The Perfect Birthday Present

For a while now I’ve been keeping a list of possible gift ideas for my husband’s birthday. And they’re all dumb.

For example:

  • Cuff links
  • Storage tower for Xbox
  • Wine tour

I mean, sure they’re all fine but they’re missing that something something. You know?

So imagine my joy when, whilst cleaning out my grandmother’s condo, I stumbled across the Rowing Exerciser.


The perfect birthday present

Knowing my husband’s penchant for fitness I just knew this was the perfect gift.

Here’s what the box says: “A new simple way to Improve [capital “I” intentional] cardiovascular circulation. All-purpose body conditioner that help trim and tone stomach, chest, arm, leg and upper back muscles.”

See what I mean? Perfect!

And the best part is, you can store it anywhere! Great for small spaces.

Now, up until this post I was giggling all the way to the wrapping paper stash. But now my tune is changed. Because despite my Rowing Exerciser (excuse me, my husband’s Rowing Exerciser) being straight from the 80s (70s?), a quick Internet search tells me they’re still a hot ticket exerciser today.


Anyway, all I need now is the perfect one-piece leotard to go with the Rowing Exerciser and The Perfect Birthday Present will be complete!


It’s difficult to know what to say probably because it’s so fresh. But the news is out so I suppose it’s time to acknowledge what is difficult: my grandmother passed away this weekend.

Anyone who knew her would say one of three things:

  • She was the sweetest lady
  • She really loved you
  • She deeply loved her family

And really, this sums her up. Although she was not so simple as that of course.

Because of these obvious traits I shouldn’t have been surprised by her attitude when she got sick and as her illness progressed. But I was. Probably because it’s not how I would have reacted.

When my grandma first got sick she didn’t complain. I mean, she said “I’m not feeling well,” but she didn’t moan and groan about it.

And then when she got really sick she still didn’t feel sorry for herself. She did, however, ask for more help than before. Which her family gave to her happily.

And then when she was finally diagnosed with pancreatic cancer—and the end stages of it at that—she was content with her lot. She said “I just don’t want to linger.”

And, she didn’t.

It was four weeks and two days after we found out what we were all suspecting. Not long at all. Although, she felt like it was lingering. Not to me though.

I have never seen someone die before, but even if I had I don’t think it would have been with the peace, contentment, and dignity my grandmother had all the way until the end. I strongly believe these past four weeks have been the most transformative in my entire life…I really question whether I would be such a testament to life and the hope in what’s to come if our situations were reversed.

So, thank you grandma. I mean, thanks for everything you’ve given me over the years, but mostly for this last month. You have left your mark on me and I pray I can make such dents in the lives of others.

I am dented forever.

Top Five First Fives from Arbynblog

top five

Something I love about having the last six years documented in this blog is how much I forget.

For instance: I thought I started doing Top Five lists on this blog when I moved to England.

But actually I began when I was in Quebec. Randomly. As was my entire stay in la belle province.

As I dug through my archives I decided a good way to start off Top Five Lists month is to do one from my own collection: Top Five First Fives From Arbynblog

  1. Top Five Things That Make (Do Not Make) My Bug Bites Itchier
  2. Top Five Things I Learned in Montreal
  3. Top Five Things Not to Say When Meeting Yacht People for the First Time
  4. Top Five Favourite Moments from my Brother’s Wedding and Reception
  5. Top Five Reasons to Live in London

My first attempts at Top Five lists were kind of funny. They consisted of a lot of inside jokes and no context, which was probably only funny to me and the one other person who was there (who probably didn’t even read my blog cause it was kind of a secret back then). I hope I’ve matured past that by now.

And, actually, although I think all those lists are pretty funny, I found another, which may take the cake. It’s about my first experience driving in England and me oh my that was a nail biter! Reading that list makes it seem like it was just yesterday I was driving on the left-hand side of the road, listening to my driving instructor tell me how nervous I made him because I was from Canada and claimed I could drive a manual transmission (I totally could).

Oh, and when you read Top Five Things to Know About Driving in England know that all these things actually happened to me on my FIRST driving lesson. Crazy! How did I spend two years there and never get in an accident?!