Things My Family Taught Me

To start this off, everyone I’ve shared my story with has informed me my family is a little different from the usual. Things I thought were normal turn out to be not so common, but I love that I got to learn them.

When I was fairly young, my mother, father and grandfather all taught me a variety of knife safety and skills. I believe that this was a good thing. I got to practice my knife skills while camping, whittling wood with an adult keeping a close eye on me. The phrase I still sing in my head is “cut your chum not your thumb” which just means, cut away from yourself.

How to jump off a quad. Before I was allowed to drive quads, I had to be able to do up my helmet properly, had to be wearing leather boots, good quality denim and a sturdy jacket. Once I got to drive the quad, my father ensured I knew how to jump off the quad in case of emergency. We practiced on a soft sand bar and he taught me how to push my body as far away as possible from the machine off to the side and roll. They all drove the message into me “we can replace a quad, we can’t replace you.” This meant, abandon the machine if you are going to crash.

How to make soup. My mother taught me how to make soup from scratch and for many, many years I would make my own soup every day. The basic vegetable soup I would make was chicken stock, celery, green onion, white onion, carrots and potatoes. That is a quick soup recipe, a lot of recipes can be made a head of time and frozen, and this is great for tomato based soups that are much easier to make in large batches. It’s much less expensive than buying cans and you ensure there is no sugar or salt in your soup. Yay healthy eating.

How to clean almost anything in my home with two ingredients. My mother taught me how to clean an entire house with just baking soda and vinegar. It keeps a home pet safe and baking soda can get just about anything off any surface. It’s a very inexpensive way to care for your home. One of the best uses of vinegar is to use it diluted as a rinse for your carpets!

How to sharpen a blade. Chainsaws, hunting knives and kitchen knives all have to be treated differently, but all can be done quickly at home. Just getting your chainsaw blades sharpened can cost 45.00$ when you could just do it at home. I believe a lot of my success in the kitchen comes from knowing how to maintain my knives. Having a simple sharpening rod in your kitchen, a good set of oil stones and a chainsaw sharpening rig will keep you in a better position.

Photo by Vlad Bagacian on

How to budget. My mother sat down with me many times over the years to help me understand taxes, compound interest, loans, lines of credit and how to manage my money. Without her I think I would have had a much harder time when I left the nest. I had a student loan just long enough for the freeze on interest to expire, then locked it in to a line of credit, to save myself from crazy amounts of interest and help build my credit score. She taught me the importance of keeping my credit card payed off, to always pay ahead of time, not to fall behind on my bills and to this day, the second money hits my account, I pay my bills and rent. Anything left over goes to daily living or savings and that has made sure I have always had my finances in order.

How to stand up to bullies. When I was a little kid I would come home with new bruises all the time. Because of this the staff in the school tried to keep a very close eye on me, and I often got a little extra attention because they were worried about me. They made sure the boy who was hurting me was in a different class and often spoke to my mother about the situation. The boy had some mental disabilities and even at a young age I knew it wasn’t fair to have him be punished constantly over this issue. He had a lot of issues at home and he was already seeing a counsellor daily. So my mother and my brothers taught me how to stand up to him, and teach him how his behaviour was affecting me. Once he understood what his actions were doing to me, he stopped and later we became friends. The ability to stand up against someone who is mistreating you is a skill everyone needs, and I am thankful to that boy, because I learned how to do it very early in life.

How to use computers. When I was three years old, I wanted to be like my brothers and do what they did. They were often on the computer so I would try to use it too and would cause issues with the programs they were using or mess up the homework they were doing. Instead of getting angry with me, my brothers taught me how to get onto the computer, get to and how to use Microsoft Paint. Please remember this was in 1999, back when we used a house phone and the computer looked like two massive boxes, and when small children did not use computers. It didn’t take me long to learn how to get through the computer and I found Microsoft word. I loved typing, and considering how the world went, I think that early exposure to technology benefited me.

How to rebuild the soles of your boots. Instead of buying new work boots when your soles wear down (it happens very quickly with ironworker boots) or paying a cobbler to replace your soles you can bake a new sole onto the boot. Shoe goo can be used to rebuild your sole really early. During this time we also bake oils into the leather to make it last a lot longer. I think about how long my boots last I am happy to know these tricks. Work boots cost about 220.00$ CAN, so you can imagine why I don’t want to buy a new pair every six months.

How to express my emotions in a healthy way. All teenagers go through angst and sadness. It’s part of puberty, and unfortunately it can’t be avoided. Thankfully I had spent my entire life in the arts and had an outlet to help me cope with my emotions. My grandmother had ensured that I saw theatre shows often, that I could hear the orchestra play and she and my mother made sure I always had art supplies. My grandfather had a beautiful music room with excellent speakers and he taught me to see music flowing, not to just hear it. He taught me how the fluidity of the music made people react, and how the arts were emotion made into something beautiful. With all of this combined, I learned to equate emotions with art. When I was happy I would paint and draw, when I was sad I would write poetry and music, when I was anxious I would make videos for YouTube, when I was angry I would dance. To this day I still use the arts to help me deal with my emotions when they begin to boil over, and I am so grateful to have this coping mechanism in my life. I think it’s important to remember that we need to feel every emotion to have a full life, and every emotion has a valuable part in your life, but not to let them run your life for you.

Author: Eva Blakeman

A graphic designer, who happens to be an ironworker, who makes YouTube videos, also writes this blog. Writing is my favourite thing to do, so keep an eye out, because the next post is just around the corner.

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