I can’t remember where I read the following quote (it might have been Brené Brown?) but it went something along the lines of: Care the most about the judgments of people who care the most about you.
(Side note: apparently both spellings are correct – judgements and judgments – though I’m still not sure which one looks “right”.)
This advice came at an opportune time; I have been ruminating over some unpleasant feedback I received relating to a tricky interpersonal situation. My tendency is to avoid conflict. At the end of the day I want to make – and keep – everyone happy with me. (Oh how desperately I want everyone to be happy with me!)
But here’s the thing, if someone is critical or hurtful or we simply don’t see eye to eye on a matter, I need to weigh my response in proportion to that person’s investment and overlap in my life.
I need to care the most about what the people closest to me say – what’s their feedback? Is the negative information I’m getting from a socially-distant person in line with what I’m hearing from those who love me, who have my best interests at heart, and whose input I most value?
In this case, the feedback didn’t align. While this doesn’t mean I should totally disregard the negative feedback (there are elements of truth to it, I admit), I need to weigh its impact on my decision-making accordingly.
Easier said than done, of course. But it’s likely wise, moving forward, to care the most about the judgments/feedback of people who care the most about me.
I’m still shocked it’s actually October. September was a transitionary month for our family. Abby started middle school. After 5 years of ongoing projects, major home renovations are complete. I survived my first stint of solo-parenting since February.
There were a lot of changes to routine; some moments felt euphoric and others felt…rather irksome. As we muddled through new experiences and routines, we managed to make some great memories and I used several items that really hit the mark in terms of being a Favourite.
Robovac – Eufy
So…I didn’t wait to add this to a Christmas wish list. When John read my post looking for feedback on robovacs, he launched into research mode. We agreed we wanted to start with a relatively basic vacuum and ended up going with one from the Eufy brand. We might get a second robovac for our basement level, so it made sense to start with an entry-level model (which he managed to snag on sale + a coupon).
Several people commented that having a robovac was life-changing. I’m not sure if I’m quite to that point yet (without laser guidance, chords are a bit of a nuisance), but it is definitely life-improving. I’ve loved setting it up to run in the hallway and kitchen while we’re watching a show together as a family on Friday nights. Or I’ll get the kids to pick things up off their bedroom floors and leave Eufy to vacuum while I make myself a cup of tea.
I think my favourite feature – which seems so obvious now, but never crossed my mind – is the fact it gets under chairs and beds!!! “Behind-the-scenes” areas of our living spaces have never been so clean.
We talk to our Eufy like it’s a pet and give it positive feedback constantly. The kids will follow it around like it’s a puppy and say things like “Good boy, Eufy” or “You can do it.” It’s hilarious, bordering on ridiculous.
vileda spin mop
Keeping on with a discussion of floors – I think I’ve mentioned before how much I loathed mopping. Mostly, I now realize, because I never had a good mop.
The laminate floors in the top level of our house (which you can see in the pictures of Eufy) are very hard to keep clean. They show every single drop of water and speck of dirt but would always look horribly streaked after mopping.
After multiple friends (and two professional cleaners) recommended the Vileda Spin Mop, I finally caved and ordered one. I have tried many mops, and this is definitely the best one I’ve ever owned. After almost a year of using this mop, it definitely deserves the title of Life Improving. It’s such an easy system and it DOESN’T LEAVE STREAKS on the laminate.
I will be the first to admit I should mop more frequently than I do. But at least now when I do mop, the floors look great. For five minutes…before a child comes inside with dirty shoes or sits down to eat a snack.
Speaking of food…these corn tortillas are delicious. I have never been a fan of wraps, but we’ve been using these regularly for about a year now and I love them. They do need to be warmed first to maximize flavour and texture (I use the microwave, but they heat up great in a frying pan, too). They’re hearty and flavourful. Yum.
AHA SPARKLING WATER
I’ve tried various brands of sparkling water, but AHA is my new favourite. I’ve had all the AHA flavours and every single one is a winner in my books. I only drink a few cans a week, and each one feels like a treat!
REACHING THE END OF RENOVATIONS
There are still lots of little things to pick away at inside and next year our focus will shift to landscaping (we had to excavate all the hardscaping that was in place at our house when we repaired drainage issues years ago; now that we’ve upgraded some of the interior, it’s time to do outside work…but that’s a job for 2023).
Which means, for the most part, we are now looking at weeks – months! – with nary a contractor on site. This is very, very exciting.
This is my favourite weather of the entire year. Crisp mornings. Warm afternoons. I take a coat everywhere, but often don’t need it. The leaves are changing and the colours are truly magnificent. It’s getting darker earlier at night, so I get to pull down the shades and turn on lamps after we finish supper. It’s cozy, but with so much diversity in the weather still. No winter boots or mittens, just invigorating air. How I wish I could bottle this weather and experience it 365 days a year!!
Your turn. Any particularly wonderful items or memories from September?
The other day I was driving somewhere and suddenly thought: Isn’t it wonderful that I know how to drive a car! While this isn’t an ability I spend much time thinking about – and, family roadtrips aside, one of the perks of living in a small town is that we don’t have to do much driving – it is a very useful life skill.
I know several adults that don’t have their driver’s licenses. They rely on parents and/or spouses to drive them wherever they need to go. It seems to work for their individual situations, but I cannot imagine a life where I didn’t know how to drive.
So, today, I’m feeling very thankful that I have access to a vehicle and the cultural autonomy to drive freely!
Your turn. Have you ever thought about how useful it is to know how to drive (especially if you have easy access to a vehicle)? It really is a tremendous privilege!
Well…that was quite a week. I am feeling pretty tuckered this morning, but mostly in a good way! We had a lot on our plate, but there were plenty of fun adventures sprinkled in along the way.
John was overseas for a business trip and I am out of practice on the solo-parenting front! For so many years this was our norm and I established very clear routines for when I was home alone with the kids. One of the consistent habits was me settling them in bed by 7 pm before sitting down with my own supper around 7:30 pm. I loved having the house quiet when I sat down to a plate of HOT food. That routine is no longer relevant; the kids are awake much later and bedtime has lost most of the rigidity it had when they were younger.
Everything has an expiration date.
The kids were reasonably well-behaved this week. There was one epic sibling argument over what game to play with friends. When I’m solo parenting I find things tend to be either spectacular or awful – there is rarely a middle ground. This was definitely a middle-ground experience which is, admittedly, 1000x better than awful. Both came to me separately at the start of the week to ask: What can we do to help out? When I gave them chores they still often complained or got distracted (and there was a messy bedroom showdown at 9:15 pm one evening where I got into full Mom Lecture Mode), but for the most part everyone was mostly happy.
A recap of the week that was…
Last Friday was all about prepping for Hurricane Fiona. The kids were off school but attended an inservice camp. Then Abby had choir practice. By the time I picked her up from that, it was pouring outside so we let the kids veg with some screens while John and I tackled the first stage of building a PAX wardrobe. We built one half of the wardrobe frame which was confusing and physically demanding (it’s huge!), but when we had to repeat the same process a second time, things went smoothly.
By the time we were done, we had blown through supper time. Oops. Thankfully I had prepped waffles earlier in the day (almost always this recipe – my fave!), so we enjoyed a very late supper and watched another episode of The Rings of Power together as a family before heading to bed. I ended the day feeling accomplished and confident. That alone should have set off alarm bells in my head.
I’ve already told you how the hurricane played out – no real damage and a short power outage. Once our power was back on, John and I tackled the rest of the PAX system – this time to install the runners and doors.
This was a truly horrific experience. I was sweaty and exhausted and confused. At various points in the day, I just wanted to prostrate myself on the floor and ugly cry. It took about 7 hours from start to finish. And when we were finally done, one runner didn’t quite work properly and there was a small nick in the center of one of the doors (which I’ve fixed with a paint pen and it looks fine, but I was very grumpy about that little nick at the time because…well, 7 hours of building Swedish furniture will do that to a woman).
We have assembled a lot of IKEA stuff over the years, and this was the hardest. But it’s done and now we just wait for shelves to come back in stock so it is more functional. Next up: hooks for the walls, a bench for sitting/putting on shoes and some colourful art.
After 7 hours of building, we had blown through mealtime. I was too emotionally spent to cook at this point in the DIY process, so we went for a drive to assess the hurricane damage and used coupons for an inexpensive but delicious supper at Subway.
En route home, some friends called who were still without power (which didn’t get restored until Monday morning – ugh). So we had a very fun, impromptu evening of company. There were silly games – including 50 rounds of Would You Rather – laser tag, popcorn and ice cream sandwiches. At one point there was a very loud rendition of Oh Canada, for reasons I can’t remember. The adorable toddler toddled in his charming way. It was a great way to end the day.
Sunday. Wow! Talk about a change in routine. Now that Abby is in middle school she can help with the programming for younger kids during the first service. She was so excited to do this with a group of middle-schoolers and it sounds like she LOVED it all. Then during the second service, she attended her own middle-school youth group. This means we arrived at church about 9 am and left about 12:45 pm. But it was great. Abby is so happy with this new arrangement, Levi loves staying for the whole morning (it means he gets a lot longer to play in the gym too which, if we’re being honest, is a major highlight). John and I joined a small group which was a great experience. All in all a wonderful change to routine, but it really impacts the flow of our Sunday!
And then the week proceeded to be very full and busy. An airport + IKEA run (me)! Meetings (me)! A birthday party (Levi)! Drama camp (Abby)! Early dismissal (both kids + 2 other kids)! Dentist (Levi)! Soccer (Abby)! Youth Group (Abby)! Bible Club (both kids + 1 other)!
Today Abby has a babysitter course, followed by choir (she was supposed to have a weekend retreat, but this got cancelled last minute which…is a lot less driving/work for me, but she’s very disappointed). It is uncharacteristic for us to be so busy, and is clearly a sign of having older kiddos.
We took a Sunday afternoon family walk. We stuck to a local wooded trail and it was absolutely beautiful. A perfect fall day where everyone was happy and jolly.
Using my new microwave egg poacher, gifted by a friend. While I love eggs every possible way, this is very convenient and has been a go-to for me this week at lunchtime.
Hot showers. My love for hot showers knows no end. Ditto Magic Bags (which I used multiple times this week).
Leaving a meeting and seeing a colourful new mural being painted.
Watching the kids wrap birthday gifts. They did this 100% solo and were so serious about the task at hand.
Some fun picture books. One was a re-read (Levi picked The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse off the library shelf because he likes it so much) and the other two were solid 4 out of 5 stars. The Wills and the Wont’s reminded me of Dr. Seuss in terms of both the illustrations and the rhyming structure.
Looking at my phone pictures after the kids got it at…some point?! What is going on in this picture? I think he’s wetting his hair to brush it. But why?!
Happy weekending friends. I’m headed to the airport to collect John and then I am ready to ease into this weekend! Hopefully with some Friday night waffles and a little bit of family screen time…and maybe a Sunday afternoon nap for good measure?
Your turn. How was your week? Anything you’re especially looking forward to this weekend?
A few weeks ago we went out for supper as a family. We haven’t done this very often since March of 2020. It felt “normal” (whatever “normal” looks like these days) and was an especially fun treat on a random Wednesday night.
When we pulled into the restaurant parking lot, John and Abby were talking about an inside joke song they had created about Abby’s new hamster, Meatball. It was nonsensical and hilarious. As I sat listening to them sing – with gusto, I might add – I couldn’t help but laugh out loud. A deep belly laugh.
After I finally finished laughing, I thought – wow, it feels so good to laugh.
Wouldn’t this be a great life goal – to be someone who laughs easily? (At appropriate times, of course; I understand laughter at the wrong time can be devastatingly hurtful!). Sure I can smile when I hear a funny story or silly lyrics. But why not take things one step further and muster up a laugh? It almost always feels extra therapeutic.
Your turn. Do you laugh easily? If so, do you have a go-to source of laughs (maybe a favourite sitcom, comedian, or family member)?Nate Bargatze is our favourite comedian and I also happen to be married to an extremely funny personwho goes out of his way to make me laugh every day <3
When I read Katie’s post earlier this week, I had to wonder if she has been brushing up on her mind-reading skills. She wrote about what systems were working well as part of her fall routine and her post came on a day I was drafting my own thoughts on the same topic!
I spend a lot of time tweaking things that aren’t working well in my routine but don’t always take time to appreciate what is working. The next step, of course, is to find ways to promote the continuation of these positive behaviours and routines!
Without further ado…
things that are currently working well
Bedtime. This has been so much better in September. I would say at least 5 nights a week I have been in bed – lights out! – by 10:30 pm. I still regularly feel tired, but at least I know I’m getting to bed at a reasonable time and suspect much of my exhaustion is just carryover from our busy summer when my sleep hygiene was horrific!
Reading less. While it’s very normal for me to slow down book consumption over the summer, I was feeling guilty about how I haven’t transitioned back into a reading routine (either solo or with the kids) now that we’re settled into the back-to-school season. But then I thought: what I’m doing is actually working for me. In between a sharp uptick in the extracurriculars the kids are involved in, work and home responsibilities, my focus on getting outside and exercising every day, time spent writing here, etcetera, etcetera…there hasn’t been a lot of excess time to read. And that’s okay! Although I enjoy reading, I don’t want it to become a tedious “to-do” I have to check off. I’m reading solo 3-4 nights a week for 30 minutes, and probably spend about 2 hours over the course of the week reading to the kids which feels like a good balance for our current stage of life.
Scheduling work e-mails to send in the morning. I know this “hack” is old but it is the first time I’ve used this option consistently. Even though I work from home and my hours are flexible, it can feel like I should fit every task into the confines of a normal 9-5 working schedule. This doesn’t actually happen, though, nor is it the most efficient way for me to complete work tasks. I typically receive an influx of e-mails between 5-7 pm. So, a few times a week, I’ve been doing an evening “shift.” I set all the e-mails I draft to send the next morning at 8 am (or, if I’m doing it over the weekend, 8 am on the next weekday). I’m able to put in a bit less working time each week while feeling more efficient/effective in my role. I’ve been doing evening work for years, but always sent emails immediately, which meant in the morning I’d have an inbox full of responses. This new layer of automation is definitely working well.
Middle school independence. I’m only a bystander to her experience, but I am so, so happy with how excited Abby has been about the new opportunities of middle school. On Sunday, after helping with preschool-age kids during the first church service along with a whole gaggle of other middle-schoolers and then attending her own middle-school group (all independent from her brother and parents!), she was positively glowing when she said: “Mom, I love youth group soooo much.” Her enthusiasm is wonderful to see. Drama camp, choir, school soccer, various groups and clubs – this weekend even involves an overnight camp retreat! It’s an exciting time in the Frost household.
Freezing sandwiches. Yes, you read that right. Freezing sandwiches. This is a trick my sister taught me when we visited South Carolina. She has a big family and a VERY hectic schedule. One of her time-saving hacks is making up a batch of sandwiches and freezing them. I was skeptical at first, but it works like a charm. It takes about the same amount of time to make 12 ham and cheese sandwiches as it does 2. We’ve mass-produced (and frozen) ham + cheese, butter + jam, and egg + bacon. I just pull two sandwiches out the night before and put them into their lunchbox frozen. I might add something like mustard, mayo or lettuce/spinach to the sandwich at this point, but there are no crumbs to deal with and no cheese to slice. We do still prep fruit/veggies the day before, but not having to make a fresh sandwich has been a game-changer.
My Sprouted planner. I have been LOVING my Sprouted planner recently. To be fair, I’ve loved it all year (*not paid or perked!*), but I feel like I’ve made it work extra hard in September and it has been invaluable for keeping me on task. I’ve come up with some new tracking systems and have settled into a daily routine of maximizing the heavy lifting my planner can do.
Limiting coffee. A few years ago I had a Meridian Stress Assessment done and was told to eliminate coffee from my diet. For months I avoided coffee completely (tea and other caffeinated beverages were fine). I do not find coffee gives me a jolt of energy, so consuming it was all about taste and the pleasant relaxation of sipping a hot beverage. If I drink it consistently, though, it really upsets my stomach. Demerit alert: I had been back to drinking way too much coffee. Lately, I’ve been allowing myself one cup a week – and my stomach is so much happier.
Intuitive eating/no scale. For months now I have just been…eating food. Nothing has been off-limits. I eat when I’m hungry. Sometimes I eat emotionally. Sometimes I skip a meal when I’m not hungry at a prescribed time. Sometimes I have a late-night snack. Sometimes I eat carrot sticks, sometimes I eat a chocolate. After two decades of either dieting and/or eliminating foods to try to get to the bottom of health issues, this is a very, very big change. I also used to track my weight each day and haven’t touched a scale in months. My clothes might be fitting a tad snugger but such is life. I’m active and healthy and it’s (mostly – see below) working well to spend less time dithering over food.
Daily walks. These continue to be a great tool for my mental and physical wellbeing. Do 12 minutes outside each day solve all my problems? Nope. But it has felt comforting to have a daily ritual in place that I know is so good for me. Occasionally it does feel like a burden, but the majority of the time I recognize and celebrate the fact that it is such a blessing to have a body that is strong and capable of walking; that it is such a blessing to have clear air and safe streets where I can walk; that it is such a blessing to have the flexibility to make this activity happen daily.
A few things not working so well
I would be remiss if I didn’t address a few things that are NOT going well…
Phone use. I’m back to spending too much time on my phone. On Tuesday I picked up my phone 125 times – 125 times?! – and responded to 91 notifications. Allow me to throw out a few flimsy excuses. Excuse #1: this fall has had a lot of logistics to juggle. This means plenty of texting to coordinate rides and schedules. Excuse #2: I have two e-mail accounts at work that require 2-step authentication for sign-in, which means I have to access my phone regularly (every time I switch between accounts which could be a dozen times a day) for the Authenticator app. Once I pick it up to confirm sign-in, I have a bad tendency of checking texts or the latest news headlines. These excuses are legitimate but, if I’m being honest, most of my pickups are superfluous and it’s starting to make me feel icky and restless. I think I might go back to tracking my time + pickups each day? It is frustrating to be back in this place after doing so well with reducing phone use in the spring. What’s that Japanese proverb? Fall seven, rise eight. I guess it’s time to get up again..,and put down the phone!
Fruit and veggie consumption/menu planning. While I’ve worked really hard to retrain my brain to think about food less critically and to eat more intuitively, I definitely feel like I’m in a cooking rut. We’re eating fine. I’ve made several soups. We consume fruits and vegetables every day, but I don’t feel like there is any rhythm to food prep these days and I’m definitely often throwing something together out of convenience. For years I had a very concrete structure for what I always had available (e.g. homemade salad dressing and fixings for salads) and I’m just not energetic or organized on the kitchen front right now and I’m not sure how to jumpstart my enthusiasm. While I want to eat intuitively, I also want to make it easy to make choices that will fuel my body to perform well…and that takes a bit more mental bandwidth than I’ve been allocating to the task lately.
Your turn. Any current routine that is working particularly well for you (or not) as we transition into fall?
Around the time I turned twenty, I settled on the fact purple was my favourite colour. I’m not sure how I came to this determination, but I really do love a deep, rich plum colour. I also like pretty shades of lilac, too. In fact, for the most part, I don’t think you can go wrong with purple.
But the irony? I own almost no purple items. Until John bought me bright purple Crocs for Christmas, I didn’t own a single piece of purple clothing (I recently acquired a pair of black shorts with a purple accent, but they were handed down from a sister, so that hardly counts). My Yeti is teal. My coat is hot pink. Almost all our walls are grey. The main accent colours in our house are burnt-yellow and blue. My phone case is floral, my laptop cover is a marbled pink. My favourite mugs are blue and brown.
But, yet, I still consider purple to be my favourite colour. When I was shopping for fall mums a few weeks ago I found some very “happy” looking yellow/orange plants. Orange is probably my least favourite colour. So the friend I was shopping with asked about my favourite colour. I responded Purple, and she pointed across the field to some beautiful purple mums. I bought two pots full of these delightful blooms. So, at least temporarily, I have something that’s purple…
Over the years I have owned some dark purple exercise shirts, and I wouldn’t turn down a purple notebook or some small accessory, but I’m never drawn to buying purple items. I wouldn’t buy a purple car or paint my front door purple or use purple throw cushions on my couch.
Is that weird?
What about you. Does your favourite colour line up with your preferred colour for material items like clothing or furniture or wall colours?
WordPress tells me I’ve hit Publish 334 times now. But of all the posts I’ve written, this one is probably my favourite. I first published it back in June 2021, but I think about this story regularly. It came out of a relatively forgettable moment – a single comment from a friend – but the memory of it has remained vivid.
And even now, all these years later, I sometimes need to remind myself that she can still be a doctor…
When Abby was born life turned upside down – literally. Delivery required far more medical intervention than I had expected and my vision of motherhood – rocking a contented baby, having hours just melt away while I watched her delicate little features in sweet slumber – couldn’t have been further from reality.
I’d pour a bowl of cereal at 8 a.m. and, if I was lucky, eat it by noon. The first few months were a haze of sleepless nights and days filled with tears (hers and mine) while we navigated infections, colic, and seemingly endless feeding challenges.
The biggest sticking point? I’d always planned to nurse my children. It was healthy, economical, convenient. It was also what a good mother would do. Not only did I want to do it, I was inundated by messaging that championed and elevated this aspect of mothering.
I was also surrounded by mothers that could do it. Baby-hour at the library was basically a lesson in how to feed and nurture your little one naturally; you could find me wallowing in a corner covertly wielding a bottle.
I dealt with these things – as one does – by cycling through stages of denial, anger, depression, and pseudo-acceptance (there wasn’t much bargaining to do, she was only 2 months old after all). I researched techniques, bought supplements, and consulted experts before officially conceding defeat.
She got older and things got easier. By 9 months she was pure joy – full of all the spunk and personality we cherish today. She was happy and well fed. Though the crying was behind us, guilt lingered. And then a new friend entered my life and helped to shift my entire perspective with just one sentence.
This friend and I were out for an evening walk. Somehow I had circled back to discussions of feeling less-than because of my inability to naturally deliver and feed my (now toddler) daughter. This friend paused for a minute and said wisely: “You know, Elisabeth, she can still be a doctor.”
What she meant – and what I needed to hear – was that the future was unwritten. The unexpected complications of the past, which were completely out of my control, didn’t mean Abby was doomed to a life of illness, missed opportunities, and continual disadvantages. If she wants, she can still be a doctor. Or a stay-at-home mom. Or a physicist, a mechanic, an artist or anything else her determined self wants to pursue.
When Levi was born several years later, I met with a lactation consultant proactively, bought new supplements and did all the “right” things. I gave it my all for a week. When the nurse told me, gently, it simply wasn’t working…I cried. The second time around it was still sad and disappointing. But I also knew: he can still be a doctor. Or a pro-surfer. Or a stay-at-home dad. Or an electrician. Or a teacher, or a financial analyst, or a playwright. The sky is the limit.
It really is – after all, he could still be an astronaut.
Your turn. Did anyone else find certain (or all!) aspects of the transition to motherhood different from your original expectations? The subtle irony in all of this is that I was a formula-fed baby and I don’t think it hasn’t slowed me down too much in life?