These past months with the SodaStream Source have been fun—with summer afoot, I’ve thought up other places I could include the ultra-portable carbonation machine—days out at the park, trips down to the Toronto Islands, parties, hydrating garage sale customers, or even just on more nights out on the patio. Since it doesn’t need to plug in, uses no batteries, is fairly lightweight and pretty compact, there’re many places I can get my Bubbles My Way—I just need to use a little imagination!
For this month’s post, SodaStream asked: “What empowers you?”
What keeps me going more than anything else is knowing I’m making a positive difference in the world. Whether through covering things people wouldn’t consider otherwise; raising a son that’ll know the key to a successful life is the balance between being respected, respecting others and respecting oneself; or even little things like holding doors, giving up seats, or donating my loose change to someone needing it more than me… I long for a world better than the one we have today.
But much of that positive change has to start from within, and that’s what I hope to show my family this May.
Mother’s Day the Palmer Way
You see it around Christmastime: when people look at the lengthy lists of gifts to buy, wondering how they’ll afford it all. Dinners to plan and parties to attend—you have countless competing priorities crashing together, and only one you to pull it all together!
In some ways, that’s how I feel about May.
For 30 years, I’ve spent Mother’s Day in Mississauga celebrating my mother and everything she’s done for me. But now, with a family of my own it feels… different. I still got my Mom a card (and my grandmother too, as she was up visiting from Jamaica) and braved our rotten Toronto traffic to stop by and say “Hi”, but after years trying to top the gifts from those before, I don’t think anyone can beat what we gave her last year….
This May, we’re celebrating Sarah’s 1st Mother’s Day, our 3rd wedding anniversary, and her birthday (I’d tell you the number, but sometimes you need to value your life more than you do accuracy!) With so many milestones afoot in the span of mere weeks, I want to give her the world without the disposable income or time that we used to have. Parenthood is by no means a light undertaking, and I want to use this month to remind Sarah that not only is she a great Mom, but also a great wife and great woman as well. We’re both trying to figure parenting out daily, but she bears the brunt of both great experiences and bad as she spends her days with the little guy, so I wanted to do something to really show how much I appreciate it. With cards from myself and the little guy, a few little gifts and some time to relax on our patio while I kept him entertained, I think we were off to a good start.
So with a foot in your old life and another in the new, what do you do? Celebrate the woman who gifted you with life or the one who blessed you with a child of your own? Obviously, the answer is both, but it’s not an easy balance to keep. Though you’ve got a kid, you’ll never stop being someone else’s — a reality you’ll need to constantly revisit through your entire parental journey. Though reconciling this is my battle to face, Sarah has a journey as well—and not only her own, but that with all the other mothers she’s befriended in such a short time!
What REALLY Empowers Me?
This past weekend marked six months since we became parents. Over that time, Sarah’s not only excelled as a mother, she’s also been honing her innate community manager skills as the admin of a self-created Facebook group 150+ members strong for Moms with kids born in November 2013! Those bonds have translated over to our lives as well in our East York baby boomtown, with plenty of new Mom friends in our neighbourhood to share walks, parenting programs, coffee visits and dinners.
Through this group, we discovered that some of the other Moms use SodaStreams, too, using their machines to customize the drinks they have daily, which is important, because as new parents, we need to model better choices for our children, whether it’s what we put in our bodies, how we treat the environment or how we spend our money. I’ve gotten many questions about the SodaStream since the first blog post came out, so it’s good to know that I’ve got some real-life examples to point out if anyone ever needs to discuss how it can affect their life.
So thank you, Sarah — my other half, my BFF and mother of my child. I’ll try to make this month—and this life—as special as I can for you. It’s a long road ahead, but I think we’ve got what it takes to make it work. You and our son are what empower me, and I hope I never forget that.
Disclosure: I am part of the PTPA Brand Ambassador Program with SodaStream Canada and I received compensation as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own. You can connect with SodaStream Canada on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and their website!
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
I’ve struggled with this post for a while now. I’ll look at my life, wondering why anyone would want to read about the things I do—people think I live some glamorous “blogger life”, but I spend most of it at home or work, throwing in time for food, sleep, hygiene and commuting. After blogging for so long, sure I’ve started working with brands to introduce themselves to new audiences, but don’t get it twisted—there’s no one rolling out the red carpet when I sit down at home to get my blog on.
Sarah recently pointed out that I hadn’t taken a break since the two weeks I took off right after our son was born, and six months later—while I deny being burnt out—I definitely feel it. I can feel my annoyance with people I’d usually just ignore. I feel my mind scrambling to finish everything now, now, NOW as I do well with the beginnings and endings of journeys, but I loathe being stuck in the middle. I feel like everything’s in transition, and I can’t wait to make it to the other side with a better idea of the work I’m called to do.
Though it’s a smidge late for my monthly wrap-up, I’ve kept busy both on- and offline, making the most of my life despite an unappreciative work culture and the challenges of parenthood. I entered Tobago’s Division of Tourism and Transportation’s 60 Days in Paradise contest, hoping for some time in the sun and a change of pace from Toronto’s constant grind. I taught photography fundamentals to up-and-coming women in the fashion and beauty industries, taking a first step toward teaching and public speaking, two things I’ve wanted to grow in for a long time now. I’ve made sandwiches, reclaimed some of my ancient past from my parents’ place and dedicated my son in his first step of being part of our church and the community that comes with it.
All things considered, I’ve started Spring off in a good place, huddled indoors avoiding The Winter that Would Not End, and if you’re anything like my fellow Torontonians and I, you know that winter sorely overstayed its welcome! But here on the other end of Gore-Tex boots and thermal underwear, my teeth stopped chattering and fingers thawed long enough to tell you what mischief I did get into those 61 days….
Hanging with Team Trolling
Oftentimes, I can’t believe it’s only been 2 years since I started hanging out with these guys. If there’s a constant in my life outside of my home, taxes and a workload that just won’t quit, it’s the Trolls. Chatting daily on numerous platforms, we’re always up to something.
In March and April, the shenanigans happened at three places….
Cel’s Birthday at Pauper’s Pub
Unlike #SavvyMoney or #DoomzDay, we never came up with a good hashtag for Marcel’s birthday. That should be his gift next year!
Marcel’s girlfriend and her roommate convinced me to give Sons of Anarchy another chance after its first 5 seasons left me feeling lukewarm. Glad I did, because Season 6 is ah-may-zing!!!
Obtained yet another illicit roti delivery courtesy of Justin and Marie—part of Team Trolling’s Western Division—and all I had to do in exchange was pick some cables up from Infinite Cables. I’d make that trade any day.
Val didn’t wind up with credit card fraud on this visit to Pauper’s, which is always a bonus!
The Trolls Hit Pizzeria Libretto, aka Casey’s Favourite Pizza Joint in All of Toronto
red pepper, almond romesco sauce, Libretto herb oil
house-made crema fresca, lemon, chives, rosemary
spicy bomba tomato sauce, grilled crostino, grana padano
If you came here for a food review, might I direct you to Justin’s blog on the matter—I was there to take photos and enjoy the company. But no word of a lie—I haven’t found a pizza in this city yet that can trump Libretto’s Nduja Sausage pizza, and trust me—I eat a lot of pizza!
We managed to use our social media swagger to secure their semi-private room in the basement (sorry, table we bumped—feel free to holla at us if you want to tell us how you really feel), and with our special guest JennJenn of AwesomeJennJennnotoriety fame, it made for an excellent night.
By far the oddest server ever, who not only served us with style, but may have eaten the last piece of Marie’s delicious lemon meringue pie (thus coining what will only be called the “Catchphrase of the Year”), and convinced me to have another beer in the most unexpected way possible when I thought I was already covered!
Somehow getting JennJenn’s leftover proscuitto pizza switched with Lily’s… questionable white anchovy pizza. Sadly, neither pizza was eaten, with Lily throwing JennJenn’s out and Sarah throwing Lily’s out after it sat for days. It was probably for the best.
All Star Wings and Ribs
Freshly prepared Nacho Chips topped with a 1/2 lb. of cheese, diced tomato, jalapenos, and shallots. Served with salsa and sour cream. Add ‘Certified Angus Beef’ brand chili (4 oz.) Add grilled chicken (5 oz.) Add pulled pork
6 battered mozzarella sticks. Served with zesty cajun dip.
BBQ, Cajun, Creole Mustard
Sweet Chili Thai, Creamy Garlic Parmesan
Finally, we made our way to the northern Mississaugan reaches to catch Game 5 of the Raptors’ ill-fated first round playoff series. It’s hard to take photos of the food when your fingers are slathered in wing sauce, but I can tell you that the food, friends, “F Brooklyn” tee that Jo had thoughtfully provided, and a heart-stopping basketball game made for a very fulfilling night.
If only the traffic out of Toronto hadn’t been so horrible.
Most notable, other than keeping our server very amused with our antics, was the game and going H.A.M. as the Raptors blew our minds… and then disappointed… and then got lucky. JEEZ, Raps.
Oh, and schooners. Way too much beer in my life, people.
Held in King West Village’s 99 Sudbury, Ford threw a bash to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang, a muscle car journeying through cinematic time from 1964’s Goldfinger from the James Bond film series all the way to 2014’s Need for Speed (starring the likes of Aaron Paul and Scott Mescudi).
For me, #FordMustang50 was an excellent case study in what happens when you make yourself scarce, suddenly reappearing after a bit of a hiatus.
SPECS AND INFO Owner: George O’Hearn, Oakville, Ontario Colour: Blue medium metallic with matching medium blue interior (as ordered) Built date: December 23rd 1969 Sold new in Detroit and imported across the river to Wndsor in 2000 where the car was restored. 351 cubic inch Cleveland “M” engine and close ratio four speed with Hurst shifter. The car is an original “H” code (meaning it came with a 351 Cleveland 2 barrel). The transmission and rear-end are original to the car with only the engine being upgraded. Power disc brakes were added as a safety upgrade (factory available option in 1970).
Okay, not exactly true—I popped in at ReGiftTO, I managed to hit the Canadian International Auto Show, but it’s all different now. Any time I go out, it’s like I’m trying to make up for all this social time I missed in one big bang. I still need to learn a lesson about taking things in stride, but I’m not there yet.
Since 2013’s Blue Party, Ford’s helped me grow my appreciation for vehicles—but for me, the night wound up being less about the cars and more about reconnecting with the friends I’d seldom seen since my son made his début, and meeting new people who had all sorts of stories to share! I talked frugality and storytelling with an elementary school teacher; discussed the relatively new trend of urbanites who see no value in having a driver’s license; and even did okay in the trivia they held to award prizes (despite knowing almost none of the answers!) For a better look at the night’s events, I recommend hitting Christine’s blog on the matter 🙂
The 2014 100: Updates
Life isn’t simply some template for you to slot your experiences into—life evolves along with your relationships, environment and personality. With that in mind, maybe it’s foolish to compile a 100-item list of things to accomplish when a year’s barely begun—it’s good to have goals, but over a year, our interests and opinions can change. Much like I said last year, while the list won’t change by the year’s end, the person behind it definitely will.
All things considered, I did knock a few more items off of the list in the last bit….
6 – Open an RESP for DoomzToo
The maximum annual RESP contribution that the federal government will top-up is $2,500, which may seem like a lot, but between gifts, tax refunds and Universal Child Care Benefits, you can make it work. I won’t go over the rules and regulations behind them, but when you get a kid, it’s smart to get on this as soon as possible to take advantage of the magic of compound interest.
So with Sarah’s help, we got an RESP open, and in another couple of decades, hopefully we’ll see a return from the investment 😉
26 – Guest blog more often
Sometimes my ambition extends beyond my ability, and that conundrum presented itself repeatedly throughout March and April!
As a general rule, if you’re already struggling with content for your site, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing for others.
But despite that two-month slump, I’m coming back swinging for the rest of the year, ready to tell the world exactly what’s on my mind.
47 – Finish the family tree to the best of my ability
Thousands of entries and hours of research later, the family tree’s as far as it’ll get without going to Jamaica for more information. I remember struggling with making one when I was young, as much of my family history wasn’t documented or too muddled by generations of assumption and oral history. Perhaps it’s that feeling of frustration that drives me, never wanting my son to experience the same and giving him everything he needs to know about where he came from.
I’d love to eventually take this a step further and dig up some church records from all over the Caribbean, but until free time and a whole heap of money intersect paths in my life, I think I’ll consider this one done.
74 – See a doctor about the mysterious pain in my side
The mysterious pain in my side’s been solved—turns out when you’re unaccustomed to bending over to grab your kid from his crib, your body can react in unexpected ways.
When I pick things up, I bend with my knees—I’m better off with a bum knee than a bad back, after all! That, though, is not an option when grabbing a baby from a crib, as I’d often do with our son in the earlier days before sleep training.
The more I got him, the less it bothered me, until the pain had gone. Also, carrying a 20-pound baby around makes you stronger, like it or not. Yeah, I think my physical can wait ’til 2015.
So I did it—I finally did it. I wrote this post without putting too many people to sleep! It’s over a week into May, and things aren’t getting any quieter. The summer’s the busiest season for all the social activities in Toronto, and even with a baby, I have a feeling that this one’s will be a year to remember!
Catch you on the flip side,
Tell your wife, tell your kids, tell your husbands:
When Sarah got me doing the #100HappyDays, I thought it’d be a good exercise to teach me how to write shorter posts, giving my readers a break from the lengthy novellas I usually write. A daily picture with a short description—not that hard, right? Except that all too soon, I’d lapse back to my old habits, and contextualized them with lengthy stories instead of posting pictures that simply spoke for themselves (a thousand words and all)!
It worked well enough until I just didn’t have the energy to keep it up.
With enough real-time stuff to keep me busy (visiting my parents in Mississauga, celebrating a friend’s birthday and having company over); side projects to work on (archiving old drawings at 1200 dpi so I can resurrect my Fish ‘n’ Chimps webcomic, marathoning through Seinfeld and playing this stupid game); and of course, the stuff that pays the bills and keeps my family flourishing (spending time with Sarah and our son, writing for The Hooray Collective, PTPA and other clients, and—of course—the 9-5), the weekend got away from me, the blog posts I planned to write fleeting with it.
But stumbling blocks only last forever if you let them win, and my blog posts won’t write themselves!
Welcome back, Mr. Palmer—it’s time to get your blog on!
I love this #100HappyDays project, though—I find out about plenty of things I’d never know about otherwise. Like when I posted the doodle I drew yesterday, one of my Twitter followers told me about Art House Projects’ Sketchbook Project, where you can get a sketchbook mailed to you and be part of a permanent art installation! There’s no end of cool things to try out in the world!
With that said, I’m calling it a night. Tomorrow’s another happy day to have!