Casual Friday + A Week of Mondays

At times over the last 7 days, it felt like I was living through a week of Mondays.

Garfield says it best…

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.

After exploring for a few hours we all came back to our place and heated up waffles (this recipe, always) and played JustOne.

And then I did laundry on Saturday morning, for obvious reasons.

I love this picture John captured of the kids. The beautiful formations + their candid smiles.

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).

Casual Friday + A Hike and Water Woes

Well. That was a week.

After this post goes up, I have a full day of quarterly meetings + quarterly and annual reports are also due…but then comes the weekend and I. Am. Ready.

I tend to start these Casual Friday posts with the “biggest” news of the week; last week, the fact I washed my sheets got top billing. But where to start this time? Being late to a funeral? Plumbing issues? Or…wait for it…The Knitter came over for supper and sat in my living room and…KNITTED. The Knitter. In my home. Knitting. (She is absolutely lovely, by the way. And a fabulously creative/talented knitter.)

Some highlights/lowlights from the week…

FRIDAY |

Each Christmas we organize a scavenger hunt for the kids; most recently it led them to a personalized coupon book. Levi used most of his “coupons” immediately, but Abby has been much slower to claim hers. Friday she asked to cash in a “Get Out of School for Lunch” coupon. It wasn’t anything elaborate – she asked for Subway and was back to school just as the lunch recess bell was ringing. But it was special to carve out that time together (without Levi) in the middle of an ordinary school day.

SATURDAY |

I’ve already filled you in on Chopped, but Saturday was eventful in other ways, too.

The mother and stepfather of a close friend recently passed away and the visitation was scheduled for Saturday morning. The event was being hosted almost 2 hours away and was to start at 10 am. While we’re very close to our friend (and the rest of his immediate family), we had not met his parents and I thought it wouldn’t be appropriate to arrive first thing. So when we were planning our departure time I suggested we arrive at 10:30; when we pulled up to the church at 10:35 (after getting stuck behind a very slow-moving vehicle), we opened the door to discover it was a joint visitation and memorial service. And we were 35 minutes late to the memorial service. Everyone was so kind about my error and their response made me appreciate the loving nature of these friends even more.

Home in time to prep for Chopped.

And then the kitchen sink started backing up. This has been happening since Christmas (perhaps related to the water fiasco during renovations – readers might recall the day I discovered water had leaked all over my WRAPPED Christmas gifts in our guest closet). We’ve taken the pipes apart (no blockage), we’ve used Draino, baking soda and vinegar, hot water. You name it, we’ve tried it.

But this time the sink wasn’t draining at all. In fact, BOTH sinks were full of water; I decided I should use the release valve. John warned me not to – he told me the bucket I had under the drain pipe wouldn’t be big enough to hold all the water. I believe he said, and I quote: “I don’t think that would be a good idea.

Did I listen?

Hint: I spent the next 15 minutes mopping water up from the floor and cabinet on my hands and knees.

So, no I did not listen. And 10 gold stars to my husband for not once saying “I told you so.

This was all happening right before guests arrived for an enormous cooking event. Every pot and frying pan was dirty, the counters were covered in stuff, and I had things baking in the oven. And NO WORKING SINK. And WATER ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

(Yes, I was overwhelmed.)

I did dishes all evening in a little basin, making trips to the laundry sink over and over again or dumping the water in the backyard.

When the final course was served and the kids were occupied, the adults sat down to talk and I turned on the dishwasher. Though we’ve had recurrent issues with sink drainage, it has never impacted the dishwasher.

An hour later I walked out to the kitchen to find BOTH sinks were full to the top (another 1/2 inch and our floors would have been covered with water). Apparently this time the dishwasher was impacted…

So I bailed water out of the sinks (it was also now leaking into the cupboard below; on the bright side, that cabinet has never been cleaner) and called it a night.

Saturday was quite an adventure.

SUNDAY | Mother’s Day.

I got in a picture with the kids (relatively rare!) and we went to church. Abby (unbeknownst to me) had volunteered to hand out flowers; it was such a nice surprise to see my girl waiting to give me a flower.

Abby also bought me Twizzlers (my binge candy which I only get a few times a year) and The Best Card Ever. Seriously. It has hamsters with placards spelling Mom and it lights up and sings. (And the back of the card says: #BestCardEver which makes it official.)

En route home, I discovered that I had misplaced my debit card and spent lunchtime (delicious Chopped leftovers) calling the bank to cancel my card. Sigh.

Ready for a dose of honesty/vulnerability? I’m especially conscious of my shortcomings as a mother on Mother’s Day. Highlighting my role – and the importance of it – just makes me aware of all the ways I’m screwing up. (My family is absolutely wonderful and go out of their way to make me feel special on Mother’s Day which, admittedly, also makes me feel guilty).

Do my kids have extraordinary lives? Yes. Do I put tremendous effort into loving them and being intentional in how I raise them? Yes. Does it feel like an overwhelming responsibility and that there is no way to do it all right but I want to do it all right? Yes. Do I (ironically, perhaps) feel unequipped and like a complete imposter in my role as a mother on this day devoted to mothering? Yes.

Earl Grey with oat milk + a book and some music.

I was wallowing in these feelings when I snuck away to my favourite coffee shop. I started reading Bittersweet by Susan Cain and it could not have been more fitting. I realize I feel a deep sense of longing on Mother’s Day. A desperate (bittersweet) longing to do what is best for my kids, knowing how hard it is to balance their needs and wants and my desire to raise independent, empathetic children while caring for my own needs.

A deep longing for them to stay small enough so I can tuck them in and kiss tiny cheeks while longing for them to be more independent and just let me read my book in peace. A longing for them to make wise choices; a longing to protect them from the hardships of growing up. It’s a deep soul ache to see my kids thrive and motherhood feels heavy and light, euphoric and boring, contrived and natural. Basically, motherhood is a non-stop emotional rollercoaster (for me). And then I put pressure on myself to feel rapturous on Mother’s Day. By the time I reached the end of my tea, I decided: I don’t have to feel warm fuzzies on Mother’s Day. I get them dozens of other times throughout the year and it’s okay for this day to feel, well, bittersweet.

Meanwhile, the small humans that made me a mother were off living their best life (John took them on an epic woods 10 km+ woods hike).

MONDAY – WEDNESDAY |

  • A 5 km run (felt great). A 6 km run (felt even better). I think I hate running every spring when I start to ramp back up but, in reality, I mostly just hate the first 2 km.
  • A doctor’s appointment for a Pap Smear (PSA: please, please get pap smears and mammograms; I know women whose lives have been saved by regular screening. Make scheduling these appointments – if you’re due/overdue – a gold star this week).
  • I also hadn’t had a tetanus booster since…Grade 10? So the doctor gave me a tetanus shot while I was there (adults need boosters every 10 years).
  • As mentioned, The Knitter (and The Knitter’s Husband; their kids were busy at extracurriculars) came for supper.
  • 10 minutes in the bank sorted out the problem with my missing debit card.
  • We read a great picture book:
Room on the Broom is a classic for obvious reasons, but I kept thinking about The Happiness of a Dog With a Ball in Its Mouth all week. Such a sweet read with lovely illustrations.
This true for anyone else’s kids? The falling part is embarrassing and hurts, but the scab/scar becomes a treasured battle scar they want to show everyone. Everyone.
Mic drop.

THURSDAY |

John and I hiked Cape Split. It’s a favourite local trail (I blogged about it before), but we haven’t been in several years (pre-pandemic) and they have added on a whole new loop. Ahead of my busy work day Friday, I took most of Thursday off for adventuring. The views are always lovely. We spotted snails, a rabbit, and hundreds (!) of trillium flowers (also known as wood lilies). And at the end of the trail, a red squirrel became very curious about our snack!

I fit in a few hours of work after the hike, and then we headed off with the kids for some more adventuring.

For 35 years I’ve driven by an abandoned textile factory; it’s a bit of a local icon, and one portion of the factory was recently demolished. We finally got up close (well, as close as the safety barriers would allow).

I turned around and saw Levi blowing dandelion seeds – I remember loving to do this as a kid!

We also explored some abandoned train cars on an old railway track. There is something hauntingly beautiful and sad about seeing nature take over man-made objects left to rust in the wild.

As I watched the kids run wild I couldn’t help but think…while they fight a lot (I remember posting about this before and several people chimed in that their kids rarely/don’t fight…this is NOT our reality), they really are great little adventurers! They love to explore and have eagle eyes for spotting interesting things when we’re out and about. Levi, for instance, was convinced he saw a “baby lion by the side of the road” on our drive home. We were unable to confirm this sighting, but I’m expecting it’s highly unlikely in rural Canada?

Home for mini pizzas. We have these a few times a month and they are so good. Mini Naan bread, pizza sauce, pepperoni, fresh basil, and pre-shredded cheese (broiled on low for about 5 minutes). So good. So easy (and the leftovers reheat well). Can’t recommend this meal enough.


And that’s a wrap from me. Happy weekending folks.

Header photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

Casual Friday + Joyfinding

Let’s start with the big news first, shall we? I washed our sheets. Even the mattress protector and duvet. And I will admit it does feel nice to crawl into crisp, clean sheets.


Last weekend was tough. My period started Friday night (just what the internet needed to hear), and since this fact impacts my life in very direct ways, it coloured my weekend. I emerged from Saturday relatively unscathed; we’ve been working on a major overhaul of our furnace/storage room and the transformation was rewarding. John spearheaded the project and it looks and functions so well. We had celebratory sushi takeout for supper. All good so far.

But Sunday I woke up feeling absolutely lousy. The instant I opened my eyes I could tell everything was…off.

My energy drain is both physical and mental. And while I love margin and puttering, I get to a stage where I’m run down (but not sleepy) and nothing seems to make me feel better. Not even organizing a sock drawer. I’m just off. And I felt SO off all day Sunday. When I’m in that state it can literally feel like I will never be okay again. (Anyone else?)

And then I realized one of the reasons I find these cyclical downs so hard is because I lack any sense of control. This is a fact. I can’t control when my period comes or how terrible it is. And with all sorts of fun summer plans ahead, it also felt heavy knowing that I have landmines like this to navigate, often away from the comfort of my own home.

I woke up on Monday and felt better. Was the week terrific? Nope. Plenty of moments when I felt drained. But such is life. Some things simply have to be endured, for now at least.

But there is also much good to counterbalance any hard. This includes the weather forecast for next week which shows only sunshine icons. April went overboard in the whole rain-and-grey-skies department. Let’s bring on the sun…and do some #joyfinding. It’s been awhile.

joyfinding

  • A robin’s nest in a tree pine tree in our backyard. Extra joy: walking into Levi’s room and seeing him perched on a chair just…watching the robin feeding young inside her nest, just outside his window.
  • After walking the kids to school on Monday, John and I continued following our typical route, unexpectedly crossing paths with one of our best friends. She recently started a job in Wolfville and decided to find us before her workday started. She knew where we usually walked and followed that path backward hoping to find us. What a delight to see her face and walk her to work!
  • Levi wore rain boots to school one day and lamented how awful it would be for playing soccer at recess. I ended up having to drive by the school and John suggested I pop in with his sneakers. I did and it was pure joy to see him run to the office to collect them, happy to see the sneakers and his mother (though in what order of ranking, I’m not sure). What a treat to squeeze in a mid-morning hug and kiss. Someday he might not allow that level of public affection, but he did this day and it was lovely.
  • Sunshine, when it dared to show its face.
  • Sunday morning (a WEEK before Mother’s Day), I walked out to the living room to find a present and tissue paper flowers all over the fireplace. Abby decided to prep early and it was the highlight of an otherwise rough day.
  • The moment I’m drafting this post = a sunset.

In other news…

LISTENING | I have all but stopped listening to podcasts. It just isn’t the right season of life for me. I haven’t been walking solo, can’t listen to them while I work, and don’t have a commute (the 30 seconds it takes to walk downstairs to my office doesn’t really count). And I’ve never gotten into audiobooks. Mostly, I suspect, because I like to skim/re-read and take notes, all of which is virtually impossible with an audiobook. But…John and I have started walking together while listening to an audiobook (we each take one AirPod), and it has been great. Currently listening to Charles Cuhugg’s The Power of Habit (I’ve read this book before).

READING | Reading has been a bit of a slog lately. I got a huge stack of promising books from the library and most of them were, in Abby’s words, “duds“. Perhaps because they had been recommended to me, so my expectations were a bit higher?

Notes on a Nervous Planet? Loved it. Midnight Library? Not a fan. The Comfort Book? It was fine, but…a weak 3/5 for me. I just can’t figure Matt Haig out.

The first 30 pages of This One Wild and Precious life? Solid. The next 250. Ugh. Circular writing, confusing tone changes. But my biggest quibble: the author talks at length about her disdain for anyone that uses a single-use cup, discussing times she approached strangers at coffee shops to (kindly) berate them…but then she flies all over the world to go on hikes. She does try to explain this away, but it soured my perception. I skimmed the whole book waiting for it to get better but, alas, it didn’t (for me).

I’m not listing two other, recommended books, I didn’t even finish. So much disappointment.

I appreciate so many insights/quotes from C.S. Lewis’ body of work but have to wave the white flag on reading his non-fiction. Surprised by Joy was all about his early life/spiritual journey and contains one of my favourite quotes…but the book as a whole was a tedious read for me.

Currently reading/loving:

I just finished These Precious Days by Ann Patchett. Yes, please! Such wonderful, relatable essays.

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci. Hilarious. Fun.

I’m still reading little bits of All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot and enjoying that.

One good picture book this week, Oi Frog – the kids found it hilarious (as did I). Also reading and loving the weekly poems posted on our neighbourhood loop which were timely: one about blossoms and another about how people in our local area love to collect things during Big Garbage Day.

WORK | What a roller coaster. I knew the middle of May was going to be busy with many converging deadlines and little opportunity for proactive preparation. I ended Friday on a high, thinking I had gotten a few major things completed, only to have a complete crisis on Sunday as I realized there was a good chance I had misinterpreted the brief and worked hard to prepare…the wrong things. On Monday I admitted I had no idea what I was doing and what was required. Turns out a whole bunch of things I thought I had to do…I don’t have to do. And one particularly gnarly task I get to explain away with a single sentence. Phew.

NOTABLE EATS | John and I had takeout sushi Saturday (for the first time in almost 2 months) and…yum.

I bought a small ham at Easter and made a special orange juice/brown sugar/cinnamon sauce for Monday’s supper. This meal takes me back. It was a family favourite when I was growing up, and the first thing I ever cooked for John when we started dating. I made mashed potatoes (thanks to my friend kindly donating 6 potatoes; I use so few potatoes and am loathed to buy a big bag). Also…yum.

Ready for a weird but true factoid. I can remember a specific The Rest of the Story episode by Paul Harvey that relates to this meal. It was all about a nanny (working for a wealthy family about to travel on the Titanic) who had a nightmare the boat would sink. I think she boarded the boat anyway and survived? Can’t remember the specifics now, but do remember I was eating this ham-in-orange-sauce + mashed potatoes meal when I heard it on the radio. Isn’t it fascinating what little details – I was probably 6 or 7 at the time – our minds store away.

Speaking of the Titanic

maritime museum of the atlantic

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has been on our radar for several years and we finally made it (the kids had a half-day of school on Tuesday).

What a great experience! We saw a torpedo and learned all about the inner workings of that device; it strikes close to home as my grandfather was in the Canadian Navy during WWII and his ship was torpedoed and sank. (He survived.)

We explored a display about the Halifax explosion in 1917 (at that point, the largest human-made explosion in history); 9,000 people were wounded, almost 2,000 died. My kids have learned a lot about this event in school, so to see actual wreckage was both heart wrenching and an incredible immersion in history.

I loved that kids were allowed to touch so many of the items on display . I remember being at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa where one enormous room houses military vehicles…and kids aren’t allowed on them. I understand matters of liability and we always respect the signs, but when I asked a worker if they really could touch the ships (and twisted metal artifacts from the Halifax explosion), she said it was encouraged!

There was a volunteer who builds miniature ship models (to scale). We stopped by his kiosk for a while to marvel at the intricacies of his work. There was a parrot. Wasn’t expecting that!

A model of the Halifax harbour – one of the largest natural harbours in the world, and a critical location for Allied troops.

Levi had a singular focus – find Titanic artifacts.

This cabinet is the only intact piece of cabinetry that survived the sinking; seeing the carved newel-post from the Grand Staircase gave me chills.

The highlight for the kids ended up being the interior replica of a fishing boat. There were cupboard doors to open and explore, a small window/TV screen that heaved back and forth making it look like you were out on the open ocean. There was even a small (fake!) rat on the pitched floor. They loved this spot!

On our walk back to the parking garage we found a painted rock to rehide, and I had a chuckle over some marketing. A caffeine bar? Maybe this is a new thing? I suppose dry bar hair salons are very hip (or maybe they’re no longer hip; I’ve never been). Why not spin the marketing for coffee and tea, I suppose…

Finally, a quick tangent…

blog topics

Things will slow down in this space over the summer; I’m going to post less frequently and, well, generally fly by the seat of my pants in both life and writing. But I’m keen to have some ideas waiting in the wings. Any burning questions for me or topics you’d like to see covered in more detail/again on the blog?


That’s it from me this week. Did anyone else grow up listening to The Rest of the Story by Paul Harvey? I listened to an episode on YouTube and his voice made me so nostalgic!

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Casual Friday + NYC Recommendations?

Another week and, as usual, I’m glad it’s Friday. It was a productive (and largely enjoyable) week. But still, the relief and sense of expansive freedom provided by Friday evenings just can’t be replicated.

My (admittedly superficial) highlight of the week? We got Wordle in two tries. Our family celebration would rival any touchdown dance at the Superbowl.


Before I launch into my weekly recap, I want to, once again, offer a disclaimer. I don’t intend for people to feel obligated to read every word of these posts; skimming is expected/encouraged.

I regularly export the text from my blog, and these Friday summaries represent a family diary of sorts…which doesn’t necessarily translate into riveting reading for others.

Without further ado, the week that was:

FRIDAY |

My second Soup-and-Sandwich Oasis lunch for 2022 was wonderful. We had soup (carrot, squash, and lentil). We had a sandwich (tuna, tomato, cheese, garlic, and green onion on potato bread, grilled to perfection on a panini press). And then we each ate an Aero bar. And the tea, as always, was brewed to perfection.

Home in time to tackle work tasks and greet the kids.

We headed out to do some errands and promised the kids a playground. It started raining en route, but wonderfully the clouds parted and we got a favourite park – complete with ziplines – all to ourselves.

SATURDAY | This was, without a doubt, my ideal Saturday. If I had to repeat a Saturday, this would be the very type of Saturday I’d choose. It might sound boring, but I love “incidentally-productive puttering” and this day was full of that.

I woke up at 2:30 am (ugh) and fit in three hours of work in the office (amazing). I got back to sleep from 5:30-6:30 am and realized the best night to have disturbed sleep is Saturday morning because it is the only morning we don’t have a set/early schedule. I relaxed in bed until John took the kids on a walk.

While they were gone I did a quick grocery run and made a batch of muffins (these, always).

Levi hosted a friend for an impromptu playdate. Within seconds of this friend arriving they were playing chess on the couch. So cute! Meanwhile, John, Abby and I started planning stops on our summer trip to NYC/Boston!

We tackled more landscaping projects. Twice a year (spring/fall) our local sanitation department offers “big garbage” cleanup, so we took some items left from renovations to the curb.

After lunch we made a quick stop at my favourite thrift store. I know I’ve been going a lot recently, but…it’s fun. We spent $18 and got 5 items, all great finds that fill holes (literally, in the case of pants for Levi, and proverbially) in our wardrobes.

Home to clean the car (vacuum, scrub).

I spontaneously asked a friend if she could walk and she was available. We fit in a 6 km loop and I managed to get a great stack of books from the library while getting my new card activated. Notably, on this walk, my friend casually mentioned she was pretty sure she knew “The Knitter“. Alas, “The Knitter” does have a name and it is not, shockingly enough, “The Knitter“.

Home to do laundry.

Date-night* with John (he made a delicious supper), while the kids had a sleepover.

*The only lowlight of this Saturday was our movie selection; we watched The Batman and I hated it. I was expecting something akin to the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale movies, which I really enjoyed. This version was much grittier – dark and devoid of any redeeming qualities (to me). I kept waiting for it to get better (or be over; it was so much longer than I anticipated). I should have cut my losses and abandoned this movie within the first 10 minutes when I could sense it was not going to be my thing. Live and learn.

That one hiccup aside, this was my idea of a perfect Saturday. No pressure, no set plans, but with a nice balance of productive puttering.

SUNDAY | Church. No sign of “The Knitter,” but it was a wonderful service.

Weeks ago a friend mentioned an interest in having “fun friends – like the type that will go to concerts with you.” That same day I messaged her about a free concert series locally…and Sunday we went together.

While I still don’t love classical, the pianist was superb and I really enjoyed my time. I also walked to/from to fit in my daily km.

Book highlights with the kids. The Odd One Out was a very engaging hide-and-seek-style book and was our favourite of the week. Petal the Angry Cow had a bit of “rude sass” but the kids loved this so much I had to include it!

MONDAY |

It was my turn to host our small group discussing friendship. (I don’t actually belong to a book club; we’re just a group of women coming together to specifically discuss Jennie Allen’s book Find Your People.)

This week was all about vulnerability with close friends, and we ended up sharing some hard stuff in deeply personal ways.

I’ve had mixed feelings about this book (mostly because of how dissimilar I am from the very extroverted author), but this week was my favourite. It made me think of one of my favourite quotes:

To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. Timothy Keller

I feel known and loved by this little group of women (and hope they feel the same). It was just a very powerful experience.

I’m reading a book right now (This One Wild and Precious Life – Sarah Wilson) that classifies most relationships in our modern era as being “connection-lite” which the author terms as “the cheap, diet version of showing up to others and to life.” There is a place for casual friendships, of course, but “like the diet version of anything, it leaves us hungry for the real thing. You know, full-fat life.” Food for thought and I’m glad to be forming relationships with others that are deliciously “full-fat”.

Down to the office for hours of work, a walk, and then over an hour at a playground where the kids reveled in the sunshine, playing soccer and doing flips off the equipment.

Home for supper. There were lots of complaints – so. many. complaints – over an objectively delicious Ham, Lentil, and Vegetable soup and, for the record, one of Abby’s friends spontaneously came for supper and ate TWO BOWLS of said soup.

Reading with Levi. I love these moments. Watching him learn to read is like getting the front row seat to a magic show. His world is opening up more and more each day.

TUESDAY |

Back to that “big garbage” cleanup I mentioned (think old couches, desk chairs, books, empty paint cans). This happens each spring and fall and is…an event. For a week trucks and cars with trailers patrol neighbourhoods, looking for hidden gems. Tuesday morning on the way to school, I collected (spotted by John!) a like-new Herschel backpack from a neighbour’s pile. I can imagine some might find this odd/unsettling, but where I live it is 100% normal. To me, the only thing better than something thrifted is something free. I also wanted a backpack with a laptop sleeve. I’ve been using a bag (thrifted) for the last two years that I don’t love. It works, but I was thrilled to pass it on to another home and start using this more aesthetically pleasing (and functional) backpack!

In between work tasks, I did a 5 km run with John on the waterfront. We had a tough headwind on the way back, but it felt great. I tend to give myself layers of goals: run this far in this amount of time at this pace. This time my goal was to get to 5 km; given the wind, my time of 32:18 felt like a success.

Highlight of the day: coming home and tackling a fun work project with John. So satisfying.

Lunch and then I worked in our home office until supper. John took the kids to a local park and sent these pictures. They have a good life.

In other news: I sent “The Knitter” an e-mail introducing myself. This makes me seem more extroverted than I am. At worst I figured she would think I was crazy; at best, I’d make a new connection/friend. Life is short.

Supper was another gong show. I thought I would make the leftover soup experience more pleasant by offering a surprisingly-rare grilled cheese sandwich to accompany it. Somehow one child heard there was something “special” for supper, walked in the door, took a whiff, and thought they smelled equally rare, but more celebrated, souffle pancakes. This child then proceeded to wail and gnash teeth upon learning it was “only grilled cheese” which we have “all the time” (we do not have grilled cheese all the time, by the way; #realitydistortion). And all this fuss was before they learned the soup they disliked was also on the menu.

It ended up being fine and the soup was tolerated. Onward and upward.

WEDNESDAY |

Rain, so no walk to school.

With this extra time, Levi learned how to tie shoelaces. In like 10 minutes. How do these things happen so fast? He’ll now have this skill mastered for the rest of his life. The days are long, but the years (and skill development) can fly by.

(For the record, I love that Velcro can now be found on shoes for all ages. But still. This feels like another milestone ticked off, in a bittersweet way.)

It was a sluggish start to the day and I felt tired and unmotivated. I have some big – but decidedly “unfun” – work tasks to tackle that don’t have a set deadline so they just feel unwieldy. Such is life.

Work.

Work calls.

Work.

I met “The Knitter” for coffee. Seriously.

Library run, and two texts: my best friend wondering if she could pop over with her kids for a spontaneous visit (she brought hot chocolate in a Thermos and I sent her home with two little baggies of seeds – flax and sunflower – because in addition to sharing hard stuff, this is another wonderful aspect of our “full-fat” friendship; on Thursday I gave her a skirt, two winter hats, and my old laptop bag. She gave me 6 potatoes. I’m not making any of this up).

The second text was for Abby to join a friend at a bring-a-friend dance class.

I wrote down two quotes from The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker.

  • Decide what, among the things you notice, you might declare to be public works of art. Perhaps a disheveled pylon marking a street flaw…Grant yourself the superpower of making “art” wherever you go, and see how that changes what you perceive. Art is everywhere if you say so.
  • We may never be able to recapture exactly the feeling of looking at the world before we’d spent so much time looking at the world. But next time you are confronted with some scene or situation that feels numbingly familiar, stop and ask: What would a child see here?

Incidentally, I didn’t finish this book – it was overwhelming in the number of exercises it suggests (131) which felt like too much of a “good thing.”

I did a lot of reading after the kids went to bed (some All Creatures, some of Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book, some of C.S. Lewis’ Surprised by Joy, more of the Sarah Wilson book).

THURSDAY |

Another sluggish start to the day. I didn’t feel like I needed more sleep, just more of that familiar “moving through molasses” sensation. Oh well. Things felt better the longer I was up and moving.

Walked the kids to school.

Work calls.

Another short walk.

Work.

I put in some solid effort on those no-set-deadline-“unfun” tasks. I appreciate the flexibility I have working from home, for the most part at my own pace and schedule. I sent a slow of work e-mails last week at 5 am, but can also head to the park with my kids at 3:30 pm and no one cares. That said, it can be tough to stay focused. And I thrive on structure, gold stars, crossing things off. I remembered for the 47,569th time – making a list helps me put everything in focus. I took the time to write down every single item I could think of that needs doing (and gave myself some specific deadlines in the process). They all still need doing, but I have a plan and that disproportionately boosted my mood.

It was rainy, so we invited friends over for a movie afternoon once school was over. The kids watched Luca, and the adults chatted.

Supper.

Bible Club for the kids; while they were occupied, John and I made another visit to the library and a quick stop by Walmart.

NYC Recommendations?

Now let’s make a giant tangent over to our New York City planning. Any hidden gems you think we should check out? This will be the kid’s first time visiting NYC!!

We’re currently planning the following (these aren’t arranged by any sort of itinerary; we’ll organize our days to minimize walking for the kids):

Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge, taking the Staten Island Ferry, and going to Broadway (Aladdin is our first choice, because the kids love the movies, but other options include The Lion King or Wicked).

The kids are obsessed with the Night at the Museum movies, so we’re aiming to get to the American Museum of Natural History, Empire State Building (we plan to go to the top), Rockefeller Centre, and the 9/11 Memorial.

We’ll hit a few major sights in Central Park, swing by the Plaza for some pictures (Home Alone is a full-blown obsession), go to a few of the chocolate stores in Times Square…those stops should be self-explanatory.

We’re planning on a chunk of a day at Coney Island (John and I have never been and we’ll plan to get hotdogs). We’ll walk through FAO Schwartz, Macy’s and the LEGO store, and head to Wall Street to see the Bull.

We might do the Bronx Zoo on Wednesday (free). Thanks to Kae we’re also planning to go to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Roosevelt Island Lighthouse.

I have a few playgrounds pinned (namely the Ancient Playground and the Billy Johnson Playground in Central Park).

We might try for the MET (think this would be a stretch for the kids, though I’d love to spend a day here and I’ve still never been to The Cloisters), and we’ll swing by the NYC Public library.

We will skip The High Line (we’ve done this twice and the last thing the kids need will be more walking), and John and I have already done “Top of the Rock”, hence doing the Empire State Building this time.


How was your week – does anyone else adore Fridays? Any NYC recommendations (feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or e-mail them to elisabethfrostblog {at } gmail.com). What do you think about the distinction Sarah Wilson makes between “connection-lite” friendships, and the “full-fat” variety?

Header photo by Christian Ladewig on Unsplash

Casual…Thursday?

It’s Thursday…and I’m going “casual”? This is almost as disconcerting as DST!


While my faith doesn’t overtly permeate my writing in this space, my relationship with Jesus does permeate my life and I’m going to share more about this topic tomorrow, Good Friday.

Which means I decided to show up a day early and stake claim to Casual Thursday.

Without further ado, a recap of the week:

FRIDAY + SATURDAY | This was a very busy 36-hour period of adventuring. I’ll share the play-by-play action next week but any guesses where we went? Here are a few pictorial hints (bragging rights to the first person who figures it out).

If you’re still stumped…here’s one last hint. On Saturday morning I completed my daily 1 km walk on a trail called The Haunted Woods.

SUNDAY | We arrived home late on Saturday absolutely exhausted. But a night of good sleep left us all energetic enough to go to the early service at church. For regular readers: “The Knitter” ended up sitting in our row. New 2022 goal – introduce myself to “The Knitter” so I can stop referring to her as “The Knitter.”

Before lunch, I made a giant pot of soup for Monday’s supper while other members of the household played video games and mini-sticks (I have drawn a hard line and refuse to participate in either of those activities).

A little post-concert exploration; this building has been closed to the public for almost 2 years!

Abby and I took advantage of a free concert series just down the street. Side note: I wish I loved classical music…I like it, but don’t love it. Nevertheless, it was a fun time together and you never know what exposure to the arts might spark some delight when she’s older? We both agreed our favourite piece was Liszt’s Ballade No. 1 in D-flat major S170. The pianist played this new-to-me work beautifully.

After we got home I walked exactly 1 km in the rain; I had debated skipping the day and officially stopping my streak, but why?

It was date night, so I read to the kids while they ate supper; after the disappointing “duds” from the previous week, the kids loved every single book in this set. Success!

After the kids were in bed, John and I watched The Outfit. I had no idea what to expect going in but thought Mark Rylance was brilliant, as always.

We also finished Peter Jackson’s Beatles documentary. It took over a month for us to get through all three parts of the miniseries, but I found it fascinating to watch their final album come together. I got goosebumps when it showed them walking away from the rooftop recording session and the text overlay said it was the last time they ever played together publically. If you like the Beatles and enjoy behind-the-scenes footage, this is a gold mine.

MONDAY | I tackled work first thing and opted to show up an hour late to my book discussion group. I was home in time to run 3 km with John, eat some lunch, and then worked until supper time.

We came agonizingly close to getting Wordle in two tries (a new family goal for 2022).

We watched 2 episodes of the sand-sculpture competition Race Against the Tide as a family before bedtime.

When John started his sabbatical, we opted to stop getting help with housecleaning (for the last 18 months we had someone come 2 times/month for 2 hours). I think a lot of this has to do with my personality, but I ended up doing several hours of work in advance of each cleaning session. I’d do all the dusting, pick up the furniture so our lovely housecleaner could be very efficient with floors and bathrooms. But it also meant I was doing things like dusting and getting my floors cleaned more than needed, and the timing wasn’t always convenient.

Ironically, I’ve really enjoyed not having to prepare for cleaning as often. But, as you can probably guess, things have gotten a bit…lax. So after the kids were in bed, I mopped a few rooms and listened to the recent Best of Both Worlds podcast episode with Oliver Burkeman. I planned to do the whole upstairs, but after my initial burst of energy wore off, I gave myself permission to quit for the night (there have to be some perks to being an adult, right).

TUESDAY | We woke up to one of those perfect spring mornings. It was crisp but sunny with not even a hint of wind. What a beautiful setting for our walk to school!

I did a bit of work, but really wanted to fit in a walk with my best friend and between conflicting schedules and rain forecasts this was the only slot that would work. We ended up having a great walk (and talk) and I left the conversation energized for the day.

Home by 10 am, I powered through a lot of work tasks. My post on not rushing was very timely – I had to remind myself not to rush through a rare creative work project; I was getting frustrated with how long it was taking, but reminded myself this is actually something I really enjoy doing. I managed to finish it by the end of the day and submit it for revisions.

I had a work call at 1 pm which went much better – and ended much earlier – than expected. Always a nice feeling.

I’ve been working after the kids come home from school a lot lately, but signed off when they walked in the door. I made ants on a log (chocolate chips and walnuts on a banana with PB) and read Levi facts from a big book about pandas (his Grade 1 research project topic). He had a neighbourhood friend come over, so I made muffins and did dishes while Abby read me poems from a completed Language Arts project. The poem readings continued while I mopped both bathrooms to complete my mopping work on the main floor! Parenting AND mopping simultaneously. This felt like a very big deal, somehow.

Levi’s friend ended up staying for supper; I happened to have an allergen-friendly meal prepared, and spontaneous invites tend to work best anyway.

We read books in bed – another set of winners! The Button Book would be perfect for 4-5 year olds. And the groundhog book was especially enjoyed because the author was ABBY LEVIne…in a fun nod to the kids’ names.

I rarely watch TV during the week, but we opted to close the loop on Elizabeth Holmes and watched the HBO documentary The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley. It was interesting, especially having just finished watching The Dropout.

Continuing on with an entrepreneurial theme: I finished a slightly dated (2015) book about Elon Musk. Because of personal experience with startups, these topics resonate. While we’ve never been involved with something of this scale, the relentless pace, the incredible number of moving parts that all have to fall into place behind the scenes – I get it. And it feels…like it validates (?) how exciting and exhausting our quasi-related experiences have been!

More broadly, these people – Musk, Holmes, Jobs, Page, Gates – whether they experience meteoric rises and/or falls they all come with, as the book describes, “accessible eccentricities.” It requires a very specific sort of individual to carry out these feats, and I find it fascinating to see the common themes (and divergent outcomes) among entrepreneurs.

[About Musk]: “One night he told me, ‘If there was a way that I could not eat, so I could work more, I would not eat.’” [These people don’t seem to eat or sleep much.]

He doesn’t say: ‘You have to do this by Friday at two P.M.,’” Brogan said. “He says, ‘I need the impossible done by Friday at two P.M. Can you do it?’ Then, when you say yes, you are not working hard because he told you to. You’re working hard for yourself. It’s a distinction you can feel. You have signed up to do your own work.”[I find this to be an important distinction with parenting too; when my kids feel like they have ownership over a task and/or choice they are far more motivated to participate.]

[Larry Page, from Google]: Good ideas are always crazy until they’re not. [And it’s hard to know from the outset when an idea is just going to stay crazy versus end up being genius…]

WEDNESDAY | Walk to school, work, run (with a quick stop at the library to exchange books), lunch, work.

Highlight: When I discovered a 2-hour morning meeting was optional (and I didn’t need to attend), it gave an unexpected boost to my whole outlook for the day!

Last-minute a friend texted to see if I wanted to meet at a playground after school and we wound up spending a happy hour watching the kids entertain each other, basking in the spring sunshine!

#joyfinding

  • The birds singing in the morning. Most of the time I involuntarily tune it out, but what a rich backdrop it provides if I just…pay attention.
  • Our living room blinds. Having these up after almost a year really does bring me both satisfaction and joy.
  • Watching a friend’s toddler colour on a piece of paper. Such a simple task, but to watch the concentration on his little face was breathtaking, in a way. Especially now that my own kids write and it no longer feels like I have a front-row seat to the miracle of learning. But, of course, it is still wonderous at any age!
  • Watching the kids sleep. It is always, always a source of joy.
  • Our beloved librarians. On Wednesday, one saw me walk in the door and immediately got my stack of holds off the shelf before even saying hello! They know me so well.
  • When John brought over our favourite maple syrup candle for me to smell (unlit!) while I was working at my desk. (Our love of maple syrup runs deep; this is my go-to teacher gift. It smells divine).
  • Running to a random 170 bpm playlist from Spotify; it ended up being a great combination of songs that felt motivating and whimsical.

Phew. A busy week, albeit short. How was your week? Is Good Friday a holiday where you live?


Casual Friday + Another Look at the Scale

And just like that, it’s Friday again. We’ve planned a few quasi-last-minute adventures and I’ll be back next week with all the details. The weather forecast is not ideal, but we’ll make the most of what comes our way.

But first, a quick recap of the week that was…

FRIDAY |

  • I had a rough night on Thursday (overall my insomnia has been so much better lately; I’ve got a health update post in the works!) and was awake by 3 am. Ugh. I went downstairs but could hear the kids up BEFORE six. Turns out they were preparing April Fools pranks. This is hilarious because I almost never do anything for April Fools and on a whim decided to trick them last year (I froze a spoon inside cereal and milk in the freezer and 100% fooled them). They repeated the same frozen cereal trick (a bit of a stretch since I don’t eat cereal very often) and also colored water yellow to make it look like pee (Sigh).
  • John and I did an outside run together (my first of 2022). I only did 3 km and was tuckered by the end, but I have to start somewhere!
  • After the kids finished school we headed off on a blitz of errands: I officially waved goodbye to 2021 taxes at the bank, dropped off a bag of kid’s clothes at consignment, and we bought Abby’s main birthday gift (a new pair of boots).
  • John and I watched the latest episode of The Dropout; I am really enjoying this show!

SATURDAY |

  • I got the chance to invest in a new friendship. I’ve casually known a person for years, but we had an impromptu meet-up a few months ago and last week I reached out to ask if she wanted to drop by for tea. She arrived at 8:30 am…and left at 12:30 pm! It was lovely to get better acquainted (she’s in her 50s and I really do value/enjoy connecting with people with some extra life experience).
  • I did two, short solo walks using my AirPods to call people en route. I am not a fan of phone calls and try to avoid them as much as possible (I would say I do 2-3 phone calls/month for personal connection – so not related to work/home management – which I suspect is shockingly low?), but talking while I walk is a nice way to fit them in.
  • I read a set of picture books that were forgettable to the kids at supper. After one such disappointment, I started the sentence: “Well that was...” and then I paused, not quite sure how to complete my thought (realizing that authors deserve respect for their craft, regardless of my perceptions). Abby didn’t miss a beat and said with confidence “…a dud.” My thoughts exactly and her deadpan reaction made me literally laugh out loud.
  • Date night. We watched Death on the Nile (it was okay) and the first episode of Only Murders in the Building.

SUNDAY |

  • Church! We were sitting several rows behind one of “the knitters” so I can’t confirm if she was knitting, but I like to think so.
  • I made Chicken Noodle Soup (for Monday’s supper).
  • Sunday morning friends had invited us over for a last-minute lunch. I prepped raw veggies and they did BBQ. They have a great backyard and the kids played on walkie-talkies, made a lot of noise, and generally had a blast.
  • We left their house and walked to Grand Pre, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We saw eagles, an otter, and Levi picked me a few crocuses.
  • Low-light: I felt ravenous all day. But in a weird not-really-hungry and not-eating-because-I’m-emotional sort of way. I’m blaming it on hormones, but it was frustrating and my clothes all felt uncomfortably tight.

MONDAY |

  • An April snow day and the kids ended up being off school.
  • I worked on the couch getting caught up on work e-mails that had filtered in over the weekend while the kids made their own breakfast (lovely), read their kids devotional/practiced their Bible Club verse together (also lovely), and then started fighting with each other (less lovely).
  • I was scheduled to host a little group to discuss the Find Your People book; that meeting ended up being canceled, but my best friend came over with her kiddos and we spent the morning together. The kids had loads of fun, including a rousing game of laser tag and some outside play in the snow.
  • That same friend (and the rest of her family) came back for supper. I am loving these Monday-night suppers. We had the soup (prepared on Sunday), crackers, homemade cornbread, and leftover birthday cake (from the freezer). The big kids played more laser tag and LEGO and I read the toddler 8 board books – the cuteness of the latter activity was almost too much to bear.
  • Random, but I set out a little table for two of the kids to eat at and it made me smile to see these chairs. When Abby was little someone gifted us the A chair and etched her handprints. I am, in general, not very sentimental about “stuff” but I want the kids to keep these chairs forever. When Levi was born, we commissioned the same person to build us an L chair. These get used for EVERYTHING and are so, so sturdy.
The handprints…
  • The evening ended on a high with a stunning sunset where everyone rushed to the window – even the kids stood still in awe.

TUESDAY |

  • It was a cold wake-up. We left the house with one child in hysterics over being told to wear snowpants and another child giving the silent treatment over being told to wear snow boots (there is SNOW on the ground, hence SNOW boots). But both kids found friends to walk with them and all was forgiven and forgotten.
  • I worked in the office for hours and started to stress about how busy May is looking – I have to organize a virtual research conference, two committee meetings, and finish quarterly reporting + prepare an annual report. All in the span of a little over a week. And there isn’t much I can do in advance to lighten that load. Oh well.
  • I worked off some of that anticipatory stress with a 3 km outside run. This run felt much better than Friday, but it is still discouraging how hard running feels right now. I’m glad I abandoned treadmill running this winter and focused on daily walking instead, but the fact that a few years ago I was churning out 10 km in under 60-minutes feels…completely unreachable, maybe forever?
  • Back to the office by lunchtime and my head literally hurt by the end of 3 hours of e-mails. I powered through a lot of big things, but when I dealt with one “emergency” it felt like another one popped right up.
  • After supper, we watched two episodes of Race the Tide, a Canadian sand-sculpture competition. We all really enjoyed it; what people can create from a giant hunk of sand is incredible.
  • I started – and finished – New Minimalism. I thought it offered a very balanced approach on the topic and more genreally I find this sort of book both calming and motivational.

WEDNESDAY |

*I am going to talk about weight – with specifics – which I know can be a triggering topic, so please feel free to skip this section*

  • A beautiful, crisp day. After the walk to school I made a batch of seed bars (seeds + water; they’re delicious)
  • Work, work, work.
  • A walk with my best friend. We spent 20 minutes at the end of the walk discussing some things that are currently feeling “hard”. I’m so thankful for this friend and that we can tell each other that it’s okay to stop saying “everything’s fine” and admit when certain things in life are a tough slog.
  • Back to do a work call. One part of my university role involves regular onboarding; instead of a video call, we agreed to do this session as a remote “walk-and-talk” so I paced back and forth in my neighbourhood, gesturing wildly with my hands and generally looking crazy to any neighbours watching!
  • 3 km run with John (we went in separate directions and met in the middle for a high five). My best run yet!
  • Another onboarding session (walk-and-talk), work, a quick hello to the kids and back to the office.
  • Post-supper = library + grocery store stop to prep for our little adventure.

And now a tangent time because on Wednesday I decided to take another break from the scale.

It’s likely not proper etiquette to share your weight with strangers (or even those closest to you) and weight, body image, and health are very broad topics with so many considerations (hence my warning above). I can only share my own struggles – mental and physical – with weight management.

And I find it hard to describe my experience without mentioning numbers.

As of Wednesday morning, I weigh 147 lbs. Like my age, I try to see this number as nothing more than a descriptive fact. But, if I bought into BMI mentality – which I don’t – it puts me on the low end of the “overweight” scale.

Some history. When I was 12 years old I weighed over 130 lbs. That is a lot for a 12-year-old (and I was not tall). At one point post-partum I weighed about 210 lbs.

Over the last decade, I have completely overhauled how I eat, what I eat, and how I stay active – and I am very happy with the major changes I’ve made and embraced for so long. I am confident many of these habits will stick for life.

But here’s the thing: if I am not mindful of what I eat, I will overeat. My body is geared this way and I have to accept that I will need to monitor my eating habits forever. Some of this is personality and lifestyle choices and some of this is genetic predispositions to high cholesterol and weight issues.

I know intuitive eating is a wonderful option for many…but I honestly feel like just about every waking moment I want to eat something; I also almost never feel full. True story. For anyone who doesn’t feel this way, I think it can be hard to imagine life in this reality (I have no idea how common my experience is?). It takes a lot of mental willpower for me to make good choices that don’t necessarily come “intuitively” or for which my body doesn’t necessarily produce accurate cues.

Suzanne had an excellent, balanced post earlier this week about eating healthfully/weight management and one of her comments stuck out:

“I’ve tried to accept [my body] changes, to eat intuitively, and to buy clothes that fit me. I feel like I should love my body. But I don’t. So wanting to lose weight feels like a failure. But the fact is, I DO want to lose weight.”

While I would love to say I don’t care if I stay at 147, I would like to reach some number in the 130s. This is arbitrary in a way, but it is most definitely the weight where I feel best. I feel best physically – for walking, running, and being active with my family. And yes, my clothes fit and feel better, too.

For most of the last 8 years, I have been gaining and losing the same 12-15 pounds. While I feel best in the 130s, I also have to accept I have a weight that fluctuates. A lot. Especially hormonally. So it feels like a difficult balance of keeping a pulse on things (which I need to do for health reasons), while eating “intuitively”…even though my body doesn’t always send clear signals.

With all that in mind, for the rest of April I’m going to listen to my body – hunger cues, but also “How do these jeans feel” – instead of being tied to a scale. If/when I hop on in May I would really like to see something in the 130s show up.

Because that is where my body feels best. But it might also say 147lb or 155lb. And…well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.


THURSDAY |

  • Hmmm. Thursday threw some curveballs that were pretty exhausting, to be honest. But I fit in lots of work, walked the kids to school, and managed another 3 km run (much tougher than Wednesday; I was underdressed for the unexpectedly chilly conditions!).

Now it’s adventure time!

Happy weekending! Any exciting plans in the days ahead?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Casual Friday + The “Lights” Game

Hypocrite, thy name is Elisabeth.

Last Friday I wrote the following: “I will remain absolutely rigid about staying offline (for work purposes) all weekend.

Yesterday I wrote about how much I value margins.

(You can surely see where this is going.)


March, for all my talk of simplicity and white space, has been very hectic. Some of it is self-induced – wanting to cram lots of fun into these sabbatical days – and some of it is just…well, life has a habit of getting busy.

By Sunday, I felt utterly swamped and demoralized for the week ahead. John asked if I wanted to carve out some time to work in the office. On principle I said no, but then rethought the situation and decided that getting a few things off my to-do list would make the week feel so much lighter. Two hours later, I had drafted a dozen e-mails to send out first thing Monday morning, dealt with piles of paperwork that had accumulated by my desk, and generally managed to claw back some margin for my week.

I guess the moral of the story is this: I like margin, but sometimes have to bend my own rules to achieve it.


For years now we’ve played a game (for lack of a better word) around the supper table. (It ebbs and flows; we might go a month without posing these questions, or it might happen daily for weeks.)

We ask: What was a lowlight, what was a medium-light, and what was a highlight from your day?

Lowlights and highlights tend to be rather obvious, but we like to sneak in another opportunity for positive news. Medium-lights are things we enjoyed but that fall short of deserving the “highlight” label.

Once we spill the beans (the adults play too), we ask everyone to categorize their day as a low-, medium-, or highlight day.

So here, without further ado, are my answers for the week (I’d say it was medium-light week with lots of great highlights).

LOWLIGHTS |

  • A tough peripheral situation that cast a wide shadow.
  • PMS that has lasted almost two weeks. You know before you start an arm wrestle with someone you agree the other party can call mercy? Mercy.
  • A rambunctious game of hallway soccer (with a firm ball…not our beloved IKEA balls) got out of hand and a sconce shade fell and broke…which means if we want a shade again, we’ll almost certainly have to replace both sconces. Sigh.
  • Grating my finger. I’ve mentioned before how much I hate grating. I do everything to avoid this activity. So, one might ask, how did you come to grate your finger? Simply BY WASHING DISHES. I grated my thumb, badly, washing our microplane.

MEDIUM-LIGHTS |

  • Wearing sneakers on most of my walks. I’ve even ditched snow pants several times. Spring is coming (even though it’s currently snowing outside my window).
  • There was an error with my paychecks from January through to the end of February; I discovered the issue a few weeks ago and it finally got fixed. What a happy moment to have the back-pay show up in the bank account. (Yet another reason to track what money flows in and out. If I hadn’t identified the issue, it almost certainly would have stayed off their radar in the payroll office!)
  • My giant bowl of oatmeal Sunday night. I love oatmeal, though in truth I just view it as a vehicle for all the toppings; I prepared 1/3 cup of oatmeal and added about a cup of toppings – walnuts, pumpkin and chia seeds, chocolate chips, Greek yogurt, raspberries, banana, cinnamon, peanut butter, oat milk. It was so, so delicious.
  • We had a pirate supper – it has been years but the kids had a playmate over for supper and it was very fun and easy!
  • John taught me how to use the record player. The whole process seemed very intimidating. But now I know. And oh how I love listening to music!
  • Speaking of music, we finally moved a Google Speaker into the office. Since John and I share an office – and he was typically on work calls 8-10 hours a day – I couldn’t play music out loud, and defaulted to using my headphones. Now I am often working alone in the office and it has been such a treat to play music through a speaker. A tiny change, but one I’m disproportionately happy about.
  • Playing card games after supper one night as a family, with no evening meetings to work around! #Sabbatical

HIGHLIGHTS |

  • A successful birthday party for Abby. There was giggling and lots of special food and games. Hosting is not my forte, but I think it went well and everyone seemed to have a good time. I’ll share a few more details in another post!
  • The picture below is not going to seem like a big deal. But it is a VERY big deal. For almost a year we have had no blinds on our windows (renovations) and it made our main room into, as my father so graciously put it, a “fishbowl.” I dreaded the thought of shopping for custom blinds (it’s almost as painful as shopping for paint). We are so unhandy it’s laughable. But we did it and we re-used our old blinds (so this project was free) and they look great and, most importantly, it’s done.
  • Monday-night supper invites. We’ve started inviting people over for supper on Monday. Odd timing, I know – but it’s perfect. Guests come around 5, so we have enough time to tackle the post-school stuff that needs doing – lunchboxes are put away, homework is completed. I’ve made up a big pot of something on Sunday and just have to heat it up Monday for the crowd; one week it was soup and I set out two small bowls of crackers, this past Monday it was Chicken Mango Curry (the recipe is buried in this post) and I made up rice and a 1/2 batch of cornbread. It’s hard to get simpler than soup and crackers, but it has felt so nice to welcome people back into the house after COVID + John’s crazy working schedule. Definitely simple.
  • The Button Party. Abby and some friends have been collecting buttons from all sorts of sources. There are so many incredibly beautiful, unique/bizarre buttons out there! A mom of two of the girls involved in this button trading offered to host a Button Party. She sent pictures of the girls on the floor with their piles of buttons – it looked like a rainbow had exploded in her living room! So many colours and shapes. How fun!
  • Walking with Levi’s class to skating. When I cleaned the snow off the car (sad, but true!) and headed down, I was less than enthused. But it ended up being so much fun. Mostly because the kids loved having a parent there skating with them. Levi walked with me the whole way which was sweet. I’m so glad I said “Yes!” when the teacher asked and I’m so thankful the kids can do some of these pre-COVID activities, even if they do still involve masks and separate cohorts. It feels more like “normal” which I welcome for these pint-sized sweeties.
  • One of my best friends from university had an adorable baby girl – after what she described as an “accidental home birth” in her living room.
  • A few weeks ago I mentioned a situation I had been putting off; when I finally tackled the to-do, it was not. a. big. deal. Well, I did it again. At work, I had allowed a Tiny Job to morph (in my head) into a Very Big Job. One day I put on my big girl pants and just did it. Not surprisingly it ended up being a Miniscule Job and as silly as I felt for making it such a big deal, I was also elated I could cross if off my list. (What makes this even more ironic: to AVOID doing this Very Tiny Miniscule Job, I had put several hours of work into finding an alternate workaround which failed; had I tackled the Very Tiny Easy Miniscule Job first thing, I would have been so much farther ahead.)

reading

Ox-Cart Man is a classic. I love this book, and the mention of homemade maple syrup was a fun cameo. The Wolf, The Duck & The Mouse is hilarious and I adore the illustrations. But my favourite of this set was Why Do You Cry. It is an excellent affirmation of human emotions – it’s okay for us to cry! even adults! – and the kids and I agreed it was a great book.

Straw is funny (we’ve already read Chopsticks and Spoon, the other books in this “series”?); I’ve lost track of the number of times someone has picked out Grimelda: The Very Messy Witch at the library (this time it was Levi who insisted we bring it home); Caps for Sale is a classic we return to once a year or so and No Fuzzball is hilarious and another re-read.

The Lincoln Highway. I consider A Gentleman in Moscow one of my favourite fictional books ever. I didn’t finish Rules of Civility. So I have had mixed results with Amor Towles and knew that his latest book – The Lincoln Highway – had elicited some strong opinions.

Overall, I loved the book. It was a bit too long (the circus situation, Pastor John, Townhouse and a few other characters and settings could have been eliminated, in my mind), but I think the character development was superb. And I liked the ending. 4.5 stars

A few quotes:

  • …a farmer with a mortgage was like a man walking on the railing of a bridge with his arms outstretched and his eyes closed. It was a way a life in which the difference between abundance and ruin could be measured by a few inches of rain or a few nights of frost. // But a carpenter didn’t lie awake at night worrying about the weather. He welcomed the extremes of nature. He welcomed the blizzards and downpours and tornadoes. He welcomed the onset of mold and the onslaughts of insects. These were the natural forces that slowly but inevitably undermined the integrity of a house, weakening its foundations, rotting at its beams, and wilting its plaster.
  • It’s just that every day at Salina was an every-day-day…Though Billy was just a boy, or maybe because he was just a boy, he seemed to understand that while there is nothing wrong with waking up or getting dressed or having breakfast, per se, there is something fundamentally disconcerting about doing these things in the exact same fashion day in and day out, especially in the one-thousand-page version of one’s own life.

You know what would be magnificent, Billy? You know what would be absotively magnificent?

Marking his place, Billy looked up from his book. What, Wooly? What would be absotively magnificent? 

A one-of-a-kind kind of day.

  • But why doesn’t the waiter mention it, if it’s the specialty of the house?

He doesn’t mention it because it’s the specialty of the house. That’s the way it goes with Fettuccine Mio Amore. Either you know enough to order it, or you don’t deserve to eat it. 

  • Questions can be so tricky, he said, like forks in the road. You can be having such a nice conversation and someone will raise a question, and the next thing you know you’re headed off in a whole new direction. In all probability, this new road will lead you to places that are perfectly agreeable, but sometimes you just want to go in the direction you were already headed.

And just like that, I’ve finished the Anne of Green Gables series. It was one of my 22 goals for 2022 and I have to say I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Rilla of Ingleside. This book didn’t pretend to be about Anne (like Anne of Ingleside which had Anne in the title…and then wasn’t about Anne at all). In the current world order – a global pandemic and with literal wars raging – it felt like there was so much to relate to.

When they mention the juxtaposition of one day feeling “normal” and the next day waking up to a world spinning on another axis…well that has been life these past few years.

And as much as I wanted to live in the fairytale that Montgomery’s life was as golden as her heroine’s, her life, like Anne’s, contained the bitterness of war and a son that never came home. This book made me better understand the life circumstances through which she must have processed writing this final book.

  • This had all come up with the blackness and suddenness of a thundercloud. A few days ago nobody had even thought of such a thing. It was absurd to think of it now. Some way out would be found. War was a hellish, horrible, hideous thing – too horrible and hideous to happen in the twentieth century between civilized nations.
  • [When Rilla starts caring for baby Jims]: “What must I do with it tonight, Susan?” // A baby by day was dreadful enough; a baby by night was unthinkable
  • [After Rilla learns Walter has enlisted]: “I cannot bear it,” she said. And then came the awful thought that perhaps she could bear it and that there might be years of this hideous suffering before her. 
  • “It seems hundreds of years since those Green Gables days…They belonged to another world altogether. Life has been cut in two by the chasm of war. What is ahead I don’t know – but it can’t be a bit like the past. I wonder if those of us who have lived half our lives in the old world will ever feel wholly at home in the new.”

And that’s it from me for the week! I hope everyone has a great weekend filled with lots of highlights. Now I’m off to maybe/sorta be rigid about staying offline for work this weekend?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Casual Friday + A Nature Highlight Reel

Time is funny, isn’t it? Some days seem to last forever and yet, in the blink of an eye, your firstborn wakes up one morning as an 11-year-old when you could swear – just yesterday – they were a colicky newborn.

It’s Friday – at the end of a busy week – with a little birthday party scheduled for later today. But first, a recap of the week that was…

JOYFINDING |

I spotted another (different!) knitter in church on Sunday on the other side of the (huge!) room. This knitter was working on a very large and very colourful blanket or scarf.

The kids had a sleepover on Saturday night and I heard their conversation go late into the evening. I thought one child was making up an “audiobook” for the other – they do this and have actually said “I need to finish this chapter“…about a story they’re making up on the fly. The next day I asked what they’d been talking about and one child said: “We were talking about life.” My kids are old enough to “talk about life?” What happened to discussing plot twists from the latest episode of Paw Patrol?

I was at the grocery store and the elderly lady behind me in line had one item. A box of Fruit Loops. Maybe she was buying this for a grandchild (or, more likely, a great-grandchild). Something about seeing someone so old go through the checkout with ONE ITEM and that ONE ITEM be a classic children’s cereal made me smile. I wouldn’t have batted an eye at Cornflakes, but will admit I never saw the FruitLoops thing coming.

EATING |

Friday
Wednesday

Waffles (last Friday because it was Friday and that means it’s Waffle Day + Wednesday, just because) loaded with peanut butter and fruit and Greek yogurt and chocolate chips and HOMEMADE MAPLE SYRUP.

This stuff is the best. I boiled it down a bit too long, so it’s actually the consistency of thick honey, but that also means it’s even sweeter than typical syrup and is basically joy in a bottle. Joy that we captured from a tree with some tools and our own hands. My mind is still slightly blown. I suspect this is how gardeners feel? But, with two brown thumbs, I’ll stick to 250 ml of maple syrup and call it a day. Using this maple syrup has definitely been a treat.

I am also eating a lot fewer carbs/sugar as I hang out in detox mode after March Break. It feels good to understand there are times for “feasting and fasting” and to recognize both states can be healthy and enjoyable.

Lettuce, coleslaw, hard-boiled egg, feta, snap peas, pumpkin seeds, green pepper, tomato, 1 diced fig, grilled chicken

WORK |

After 5 years spent managing a project for which I felt completely out of my depth, I have officially handed over the reins to a colleague.

It feels…amazing. I don’t think I recognized how much this constant low-level stress impacted me. In terms of the sheer volume of working hours, the project didn’t end up demanding much time, but it was an ever-present source of low-level anxiety and I felt obligated to deal with “emergencies” immediately (at which point the project became a source of high-level anxiety), which could happen at any time (24/7/365).

In another role, I am…not sure exactly. I don’t think it’s imposter syndrome? Maybe a bit? Or perhaps it’s the unshakeable sense I’m treading water? Everything is fine, but I’d like to have the sense that it’s great and I don’t know if that’s even possible? I’m still working through that mentally and practically.

There wasn’t much time for reflection, though, as this was a very, very busy week. I felt like I was juggling things adequately, but also that one more e-mail full of action items would be enough to send everything crashing to the ground. Most items are of the rubber-ball variety, but still. I made a big colour-coded work chart to organize all my to-do’s and am working through that systematically, which helps. I learned two big tasks that I thought were someone else’s responsibility are actually mine…so I’m now starting work on them much later than I would have had I known they were on my plate. C’est la vie.

But just a few more hours to go before the weekend, and while I did some evening work this week, I will remain absolutely rigid about staying offline (for work purposes) all weekend.

READING |

I have mixed feelings about Jennie Allen. I read her book Restless years ago and LOVED it. Every book since has left me feeling “Meh“. I think that while some (much!) of the content in her books is great, I just don’t relate to her personally? A friend contacted me asking if I would be willing to do a deep dive into the book with a few other local friends. I have never belonged to a book club (which this is not, really), but I graciously declined. She persisted, I said I’d think about it, and the next day she managed to get a book into my hands and that settled it!

Something about how Allen relates her experiences seems foreign to me (talking about searching for friends that will show up randomly with pizzas or arrive early to help prep dinner – this is not my introverted thing). BUT she had some great points in the book; we’ve lost the village mentality which, frankly, is how we were designed to operate. In a world that often promotes individualism, we all end up on the losing end. We crave – and need – friendships and connection. Amen. So I like the message, but don’t always completely align with the extroverted come-over-anytime messenger. A few quotes…

A village of people meeting different needs and loving you in different ways provides a fuller, richer way to live…You just have to spot what gifts they bring to your life and also own the role you play for others. What do you bring to your friendships?

We have no use for empty platitudes. It’s the “I know you and I love you” that we crave. [This reminds me of my Valentine’s Day post!]

We carry weighty purpose into every interaction we have, and every human carries in them a weight of glory. When we understand this idea, we love differently.

As long as we are on this earth, we will ache for something bigger, because we were designed for something bigger – something better. We are designed for an intimate relationship with God forever.

Into the Wild. This is a divisive book (and topic). Some people consider Chris Mccandless (and Jon Krauker) to be heroes; others view them as ignorant. I thought it was an interesting, well-written book and felt sorry for Chris and how the story played out.

Keep Moving by Maggie Smith was a recommendation from Nicole. It was a refreshing mix of affirmations and kick-in-the-butt motivation delivered in bite-sized chunks. I used an shocking number of sticky tabs to highlight favourite quotes. I was going to post some of them here today…but there were too many so I’ve decided to dedicate a whole post to this book (currently tied with Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet as my favourite books of 2022).

The Circus Ship is an old favourite (oddly enough our library system doesn’t have a copy so I got this via interlibrary loan). I didn’t actually read the Colors of Habitats (the kids looked at it solo) as it’s just labeled pictures – but if you have a child that is into animals the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous! And while the Goldilocks book wasn’t unique in any way, we just all seemed to like the illustrations and pacing of the book.

WATCHING | Everything we’ve watched over the last month or two has had a similar (and not necessarily uplifting) theme.

Inventing Anna. B- for the acting; that might actually be a generous grade as I found almost all of the acting stilted and subpar. A for the craziness of the story; I really want to watch a documentary about this story. F- for the amount of gratuitous swearing (I don’t care how much her lawyer swore in real life, it felt forced, completely unnecessary, and detracted from the quality of the show).

Bad Vegan. What a crazy story.

The Dropout. The story of Elizabeth Holmes is mesmerizing and infuriating. I read Bad Blood a few years ago. While I had a hard time getting into the book, I thought this miniseries was very well done. Having co-founded/worked in startups for almost a decade now, it also just felt very relatable (not the bits about defrauding investors, being mean to employees, and overt lies…but understanding the time, effort, and occasional foray into smoke and mirrors required to build a successful business).

When you pull in the fact we recently watched The Tinder Swindler, if this was the only media I ever consumed I would surmise two things: 1) I need to assume EVERYONE is a liar, and 2) For the love of everything NEVER SEND ANYONE A BANK WIRE. Never, never, never. The number of bank wires in these shows is dizzying.

Spiderman: No Way Home. I found this to be a solid superhero movie (and have to admit the unexpected throwback to Tobey Maguire (who was Spiderman when I was in high school) was a fun blast-from-the-past. But…the general storyline struck me as tragically avoidable and the scene with Marissa Tomei/Aunt May was heartbreaking.

We continue to sloowwwllly watch the Beatles documentary Get Back. Such a slow burn (and it’s sad in its own way because of what was ahead for the band members), but I’ve really enjoyed this. We were listening to the Let It Be album the other day and I heard George Harrison ask for cauliflower with cheese sauce (the songs were recorded live) and we had JUST watched that exact scene on video the day before. If you like the Beatles and behind-the-scenes footage, I highly recommend.

nature’s highlight reel

Too often I forget to appreciate that God has created such a beautiful world. I’m thankful I have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a nose to smell because there is just so much beauty out there!

I’ve been listening to Alice Griffin’s Dream Into Spring series; one day she mentioned “collecting Earth’s jewels“. But you have to have your eyes open to see them, first!

I think kids help immensely with this. They were quick to spot an ENORMOUS pile of snow on a back-woods trail (it must be a dumping ground for a local municipality). These pictures do not capture the true scale of this pile; we only let them climb the short side – further away was a sheer drop that was at least twice the height of the smaller side they climbed.

One the same walk, I spotted a perfect “Y” – we have all sorts of pictures of sticks like this over the years (lots of “A’s” surprisingly enough). I also spotted a distinctive heart shape in some branches outside our window and now I can’t “unsee” it, which is lovely!

On our Thursday morning walk to school, within 2 minutes of leaving our house, we saw a male cardinal singing at the top of a tree, 4 bluejays, and 4 Canadian Geese. We listened, we looked up, we noticed! It takes the noticing bit – and if we allow ourselves to notice, there is just so much to see!

The old traintracks downtown
Morning commute to school
Note the SHORT sleeves. We had a few days of this and then went right back to windchill warnings. Sigh.

One last nature jewel – my (almost) birthday girl in a flashback to our time spent in the woods.

How was your week? Are you a nature-lover? If so, what “jewels” have you spotted lately? Anyone else celebrating a birthday (I know Jenny did; feel free to pop over and say hello!)?

Header photo by Isabella and Zsa Fischer on Unsplash