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Please visit my new home for Grace and Me.  We re-launched on a new site to celebrate our first anniversary.  Hope to see you there!

Lets Go To The EX!

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I am re-posting a past blog for a few reasons.  First reason, I have bought my own little piece of cyber-space and am in the middle of trying to move my blog to the new site.  Reason two, @letsgototheex tweeted an invite for people to send pictures taken during recent visits (last two years) to the CNE.  Some of the pics may be used for promotion of the CNE so should be in high resolution.  Do you have an amazing pic that you think they would be interested in?  Visit the link, it opens up to the CNE Facebook page for more details on submissions. 

Tweet from April 8, 2011

LetsGoToTheEX CNE We’re looking for EXcellent CNE Photos. Win prizes! Click here for info:


Original post date: March 9, 2011

Canadian National Exhibition

The EXHIBITION Place landmark is located in Toronto, Ontario.  Last summer I was pleased to be chosen as one of ten official bloggers for the CNE 2010 season.  I got to visit the grounds at will over 18 glorious days of shopping, visiting exhibits, attending concerts, and eating specialty foods from around the world.     

*Official Winning Entry for ‘ Blog for the EX ‘*

Adventures in Parenthood Part 2

 I’ve been making this same pilgrimage annually for nearly twenty years and had it down to a fine art…until it was time to bring my ten month old daughter along for the ride.  Yes, I know I’m not the first person to travel alone with a baby. And I certainly am not the first mom who wanted to pull their hair out while their child screams during most of a three hour flight.  It is bad enough to sit in a cramped seat, with two strangers squeezed into the seats on either side of you.  Now these strangers are peeved at the ear blasting screams from an over-tired, teething, Baby that wants to be anywhere else but in this tin can with wings and wheels.  As I met the stares of some of my fellow passengers, I felt guilty and a little embarrassed…until I remembered that I used to be the stranger squeezed into the tight space next to a mom traveling alone with a squalling infant. How life turns full-circle.  I have visions of all the patience and empathy I will have for my fellow traveling parents.  And finally my tired baby closes her eyes and drifts toward sleep.  Her cries are silenced by drowsiness.  Then my reverie is jolted into reality as a faint aroma of #2 fills the air.    

 By superstar1975

a.k.a. Amy Dell, author of weekly blog “Grace and Me”

Two Left Feet: Tales of a Clumsy Mum

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If you close your eyes and try to conjure up images of grace and movement, you might think of ballerinas, figure skaters, and ballroom dancers.  I would never fit into any of those roles, and have too many clumsy moments that would easily disqualify me from being called graceful.  Yet I have a part-time job in a boutique where 80% of its products are made of glass.  My latest bone-head move involves the destruction of technology.  So hug your Blackberry’s and iPhones close, there is a reason why I don’t own one.  Indulge me as I share my most recent hippopotamas in a china shop tale. 

I had a long shift at the home decor boutique that I work in.  It wasn’t a terrible day as far as serving the retail population normally goes.  My brain was already racing with the 50 things I needed to do in the 3 hours I had left before sweet girl’s bedtime.  As I was leaving work for the day, I had to retrace my steps back to the store no less than four times to retrieve forgotten possessions.  I’m sure my co-workers thought I was nuts.  On my final attempt to leave, I heard my phone ringing from the depths of my tote.  I am on a pay-as-you-go plan, so no one who knows me actually CALLS unless it is important.  I buy the unlimited text plan because it is so much cheaper.  Anyway, the phone is ringing “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (insert tune), I sweep my hand around the bottom of the bag, and pull it out by the case strap.  As I pull the case out of my bag, the phone flies out of the case, doing pretty little cartwheels through the air.  I attempted to catch it in mid-air, but only succeeded in giving it more momentum.  It hit the tile floor with a crack that broke the faceplate off, and the pieces lay directly in front of my left foot.  As I attempted to pick up the carnage that was my phone, I had a crazy knee-jerk reaction and kicked it.  This spasm sent it skidding about 2 meters away from me. It only stopped when it hit a metal tree pot.  The sight of a black projectile zooming on the floor and the resulting PING – CRACK, scared a group of seniors that were mall walking.  

The entire series of events happened in seconds, but time seemed to stretch and yawn.  I stood rooted in the spot I had first attempted to pick my phone up.  The group of mall walkers stood near the metal tree pot, and the air seemed to echo the sound of phone death.  One of them gingerly picked up the phone guts, battery, back plate, camera piece and walked over to me.  She handed me the pieces, it took two hands for her to transfer and two hands for me to grasp, and said; “There, there, I’m sure it will still work.”  I’m sure the look on my face was quite terrible. It was a mixture somewhere in between crying, embarrassment, and curiosity.  You see, I still don’t know who was CALLING me.  And since it was a pay-as-you-go phone, there is no contract and no replacement policy.  I turn zombie mom, and shuffle out to the parking lot where my husband is waiting to pick me up.  I got in the car holding the pieces and actually managed not to cry.  He took the pieces from my hands and began to put the phone back together.  As he was working, I told him about the cartwheeling phone, and my knee-jerk reaction.  By the time I was done venting, he had finished.  After taking a picture, he sent a text to his phone, and declared it fixed.  He said; “They make these things dummy proof and indestructible.  You know, because of all the walking and texting people do now.”  Gee, thanks (insert eye roll).   I responded; “I wouldn’t have even tried to answer it but someone was CALLING me.”  Hubby ignored my remark and began to whistle and drive.  His phone began to buzz and I picked it up to see if it was my text coming through.  It was my text so that was a relief.  While I was there I flipped to the call/message history.  I knew why he was so eager to help put my phone together.  He had CALLED me, because I had taken so long to leave the mall.

*stock photo by

“Wordless” Wednesday or Awareness Wednesday

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So much to do but so....zzzz


April showers bring May flowers…and head fogging allergies.  I just needed a dose of what’s happening in the world this month to shake off the blah’s.  I have wanted to get these links up since last Friday. 

April is a special month for many reasons.  These are just a few of April’s special events from around the world. I’m sure I’ve missed some, or may not even be aware of others.  Feel free to add a link to your special events and observances in the comments:

National Poetry Month (US) (CAN)

National Autism Awareness Month

World Autism Awareness Day/April 2

Mothering Sunday (UK)/April 3

Vimy Ridge Day (CAN)/April 9

Young Poets Week (CAN)/ April 10-16

National Volunteer Week/ April 10-16

International Earth Day/April 22

Easter / April 22 – 25

Tax Day (CAN) April 30

When I Learn How to Fly You’ll Be the First to Know.

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*Disclaimer* No innocent customer service employees were harmed in the production of this blog.  Only the lazy ones, no just kidding.  I have had a few retail and customer service jobs, so am well aware of how crummy they are treated at times.  I try really hard to be patient and kind with the front line staff.  They often take the brunt of customer complaints and general lack of patience.  Often, when mistakes are made by co-workers, it effects everyone on the team/department.  This retail experience was one of those examples…

I have been on a search for new furniture, specifically a dining room table.  This search has dragged over years, mostly because of a tight budget and the fact that most of our funds are now drained by the need for various baby gear.  I am even willing to get second hand furniture, but it has to fit in our tiny space and be in better condition than what we have.  I had my eye on a new 5 piece table set in my local department store.  Recently the price dropped for a two day sale, from $399.99 to $199.99!  Oh I wanted that table! 

 On sale day I walked over to the store and found that they still had one left, but the box was perched on a tall shelf.  At least 7 feet high.  That was a strange place to put a box that, according to details printed on the side, weighed 50 KG .  I had two issues; I needed to measure the box to see if it would fit in my hubby’s car.  Second problem; there was a man already standing under the shelf, staring up at the same box I was eyeing.  I didn’t know how long this man had been waiting.  I knew better than to try and look for an employee to help me with measuring.  I had worked in this store and knew that they were under-staffed in early morning hours.  I marched off to the hardware section to find a measuring tape to borrow, then grabbed a ladder to help with the reach.  Once again I thought; ‘Why would they put this box up here?  Anything over 70 lbs is supposed to be on floor level’.  I set myself up in front of the shelf, climbed up, and measured as best as I could as it was still out of reach. 

The Waiting Man was now sitting on a stool and reading a paper, looking out the corner of his eye once in a while.  Just as I was finishing my calculations, a store employee, I’ll call Joe came down the aisle.  Joe didn’t seem bothered at all by my borrowed items from the hardware department.  I guess he is used to customers taking things into their own hands.  I heard him tell the Waiting Man that he was unable to find the lift that would get the box down from the shelf.  The Waiting Man asked if he could buy the table set and come back when it could be rescued from its perch.  Joe said he was sorry but they couldn’t hold Door Crasher items.  Waiting Man was done being patient; “When I learn how to fly you’ll be the first to know, but I have been waiting here since the store opened an hour ago for you to get this box down!”  Joe apologized and wondered out-loud if a fellow employee was pulling a April Fool’s prank, by putting the box up that high in the first place.  The humor was lost on Waiting Man

I couldn’t stick around to see the resolution for this sit-com.  I had to start work soon, and I had recieved a text from my hubby.  It wasn’t the news I was hoping for…the box wouldn’t fit in our trunk.  As I was unpacking boxes at the home decor store I work at, I had a light bulb moment.  When break time came, I went back to the Department Store.  The ladder was still there, no surprise to me.  I found something to poke the box and climbed up.  *POKE POKE* Haha, the box moved.  It was EMPTY!  Which means it was the DEMO box.  The poor schmo that had been stuck putting that DEMO together, couldn’t be bothered to mark DEMO on the box before putting it out of reach.  April Fool’s indeed.  I wondered what the Waiting Man would have to say about that bit of news.

Give and Take?

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*Update after post*  This was part of my personal philosophy on volunteerism as it relates to philanthropy.  I have blurred the lines between the true definitions of donating, volunteering, and fundraising simply because I have a hard time separating these concepts in my own head.  My main goal was to share how important it is for ME to give back to my community.  And how I strive to remain connected and aware of what is happening in my country and the world at large.  This was not meant in any way to be a judgement on those that may not hold philantropy in the same light.


National Volunteer Week is approaching.  When someone mentions volunteerism, do you shudder and think, “Ok, what are they going to ask me to do now?”  Or do you think, “Wow, that’s a great idea, how can I help?”  Lets face it, we are all busy.  You might think that your kind of busy is more important than mine, but thats a different topic for another day.

I have been volunteering since the age of 13, at least that’s as far back as I remember.  My first gig was as a volunteer leader for The B&G Club, which was my Church’s co-ed version of  Boy Scouts or Girl Guides.  I had graduated from the program, so was invited to continue on as mentor.  Naturally, being very shy, it was a real challenge for me to try and talk to people.  Having gone through the program myself, it was easy to use my own feelings and experiences as a way to encourage my younger friends.  Volunteerism has become a natural concept to me and continues to be a big part of my life.

There are groups that make constant pleas for donations and volunteers and this can seem like a pain in the rump.  And yes, some organizations do go overboard, trying to evoke guilt to motivate people to give money.  Those that don’t have money to give, tune out, saying “I can’t help.”  I am in this category at times, I won’t deny it.  I like to encourage people by reminding them that giving isn’t exclusive to monetary donations.  You don’t have to make lengthy commitments or join a club either.  Find an issue you are passionate about and determine a way to offer sincere aide.  GIVE: TIME, TALENT, or TREASURE.  It could be as simple as shoveling the driveway of a senior in your neighbourhood, or cleaning out your closet and giving gently used items to a women’s shelter.

I’m going to get nerdy and throw a few stats at you *snort, snort*.

Who do organizations serve?
Seventy-three percent of nonprofit and voluntary organizations provide services or products directly to people (as opposed
to other organizations). These organizations most frequently report serving the general public (46%)(Table 1.3). However,
they also provide services to specific segments of the population. Children and youth are served by 23% of organizations,
the elderly by 11% and persons with disabilities by 8%. Other specific populations served include Aboriginal peoples,
immigrant populations and religious communities.

Cornerstones of Community, Stats Canada Catalogue, 2003

There are many needs in every community that are met by the caring hands of volunteers.  They don’t often get a lot of praise for what they do, but that isn’t what motivates us anyway.  I have benefited from the nurture and guidance given to me by volunteer run programs, as a child, a college student, and now as an adult.  I choose to give because I want to have a positive influence on the issues affecting neighbours in my neck of the woods.  National Volunteer Week is coming soon, thank a Volunteer .

National Volunteer Week is April 10-16, 2011

**photo is from Volunteer Canada site

Who is in Charge Here?

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You know all those warning labels attached to children’s toys and furniture?  The ones that tell you how the product should be used, then they give a blanket statement;  “Nothing takes the place of parental supervision.”   Well, I read those labels and still end up in parental messes.  It all started with the crib recall  3 months after my daughter was born.  It was only the biggest crib recall in recent history, crossing Canadian and US borders, affecting more than 2 million families.  The company was quick to come up with a solution to “fix” the crib and make it safer.  We waited a day on the phone to order our free kit that would take a few weeks to arrive.  It meant that we now had to find another place for baby girl to sleep in the mean time.  Nevermind that she had actually started to sleep through the night!  So we put her in a bassinet she was nearly too big for, bring her into our bedroom for supervision, and went back to having broken sleep for a few weeks.  The kit came and it permanently fixed the rails in the up position.  So we could never again put the rail down to actually help us transfer a sleeping baby into the crib.  I have to lean in as far as I can reach and let her plop the last 1/2 inch.  Real smooth huh?

Well last night, parental supervision once again failed me.  I was sitting at the dining room table, ‘supervising’ baby girl’s evening snack.  She was feeding herself yogurt in her highchair.  What could possibly go wrong?  She spontaneously grabbed the yogurt tub and squeezed it!  As if that wasn’t enough, in the 2 seconds it took me to reach her, she immediately rubbed the exploded

yogurt into her eyes, hair, nose, and ears.  She then began to scream and cry.  I’m sure cold yogurt feels terrible in your eyes huh kid!?  She stopped screaming long enough to say; “Bubbles?” Meaning she wanted another bath.  Very sneaky way to force the issue.  So inspite of it being 5 minutes to bedtime, we now had spontaneous bath time.  I managed to snap a few pictures before hosing down every yogurt covered surface.  I was trying hard not to laugh at her, she was upset.  Really in the grand scheme of everything that can go wrong, yogurt explosions are low on the danger scale. 

The longer this parenting gig runs, the more I realize that I am not in control.  Control is an illusion.  It can be quickly shattered by the impulses of your child, and the reality of living in a world where we have to adjust to the consequences of other people’s mistakes.