Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Ticket Forward

My last 'vacation' was in 1995, and that was my honeymoon. 

Every year, I make myself the same promise, 'THIS will be the year I go somewhere WARM!'



I live in Nova Scotia, and I grew up in northern New Brunswick.

I have four seasons which consist of occasionally warm, kind of chilly, cold and freeze your ass off.

I HATE the cold.  With a passion.  I was born in the wrong climate! Thank you, Mom and Dad (Kidding.  I love you.  Just not where you chose to live).

Every year, I plan to use my tax return on a trip 'away'. 

Every year, that plan goes down the drain when the tax money has to be used to pay the monstrous power bill, or car repairs, or sports fees for the kids or ... or ... or.

There's always something to spend it on.

And it's never a trip. Anywhere. Let alone warm.



Don't get me wrong, I've taken my kids away on overnight excursions to places like Crystal Palace, but that's a two hour drive away, and we stayed at my mom's place.

Other than when my parents took the boys and I to Canada's Wonderland back in 2001, they've never been on a plane.  I've never taken them away anywhere on a real vacation.

And I've certainly never gone anywhere exotic with friends, or alone.

But the way I see it, they may not be world travelers, but they've had a good childhood. 

We've had fun.
 

And if I put all my resources into raising my kids now, on the things we need, and some of the extras they want, in another few years, there will be time for 'me' trips.

I plan on hitting a sandy beach with palm trees somewhere in this big world.

Someday.


 
I know I'm not the only person who has dreamed of traveling to places they've never been.

And I know I'm not the only one who can't afford to simply call an airline and book a ticket to ... wherever, whenever their heart desires.

On this single mom's budget, it's just not possible.

Yes, many people are able to save for their adventures. They put money away, they sell things, they do whatever they have to in order to raise the cash to live their dreams.

For others, despite the saving, or fundraising, or planning, or wanting, it just doesn't happen.



Now, that's all about to change for some very lucky people.

A new charity is being launched this week, hoping to make some of those abandoned travel dreams a reality.

It's called, A Ticket Forward.


This new initiative is the brainchild of Jordan Axani.

Jordan recently found himself with an extra 'round the world' airline ticket, and instead of letting it go to waste, he searched for a travel mate.

You can read Jordan's original story HERE with an update, HERE!


 
But this isn't about Jordan, really.  It's about the new charity that he has created as a result of his journey to find that travel mate.

Jordan received many responses to his ad, from people all over the world, of all ages, who were afraid of never seeing their dream destination.  

Many of these messages and stories he found extremely touching.

It made him want to help them all and A Ticket Forward was born.

From their (temporary) website, "A Ticket Forward elevates quality of life by facilitating the connection for individuals with people and places that matter to them most. We believe that travel is more than a luxury; it means the world. We partner with donors, brands and organizations to remove the distance between loved ones, enable cross-cultural exchange, and provide opportunities for personal growth." - A Ticket Forward 




Basically,  Jordan and his teams in LA, NYC, and Toronto are working with the Edward Charles Foundation, as well as corporate and private sponsors, to provide crowdfunding and private funding for eligible applicants, and will make it happen!

There is an application process, and no guarantees, but if an applicant is selected by the Selection Committee, and they are short listed, there is a chance that their trip will be funded by A Ticket Forward.


Is there somewhere you always wanted to go but for whatever reason, could not?  Tell them your story!

You can either apply to A Ticket Forward on your own, or submit the name of someone you feel would be deserving of their trip of a lifetime.

If you meet their requirements, found HERE, and you believe this could be the one opportunity you (or someone you know) would ever have to see that one special destination, go ahead ... APPLY!

You can find their application page HERE.


I think this is a wonderful thing Jordan and his team are doing.

Giving to deserving people, and making dreams come true is always a good thing.


And now, if you'll excuse me ... it's below 0 degrees here today, so I think I'll turn up the heat, sit in my tub for awhile with a mai tai and dream of palm trees.

On the bright side, I don't have to worry about sharks in my tub.  

Or unsightly Speedos .

Hey ... HEY!  NO splashing!!!


K.


******* UPDATE! ********

I have since found their NEW website!  The first group of people have been chosen to receive A Ticket Forward!  See it HERE.  

You can also find their Facebook page HERE.


******* UPDATE! ********

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Rehtaeh Parsons Society - Launch Day

I have followed the Rehtaeh Parsons story since the beginning.

Whether it's because it happened so close to home, or because I have teenage boys that I'm trying to raise to be good, decent men, or because I'm a woman who can still remember being a teenage girl, or because I am horrified that so many people who were supposed to help her, didn't, or because I am angry that so many of her classmates and friends took part in her endless online torture, or because as a Mom, my heart aches for her parents, or because Rehtaeh chose to take her life and died the day before my son's 13th birthday?

I don't know why.  

I just know I have a passion for this girl and her family to finally receive some sort of justice and peace.  

I would like to see healing for their community and CHANGE in so many things, especially cyber-bullying laws, so what happened to Rehtaeh will never have been in vain.


Peace and healing will come over time.

But as a society, there are things we can do now to make changes for the future.

Rehtaeh's parents have taken every opportunity to speak to the public about her story, and have spent endless hours educating our kids and communities and law makers on how we can prevent cyber-bullying, and offer support to victims of violence, sexual assault and harassment.

I think people genuinely want to help, and believe strongly in these causes, but may not be sure how best to initiate or influence those much needed changes.


Rehtaeh's parents are hoping to provide communities and the youth within them with the tools required to address these issues, through the launch of the not-for-profit, Rehtaeh Parsons Society.

 

Through this society, overseen by a board of directors, they hope to, 'engage our youth and concerned members of our communities by implementing a multi-faceted approach that includes education, raising funds for centre programs, and making a difference through reform.'Taken from the About Us page of the Rehtaeh Parsons Society website.



I first saw a notice about the launch, scheduled for Saturday, November 29th, on the Angel Rehtaeh Facebook page.

I knew immediately I wanted to go.

I wasn't sure exactly what was going to be happening when I got there, or how I could, or would be expected to contribute, but I knew I wanted to go.

And I wanted the boys to go.


I mentioned it to them at different times, and both said, yes, they would go and see what it was all about.


The day of the event, I overheard the younger boy ask the older one, 'Are you going to this thing with mom today?'

I also heard the reluctance in the older boy's voice when he replied, 'Yeah.'

I stopped what I was doing. Blush brush mid-stroke.

Yes, I felt the event was important, and really wanted them to be there, to hear what the speakers had to say, and to show that we supported this initiative.

But ... I didn't want to make them feel like I was forcing them to go, either. 

So I had a talk with them, and found out that even though they did want to go with me, they didn't want to end up being the only teenage boys there.

Again, although I wasn't sure what to expect, I did expect that there would be people of all ages in attendance, but still wasn't going to force them into a situation where they felt uncomfortable.

I told them it was their choice, but I was going either way.

And I did.  On my own.



When I was about five minutes away, I started having doubts.

Should I go?  Should I not go?  

I wasn't related to these people, or a family friend, or tied to their daughter's case in any way, should I be there?  

What was going to be taking place?  

I wouldn't know anybody there.

Should I go? Should I not go?


And then, it came on the radio.

Piano Man.

You regulars in the Korner will remember, that Piano Man was the song the boys and I played on our road trip to Scatter CJ and Remember Rehtaeh at Peggy's Cove last summer.

I always think of it as CJ's song.

And usually when I think of CJ, I think of Rehtaeh.

And I also like to think that those two kids found each other, up there, and are friends now.

So ... I took it as a sign, and kept going.

And I'm glad I did.


 
I arrived just before they started, grabbed a seat at the front, and scanned the crowd.

I was glad to see a good mixture of men and women.

But then I noticed something, and my boy's words came back to me, 'I don't want to be the only teenage boy there, and be stared at.'

Looking through the crowd, I realized he would have been right.

I didn't see any young people (except two of the entertainers), much less teenage boys.

Little people, the really young ones, yes, they were running around in the other room.

Rehtaeh's sisters, and some of their friends, yes.

But I guess I expected to see teenagers.  Lots and lots of teenagers.

And there weren't.  Any.

That made me sad.


Yes, adults have to take the lead in how our society is going to address the issues that face our youth, such as sexting and cyber-bullying, but the youth have a part in this too.

A big part.

They are the ones who desperately need to hear these messages.

The fact that my teenage boys weren't really comfortable going to this launch, although they support it, is part of the problem.

It should be accepted and EXPECTED that teenage boys would be there, along with their sisters and neighbours and friends.

But it doesn't seem to be.

Not yet.

And that's one of the many things that has to change.



The event was kicked off with a great performance by the All Nations Drummers and consisted of information, entertainment, and the opportunity for those in attendance to share ideas.

Among the speakers were her parents, who explained their vision for the society, and shared memories of their daughter.


There was also a very moving tribute to Rehtaeh, given by Halifax's Poet Laureate, spoken word activist, El Jones.


Say It. "Rehtaeh"


Rebecca Crewe and Jason Hatfield performed a couple of songs that Rebecca had written for Rehtaeh.

I have since discovered that these two talented kids have put together a very good 'Anti Bullying' video, which you can see below. 

Watch it. 



Both songs featured in this video were performed by Rebecca and Jason the day of the launch.


And there was one other young man there among the adults.

He goes by the name A-God, and he performed the song he had written and dedicated to Rehtaeh, Stay Another Day Rehtaeh Parsons.





Those in attendance also received a copy of the new comic Bullies in a Strange Land, a Marvel comic (Custom Edition) put out by Greenzone Movement Inc., as part of a contest, which features Rehtaeh on the last page.




 























I picked up three.  One for myself, and each of the boys.


I went to this event not knowing what to expect, and I was informed, educated and entertained and left with a renewed sense of wanting to be a part of our much needed social change.



Their vision is simple, really.  "To empower communities to ensure our youth are respectful, responsible, and safe."

That's something I can get behind. 


So, I signed up to be a volunteer.

I have to go through an application process to be accepted, but I took that first step. I signed the piece of paper that said, 'Volunteer'.

I have a voice.

I can make a change.


And so can you.

Contact them.

See how you can become involved.

Add your voice.

Be the change.



 K.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Those Damn Sirens!

There was one thing I noticed immediately when we moved into this new house.

Those damn sirens!

There is a fire station down at the end of my street.  I live a couple of minutes away from a major highway.  ANYTIME there is an accident, I hear sirens.

Sometimes I can tune them out.  But other times, like when the boy is out with the car, I listen, and listen and listen and pray, 'Please don't let that be for him!'.

Not that I want to see anyone get into an accident, but when my kids are out with the car, or out in their friend's cars, they are the FIRST thing I think of when I hear those damn sirens.


I know, some may think that's paranoid.  Hear sirens, think your kid was in a car accident.  

Alright! Alright!  I hear you laughing over there!

But there IS a very valid reason for this particular paranoia, with me.


Many many moons ago, before the ex and I were married and the kids weren't even a thought, we decided to throw a party.

A couple of hours before the guests were scheduled to arrive, the ex borrowed his mom's car, and ran out for those last minute items we had forgotten to pick up.

About a half hour or so after he was gone, I was sitting in the bedroom getting ready, when I heard sirens.

We lived right on the Commons in Halifax, next to a Legion.  There were ALWAYS sirens. 

I ignored it, for the most part, with the exception of one fleeting thought of, 'That better not be for him'.

Although the thought had crossed my mind, I didn't seriously think they were for him.

Until ... he was late. 

Then the guests started to arrive, and he STILL wasn't back.

And then I got the call.  

He was in an accident.  He'd totaled his mom's car, put his leg through the console and managed to break it (both the leg and console), but thankfully, that was the only major injury.

The car wasn't so lucky.



Based on the time of the accident, and the location, those sirens I had heard WERE for him.  They were on their way to HIS accident.

Image taken from HERE



It's been over 20yrs since that night, but still, whenever I hear a siren, and one of mine are not home, I stop. 

And I listen. Although, I'm not sure what I'm listening for.

And without even realizing it most times, I hold my breath.


It's even worse now that one of my own is driving and takes the car regularly.

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting here at the computer when I heard them again.

Those damn sirens.

This was around the same time the boy would have been on his way home from work.

On THAT major highway. The one where there seems to be weekly accidents.

The sirens continued.  And continued.  And continued until that was ALL that was filling the afternoon and flowing through my window.

I figured it had to be a major accident, but I wasn't seeing anything yet in my FB newsfeed.

 
That's when paranoid Mama reared her head.

I broke down and messaged one of my DJ friends at one of our local radio stations, FX 101.9 and asked him if he'd had any reports of an accident on the 102.

He said no, it was on a different highway. Another highway close to me.

I thanked him.  And sighed.

Not my kid.  Not this time.


I don't know if I'll ever feel comfortable hearing sirens when my kids aren't home.

It's too hard to shake that feeling from 20 yrs ago.


I can hear them again now.

Those damn sirens.

But for tonight, since both of mine are already in bed, I don't have to hold my breath, or wait for that call.

Not my kid.  Not this time.


K.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Just WHO Is Stalking Your Profile?

Do you have any idea who is looking at your Facebook profile?

Or your Instagram photos?

Or any other social media profile you have out there?


 Pic taken from HERE


Sure, you know your family stalks those pictures of the new baby, and your friends stop by to comment on your latest piece of news, co-workers will drop a 'like' on your 'stuff', but, who ELSE is looking at your profile?

Any idea?

Let me answer that for you.  NO!  You do NOT have any idea who else out there on this planet has an internet connection, and is looking at YOU.


This became very clear me to a few days ago.

I'm not an idiot. I realize that anyone can look at what you put out there on the internet and have had this conversation a bazillion times with my kids.  

Anyone can click on a profile, and unless it's locked down to 'friends only' they can see anything and everything you've put out there.

You all already know this, as I'm sure you've creeped a Facebook profile a time or two.


A few nights ago, one of the boys got a message over Facebook Messenger from another boy who is a friend of both my kids.

It wasn't a long conversation, and due to a previous disagreement, my son told him he didn't want to talk to him at that moment.

The boy came back with a response that surprised my son, and immediately sent up a red flag that made him feel he should tell me about the message.

The boy told my son how much he loved Facebook, because he could go on there and click on MY profile, and scroll through my pictures.

Um ... what?  MY pictures?

He proceeded to tell my son how he spends at least 15 minutes a day, scrolling through my profile pictures on Facebook, and described some of the ones he had seen, and how one of them in particular 'does it for him'.

Um ... OK ... EWWWWWW!!!!


I needed a minute to digest what I'd read.

And then another minute to wrap my head around the fact this was coming from the FRIEND of one of my kids.

Did I mention ... EWWWWWW!!!!!

That's just not right, people!


My Facebook profile is locked down to friends only, except for my profile pictures and cover photos.

I don't post anything that I wouldn't want my grandmother to see or read.

I know there isn't anything on my profile that the general public shouldn't see, but yet, I was STILL creeped out that someone ... a friend of my kids, was creeping my profile on a DAILY basis.

Yes, this creeps me out.  It creeps me out knowing that someone is scrolling through my profile, looking at pictures that were posted years ago.

And yes, I know they have gone back through the years, simply because some of the pictures they described, you'd have to scroll back through a few years to find.

Yeah, creepy.

But it gets worse.


When my boy confronted the other kid in person about the message, he denied it.

He says his Facebook account has been hacked and someone is sending nasty messages to a lot of different people, as him.

I want to believe him.  I don't want to think that a kid I have known for years, who has been the friend of my son for years, is looking at me, that way.

So here's the kicker ... WHO is it?

Who is scrolling through my profile, or at least telling my son he's scrolling through my profile, on a daily basis?

Who hacked this other kid's account?

WHO is creeping me out?!?!??!


I have no idea.

And unless this kid goes to Facebook, and/or the police to find out who is sending nasty messages on his behalf, we'll never know.

If it was me, I'd want to know who was doing this, and I'd be all over getting this dirtbag shut down.

I hope he gets his parents involved and finds out, because nothing good can come from someone hacking ANY of your social media accounts.


If you put ANYTHING out there on the internet, everyone can see it.  It's there forever.

Be careful.

You may have things 'privacy protected', but that doesn't mean there isn't someone still looking at what is available.

And you really, REALLY never know ... just WHO is stalking your profile.


Play safe, kids!  And lock those suckers down (the profiles, not the kids)!


K.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

"Cough Cough Fat Ass!"

Sometimes, you wonder if your kids are actually hearing what you're telling them.

I don't mean the 'Clean that pigsty of a room!', or 'Turn your music down so I can think!' statements.  I mean the life lessons we try to teach them.

Tell the truth, be kind to people, be a good person.  Those are the things I want them to hear.

And then, there are some days when you just sit back, smile, and think ... 'Yeah ... they get it.'


A few days ago, Adam was walking up the stairs at school when he passed a girl on her way down.  He knows the girl. She is a couple of years older than him so they don't 'hang out', but he knows her to talk to her.

After he had passed her, almost a flight of stairs between them, he noticed another boy making his way up the steps behind him.

When the other boy passed the girl, he coughed into his hand and said, 'Fat ass'.


Now, I have to stop here for a second, and tell you just how much that broke my heart to hear my boy tell me that, to hear that kids are so cruel to each other, for absolutely NO reason. 

What did this girl do to deserve that comment?  NOTHING!  She was simply walking down the stairs, minding her own business.

Does that boy have ANY idea how his words must have cut through that sweet girl? And yes, I know her, she's a sweet girl.

This kind of thing makes me SO angry because it's completely uncalled for and just ... MEAN.

For all of society's talk on ending bullying, I can tell you it's alive and well folks, and thriving in our schools.

My own kid is far from perfect.  He makes mistakes, and sometimes he makes bad choices, but that day, in that moment, he did something I was very proud of.


When Adam heard what the other boy said, he leaned over the railing of the stairs, and yelled down, 'HEY!  Shut the fuck up!!!!'

YEAH!  GO ADAM!!!!

OK, so maybe the language wasn't a mother's proudest moment.  A different choice of words would have been more appropriate, however ... we're talking teenage boys. He was speaking the other boy's language and Adam was making sure he got his point across.

I'm VERY proud of what he did, and yes, even how he said it.  There was no guessing in that statement.  He said what he meant and he meant what he said.


I don't know if the girl heard what Adam said.  Part of me hopes she did, if only so she knows that there ARE people who will stand up for her.  

But, that's the sad part, isn't it? 

She shouldn't NEED to have anyone standing up for her, because statements like 'cough cough fat ass' should NOT be made in the first place.

But that's the society we live in, unfortunately.

There's always going to be mean people who say hurtful things.  I'm just VERY happy that in that moment, my boy spoke up against one of them.

Yeah ... sometimes, they get it.


Now, if I could just get him to mow the damn lawn!

K.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Cat Circle? I Don't Need No Stinkin' Cat Circle!

The new internet craze this week is Cat Circles.

Someone posted a picture to Reddit of their cat sitting in a makeshift circle on the floor, and now people all over the world are testing out this phenomenon on their unsuspecting cats.

The freaky thing is, many cats are actually sitting in these circles!

So many in fact, it now has its own sub-reddit, CatCircles.


Try it. Google 'Cats sitting in circles'.  They're out there.



Of course, I decided to try it on Linken. 

I took the belt from a robe and made a (sort of) circle on the floor, then sat with the camera, and waited.

It wasn't long before he came strolling in.

'Look at the Cat Circle for you, Linken!', I said, hoping he'd take the bait.  

WHAT?  Nobody said you can't coax the cat into the circle!

But Linken ... nope.  His reply was pretty much a disgusted, 'Cat Circle?  I don't need no stinkin' cat circle'!

And then he owned that circle by flopping next to it.



That's my boy!  

K.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New Candle From Old Wax!

I had a little package of candle wicks I was saving.



I had always liked the idea of making my own candles, and had even tried it and really enjoyed it, way back when.

That was why the ex gave me a candle making kit for Christmas one year, which included that package of wicks.

Some parts of the kit I tried, others sat on a shelf, or in a drawer with the best of intentions to 'try it again sometime'.

Then eventually over the years, the molds and wax were forgotten about, the bits and pieces lost or thrown out.


Except the wicks.  

I told myself that I would definitely use those someday.  So I hung on to them.

For about ... 20+yrs.

You just repeated, '20+yrs!' out loud, didn't you.

Yes, 20+yrs.



I had a 'plan' for them.  

I always thought it would be a good idea to scoop out the unused wax in the bottom and along the sides of a candle holder (removing the little metal tab at the bottom).



Melt it again, add a new wick to the candle holder, and pour it back in.

5 minute recycled candle!

Yes, I always thought it was a good idea, I just never got around to trying it.

Until yesterday.


SEE!  I do hang on to shit for a reason!  I just don't always get around to that reason right away.

Or ... in the first 20yrs.



But yesterday, I finally jumped up - spur of the moment - grabbed a few 'almost empty' candle holders I had been hanging on to for just that reason and headed for the kitchen.

Using a spoon, I scooped the excess wax into a bowl.

I had read something online years ago, saying you could put the wax in a microwave safe dish and into the microwave.

So I did that.

And after letting a few chunks melt for almost 15 min (3 min at a time) ... I broke the microwave.

I had taken the wax out to check on it, and when I looked over at the microwave to put the container back in, there was no clock display.

No power.

Damn. 

I unplugged it. Just in case.



My first thought was 'NOOOOOO!!!'  Forget the wax!  My full cup of lukewarm coffee was sitting on the counter, and I had no way of heating it up.  Why hadn't I warmed the coffee first!  Sob! 

Giving up on the idea of using the microwave to heat my coffee or anything else for the moment, I instead went to Plan B.

What? You think a little appliance meltdown was going to actually stop me?

Pffffttttt! Right!


I grabbed a pot, turned on the stove, let it heat on the burner for a couple of minutes, then dumped the wax in there.

I should have done THAT to begin with!  It melted in seconds!

I poured the melted wax into one of the candle holders and ... voila!  

New candle from old wax!


 


I liked it!  So I made another one in a different colour!

In the meantime, Adam came home from school, saw what I was doing, and he made one too!


I've been burning it for two nights now, and no issues with the wax, or the 20yr old wick.

And the wax residue didn't stick to the pot.

I'll definitely be making more!  And no, it won't take another 20 yrs!


Later that afternoon, I had to go out for a few groceries.  I figured I'd better get a new microwave at the same time (grumble grumble).

Just before I left, I decided to plug the microwave in again ... just to see what would happen, if anything.


It immediately came to life with a BEEEEEP!


YEAH BABY!

I didn't break it, afterall.

Whadda ya mean I still 'probably shouldn't use it'?  It works! I don't have to buy a new one!

So my coffee glows now!  So what? That's not necessarily a bad thing.  Right? 

K.