Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Shop Local

I found this over at The Transformation of Kern, and although it's an American thing, it completely applies everywhere.

Go here to find out more about it.
My parents own a small business, so I know how super important it is to support small businesses. Sure, I can be caught time to time going to those big box stores, after all, I'm only human, BUT, the more you shop at small businesses, the more products those small businesses can offer you and the more small businesses your town can support. When you shop at local small businesses, that money stays in your community instead of going to a large corporation. Not to mention, the quality of service you get from small businesses is about 1000% better than at those big box stores (you know, when you have to hunt someone down to help you find something who then makes you feel bad for wanting them to go out of their way to find the product you want to purchase?). So shop small and shop local, guys. Everyone benefits!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Top 10 Pre-Teen / Early Teenage Books

A while back I read a post over at the Society of List Addicts about Favourite Books from my Childhood, and that inspired me to create my own. I read a lot as a kid. I'm not going to include storybooks, instead I'll stick with the ones I was obsessed with in paperback form as a pre-teen / early teenager.

1) Invitation to The Game - Monica Hughes:
Honestly, I think they should make a movie of this. I read this book more times than I ever read a book in my entire life, it was just that good. I wanted to be Lisse and live in that futuristic dystopia. Now, I loved many of Monica Hughes' other books, but this one definitely takes the cake as the best. In case you haven't read it, go here to read a review.2) The Babysitter's Club - Ann M. Martin:
I read almost every book in the series, squealed with joy when the movie came out, and went to get my babysitting liscence ASAP because of this series. I imagined I was these girls. Anything that can glamourize babysitting to pre-teens is an amazing series. Here's the background info.
3) Nancy Drew - Caroline Keene:
I read a good many of this series as well. Nancy Drew is an amazing girl who, with her 2 best friends, nice car, helpful daddy, and handsome boyfriend, solved various mysteries, often including creepiness and life-risking - everything you would expect from a good mystery. Check out the background of the series.
4) Anne of Green Gables / Emily of New Moon - L.M. Montgomery
Both series (Anne and Emily) were written about East-coast Canadian children who are orphaned and grow up in adopted families (Anne) or with relatives (Emily). Both are daydreamers and have a small group of close friends that they win over, and the series' follow each of them transform into successful young women. Here's info about Anne and Emily.
5) My Teacher is an Alien - Bruce Colville (and pretty much all of his other works):
I was obsessed with Bruce Colville. My friend and I even wrote him fan mail (although I don't remember if we ever sent them). It went along nicely with my obsession with all things space-related. Three school-aged kids who find out that their teacher is, in fact, from outer space. I wanted to be Susan and had a total crush on Peter, and wished pretty much daily that I would be taken into space. Here's more info.

6) Tomorrow When The War Began - John Marsden:
This was a series about a group of teenage friends who were camping in the woods for the weekend when their country (Australia) is invaded by another country. These teens are some of the few people who remain free after the invasion and they help to lead attacks against the invaders, all while experiencing their own coming of age. I read this during a time when I was obsessed with all things war-related - between this, and WWII novels, I wonder if my parents were ever worried about that obsession. Here's more about the series.
7) The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis:
I don't even need to explain this, do I? I think Mom read all of them outloud to us growing up, every night before bed. When I got a bit older, I read them all myself. There is possibly nothing better as a child than to be read to about talking animals, fairies, nymphs, fawns, and royalty as you're drifting off to sleep, and then, when you're old enough to read it yourself, re-reading the series and being captured by the magic all over again, remembering it just as you heard it as a child. Here's more about the series.
8) Madeline L'Engle - anything by her - especially A Ring of Endless Light and A Wrinkle in Time:
Youth protagonists coming of age while the storylines cover modern science and fantasy events with a religious tinge - they were just perfect for what I was interested in growing up. The religious aspects reminded me of the stories I grew up hearing at church, and made them "cool" again by adding in science and fantasy. Here's more about Madeline.

9) Little House on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder:
Another series that Mom read to us growing up (I think Mom's reading to us had a lot to do with how much my sister and I read later in life). This one based on the real life stories of the Ingalls family settling on the prairie. My sister and I used to pretend we were the girls in the story, we'd go outside and play Little House. It also inspired a lifelong fear of panthers. Here's more about the series.
10) His Dark Materials Trilogy - Phillip Pullman:
I recently re-read these books again, and they are just SO good. Don't let the recently made movie be any base on which to judge the series. Lyra and Will are from different versions of Earth, and they battle together for the forces of good while coming of age. Also combining religion and fantasy, it's not surprising that I was drawn to it. Although, I read it much later than most kids, because I picked it up when I was too young, got confused, and didn't pick it up again for much too long. All the same, incredible series. Go find out more.

So there you go. The pre-teen / early teenage books that I obsessed over, and that honestly helped shape who I am today.
What were your favourite books / series as a pre-teen and early teenager?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Should Have Known Better

By 23, there are things I should know better, especially when it comes to my body. I should know how it works and how it reacts to certain things, I shouldn't end up spending the night in the hospital because of something I should know better.
Here's how it went down.
Friday morning, I get a text from one of my BFFs, asking if I wanted to go for drinks. She's had a tough week, and she also wanted to check in with me, because last weekend I found out that one of my clients passed away. So out we went, it was a beautiful Friday night and we found a pub on Bloor St. where the front windows opened garage-door style. We got a table right near the street, so we drank and ate and talked and people-watched for hours until the guy she is seeing showed up. At that point, I was already tipsy. I don't drink too much and I am on medication that lowers my alcohol tolerance, so I have a really low tolerance. So, when the boy showed up, I was already tipsy, and he then proceeded to order us drinks and shots. We made friends with the couple at the table next to us, and generally had a really good time. I usually keep myself sober enough to take transit home, because I live an hour's ride by transit away from downtown. That night, I knew that taking transit by myself would be a bad idea. I have never been that drunk before in my life. I texted friends on the way home to keep myself from passing out. I finally made it home, puked a few times, took a gravol and stumbled into my bed.
Now, I should explain why this is an extra bad idea for me. We believe that I have what's called Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome. I've had this since I was a young teen, the first time I remember it happening was in grade 10. Often it comes when I am nervous or stressed out, it has happened before when I've eaten foods that disagree with me as well. It's never happened before because of drinking, mostly because I usually keep myself in check. Basically, what happens is that I start throwing up, usually early morning, and I keep throwing up, for hours and hours, even when there isn't anything left in my stomach to throw up. It turns into dry heaving and I heave and heave for hours upon hours. Once before, I had to go to the hospital, but usually my Grandpa (a doctor) orders me a perscription of injectable gravol that Mom (a former nurse) gives to me. After an injection or two of gravol, I usually calm down and am able to stop puking, but it can take me days to really recover, because it wears me out. It hasn't happened now for almost 2 years, and it has never happened when I am so far away from home.
I woke up at 8:00 on Saturday morning and the vomiting started. Luckily, I have a cousin who lives in the same city and has helped me deal with the vomiting before, and she was able to come over and help nurse me. I don't think I could have made it through this on my own. By 6 at night, I was still vomiting and not able to keep anything inside of me, so we decided I had to go to the hospital. After what seemed like forever, I was admitted and given fluids and 3 bags of anti-nauseants before I settled down. By 5am, I was feeling better and able to keep fluids down, so my cousin took me home.
We slept all day today, with me waking up to call in to work and every once in a while drink some ginger ale and eat some crackers. My cousin went home late afternoon, and since then I've been home alone, nursing fluids and trying to make myself eat regularly.
Usually I love living by myself, but when I get sick, I hate it. I get so terribly home sick. I hate having to bother friends to come over to help me, but at the same time, I can hardly take care of myself.
But, I should have known better. I need to remember that I am not invincible and that I cannot possibly drink that much, especially when I live by myself and have no one to take care of me.
I am feeling better now, but I not only missed an incredibly beautiful weekend, I missed 2 days of work so far, and I had to cancel my interview for full-time at the shelter. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Music Swap

Lily just posted about her newest awesome idea:

The Ultimate Music Swap

The idea is basic - leave a comment letting me know you want to play and then next week, I’ll randomly* match everyone up with another blogger. Your task is to create a mix tape (or CD, or playlist on a jump drive…) to send to each other. Pick new favorites, old favorites, up-and-coming local bands, artists you can’t live with out and anything you think needs to be shared with the world. When you get your mixtape/CD/playlist from your new friend, let us know what music you discovered and what your favorites are!

*The exception to this “randomness” is that I will not match up bloggers in the same city so that I don’t end up sending someone in Minneapolis my favorite Atmosphere song, etc.

This will be an AWESOME way to expand your music collection and share a little bit of yours.

Isn't that cool?? So go to Lily's site to tell her you're in! I'm doing it so you should too!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Another Blast From the Past

After the Fern Gully blast from the past earlier today, I got thinking about the other environmentally themed shows I used to watch as a child. A friend reminded me of The Smoggies, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon reminded me of Captain Planet. Remember these?

Did I forget any? I feel like we had a large amount of enviro-friendly shows, do kids these day have shows along these lines?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

In honour of Earth Day, I thought I'd share with you a blast from the past. Remember Fern Gully? The early '90s movie starring fairies, a crazy bat, a hunky logger shrunk down to fairy-size, and a creepy pollution-fueled villain? Yeah, you remember it. It was one of my favourite movies as a child, I watched it over and over again, knew most of the lyrics, wanted to be a fairy who lives in the forest, and thought Zak was a dream boat. Here's my favourite scene from the movie:

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Just Checking...

Are you following my Twitter? It's @ewalker9.
What about my Tumblr? I'm pretty darn proud of it. It's the place where I post pretty things. It's Tumbling Down the Rabbit Hole.
And are we friends on 20 Something Bloggers? Here's my profile. Are you a 20 something blogger in Toronto? Join my 20SB Group - Toronto 20 Somethings.
Finally, if you're on Facebook, follow my blog on Networked Blogs. It makes me happy to see people are following me, AND you can add me as a Facebook friend!
Let's be hooked up on every social media platform!

Me, Right Now

I was tagged by Ria to take a picture of me right now and post it. I cheated and did not do it right away when I found out I was tagged... BUT, this is me right now, at almost 4pm... still in bed.

I am gunna tag a crapload of people (go check out their blogs, too): Jay, Jessica, Larissa, Olga, Whattakes, Shan, Carmen, Courtney, Alanna, Shannon, Laura, Karen, and Ashley. Phew!! Let's see how many of you do it!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Easter Weekend Update... A Week Later

Hey, remember how last weekend was Easter weekend? Yeah, I had a fantastic weekend at home with the family. I had planned on sharing pictures with y'all, and even started uploading them last week... but then I fell asleep.

So, here they are, a sampling of my Easter weekend:

Here's Mom and Dad at Easter dinner. Doesn't Mommy look amazing!? Take THAT cancer!

The next day, we went to the Farm (remember? the "farm"?). It was the first time I'd actually been to it other than just viewing it from the road at Christmastime. We got to hike around and I got to play in the creeks/ponds - which I reveled in, of course, being approximately 5 years old on the inside.

This is me being a swamp creature!

This old tubing is left over from a maple sugar operation that was on the property a while back. The tubing was stuck under a bunch of mud in the creek, and Dad had just finished talking about how he tried and tried to get it out of the ground and couldn't. I walked into the creek and pulled it and got it right out... and then proceeded to heckle Dad about getting old. What an awesome daughter I am!

This is me and my littlest sis. Notice my classy classy outfit!

And here I am looking like a model in front of our biggest tree, appraising it for tree-house worthiness.

Overall, Easter weekend was one big awesome WIN, and the "farm" gets my seal of approval!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

All These Things That I've Done

I've now seen this on fab obsessed and apartment #412, etc and decided to do it myself. I made all of the things I've done on the list purple. And all the things I want to do are blue.

1. Started your own blog

2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyworld/Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you were not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been laid off from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

Saturday, April 11, 2009

One More Award!

Courtney at Once Upon a Bookshelf gave me this here award a while back. The rules are to list 7 things I love and then to tag 7 people who will play along.

Things I Love:
1. My crazy but endearing cat. He's the main man in my life and I don't know what I'd do without him.
2. My Teddy Bear. His name is Teddy. Yes, I am in my 20s and still have a Teddy Bear... I got him when I had my surgery at 3 years old and he has been everywhere with me ever since.
3. Getting mail. No, not the electronic kind, but real old-fashioned snail mail.
4. This place.
5. My family. I appreciate them more and more every day that I work in the youth shelter. I never knew before how lucky I was.
6. Being from a small town. I used to hate it, but now that I really live in the city, I am glad of where I came from. I am pretty good at acting like a city person (for example, when I ride the subway and don't want people to bother me), but I don't think I'll ever truly be a city girl. I feel most at home surrounded by farmers fields and dirt roads, not by concrete sidewalks and subways.
7. Diet Pepsi. Up until recently, I was a Diet Coke girl, but I've been won over to the dark side and fallen in love with Diet Pepsi. I love the taste, and since I don't drink coffee, I need the stuff to get through my day.

And the award goes to...
1. Karen at The Transformation of Kern
2. Erin at The State That I Am In
3. Ria at & That's The Way Life Goes
4. Jess at Classy in Philadelphia
5. Lily at Lily Speak
6. Ashley at Writing to Reach You
7. Alyssa at How Lucky We Are

Friday, April 10, 2009

From Darkness to Light

First Dawn by traqair57

It's Easter weekend. I made sure to book it off work, and today I made the 4 hour drive home to my parents' house. This is what I've done every year since I moved out, and this is what I will continue to do, like until my life changes in some major way. Every Easter weekend, our whole family gets together (this year we will be short one, due to the sister being in Oz). My Dad's side of the family always has some sort of big dinner, this year is actually the first in my memory that we're not having it at our house - we're going to our aunt and uncle's house because Mom is still recovering from her surgery and seeing as she is going to have a complete recovery from cancer we're encouraging her to milk it while she can. Holiday weekends (Thanksgiving and Easter) are usually pretty stressful in my family, because Mom becomes a giant stress-ball trying to make sure everything is perfect before the family comes over, so this year of cancer treatments has provided a nice break from the stresses of family entertaining at least.
On Easter weekend, we also always have an Easter egg hunt (although Mom stopped this tradition last year, stating that we were too old, and just gave us chocolates in our baskets instead). It's going to be weird celebrating Easter without the middle sister... she was the one who always divided up the Easter eggs to make sure that everyone got an equal amount of foil-wrapped chocolates. But, I suppose, the traditions have to change at some point, and not everyone's going to be able to come to every holiday always.
After the egg hunt, we go to church for an Easter Sunday service that always manages to make me teary. It starts with the entire sanctuary in darkness, all of the normal things like banners, candelabras and floral arrangements are covered in black cloths, and at the front of the church is the large wooden cross we use to light candles on for lent, all of the candles are extinguished, and the cross has black cloths on it as well. Then, someone comes in and lights the Christ candle and others come in and take away the black cloths, still others light the rest of the candles in the sanctuary, and kids from the Sunday School come in with pots and pots of spring flowers to place around the foot of the cross. For us, this symbolizes the darkness that came when Jesus was crucified and the light that followed when He was found risen. Theology aside, I think it's a really nice sentiment. Spring is a time of light after the darkness of winter, so it is a time to start new, to turn mourning into dancing, so to speak.
After a year of dealing with Mom's cancer, I am ready to put it behind me, to move from darkness to light, from mourning to dancing. I am ready to start fresh and focus on me for a bit.
What do y'all do for Easter? Do you celebrate it even? Maybe Passover? What traditions do you have? What ideas do you place behind it? What does that mean for you, and for your family?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Same as it Ever Was

Do you ever stop where you are and wonder how the heck you ended up there?
As in, if somebody had told you a few years back that you would be in that scenario, you would have laughed at them?
I felt like that a lot during Mom's fight with cancer. Sitting in the hospital waiting room during surgery, driving Mom to chemo, dealing with Mom's tubes and wires in her hospital room... I looked at my surroundings and was overwhelmed by the fact that I never expected that I would be there in that situation, and I never expected I would be able to deal with it as well as I did.
I guess you don't know what you can handle until you're in that situation.
I find that a lot at work. When I was visiting Mom in the hospital, I was telling the nurse about my job, and Mom said that if you had told her two years ago I would be living in Toronto working with street youth, she never would have believed it. You know... if you had told me two years ago that this is what I'd be doing, I would have laughed in your face.
It happens a lot at work, especially when I am dealing with the mental health and the crises that develop... when a kid got stabbed, when fights break out, when a girl comes in completely naked and I have to spend at least 10 minutes talking her into getting re-dressed, when I have to deal with bed bugs, and disgusting rooms and various bodily fluids, when I get sworn at, and yelled at, when I get told too much information about their sex lives... I find myself pausing and thinking "how did I get here?" At first, it was unnerving, being somewhere so out of my element, now I just laugh it off.
I'm a sheltered girl from a small town. J-walking scares me... I grew up on a gravel road. Whenever we would go to Toronto on family trips, Dad would lock the car doors before we got into city limits, likely afraid that a man with a squeegee would jump inside and mug as at gunpoint or we'd get shot up in the middle of a gang war. That's what happens in big cities, right? I was discussing how I grew up with one of my co-workers after work the other day, and she turned to look at me, and asked "Erin, how did you end up here?" Now, she knows the story of how I ended up here, my botched plans for teacher's college after university, and we went to our Child and Youth Work program together, so she knows about all of that... That's not what she meant. I told her truthfully that some days I don't even know.
Luck? Chance? Divine intervention? I don't know. Was it meant to be, or did I just luck out by ending up somewhere I like? Maybe it was completely random. If one little factor of my life had gone a different way, I could be living somewhere completely different, doing something completely different.
That scares me a little. I don't like the idea that my life is arbitrarily decided by chance... I'd much rather think that I am here because it's where I'm supposed to be. I like the idea that I've been brought somewhere that frequently forces me to deal with difficult situations, but I wouldn't be there if I couldn't handle it.
What about you? Do you ever stop and wonder how you ended up where you are? Has your life taken a clear path to where you are today, or has it been a journey of twists and turns? Is it chance and luck, or is there some sort of plan behind the path your life takes?

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Beef with the Interwebz

I love the interwebz, you know I do.
But sometimes, internet, you give me way too much information.
I'm looking at you, Facebook.
Let's think about this: if it is listed that you dated a person in the "How do you know each other" section, it's not a nice thing to broadcast it on the front page for days when that person gets engaged.
Although it was nice to hear that he has found a nice girl to marry, I don't need it rubbed in my face for days, Facebook.
Actually, that's a lie. I don't want to hear that he is engaged at all.
Part of me wants to go through my Facebook and severely edit the people I am "friends" with. The other part of me knows that I have certain people on there because I am curious to see what they are up to without having to go to the trouble of pursuing a real-life relationship.
But there are some things I don't want to know about.
I can't help but wonder where the line is. When does the internet or social media go from helpful to harmful? How much internet/social media is too much? When do you get overexposed?