Monday, October 05, 2015

An Unexpected Slap in the Face

I recently had the pleasure of visiting an art studio with my daughter, who was invited to a birthday party there. It was your typical little storefront art studio: walls crowded with completed works of art, paint splatters on the concrete floors, the smell of tempera and modelling clay in the air.

It was enough to make me want to puke. 

It's not because I didn't like it in there, or because I have some subconscious hate on for arty things. Quite the opposite, actually.

You see, I used to consider myself somewhat artistic. Talent? Ha! No, none of that. But what I had was passion: I love, love, love the process of creating art. The act of sitting down to a blank canvas, or pad of paper, pens or markers or pencils or paintbrush in hand... it was enough to make my heart skip a beat. It was thrilling, fulfilling, enchanting. I could get lost in it for hours. Still to this day I have a visceral reaction to the smell of clay and paint, the way some people love the smell of freshly-baked apple pie: it is love, comfort, home.

It was everything I could do not to break down and start to weep the moment we walked into that studio that day.

But, the reality of life and parenting and working full time and everything else means I just don't have the time, or the space, to dedicate to art. I don't feel I can afford the luxury of a few hours to myself -- and when I do get those hours, they are spent folding laundry, or flaking out online because I just don't have the energy for much else these days.

I've managed to stuff that love of creating down deep, and generally ignore it. It may not be healthy or altogether effective, but as long as I pretend it's cool with me that I don't get to immerse myself in art for a few hours a day, I can happily get on with life. The life that I chose, that has nothing to do with art studios usually.

Until, that is, I'm hit in the face with those sights and smells, and I'm suddenly faced with all that it is that I've been stuffing away for so long. As it was in the art studio that day: the feeling was shocking, overwhelming, and caught me completely off guard. Many people might feel excited, or at the very least intrigued walking into a place like that -- I felt sorrow and longing. My heart hurt.

One of these days, when my kids don't need me for every little thing and my house isn't a total sty and I don't already have 45 other things on the ever-loving to-do list, I will sit down to a blank canvas, paintbrush in hand, and un-stuff it all. Hell... I may just sit there and weep.

photo credit: Clos Pegase Winery - Painter via photopin (license)

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The Great Clothing Purge 2015

Anyone who knows me knows I rant and rail against laundry on an almost daily basis. WHY do we have so much clothing?? WHY??

With that in mind, and given that the kids' drawers were literally teeming with clothing, we set out to do a giant purge. I really like the idea of Spring Cleaning, but for me, Fall is when I want to get RID of stuff.

We set aside 2 hours and got to work... dumping out drawers, assessing everything for size and wear and stains. The kids were a big help (if you count throwing clothing in the air and jumping in the piles like piles of leaves "help"...).

Purging is so cathartic though -- if you can put aside the emotional attachment you have to clothing ("Aw this is what she wore when she lost her first tooth!") it just feels good to let things GO.

Queue Frozen tagline in 5... 4... 3...

I'll be honest... I didn't think we had THAT much to get rid of -- maybe a handful of things that didn't fit the kids, and a few things I never wear anymore. So I was shocked when we dumped all the clothes we were parting with down into the front foyer, and ended up with this:

That doesn't even include all the outgrown clothes from the youngest -- her closet is literally full, but she was already down for a nap by the time we finished. 

Now I look in the drawers and closets and instead of feeling overwhelmed and a sense of dread (at the task ahead, of the impending laundry), it's like a breath of fresh air. Everything that's there is there for a reason, fits, will be worn. 

Well... almost everything. Turns out I don't know my kids as well as I thought I did, as the first thing that The Hubs pulled out of Baby Girl's drawer this morning was too small! D'OH! My excuse? She must have grown overnight.... ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Anti-Bullying Day is a Crock of Shit

Today, as we do every September, I dressed my kids in pink and sent them to school to stand with their peers and recite a pledge not to be a bully, not to stand by while others get bullied, to care for one another and generally not be little assholes to each other. Aww. Nice right?

It's all good, in theory. And I'm sure the warm fuzzy feelings that float among their pink-clad selves will last at least until the end of the day, everyone on high alert to recognize "bullying" and stop it in it's tracks. Of course bullying is wrong and I whole-heartedly support every effort to put an end to it.

Here's the thing: the bullies don't give a crap about any of this. They are the kids who will continue to be little assholes regardless of how much pink everyone wears. They're not suddenly going to have an attack of conscience and decide "Hey, you know they're right... bullying DOES hurt. My bad". No.

Never mind the fact that we are raising a generation of kids who don't even really know what "bullying" IS. They see kids picking on kids, or being rude or obnoxious, or shoving a kid in the lunch line, or sticking their tongue out at a kid who they don't like, and they run to tell. Guess what -- that's not bullying. If your kid has ever legitimately been bullied, you know that's not it. But our kids think this is bullying. The term bullying has come to mean any time a kids does something unsavory to another kid. "Johnny grabbed Jennie's pencil out of her hand. He's a bully". That's not it, people.

no bully zone

But, I digress. My point is, the whole Anti-Bullying Day and the pledge and all the pink in the world won't make today's asshole kids suddenly NOT asshole kids tomorrow. They are the ones who won't get it. They are the ones who are probably getting bullied themselves. They likely have an asshole dad or older brothers or gym teacher or whoever in their lives who is constantly picking on them, taunting them, belittling them... so guess what? They are the ones who turn around and do it to the kids around them. Of course they do. What else do they know? Why would we expect any different?

The so-called "bullies" aren't the problem... it's the one who made them this way who are the problem. And no amount of chanting and cheering in a school assembly is going to change that.

Do I think kids should step up and say something when they see another kid being bullied? Of course I do! Should they take action and step in when kids need it? YES! Do I think the one day of wearing pink and school assemblies will do a damn thing to curb this behaviour? Absolutely not.

So, I will dress my kids in pink for one day every September, and I will high five them when they tell me about the pledge and how bullying is wrong and we all need to work together to stop it. And I'll tuck them in their beds at night knowing nothing will be different tomorrow, because the assholes who wore pink today will still be assholes tomorrow, in a different coloured shirt, and they're just going to have to figure out how to deal with them.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

My Version of "Training" for a 10K

If there's one thing I've learned about myself it's that I like to do research before doing *anything*. I study park maps, read up on planned activities, view places on Google street view before I go there. I like to know what I'm in for.

Training for a 10K is no different, it turns out. I've read about what shoes to buy, what route the course will (should) take, what clothes I should wear, and of course what training programs to consider. How to tackle going from a couch potato to a 10K runner in just over 6 months. I've tried out different apps, downloaded PDFs, plugged in dates and mileage. I've even crunched the numbers to figure out, if I invest in a proper pair of sneakers now (and ditch the $15 Payless cross-trainers), will they last until race day in 6 months? (Answer: yes)

Truth be told, that's all my "training" has been to date. I've decided on a costume (Mini!), searched online for cute accessories for said costume (people are CRAY about their costumes for these Disney running events!). I've bought a bunch of dry-core wicking mesh-lined something or other clothes, and am awaiting their arrival so I can have a little fashion show. These things are important when considering a 10K.

I've plugged in my treadmill. I put my sneakers on, and went out for a 2 k jog a few mornings ago. More walking than jogging. Okay it was a walk.

This isn't the typical training program most people undertake. Baby steps! Plus shopping online is just way more fun than running. I'm starting to think that's half of the appeal of starting a running program in the first place -- the retail opportunities. It's certainly isn't for the RUNNING.

Anyway I've found an actual training program (via runDisney, tailored for the actual event) that will get me to the finish line without dying, so I'm going with it. Since I'm still 6 months out, and the training program is 18 weeks, I still have a couple of months to procrastinate shop research.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs: A Freaking 10K?

Anyone who knows me knows I am NOT a runner, or an exerciser. Not by choice anyway (if a wasp crosses my path, watch out, I'm a runnin!)... But I've always said I hate running. I don't know why anyone would want to run. Ever. I have never had a "runner's high", and the whole idea just seemed stupid to me. Like, you just put on sneakers and... run away and back again? WHY?

Until the Spring of this year, when a challenge was laid down by my younger (more athletic) sister to the rest of my family: participate in the Bluenose Marathon weekend in Halifax.

After laughing my head off for a good 2 minutes, I decided... maybe I would consider doing the 5K event. After all, it wasn't a REAL race. I could certainly walk the entire thing if I wanted to, and maybe if I actually trained (hahahah) I could run some of it? Maybe? It might give me a reason to get off my butt and do something other than sit on the couch and avoid eye contact with the treadmill in the corner... Plus it would mean I could participate in my sister's "Pasta Village" event, which included wine. I decided... I was IN.

I'm not going to lie: in the weeks leading up to the event, I tried to come up with reasons I would not be able to participate. Hamstrings? Torn... something? Um... Sick kids? I couldn't come up with anything that would fly... so I bit the bullet, and got my butt on the treadmill a few times. It wasn't horrible. Again... I am NOT a runner, and never have been. But, I gave it a go, and It.Wasn't.Horrible. Truth be told, I kind of loved the feeling of accomplishment I'd get on the days where I'd be heading to work, already having been on the treadmill for 20-30 minutes that morning. "Oh, no big deal, I already worked out today." Yeah, that's pretty cool.

Now, I never did get to the point where I could run a full 5K. By the time the event weekend came around, I was able to do about 5 minutes running and 1-2 walking. I'm not winning any road races here, but not terrible. I did keep telling myself if it came down to it, I could just walk the whole 5K and nobody would care. Plus I was doing this with my 64-year-old mother who, while one of the toughest cookies I know, is also not what you'd call a 'runner'. However, she got it in her head that she wanted to better her previous 5K time (that's right -- after never exercising basically a day in her life she'd suddenly up and decided to do the occasional 5K - you GO girl!!), and so what I thought would be a fairly leisurely pace turned into my own mother yelling, "What's our time??" and then pushing my sister and I to GIV'ER! Amazing! And, honestly... IT WASN'T HORRIBLE! Dare I say it... it was actually *gulp* FUN.

In the end, my time was 43:31... and even though I was thrilled with that, it wasn't the best part. The best part was: I completed a 5K event, people. The energy and excitement around the event and the weekend was electric. I finally "got it": I finally understood why anyone would put sneakers on and just... go run. Despite my own pessimism and steadfast refusal to admit it... I was feeling this running thing.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when a group of online friends were talking about the Disney Princess Marathon weekend in February. Again... I laughed. First of all, it's in Florida, and I am far away from Florida. Also, refer back to sentence #1: I'm not a runner. (I have not been on the treadmill or any other form of running since the Bluenose... oopsie.) But... Maybe...?

I hummed and hawed, and then registration day came around. Like a giddy teenager scoring concert tickets for their favourite band, I furiously refreshed my browser 400 times and then felt a rush of excitement as I got through, and was suddenly registered for a 10K.


So... there you have it. Now I actually have to train, because this isn't just a 5K walk in my home town... we are taking a family vacation to Florida so I can put on a ridiculous costume (Oh yes! That's the best part, you race in costumes!!) and run 10K. And for some insane reason... I am actually excited about this.

Here we go.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today you are EIGHT

Well kiddo, eight short years ago your arrival made me a mommy, and for that I will be eternally grateful. You've brought me more joy, laughter, aggravation, fun, intrigue and love than I ever could have imagined.

You are goofy, funny, caring, inquisitive. The love you show for your family makes my heart burst. The questions you ask make my head explode (sometimes!) -- both because of how smart they are, and how dumb they make me feel. You keep me on my toes, that's for sure.

I can see you starting to compare yourself to your peers. Remember that there will always be someone faster than you, and there will always be someone slower. None of that matters -- what matters is that you are kind, and that you try your very best every day. Don't ever stop being you. You are a great kid -- never forget that.

You are growing up. You've mastered the art of snapping, and you've almost learned how to whistle. You can whiz down the street on your scooter like a pro (even past the second driveway where you're supposed to stop). You've surpassed my video gaming abilities but you show patience when I don't get it. You can call your friends on the phone now, and when you are with them, you have deep conversations about things that I don't know much about, like Pokemon and Skylanders and Stampy Longnose.

I saw you roll your eyes a little yesterday. That's okay -- it's part of growing up. I see you maturing before my very eyes, especially when you take care of your little sisters. I miss my baby boy, but I love watching you grow and seeing who you are becoming.

When I look at you, I see me. I see your anxiety, your fears, your creativity, your joy, and your head-in-the-cloudsness. It's all good -- they're all a part of what makes you YOU, and you are really pretty awesome. You'll find a way to make it all work for you; hopefully I can help along the way.

Happy 8th Birthday to my big boy. I love you to the moon and back.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

LONG Overdue Garden Update

Okay! I suck! I know!

Now that I've got that straightened out... I'm here to bring you the most overdue garden post ever. But hey... I'm here.

Back at the end of April, when I really wasn't sure if we'd ever see the ground for all the snow we still had, I started planting seeds in trays under lights, hoping beyond hope that we might get the chance to plant them outside someday. Never mind the fact that I was a good MONTH behind in starting the tomatoes and peppers, and two months behind starting the leeks. Just you never mind all that. 

Anyway I started my seeds as I always do, but this year I scaled way back. Turns out, I don't need 30 tomato plants. Nobody needs 30 tomato plants! Besides all the extra effort it was to take care of a bunch of plants I really couldn't use, it was a little heartbreaking to have to toss a bunch of them after babying them in the furnace room for months last year. I couldn't even give them all away (though I tried!).

SO -- this year I kept it fairly simple, starting:
- tomatoes (Tiny Tim, Scotia, and Sungold)
- peppers (Early Cali Wonder and Yum Yums)
- green onions
- leeks -- only two leek plants survived a particularly forgetful few days of no water, so I'm bailing on these
- Romaine, spinach, kale -- which I didn't label and had to wait a few weeks before I was able to identify it. Kids let this be a lesson: don't drink & garden!
- cucumbers (lemon cukes and burpless something or other)
- a few annuals (zinnia, marigold, coleus)

There's something so awesome about getting all the seed trays out, filling them with fresh dirt, and plunking little seeds in them, willing them to grow. It's like I CAN CONTROL NATURE. Well, it's a great fresh start to the season anyway.

Ahh another season of dirt manicures has begun.
A week or two later, lo and behold, the little green things had emerged! Confession time: I love planting cucumber seeds, because they grow so darn quickly. :)
Boldly go, buddies.
WTH spinach?? Too good to sprout?
These smell so good!
Since those photos (taken April 30) I've planted more spinach - because what the hell? They refused to sprout the first time - and transplanted a lot of the tomato plants to bigger containers. I've also moved the romaine, spinach, green onions to the garden (under a hoop tunnel with light fabric), and planted peas and more lettuce seeds.

And I was also reminded that gardening comes with a little bit of tragedy - life imitating art, or whatever - when I had to thin the seedlings. For some reason, every year, this makes me a little sad.

It's for the greater good, guys.

Veggie Garden 2015 is officially (finally) underway!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Oh, it's ON.

It's Spring in the Maritimes, which means SUN! And warm! Flowers! And Gardening!!

Orrrrr.... it means maybe, just maybe the snow will melt enough by June to be able to dig our Christmas decorations out. I really wish I was kidding...

Our yard, April 25, 2015. THIS IS NO JOKE.
Well a big ole Eff You to nature, because I'm busy in my furnace room once again getting little green things to grow. I'm not sure they will ever make it outside, but just in case all that snow DOES melt, We.Will.Be.Ready.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Not YOU... You're the Good One!

NO no no.

The "good" one has started to act up.

No, this can't be. She's our rule-follower. Our middle child, our quiet one. The pleaser. Sure she has her moments, her fits of crying, times when she's immobilized by shyness. But, she's our good girl!

But lately, I've seen a little flash in her eye, as she swears up and down and inside out that what she's saying is TRUE! It's TRUE Mommy, I didn't sleep at ALL last night! Or, For real, I got a elephant one [vitamin]!"*

*SIDEBAR -- why do my kids insist on classifying every little thing, and placing a higher value on things that are exactly the same?? The 'elephant' and 'hippo' vitamins taste *exactly* the same as the 'doggy' one, just with a different picture engraved on the side, little children! Can't you see that?? Gaah!

But I digress. The point is, The Girl has started to lie like a rug.

Now, I know it's a phase in childhood... it's just her age. She is 5.5... 5.5 year olds lie. They just do. And I know it's probably good for her, in the long run, to test out fact from fiction, her acting skills, asserting herself in the face of a challenge.

At least that's what I'm telling myself as I question her on these things that are CLEARLY lies (or "fibs" as we call them, trying to soften the edges a little).

She couldn't be The Good One forever... but come on, we only get 5.5 years? The Boy is WAY too smart for us, and Baby Girl is hell on wheels in comparison... don't we get ONE good kid to balance things out?

Monday, March 02, 2015

What really terrifies me, as a parent

As a parent in today's world, there are certainly a lot of things to be scared of. Kids getting hurt, contracting an incurable disease, the threat of the ever-ubiquitous Boogeyman, the worry that kids will grow up to be ax-murderers, or worse: garage band drop-outs. All things that will keep anxious parents up at night.

But what really terrifies me is none of those things. Maybe because they are all unknowns: you have no idea if any of those really scary things will touch your family in some way.

No, what really scares me is something that I know without a shadow of a doubt will affect my kids in a profound and unpreventable way.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Life Without Facebook: Take 2

So, last year on a whim I took the plunge and gave up Facebook for a month. It was fabulous.

Although I missed out on a lot of posts about The Bachelor and pictures of various babies and puppies and whatnot, the benefits far outweighed those costs: I looked at my phone less (once I gave up Google+ too), I didn't get caught up in whatever online drama was happening that day, I was more focused and productive at work, I got more sleep.

When the month was up and I got back on Facebook, I felt I had a better perspective on what it was all about.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Karma's a Bitch, But She's Got a Point

I've had a few run-ins with Karma lately, and it's making me realize you really just need to stop and listen sometimes.

The first run-in was over the holidays. I had a great idea that I should really minimize in the year 2015 -- get rid of anything we don't NEED in our lives. As I was packing up all the Christmas crap stuff, I decided I was just going to do it: I would toss or donate anything I didn't love. Why pack it away and store it for a whole year just to drag it all out again next year, if we didn't really love it? One of those things was a bunch of window candelabras - they don't match our other lights, they're falling apart because they're cheap, and besides they're just a bit ugly. But, old habits die hard...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fridge Oatmeal -- OMG You Guys.

So, I know I am going to come across as sounding a little kooky here, but I think I have found my new love, in a mason jar. I've been a bit of a Fridge Oatmeal Evangelist lately, I admit. I just can't stop sharing this with everyone around me, so naturally it was time for a Fridge Oatmeal blog post :)

Now I know oatmeal in a jar doesn't sound all that exciting, but it has been a complete game changer for me. Actually, when I first saw this on The Yummy Life I was skeptical that it would be any good. But you guys... it's like a little jar of awesomeness - so yummy, so easy, so portable, and keeps you full all morning. Really, what more could you want?

Thursday, January 08, 2015

All the Posts I Haven't Written

Post-holiday Hangover has finally subsided, and I've managed to bust through the haze to bring you this entry. I survived another year and so did you! Go US!

However... this is admittedly a half-baked post. I mean -- I needed to start somewhere. It seems lately I have this bad habit of only writing posts in my head... I know every blogger composes posts in their head, constantly, like a non-stop narrative of life as they go through their day. Thing is, most bloggers actually sit down and WRITE those posts, whereas I've been in this weird loop of developing a (seemingly) great post in my head, life getting in the way for a few hours or a few days, and it's gone. Poof. And repeat.

A few examples of the posts I have had in my head at some point over the past month: