscular activity. Pre-surgery I had some issues with dizziness, headaches and was advised to limit my activities to those that would not increase my blood pressure.

To celebrate three years of being brain tumour free we went rock climbing, simply because we can. We all gave it a try, and some of us were more successful than others. I don’t think that I will be quitting my day job to become a rock climber, but it was fun to try.

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Christmas Crafts – Day 11

It’s the 12th day of Christmas today, or maybe even day 13 but if you are like me then perhaps you have lost track of the days.

My oldest saw kids making these at school this week and decided that he wanted to make one too. I know it’s hard to believe but I had all of the materials on hand. This was his first sewing project so I am a pretty proud mom. I’m impressed my 8 year old would initiate this on his own, and follow through to completion. Perhaps crafting is genetic?

• On the first day of Christmas my true loves made for me, an Ornament Wreath.

• On the second day of Christmas my true loves made with me, Hot Chocolate Mugs.

• On the third day of Christmas my true love made for me, Plum Wine.

• On the fourth day of Christmas my mom made for me, A Nativity Scene.

• On the fifth day of Christmas a random stranger made for me, Cotton Candy Chemo Cap.

• On the sixth day of Christmas my true loves made for me, Spontaneous Snowmen

• On the seventh day of Christmas my true love made for me, Tiny Knit Scarf Ornaments

• On the eighth day of Christmas my little loves made for me, Reindeer Balls.

• On the ninth day of Christmas my little loves made with me, Dentist approved cookies.

• On the tenth day of Christmas my true love made for me, Beyblade gloves.

• On the eleventh day of Christmas my love made…

A Sewn Stocking.

 

Christmas Crafts -Day 9

The kids and I usually make a gingerbread house from a kit around Christmas. The goal isn’t about the baking, it’s about the decorating and spending time together creating something.

This year my son mentioned seeing a train gingerbread kit that he would like to make. So I went to the store he thought he saw it in and there was none to be found. I then asked my husband to pick a gingerbread house kit up at the grocery store but he decided not to get one because in his words “we usually end up throwing most of it away anyway”. I do agree but as I mentioned it’s not about the gingerbread, it’s about the time spent together.

Now it’s 2 days before Christmas and after going to 4 stores in search of a gingerbread house or train, or anything gingerbread like we ended up with a cookie decorating kit.

The cookies are hard as rocks because I ate one, just to test it out. Let’s hope none of us have a dental emergency in the next week as a result.

  • On the first day of Christmas my true loves made for me, an Ornament Wreath.
  • On the second day of Christmas my true loves made with me, Hot Chocolate Mugs.
  • On the third day of Christmas my true love made for me, Plum Wine.
  • On the fourth day of Christmas my mom made for me, A Nativity Scene.
  • On the fifth day of Christmas a random stranger made for me, Cotton Candy Chemo Cap.
  • On the sixth day of Christmas my true loves made for me, Spontaneous Snowmen
  • On the seventh day of Christmas my true love made for me, Tiny Knit Scarf Ornaments
  • On the eighth day of Christmas my little loves made for me, Reindeer Balls.
  • On the ninth day of Christmas my little loves made with me….

Dentist Approved Cookies.

If you want to make these too, good luck! Hopefully you find a kit in fewer than four stores.

Christmas Crafts – Day 6

I was making a craft today when my five year old asked if he could have a clear ornament ball which I was planning on using for my project.

He was very excited, and told me he was going to make the ball into a snowman with eyes, a smile and buttons. And he was going to sign his name. He got out the permanent markers and got to work.

When he was finished I suggested that we fill it with snow which like all the other materials, I had on hand. He was sceptical. I got out a jar of snow and got to work filling it up. He proceeded to show my other son and husband his masterpiece, which prompted the making of a second snowman.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true loves made…..

Spontaneous Snowmen.

Want to make your own snowmen? You will need clear plastic ornament balls, permanent markers, ribbon and powdered snow.

Start by drawing a snowman face on the ornament with permanent markers. Remove the hanger, fill with powdered snow and reconnect the hanger. Tie ribbon to hang.

So easy a five year old could design and execute it on his own.

Christmas Crafts – Day 2

At Halloween we took the kids to a local craft shop to make Halloween bowls. While we were there the kids saw posters for holiday mugs, and they decided that this “crafting thing” was going to be something that we did as a family. The question wasn’t can we make Christmas mugs, it was when are we going to make Christmas mugs. I can’t turn down a request to craft so I booked us into a family workshop on a Sunday afternoon much to the disappointment of my football loving husband.

My youngest got right into it, and attempted to make most of the mug on his own. He did however forget to sign his mug, which became an issue when it was time find it for glazing.  My oldest decided that he liked the frosty mug on the poster for another workshop better, so he made a snowman mug from the image on the poster. Huge bonus points to him for crafting out of the box without a demo.

On the first day of Christmas my true love made for me…an ornament wreath.

On the second day of Christmas my true loves made with me…mugs!

What to make mugs yourself? Check out local crafting shops, studios or art workshops. All the fun without the mess at home.

Cuddle + Kind

If you have signed up for any retail emails you have probably been bombarded in the last few days. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, 50% off, buy one get one free, free shipping… I can hardly keep up. There have been so many emails lately about buying stuff, piles and piles of stuff. Stuff that doesn’t do much for anyone except maybe the buyer, and even then, it’s questionable.

I will admit that I joined in the Black Friday madness, and fought my way through the throngs of people with piles of bags on my arms. When I got home I began questioning my purchases because I bought so much and I didn’t really need any of it. Not one thing….well maybe I can quantify the vacuum. I am a sucker for a good deal.

Had I bought a pile of Cuddle + Kind dolls I would not be racing back to the mall making returns right now. Do you want to purchase a product that has a positive impact on the lives of others? Me too! Join me in supporting Cuddle + Kind on giving Tuesday, and every other day. Cuddle + Kind ethically produces hand-knit dolls that feed children. When you purchase a Cuddle + Kind doll, or poster you are also giving meals for children in need. How cool is that?

Cuddle + Kind produces 21 hand-knit dolls made of natural, premium cotton by artisans in Peru. They are ethically produced through fair trade employment. Every doll gives 10 meals to children in need, 1 doll = 10 meals. Cuddle + Kind has donated 1,527,878 meals in just two years!

 

 

Oliver the bear recently came to live in our “wild” house. With our wild boys. I hope he can keep up with the pace. I have one son reading him “The Very Cranky Bear” and the other teaching him how to growl. As Oliver would say “Stay wild at heart”.

I am often asked to promote products, and occasionally I say yes.  When I do say yes it’s because the products are in line with my own values and I believe in the companies that I support. Oliver the Bear came to live in our wild house courtesy of Cuddle + Kind, as did his inspirational poster. But the opinions are 100% mine.

Family Crafting

Wow, that was quite the crafting/blogging break. It has been 3 months since I last posted, perhaps that suits my two readers just fine (thanks mom).

We have been crafting as a family. All four of us. I signed us up for a Halloween focused clay workshop not really sure of what might happen. My youngest is 5 and not so big into the crafts. My eight year old has crafting in his blood. My husband has a surprising knack for making things even though he would NEVER let you know.

This was a two stage class. In the first class we made clay bowls, which were then fired. We went back on a second day to glaze them. From the pictures it looks like we are the perfect little crafting family, but pictures can be deceiving. In reality my youngest son’s bowl was made primarily by his parents. When we went to the glazing workshop I squeezed/explode a bottle of blue glaze all over the table. And my little picasso dropped a brush full of glaze into my purse and onto my sweater. But surprisingly there weren’t any tears, so I consider the project a success.

Canada 150

Canada is having a big birthday tomorrow! 150 years young.

We celebrate Canada Day every year but this is a special year so I made special shirts. I could have bought Canada shirts but where is the fun in that? Historically we have made flag hand print shirts which I love, but this year called for something extra special.

We live in a great country so get out and celebrate on July 1st.  Happy Canada Day!

So what’s next?

Over the past two and a half years when I was asked “what do you do” (for work)? I answered, I am working on my Masters, which usually sparked a discussion about education. But it usually ended with “What are you going to do with that degree, or what kind of work are you looking for when you are finished?” This answer changed depending on my mood, how close I was to completion, and whether it was before or after my brain tumour situation.

Before I can answer what’s next, it might be important to understand why I went back to school in the first place.

When we moved to Victoria a city devoid of furniture manufacturing for my husband’s job I quickly realized that my diploma in furniture design wasn’t going to get me very far. I created a job for myself as a business consultant for a furniture dealer, and was later headhunted for a job in Vancouver. The company in Vancouver had a great education program, and I creatively earned a Bachelor of Design degree at night in hotel rooms.

Wow, I just realized how bad that sounds.

The creative part is that I could take all the certificates, diplomas and work experience I had, compile it all together and devise a plan to complete the academic requirements for a B.Des through Thompson River’s University. The hotel room resulted from a job which required weekly travel, and at night in hotel rooms I fervently worked away on course work.

Four years and one child later I graduated with a Bachelor of Design days before the birth of my second son. 

Knowing that a Bachelor of Design wasn’t going to change my situation much, a year and a half after my second son was born I applied to graduate school with the intention of completing a Masters of Business Administration, on a part-time (at night in a hotel room) basis. The universe had different plans for me and I ended up starting the September semester as a full-time student.

I rationalized the financial investment of an MBA by calculating the cost of childcare for the kids for the next three years and quickly realized that it was CHEAPER to get a MBA than it was to pay for care for my kids while I worked. That was a bit of an eye opener. I realize that there are lost opportunity costs, and other financial factors to consider but the decision to invest 40K in myself was easy to justify when I looked at the alternative of paying someone the same amount to change diapers. Plus, because it was an online program I could stay home with my kids. So, reason number two was to be more present for my kids.

The third reason was simply to see if I could do it. I have never been very good at math. Or at least that was my perception, being married to an Aerospace Engineer doesn’t do much for my math confidence. As it turns out my math skills are fine, or at least good enough to complete a MBA.

As I mentioned my husband is an Aerospace Engineer, and I am a furniture designer. It’s quite the combination, but not exactly a good combination if we are both wanting to be employed in the same city. Our careers, education and experiences are industry specific, and to broaden my career options I thought an MBA would open more doors. We have always had competing careers and something had to give, and that something was me.

For many reasons, I made the decision to pursue a MBA. But the question of what are you going to do after you graduate kept coming up repeatedly. So, what am I going to do next…

When I started the program 2.5 years ago, I was going to take over the world. Maybe not the world but certainly I intended to fully utilize the investment I was making in myself. But then I was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and that changed everything. What was once important quickly became trivial. The quest for money and a career with power died and was replaced with a need for wealth.

Wealth in the form of time. Time to do what I enjoy. Time with my family. Time to travel. Time to live. You might think that you need to have lots of money to be wealthy, I disagree. Quoting from Wikipedia is a major faux pas in academic studies which is why it gives me great pleasure to do it here.

“Wealth has been defined as a collection of things limited in supply, transferable, and useful in satisfying human desires. Scarcity is a fundamental factor for wealth. When a desirable or valuable commodity (transferable good or skill) is abundantly available to everyone, the owner of the commodity will possess no potential for wealth. When a valuable or desirable commodity is in scarce supply, the owner of the commodity will possess great potential for wealth.”

Time is a scarce resource, and even though my brain tumour situation worked out in my favour it is a constant reminder that time is limited. When deciding what to do after I completed the MBA program, I thought a lot about what is important to me. 

My life works better when I am home, at least part of the time. I have worked full-time with kids in daycare, worked from home, traveled for work weekly, taken full year long maternity leaves, been a part-time student, and been a full-time student. I have tried it all. Some options were more successful than others, and keeping this in mind I knew that I wanted a job that gave me some flexibility with my time.

As it happened, I was contacted out of the blue in February through my LinkedIn profile. I got a message saying that there was an opportunity would I like to come in and discuss it. Never one to turn down an opportunity I took the meeting. When I was asked, what am I looking for in a position once I am finished my MBA I explained that the most important thing to me was time. Ideally, I was looking for a part-time position where I would work school hours allowing me to drop my kids at school, go to work and pick them up at the end of their day. Surprisingly they said yes. Mid March I signed a contract and I start Tuesday.

What am I doing? If you have read my about page, then you might know that it has always been a dream of mine to be an Interior Designer. I have in various capacities worked in Interior Design but never in a 100% dedicated role. I am super excited that everything aligned and I can do something I love and still do what works best for my family.

Do I need a MBA for this role? No, probably not. Will I use what I learned? Everyday. Reflecting on the last 2.5 years the academic education wasn’t the important part, what I learned in the process of learning is the gold.

MBA=40K, what I learned in the process=priceless.

sparkler
Celebrating my brain

Celebrating my Women on International Women’s day

I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong women my whole life. Women who believe that they are equal and can do anything.

When I was a kid in the 80’s I visited my Nana at work regularly, I remember that she had her own office and an assistant. She was the administrator of an long-term care facility, she cared for the sick and the dying. She also taught at a local university. This was my normal.

My Great-Aunt was an entrepreneur, she and my Uncle started a successful Interior Design company in Toronto. There was no denying that she was the boss (of everyone). This was my normal.

My mom stayed at home with four kids when I was young. With two kids of my own I now think that this is the hardest job ever. When my dad got laid off he stayed home, and my mom went to work. My dad braided our hair, and gave us face lift pony tails. My parents were equals, there were no male female roles. When we were deemed old enough my mom started her own business, and later worked as an Executive Director in a creative field. This was my normal.

When I chose to pursue an education involving power tools and welding, one of the women in my family footed the bill for four years of post secondary education, no questions asked. When I started a job that required time away from my kids my mom said that this would be the best thing for my kids and she was right. From a young age my kids have learned that mom and dad are interchangeable. Dad can do everything that mom can do, and mom can do everything that dad can do. Equality starts at home.

On International Women’s Day I celebrate all the women who have come before me, and who have persevered through inequality. It is because of you that I think that anything is possible, and that I am equal. #beboldforchange