Who Needs Hottie Boyfriends and Furniture That Isn’t Stolen From Dumpsters When You Have Love and Approval?

Growing up, I was never one of those girls who dreaded Valentine’s Day because I always knew that I’d get a valentine. Every morning on February 14th, I’d walk down the stairs to find a card, and when I was older a box of chocolates, sitting at my place on the kitchen table. My Dad continued this tradition long after my sister and I left the house- sending us Valentine’s Day care packages in university. Then cards stuffed with thoughtful notes and something special when we became adults. Love was a given, it was unconditional. A hunky escort to the movies with a hot car on that day? Well, that was a bonus.

I played sports only once, but long before then, my Dad was always on my team, sitting in my corner, rooting for me. After university, when my peers were applying to prestigious graduate programs and medical schools, I chose to be an underpaid performer at Walt Disney World. My Dad was the first one to stand up and applaud my decision. My father laughed heartily when I told him that the Disney recruiter had asked whether I didn’t want to do something bigger and better with my life. From the time I was small, I have received my father’s support. It’s a key element of my freight train like momentum whenever I get an idea in my head.

While the love my father shows me and the confidence that his constant approval has built are some of the best parts of my Dad, undoubtedly my favourite quality of my his is the way he reserves judgment. In university, I dated a pot smoking, PHISH loving, wisp of a man. My parents hated him. Incidentally, the PHISH lover’s parents hated me too and were quite vocal about it. But I never had any idea of my father’s feelings. It was only through my Mom that I discovered my Dad’s words about the break up – “Good, now that nice young man who’s been hanging around will have a shot.” I loved that my Dad respected all of my choices, even the ones he didn’t agree with.

So on this day, when everyone is buying the men in their life lawn mowers and power saws, I hope each of you are lucky enough to have a person like my Dad. I’m a stronger, more confident person for having him as a parent. After the men in your lives open their cement mixer or running shoes, make sure to tell them why they’re special because there’s nothing in this world quite like a Dad.

 

Dad, in case you missed the hint in the last paragraph, I didn’t buy you a gift. I got my thriftiness from your mother. This post is your gift. It won’t keep you quite as warm as a portable space heater but last I checked; your furnace is working fine. What can I say? You’re lucky to have me. But not quite as lucky as I am to have you.

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I’ll Either Gain 3,000 lbs or lose 30

The last couple of months have been, well, rotund. That’s putting it nicely. My skirts have been straining at the seams. The ones that I can struggle my way into at least. My butt is developing its own gravitational pull not unlike Kim Kardashian’s but less shapely. My stomach, which has generally been a flattish (ok not really) friend to me, became a turncoat and developed a mutinous roll to accompany my omnipresent muffin top.

Something needed to be done. For a while now. Other bloggers have lost countless pounds by recording their journey for their readers, to keep them on the straight and pizza-free narrow. But this seemed like the writing equivalent of the sixteen year old girl who calls up her boyfriend every night and lists off everything she put in her mouth that day. Alarming and so many shades of irritating.

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And then I nibbled on a plain rice cake and afterwards I ate four red jelly beans but left the purple ones because like eww. Someone once told me they’re made of Smurfs which makes NO sense because I always thought Smurfs were green. (Photo Credit meangirls.wikia.com/wiki/Regina_George)

So I was in the process of accepting my slowed thirty something metabolism and my new fatness when Tex decided he would go on his high fat diet again. Earlier this year he shed twenty something pounds while following this regimen. Out of concern for his health, I told him that I would follow the diet as well, for three months. It would mean giving up buttercream icing as a food group and no longer classifying knitting as my physical activity for the day, but I had nothing to lose. Well, except for the gravitational pull around my butt, which was raking in leaves and the odd candy wrapper into its orbit.

The Basic Tenements of this Diet

  1. People are not designed to eat processed carbohydrates

It’s why I’m beginning to resemble the cast of Wall-E or at least that’s Butter Bob’s explanation.

  1. Previously people ate more fat

A lot more. A staggering amount more. Based on what Tex is eating my only conclusion is that early man survived on mammoth blubber. I wasn’t aware mammoths were that flabby.

  1. When the body gets an adequate amount of protein combined with a tremendous amount of fat, it feels sated

Tex has done the research on this, most of his research consists of reading Butter Bob’s thoughts. And as everyone knows, random people on the internet are ALWAYS right. It’s how I know that smearing axle grease on your arms cures angina and gout.

  1. People eat too often and when they’re not hungry, eat only in an 8 hour window

Agreed. Again, the roly-poly people of Wall-E, which I myself am becoming.

 

It’s only been a week or so for me, but my conclusions thus far have been

  • Life has never been more delicious. Tex loads up salads with so much fatty dressing that I feel like my arteries will clog just from the sight of them but I’m not concerned because I’ve got a can of axle grease at the ready.
  • I don’t crave sweets or breads. Strange because I’ve spent my entire life wanting to mow down entire bakeries in one sitting. For serious, Paris for me was like one giant carbohydrate trigger.
  • I’m not hungry. Like physically can’t eat because I’m that not hungry. My entire life has been a denial of hunger. I’m the fat kid in my family with my body’s end goal being that of a large pear shape, something along the lines of James and the Giant Peach. Only I’m the giant pear. So this sense of satiation is novel.
  • The amount of butter and avocados that we are consuming is frightening. But our intake of meat has not changed.

The Lifecycle of a Diet As Told By Me, The Very Hungry and Chubby Caterpillar

Going on a diet is EXACTLY like the story “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”. Only instead of eating your way through every single food, you merely stare at the edibles and say things like “Ohhh chocolate torte, you look like my ex-boyfriend from high school, is there a reason you still have to look so damn delicious?”

Also, rather than starting as a tiny egg on a leaf, you begin your diet story as a giant blob at the kitchen table. Or at least that’s where my story begins. My son is learning his numbers. I started my diet the day he counted my chins.

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Don’t take my picture right now- that bagel made me bloated! (Photo Credit : rosenberryrooms.com)

From there you slowly unfurl from your chair and begin to move. Remember movement? Walking? The gym? God in heaven why aren’t these methods of torture illegal? You vow to change your eating habits instead.

On Monday, you eat only apples. And still get bigger.

Tuesday, you decide pears are lower in carbs but still you get bigger.

You conclude that the key is eating tinier fruits. So on Wednesday you mow down on three tiny plums and the scale laughs at you when you step on it.

Thursday you throw out the scale and eat a bag of Cheetos.

Friday morning brings regret in many forms, so you dumpster dive to rescue the scale. Your garbage adventure gives you an old pizza and sour milk smell that you can’t seem to wash out of your hair. The scent makes you gag so much that Friday becomes an all-day fast.

On Saturday you’re invited out for dinner and drinks. Thankfully the spoiled milky-pizza smell came out, so you watch as your friends eat chocolate torte, a plate of penne, a churro, shawarma and a lobster. Afterwards, you are very tired of your diet and make a cocoon of blankets to comfort yourself before bed.

Sunday morning, all of your hard work has paid off because you emerge from your bed, a thin, beautiful winged creature with well styled hair.

Only not actually, you’re still fat. Also hungry. But your partner informs you that he managed to lose 8 pounds this week.

What the Hell Wednesday- Kicks in the Pants and Hillbilly Televisions

After my most recent Storyworth post, Tex commented that he liked what I wrote but he felt that he could ask better questions, so he wrote me some. I have to admit, they’re better questions, so here are a handful.

You have been selected to participate in “The Amazing Race”. What five countries do you NOT wish to visit and who will be your partner?

When I was eleven, life was amazing because my Uncle was traveling all around the world for his job, which meant that all of his stuff including his TV lived at my family’s house. Our TV was three thousand years old and weighed as many pounds. It sat underneath my Uncle’s TV in our living room in a set up that would have been completely hillbilly if one of them was broken. As it was it was, the two TVs gave our house more of a sports bar vibe. I got to live every preteen’s dream of playing Nintendo 64 while watching Boy Meets World at the same time. This lasted for the year that my Uncle spent crisscrossing the globe. This story does have a point, stay with me.

Anyway, in all of his travels, my Uncle said that the only places he wouldn’t go were places that ended in “stan” so basically Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Iranistan, war torn, dangerous countries. I stand by that. Although I’m pretty sure that Iranistan doesn’t exist and Kazakhstan might have been the fictional country that Borat was from, but I’m sticking with that statement.

As for partners, it would have to be Sula. The Amazing Race is the most intense form of punishment I can possibly imagine for myself, after traveling for hours and hours, people are expected to eat spiders then luge down mountains? It sounds like a recipe for my death. If I was to try something like that with Tex, on the very first leg of the tour, I’d say “I’m tired I hate this, now I’m going to gnaw your arm off in a show of my displeasure.” Tex would then soothingly tell me that we should find a nice, quiet restaurant to sit down and a Westin hotel because they have excellent beds and wouldn’t I feel better after a long night’s sleep that wasn’t on an airplane?

Sula, by contrast is equal parts glamour and adventure. Also she takes no prisoners and never surrenders. We’d be about to jump out of a plane and I’d say “I’m petrified and want to go home” Sula would respond by hurling into her barf bag because she gets motion sickness then use her foot to kick my butt out of the aircraft. Next, she’d jump out after me, and yell while she passed me on the way down “I believe in you!”

Yes, I realize that all objects fall at a constant rate so Sula couldn’t pass me but she is so badass that my friend doesn’t have to obey rules like physics. Then she’d hit the ground and scale the giant sequoia with her bare hands to earn us the first place for the stop.

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I could picture Sula mowing one of these down without hesitation. By contrast, I prefer food that doesn’t put up a fight. Photo Credit newsatlas.com

A Dementor is bearing down on you, what terrible form does it take and what animal is your patronus?

The Dementor is without a doubt a manatee, aka “Terrors of the Sea”. I have an irrational fear of swimming with manatees and all of them congregating over me, thus preventing my ascent to the surface for air. It’s the aquatic version of being trampled to death by elephants. Although I’m pretty sure that the creature that inhabits closets and takes the form of your worst nightmare in Harry Potter’s world is a Boggart. Dementors force you relive the most horrible moments of your life. Undoubtedly I’d be sucked back to a date I had with a young man who kept awkwardly swatting my arm and calling me a “bad girl” in a way that I’m sure he thought was sexy but was actually just eight different shades of awkward. My patronus would be a honey badger because the name sounds sweet and you’re all “Look! A badger-how adorable!” and then it gnaws your face off.

Knockdown Brawling Walker Rugby and Grandma’s Spanx

While cleaning out my grandmother’s room, I found the most bizarre garment I’d ever seen in my life. It was like a cross between bike shorts, underpants and football padding. “What is this?” I asked my aunt, holding up the object in question for her to see.

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This image doesn’t capture how GIANT and thick the pads were. Also obviously my Grandma’s were for a lady. Photo Credit activemedicalsupplies.com.au

“Oh those” she laughed. “They’re hip protectors. I bought them for Mom when she got unsteady. Mom refused to wear them though.” I placed the hip protectors in the charity pile and continued sorting.

A little while later, my Dad was stuffing the charity pile into garbage bags and he came across the hip protectors. “What in the heck are these?” he asked, justifiably alarmed. Before I could answer, my aunt jumped in with her boring explanation. I was so disappointed; my father is trusting to a fault, making him the best person to prank.

He was the only person who believed me when I said that I sent out naked pictures of Tex in my Christmas card a couple of years ago. However, my favourite joke was when my mother came home with a fake belly button ring. My Dad blew up like a puffer fish, opening and closing his mouth in angry indignation “How could you? What kind of example does this set for the girls?” At that moment his face was the reddest I’d ever seen it. That is until my Mom took the ring out and Dad realized that he’d been had.

All the Outlandish Stories I Would Have Told My Dad Instead of the Truth

  1. They’re Grandma’s Spanx

On occasion she’d put them on to impress the church ladies. Paired with her support hose, she’d have all the male church elders hollering. But obviously Grandma only wore them once in a while out of deference to Jesus.

  1. Thursdays the old folk’s home hosts walker rugby

It’s exactly like normal rugby only the players have fewer teeth to lose. Also the nursing home mandates that the elderly players protect all their fragile parts hence the hip padding. Grandma’s rugby nickname was ironically “Ruthless”; she had the most knockouts of anyone on the floor.

  1. The Turkish baths downstairs are nude but require a flotation device

Grandma could have worn a lifejacket but she liked the feeling of letting the girls loose in the water. Also it was a better spot to receive all those cat calls. The pads on the sides are buoyant.

  1. New technology incontinence pants

Standard incontinence pants bulk up in an obvious way. These skintight ones have special wicking technology that moves the liquid to the removable pads at the sides. NASA invented them for the Mars mission.

  1. Hockey top for my cousin

This was why Grandma didn’t sew much- she remembered the shoulder pads but forgot a hole for the neck.

 

I’m fairly certain I could have sold every story but the Turkish baths, and that one only because the nursing home didn’t have a pool.

This post is dedicated to my Aunt Camelia who follows in her mother’s kind and loving footsteps, whereas I tread in my mother’s impish and occasionally devious ones. You remind me to be nice Aunty Camelia- thank you.

Where All the Robot Mole People Come To Hang

Months ago, right after Tex took off for rainy Vancouver and left our au pair Janie and I all alone to care for the house, the basement started beeping. Which was quite concerning, given that basements don’t beep.

Generally my farm raised, cowboy husband takes care of these sorts of issues. He’s a dab hand at that type of house stuff. When I bring him some broken, wrought-iron patio furniture, he says things like “Oh, I’ll just weld that back together” as if it’s the easiest task in the world. Then I feel silly, because if only I had thought to break out the blow torch and stick the leg back on the chair with finesse and panache. Of course being raised in the middle of suburbia where my father hired people to put together IKEA bookshelves, I’m about eight different kinds of handy as one might imagine. Or not.

Anyway, so there Janie and I were, most likely about to be blown sky high because our house was sounding an awful lot like the bus from “Speed”. And worst of all, Keanu Reeves didn’t even bother to show up and help, so we were all by ourselves trying to figure out the reason for the beeping.

While Janie considered my theory that terrorists had driven four hours from Winnipeg, broken into our house and implanted a bomb in our basement to make a statement about how tasteless it is to have a play structure in your living room instead of a couch, ultimately, we decided that it was one of the many electronic machines that live downstairs that was making the racket.

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If by tasteless you actually mean FAB-u-luusssssss. This is best said in a singsong voice. Photo Credit: Unwashed

The difficulty was that the beeping wasn’t incessant; it was only a couple of times an hour, making it hard to locate the exact source of the noise. Within a day, we determined that it wasn’t coming from the laundry room. Janie and I had both been folding clothes when we heard the muffled beep from another room. This was reassuring because when washing machines go rogue, it’s ironically quite messy.

Eventually we determined the source – the random box in the corner that we have no idea what it does but it says in big letters “DO NOT UNPLUG!” so it seems foreboding that something like that would be acting up. After two consecutive weeks of beeping, I was done; giant capital letters or not, that electronic box was getting unplugged. While I will confess to being a harbinger of chaos and destruction, I do attempt to be a good mom most of the time- so I asked Janie to take Mini-Tex upstairs while I cut the beeping monster’s power.

Happily, there were no explosions, and Keanu Reeves once again failed to show up but I’d stopped expecting him about ten days back, so that was fine. I stood there, with the cord in my hands saying nasty words to the formerly noisy box and then because I don’t enjoy that much chaos, and didn’t want the firemen to come back, because we still had no idea what it was, so I plugged it back in. There was silence. I felt smug and slightly all-powerful for defying the capital letters and living to tell the tale. But then, it came again- BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.

It was then that I had a brainwave- what if the mystery box wasn’t placed by aliens to spy on me and steal my secret to having skin that is prone to freckles and random allergic reactions? What if it was part of the weird alarm system that we never ever use because we’re terrible tenants? After a call to the alarm company, and resetting the entire system, for the first time in weeks there was quiet in the house. But then it came back, like raging case of herpes – BEEEEEEEEEEP.

At that point, I gave up. After all, I learned to live like a mole person in a house that 90% of the windows begin above my sightline, so what’s the harm in adding beeps to my existence? I’ll just pretend that I live in a mole-person, robot dance club that only plays one song.

 

Part Two – For Pete’s Sake This HAS To Be Someone’s Monkey! Please, If This Is Your Monkey Come Get It. It Has Fleas, Bites and Snores Like a Bandsaw During The Night. I’ll Bet You Miss It More Than Anything

 

Yes there’s a part two! EVERYONE knows that isn’t how mole person, robot dance parties end!

The mystery machine in my basement which said in big letters DO NOT UNPLUG, was still beeping a monotone song and I just decided to groove with it. The alarm company hadn’t laid claim to the plastic box. So probably the box was installed by evil geniuses who were conducting a study about how long a box could beep before the inhabitants of the house lost their minds.

The ignoring coping mechanism worked for another month, at which point I got fed up with the chronic beeping, climbed on a chair and more closely inspected our irritating electronic DJ. Huzzah! There was a website written in tiny letters, I visited the site and discovered that the mystery box beeps when the battery is low. And the box supposedly belongs to the phone company. Please note that the website did not explain the purpose of said mystery box or why it is imperative that the mystery box should not be unplugged, which leads me to believe that the government is spying on me and I need to start wearing tinfoil hats and clothing like a character out of the Wizard of Oz. The website detailed how to remove said low battery and where to take it once removed.

The battery removal instruction pictures made it look easy, but based on the images, the company had Hagrid remove the battery – whose hands measure a foot and a half from pinky to thumb? There is no way that my pinky and thumb could stretch like that. As it happened Mini-Tex was playing in the basement while I did this. It was a proud moment for me because he learned the F word in this whole process. Around the second time that Mini-Tex dropped his second F-bomb, I called in the cavalry and had Tex finish taking out the battery.

Finally, after three months of intermittent beeping there was silence in the house. I would have thrown a parade with a marching band and children playing kazoos to celebrate but there remained the problem of a battery the size of Estonia.

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See it’s a microscopic country but it makes for an enormous power source. (Photo Credit freeworldmap.net)

Anything that large needs to be recycled and responsibly. So I set off to the mall to give back the phone company what was rightfully theirs and demand a new one because at the very least if we weren’t going to use the alarm system, we would make sure that it was functional. We’re mediocre tenants like that.

“Here!” I heaved the battery onto the counter. “I believe this is yours” I said to the woman and then she looked at me like I had three heads. “Please don’t look at me like that” I begged. “I listened to this mystery plastic box beep for three months straight and I finally removed this enormous albatross from its electronic innards and taught my son the F-word in the process and now you have to take it because the website said you would and the internet never lies.”

“It’s not my monkey.” The woman replied. Actually that’s not true; she mostly looked at me with confusion, pity and a bit of annoyance because while I was saying this Mini-Tex was throwing all of the cell phone cases onto the floor. But she told me that she had never seen anything like that in her life and no she would absolutely not take it, nor did she have any idea where I could recycle it and had no clue where I could get another one. She suggested that maybe I should call the alarm company again.

Then I collapsed in a puddle of frustration and anguish. Only not actually, because I’m thirty and have a child so I had to put the 57 cell phone protectors back on the wall. But I thanked the sales associate in a way that let her know that the act of apologizing and leaving the store with the battery was stabbing my soul. And then apologized again for taking her time, because I’m Canadian.

Back to square one. At the very least, the beeping had ceased although there was a part of me questioning that if the mystery box was so clear about NEVER BEING UNPLUGGED, that it was likely bad that the elephant sized battery was sitting on my dresser rather than in its mysterious plastic home.

Once again, I called the alarm company, described the now silent box and the battery then inquired where I might get another battery and where I should dispose of this one. The alarm company was all “Sorry, it’s not our monkey, also we have no clue where to get a new one and that mystery box isn’t ours.” So since the box doesn’t belong to the phone company or the alarm company, the only conclusion is that I’m being spied on by Martians, which is reassuring because I’m fairly certain that I’ve cut the power to their planet by removing the gargantuan battery from the mystery box.

That’s my life this week in a nutshell. If I disappear without a trace, please send NASA to find me. Also, if the aliens come knocking looking for the heart of their civilization- it’s on my kitchen counter.

I’m Not Usher, But These Are My Confessions – Liquor in the Morning and Glory Moments of Parenting

Sometimes I Just Leave My Toddler Lying In The Middle of The Floor

Can we all just acknowledge that snowsuits are like one piece bathing suits for babies- impossible to get on, painful to remove and God help you if nature calls? Anyway so Mini-Tex has this routine of falling asleep in his stroller and then I half lift, half drop the stroller on its way up the stairs into the house, park him in the entranceway, without throwing on the brake because that would wake him up, so I hope that there isn’t an earthquake while he naps, otherwise the stroller might roll across the hall and down the stairs. Also, Mini-Tex sleeps in his snowsuit because removing it is next to impossible and I always feel like I’m about to break one of his tiny arms in the process, but I prevent him from overheating by turning down the heat. I then curl up five blankets and make believe that I’m in Siberia, I would do a Russian accent to help sell the idea but I’m atrocious at accents.

For the most part, my son and I had both accepted this new sleeping arrangement. Then it snowed. Like apocalyptic Siberian Russia snow. There was so much snow that the stroller was an impossibility. But staying home was not, because I’m addicted to the grocery store’s contest so we needed to buy pickles and detergent. That’s when I broke out the sled. Mini-Tex thought it was pretty great, and like clockwork he fell asleep as we turned the corner down our street. As I lifted him out, he kind of woke up. He was still tired in that “I’m just so warm in this one-piece-oversized-down-filled-bathing-suit-strait-jacket-thing kind of way” so I laid him on the floor. And he just stayed there. Didn’t say anything, so I walked away, and his eyes kind of closed but not all the way. So I left Mini-Tex awake on the floor, then I picked up my two year old, French, trashy magazine and read for a couple of minutes before checking to determine that he was out. And I left him there, sleeping in the middle of the floor. One of my finest hours as a parent.

I Call It “Baby Fetch”

Listen, sometimes, you just need a minute. Occasionally it’s to make coffee and you hand your child a package of fire engine stickers which ends with tiny fire engine sized carpets after your child sticks the entire sheet to the rug and in attempting to remove the stickers you create fire engine shaped bald patches in the rug and a handful of fuzzy, miniature carpets. Other times, well, you’re out of stickers, so you get creative. Baby Fetch was invented while I was trying to write a letter, Mini Tex wanted to play soccer. Instead I threw his beach ball as far as I could and he ran after it. In between throws I’d pen a handful of words. I regret nothing because Mini-Tex is going to show that Golden Doodle who’s boss at the park this summer.

At This Point In The Winter, I’m Debating Wrapping Him In A Couple Of Duvets And Calling It A Day- Obviously I’d Make His Head Stick Out, So I Don’t See The Problem With This

We’ve agreed that snowsuits are winter’s answer to one piece bathing suits? Uncomfortable, only used a couple months of the year and wearing them during your teens will get you laughed at etc. My biggest beef with snowsuits is that I don’t know where my baby ends and the snowsuit begins. Problematic from the point of view of “Are you cold?” randomly fondles the snowsuit, “Oh you’re just fine”. When really your baby’s hand is an ice cube but you can’t find it in the endless folds of fabric.

The worst example of this was the ten minutes that Mini-Tex spent with two legs shoved into one pant leg of his snow suit. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why the snowsuit wasn’t fitting properly and then when I finally realized the problem, I was so fed up with the entire business that I needed a break. So I left Mini-Tex lying in the middle of the floor with his little legs pinned together while I regrouped in the bedroom upstairs and debated a ten AM vodka shot because we’ve established that I’m an awe inspiring parent. One would think that I’d realize that an entire pant leg was just fabric but nope, because snowsuits take your children and make them significantly larger. It’s like taking a small European child and making them North American in five minutes or less.

I would say if you must judge me, bring me hard liquor first, or offer to dress my son for playing the snow.

I’m Becoming The Lady At Walmart Who Fights People For A Television on Black Friday and Ends Up As An Unintentional Youtube Celebrity

This is now a blood sport. My Fuel Up To Win card now has one piece missing in each of the sections INCLUDING the $100,000 prize. This morning alone I tackled a grizzled old trapper at the gas station to pry six tickets out of his gnarled arthritic hands. Actually that’s not true, for some reason, probably because he lives in a cave with only a beaver for company, the trapper didn’t know about Fuel Up To Win.

Consequently, when the kindly cashier handed him his tickets, he proceeded to rip into them like he was a starved wolverine feasting upon a squirrel.  The cashier intervened and helped him to open the second ticket. After discovering that he didn’t win a car or another moose head for his cave wall, the trapper threw his tickets at her and stomped out. She was balling them up to toss in the trash when I sprinted for the cash- “I’ll take those” I said. She handed the whole ripped mess over to me and I pocketed it quickly. Then I purchased a small box of Glossettes to earn myself a ticket.

In case you’re sitting in the wings, judging me for abusing the contest rules and buying a small box of candy just to play. Yes I’m there, judge away. But what you should also know is that it wasn’t my first visit to a Coop Gas Bar that day. At nine AM, after being kept awake by Mini-Tex’s terrible cough and my own GI bug, I woke up wanting only one thing – a chance to play. Well two things, I also wanted Smarties.

The problem was that I had told someone in town that I wasn’t feeling well last night. That I was so sick in fact, that I had to cancel our plans for that day. This is a very, very small town, that becomes microscopically small when you do something like dash into the grocery store wearing pyjama bottoms and no bra, then suddenly your child’s teacher, your boss and that lady you hate because she always has her hair perfectly coiffed are all waiting at the checkout with you. Man, I hate Samantha; her outfits are always fabulous too.

Having lived in this tiny town for almost a year now, and having already made the mistake of going to the mall on a Saturday, I knew all of this. Meaning, that I knew that I couldn’t take our stroller out for the quick walk to the gas bar because I would see no less than 10 people I knew. All of them would know that both Mini-Tex and I were ill, so I would be forever marked as the negligent parent taking her ailing son out and the bad friend who cancels but isn’t too sick to go for a walk. So walking was out, which was just as well because I was actually too sick to walk.

At 8:37 AM, I drove the 500 meters to the gas bar. I’m ashamed to say it, but it was the only way I could be within a minute of a bathroom and get my Fuel Up To Win ticket. On the way, I debated asking Jesus to stop paying attention to all the lepers and poor people and steer everyone I knew away from the gas bar so I could buy my early morning treat in anonymity. I decided not to, that as awful as it would be to be seen purchasing chocolate before nine AM on a Monday, the people whose noses were falling off needed prayers more.

This morning, I got lucky and was in and out of the convenience store with my tickets in hand before someone could so much as say “How’s that husband of yours?” and I didn’t see anyone that I knew which means that about half of the people recognized me. This is my new gambling low. I always wondered how people could throw punches over electronics, but now, hitting rock bottom, chewing on my second box of candy today, I know that I’m a short hop away from boxing with strangers over a TV.

The Reason For My Burgeoning Toilet Paper Collection

  1. A bunch of teenagers are coming over later and I have a vendetta to settle with a house down the street. Also, can you point me in the direction of the eggs?
  2. I’m hosting a bridal shower and we’re doing the make a wedding dress out of TP activity. So fun!
  3. My toddler is constructing a giant fluffy castle and wants to add another turret.
  4. What? This isn’t used for insulation?
  5. My aunt with the iffy stomach is coming for the weekend.
  6. We keep playing the “Mommy is a mummy” game. It takes a lot more rolls than you’d think to completely encase such a small person as myself.
  7. I saw a mattress made of toilet paper on Pintrest and decided to try it. Like all Pintrest ideas, it seemed good at the time but now I’m halfway through the project and am regretting all of my life choices that have led to this.
  8. The adult version of the frat boy beer can collection is toilet paper; I’ve decided to proclaim my adulthood by showcasing my Charmin in all its glory to the neighbours on our bay window ledge. If this doesn’t make me block captain, I don’t know what will!
  9. The ball pit balls are missing and this seemed like a roll-y equivalent.
  10. I’ve actually hit that low point in the Fuel Up To Win Contest; I have no more food to buy because it’s just myself and my son at home right now and we were sick over the weekend, meaning that we didn’t eat much. So I’m buying toilet paper. Lots of TP. Twice a day. Judge me all you like; I’m having so much darn fun.

The Answer to My Husband’s Question of “Why Do We Have 38 Bananas, 7 Liters of Milk and 12 Pounds of Baloney?”

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m a gambling addict. I wasn’t aware of this quality of mine until recently; my extreme inner cheapskate would never permit me to actually spend money on gambling, even quarter slot machines eat at my frugal soul. Sitting at the slots, I would agonize internally- “That was a quarter you just lost” I’d admonish myself, “That money could have purchased eight whole peanut M&Ms out of a candy machine!” So slots are out, as is poker and any other card game because I’m not one for games. The lottery is too unlikely as a winning venture and even scratch cards tend to get on my money saving nerves after a couple of losing tickets, but contests run by businesses? Count me in.

Once upon a time, before caffeine spelled my imminent demise, I loved coffee, and in the New Year, I LOVED Roll Up The Rim To Win, an annual event at the Canadian institution of Tim Horton’s. As a student, my once daily cuppa joe would become a jittery morning, afternoon and sleepless night, three-times-a-day habit during the contest. All in the name of rolling up the rim to discover a free doughnut or coffee. But then, tragically, I grew up and got myself a drip filter, thus my inner cheapskate killed this once beloved tradition in favor of saving money by brewing coffee at home.

Now enter the Prairie past time of “Fuel Up To Win”. The name is deceiving because if Tex and I were dependent on putting gas in our car to participate- we’d lose. Even if we were to drive all over town every single day- we’d fuel up once every two months, it’s just not a large place. As avid cyclists and staunch environmentalists, we use even less fuel. The contest began at the pump, but extended to the grocery stores, meaning that each time a person buys milk or kielbasa, you’re given a ticket to win. In other words, I’m in cheapskate gambling heaven.

Purchase $25 of groceries, you get one ticket, $50 of eggs and the like will get you two tickets but packing your cart with $100 worth of yogurt and such will earn you three tickets to win. Here’s the frugal catch – it’s $25 and UNDER. Meaning a person could buy $11 dollars of groceries and still get a chance to win- or even two dollars! This is why I’ve found myself visiting the grocery store every single day. Sometimes twice.

Occasionally I’ll get lucky and some distracted shopper will leave hard earned tickets behind at the cash. At which point I’ll ask whether I can have them. And God bless the underpaid youth- they always nod and push the tickets my way while scanning the rest of my order. It creates the kind of feeling that one only gets when they realize that they’ve accidentally placed a “Z” on a triple letter score in Scrabble. It’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, it’s beautiful; it makes you want to fall on your knees in appreciation of the youth’s ambivalence. As it is, I just shove the tickets into my pockets and speed away before the cashier changes their mind.

Then comes my favourite part- the actual ticket. Tim Horton’s coffee cups have nothing on this game. First of all, there are THREE tickets- they’re all placed on a game card. The playing card itself has separate sections so one filled section may earn a barbeque or another will earn $50 in grocery gift certificates. And then there is the piece de resistance- the section that if all the matching tickets are found, gets one person $100,000 dollars cash. All this just for buying chicken wings that I would have purchased anyway!  My inner frugal miser is doing joyful cartwheels in a bouncy house over this.

Yes, often there are duplicate tickets, but amass eight of those and you’ve got a chance to enter yet another contest! Oh my cheapskate self is crowing with pleasure. Then as if all of that wasn’t exciting enough, the three tickets are packaged within a larger ticket that could be a coupon, or another chance at a different contest or perhaps a free KitKat. Free chocolate? I’ll take eight!

So all of this excitement has led to frequent trips to the grocery store. What I’ve discovered is that, after visiting the grocery store every single day, sometimes twice for two weeks, is that one eventually runs out of groceries to buy. It’s gotten to the point where I’m avoiding purchasing such staples as toilet paper or dish soap because I could buy those any day whereas today we definitely need apples. The contest has also led to an overconsumption of kale on my part. It’s the one food item that I can justify eating in mass quantities in order to have something to put on the grocery list the next day. And while I could spend only a couple of dollars purchasing one item, I feel that’s a bit like gaming the system, especially during my second visit of the day after my son has enjoyed his second free cookie from the bakery. (Yes, I stuff my two year old full of baked goods so that he’ll willingly accompany me to the grocery store a couple of times a day. You can judge me after I’ve won a free lawn mower.)

A friend nicely pointed out that I may have a problem. Which is true. But it’s a short lived one- the contest closes in mid-April. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with myself on days like yesterday, when it was too slippery to drive and too snowy for the stroller so I hauled my thirty pound toddler over two kilometers on a sled in the name of kale, frozen pizza and a “Fuel Up To Win Ticket”. Such is the life of an addict.