"And Now We Must Turn It Into A Racing Car By...Bolting Lots of...Racing Car Bits To It."

Even though this day was a long time coming, I honestly felt like it would just never arrive. Ladies and gentlemen, I have bought a new (to me) car. 

Meet Pamela. She is a 2010 Ford Focus, with a manual transmission, and she rides like a dream.
 I don't have a marriage sack that fits her {yet}. 
The number one goal that I had for 2013 was to purchase a new car, and the fact that I can cross it off of my list in the first quarter of the year makes me incredibly proud. I could gush forever and ever about all of the reasons why I am so glad that I own (another) Focus, but I'll restrain myself from getting too mushy about my new baby. Can I just point out how nice it is to finally be driving a standard again? It feels like home. 

Have you crossed a goal off of your list yet this year?

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Well, That Escalated Quickly

Every few months, I get this insatiable itch to change something

At first I'll feed this need with small changes: 
a new hair color 
a few blog tweaks 
a new ringtone for my phone. 

I can't count the shadows to keep myself safe; 
 the itch will always catch up with me
just like the vashta nerada will always catch up with those in the shadows.

The night started out innocently enough; 
I was just going to change my navigation bar. 
I had created a new one a few weeks ago, 
and from the second that I installed it I absolutely hated it. 
I've been mulling it over for weeks, 
and finally I decided to get up off my rump and change it. 

Well.

Before I could get to the nav bar, I stared at my font choices. 
The font (Origin Light) that I once loved so much was now making my eye twitch. 
It was decided.
I needed to change my fonts. 

But.

You can't just change your font willy-nilly. 
You have to take your time. 
The font that you choose is an integral part of your design; 
it helps form the basis for your brand. 

DOWNLOAD ALL THE FONTS!

And then...

I sorted through all of my new fonts. 
Some had to be ruled out because they didn't have the ability to type the umlaut in my blog title. 
(the dots on top of the a in rakas kesä is an umlaut.)

So...

I typed.
I switched between fonts. 
I wrote down about thirty font names, 
and I slowly eliminated them
one by one. 

Finally, I was down to two fonts. 
I can work with two. 

So off I went, 
creating a new navigation bar. 
Once that was finished I had another revelation:
my blog header no longer matched. 
Neither did my buttons. 
You know.
The buttons that are everywhere? 

So off I went, 
creating a new header. 
New buttons. 
A new list of sidebar links 
(although the links? Not working at the moment. Fury.) {UPDATE: fixed!}
The new links lead to new widget titles. 

Finally, I had it all installed. 
And boy, did it look pretty. 

I've kept the amazing welcome image that Chelsea created for me earlier this year because it just cannot be topped.

But the rest?

The rest was all painstakingly created by me. 

Did I stop there?

After triumphantly overhauling my entire blog design in one night
did I turn off my laptop and crawl into bed? 

No. 

Because suddenly
I had motivation. 

That 'work with me' page that I've been avoiding finishing for so long? 
I HAD TO FINISH IT. 

The Great Design Beast took over
and I just kept going. 
Creating, 
changing, 
trashing, 
mapping, 
installing. 

When my (Vancouver) best friend texted me to ask why the hell I wasn't asleep yet
I finally looked at the clock. 
Five hours. 
I had spent five consecutive hours 
making all of these changes, 
pausing only to plug my laptop in when it told me to plug in or I'd lose everything. 

This is my random, 
weird, 
rambling 
not-poem 
about that time that I compulsively re-designed my blog 
instead of sleeping. 

Better make it five and a half hours, since I also decided to blog.

Don't judge me. 

Life, or Something Like It


Source unknown; found on Pinterest

I am a bit neurotic. I am a compulsive planner. I am obsessively organized, and it will bug me incessantly if I somehow mess it up. Failure is not an option for me, so when I do fail at something I am incredibly hard on myself. Leave me alone for too long in a quiet room, and I will start to go crazy. I constantly overbook myself, because I don't enjoy having nothing to do. In fact, I thrive on action-packed or stressful situations. Or, rather, I will get overwhelmed and cry, but as soon as my cry is over I will thrive. 

If you know me in real life, you will know that these are not startling revelations. 

It isn't always easy to live in harmony with my quirks; instead, I often feel as though I am battling against them. I am uncomfortable with change {if it is sprung on me}, so it tends to make me {more than} a little bit hard to live around. 

I had a plan for my life. I had set goals and deadlines, as well as establishing check-points to ensure that I was on track in order to live up to my plan. Instead of changing the deadline, I would alter the method that I would use to reach my goals. Everything was incrementally mapped out, the way one would lay out the route for a marathon. 

Are you surprised to hear that my life has not gone according to my plan? You shouldn't be. I'm not even that surprised, if I'm completely honest with myself. But that doesn't mean that it is easy to give up The Plan. It means forgiving yourself for not meeting your goals, for taking turns in life that you didn't ever expect yourself to take. It's about letting go of the constant that you had to rely on that is no longer even a remote possibility.

We all have a plan, whether we admit it or not. Those vague ideas that flit around in your head of when you want to get married, have kids, buy a house, or even what job you want to do: those are all part of your plan. Mine was detailed; methodically laid out in a logical sequence complete with concrete deadlines. 

I did not make those deadlines. It's extremely difficult for me to reconcile the fact that I failed, and even harder for me to accept that I have had to change my timeline so drastically from what I had originally envisioned for myself.

The next time I'm having a hard time accepting that my life didn't go according to my plan, remember that I'm happy. I'm so happy with so many aspects of my life that it can be overwhelming at times--but that doesn't stop me from lamenting what I see as failures. 

Are you hard on yourself about anything?

The Time I Ugly Cried Over the Cat That I Always Complain About

I remember walking through the door to my friends' condo, and finding eight tiny little kittens running around. Audrey immediately sat down on the floor to laugh at their silly antics. They were jumping, and mewing, and playing robustly. One little kitten broke away from the pack, and crawled into her lap. 



"This is Gilford." she said triumphantly. "This is my kitty."

"Are you sure, hunny? There are so many. Do you want to play with them first?" I asked, wondering if her decision was rash. "Of course it was rash, she is only three after all." I told myself. 

"No Mom, I don't need to play with the other kitties. This is Gilford. Can I please have her collar?" Audrey rolled her eyes as she spoke, clearly impatient with my questions. I handed her the purple collar, and showed her how to put it on. 

"Well, that was easy." I thought. "Now I just need to find my kitten." 

They were all so fluffy and cute. How could Audrey make it seem so easy? So I took Audrey's lead: I sat down on the floor, and I played with the kittens. There were kittens crawling into my shirt, climbing on my shoulders, and sleeping in my hands; as cute as they were, I knew that none of them were my cat. I was feeling discouraged, and pressured to choose one. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my toe. I quickly looked over, and found the source of the pain: there was a kitten attached to my toe, happily chewing away. I don't know if it was the insolence of chewing on my extremity, or the way he seemed entirely comfortable doing so, but I knew that this was my Toulouse. I popped his black collar onto him, loaded our new family members into their kennel, and we drove home.

Toulouse is on the left, Gilford is on the right. I think.

They spent most of their first few months doing what kittens do--sleeping in their box, making messes in my previously immaculate condo, and generally raising hell. They were too small to climb into their litter box on their own, so I created a makeshift staircase leading up to it using a stack of hardcover books. They ate more than I thought possible, and their litter box was always full. But dang it if they weren't sweet as heck, just indescribably sweet.

Apparently they didn't get the memo that you don't kiss your sibling with tongue. Awkward.

Slowly, as they grew up, I started to realize the pitfalls of having two cats in a small condo: everything was covered in cat hair, no matter how many hours I spent vacuuming; the litter box would be full after only a day, so a second was required; most problematic was their penchant for playing from 1-5am--jumping across my bed, stepping on my head, usually with claws out. I couldn't leave the bathroom door open, because everything would end up on the ground and the garbage would be knocked over and strewn across the room.

A deceptive photo; this was taken during his midday nap.

While Gilford has always been an easy-going cat, Toulouse became more of a problem as time went on. He became very possessive of me, to the point that he simply wouldn't allow me out of his sight while I was home. He would follow me from room to room, climbing up my body so that I would be forced to hold him. Heaven forbid I should close the door when I had a bath--he would have a fit, scratching at the door and meowing like he was in pain. If my daughter wanted to snuggle with me, he would push between us and get cranky if I tried to move him. His most irritating habit was his licking; while it might be his way of showing affection, I was being woken up multiple times each night by him licking my face or arms. I am allergic to cat saliva, it turns out, so this led to uncomfortable hives and lots of itchy skin. He would lick and chew on our hair while we sat on the couch--basically, he was a bit of a (super cute, non-violent) menace. 

This is the face of a menace, I swear.

I chalked this up to being a "stage"; he was only a year old, after all. I thought that with time, he would ease up on his intense need for affection and cool it with the constant kisses. "Orange cats calm down with age," said everyone I know with cats. "Just give him time," said they. 

It took a long time to accept that I wasn't the right parent for my little furbaby. I just couldn't give him the love that he so clearly wanted, and needed. I loved him so much, yet he drove me beyond the edge of crazy with those sleepless nights--they caught up to me, and I knew that I needed to find him a new home. 

A rare moment where I'm kissing him, instead of the reverse.

I couldn't bring myself to put an ad on Kijiji; I didn't want to give my baby to just anyone. I wanted him to go to a home that would love him the way that he needed to be loved. 

On Sunday afternoon, that is exactly what happened. 

A friend from work came over with her boyfriend, purely to "meet" Toulouse. They brought their furbaby, a gorgeous Border Collie named Burt, to make sure that there wouldn't be any personality conflicts between the two of them. After an hour and a half they had fallen in love with my little man, just as I knew that they would. I stayed calm, upbeat even, the whole time. Even while packing up his favourite toys, bed, dishes and litter box, I was calm. I knew in my heart that this was the right decision for Toulouse. 

I walked them outside, and helped load my little boy into their car. I said my final goodbye (he would barely look at me, his anger over being shoved into a kennel and taken by strangers was written on his face), I stayed calm. It's the right thing to do. 

Then I turned away from him, said goodbye to my friends, and walked back into my building. And good lord, did I cry. I ugly cried in my kitchen for over a half hour, again at my boyfriends' house, and even more later that night in bed. Deep down, I know that I did the right thing. He has only been at his new home for twenty-four hours, but he has already settled in nicely. He has claimed his spot on both their bed and couch, and has declared which windowsill shall be his throne. 

I know that I did the right thing. But I miss this face more than I ever thought possible. 


Positivity, and a Quote.


Everyone feels a little lost sometimes. 

The plan that you had meticulously crafted is thrown out the window, and you're left to wonder "what's next?". 

Not knowing the next steps, and especially not knowing the cumulative outcome of them, is a terrifying thought to behold.

The consolation in all of the fog is that the line between failure and success is blurred as there is no longer a metric with which to measure. 

Every step is in the right direction. 

Every step can be seen as a success. 


Movin' On Up...with a professional, not made in Paint design!


I have been wanting a new design for rakas kesä for a while now. I have been scouring the blogosphere looking for the person that could not only create what I had in my mind, but that could also put up with my crazy. Somehow, I stumbled across Chelsea. I don't remember who's blog led me to her, but good grief am I glad that I ended up there!

 

One week and 29 emails later, she has made my bloggy dreams come true (possible slight exaggeration, as my real bloggy dream would be to have Wil Wheaton guest post for me). But she managed to take my incoherent ramblings of "I like girly but don't make it girly" and a comment about not wearing pants at work and somehow turn it into exactly what I had envisioned

That, my friends, is talent.

The Curious Thing About Pregnancy

via

A close friend of mine will be having her second baby within the next month, and every time I talk to her I can't help but think she is just a tiny bit crazy. I mean, I only have one child to contend with and I am exhausted by the time it hits 5 PM; the idea of putting one child to bed only to have to stay up with a fussy baby scares the living daylights out of me. 

But then I go into the nursery and I see the tiny clothes, and the tiny diapers. I touch her belly and feel the kicks, and it all makes me remember. 

I remember the first time I saw Audrey yawn, or laugh, or smile. I remember watching her sleep for hours, and loving every second of it. I remember laughing uncontrollably when I walked into her nursery, expecting to find my tiny baby girl, and instead I found a tiny baby girl absolutely covered in poop. I remember teaching her how to crawl, then walk, then (unfortunately) watching her learn to climb. I remember teaching her talk, eat solid foods, and use the potty. 

What I don't remember is the pain of labour, the feeling of a contraction, or the fear of holding her. I don't remember the sleepless nights, the intensity of breast feeding--or, at the very least, my attempt at breast feeding. I don't remember getting up every two hours, how I felt for the first six weeks postpartum, or what a cracked nipple feels like. 

Sometimes it isn't easy sitting back and watching other people go on to their second (or third or fourth) pregnancy, knowing that there is a very real possibility that I won't have any more of my own. Even though I know that my mind romanticises pregnancy and babies, I sometimes get caught up in baby fever. 

But then I sit back, and I look at everything that I have. There is no room for sadness, or wishing that things were different. I am happy with my life, even if it hasn't been exactly what I thought it would be. 

Soon I'll have a niece to spoil to pieces--one that I can hand back to Mom when she gets fussy or poops. And this is exactly how my life should be right now. 

My Mother's Biggest Shame {Was} My Office

Since the day that I moved out of my mother's house, the room that I called an office was the bane of her existence. I have never worked from home, and I've always owned a laptop, so it just wasn't a high priority room for me--and it drove her nuts!

Don't get me wrong, I always put together my desk and bookcase, and I always set up my iMac. Usually that would be as far as I would go though. I bought my condo almost a year ago, and I still had untouched boxes from when I lived in Calgary two years ago!

I justified the state of the room to myself in two ways: I told myself that everyone has a room that they hide from anyone outside of immediate family and non-judgmental friends; & I'm a single mom that works full time, takes classes, and finds time to parent an active four year old--I don't have time to worry about a home office! 

But really? The idea of trips down memory lane going back who knows how far and throwing stuff out just did not appeal to me. So I stuck the kitty litter in the closet and the cat food by the door and mostly left the room alone. 

Until my mom showed up at my condo, toting a bin that looked suspiciously like her DIY kit, and announced that it was time for me to be an adult. I'm exaggerating, actually she said "We're doing the office today!" and I attempted to hide under my covers to avoid the reality that she was presenting me with. Turns out the old "if I can't see you, you don't exist" mantra is a lie. She could still see me, and she made me get out of bed and work on my office. 

It took six hours, a few power tools, lots of storage bins and garbage bags, and a label maker, but the room is well on it's way to resembling a genuine home office. Everything has been unpacked and sorted into labelled bins, the furniture has been moved, and we added another bookcase for more storage. 


There is still a long to do list before it is done, including: closet doors and organizing the contents of the closet; hanging diplomas and photos; finding a cute cork board and/or magnetic board; changing out the very ugly ceiling fan for something that doesn't assault the eyes; hang shelves; and (most importantly) I need to buy a new mouse pad and a Bluetooth Apple keyboard. Priorities, I have 'em. 

I won't admit it to her, but I'm glad we did it. It's nice to have a room specifically set up for me to work in--even if so far the closest that I've come to working in my office is to paint my nails at my desk and Pin the entire internet. 

Do you have one of those shameful rooms that you don't let company see? 

Kevät

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Before the calm relaxing pace of the summer, and after the cabin fever from being cooped up all winter, spring encourages change. It is a season of restlessness, of pacing, of cleaning. It brings about reflection, realizations, and growth.

Change should be embraced, not feared.