Entertainment

Lynda Carter channels Wonder Woman at Met Gala

 

 

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Lynda Carter (image via Twitter – Lynda Carter)

 

Does this woman ever age? Talk about a wonder woman! I had the opportunity to write about her appearance at the Met Gala.  You can read my opinion of her interpretation of Met Gala 2018: “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

http://us.blastingnews.com/showbiz-tv/2018/05/lynda-carter-channels-wonder-woman-at-met-gala-002562855.html

 

 

 

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Self-Image

An Open Letter to My Daughters…

As your mother, I worry.

I grew up in a much different world than you will, one that allowed privacy and encouraged imagination.

You will be inundated by overstimulation, and at times, intruding transparency.

My childhood was riddled with wardrobe faux pas and cosmetic malfunctions, that thankfully never saw the light of day.  You, on the other hand, will have access to editing and filters that will disillusion your self-image and derange your definition of beauty.

And as your mother, I worry.

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When I was growing up, I didn’t know what people thought about me unless they said it to my face.

You are being raised in a society that defines likability with social analytics and the sentiments of online trolls who find courage behind a digital curtain.

And as your mother, I worry.

Underneath the high expectations of a digital world I want you to be able to see the truth through all the facades.

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I loved you before I knew the color of your hair or the length of your eyelashes.

I was rooting for you before you took your first step.

I have respected you since you uttered your first “No”.

Remember this, because this is what unconditional love is.  There were no filters that made me feel this way about you.  No price, no limitation.

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Long before #metoo – daughters were conditioned to accept less, inundated with belittling mantras like “boys who call you names, do it because they like you.”

Find the ones that don’t use demeaning tactics to gain your affection.

Please don’t accept less.

For now, you reside under my protective wing.  I have control over the direction of your life, but it won’t be long and this season will pass.

I will have to let you go.

And as your Mother, I will worry.

So, remember this –  strong women have brave ideas and purpose is not fulfilled while hiding behind filters.

You are not the words that others use to define you.

When you can, break the mold.

Seek unconditional love and create a life that makes you want to pinch yourself because this is what dreams are made of.

And as your mother, I will try not to worry…

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Life

Happy Heavenly Father’s Day

I wrote this twenty-four hours after hearing the news that my father had suffered a fatal heart attack in his sleep…8 days before his Fiftieth birthday.  This goes out to all the fatherless daughters on Father’s Day…

There once lived a boy with hair the color of autumn leaves and eyes that could look through even the deepest of souls.  He was a good boy but knew where to find trouble if the need arose.  He was a dreamer of dreams and lover of all living things.  A child amongst 6 others, he learned to stand out from the crowd, never accepting anything less than the lime-light.

At a tender age this little boy quickly became a man and even a father.  Always determined to find his place in this world his dreams lead the way, his optimistic outlook never allowing him to become discouraged by the fear of failure.  His belief in fate and the power of goodwill carried him through a life of unending spirit, fearlessness and spontaneity.  Living every day as if it were his last, he was as strong as the name his mother gave him.  Some knew him as brother, son, friend, cousin or companion, I knew is as father.

 

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James was a man like no other.  I was the little girl who knew her father could do anything, fix anything and mend all wounds.   He was my parent, my teacher and at time, even my friend.  He taught me to trust that the world knew what was mine and to take it when it presented itself, to forgive those who did not support my dreams and to embrace the future and its endless possibilities.  There was no such thing as “I can’t” and high expectations would only lead to disappointment.

As I grew older I realized that he couldn’t fix all things, he couldn’t solve every problem for he was just a man, human and weak when the time deserved.  It was then that I saw the true being that he was.  The purest of souls, one of the most beautiful people I will ever live to know.  I watched him face death and laughed in its ugly face.  He said, “catch me if you can but I’ll continue to enjoy the view while I’m here”.

His fearlessness, even while facing the last of his days, will both encourage and haunt me for the rest of my life.  In those final moments he still fought tooth and nail for his dreams – only now realizing that all along the dream was just to live.  Even knowing today quite possibly was his last he still woke with a smile of optimism and sang a song of sweet tomorrows.

It was during these times that I knew I did indeed have the strongest dad in the world.

Daddy – if you can hear me.  I want you to know that I am so grateful for every moment we had together. I will cherish for eternity every phone call, every joke you told, every tear you wiped, every bit of advice you gave and even every disagreement we shared; for we shared them together.  My devastation from your loss with follow me to my own demise at which time I will be comforted in the hope that you are there waiting to once again take my hand. God keep you safe, I love you with all of my broken heart.

Happy Father’s Day “James R Kowboy“…until we meet again.

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Life

Coping on Mother’s Day: An inspiring story

Here is my story: originally posted at https://www.trybellemag.com/she-deserves-to-be-remembered/

Mother’s Day isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s not always about bouquets, beautiful brunches or breakfast in bed.

If you have a living mother and living children it’s a blessing. If you have already said goodbye to a loving mother, have suffered through infertility, the loss of a child or perhaps you have a strained relationship with your mother – or any other permutation of heartache – it is just a reminder of the imperfect world you call home.

My story has an assortment of ups and downs, I was born to a teenage mother who during her own childhood suffered from emotional and physical neglect so debilitating that her adolescence became an obsession to feel unconditional love.  This led to finding herself alone with three children under the age of three, in her early twenties.  Unable to provide the necessities of life she faced the most unthinkable decision, continue living in poverty or admit defeat.  In a moment of weakness – a move that must have taken tremendous strength – she sought help from what was then called The Children’s Aid and succumbed to the pressure  to give up her two youngest children, my siblings, to a family she believed could give them a stable home.

At the time, I was 3 years old.

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My mother told me that on the day my siblings left I consoled her by saying, “Don’t worry Mommy, I’ll find them”.

Seventeen years later, I did.

We all lived happily ever after.

Anyone who has lived through the roller coaster of an adoption reunion knows happy endings are for fairy tales.  My mother lives with guilt, my siblings live with resentment.

Mother’s day for both parties is salt in the wound.

As far back as I can remember I did not want children.  The way I saw it, I was already way too emotional and having an extension of myself to worry endlessly about seemed too large a burden to bear.  Besides that, having another me in the world was just too risky – one was surely enough.

Flash forward to the Spring of 2004, a surprise pregnancy had taken my marriage in a new direction.  Morning sickness had me so ill I barely kept down water for months, but somehow I had fallen head-over-heels in love with the idea of becoming a mother.  She had me at the first “flutter” – the first kick sealed the deal.  I would sing to her in the car and my husband would read to my belly at night.

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We were smitten.

At twenty-four weeks my water broke.

Twenty-four hours later she was gone.

In the middle of the night we baptized our baby while memorizing her tiny features. Before the sun came up that morning we said goodbye to our tiny angel.

I left that hospital empty, my arms ached and my heart was destroyed.

Mother’s Day became my nemesis.

It would take two Mother’s days, four more losses and seven months of bed-rest before I finally filled the ache of empty arms with the birth of my eldest daughter.

I would go on to suffer two more losses before my second child bravely entered the world.  Today, three determined children call me Mom – among other things I’m sure.

The Birth of my stillborn child

Mother’s Day is now my reluctant friend.

Once again I am able to digest the second Sunday in May , it isn’t just a reminder of our losses.  I have slipped back into joining the masses of dutiful offspring who profess their affection to their own mothers, at the same time enjoying the handmade gifts of my three miracles.

But I don’t forget what it took to get me here.

If I’m being honest, it bothers me that many have.  It troubles me that I stand alone at her premature grave, not just on Mother’s Day but also on the anniversary of her birth.

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Her life deserves to be remembered.

 Mothering isn’t limited to our children being within our reach.

Today I feel for the mothers like my own who continue to suffer for the selfless decisions they made.

I feel for the mothers whose arms continue to ache.

I feel for the children who stand at graves waiting for a sign that she’s still here, silently watching over.

My Grandmother used to say, We all have a cross to bear.

So whatever your story entails, Happy Mother’s Day.

She deserves to be remembered.

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Home Improvement

Ten Spring Cleaning Tools You Can’t Live Without.

I don’t know about you but I’ve spent the last few months in full on hibernation mode. I know, I know it’s been one of the warmest winters on record – yada, yada –  but let’s face it even intermittent arctic conditions can get you down. All the yo-yo weather patterns remind me of my diet – or lack thereof – combine this with the inability to get outdoors on a daily basis and you’ve got a good old-fashioned recipe for cabin fever.

Spring is upon us and depending on which groundhog you listen to it’s here to stay. Once the calendar leads us past March 20 I instantly become an enthusiastic passenger of the equinox driven bandwagon. I L-O-V-E Spring (my old cheerleading days just came back to haunt me). Springtime is defined by rejuvenation and inspiration. I love that we live in a climate with such distinct seasons because I find my passions and personal goals change with them and sometimes change it good.

I look at Spring as a clean slate full of opportunity and brighter days to come. 

Unfortunately, I’m also here to remind you that it’s not all good news, here comes the ‘but’, with the rising temperatures comes a whole lot of extra work. The melting snow exposes months of displaced garbage, leftover leaves, abandoned excrement and other unwholesome surprises. The additional hours of daylight shine a light on months of negligence, forcing us out of our vitamin D deficient stupors and into a Spring cleaning frenzy.

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Fear not fellow quarterly cleaners I’ve got your back!  Let’s embark on a journey, fearless of the abandoned gems frozen in time on our front lawns.

Since I’ve done most of the prep work for you you’ll be doing cartwheels on landmine-free pastures in no time.

One can’t embark on a cleaning expedition without the right accessories so here are some important tools of the spring-cleaning trade:

  • Oxygen Bleach – environmentally safe, non-toxic. Uses include everything from stain remover, brightening whites, household cleaning, litterbox sanitizer to deck washing.
  • Label Maker – warning: can be addictive. Label everything from gadget chargers to linen closet shelving to pantry items.  The labeling options are endless and there are online support groups to prove it.
  • Vinegar – not just for fries anymore (again with the horrible diet choices) mix one part vinegar with one part water (I also like to add an essential oil) and you have yourself a safe, nontoxic mixture. From removing stickers to eliminating odors to cleaning windows (the jury is still out on hardwood floors) this is your all-purpose go-to.
  • Baking Soda – we couldn’t mention vinegar without giving a shout-out to Baking Soda. Mix it with water to form a paste for a scratch-free cleaner or sprinkle in your tub or washing machine to control odor.
  • Goo Gone – I don’t know how I survived without this one. If you’ve ever purchased a mirror and practically destroyed it trying to get the price sticker off you’re about to thank me.  This little miracle worker also removes gum, crayon and grease from almost any material.  You’re welcome.
  • Dyson Vacuum Cleaner – get one! Don’t even question it, “Do it” (now imagine that being said in my best Ben Stiller from Starksy and Hutch voice).
  • Microfiber Slim Duster – Cleans under appliances and other hard to reach spaces. After the embarrassment of how much dust this genius idea collected wears off throw it in the washing machine to hide the evidence, comes out good as new.
  • Grout Refresh – There’s a product called Mapei Grout Refresh that has me really excited (sad but true). It comes in several colors, is easy to apply and acts as a colorant and sealant for tired, dirty looking grout.  #winning
  • Paint – there’s no better way to refresh the look and feel of your home then adding a fresh coat of paint in a trendy color. A general rule of thumb when choosing colors is if it works in nature, it works in décor. So take a walk for some inspiration and allow the blooming shades bring you inspiration.
  • Expert Advice – A clean slate can be daunting so don’t be afraid to visit local nurseries and ask for help. Take some photos of your gardens in their current condition and let their expertise be your guide.  Before you know it you will be relaxing on the deck, drink in hand, smelling the roses.

 

Now that you’re armed and ready to face the next few glorious months of longer days and warmer temperatures don’t forget to also change your furnace filter and your smoke alarm batteries.

So what are you waiting for? Bust open that kitchen window and brace yourself for that first Spring breeze, the rest will just fall into place.

Happy Cleaning!

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Entertainment

Shaking Off the Winter Blues

In the dead of winter, I often find myself struggling for motivation.  We know you feel the same.  February seems to be a popular birthday month and to celebrate life my family and I decided there’s no better way to get over the mid-winter blues than to Shake It Off

 

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Life

What Does a Stay-At-Home Mom Really Do?

When you say you’re a stay-at-home mom people have this image of slippered feet gracefully positioned on the ottoman with toys and dirty diapers strewn around the room.

These misconceptions are not only overwhelming but down right demeaning.   So where do the stereotypes come from and what does a SAHM really do all day?

On any given day a SAHM battles a constant struggle about who she really is versus who she should have been.  Depending  on the day, this can be either motivating or daunting or both at the same time.

Never mind the part of society that looks down on SAHMs as if we spend our days licking the cookie dough off the mixing spoon (note to self: I really need to try living up to these stereotypes).

Staying at home no longer means tending to the children and cleaning the house, there’s a bar that’s been set sky-high and trying to reach such a height can be taxing.   Upgrading education, volunteering several days a week, trying to remain relevant, staying abreast of your children’s schedules, homework and social life all while bearing the burden of every task inside the home means most nights I’ll be found folding laundry at 11pm while simultaneously planning lunches for tomorrow, signing homework and responding to emails.

I know what you’re thinking working moms…Welcome to our world!   All SAHMs want is recognition, it isn’t all bonbons and daytime TV around here either.

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In the US there are over 10 million women-owned businesses (parenting.com).   There is a new level of obligation placed on modern day mothers to not only be there for the drop-offs, pick-ups and bake sales but also to contribute to the family financially.

Most nights I drag myself to bed feeling like I haven’t lived up to my fullest potential.  Telling myself I’ve failed both myself and the façade I’m teaching my children about putting yourself last, because making others happy will make you happy.

I tell myself tomorrow I will work harder to make my family proud, look my best, bring in more money and be the Martha Stewart my creatively challenged home longs for.

No one asks a SAHM if they need a break because they assume their lives are one giant holiday.  The reality is that as a SAHM the finances, itineraries, housework and general happiness of everyone in the family unit comes way before hers.   It sounds like a martyr act but it’s the candid reality that was broadly overlooked in the pregnancy books I blissfully and naively read (note to self: add write a book to the list).

Everywhere you turn there are high expectations!

To have the cleanest house on the block because what else does a SAHM do?

To have the time to work out every day and look the part of a trophy wife while creating clean, healthy meals to satiate every palate in the home.

To agree to every volunteer opportunity at your child’s school because what is more important than your children’s relationship with their education, and really what else does a SAHM do?

What happened to my relationship with sanity? (note to self: great title for a chapter in that book)

*crickets*

I remember when I decided to become a stay-at-home parent.  At the time I had just gone through a handful of heartbreaking losses.  The six months of bed-rest I went through with the one living child I had really gave me a lot of time to think about what mattered to me.

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I loved my job but I had worked too hard to bring this child into the world to let someone else spend 40 hours or more a week with her.

I often overhear working moms referring to SAHMs as lucky or worse yet – lazy.  What they don’t know is that some of us actually don’t need help ridiculing ourselves it’s bad enough living with our own complexes of inferiority.

I have a few friends who are full time working mothers who recently took a leave from work because they are having a hard time balancing everything.  In my mind I’m jealous of them because they have the option of walking away and still have a job waiting for them.

On the other side of the coin, I spent my childhood as a latch-key kid and my children have never had to enter an empty home or attend a field trip without a parent in tow.  To be honest, my kids get a little too much “parent-in-tow” and often want more freedom.

It’s the parental catch 22.

But where’s the happy medium?

I know there are people who have assumed I’m milking the mommy biz and living in the lap of luxury, in reality I’ve never been busier in my life and at the end of the day the only thing I have to show for it is fatigue and sometimes, yes I’ll admit it – regret.

As “just a stay-at-home” mom I feel a need to go above and beyond to prove that I’m valuable.  At the crack of dawn I’m forcing myself out of bed to make hot lunches to send to school and preparing satisfying breakfasts to start a fruitful day for my children.

When a working parent asks me what my day looks like I find myself over-thinking the answer.  If I’m not giving back to society and making a difference in the world I have nothing to contribute to compete with their busy workloads.

Recently, I held a birthday party for one of my kids.  An hour into the party I went to my purse to grab a stick of gum and put on some lipstick.  One of the children observed me and wandered over to remark, “You only do that so you can be better than everybody”.

Of course the actual reality is that I put on make-up and curl my hair for just the opposite reasons.  I certainly don’t force myself out of bed 30 minutes earlier then I need to just to apply my “face” because I see myself as superior.

My oldest daughter later questioned why I didn’t stand up for myself.  The sad reality is that I had nothing clever to retort.  Either way, that presumption has been made by many I’m sure and really isn’t a debate to be had with a six-year-old.

The world tells us we need to be size four to be desirable, that happiness can only be attained while living in a larger home, with newer cars and a cottage to park your yacht.

Our elders tell us to enjoy every moment.

So while I’m trying to look the part of the perfect wife, be on-call for my family on a 24-hour rotation, keep a relevant resume and a perfect home all while trying to find my place in the world, I will also continue to deliver this message to my children (while I still have them as an avid audience): Never stop reaching for success and happiness, even if you don’t think you deserve it. 

Also, under no circumstance should you determine that another woman applied foundation because she is vain. That my dear is called judging a book by its cover and until you’ve read it cover to cover you have no idea what their story entails.

I guess if there’s a moral to this story I would say it’s Don’t judge a  Mama by her lipgloss.

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Health/Beauty

Meditation without a Master…

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A few weeks ago, thanks to the introduction of a New Year, I committed to trying to find an allotted time each day to set aside the ongoing chaos in my head and learn to meditate.

Thanks to Trybelle Magazine you can follow along on this journey.  Follow the link below to get a glimpse of the hilarity that has ensued so far:

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http://www.trybellemag.com/learning-how-to-meditate-without-a-master/

 

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Home Improvement

Giving Discarded Furniture New Life

I have a guilty pleasure.

It’s not half as exciting as it sounds.

I mentioned in an earlier article that I have an addiction to stalking curbsides on garbage day for discarded furniture but I didn’t really share my treasure trove of makeovers.  So indulge me while I share some of my beloved repertoire, in no specific order of course because a mama can’t pick favourites!

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Unfortunately, I don’t always remember to take before and after pictures so the above collage of blood, sweat and tears isn’t totally inclusive, but you get the point.

So let’s say you have a neglected piece that’s been bathing in its own dust in the attic for longer then you’d like to admit or you’re inspired to head out to a local garage sale and find your diamond in the rough.  You’re in luck, I have another guilty pleasure…bossing people around.

So here’s what you need to do:

 

1.     Try not to spend a lot on pieces you want refinish.

I find most of mine on Kijiji (don’t forget to check the free stuff).  My greatest pleasure though is when I find a discarded gem curbside on garbage night.  I will actually “kill two birds with one stone” and go for a run on garbage night.  It’s motivation to go that extra mile, I like to call it speed shopping.

2.     Use caution!

Buying off of sites like Kijjij and Craiglist are usually a great experience but always remember to ask questions and trust your instincts. If your inner voice is telling you to walk, walk away.  I once purchased two used chairs from Kijiji that the owner insisted were in perfect condition.  Trusting the seller I sent my husband to pick them up on my behalf.  What he brought home was in such disrepair they actually ended up on my curb (the horror!!).  I tried going back to the seller to express my disappointment and I even went as far as to report the seller.  Neither action amounted to anything.  So let me have learned two valuable lessons on your behalf; a) always pick up in daylight and thoroughly inspect the item for defects and b) never trust your spouse to be your quality control!

*sorry hubs but that was some major slack action.

3.     Negotiate with respect.

We all want the best price so it makes sense to ask the seller if the price is firm but if the seller is not interested or willing to drop the price then respect that.  I’ve been on the receiving end of a hostile negotiator and it’s extremely unpleasant.

4.     Check measurements

If the ad you are looking at doesn’t have dimensions; be sure to ask.  Also, make sure your vehicle is large enough and space is cleared to safely transport your purchase.  There is nothing worse than finding out the deal you just nabbed will not fit in your hatchback.  On the other side of the equation it’s super inconvenient when a buyer shows up with a two-door expecting to fit an armor in the backseat.  I once had to stand outside in the cold for 45 minutes helping a woman rearrange her junk filled trunk and teach her how to stow her seats to accommodate a table.  Not cool.

 

Recycling goods by posting and purchasing them on Free Classified sites is such a resourceful way to furnish your home, create a hobby or clean out the attic but it comes with its setbacks.

I once had a lady show up for an item I had listed who asked me if she could come inside and use my phone.  I was alarmed by such an odd request and told her I didn’t have a phone (I actually don’t have a landline).  I thought it was a scheme to get into my home.  It turned out she had somehow locked herself out of her car and her feline companion was a little distraught.  Yes, you heard me correctly!

So if you’re looking for other options for an inexpensive furniture project, minus the hassle, places like Goodwill, Salvation Army, Value Village and other thrift shops are a great place to start.  The downside is that the prices are usually a little higher and your ability to negotiate isn’t as likely.  Keep in mind that on the other hand you won’t have to spend two hours negotiating a hanger through a car window trying to recoup the cat lady’s keys from her front seat (no offence, wherever you are).

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I find the hunt as exciting as the actual process of refinishing the piece.  From searching online for the colour that will inspire me to buffing the final coat, it’s such a therapeutic experience.  My latest piece was this dresser that I found curbside heading home from a coffee run (like taking candy from a baby).  I am so proud of the final product.

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Before

 

Seeing a before and after like this makes me giddy!

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After

 

Using Fusion Mineral Paint to refinish furniture is an absolute breeze, not a lot of prep work is required.  A quick sanding followed by a thorough cleaning was all it took to prepare this damsel in distress.  I used four coats of Renfrew Blue, sanding lightly and buffing in between each coat.     The hardware popped against this beautiful blue so I was able to preserve them.  I love the personality a vibrant colour can give a once abandoned piece.  Once the paint had settled I ended up lightly distressing the body of the dresser.

For the top of the dresser I decided to do it in a dark walnut and topcoat with 3 layers of polyurethane.   Honestly, I’m in love.

The presence of the dresser inspired me to revamp my entire bedroom with a fresh coat of paint and some artwork.  Now I literally can’t wait to plunk down at night and appreciate how much happiness a bit of work can bring you.

I’m such a simple gal!

On a side note, did you know that painting is used as a form of meditation?  Meditation is known to lower stress levels, decrease anxiety and support longevity.

So you could say painting is good for health!  You could even go so far as to say I just saved your life.  You’re welcome!

Let me know what your inspiration is.  Share your before and afters, I’d love to hear from you!

 

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