Casual Friday + March Break

You know those battery-operated toys where you record a message and then, every time you push a button, the short phrase/noise you’ve recorded is played back?

I need one of those buttons for the following message: I can’t believe it’s Friday. Where did the week go? I am exhausted! In lieu of a button, here goes:

I can’t believe it’s Friday.

Where did the week go?

I am exhausted!

DST | I feel nothing but fear and loathing when it comes to time changes. Whether the time is going forward, backward, up, down, or sideways – it doesn’t matter. I HATE THEM ALL. Every time change messes up my sleep and leaves me feeling exhausted and grumpy and wondering WHY DO WE STILL DO THIS? We have electric lights. Can’t we let time march on without throwing our nation(s) into a tailspin of accidents and heart attacks and very cranky parents? It should be easier for me now that the kids are older…but I’m also older and a lot crankier about the whole debacle.

I guess we could just move to Saskatchewan, a province full of civilized people who know it is asinine* to change clocks every six months! *I realize it is not this simple and a permanent DST would have negative impacts as well, including VERY dark commutes to school in some regions which would come with many risks. So I guess what I’m really asking for is DST to be abolished in Nova Scotia…

SKIING | Last Friday, Abby and I went back to the slopes (Levi had a birthday party to attend and friends graciously helped transport him back/forth so Abby and I could sneak away to ski). It was great! I think I fit in 15 runs…and not a single time did I ski with Abby. We bumped into some friends when we arrived and she opted to ski with pint-sized companions. My parents (now with Levi in tow, post-birthday party) came to our place for a supper of waffles and pancakes and two-bite brownies (because the kids believed it was imperative we have dessert…after having waffles?!).

I had full intentions of taking Abby back to the ski hill last night and the conditions would have been perfect – lots of fresh snow. But, alas, I did not have enough energy to pull it off…

WORK | I ended up having a busy week, which was not necessarily ideal with the kids off on March Break. I put in a stretch of time on Sunday and had an inbox full of scheduled e-mails to go out the next morning. I avoid working on weekends as much as possible, but it felt wonderful to wake up Monday morning knowing a number of items were simultaneously getting crossed off my list. A few stalled tasks moved forward, I was able to finalize several big to-do’s and I was able to proactively start work on some upcoming projects. I mostly worked first thing in the mornings and at night which certainly contributed to my energy crash mid-week (see below). There were also several tough situations where I thought I was being proactive but ended up unknowingly blindsiding a partner (in one case, we had signed an updated agreement with a partner last fall; the contract specified new responsibilities their accounting department would be assuming – but the signed agreement was never circulated to the accounting department and they were completely unaware. So when I very cheerfully sent my “Just touching base to remind you of the upcoming deadline; I’ll reach out with a formal request in a few weeks. Let me know if you have questions!!“e-mail…there were questions.

MARCH BREAK | The kids were off all week and I think it went well. Definitely my favourite March Break in recent memory. Abby had a drama camp that ran from 9-3 pm each day. She really enjoyed this and it was worth every penny to find an engaging way for her to spend the time off school (with all the snow days, it’s not like she hasn’t had plenty of days to lounge at home). Levi lived his best life – playing a lot in the neighbourhood (at one point reinjuring his wrist while being goalie in a neighbourhood soccer game – déjà vu because he fractured it being goalie in a neighbourhood soccer game several years ago; thankfully, after icing and wrapping it for a few days, he seems fully recovered) and then attending a morning camp at our church Tuesday/Wednesday. I was asked to help out at the same camp. Full disclosure: I was kinda dreading this. Being around kids tends to suck my energy tank dry very quickly, but it was a total blast. Nerf wars, crafts, trick shots in the gym; science experiments, small groups, music, snacks, and some of the sweetest kids imaginable (170 kids!!!). How is helping care for a group of 170 kids easier, in many ways, than taking care of my two at home? Also, I have discovered one of the best ways to get your heart rate elevated and fit in a HIIT workout is to play Nerf with 40 Grade 2s and 3s and about a dozen teenage leaders. Let’s just say…I’m very competitive and am not one for showing mercy…especially if the target happens to be my 8-year-old son (we were on opposing teams).

CRASH + BURN | Despite how well things went at the camps, by Wednesday night I hit a major energy wall. I was just…exhausted. One child had made some less-than-ideal choices during an afternoon playdate (it was easier overall to have said child engaged with a friend, but still more logistics to juggle). I set the kids up with leftovers and then told them they had to fend for themselves. I literally laid on my bed and stared at the ceiling for almost an hour to decompress and then took a long shower and then laid on my bed for even longer! My body/mind got the break it needed and, thankfully, the kids rose to the occasion. They can sense when my resources are completely tapped out and go from being eager to command my time, to trying to go out of their way to help. Mid-evening I ran BOTH of our robovacuums simultaneously and mopped and read a book.

SOLO PARENTING | Talk about whiplash! So…John got home from Europe three days before we were to leave for Rome (he came home sick and isolated in the basement the whole time). Then we did Rome (amazing), and less than a week later he left for Europe again. He arrived home on Saturday afternoon…and Monday morning we dropped him off for a trip to Las Vegas (a conference). He got home yesterday and will be home for a while which is wonderful for everyone, but my head is spinning and his head doesn’t know what time it is! (from AST, Helsinki is +5; Las Vegas is -4). It also felt like a momentous week, because this specific conference in Las Vegas is the same one he attended just before the world shut down. He arrived home Friday, March 13th 2020…and then life was basically never the same again for the next 2.5+ years.

And it snowed! Several times while John was away. Which led to some grumpy shoveling from me. Aside from Nerf wars and dancing to music, this was the extent of my exercise for the week, so I should be grateful. And the snow was the especially beautiful kind!

MY PARENTS | The clock is ticking down and they’ll be going home soon. I’m trying hard to cram in lots of last-minute visits. On Monday morning, after dropping Abby off at drama camp, I was driving home and spotted my Dad walking to class (he’s auditing five upper-level history classes at the local university). What a thrill to pull over and stop to talk for a few minutes. Another time I stopped by to drop something off (and by something, I mean Levi) and Dad came to the top of the stairs offering me some of Mom’s homemade cookies which Abby and I munched on en route to the ski hill. Being able to engage in little – spontaneous – moments like this are my favourite part of having them live so close.

On Tuesday we went to my parents for a supper of homemade pizza. This took me back. Pizza was basically only served on Christmas Eve in my house growing up, and it was so nice to eat this nostalgic comfort food.


  • After we dropped John off at the airport, I told Levi I was going to take him out to Subway for lunch (both because it was fun and also – not going to lie – so I could cross off my “take each kid on a solo date” goal for the year). He asked if we could do McDonald’s instead because they have only just opened up an inside play space. So we went! The last time he played at McDonald’s HE WAS IN PRESCHOOL and now he’s in Grade 2 and has big words and big ideas and is getting taller every second. He loved it and happened to bump into some friends he doesn’t see very often.
  • On three separate occasions over the last week, people took me aside (unexpectedly!) to say some very sweet things about one of the kids. All the comments were of the same general theme, and each time the words warmed my heart. They happened to be about the same child who then proceeded to make some less-than-ideal choices mid-week, so I know they have their moments on both ends of the spectrum. That said, if you ever feel led to encourage a parent, DO IT. Those meaningful observations meant a lot to me.
  • Another highlight of March Break? When a sweet neighbour asked if the kids could come over for a few hours. I had no idea what she had planned; apparently, her husband isn’t a big fan of games, so she thought the kids could play with her! They ended up loving Bananagrams and table-top curling and each had one of her famous homemade PB Chocolate Chip Cookies with a glass of orange juice. She and her husband are set to retire in a few months and seem to view Abby and Levi as surrogate grandchildren. Bonus points because she sent cookies home with them which, if it’s even possible, were more delicious than usual.

And that’s…about it from the week.

Your turn. Have you been shoveling a lot lately? Does March 13th, 2020 stand out in your memory as the official start of COVID lockdowns? If you had to record a message for one of those pre-programmed buttons, what would you say? How do you feel about DST – ambivalent, happy, or angsty (and very, very tired)?

Casual Friday + A Cyclone (And A Lot of Skiing)

Another Friday and I’m feeling more optimistic than last week, though the kids are off school this Friday and next as part of an extended March Break.

This week felt like…I was caught in the middle of a cyclone. A good cyclone – lots of happy and fun things. A cyclone of my own choosing. But, still, a cyclone. And the cyclone included spending a lot more time picking through our trash cans than I would have liked. Intrigued? Read on.

This is one of those long, tedious weekly summaries. Feel free to skim or just look at the pictures; they cover the main talking points (except the garbage-picking story; I didn’t take any pictures of that covetable experience).


Pictures don’t do this cake justice; I skipped the glaze and reduced the sugar in the recipe and it was still delicious. I topped each slice (and I had many slices) with a little bit of butter or peanut butter. Yum.
  • The snow day on Friday ended up being great. I wallowed for a bit and then just got on with life. We ended up hosting Levi’s best friend and his younger sister for most of the day and the dynamic was nothing short of miraculous. The sister is only 5, but the four kids played together like little angels. I made Kyria’s apple cake (highly recommend!) and a big chicken veggie soup. [Later in the week I made this apple cake by Pinch of Yum. It turned out well, but I think I scaled back on the sugar too much. Also, it doesn’t call for salt – I added some, but it needed more and even though I increased the cinnamon, it needed at least double what I added. Why is there never enough cinnamon in recipes?! Overall, I enjoyed Kyria’s recipe more, but they were both delicious!] Levi had a pizza party and movie event in our neighbourhood that evening and once he got home, John and I had a homemade sushi date and started watching Roman Holiday (we didn’t finish it because…Hello jetlag).
  • A few people have asked about homemade sushi; John used to roll it out on a mat and make traditional-looking sushi and it was delicious but quite a time commitment. Now he cooks up a pot of sticky rice (adding rice wine vinegar and a sprinkle of sugar, I think?), adds some protein (this week it was flaked crab), some veggies (this time shredded carrot), and then we scoop out spoonfuls on to individual nori sheets and dip those into a soy/wasabi mix. I topped mine with some finely diced pickled ginger. It is yummy and a lot less fuss than making rolled sushi.
  • While the kids were busy playing, I managed to fit in some good stretches of work. For two months there has been a quasi-complicated report on my radar. I had reached out to colleagues with questions but their responses didn’t really help give me enough clarity to move forward. I promised myself I would do my best and finally get it sent off over the weekend, but then an e-mail on Friday prompted me to do it right away. I sent along my best attempt – including some caveats and questions – but it is off my plate for now and felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders!
It was sweet – and hilarious – how engrossed they all were with Levi’s self-administration of first aid! Our group of Florence Nightengale’s.
  • At one point during the playdate, Levi scraped his leg and the kids opted to handle treatment independently. I texted a picture to their mom and noted that all these kids could be destined for the medical field one day because they had ZERO issues with blood.


My picture and, yes, I did hang it up on the fridge.
  • Saturday we unexpectedly hosted a girl in Levi’s class for the day. Very sadly, her grandmother recently passed away and her parents needed some last-minute childcare during visitation hours. We spent time colouring and then another friend invited us to join her at a local sledding hill. It was a lot of fun!
  • Late in the week, a friend invited me to join her at a high school musical production of…High School Musical. I had never seen the movie, so the kids and I watched that first thing Saturday morning. Abby and I went together (meeting my friend + her son) and it was a lot of fun! I will admit that I find the musical score lacking in High School Musical but clearly the rest of the world disagrees with me because – Wow that is a popular movie and soundtrack. And both Abby and Levi are now fully obsessed. The high schoolers did a great job (Sharpay was stellar) and it was especially memorable because our teenage babysitter had the lead role of Gabriella and has an incredible voice!!! As an added bonus, I was able to cross off another one of my goals for 2023 – Go see a musical – along with half of my Take each child on a special solo date goal!


  • Only a single picture, but this was a great day. I enjoyed my favourite Sunday morning routine; we had a delicious lunch after church and then I promptly dropped Abby off at a birthday party (one of her oldest friends; they met as toddlers in preschool) and went to a coffee shop for THREE hours to do a bit of life admin and prep blog posts for the week. Glorious. John and Levi took a long walk outside and sent fun pictures.
  • I assume there was laundry, lunchbox prep and all sorts of other random things happening on Sunday afternoon/evening, but my memory fails me.

Monday – I WEnt skiing (and didn’t die)

  • Last year John and I purchased season passes for a local ski hill on an early-bird discount. It is a great deal and we only need to go skiing four times for the pass to “pay for itself.” Trouble is…we hadn’t been a single time! Between bad weather (read: no snow and warm temperatures which I quite enjoy but is functionally terrible for ski hills), my surgery, and our trip to Rome, it just hadn’t happened. Also? Skiing is a lot of work. There is so much bulky gear to prep, the ski hill is out of the way. Excuses, excuses, excuses. I had to drop John off at the airport (back to Europe!) and I decided to rip the proverbial BandAid. I needed to get the bindings on my hand-me-down skis adjusted. The ski hill is between home and the airport so, on my way back, I detoured there. I’m not sure WHY it felt like such a big deal, but it really did. I’m a beginner skier and to juggle all the equipment, navigate the tech shop, and then actually hurtle down an icy hill at high speeds…felt like a lot of handle solo. But it all went fine. I thought the binding adjustment was going to cost $20, but the technician didn’t charge me. I gave myself a pep talk in the car and determined my goals were simply to: get the bindings adjusted, fit in two runs, and AVOID DEATH. I got the bindings adjusted, fit in EIGHT runs, didn’t fall…and also didn’t die. These all felt like majors win. I did a ski trip by myself! Also? Skiing is a lot less work when the kids aren’t with me! Only worrying about myself felt pretty amazing.
  • While I was waiting in line for the chair lift, my parents called to see about coming over for a visit in the afternoon. I haven’t hosted them much lately, and they had friends staying with them for a few days that I knew as a child, so I was happy to say Yes. I didn’t even take off my coat after getting home but I started right to work on that Pinch of Yum apple cake to serve with tea and coffee. I didn’t need to do this, but it sure made the house smell good…and it meant I got to enjoy slices of apple cake for the rest of the week. I also hosted Levi’s bestie after school, but they entertained themselves so this made life easier.
  • On a playdate a few weeks ago we tromped through the woods gathering materials to make ice wreaths; I stashed this in the freezer and hung it up outside before collecting the kids at the bus. So pretty and easy!
Doesn’t he look so proud of his set design?!
  • Abby has been working hard at memorizing her lines for The Little Princess and wanted to put on a mock performance. Levi asked me to turn on the fireplace and then I left the room for a while and came back in to see he had grabbed his desk lamp to provide some theatre-grade lighting – all without telling Abby. The kids have been fighting like crazy lately, so little acts of love like this really warm my heart.

tuesday – work!

  • A very snowy walk to school. This was a lovely commute but I am also SO READY FOR SPRING. There is something uniquely glorious about the first time I can go outside in just sneakers and a light jacket.
  • Tuesday was all about work. I worked non-stop until the kids got home, we unpacked bookbags and then headed off to do errands. I told the kids they could sit in the car while I ran into the library to return old books and pick up our holds. I had my hand on the door handle when Abby piped up: I can go do that if you want. Yes, I DO WANT! I have children who can run my errands for me. Yes, they fight a lot, but THEY CAN RUN ERRANDS NOW!
  • While Abby was at her extracurricular, I had arranged a babysitter for Levi (“Gabriella” from High School Musical). So I came back home and worked more. A few months ago I mentioned the research project I manage was getting audited. Blessedly, a colleague in Financial Services handled all the logistics of pulling the necessary information together. She submitted it – before the new deadline – when I was in the hospital. About a week ago we got a message from the government review department asking about the whereabouts of the audit materials. So my colleague resent everything (copying me). On Tuesday, my point of contact at the granting agency followed up with me directly asking about the same audit materials! By now I knew something was amiss. Turns out that Canadian government e-mail servers filter out any e-mail with attachments more than X size. So none of the files (or associated e-mails) had made it through. Read receipts are virtually unheard of across the parties involved in this project but clearly they would be very useful. All’s well that ends well, but it’s frustrating that the audit review is happening a month later than we anticipated and prepared for. Such is life.
  • When I picked Levi up from the babysitter’s house, we came home with her little brother! Another playdate. But it was easy and we made Perler beads which were quite fun. I stayed up past my bedtime to read This Is Not A Book About Benedict Cumberbatch. I was NOT a fan of this book and will report back with more details.


  • The morning was the typical routine. Walk to school, shower, work.
  • Lunchtime was lovely as my best friend came over. It wasn’t fancy – some ramen noodles and an egg/ham sandwich – but it was so nice to connect again. Between sickness and travel and life, we haven’t seen each other as regularly lately. Spending time with her is always a joy-filling boost.
This goal even got a sticky note! I am so glad I can check this off as complete!
  • Both kids have a church event on Wednesday evenings, but one of my goals for the week was to get Abby skiing. She LOVES skiing, but the school skiing club happened to fall on her afternoon for drama. Ugh. Since she’s the lead in the play, I couldn’t have her missing a whole bunch of weeks, but she was very disappointed. So…I decided to send Levi to church (my parents did the chauffering), and take Abby to the hill. Her boots from last year were too small and I was planning to just make her stick it out until next season…but managed to find boots in her size for $30 on Kijiji. After school we headed to get those, popped home long enough to pack up allllll the gear and then dropped Levi off at my parents before heading to the hill.
  • I bought her a season’s pass, so we needed to get that all finalized and printed…and then needed to get HER bindings adjusted. This week was a (fun) cyclone.
Every time we went up the chairlift it got darker and darker!
All done – very fun to ski under the lights. Also, pictures always make ski hills look so benign. But I spent a good portion of this night trying NOT to injure myself.
  • We did eight runs. I fell once and there was a mix-up about meeting at the top that was panic-inducing, but it was still a lot of fun!
  • We were home in time to meet Levi getting back from his activity. I unpacked the gear, dealt with lunchbox prep, did some work…and stayed up too late again.

thursday – More skiing?!

  • Okay. I know this is getting a bit ridiculous. But a friend I don’t get to spend much time with asked about going to the hill together (with another person I had never met). I’ll admit, Thursday morning I was NOT FEELING IT. I felt behind on everything – work, life, and definitely home management. But I am so glad I went. We always waited for each other at the bottom and then spent the chairlift time talking. I feel like I gained some major ground with my skiing technique, deepened a friendship, made a new friendship (which I am just now realizing now was another one of my goals for 2023), and just had a really fun time. We, once again, fit in eight runs!
  • My friend kept dropping hints she was keen to leave early and try a local “famous” coffee shop (Gerrish and Gray for anyone local). I’d never been, so we did that and while my Chai Latte was wayyyy too sweet – it was beautiful to look at.
  • I arrived home at 1:05, changed out of winter garb (all while talking to John via my earphones – he was heading to bed on Helsinki time), and was out the door at 1:15 to get to Abby’s middle school band concert. I worked on my phone while I waited and triaged work e-mails.
  • Home from the concert, I scarfed down food (not great choices I will admit) since I hadn’t had lunch, got the kids from bus – Levi went to his bestie’s house – and Abby and I ran what felt like endless errands.
  • When we got home the house was a disaster. All the skiing – while fun and timely because the season is almost over – meant I was behind on everything. There was stuff everywhere. Groceries, bookbags, ski gear. Then Levi arrived home and dropped all HIS stuff. Including a bag full of his BEST Pokemon cards. While the kids ate leftovers, I moved around the house at warp speed. Starting laundry, prepping garbage (four weeks’ worth because they didn’t come the last time due to snow), putting away groceries, and even fitting in some work e-mails. I basically crammed 6 hours’ worth of work into 60 minutes. And when I stood back to survey the still-chaotic but much better reality, I realized I HAD NO IDEA WHERE LEVI’S POKEMON CARDS WERE. Cue panic. I knew they had come home. I knew I had seen them. I then proceeded to spend TWO HOURS looking for those cards. I pulled apart the freezer (hey, if a book could be in there, so could Pokemon cards; I also realized I had left a tub of ice cream out when I was putting away freezer groceries and it was now a melted puddle; I may have crammed a lot into 60 minutes, but there some [dairy] casualties). I then went through the garbage – eww – bit by bit. Maybe I threw them out when I was doing all the garbage prep? I looked in all the zippered pouches of his bookbag. I texted back and forth with his friend’s mother in case they were still there. It was driving me crazy. I took the kids to their Thursday night activity and then came home and spent another hour looking everywhere again (the freezer again, the bookbags…the garbage). Finally, after yet another round of searching, Abby found them. In the side (non-zippered) pocket of his bookbag. I had checked his bookbag at least three times. I was so relieved, but also? I felt like I had shaved at least a year off my life. I paid Abby $2.

And now we’re back to Friday. On tap:

  • Coffee. My first of the week. Delicious.
  • Work. I actually managed to mostly stay on top of things (albeit by working weird hours) and have already triaged a whole bunch of stuff and it’s not even 9 am.
  • House maintenance is another story. The kid’s rooms look like literal bombs have gone off (how does this happen? I helped them both clean their rooms less than a week ago), and I have a big list of things I could/should do.
  • Finishing this blog post (I wrote most of it by blowing through any semblance of a bedtime last night).
  • A birthday party for Levi. Friends have very kindly offered to take him to and from so…
  • Abby and I can go skiing again. I know. This is a lot of skiing.
  • My parents are coming for supper. They’ll leave to go back to New Brunswick soon and have been so great with the kids, especially hosting and shuttling them to activities as needed, so it’s nice to be able to give back. We’re having waffles which are a favourite for everyone.

Next week’s forecast? A tsunami (also known as March Break).

Your turn. Have you been downhill skiing this year? What was the last thing you lost? Did it drive you crazy? What’s your favourite musical? Have you crossed any 2023 goals off your list?

Casual Friday + Life Updates/Some Laments

Spoiler alert: we went to Rome and it was amazing! I wrote most of this post yesterday (Thursday) and re-reading it now feels like a bit of a sobfest. It seems wrong to focus on complaints when my life is so extraordinarily privileged; let’s label this a lament instead?

Again, my time in Rome with John was wonderful and life really is objectively so good; I have plenty of happy trip update posts to come, but crappy stuff happens too!

I felt guilty not mentioning our trip before we left, but after the whole surgery/COVID debacle back in October, I thought if something were to go wrong…I’d rather discuss it on my own timeline.

And, after some panic-inducing last-minute complications, I actually did think the whole trip was in jeopardy.

the trip that almost wasn’t

Let’s back up, shall we, to the Elisabeth who wrote, on Friday, February 17th, that: It ended up being a good week of solo parenting, and I’m headed into the weekend feeling relatively optimistic. 

That Elisabeth didn’t know what was coming.

  1. I knew it was going to be a tough transition for the kids. John was away all week in Europe, set to get home around midnight Saturday before we turned around to leave Tuesday morning.
  2. I had worked hard for weeks organizing itineraries and getting life arranged to function while we were away. Planning to leave the kids at home requires me to live their entire week in advance – thinking through all the nuances of daily life, making arrangements with the school, coordinating schedules, etc.
  3. I tried hard to make the week before our trip extra special for the kids. I hosted 9 playdates, made freezer meals for my parents, wrote lists, prepped their favourite foods each night for supper and gave lots of extra snuggles. So I was optimistic on Friday night…but also BONE tired.
  4. When John left the previous Sunday, I spent an agonizing 20 minutes holding a sobbing child who was devastated by his departure and there were lots of other tearful sessions at various points throughout the week. It’s hard to convey just how excited said child was to see Daddy again…
  5. Toward the end of his time in Europe, John texted to say he wasn’t feeling great.
  6. Friday morning, he reported he was feeling much better! Hooray!
  7. By the time he got home Saturday night – he felt TERRIBLE.

The next few days were awful. John isolated in the basement. The kids and I didn’t get close to him. I delivered food and water and medicine at a distance and disinfected everything. But there were also all sorts of things to do last-minute before leaving…and now John was stuck in the basement sick (terrible for him) and unable to help (tough for me).

This caused one child to spiral emotionally (totally understandable; Daddy was away for a week and now home but unavailable and BOTH parents were leaving on Tuesday).

I spent a chunk of Sunday crying. I was exhausted and felt completely and utterly overwhelmed and had no idea if we were going to have to cancel the whole trip.

Monday was a bit better but it was a blur of washing sheets and being proactive about work responsibilities and cleaning bathrooms and going grocery shopping (plus, the kids were off school – because the kids are off school A LOT; more on that below) and trying to temper the emotional turmoil the kids were facing at not being able to see Daddy.

The night before we left; I had washed all the sheets ahead of my parents coming to stay, so I spent the night in a sleeping bag (and John continued his stint in the guest room). And yes…I AM using a vintage Smurf pillowcase.

It all worked out.

John was better by Tuesday morning (he stayed masked and isolated in the basement the whole time to be safe). But the day of our departure I woke up to a child WAILING and begging me not to go and it was just really, really tough. In that moment I vowed never, ever to go away again before the kids were older.

Sigh. I should never make promises like that in the heat of the moment because ROME WAS GREAT. But, also, it was a major poopshow to get to that point.

Feeling emotional and guilty and exhausted…literally seconds before we headed to the airport.

surgery update (TMI ALERT)

I have been so touched – and surprised! – by how many people have expressed appreciation at my candour on this topic, so I’m providing this update to continue to shine a light on a topic that mostly happens behind closed doors and is clearly an isolating reality for so many women.

In terms of pain and mobility, by a week post-op, I would say I was 90% back to normal.

The other expected side effects weren’t as quick to clear up. The surgeon told me to expect discharge (if possible, this word feels even worse than “moist”?) for about a week. It was very manageable at first (much less intrusive in daily life than my typical period); by the second week, it seemed to be slowing down to an odd watery discharge (again, normal and predicted by my OB/GYN). I wasn’t to use a tampon or menstrual cup for the first few weeks because the presence of discharge meant my uterus was still healing.

So I felt like I was peeing myself multiple times a day (lovely) but it was manageable.

And then things started to go sideways; let’s just say the airplane trip to Rome was not pleasant. I basically always felt like I was wetting myself and the discharge was just…so. gross. By the time we landed (now 2 weeks post-op), I decided to go ahead and use a DivaCup. I was extra careful about disinfecting it, but the first few days I was worried about getting an infection while so far away from Canada. The status quo simply didn’t feel sustainable on vacation so I took what felt like a very calculated/low risk. Thankfully, everything turned out fine and I’m now 3.5 weeks post-op and things seem to have settled back down significantly!

It was really hard to tell what was going on; after an ablation, you’re not supposed to have a period for 4-6 weeks, but I have a lot of experience with my body not behaving like the medical journals tell me it should. I’m wondering if the uptick in discharge – sorry, there’s that word again! – was my first “period” post-ablation? (It started basically exactly when my regular menstrual cycle would have fallen.)

re-entry…has been tough

I know this isn’t a particularly cheery post, especially considering I just had the most wonderful trip to Italy! But re-entry into normal life (mostly the parenting components) has been hard.

The time away was pure delight and it felt SO good to have a concentrated break from the rigors of home life.

So maybe that’s why I feel extra guilty that I already want to go away again. I love the kids so much and we bought special souvenirs and took pictures we knew would be meaningful to them…but not a single time did I wish I was back home.

School is canceled today; this means the kids will have a total of 11 consecutive Fridays with either a snow day, a planned in-service, or a delayed start. Yesterday they had an early dismissal because of forecasted bad weather (it didn’t start until long after school hours had ended). I know how fortunate I am to be able to be flexible and take care of my children on these days. I know that school isn’t a daycare centre. But also – there are just so many missed days.

While I appreciate that occasional snow days are magical for kids and that I have an obscene level of privilege in that I can be home/available whenever necessary – all these Fridays (and other days) off aren’t feeling magical and to quote Sarah (noting that I am taking this somewhat out of context; see her full post here): “MY KIDS BEING HOME FROM SCHOOL WHEN I AM USED TO HAVING THEM IN CARE INFRINGES ON MY TIME AND MAKES ME ANXIOUS AND KIND OF ANNOYED.”

I love my kids, but I also really, really love time away from them. And I just want to be able to say that and not feel like a terrible mother. But I do.


The kids had an early dismissal yesterday due to forecasted snow (see above). One of Levi’s friends comes home on the bus to our house each Thursday because of conflicts in parental schedules and Abby had a friend come over later in the afternoon. I forced them to take a winter woods walk with me.

Speaking of calculated risks…Abby and her friend had quite the tree climb.

There was tree climbing and fort building/destroying, and even ice wreath making. It was fun, but I was exhausted by the end. A perfect storm of jet lag and the fact that even after a great break – parenting is exhausting!

i need a recipe for apple cake

Switching gears. I have a lot of excess apples and they’re winter apples so very Meh quality and everyone is tired of eating Meh apples, but I have about a dozen Meh apples to use up. Help!

I’m thinking a simple, but delicious, apple cake would really hit the spot with a cup of tea on this snowy weekend. Thoughts?

Your turn. Is there anything you’re lamenting today? If you have kids, how do you feel about snow days? What are your favourite apple recipe – pies, tarts, cakes, slices with peanut butter?

Casual Friday + Vacation

We’ve arrived at yet another Friday! It ended up being a good week of solo parenting, and I’m headed into the weekend feeling relatively optimistic. For starters, I assumed today would be the 7th consecutive Friday with a school cancellation/delay as the weather forecast is calling for significant freezing rain. But the start time for that precipitation has shifted to this afternoon and school is on! I hope this means I will be extra efficient in clearing the decks? The kids will not be impressed; I all but promised them a snow freezing rain day on a silver platter…

Monday marks the start of the university Winter Study Break (don’t the words Study and Break feel like an ironic combo?); while my job doesn’t technically stop over that period, I’m taking a step back and cutting down my work responsibilities to a bare minimum. It has been a busy few months and I’m ready for a little breather (including silence on the blog for the next week or so)!

WATCHING | I finished the newest season of All Creatures Great and Small. Friends, this was such a disappointment. The first two seasons provided me with a perfect feel-good veterinary drama, but this season had darker undertones (focussed on Britain’s transition into the Second World War) and I found it much less enjoyable.

This is what Levi thought of Rihanna’s half-time performance (he went from awake to SOUND asleep in milliseconds).

We watched the first half of the Superbowl. I have zero skin in the game, and it’s an event I only watch because a) John enjoys it and b) I want to see the half-time show. But…the kids were keen and we ended up spontaneously having two neighbourhood kids over for supper who stayed to watch the game. We ended the viewing party at half-time (by which point Levi had fallen asleep), but I do regret not staying up to watch the end of this nail-biter!


Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley Ford. This is a memoir that has received rave reviews but I really struggled to get immersed in the story and considered marking it a DNF. I was truly horrified by the experiences this woman faced as a child (incarcerated father, abusive mother, racism, sexual assault) and so appreciate her bravery and candor in presenting her story, but the book format and writing style didn’t pull me in.

Inside Out by Demi Moore. Another traumatic memoir full of dysfunctional parenting and other horrific events (I had no idea she had such a tragic life). I can’t remember why I checked this one out of the library, but it was a compelling read. Memoirs are tricky because they so often involve telling someone else’s story without them having a say in how they’re portrayed, but I found it hard to put this one down.

Although the book highlighted many shocking/maddening experiences, one passage in particular, written about her mother’s suicide attempt, stood out to me: The next thing I remember is using my fingers, the small fingers of a child, to dig the pills my mother had tried to swallow out of her mouth while my father held it open and told me what to do. Something very deep inside me shifted then, and it never shifted back. My childhood was over. Any sense that I could count on either of my parents evaporated. In that moment…I moved from being someone who they at least tried to take care of to someone they expected to assist them in cleaning up their messes.

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan. Turning our attention to different fare – and in a major departure from my typical reading selections – is this Hallmarky book. I have some thoughts. First, the writing in the early chapters was pure genius. Monaghan’s descriptions of Nora’s property – and everyday life – were a work of art.

  • This house is a disaster, sure. But I fell in love with it when I first looked down the long windy path of the driveway. The magnolia trees that line either side touch in the middle, so that now, in April, you drive through a tunnel of pink flowers. When you emerge onto the main road it feels like you’ve been transported from one world to another, like a bride leaving the church. It feels like a treat going out for milk, and it feels like a treat coming home. [I loved that last line about going out for milk feeling like a treat.]
  • Once my kitchen is clean, I try to think of what I’d normally be doing. It’s Wednesday, and on Wednesdays we eat meatloaf. Of course! I take a pound of ground turkey out of the freezer and place it on the counter. This doesn’t take as long as I’d hoped. [I can relate to this, especially when I remember parenting a toddler and trying to fill SO MANY hours.]
  • I feel briefly guilty that I’ve subjected him to my sad story. It’s not exactly my story the way it played out, but it’s the essence of it. Ben and I were in love at some point…and then he just decided, meh, this isn’t for me. Like the way you stop taking milk in your coffee. And then you act like you always drank it black, like you don’t remember that creamy taste that you used to say you loved. [Isn’t the milk bit brilliant writing?]

The book finds movie-writer Nora churning out scripts for Hallmark-style romance movies with all the cliche ingredients. But when she writes a screenplay about her own relationship – which hasn’t had a Hallmark ending – it gets picked up as a major motion picture. The actor cast in the lead role comes to her house for on-site filming and, predictably, they fall in love. It’s a sweet, yet original, story. I would label this as PG-13 Hallmark and I stayed up an hour past my bedtime finishing it. That said, I do have some quibbles:

  • I know I’m nitpicky about language and there wasn’t much in this book, but her use of swear words felt forced. As in: this is a PG-13 book, and so I need to incorporate some shock-and-awe words. I suspect I will be in the minority on this one, but it irked me, and they DID NOT NEED TO BE THERE. Moving on…
  • Again, I’m being nitpicky, but like the Shauna Niequiest book where her overuse of numerical exaggeration drove me to distraction – quite literally – the frequency with which wine/beer/some other alcoholic beverage was mentioned drove me to distraction. I didn’t find the book glorified over-consumption of alcohol, but someone was constantly “reaching for a wineglass” or “opening a second bottle of wine.” After a while, these mentions stuck out like a sore thumb.
  • I didn’t love her choice of the “misunderstanding that keeps them apart”.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister. A mother watches her teenage son commit murder the evening of October 30th and then wakes up the next morning to find it’s October 30th…again. Unlike Groundhog Day, the protagonist then travels progressively farther and farther back in time to unravel the Whys behind her son’s shocking crime.

Honestly? I don’t know how I feel about this book. It was well written, but it felt too long and I thought much of the first half was a snooze fest. I also got confused by all the names and details. I appreciated the layers of intrigue presented throughout and there were some twists I didn’t see coming. The loose ends are tied up relatively neatly (epilogue aside which I think was genius? Can’t decide). I understand the buzz. I’m glad I read it, but it didn’t wow me. That said I can 100% see this being optioned for Hollywood. (As thrillers go, I enjoyed A Noise Downstairs more!). I probably shouldn’t even mention how I feel about the language; it wasn’t excessive, but you all know if I ever write a novel, there will be nary a swear word.

Switching gears…I outsourced Levi’s home reading log this week. On Sunday night, he read a book to one of the visiting neighbour kids and on Monday night, I made him take his kit to my parents. As much as I love reading, I am not a fan of the at-home reading requirements and it feels like such a parenting win to pawn this off on other willing/enthusiastic recipients.

BUYING | I bought pants. I found two pairs at a consignment store, one at a thrift store, and another at Walmart that actually fit. But the whole experience only reinforced the fact that I hate pants and do not have a body conducive to fitting into mass-produced clothing. I hate trying on pants. I hate buying pants. I hate wearing pants. I must have tried on 40 pairs before I found ones that actually fit. (Side note: most pants that market themselves as high rise ARE NOT HIGH RISE. I want/need that waistband high and I shake my fist at the proliferation of false advertising.)

I also bought coats. I own three coats. A very heavy winter coat, a medium winter coat, and my hot-pink puffer coat that covers all the other seasons. I have not owned a raincoat in years because I am cheap and an underbuyer. But we do get plenty of rain in Canada, and I actually should have a raincoat. I found a nice blue-and-white striped Helly Hansen one at the consignment store for $42. This isn’t an insignificant investment, but it was in like-new condition and I’m hoping it will last me for years. I also appreciate it is long (I hate when my backside gets wet in the rain) and the hood is enormous.

The same day I was at a thrift store (the kids have an evening activity on Wednesdays where I have 2 hours to kill in a nearby town) and spotted a lime green coat. Apparently, I have morphed from dressing primarily in black to ONLY owning bright coats?

But the best things I bought all week were two new bras. One of my goals for 2023 was to get a new nude bra (I’ve been wearing the same one for almost a decade and it was practically disintegrating). When I pulled into the thrift store parking lot I was across the street from an upscale swimwear/lingerie store – where I got professionally fitted for that ancient bra. I knew I could pop over and get a new nude bra and cross that item off my 2023 goal list, but the only thing worse than trying on bathing suits is trying on bras.

I found TWO brand new amazing bras in my size at the thrift store, including one that’s nude-coloured. And they cost me about $2.50 each…

EATING | Blueberry cheesecake (we hosted a little family birthday celebration for my Mom last Friday).

Supper at my parents. Ironically, this was the first time we have been for a meal together at their place this year. It’s easier to host at our place, so that tends to be the focal part of mealtime visits (the kids have been there for various meals solo). My Mom made a family favourite – meatballs and rice – with fiddleheads and salad on the side and her apple crisp for dessert. One of my children hates apple crisp (or any crisp or pie for that matter). Wonderful, I say, as it leaves more for me. My Mom makes such a great apple crisp.

We ate most of the food my friend provided for my recovery (I saved it and made John cook for me last week, so that I could pull these items out this week when he was away). It was so good, y’all. And yes, there was a crisp.

He got a haircut a few days after this picture was taken…

Subway. John left mid-morning on Sunday and I had Subway coupons that expired the same day, so I took the kids out for lunch. It was delicious, and Abby and I had enough for leftovers for supper. Win!

KIDS | This was a really great week for the kiddos. There was Valentine’s Day! Supper at the grandparents! An impromptu skating adventure (one of Levi’s school friends has a little outdoor skating rink on his front lawn which is close to my parents’ rental; his friends were out skating when we went down for supper, so we ended up coming home to get Levi’s gear so he could skate with them; meanwhile Abby and I went inside my parents’ place and proceeded to eat supper – don’t worry, we saved him a plate!).

Oh, and I ate Twizzlers. John, very sweetly, prepared little gifts for all of us before he left and mine included a package of Twizzlers. Nothing says I Am A Grown Woman, Hear Me Roar quite like breaking into a package of red candy before 7:00 am.

Including the Superbowl visitors, I hosted pint-sized friends for three meals, and a total of seven “playdates” at my house this week. I gauged my energy levels and it ended up being less work for me to have other kids in the house to entertain my kids.

The kids also said some really funny things:

  1. Abby took it upon herself to assume full responsibility for my surgery recovery, e-mailing me DAILY from school (multiple times) to make sure I was resting. She will make it far as a medical professional…or a drill sergeant.
  2. Saturday evening my Dad took Abby to a local college basketball game. The women play first, followed by the men, so it was going to be a late evening. John was leaving the next morning and I was still in recovery mode. She’s old enough to put herself to bed (LOVE THIS), so I didn’t do anything in terms of prep. Anyhoo, I was in bed reading on my Kobo so the lights were out and she assumed I was asleep, when I heard a note getting slipped under our door. It was a very detailed full-page letter that included the line: “No need to tell me to lock the door, I already locked both locks” and “I have taken the audiobook phone from Levi’s room so I can fall asleep listening to it. And yes, I’ve put on a sleep timer.” It made me smile so big to have her detail all the responsibilities she had handled solo. Locks! Sleep timers! Who is this 12-year-old adult living in my home?!
  3. Levi, to Abby one morning when she had put together a new outfit: “You look very lovely in that.”
  4. Levi slid a note under my door on Valentine’s Day. My first instinct was to assume someone was sending me a love note. Think again. It was a one-sentence request to watch Floor Is Lava.
  5. Levi, using my phone for something (?), texted John; I laughed when I read what he had written:
From your beautiful son Levi!!! Can you even?

ENJOYING | My Mom sent me a thank-you e-mail for her birthday celebration. It was truly such a sweet note and, I have to admit, likely more satisfying than a picture?

LISTENING | To Wellerman (a sea shanty dating back to the 1800’s) performed by Nathan Evans. One of the kids is learning this song in their music class and I have played it at least 50 times in the last week. It is extremely catchy (though there is something a bit unsettling about having your child belt out lyrics that mention rum). Still, such a fun earworm.

DECLUTTERING | Clothes. Four pairs of pants, two jackets, and two bras came in and well over a dozen items went out to the consignment store. Abby, bless her, was enthused to help me make choices and it inspired me to go through every single article of clothing I own and get rid of things I no longer need in my life.

All the Christmas/winter decor has come down. Yes, our Valentine’s tree is no more. Sad, but also definitely time.

FUN | Coree recently launched a great substack all about the logistics (and challenges/joys) of juggling work and motherhood; on Monday, I was profiled for her A Week in the Life series!

Yet another reason not to paint this hallway – or hang more art. Between mini sticks, hallway soccer and this obstacle course, these walls take a serious beating.

On Monday Levi’s best friend came for a playdate and after they had exhausted Pokemon trades, a game of chess, snacks and begging for video games (I refused; imagine my audacity), the highlight ended up being their new game called Fill the Laundry Basket with Every Imaginable Item (pillows, stuffed animals – on top of dirty laundry no less; sigh) And Jump Over It Like Ninjas. No one was injured, so it ended up being a delightful use of their time.

And that’s it for this week. I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend and I’ll be back here in a week or two!

Your turn. How was your week? Any fun plans for the weekend? Any good thrift store finds? What songs are playing on repeat in your household? If you’ve read Wrong Place, Wrong Time, who do you think would play Jen, Kelly and Todd in a movie version?

Header photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash

Casual Friday + Surgery Update

Happy Friday! Another week that seems to have just gone…poof.

So…last Friday did not go to plan. Despite clear skies, school was canceled due to the projected forecast. This was the fifth consecutive Friday the kids had a disrupted schedule – four Fridays of no school, and one delayed start. I was actually rather pleased; it was bitterly cold and I appreciated the buffer for Levi. He was a trooper all week at school, but I knew that extra downtime would be good for him mentally and physically. Mid-morning we learned, much to Abby’s dismay, that her much-anticipated overnight Snocamp was canceled. Whomp, whomp.

Levi spent the day happily playing with his best friend between the two houses. I crossed off lots of work to-dos and enjoyed a great meetup with local friend and author Jan Coates (who just published a gorgeous new picture book). Abby spent time baking with my Mom, we finished another puzzle, friends stopped by with Valentine’s treats for the kids, and my parents came over for a supper of waffles. The kids capped off their evening with an at-home movie night with John. Life was good.

And then came Saturday. Nothing bad happened, but we were all restless and grumpy.

Although canceling Snocamp was 100% the right decision, it was also extremely disappointing for our girl. The reality of this missed opportunity hit hard on Saturday. We were also completely homebound. It was -40C with windchill and the wind was so strong every window got covered by a thin film of snow; it literally felt like we were being buried alive.

I tried to be productive, but everything just seemed heavy and tedious. Jobs that should have taken an hour took three. We all spent way too much time on screens and, well, it just wasn’t a great day.

Sunday provided a fresh start – we had church and then impromptu company for lunch which made the day zoom by in the best possible way.

Other notes from the week:

Our hospital has just started using a new pre-op warming technique; it’s called a Bair Hugger and it’s basically like attaching a giant blowdryer to circulate warm air through plastic tubes inside a special hospital gown to raise core body temp before heading into the OR. If only I could add this to my Christmas wish list for 2023…

HEALTH | I didn’t blog about this in advance (I learned my lesson the hard way last time), but on Wednesday I had an endometrial ablation. Stay tuned for more on this next week. I’m recovering well and hoping for a good long-term result!

Yesterday, a sweet friend (Hi Elaine!) dropped off a delicious array of food from a (much-raved about) local restaurant. Aside from the lovely gesture, I am beyond excited to sample all these tasty options.

Tuesday night and my oh-so-temporary Inbox Zero (across 5 accounts). It lasted less than 10 minutes, but it felt great. I’ll admit I cheated a bit. There were some e-mails related to ongoing tasks that I couldn’t archive and will need to reference in the weeks ahead, so I created a subfolder for these communications because I was tired of them bouncing around in my inbox.

WORK | It was an intense – albeit short – week. I got through a lot of tasks, but there are some really big to-dos that are overwhelming and have a lot of moving parts. I hate feeling like I’m not making traction and moving a project forward. In reality, I did take concrete steps, but I have to remember that those first tiny bites don’t necessarily make the elephant look any smaller.

I wasn’t planning to set an OOO message (technically I could be working), but my boss encouraged me to take the rest of the week off and it feels AMAZING to be focussed on rest and recovery until Monday.

EXERCISE | On Tuesday I finished a 30-day exercise challenge (more details on that soon), and fit in a few outside walks before my surgery.

WATCHING | We watched Wakanda Forever for our at-home date night on Saturday. It was…okay. I didn’t love it, which was too bad because the Black Panther movies have been my favourite of the Marvel selections.


  • Run Towards the Danger by Sarah Polley. Reading this memoir reminded me a lot of my experience reading Bright Lights, Prairie Dust by Karen Grassle (Grassle was “Ma” from the Little House on the Prairie TV series). Sarah Polley was a child actress on Road to Avonlea, a hugely popular Canadian show based on L.M. Montgomery’s books. I LOVED this series growing up. It’s always disorienting to pull back the curtain and hear that a much-beloved show wasn’t all that it purported to be. Polley has had a life of extremes; she lost her mother when she was young, had some horrific acting experiences, was sexually assaulted as a teen, has had a string of serious health complications, and lived in squalor with her (at times) mentally unstable widowed father. While this wasn’t a light and fluffy read, I found it gripping (finished in two sittings). Here are a few quotes
    • My father, after my mother died, had fallen apart. It’s possible that he was always apart, and my mother had just, for many years and with great effort, held him together.
    • I’m nostalgic for the present, mourning its passing even as it happens. [Yes! I feel this way, too, sometimes.]
    • Mrs. Beverley Panikkar let me write stories all day every day in Grade 2 and told me I would be a writer one day. I told her years later that if I ever wrote a book, I would dedicate it to the space, presence, and attunement she gave to the children she taught. So here you go, Bev. And thank you. [I am ALWAYS here for a good acknowledgment/dedication.]
  • The Book of Awesome by Neil Pasricha. I’ll admit that some of the longer essays I skipped entirely, but this is a light read that is easy to pick up on a whim. Some of my favourites:
    • Waking up and realizing it’s Saturday.
    • When you push the button for the elevator and it’s already there.
    • His discussion of old (unsafe!) play equipment: “There were fire poles two stories high – just cheap, simple poles planted deep in the ground that were popular and educational, quietly introducing children to concepts like gravity, friction, and badly sprained ankles.” [Anyone else relate to this sort of playground from childhood – I sure do?]
    • The smell of freshly cut grass. [One of my favourite smells ever.]
    • The shampoo head massage at the hairdresser.
    • When you know all the buttons to speed through the automated telephone system.
  • The Portrait by Iain Pears. I picked up a copy of this book from a Little Lending Library months ago and, since it’s a short read, decided to take it with me to the hospital. I read the entire book in one sitting while hooked up to the Bair Hugger! The front cover sold this as an epic thriller, which is not how I would summarize it. The book is written, essentially, as one long monologue. The premise/themes reminded me a lot of The Picture of Dorian Gray…it just wasn’t as good. There were a few twists and turns I didn’t see coming, but reading started to feel like a slog (and it was a short book). Also, the “twists” came in quick succession in the last 10 pages. This was definitely a slow-burn style of writing, and I kept waiting for an explosion. In the end, it just fizzled.
  • A Noise Downstairs by Linwood Barclay. Funny story. A few days ago I read Gigi’s review of this book. It sounded like an intriguing murder mystery/thriller, and her description gave me just enough information to want to know how it all turned out. It’s not uncommon for me to hear about a great book and be perfectly content to read a synopsis – especially for thrillers. So I spent the next hour trying to track down spoilers. The more I read, the more I wanted to know. But there was radio silence about any major plot reveals on the interwebs. By this point, I HAD TO KNOW HOW THINGS TURNED OUT, so I looked it up on my library system and discovered it was available for immediate download as an e-book. I read this in a single sitting after I got home from surgery. There were plenty of twists and turns – some expected, some surprising. Highly readable, it reminded me of a tame Stephen King novel (Barclay actually mentions King in his acknowledgments). The premise: a university professor stumbles upon a horrific crime scene and nearly loses his life. The rest of the book focuses on the aftermath – the professor dealing with PTSD, his relationships with friends/his wife/his therapist and involves a number of unsettling characters and events. I will warn that there is a fair amount of swearing in this book and various depictions – though not overly graphic – of murders + there is a stalker involved. A literary masterpiece? Not really, but extremely readable and a solid thriller that I enjoyed.

FUN | Our 2022 photobook arrived. We all piled onto the couch and flipped through the pages. Before we knew it an hour had gone by. So. much. fun!

I am still loving the Valentine’s tree in our family room. The twinkle lights are very cheery.

We haven’t done Wordle consistently in almost a year, but I pulled out my phone at the breakfast table on Tuesday and we decided to try our luck. Some backstory: Meatball is a fancy bear hamster, which means he has a lot of hair, a huge “tuffet” of which is concentrated around his derriere. It is very cute (and ridiculous); we have taken to calling them his butt bangs and have even come up with a family dance based on how it looks when he runs on his wheel with those giant puffs of hair flying behind him (which we call his buffets – [buh-fits] short for butt tuffets). To say we spend a lot of time thinking about the hair on Meatball’s behind is an understatement. With that in mind, Abby wanted to come up with a Meatball-themed word and settled on bangs. This meant Levi got the second word. When he said apple, I groaned inwardly because of the huge risk of using a double letter. AND THE ANSWER WAS APPLE. Such a great way to start the day.


  • Our power went out randomly one night at 9:30 AS I WAS WALKING DOWN THE HALL TO WARM UP MAGIC BAGS. This was such a bitter disappointment. I had been working in the office all evening and my feet were cold and the #1 thing that helped me power through was the knowledge Magic Bags were coming my way and then…no electricity. John selflessly let me thaw my ice-block feet on him which helped, but I am a high-maintenance sleeper; without white noise, I cannot sleep. I turned on the white noise app on my phone, but still had a restless night since then the power kept coming off and on, so things would beep and flash and…then go quiet. Thankfully, this didn’t happen when it was -40C.
  • One of my brothers-in-law sent Levi a package full of Pokemon cards and related paraphernalia which beautifully filled several hours of post-school time.

And that’s a wrap!

Your turn. Do you ever read book synopses instead of the actual book? What was the highlight of your week? Is anyone still doing Wordle daily?

Casual Friday + Little Updates

Happy Friday.

It has been a good week. We’ve gotten into a predictable (and structured routine) with Levi and he has been able to make it through each day at school. Cue jazz hands. Nights aren’t perfect, but he has been handling all wakings solo. I have slept like a rock every night this week and it felt glorious. John is home, snow is on the ground, and everyone seems to have heaved a giant sigh of contented relief after the fiasco that was last week.

random notes from the week

COOKIES | I modified our beloved Fall Chocolate Chip Spiced Cookie into a Peanut Butter Thumbprint version. Why not use my go-to thumbprint recipe you might ask? Well, everyone has raved about the texture of these spiced cookies and someone specifically asked me to modify it into a non-spiced variation. I was despairing at first because the dough was waaayyy too dry. So I added a few tablespoons of milk and crossed my fingers. Next, I despaired because I thought the baked cookies were waaayyy too dry. But after sitting overnight in an airtight container? Perfection. I have eaten a lot of PB Thumbprint cookies this week…

WORK | January has been a hectic month, and it was hard to work efficiently when Levi was home sick. Thankfully, this week I have been very productive; I got caught up and, in a few cases, proactively tackled projects and to-dos. I hit yet another snag with payment for my contracts (long-time readers might recall this happened in 2022 – TWICE). One contract ended December 31st, and the next contract should have started January 1st, but the paperwork was actually dated January 31st. All’s well that ends well and I have started to get used to receiving lump sum back payments, which are rather nice.

THRIFTING | Things have been quiet on the thrifting front since Christmas, but last weekend the kids were keen to add some buttons to their collections (trading buttons is a “thing” and one I am happy to get behind). In addition to a handful of buttons for each child (one of the more expensive purchases of the day – $7.50), I sourced a new dress for $4.95 (pictured just before heading out the door to church; so comfy!), shorts – $3.75, and a sweater that is soft and slouchy and wonderful – $3.75. Not pictured: sneakers, a dress, and one pair of black shorts for Abby; John got a sweater and a button-up shirt. Grand total for everything, including tax, was $42.90.

At a second thrift store, I also bought a cozy throw blanket (~$9). John may have rolled his eyes when I suggested it (as in: Don’t we already have enough blankets at home; answer: No, we do not. You can never have too many cozy blankets in a home).

The kids are loving the new blanket – it’s grey and cozy and covered with tiny hearts! Perfect for post-sledding snuggles while watching Rescue Riders! #TheyHaveAGreatLife

WINTER | We’ve now received the traditional winter weather we’ve been waiting for/dreading. There is snow on the ground…and bitterly cold temperatures. For the most part, the kids have been thrilled. We walked to school several mornings this week, and also fit in a sledding adventure. (For sledding, we had a short window of about 35 minutes which was perfect; no one got too cold, the sliding hill was empty so we were able to zoom up and down quickly, and everyone left while they were still happy.)

READING | Reading has plummeted this month, but that’s okay.

  • Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad. This cancer memoir reminded me of When Breath Becomes Air (probably my all-time favourite memoir). The book was well written and provides a very detailed and intimate look at navigating a cancer diagnosis and then the years and years and years of challenges that follow. A few things grated on my nerves and I preferred the first half of the book, but I’m glad I read this and would definitely recommend it.
  • The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka. I have mixed feelings about this book. At first, I loved it. It’s short. It’s written in a unique format. But, over time, her heavy use of the same patterned writing felt stale and cumbersome. I love random details in books, but this was FULL of that sort of thing and it felt a bit overworked by the end. There was also a lot of thinly veiled imagery and I got tired of trying to read into things. Also, it really irked me that the main character was named Alice which felt much too “on-the-nose” after Still Alice. Like, of all names you could have picked, did it have to be Alice? I’m glad I read it and I can see others LOVING it. But it missed the mark a bit for me.

PUZZLES | We remain quasi-obsessed with puzzles. Yesterday we finished a Ravensburger Escape Room puzzle (368 pieces). We haven’t gotten around to solving the clues yet, but it was a lot of fun to build and I love that there are layers of intrigue to the experience. (We’re going to have to partially dismantle this puzzle and build a smaller puzzle that will help us solve a “mystery”. Also, there are parts of the completed puzzle picture that DON’T match the cover design (this is on purpose). Levi received this for his birthday and I think it’s a great twist on a classic puzzle.

EXERCISE | What a weird month for exercise. As much as I try to convince myself otherwise, I am just not a fan of the treadmill; with Levi sick, I was often either stuck at home or driving the route to school. Still, I managed 111 km of walking + running workouts in January, which is more than I recorded for January 2022 (and 2022 turned out to be my highest mileage year ever).

ORGANIZATION | I am loving my Sprouted planner. I hate the thought of paying so much for shipping and duty again next year, but I also can’t imagine NOT using this system moving forward. I had a few complaints about the updated design, but have to admit there are new features that more than compensate. I’ve really found my groove in terms of customizing the layouts.

  • On the full calendar spread, I have 12 rollover goals/tasks for each month. It is so helpful to have these listed out!
  1. Wave (corporate accounting). While we have an accountant that handles the heaviest lifting, I manage the day-to-day upkeep of our small business accounting. At the first of the month there are a series of dull administrative tasks I need to handle, and crossing this off my list is SO satisfying.
  2. Frost budget. I track our personal expenditures in a spreadsheet each month and also have a year-long tracker that I update with overall savings/investments.
  3. Update e-mail. I send a summary of activities from our month to family and friends.
  4. Pics off phone. A reminder to take photos off from the previous month and organize them into folders/subfolders.
  5. Pay gov’t. This also relates to our small business; source deductions (taxes and the national pension plan) are due by the 15th of each month.
  6. Export posts. I export all the text from my blog posts for the previous month.
  7. Invoice —-. At the first of the month, an invoice has to go out to our main client.
  8. Abby allowance. She gets $11/month (minus $1 for a charitable donation and $2 for savings; so actually $8/month). This will go up to $12/month when she turns 12 in March.
  9. Workouts. I track my total number of walks and runs + overall mileage for each month. It takes less than 2 minutes, but I like having it in an old-fashioned spreadsheet and not just as a report on my phone.
  10. Review goals. This is new for me; I now take a few minutes to look at my annual goals list at the start of each new month.
  11. Go through receipts. Between business/work and personal paperwork + ALL THE RECEIPTS, I feel like it’s easy to get weighed down by papers. While it’s ideal for me to do this several times a month, having it written down as a monthly to-do keeps it from ever getting too far out of hand.
  12. Reach out. One of my goals for 2023 (though not listed as an official goal) is to do a better job of maintaining contact with people I love. So…at the start of the month, I go through my contacts list and send a quick hello/a few recent pictures. It’s low impact but keeps relationships that could easily go dormant alive and friendly.
  • One of my new hacks is to use the flexible planning page to divide up weekly work and home tasks. This split layout works so well for me!
  • And then my tracking chart. On the left are all the personal things I track – like taking certain supplements and my exercise. On the right is the structured routine “prescribed” by the gastroenterologist for Levi including some gentle natural solutions for abdominal issues/sleep (magnesium, melatonin) and some guided audio recordings specifically for nausea and upset tummies. [I track my mood on the main calendar spread; a good day gets an up arrow, a bad day a down arrow, and an okay day a sideways arrow. At the end of the month, I tally up the arrows and it’s shockingly satisfying. January, ironically enough, was a fabulous month for my mood. I track it in the evening based on how I feel at the end of the day. My numbers would be horrible if tracked in the morning, but I tend to feel optimistic and happy at night. For those curious, I had 25 up arrows, 4 down, and 2 sideways.]

That’s a wrap on our week. Abby is off for a weekend of overnight camp (in February! in the middle of a deep freeze!! she is very excited!!!), and I’m looking forward to the slower dynamic of having only one kiddo at home for a few days. I’m already dreaming of sipping a cup of coffee and reading a book when it’s -40C (with windchill) tomorrow morning.

Your turn. Do you enjoy puzzles? What was the highlight (or lowlight) of your week? Anyone else in the middle of a deep freeze?

Header photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

Casual Friday + There Is No Manual

This week had some really hard moments. After relative calm for the first half of January, things started to unravel.

Last Friday night, John, Levi, my dad, and a few friends went to a local university hockey game. Everyone had a delightful time right up until the last five minutes of the game when Levi started feeling nauseous and complaining of belly pain. They rushed home and we whisked him to bed.

Unfortunately, we seem to be right back where we started with those nebulous abdominal issues that presented at the beginning of December.

We’re back to night wakings (so. many. night. wakings).

We’re back to staying home from school (at least in part over the anxiety of having a nausea attack while away from home).

That issue aside – helping another child navigate middle school is no joke.

And my period started (hopefully for the last time, but I’ve said that before!).

Oh, and first thing Sunday morning, John flew halfway across the world.


Monday and Tuesday were terrible. I felt sick to my stomach just waiting for the next symptom or interruption (paying attention to work tasks took Herculean efforts, partly from exhaustion and partly from anxiety).

Mostly, there was a sensation of being completely and utterly trapped. I couldn’t leave – couldn’t go on a walk to clear my head, couldn’t lock the door to the office and focus on work. At a certain point, I could/should have called my parents, but I was too tired and having to engage with anyone outside our four walls felt like more than I could handle. (Also, turns out the text I sent my mom providing an update didn’t get through, so they didn’t even know things were going down the proverbial toilet.)

I hate the sensation of having such limited control over fixing an issue.

But by golly, I sure tried. I refilled a prescription (it hadn’t eliminated Levi’s symptoms, but it had seemed to help; he had finished the one-month trial the doctor suggested a few days before his “relapse” but it came with a refill just in case, so I pulled the trigger on that). I grabbed armfuls of hardcover books off the shelf to elevate his bed by 7 inches (maybe it’s GERD). I cut out any last remnants of dairy and gluten. I warmed Magic Bags and chilled ice packs. I prepped apple slices and warmed up bowls of soup. I doled out probiotics and vitamins. I closed curtains and put on white noise. I got the shower temperature set to “just right” many, many times.

I also ugly cried in my bathroom – and at least once at the dining room table in front of the kids.

At one low point on Tuesday, I started telling myself over and over again: This will feel different tomorrow, This will feel different tomorrow, This will feel different tomorrow. Tuesday felt like rock bottom in terms of despair, Wednesday felt a bit better, parts of Thursday were back to rock bottom but, by the end of the day, I was feeling signficantly more optimistic…and here we are at Friday. Life is looking brighter even if I am dead tired.

Fortuitously, I decided to call the local children’s hospital (a multi-step process, so I can see many people electing not to bother) to see if I could get an estimated wait time for our gastroenterologist referral; because I had called in, we were offered a cancellation slot for today. Praise the Lord!!

Other things helped, too. It’s not always easy to make room (or find energy) to do activities that counterbalance the hard, but it’s almost always worth the effort. I made some comfort (but free from wheat and dairy!) foods. We lit our beloved candles. I put on makeup even though I was, essentially, housebound. Once my mom knew what was happening she sent some food and offered sympathy, love, and a listening ear. Friends checked in regularly.

I also thought – a lot – about how I never, ever realized how all-consuming and exhausting parenting can be…

things nobody told me about parentinG*

*To be fair, it wouldn’t matter if someone had told me all these things about parenting because without actually living it, I don’t think I could have comprehended how completely – for me at least – it impacts every aspect of life.

  • Parenting is a rollercoaster. I am not a fan of rollercoasters. I have only been on a handful of rollercoasters in my life (most notably the Behemoth which, until 2012, was the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Canada); they make my stomach churn and I keep my eyes clamped shut the entire time. Much of parenting consists of gentle kiddie-ride rollercoasters. Regular ups and downs – giggling at the breakfast table over Knock Knock jokes, a tantrum at the grocery store. But sometimes the bottom drops out of the ride and you start plummeting. You look for the panic button – something to stop the freefall – but there isn’t one. Also? No one ever told me that once you hop on the rollercoaster, you can’t get off. Once you’re strapped in, you’re on this ride for LIFE. This reality can feel claustrophobic at times, especially when you’re up every night with a crying infant or, in my case, an unwell 8-year-old.
  • Control is an illusion (at best). As a parent you have to make it look – to your children and those around you – that you are in control. This is a facade. You have no control over when your toddler will vomit (frequently, usually over clean clothes without a bucket handy), or throw a tantrum (frequently, usually when there is an audience), or wake early from a nap (frequently, and always when you are most desperate for them to sleep; the one time you need them to wake early, there is a 100% chance they will be impossible to rouse).
  • Parenting is a 24/7/365 job. A few years ago, I was waiting with a group of parents to collect our kids from a summer tennis lesson when I mother I barely knew leaned in and whispered: No one told me parenting was a 24/7 job – FOREVER. Even when I’m away from the kids, I’m still parenting them.

I knew exactly how she felt. I can’t remember what I envisioned parenthood would look like pre-kids. I do remember babysitting two elementary-school children for a week while their parents were away on a trip when I was about 20; I was shocked at how utterly exhausted I felt at the end of that week. I knew that parenting was a big responsibility. What I didn’t know was how it fills every crack and crevice of your life.

Parenting has changed in the modern era and I suspect our parents spent a lot less time worrying about violin lessons and SAT scores (we don’t actually have to worry about those in Canada; phew!) and screens than we do. But my kids are never not on my mind. They might be minimized on my radar, but I live in a hypervigilant state. 365 days a year there are kids who need breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They need clean clothes. They need to see doctors and dentists. They need to get to school on time, complete their homework, and take in extra boxes of Kleenex for their classroom stash. They need new winter gear and presents at Christmas and milk for their Cheerios.

I’m not saying every interaction is exhausting – most are not – but the sheer amount of time and responsibility associated with parenting does shock me. And while I love my kids with every fiber of my being, sometimes I wish I could turn off the relentless worrying and tending and caring and loving. I get tired of putting on Band-aids and packing lunchboxes and reading bedtime stories. I know I’ll miss this when they’re gone and I don’t want to wish away time. And yet…it’s a lot.

  • There is no user manual. NGS recently asked readers what sort of user manual they’d most like available for adult life and I answered without hesitation that I wish such a thing existed for parenting. Specifically, how to parent my children. Sure there are plenty of books on child rearing, but one of our favourite jokes when Abby was an infant was to say she was the asterisk to every statement in parenting books. For example, experts assured us that babies like long car rides and jaunty walks in the stroller. She HATED these activities and would scream bloody murder for the entirety of every car and stroller ride. I wish I could have flipped to page 42 to learn that Mam brand soothers (and only Mam brand soothers) would be the solution. I wish I could turn to page 311 to get play-by-play instructions for helping a child navigate the challenges of a school bully. I wish page 106 told me how persistent I should be with reminders to clean their rooms and brush their teeth. But that user manual doesn’t exist – I have to create my own manual as I go and, most of the time, I feel like a complete fraud (I’m no parenting expert, except…I HAVE TO BE BECAUSE I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR TWO TINY HUMANS AND THEY DIDN’T POP OUT OF MY UTERUS CLUTCHING A USER MANUAL*). *Wouldn’t that have been convenient
  • Parenting involves a dizzying number of decisions. No one told me I would quite literally be making dozens of decisions before 9 am. [6:30 am] Knock, knock, knock. Can I come in? The kids aren’t supposed to knock before 7 am so should I say Yes (they might be sick), or No (if I say Yes, this sets a bad precedent for tomorrow)? [7:02 am] What’s for breakfast? (Good question, What is for breakfast). [7:18 am] What should I send for lunch? [7:43 am] Should I allow them to go to school without snowpants (and, if I don’t make them wear snowpants, should I sneak a set into the bottom of their bookbags for “just in case”)? [7:44 am] Should I make them wear their rainboots even though they’re begging to wear sneakers but the weather forecast says it’s going to rain? [7:51 am] Should I let a child wear mismatched (expensive) winter gloves to school or turn the car around and get them to put on a matched set (I don’t mind the aesthetic, but what a nuisance if they lose them because the Lost and Found at school will assume there is no match; spoiler alert: I did turn the car around and made the child in question get a matched set). Then there are bigger questions: Should I sleep train? Should I put my child on antibiotics for their inflamed ear, or wait it out a few days to see if things get better? Should I send my child to public school? Consider a language immersion program? Should I take them to see the dentist about their toothache today – and have them miss their band recital – or wait until tomorrow? What if the tooth winds up being abscessed? Should I make them eat the bell peppers they hate, or capitulate and give them carrot sticks instead? Should I let them stay up late on Friday night to watch the movie? If so, will this backfire for me Saturday morning? As a parent I’m always thinking, always advocating, always weighing pros/cons. Plus, not only do I have to do this for two tiny humans – I STILL HAVE TO TAKE CARE OF MYSELF!
  • Parenting involves so much guilt. I feel like I’ve discussed this before, but I second-guess and feel guilt every single day. In little and big decisions, Guilt is my shadow. My kids have great lives but, still, the guilt plagues me. Like somehow I’m messing everything up. (Maybe some parents feel fear or stress or anger as their predominant emotion, but I suspect guilt ranks very high as the go-to emotion for mothers). I feel guilty for saying no to participating in a bedtime routine on a night I’m exhausted. I feel guilty for saying no to organizing a playdate. I feel guilty for forgetting to put money under a pillow from the Tooth Fairy (that neither child believes in, but that they reference every time they lose a tooth because they want some moolah). I feel guilty for sending my child’s reading log back empty after a week because I never carved out time to have them read to me. I feel guilty for raising my voice when I’m upset. Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Is parenting supposed to feel this hard? Or am I just doing it all wrong? [This is a rhetorical question; I know I’m not doing it all wrong. I’m doing my best and my kids are blessed to have two loving, involved – wait a minute, are we too involved? not involved enough? – parents.]

Parenting is also amazing. I’ve been on enough rollercoasters to understand they defy gravity and what goes down…must also come up.

things making me smile this week

  • The kids received a set of belated Christmas gifts from a friend, including a game called Quick Pucks which they have loved!
  • Without a doubt, one of the highlights of my week was listening to Levi read me the story he is writing. The way he annunciates his words melts my heart. (Synopsis: There is an evil sorcerer living in a castle, and four brave siblings – Lilac, Jiny, Bill, and Levi – head out to save the day. Move aside Julia Donaldson.)
  • Abby came home from drama class to announce she got the lead part she was desperately hoping for (Miss Minchin in A Little Princess).
  • One evening, hair soaked from the shower, Levi slapped his cheeks and grinned (can’t remember why?!) and looked so much like Kevin McCallister from the Home Alone aftershave scene that I grabbed a mirror for him to see and we both laughed.
  • Restless and feeling sick, Levi climbed into bed with me every night this week; he didn’t say anything, but always cuddled in and felt around in the dark until he found my hand and then proceeded to hold it with that soft little hand of his. I really wish he was sleeping better, but the hand-holding is sweet.
  • Last Friday we walked through a snowstorm (school was canceled – snow day!) to see Grammie and get one of her famous homemade cookies.
  • After a tough day for one of the kids, we all sat on the bed and brainstormed solutions to a variety of tough problems. While Abby and Levi can fight like cats and dogs, when one of them is hurting emotionally – they show up for the other in remarkable ways. This family meeting lasted over an hour and I was blown away by the tenderness and very practical, insightful sibling support.
  • I’ve always loved this picture John captured of Abby looking through giant binoculars; I finally got around to printing off an engineering print (the cheapest way to create large DIY art!) and framing it (IKEA Ribba).
  • Thursday afternoon, in the middle of a major wind/rainstorm, the power went out. After wallowing in self-pity for a few minutes, I checked my e-mail and a sweet blog reader had sent a message saying my posts were “a little ray of happy” in her days. Sometimes I feel silly for investing time in a writing hobby, so feedback like this means a lot (Thanks Shannon!).
  • When the power was out, Levi and I were trying to find a quiet, relaxed activity to fill the afternoon that didn’t involve electricity. We played some Crokinole, but the big hit? A puzzle recently gifted to us by my aunt. I am not a puzzle person; I find them tedious and frustrating. But 300 large-sized pieces with lots of colour and pattern were perfect. Once Abby got home from school she joined in on the efforts. This was a great family activity.
  • I ordered our 2022 photobook. This is a huge undertaking for me each year and I am so relieved to be done. This is my biggest book – by far – and I’m not going to lie: I really disliked working on this one. It has over 1000 pictures and was very cumbersome. But it’s done and I know how much we love having these visual compilations of our family adventures. Now we just have to wait for it to arrive (Blurb has a 20% off + free shipping offer on until the end of the month!).
  • Okay, this final one actually made me weep, but it also warmed my heart. I sent Levi’s Grade 2 teacher an e-mail early this week about what was going on and never heard back. Since he wasn’t at school, I didn’t realize she was actually out for several days. When she got back and saw my note, she called me right away. Within 10 seconds of picking up the phone, I was sobbing. She was just so loving and supportive and it meant the world to me that she reached out in such a kind and compassionate way.

Onward, upward, and happy weekending.

Your turn. How was your week? If you’re a parent, what most surprised you about the realities of parenting? If you don’t have kids, what has most surprised you about adulthood? Do you like rollercoasters?

Header photo by Matt Bowden on Unsplash

Casual Friday + Celebrate

Despite knowing there is absolutely zero external pressure to continue on with selecting a “word of the week,” Sunday afternoon – after a particularly wonderful (and rare) nap – I decided it would be fun to set an intention for the days ahead.

I chose Celebrate.

By Monday afternoon I was doubting the wisdom of my choice. Rain was coming down in torrents (I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a cascade of literal cats and dogs sliding down my patio door); it was grey and cold and miserable. I had gone to my favourite coffee shop in the morning to work, usually a guaranteed pick-me-up. I selected one of my favourite tables by the door which, turns out, is a huge mistake on a cold, rainy day as the entry of every new customer left me shivering. I let my tea steep too long. I found it hard to settle in and tackle work tasks. If I had to sum up the morning in one word it would have been Unproductive. Which doesn’t have quite as nice a ring to it as Celebrate

To top things off, later that day, I received an e-mail notice that the project I manage was getting audited (they don’t call it an audit; technically it’s a Post Payment Claim Review, language that seems designed to make the process appear less daunting but in reality, it is an adult). We knew this was coming (the project is predominantly funded by a government agency) but that didn’t lessen the blow. Also, the supporting documents need to be in by February 3rd. Oh, and all the financial claims under review happened before I joined the project, so my context was minimal.


But guess what? The week got better. Turns out I found plenty of things to celebrate!

celebrations this week

  • Time with family. One of my aunts was visiting from the US. Friday afternoon she and my parents came for a visit. We drank coffee and played Scattergories, and I whipped up one of our favourite comfort meals – chicken mango curry (recipe buried in this post), skillet cornbread, and carrot cake. She told all sorts of stories from her childhood (and shared some hilarious tidbits about my father – let’s just say he was no angel). The next morning, Abby and I picked her up for a stroll around our local farmer’s market.
  • Blog-swapping with Laura. This was a lot of fun and seeing my writing go live on her website was a celebratory moment, indeed.
  • Submitting corporate T4s. Years ago I made a handy reference document for helping me navigate preparation of T4s (Canadian employee tax forms), but I still dread this process every. single. year. There is always a moment of sheer terror because the numbers never align the first time I run through the paperwork. Sure enough, it happened again this year. It took me about 5 minutes to figure out where I had gone wrong, and now everything is done and submitted to the government. I love crossing this task off my annual to-do list.
  • Our friends are grandparents. How did this happen? No, really? It seems like just yesterday John and I were newlyweds babysitting these friends’ kids. And now one of those kids…has a kid! Our friends stopped by to see us Saturday, en route home from meeting their new grandbaby; what a reason to celebrate!
  • Spotting Dad “out in the wild”. Saturday morning I was getting a few groceries and who should walk into the store but my father. I cannot tell you how much I enjoy these unplanned rendezvous. I’ve spent the last 20+ years living away from my parents, so to randomly bump into each other while out doing errands is a special thrill.
  • A life well-lived. A dear friend passed away last week. She was 84 and one of the most vibrant women I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. I hadn’t seen her in several years because of COVID and then her declining health. The funeral was on Tuesday and I debated whether or not I would go. To my shame, I counted the cost: time. Ultimately, what pushed me over the edge was the fact my word of the week was Celebrate. A funeral is a celebration of life, and I’m so glad I was in attendance. (Also, I’m learning that time spent celebrating people we love is never wasted). The pastor said three words immediately came to mind to describe this woman: faith, fun, and encouragement. This friend lived and breathed her faith. She loved God so deeply and her beliefs were woven into the very fabric of how she interacted with everyone. She was so. much. fun. She loved to laugh and tell stories and adventured all over the world in her lifetime. She loved to play games and pull practical jokes. She and her husband renovated a boat so it resembled a pirate ship complete with a working cannon (who does that?!). She loved to dress in bright colours, with quirky hats and broaches and an impressive shoe collection. And she was an encouragement. She was so, so positive. She always had a kind word to share and was willing and eager to listen. I never once felt rushed in conversation with her. Her life involved plenty of challenges – she was a child in London during WWII and was forced to move to the countryside during the Blitz; she immigrated to Canada with her family as a teen. She lived in remote areas of Newfoundland – often raising her six kids solo while her husband traveled for work. She tragically lost a son and two grandchildren; she was widowed over a decade ago. But through it all, she was a ray of sunshine in the lives of everyone who knew her. It was just a beautiful celebration of her life and faith. I shed plenty of tears, but they were bittersweet because I’m so grateful I got to know such an incredible human. I don’t know what Heaven will entail, but I like to imagine she’s already played a few practical jokes. Funerals always make me ponder life and death and eternity. And while listening to her family so beautifully eulogize their mother/grandmother, I can’t help but wonder: What would people say about me? (I’m left hoping the same sentiments apply though, right now, my kids often inform me I am distinctly un-fun…)
  • Food. I love to eat. And for no other reason than to celebrate the wonder of delicious flavours, on Sunday afternoon I made Fall Chocolate Chip Spiced Cookies. Yum.
  • Remember that Post Payment Claim Review? Turns out our new manager of research accounting is spearheading the entire process and all week I was celebrating the fact she is so capable and confident.
  • Sleep. I took a 1.5 hour nap on Sunday and it felt…amazing.
  • Letters from Abby. Abby loves to send out letters to friends/family (though, let’s be honest…she loves to receive letters even more!). It made me happy to come out one morning and see this stack ready to go out in the mail (she has her own little address book full of friends and family contact info and periodically sends everyone on the list snail mail). And I definitely celebrated the fact she is old enough to do every step of this process independently!
  • Our Valentine’s tree. I did it! I spent $6 at the DollarStore and redecorated the tree in our basement family room with hearts. No regrets.

other tidbits from the week

  • Last Friday ended up being a snow (er, rain?!) day. When we woke up, there was messaging about a two-hour delay. An hour later, they canceled it entirely. The kids made a GIANT snowman – of which I forgot to take pictures – and then we proceeded to have torrential rain for the next 24 hours.
  • I am majorly bummed that I have too many pages in my photobook to be able to use one of their heavier-weight papers. The standard paper through Blurb is very thin, and I always pay a slightly high page rate for premium paper. Apparently, we had too much fun in 2022.
  • One of my goals for 2023 is to use my “fancy dishes” more – I want to get in the habit of using things that I might normally store away. I’ve been doing well with this goal so far, mostly by using my favourite pottery bowls regularly. But when I was stress-decluttering, I needed some way to corral my charging cables (heated socks, Kobo, heated vest – books and warmth feature heavily in my life). I settled on this soup bowl. We received a set of these a few years ago, but they’re not microwave or dishwasher-safe. Whomp, whomp. Turns out they’re perfect for holding my cables and cubes, though.

And that’s a wrap!

Your turn. Any fun plans for the weekend? What have you celebrated this week? Have you ever re-purposed a Christmas tree with alternate decorations?

P.S. After many of you mentioned wanting some way to track comments, I went looking for a plugin. The first one I trialed had about 25 bells and whistles, so I opted for a simpler option. But then “simple” didn’t work. I have since adjusted various settings and I think things are updated correctly. If it didn’t work for you before and you try again, please let me know if it functions properly. Thank you!