At times over the last 7 days, it felt like I was living through a week of Mondays.
But let’s start off with some excellent news: the kitchen plumbing has been fixed and it has been wonderful to hear the dishwasher whirring or to hand-wash dishes in the sink and have all the water disappear when I pull the plug.
The plumbing success capped off a wonderful end to last week – an intense but productive string of work events, beautiful sunshine, and a fun adventure with friends on Friday evening (see below).
The bad news? After the highs of Friday, the next few days felt like repeated thudding along at ground level.
Levi came down with a bug over the weekend – some congestion and coughing. Rapid tests keep coming back negative (for every family member) so, thankfully, this appears to be “only a cold” but we have negative testing requirements for some upcoming travel; the last minute chance of plans being completely upended by the virus is an ever-present reality in this new pandemic world that leaves me with a general sense of unease.
Levi was easy to entertain while home from school – he was energetic and in a great mood (the best kind of “sick”). He skunked me in so many games of Sorry it’s depressing (and I was trying very hard to win). But it also meant the days lacked structure and left me feeling… restless.
And then there was The Big Banking Kerfuffle. We did what, many times in the past, has been a fairly routine banking procedure to maximize a bonus interest promotion. When we got to the end of the process, we received an error message which told us to try again. So we resubmitted the form – successfully this time – and printed off the reference number. And then we received two e-mail confirmations. As in, despite the error, the original transfer had happened. Cue phone calls – lots of them – to solve the issue. We were reassured Worst Case Scenario wouldn’t happen. Multiple times. By multiple different bank representatives. And then Worst Case Scenario did happen…which caused layers and layers of headaches and more phone calls. It was decidedly unpleasant. Eventually, two trips to the bank and various account contortions temporarily solved the issue, but it still isn’t fully resolved. The whole thing is figureoutable…but it also really sucked.
The next round of renovations, which keep getting delayed, are tentatively set to take place while we’re away on a short family vacation. Part of me is relieved, as being around during renovations is my idea of a living nightmare. But, another part of me is very anxious. There are hundreds of little decisions that have to be made on the fly and while I hate making said decisions, I also don’t like to think of them being made without me. We have done everything we can to prepare in advance. But it still feels unsettling to the control-freak-stress-about-everything side of my personality.
Okay – enough with the complaining. Nothing remotely “bad” happened this week and we’re fine. Just sometimes life feels decidedly unfun and this whole being-a-grownup thing can seem very overrated. Know what I mean?
READING | After a string of sub-par books, I’ve had a set of relatively good reads over the last few weeks (no 5/5 books, but most fell into the 4/5 range).
I’ve been called melancholic by friends and naturally tend toward what Cain describes as a bittersweet temperament. I love how she captures my feelings about beautiful and joyous things feeling tinged with, well, melancholy – not out of sorrow, but a loving ache or longing.
In fact, you could say that what orients a person to the bittersweet is a heightened awareness of finality. Children splashing joyfully in puddles bring tears to grandparents’ eyes because they know that one day the children will grow up and grow old (and they won’t be there to see it). But those aren’t tears of sorrow, exactly; at heart, they’re tears of love. (Bittersweet)
I read two “anti-diet” books. They exist on a spectrum of intuitive eating, but even eschew that term/movement as being too restrictive. I’m not going to unpack things further here, but both of these books are interesting reads if you’ve struggled with food, weight, and body image.
I have lived my entire life believing (and I still live in a culture that believes) that the only way I would be able to accept my body would be, ironically, to change it. (Project Body Love)
I am not anti-goals. I’ve got goals. But I am anti-expecting-external-goals-to-actually-make-you-happy. That raise will not solve all of your problems at work. Falling in love does not erase self-doubt or feelings of loneliness…We have to look at what we are really searching for underneath the goal. If what you’re really seeking from weight loss is more kindness to yourself and a cute new shirt…you need to be willing to give those things to yourself now…The way you seek out a goal is the state you will still be in once you get there. (The F*ck It Diet, emphasis mine)
While All We Want fell a bit flat for me (didn’t love the structure or writing style), I can’t stop thinking about the issues it raised surrounding consumerism and wellbeing/happiness. It left me feeling very sad about how we humans care for this earth God created. I also thought a lot about hypocrisy; I mentioned reading a book recently where the author discussed – at length – her disdain for single-use cups (even approaching strangers at cafes to berate them) but then hops on an airplane to reach various hiking destinations. Last weekend I caught up on some blog posts from an “influencer” I used to read years ago (before she started “influencing”). Her content has become more and more sponsored/tailored for SEO, but she talks at length about eating “cleanly” and using only “clean” products for personal care and home maintenance. But then she mentioned ordering a huge number of clothes online, expressly highlighting her plan to “just return whatever doesn’t work” which necessitates generation of additional fossil fuels and other forms of waste. Even people that claim to be focused on prioritizing the planet (e.g. clean products, eat-local) only seem to (in most cases) take things as far as it works for their lifestyle and brand. And I don’t necessarily take offense to this UNLESS they go out of their way to discuss how much they prioritize environmental causes. They’re environmentally conscious… when it’s convenient. End rant. (To be fair I do this same thing in various areas in my own life; I have no right to cast stones in this argument, it’s just something that has been nagging at me lately.)
The book didn’t necessarily help me process any of the above, but left me thinking about all related issues from various perspectives.
A shattered bedroom window, a lost wedding ring, even a scuffed sneaker can make us feel vulnerable because our self-hood partly resides in what we claim as our own…[Corporations] encourage this intimacy between ourselves and our things. They encourage us to pour some part of ourselves into each possession: if those possessions are lost, we are prompted to feel “a sense of shrinkage of our personality, a partial conversion of ourselves to nothingness.” Perhaps each of these miniature losses is an intimation of that greater loss – our death, when we lose our most valuable treasure, the body. Perhaps it hurts so much to lose a coffee mug, a book, a toy, because it reminds us that nothing material is everlasting and we will one day forfeit even our flesh and bone. (All We Want)
This quote raises some interesting points; as it relates to my faith, I would take it one step further with the following verses in Matthew 6: 19-20. 19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The Stanley Tucci book was both hilarious (I laughed out loud a lot) and heartbreaking. I considered this book in a new light knowing that reader Katie works with his father-in-law and has met Stanley Tucci (Tucci is now married to Felicity Blunt, sister of Emily Blunt – who is wife to John Krasinski, aka Jim Halpert). How cool!
But perhaps the most precious heirlooms are family recipes. Like a physical heirloom, they remind us from whom and where we came and give others, in a bite, the story of another people from another place and another time. (Taste)
I didn’t love Island of the Blue Dolphins. I know this is a revered classic, but I found it sad and…tedious compared to, say, The Swiss Family Robinson which I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. But perhaps that’s because I came to this book late in life; I know someone who adores this book but has a deep sentimental attachment to it from her youth.
“In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right?” His voice dropped to a whisper. “But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.” (Tuesday’s with Morrie)
Picture books have not been stellar lately but we checked out Snowflake Bentley…again. We’ve been reading this book for years and it is one of my favourite picture books of all time. I love the re-telling of this true (albeit heartbreaking) story.
WATCHING+ENJOYING | Meltdown (a Netflix docuseries about the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island). Julia (the HBO dramatized series about Julia Child). And we just finished Masterpiece’s All Creatures Great and Small (fans of the Harry Potter movies, actor Matthew Lewis – who plays Neville Longbottom – is in this series). The latter was…simple, heartwarming and entertaining.
JOYFINDING | The cardinal right outside the window as I type this. I’m not sure why we’ve seen a sudden uptick in these beautiful red birds (climate change?), but they are lovely.
The playdoh creations the kids made one afternoon for over an hour. Together. No fighting. It was amazing.
The Arts for Kids hub projects the kids made one afternoon for over an hour. With new oil pastels they had to share. No fighting. It was miraculous.
Family walks; especially the stretch where Levi and I did mental math for 25 minutes per his request.
I won’t tell you how many Keto Mug Cakes (this recipe) I made during the week. Okay, I’ll tell you. I made one every single day and they were delicious (topped with a spoonful – or two – of peanut butter which melts into a pool of liquid peanut butter gold).
EXERCISE | Daily walks. I only ran once this week – Levi was home from school multiple days and all the hassles of being a grownup sapped my energy. But, John and I managed to fit in one long run together yesterday and it was great! Years ago, when I was running more regularly, I had a favourite route which was 8.34 km (how’s that for specific; I’m sure the distance varied slightly, but this is the number that stuck in mind). My goal this year was to work up to running that same route. Check.
THRIFTING | A pair of sneakers at a local consignment store. In like-new condition; $25 – $12 credit (from clothes I’ve consigned) = $15 (taxes included) for new sneakers!
ADVENTURING | Last Thursday, about an hour after we’d returned from visiting an abandoned textile factory and old railway cars, and about 5 hours after we’d returned from our long hike to Cape Split, a friend texted to see if our family was up for a “playdate” after she finished work on Friday.
I knew Friday was going to be nuts at work, and it had already been a busy week (what with all the water pouring out onto the kitchen floor). I waffled, wanting to say no but also remembering this friend, and her husband, are some of the best adventurers we know.
So we said yes. And she suggested Medford Beach.
Several years ago John and I visited these local rock formations (about 20 minutes from our home), and we’ve been planning to take the kids ever since. Last Friday ended up being the perfect opportunity; the tide was perfectly aligned for an early evening/post-work adventure. We had the beach and formations to ourselves and the weather was ideal.
And then I did laundry on Saturday morning, for obvious reasons.
Below are two throwback pictures from the last time John and I visited; sadly the archway of the bottom formation has eroded in the last few years.
And that’s all from me. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend – with nary a plumbing or banking debacle.
And here’s to a Friday that feels…like a Friday (not a Monday).