Guest post from Andrea, owner of SchoolWorx
Yikes…the last week of school, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit anxious…but mostly because each day this week my kids are bringing home piles of papers, notebooks, writing samples, artwork…well basically everything and anything they created these past 10 months and piling it on my kitchen counter. Times 2 kids in full time school…that makes for one huge pile!
THIS IS WHY I STARTED SCHOOLWORX…
I get it! It’s not just another scribble, it’s part of our kids childhood memories. I always found it incredibly difficult to throw away my kids’ precious one-of-a-kind creations, from their first drawings of people to the hand made cards with their little hand prints painted and stamped as a flower.
The concept for SchoolWorx really began after my oldest child brought home a painting from preschool of a tree…but it was no ordinary tree, it had Rice Krispies glued one by one as the leaves. I thought to myself “How in the world could I save this one?” and so it started. I began photographing those pieces of art that would not stand the test of time in a box and made my children their own hard covered art books.
Once I began sharing these with friends and family it was not hard to see that I had clearly solved a problem for many of them – the desire to get rid of the bins taking up space and the relief they felt when they were finally going to preserve their children’s art that they so longed to do! Because believe me when I say…we ALL have bought scrapbooks from our favourite craft supply store…in the hopes that one day we will get the chance to fill them up! I have two that are still covered in plastic lying in my desk drawer:)
SchoolWorx uses professional series art scanners and photography to capture the perfect image, even those macaroni and feather projects look like they can be picked off the page. Chances are some of your little artists masterpieces are scratched or torn, we do our best to bring them back to their original beauty. We create high quality books and back our service with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
~Andrea, mother of 3
If you are looking for something fun to challenge your kids this upcoming week, send them outside with a camera. The Kids Photography Academy is holding another contest this month to encourage kids to take photos of what matters to them, from their unique perspective. “Our June Photo Contest is here! You voted in the perfect theme for this month’s contest. “Bikes and Skateboards” are out everywhere at this time of year. And we want you to go and capture your unique perspective, somehow incorporating a bike or skateboard. Crop in tight, get a silhouette, capture the action, let us feel the environment. We are looking forward to seeing what your creativity come to life in your images. Just make sure you get your entries in by June 30th and of course share the fun with your friends.” If your child is already showing an interest in photography, you’ll want to check out KPA’s lessons. They are well-presented, easy to follow and your kids will learn core photography techniques while having fun at the same time.
Something completely surprised me this week. We had just moved into our fifth (and hopefully final until we retire) home. Boxes were strewn everywhere, the house was a disorganized mess, and the sheer volume of work was overwhelming. When you move a house, especially when there is still construction happening in the home, your stress level is at it’s peak.
Moving – much like assembling Ikea furniture - is a true test of the strength of a marriage.
My husband of 10 years knows enough to stay out of my way when I am trying to assemble the kitchen. He knows me well enough to stand on the sidelines while I make decisions about furniture placement. He smiles sweetly when I change my mind and place furniture the way he suggested in the first place. At some point during every one of our moves, I had a mental and physical breakdown: I could actually feel myself losing control, wanting to throw everything out and start new. My shoulders connected with my ears, my mind was furiously working out what happens next (the curse of a video editor), and I was easily frustrated.
But this time was completely different.
It was more than just the feeling that this was the house our boys would live in until they left. I found myself calm, laughing off the inconveniences of moving boxes, construction workers and unfinished closets. I stunned myself when the dinner hour arrived and I was still going strong. After 2 days of constant work, I was not feeling overwhelmed, or anxious or ready to cry. In fact, after almost 12 hours of unpacking on our third day in the house, I didn’t even think twice when my husband suggested we start washing the tiled walls of our just completed ensuite bathroom. For the first time in a decade, I climbed up a ladder and started washing the walls.
While I was contorting my body into odd angles to reach the corners of the ceiling, it dawned on me that I WAS ON A LADDER and I wasn’t afraid of falling off. I felt centred and confident and I knew exactly why.
While the scale may not be moving, the benefits of building strength are manifesting themselves in other, less obvious ways.
After 10 weeks of working with personal trainer Kim Winsor of Kickstart Fitness, I was re-gaining my strength. After losing 10 inches of body fat, I was feeling my centre of gravity shift. After the last 3 weeks of intense, sweaty workouts, a 15-hour day was a breeze. I am stronger, I have more stamina, and I am not so easily stressed.
Working on changing my outside has inadvertently changed my insides – and that is what keeps me going through the rest of this move.
I can’t take it any more. The mudslinging. The name calling. The collection agencies. The bullying.
Just. Freaking. Stop.
I am tired of reading about parents complaining about having to pay for lunch-time supervision, materials and bussing. It’s only been a day since the Calgary Board of Education approved the fee hikes, and already the media are pouncing on stories about parents refusing to pay fees.
This is not a revolutionary act. It is negligent and selfish.
To those parents who can, but refuse to pay, shame on you.
You are not solving this crisis by withholding your dues, you are exacerbating the problem.
Part of having education as one of our fundamental rights is having to pay for the education we have already received. We borrowed from our parent’s taxes and our children and grandchildren will do the same. If you don’t pay your fair share now, your children will pay more later.
So stop your whining and pay your goddamn bills. Like an adult.
And while you’re stuffing your envelope to help sustain the future of our free education, put a few extra $20 bills in there. That’s for the teachers who use their own money to buy supplies, books, and anything else they need, especially at this time of the year when the budget is exhausted and the cupboard is bare.
Here’s a skill testing question.
You know you’ve turned a corner in your workout regime when:
a) your spam filter can’t keep up with the deluge of buy me, try me, dietary supplements emails
b) your social media feed shifts focus from food choices to workout challenges
c) your partner jokes about how you will leave once you are all “fit and shit”
d) your children want to join you because now it looks fun since you no longer cry during the workout
e) all of the above
The answer doesn’t really matter, what matters is that somehow, we got here.
Weeks 5 and 6 of my Change series really forced me to ramp up my creativity and my workouts, respectively.
I am no longer just a fat girl working it off, I am now a model for women of all ages and sizes who have been down this road over and over again. I know it sounds like I am full of myself, but why shouldn’t I be? Putting myself out there was not an easy decision. I still have the hurtful words in my head from that dance recital when I was 10: “It took a lot of guts for you to get on stage wearing that leotard and looking the way you do.” Yes, it does take guts. But when you are enjoying yourself, it does not matter how you look. What matters is simply the doing.
The audience is keeping me honest, and I am loving every email, message and text I get that encourages me to keep going, that is filled with words of support, that gives me a glimpse into the heart of someone who took the time to watch.
This past weekend, I posted Week 4 of my Change video series. The response has been fantastic. People are cheering me on, sending me emails with encouraging words, and many are jumping back into long-abandoned fitness regimes.
All weekend, my smartphone vibrated and pinged and beeped. It was amazing (for me) and annoying (for my husband). I was feeling tremendously excited that people were actually watching my videos.
Somewhere between stopping for coffee and driving through the car wash, I had a sobering shift in my thinking. My thoughts went from “WOW! People are watching me” to “OH.MY.GOD People are watching me”.
Suddenly, I became ACCOUNTABLE.
One of the reasons I wanted to document this journey and take on a personal trainer was because I need to be held accountable to someone else. That cliche of “doing it for myself” was just crap. In my world, eating my way to the bottom of a bag of chips or forcing myself to get on the elliptical for 30 minutes have equal value as “doing it for myself”.
But being accountable to your personal trainer is very different from being accountable to YOUR VIEWERS.
Now, there were people who want to see this journey to the very end.
Now, I had to commit to creating a video every week.
Now, I had to acknowledge my defeats and my success.
Now, I had accountability on a grander scale than I imagined.
Now, there were people who would throw in the towel if I did.
Accountability has now become RESPONSIBILITY.
For some people, that would be a huge burden. For me, it is a blessing. That sense of responsibility will propel me forward. It will keep me going when I want to fall face-first into a heaping, cheesy, plate of nachos. It will keep me honest and real and genuine.
So please, keep watching and share it with your friends. Let me know if I’ve inspired you to start a program, or continue with one. You need to tell me when I’ve struck a chord or when I’ve annoyed you.
Because let’s face it: now that I know you’re watching, you’re accountable too.
If you’ve been to any kind of event lately, you will undoubtedly have experienced what I like to call The Human Pillar: the barrier of people, all armed with smartphones, jockeying to take photos and video.
I often find myself wondering what people do with all the photos and all the footage. Most frequently, one or two pics might find their way onto social media. Usually, though, the bulk is deleted. I’m certain there is great footage being dumped into cyberspace.
BUT WHAT IF THAT FOOTAGE COULD BE COLLECTED AND EDITED INTO A VIDEO?
Using the You Shoot/We Edit package, your guests can capture candid, fun video that will missed by a hired videographer. Having your friends & family take video means close loved ones will be capturing behind-the-scenes, personal, casually epic moments. It won’t be a top-notch Hollywood production, but it will be a montage of moments and memories that the people closest to you know you will enjoy and you never would have seen otherwise.
If you are wondering whether you can really trust friends & family to shoot all the video, of course you can. Almost everyone you know is armed with a point-and-shoot camera or a smart phone and have already logged dozens of hours shooting fun pictures and videos. You can strategically choose who you’d like to hold the camera, or you can just place them on your chosen tables and let everyone have a go.
The result will be a wholly entertaining video of unique footage from your wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, retirement party, client appreciation event, or whatever event is important to you.
For details and pricing, please visit the Services page.
The story that unfolded for us on Friday night is so unbelievable that I had no choice but to title this post as if I were writing a short story. That is exactly how I will write it, too.
The evening had turned out to be lovely. The air was warmer than it had been in weeks. Every window in the house had been opened that morning, in order to let the winter staleness make way for the freshness of spring.
We were tired, our shoulders heavy with the stress of preparing our house for sale. This was to be our fourth sale, but the first time in a decade of cross-country moves that we were moving within the city. Still, despite our experience with purging and de-cluttering there was still so much to be done. Last minute bathroom sweeps. Wiping away the dust that was moved around the house by the flurry of activity and the spring breeze. Hiding the evidence of our mundane daily routines.
We missed the sun setting – something we enjoy more now that the days are longer. Dinner happened later than normal and bedtime had completely bypassed us. All attention was focussed on presenting our house in the best possible light. We had 4 showings scheduled for the next day – the first day of what we hoped would be a short adventure.
As the last bit of dust was being wiped from the door frames, we were surprised when our doorbell rang. Twice, in quick succession, with a sense of urgency. There was a man on the front porch, standing in the darkness, barely visible in the backlight from the street.
“I’d like to buy your house, please. Tonight. Full price.”
I stumbled over my words, trying to find an appropriate answer.
“Ummm, okay, but we aren’t showing yet. Ummm. Ummm. Call our realtor. Call her. I’ll call her too, okay?” I closed the door.
My husband was already on the phone – first calling his friends to see who was behind the prank, then with our realtor (Bernice Dubon, who truly is the most skilled realtor we have ever worked with), explaining what was happening. The call from the gentleman was incoming as well.
The man sat on our porch for a while, making his own phone calls.
Yes, it was creepy. It was weird. It was so unbelievable that I tried to contain my hope that this house could be sold in less than 7 hours from listing.
My husband opened the front to door to tell the man our realtor said he should contact his realtor. The man took the opportunity to outline the terms of the sale, to let us know he “is not a crazy man”. It was almost as if he wanted to seal the deal right there, on the concrete stoop. After some discussion, the two men shook hands, sealing a promise to stay awake long enough to sign the papers.
We waited. Bernice came over. We waited. We had tea. We waited and danced around conversation, while each of us wondered inwardly if this was really going to happen.
Shortly after 11pm, the doorbell rang once more. This time, a different man – the first gentleman’s realtor – handed us an offer. We sent it back with one revision. Before midnight, we were conditionally sold.
We discovered that the man who first rang our doorbell had already been outbid on a number of houses in our neighbourhood. He was an immigrant with a family who had managed to carve out a great life here in Calgary. They were ready to step up and move into their dream house.
Ringing our bell took a lot of guts and nerve. We will never know if he decided to be bold on his own or if his wife pushed him to do it. We do know his realtor advised him not to do it. But he drove to our house, stepped up on our porch, and pushed that button.
Twice, in rapid succession, with a sense of urgency that comes with chasing your dream.
Today, the World Wide Web is 25 years old. Two and a half decades of evolution since computer users were first able to use their phone lines (landline for those who have never had one) to connect remotely to a bulletin board or a newsgroup (an early version of a forum). Life moves much faster now, and for the better. Everything is accessible, searchable, shareable. When the internet began spreading it’s fingers in 1989, people were ready. The lavish excess of the 80s demanded that we have the latest of anything, but we were also on the verge of a recession. The World Wide Web didn’t know it, but it would become a great source of online chatter and rudimentary gaming as people stopped spending time and money outside the home.
My first computer was an IBM PS1 – for those of you who have no idea what that means, let me just say that the memory was smaller than the smallest USB stick is now and I had enough time to cook mac and cheese while it booted up.
So trust that I know what I’m talking about when I say (or actually scream)
LIFE IS SO MUCH BETTER NOW.
1) Before the world wide web, we had to buy a whole album, on CD, and had to wait to get home to play it to discover that only 2 of the 15 songs were good.
2) Before the world wide web, we had to spend a whole Saturday or Sunday at the library working on a project for school because the encyclopedia set at home was from the 1970s and where else could we get more current information.
3) Before the world wide web, we had to guess when the bus might come and pray that the shelter wasn’t full so we could have a smoke while we waited.
4) Before the world wide web, we actually had to consult a paper version of the yellow pages and risk great personal injury while extracting the most current version from the top shelf of the closet where the last 4 years of yellow and white (see #5) pages were stored.
5) Before the world wide web, if we wanted to look up a number, we had to consult the enormous phone book called the white pages and discovered there was more than one way to spell Smith (just like we discovered there were so many people that had the same last name we did).
6) Before the world wide web, if we had crappy customer service, we had to suck it up because it was the only cool place to shop with your friends and by the time you got home to call your friends and tell them about it, it was forgotten.
7) Before the world wide web, bullying was done in person and you either defended yourself or walked away from it without fear of the torture spreading to everyone in the universe.
8) Before the world wide web, if you wanted to know the most current local news, you had to turn on the radio and wait for an update.
9) Before the world wide web, if you wanted to steal music, you had to have the tape on your ghettoblaster set to pause/record, wait to hear the song on the radio and hope the DJ didn’t talk over the opening.
10) Before the world wide web, we had to wait. For everything. A phone call. A letter in the mail. Our favourite TV program. In line in the cold for concert tickets. News. Answers.
We are a patient lot, those of us born in the 70s or earlier. We’ve done our share of searching, waiting, and wanting. Should the world wide web ever go dark, we are well-equipped to deal with the crisis, especially since our parents still have a library of yellow pages hanging around.
I don’t see the point of penning letters to your 14-year-old self that you will never see. Writing myself a letter to be read on my 88th birthday seems more plausible. So today, my 44th birthday, I did just that.
TO DANA, ON HER 88TH BIRTHDAY
You are probably looking at this letter and trying desperately to recall why you chose age 88. It’s because you have an odd fondness for double digits and the way they roll off your tongue. Yes, you were always weird that way.
I’m certain that you are reading this letter using whatever is the latest technology. You are frustrated because your fingers don’t work as well as they used to and the swipe motions are a bit more complicated when arthritis has set in. The voice recognition works perfectly, but you refuse to use it because the nosy biddies at the retirement community are listening and are louder than you and that’s what your device will pick up anyways.
I wanted you to know that the year leading up to your 44th birthday was filled with transitions. You walked away from a long-term toxic relationship, which left plenty of room for people who love you and planted a permanent smile on your face. You realized that, yeah, you are a giving, forgiving and social person who spent too many years in self-doubt. When you severed the cord that was choking you, you were free to fly.
And did you ever. You started a new company; you spent more time appreciating your husband and boys. You acknowledged the things that had to change and let it be okay that you were not ready to change everything at once.
At 44, you felt really comfortable with who and where you are. You loved watching The Walking Dead as much as you loved Drop Dead Diva. Your best dishes were chicken schnitzel and chicken pot pie with homemade crust. You readily accepted new people into your circles and you were still a great hugger.
I’m sure not much has changed in your personality. You probably still come up with witty one-liners. You probably still laugh your ass off when one of your friends forgets about the Thursday morning yoga class and has beans for dinner on Wednesday night. I am certain that you still encourage your older friends to get off their rockers and walkers and shake their synthetic hips and saggy bottoms when you play Madonna’s Get into the Groove.
And that man sitting by the common room window and flirting with all the ladies? That is your husband. Before you get mad at him, let me remind you that despite his objections, he relented when you wanted to sell the condo and move into the complex. He supported every business venture, every menopausal mood swing, and every dream you chased. He was (and still is) a great father and friend and remains Viagra-free.
So let him flirt. He’ll be waiting for you later when you get home from bingo.
Happy Birthday you crazy broad!