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This is the main Blog category. Will change it once we’ve decided what categories Tara wants.



I love Kyla Scanlon’s YouTube channel because she talks about interesting things. We know that there is a disconnect between things actually being pretty good and people thinking they aren’t good. Kyla’s videos explore a lot of that messaging.

OH, I also found out that she writes as well.

Going sideways

Going sideways

Sometimes Mr. Tucker has a frustrating work week and that always makes me run* to my spreadsheet. I like to double-check that the numbers are still on track. We are so lucky to have a permanent form of income right now that could carry the house should he lose his job. It’s better he doesn’t lose it – and it’s not in danger of being lost – but we could manage.

The one thing it can’t do though is cover the condo expenses (at least not without significantly reducing our lifestyle). We have been ->this close<- to getting everything done in there for weeks now but every time Mr. Tucker makes a plan to go and finish off some of the details, he gets derailed. Sure, it’s been a never-ending deluge of work incidents but it’s also been random, uncontrollable stuff, which makes it worse! For example, he got caught up in a protest downtown for so long that he ran out of time and then had to double back to pick up a kid in time. It feels sometimes like all forces are against us.

But the good news is that the Bank of Canada hasn’t raised the rate and people smarter than me suspect they will start lowering in a cycle or two. That may help the housing market a bit.

The worst part is that our chequing account is lower than it’s ever been. I can’t believe that at one point in my life it was normal to have under $5 in a chequing account because today if it dips under $1500 I panic. In all fairness, everything will get paid, and things are fine but it’s amazing what you get used to.

It’s been such a heck of a time for bleeding money – and right before the holiday season**, too! Part of the reason why it has dipped so low is that we had to buy all new appliances for the condo and since we abhor carrying debt, it got paid as soon as the credit card balance was due. We anticipated that expense but then came a series of unexpected expenses:

    • Mr. Tucker’s glasses broke, so that was an eye exam and some new glasses (thank you benefits for paying a lot of that!).
    • Our car randomly died downtown so Mr. Tucker had to have it towed to the dealership. They couldn’t figure out why it wouldn’t start but still charged us a couple of hundred to look at it (but hey, free car wash***?)! There were three Lyfts on top of that to get back and forth. We got a battery jumper kit for the car in case it happened again because even with the free tow, we still need the car to go vroom.
    • We went to the dentist this week and learned that Mr. Tucker’s benefits have run out, so that is more out-of-pocket money we hadn’t anticipated (and I can only snail mail his portion to my benefit company like it is the freaking 90s).
    • Then, the piece de resistance: yesterday we had our first major snowfall…and the snowblower stopped working. We have given in for this year and just paid for a snow removal service. In all honesty, the snowblower came with the house and was probably old when we moved in. We’ve lived here for 6 years now so it was probably time. We will look into fixing it when we have less on our plates****.

Everything is just so incredibly frustrating right now for sure. But the one thing I am glad of is that we have the money to cover the above expenses because we keep money aside just for situations like these. Every month I slide some cash away into accounts labeled: car, health, and house expenses. It hurts me to actually use the money in there but I am glad it is there for us to not have to panic about unexpected expenses. I use the word “unanticipated” loosely because most of us should know that random expenses will pop up when we least expect them to.

So I am grateful for past me for looking out for today me but man, it’s only the first full week in December and I am still staring down a bunch of social events this month (it’s also my birthday a week before Christmas). While they aren’t all events that will cost money, some are and I am ok with that. Because instead of griping about the cost, I am grateful that I have friends I can spend time with and that I have access to a variety of different places where I can be social.

On that note, I recently finished The Good Life and I highly recommend it! It isn’t heavy with data but more about the stories of people who have happy lives vs. people who have unhappy lives. I’ll give you the crux of it: having high quality, close, positive relationships throughout your life is the key.

* LOL metaphorically. I can’t run.
** I save for that all year round so it doesn’t really affect me but I have upped our budget because the social aspect of this time of year has become more expensive but I would rather keep those events in our lives especially post-pandemic.
*** I’ll let you decide if $237 is a fair price for a car wash (spoiler: nope).
**** No, we are not going to shovel it ourselves. The last thing we need is the only able-bodied adult to have a massive coronary.

Link dump

Link dump

Hello! I have been busy reading a GIANT pile of books I have taken out from the library as well as tackling some video games. I have been mostly pleased with my divestment from social media (do blogs still count? They used to). I have kept a few links that I’ve enjoyed lately so today’s post is just sharing those. Hopefully, something longer will be written soon.

Canadian personal finance
The best free retirement calculators in Canada.

Parents lack an RESP financial plan. “I crunched some numbers to find out the cost of going to university in Ontario…Taking an average of … four, I calculated that students need about $125,000 for a four-year undergraduate arts degree, if they live away from home.”

Why kids are quitting sports.

Millennials say that they need $525000 a year to be happy.

Social media is not your couples’ therapist. I have noticed similar advice for diagnosis’ as well. Accounts need to keep people engaged & constantly sharing to remain relevant and to curry favour with the algorithm. I have seen weirdly normal behaviours pathologized as being indicative of a problem. People repost these things because they’re relatable but I think a lot of them are relatable because they are things most of us do. There is a lot of self-diagnosis happening and it’s worrisome.

I just finished the book The Good Life and I highly recommend it. Here is a good primer on how to craft enduring happiness.

Further to that, I do appreciate the friendships I have with both older and younger folks.

How men can build better friendships

Frugality revisited

Frugality revisited

I adore Morgan Housel’s work and recommend everyone read his books. But his personal definition of frugal is dead wrong, and is probably more in line with deprivation or being cheap. Still, this piece is a good read even if I recently wrote on being frugal can add to your life. I don’t think we are too far off in our vision of what constitutes a good life, I just don’t think being frugal is the same as depriving yourself.

Speaking of: Mr. Tucker built our gaming boxes last weekend and so I have been too busy trying to beat the beast in the first Witcher game to be writing. 🤷‍♀️

A great life is a series of small moments

A great life is a series of small moments

What I’m reading
• Why faux self-care won’t solve our problems. Honestly, I have come to believe that the self-care we truly need is more help from others, a deeper sense of community and time to be able to breathe & do the things that bring us joy.

• People who socialize with others outside of their homes live longer than those who don’t.

• I’ve sung Katherine May’s praises many times here but today’s piece the art of hibernation. Is lovely. I also have recently purchased her book Wintering after taking it out so many times from the library. I highly recommend you read it, especially if you live in the cold north, are feeling troubled or get a bit down by winter.

If you like that, she has a post of her Christmas reads. I read the Christmas Chronicles last year based on her recommendation and I am going to sift through the comments to find more. I’ve been sorely lacking the spirit this year* with all that has been going on & despite being done my gift shopping, I need a little cheer that money can’t buy.


Sometimes a perfect storm of factors come together and create the most beautiful, serendipitous moments.

The Eldest brought her oboe home from school with the intent to practice this weekend. It’s a momentous occasion because she NEVER brings it home. She is one of those people with a natural knack for music and since she has already played harp for almost 10 years, she gets by on very little work.

Hilariously, this is one of our biggest weekends in awhile. Mr. Tucker spent yesterday painting the office downstairs & The Eldest spent last night pack up all of her stuff for the move. This morning Mr. Tucker moved all the large furniture and The Eldest is currently hauling all of her books and knickknacks down while he rebuilds it. Then this afternoon while she sets up her new room in the basement, he will be painting her old room to make it into a shared office for both of us. Then tomorrow he will haul all of his office stuff into the new space and move my desk in from the living room. We still need to figure out a shared desk situation. I also have dinner out tonight, we have a games night tomorrow with some friends, The Youngest has a birthday party, my dad is visiting, The Eldest zips off to a ski hill for some job training all day…It’s a LOT.

…but I get away from the point, which is: we have zero time for much else – and she brought the oboe home fully intending to practice. 🤦‍♀️

I ribbed her about it but as it turns out, she did indeed get to practice. After dinner last night Mr. Tucker and I put on a fire and were chatting in the living room. The Eldest came in and announced that she was tired of packing and so decided to play for us. Just then, The Youngest came in with their blanket and decided to lay down on the couch.

The Eldest played some school songs for a bit and then went about trying to find some sheet music for My Chemical Romance songs. Since there is no sheet music for MCR for the oboe (we were all quite she used flute music. The Youngest started to sing along. Mr. Tucker grabbed his guitar and then they started to try and figure out various songs together. Eventually, it became clear that the oboe was not a great instrument for MCR songs, so the kids & Mr. Tucker just started a fireside sing-a-long of a bunch of songs they all know the lyrics to.

I experienced genuine happiness in that moment. You couldn’t plan it, you couldn’t force it. It was one of those evenings that just organically came together. Everyone was laughing at trying to remember the lyrics and to figure out the tablature. It was just perfect. It reminded me of driving in Puerto Rico and having them all shout out the songs at the top of their lungs as we drove back from Ponce. These are the little moments that give us a good life.

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend.

*Thanksgiving in Canada is the second weekend in October, which leads nicely into Halloween. Then until November 11th is Remembrance Day season for me. Typically on the 12th however I launch fully into Yule mode.

Frugal: the new F word

Frugal: the new F word

What I’m reading
Some stores are scrapping self-checkouts.

Only 10% of US workers have the “optimal” characteristics to to save well for retirement.

“We frequently overestimate just how much happiness money can buy.” The pay raise people say they need to be happy.

Ranking streaming services by cost increase.

What I am thinking
I find many things come down to the fact that words can have different definitions. For example, I have discussed how people who dislike the term FIRE often choose to focus on the early retirement piece and not the financial independence piece. Same goes with people who say there is no such thing as “dividend investing.” Well, the term has been defined by the people who use it, so of course there is.

From what I can see, no word has been more maligned in the personal finance community than the word frugal. Let’s check out some history:

frugal (adj.)
“economical in use,” 1590s, from French frugal, from Latin frugalis, from undeclined adjective frugi “useful, proper, worthy, honest; temperate, economical,” originally dative of frux (plural fruges) “fruit, produce,” figuratively “value, result, success,” from PIE root *bhrug- “to enjoy,” with derivatives referring to agricultural products. Sense evolved in Latin from “useful” to “profitable” to “economical.” Related: Frugally.

PHEW. There is a LOT going on in there! What’s interesting is that on that page there is no mention of the word frugal being aligned with the word cheap but yet, it’s what frugality has come to mean to a lot of people. I think we’ve done the word frugal dirty and I am done with it!

Clearly, I consider myself a frugal person but I don’t consider myself cheap. To me, spending judiciously is what I think of when I think of the word frugal. I also think the word applies to more than just money: I want to get the maximum enjoyment out of things I spend time and energy on as well. I don’t watch a lot of movies or tv shows because I get very little value out of them. It isn’t a judgment on whether or not movies/tv are a good use of time, it’s about how I want to spend my time. I have a friend who loves movies and gets a ton of value from hitting up a theatre a few times a month. She loves it. She also loathes cooking, so she spends as few hours as possible in the kitchen. I love to cook, so I spend a lot more time cooking from scratch. We are both using our time on the things we love. That’s being frugal with our time and energy.

The same goes for your financial picture: spend money consciously on the things you love and you will get great value out of spending that money. Conversely, reaching for that credit card mindlessly every time your brain decides to have a dopamine hit for funsies and you end up broke with no money to spend on things that truly bring you joy.

Of course, people will say that frugal people focus too much on small things and ignore the larger things eating into their budgets. In some cases, that is for sure a fair assessment. For example, the easiest way for me to set up a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) was to set it up via a brick and mortar bank that had limited investment options (mostly high-fee mutual funds). It fills me with dread to know that I am paying management fees out the wazoo because of this limitation. But, the Canadian government matches my contribution 100% and those amounts grow tax free. So even with the high MER, I am still ahead. Unfortunately, many online banks don’t even offer the RDSP because there aren’t enough clients for them to deal with the hassle. Next year will be the last year that I will be eligible for the matching grant and while I hope online banks (*cough* I am talking to you Wealthsimple!) get into the game, if that doesn’t happen I will intensely research options to switch banks so I can whittle away at those crazy fees. The big things DO matter a lot – especially compounded. Large purchases such as cars, using a financial planner who takes a % of your investment, buying a home, the career you choose etc. can mean big gains and losses over a lifetime. It makes complete sense to focus on these things first.

I would argue though that making frugal choices in your everyday life also builds up your frugal muscle. Frugality becomes a habit and it contributes to your overall financial health. I am not saying that you should drive 20km to save .20cents on OJ – by definition that isn’t frugal at all! But if you shop at the grocery store near your house it takes a few short minutes to take a look at the sale items and think about buying those things and incorporating them into meals this week. It’s way better to plan ahead than end up buying a bunch of food you bought when you went to the grocery store with good intentions (or worse! Hungry!) and it ends up rotting in your fridge.

Also, most of us start our lives not making a whole lot of money. What we do have we have to use wisely if we want to balance getting our bills paid with being able to, say, have a social life. When you have less, you need to plan your money as carefully as possible. Because all the big things in your life are probably already as low as they can go you need to start cutting ruthlessly in other areas. The same goes for people who have lower incomes: telling them to not sweat about the small stuff is terrible advice when the small stuff is contributing to their inability to manage their finances and is increasing their debt. These people need to learn the skills of blackbelt scrimping until they can breathe again.

I spent years being ultra-frugal and making cutthroat decisions in how to spend. Those years allowed me to start a small business – and then to subsequently give up that business to stay at home with my kids. We rarely ate out, we mostly did the free activities available around the city and we had a YMCA membership that gave us access to fun sports classes for the kids. Most of those things were also walking or biking distance from our house. We had a really good life because we were able to access a lot of low-cost, fun stuff.

That frugality also came in handy when I decided to go back to work. Being able to live off one salary allowed me to wait and take contracts for work that I enjoyed and that were at a higher salary. I didn’t have to take the first job that came along because I knew that while the money was nice we didn’t need it to survive. I doubled my salary and went from a low-level admin position to heading up a team in a high-level position in under 5 years. I was free from the constraints of having to scramble for work to keep our family afloat. That kind of freedom to pursue the type of work you want to do is worth a lot more than eating out and shopping a lot.

Our house is paid off and our incomes is more than enough to spend well beyond what we need. But with my diagnosis it has been abundantly clear how precious time is. So while we could be buying up everything our little heart’s desire, we are choosing instead to invest Mr. Tucker’s salary to buy him an early retirement. Thankfully, my disability income is more than enough to support our family – if we spend judiciously. Buying his time back is the most frugal thing we can do right now.

In the end, frugality is a skill that never leaves you. You can also administer it as much or as less as you want to depending on your circumstances. If you have little money, you will have to tighten your belt. If you have a lot of money, you can loosen the belt if you’d like. But it’s exactly like riding a bike: you never forget how to use it.

Credit cards and teenagers

Credit cards and teenagers

What I am reading
This is strangely sad: Aardman studios – makers of Shawn the Sheep, Chicken Run & Wallace and Gromit – is apparently running out of clay. EDIT: apparently it is transitioning to another supplier. PHEW!

“I wanted to understand: what kind of human spends their days exploiting our dumbest impulses for traffic and profit? Who the hell are these people making money off of everyone else’s misery?” Did SEO experts ruin the internet, or did google?

Wages are high. Jobs are plentiful. Nobody’s happy.

The case for inviting everyone to everything. I often dream of having a GIANT pool party and inviting everyone I know. Why not get to know each other before my funeral?

Morgan Housel on the full reset. I have been doing our budget for the same way for years so maybe Mr. Tucker can take a stab at a new one for 2024?

What I’m thinking about
I am letting the kids go shopping for winter clothes tonight. They are going to meet at the mall and go shopping together. The Eldest needs a winter coat and The Youngest needs new boots. I set down a few rules around budget and type (ie: they have to be waterproof winter boots with a lining, the coat must be for winter) but they are free to get the style they want. In order to do this, The Eldest will pay on her credit card.

I got The Eldest her own credit card when the kids went on an oversees trip with a relative. I was scared that they would end up getting stuck somewhere without money. It’s also been handy because it’s allowed her to make her own purchases (that we’ve agreed to) for things like back-to-school shopping and the odd lunch at school when she forgets hers. Next year when The Youngest turns 14, they too will get their own credit card. (I also want to set them up with an Uber Family profile for the exact same reason but unfortunately I haven’t been able to get that to work yet.)

To be honest: I can’t say if this is a good idea or a bad idea long term for teaching them about credit cards. I just know that as a mom with two kids (who will be in two different high schools who will go out with friends and who may ended up stranded somewhere) it makes me feel better to know that they have something to pay to get them home.

What I have done is that when The Eldest wants to spend money before she’s earned it, I let her use the credit card – with a catch. On Saturday she decided at the last minute to hit the mall with her friends and asked me if she could spend the money she would have earned on Sunday doing the housecleaning & just use the credit card. I said yes – but that she would have to “pay interest” by taking a lower amount of money than what she would get if she waited until after the work was done (payday loan style – but less aggressive). She agreed to the lower amount and happily went off to spend the rest at the mall with her friends.

Now some of you are thinking that this is horrible, some of you think it’s great and the rest of you think I probably should have made the amount higher if she so readily agreed. Overall though, I am pleased with giving her the options and allowing her to make the choice. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the actual management of a credit card as she transitions into adulthood and needs to manage her own budget. What I do know is that I plan to get her there before she encounters the predatory credit card offers with the “free gifts” that are ubiquitous all over student commons’ everywhere (if she even chooses to go to post-secondary).

She did ask me if they could buy dinner at the mall, to which I said no (we’ve eaten out too much this month) because we have food at home – the rallying cry of mothers everywhere! But I did agree that they could get a bubble tea when they were done shopping, as a little treat (hah, the irony is not lost on me).

What makes a home & chore theory

What makes a home & chore theory

What I’m reading
Children of homeowners twice as likely to own homes themselves.

Almost 40% of US homeowners own their homes outright as of 2022—many of them baby boomers who refinanced when rates were low.

The list of brain conditions that have been associated with changes elsewhere in the body is long and growing. Changes in the make-up of the microorganisms resident in the gut, for example, have been linked to disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease.The brain and body are intertwined.

A thought piece
This is a FANTASTIC piece: how your house makes you miserable. “How do you make your home entirely your own — a reflection of your good taste! — while also making it wholly acceptable to the market-reflected gaze? The only solution is to make the market-inflected taste your taste. And that experience can be incredibly alienating, particularly when you convince yourself that you’re doing a remodel that you’re going to love, spend a ton of time and energy on it, and then look around and think meh.”

When we bought our house a friend of mine said to me, “Yeah, we looked at that house but it needed so many renovations to make it liveable.” WHAT? This house was in perfect condition when we bought it and in the 6 years we’ve lived here we have few problems (the oven died but it was original to the house – 1962!). We did do some cosmetic work to the house such as tear up all of the white carpet and refinish the hardwood underneath. We also installed laminate throughout the basement (again, white carpet) as well as replace the vanity in the main bathroom to a two-sink Ikea one for the kids & replaced the linoleum with tile flooring. Overall though, we only spent about $1500 in those cosmetic changes. Conversely, I think this friend wanted to turn this mid-century bungalow into a modern showpiece which would have required tearing down walls, putting in marble counters etc. We liked it just the way it was.

Sure our cabinets are crappy 80s ones that have been painted white and we unfortunately have popcorn ceilings (which people apparently hate but I am neutral on the subject). I just think that not everything has to look like it’s about to be featured on HGTV. I remember my friends and I all living in a bunch of old, crummy apartments with weirdly angled ceilings and wonky closet doors. All of these places had charm because they were each vastly different from each other. We also used to decorate with a mish-mash of found items interspersed with Ikea furniture and every place was so different from another one.

I guess renovating the condo has put this to the forefront of my mind because a condo is a different beast. A friend of ours had suggested that we just sell it “as is” with all the smoke damage, the yellow paint, shitty cabinets and no appliances. But I think people expect more of a turnkey experience with a condo where a house is more of a place that you would accept some imperfections in exchange for the location, land and bones of the place. The condo cabinets and the counters *do* look dated which is a pain when you are trying to sell. But I am loathe to tear them out and do a full reno because a> it’s wasteful; b> the people who buy it may just tear it all out and reno themselves anyway. I abhor the idea of wasting all that time and money only to have it all tossed into the garbage. So we’ve mostly focused on replacing the damaged bits, did smoke remediation, tossed on a coat of fresh paint and bought new appliances.

I think as well that we view our house as our HOME and not an investment. So we don’t care to be constantly updating it. It’s also why I installed a sit-down tub instead of a roll-in shower. Yes, the tub was very expensive AND it will reduce the value of the home should we put it on the market. But so what? I plan to have my corpse dragged out of here and during my (hopefully long) lifetime I will get a lot of enjoyment out of being able to take a bath whenever I want.

Child labour
We asked the kids if they would like to clean the house on the weekend for the same amount of money we pay the housecleaner. The reason why is because The Eldest had Covid last week and so we told the cleaner not to come (clearly!) but the house still needed a good once-over. They were really excited about earning money and The Youngest was even more excited to learn that the money I offered was for EACH of them and not SPLIT between them. Haha. Crap, I could have paid them even less! 😉

The kids did a FANTASTIC job – as good or even better than our housecleaner does. I was thoroughly impressed. To be fair, we used to clean as a family and so they have had years of practice. But post-pandemic with all of the busy-ness and my health we decided that having someone come and clean every two weeks was worth the money.

My kids have always had unpaid chores. From the time they were toddlers at the end of the day we would play music, dance around and put our toys away before dinner. This was to get them into the habit of tidying, not because they were good at it. Us parents did most of the actual tidying but over time they grew into the habit of actually putting their stuff away at the end of the day and then we just built on that.

By 6 & 8 they learned how to do the basics of cleaning by doing it with us, and by 10 & 12 they knew how to clean the entire house. That isn’t to say that the adults didn’t take on the majority of the work at first but over time they slowly did more and more on their own until we did none. They still do tidying in between the housekeeper visits as well as washing the dishes every night. We’ve also taught them some basic dishes that they can cook on their own. The Youngest in particular has been asking to learn more about cooking, so we are taking the time to teach them how to cook a variety of meals.

The one chore we actually pay the kids to do is folding and putting away my laundry. Mr. Tucker’s office is right next to the laundry room so he generally washes the clothes during the week so that by the weekend it’s all clean and in baskets. So on the weekend, they have to separate and fold/put away the household stuff (ie: towels and sheets) as well as do their own. Mr. Tucker is super picky so his is left and just does it when they are done.

In a sense, being disabled has really helped with teaching kids how to do chores. Children can be the masters of strategic incompetence when they don’t want to do something. So many parents just throw up their hands and do the task because ensuring a child learns how to do a chore can take twice as long and is way more stressful. But in my situation, I had no choice. I had to work through the process of them resisting learning how to do things because I just could not physically do them anymore. Of course, we are now all better off: the kids 100% have the skills to feed themselves and maintain a home and Mr. Tucker and I don’t have to struggle doing all the house stuff.

What’s even better is that they are proud of their skills. The Youngest came home once and told me that none of their friends were forced to do chores at home*. Their friends were saying things such as, “Why do you have to do anything? I don’t have to do any chores and I still get an allowance!” & The Youngest replied, “Because I live there for free? It’s only fair that I help out. Besides, I have the skills to live on my own now and you don’t.**” I was pretty impressed with that answer because it’s an astute observation for a 13-year-old to make I live there for free and it’s only fair that I help out.

We had planned to take up most of the housecleaning ourselves when Mr. Tucker retired but both kids said that they were happy to get paid to deep clean the house. So we may end up paying them to do the deep clean once-a-month instead. They like earning the money, they do a great job and since we generally manage to keep the house tidy enough in between deep cleans, it will work out for everyone. Of course, the time will come when they will be too busy with school and their own jobs. But then Mr. Tucker and I can take it back over.

Hope you are having a lovely Tuesday!

*The Eldest has also said this. It’s up for debate as to whether or not that is the truth. I am sure many kids have responsibilities.
**Ok, a bit rude and I also learned the trial by fire way when I first moved out and I wouldn’t recommend it.

Children & devices

Children & devices

How to weigh the risks of social media a conversation with Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy.
• Visual Capitalist and the most popular social media apps (ranked by downloads).

My kids often complain that my device policy is horrible because their friends get their devices 24-7. I tell them that I don’t care what other parents do (which is the response as old as time). Of course, the internet comes with all sorts of complications – and is addictive: Social media gets teens hooked while feeding aggression and impulsivity, and researchers think they know why.

Yesterday The Eldest had a conflict with someone she knows peripherally, and this kid posted a nasty story to her Instagram about my kid – complete with pics. But my kid just took it in stride. She was upset but not bothered too much by it, which was incredibly grown up of her. We had a great conversation about how she takes some responsibility for the argument but that she felt this kid went too far. My kid has a locked-down social media presence on this platform, which I think she was grateful for as the other kid didn’t have much material to work with in terms of her public shaming.

She showed me this girl’s Instagram and I was floored: I swear it looked like an OnlyFans account (think: pic of a butt wearing only a thong with a painted handprint on one of the cheeks). Suddenly, I was just so profoundly sad for this girl who is only 15 years old and so obviously lacking in positive attention. It struck me as super dangerous for a child this age to be posting unlocked photos like that to the internet at large. As someone who grew up with ZERO parental involvement in my life, it made me wonder about what her life at home was like and if she had someone who loved her and who would find that account and put a stop to it? I did a LOT of dumb things as a teen who spiraled without adequate oversight from an adult but that was in the beforetimes. In the age of the internet whose memory is long it really makes me worry.

I will admit, a lot of these feelings come from the feelings from within me but wow, I was unprepared for how depressed seeing that account made me. I wanted to reach through the internet and scream, “That’s enough of that! I’ll be your mom!” But it’s conceited to think that her parents aren’t involved. Maybe she eludes them because they are less tech savvy than her and she has multiple accounts? I don’t know. I’m in no position to judge.

I was impressed about how The Eldest responded to this bait though: she ignored it. I am lucky that she has a core sense of self and a group of amazing friends who are incredibly supportive and kind. I would have killed to have half as much self-worth as a teen that my kid has. Of course, I did find my tribe eventually and some of those friendships are now 30 years old. But I can say I am grateful for not having to navigate the internet in my early teen years.

Just keep on keeping on

Just keep on keeping on

What I’m reading
Vanguard’s guide to retirement withdrawal strategies.

[E]very conversation takes place on two levels. The official conversation is represented by the words we are saying on whatever topic we are talking about. The actual conversations occur amid the ebb and flow of emotions that get transmitted as we talk. With every comment I am showing you respect or disrespect, making you feel a little safer or a little more threatened. The Essential Skills of Being Human.

Deep thoughts
When the kids came home last night the first thing they both said when they walked in the door (1/2 hour apart) is, “You’re dressed! What’s going on!?” UGH. I need to get out more. In my defense, it’s been a lot of bedrest for medical reasons and once that was done, Mr. Tucker had condo stuff to do in his spare time so all personal stuff was de-prioritized as we ended up in survival mode. But it’s time.

Still, I want my kids to remember having an active mother who go out as much as she could despite disability. In general, I feel like I am way more active than a lot of other disabled folks. Some it’s due to the severity of their disability and for some it’s just plain giving up. If I was a researcher I would study the health trajectories/outcomes of people who had a positive, life-affirming attitude and those who give up once they’re diagnosed. I am happy to offer support, kind words and resources to people going through a rough time – sometimes you just need to complain to other people who understand what you are going through. But I’ve had to block individuals in online PLS groups because they were posting constantly about how awful they felt and how they can’t do anything and how all of their friends don’t want to hang out with them. It was a constant barrage of pity-party posts and it just exhausted me and brought me down. I think perhaps these people should reflect on whether or not it was disability that turned people off or if it was the constant complaining?

But truth be told, while I have experienced some of that, most of my good friendships got stronger after I was diagnosed. Sure, some people will always fall by the wayside but it’s difficult to tease out how much of that is just a natural progression in friendship and what is an inability to manage someone’s diagnosis. I keep showing up for them and in turn they keep showing up for me.

But back to last night’s astute observation by my kids. If I’m honest, pre-pandemic I went to the gym 3-5 days a week, did dragon boat, walked or biked around the neighbourhood more and did physiotherapy twice a week. Since then, I haven’t been back to my usual activity levels and my return to dragon boat was thwarted by my broken foot followed by a huge pelvic surgery (that went a bit sideways). It feels like since we have been back post-pandemic with some regularity, it’s been one thing after another. Having said that, I am determined to change that even as we head into winter. I think I have been focusing too much on what I can’t do and not really focusing on what I can. In other words, while I am not whinging about it on facebook, I am falling into the same trap of the people who constantly complain. I need to show up for me.

Next weekend is pretty social with games night and heading out for dinner with friends on Friday night. The following weekend is book club. These things remind me that I am still doing things but I am just not back up to the level I once was. I plan to change that.

What I’m up to
Mr. Tucker is at the condo today as the appliances have been delivered. He sent me a picture and they look FANTASTIC! He also replaced the vent covers, replaced the shower curtainrod and now he’s putting the doors back on and measuring a few things. The last things we need to do are: fix the window, install the microwave, replace the bathroom fixture and replace a curtain on the closet.

It finally feels like we are in the home stretch and are almost ready to put it on the market!

Oh, and as for last night: we went out to buy paint for the room switch! The Eldest is moving into the office downstairs and Mr. Tucker is moving the office upstairs. He plans to do most of the painting next weekend as it is American Thanksgiving and it’s super slow at work. That will leave him energy to paint at night. Then on the weekend, we will move her stuff downstairs. Damn, it will be good to be able to have a shared office again. I have a desk tucked into a corner of the living room and quite frankly – it sucks.

Since we’ve also used almost none of our pocket money this month, afterwards we treated the kids to dinner. It was a pretty lovely evening and it felt good to be out.

Bon Vindredi à tous!