Good Habits (And Education) Are Light to Carry Around

Many years ago, when I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I was awarded a research scholarship for post-secondary studies. In September of my final year, I started narrowing down international research programs that caught my fancy and, by December, had plans to move to New Zealand to complete a Ph.D. at the University of Auckland.

Then I met John…

Neither of us was keen on living on opposite sides of the world (literally), so we started pursuing an opportunity to accept two ESL positions at a school in South Korea.

My parents were not overly enthused.

Their thinking on the matter: this could be my one and only chance to get an advanced degree free of charge. To be clear, I don’t think it would have been wrong of me to ignore their advice and move to Korea. But, together, John and I decided to get creative. Though I’d missed all the deadlines for Canadian graduate degree programs, I took my chances and reached out to a professor heading up an interesting research team who was willing to take me on. My scholarship had been awarded for an international tier, but the granting agency agreed to let me switch it to the national level.

Throughout all our discussions, my Dad’s prevailing thought on the matter never wavered: Elisabeth, education is easy to carry around.

On some levels, I could find arguments to disagree. There is the sunk cost of time. Also, I haven’t actually ended up using degree-specific skills (though I have, admittedly, found all subsequent work based on the connections I made pursuing said degree). Life likely would have turned out very differently if I had opted to pause my education and teach overseas.

And that idea of something being easy/light to carry around has stuck with me ever since.

Lately, I’ve been applying the same reasoning to habits.

I’ve made, kept, and dropped a lot of habits over the years. But, in looking back, I don’t really regret any of them.

For instance, last year I walked at least 1 km (almost always outside) for 365 consecutive days. It was a habit. A habit I didn’t continue this year. But I don’t consider that year of daily walking to be wasted time. I learned a lot, fit in a lot of exercise, and know I could, if I so desired, start that habit again.

Because good habits are easy to carry around.

Your turn. Has your life taken any unexpected pivots? What habit would you most like to cultivate in your life moving forward? Are there any “dormant” habits you’d like to restart; any current habits you’re ready to take a break from?

Header photo by Leon Wu on Unsplash

Would You Rather: The Random Question Edition

Back in December, I posted several Christmas-themed Would You Rather polls. It was a lot of fun to create the questions and see what answers trickled in over time. I thought I’d wade back into those waters with a random smorgasbord of Would You Rather questions on this beautiful Monday.

Without further ado:

Would you rather...

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This is a tough one – and it’s hard to beat reading a good book while eating a great meal – but since that isn’t an option, I think I’d have to go with enjoying a really nice meal. Good food is just…so good!

Would you rather see a beautiful...

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There shouldn’t be any surprises here; my answer is sunset. First, I generally find sunsets to be more beautiful than sunrises – all those purples and pinks. But second, and more importantly, sunsets don’t require me to get up early and you know how I feel about mornings (they should be outlawed). I’m sure some of my lark friends will disagree on this one, but I am Team Sunset 100%. Though I’ll admit I almost never see sunrises; maybe if I did routinely wake before the sun*, I’d change my answer.


Would you rather...

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I’ve allowed the possibility of a “cheat” here, by providing a Neither option. You’re welcome. But in the spirit of the question, I would almost always choose to stay up two hours later. The thought of waking up 2 hours early sounds positively awful.

Would you rather receive...

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I’m Team Houseplant all the way. I want to love fresh flowers – and I do appreciate the aesthetic – but they die so quickly and it bums me out every time.

Would you rather have the ability to see...

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I think I’d opt for ten minutes. Ten years is…a long time. And I think knowing certain things that far in advance would make me really sad. But seeing ten minutes into the future could prevent: burned cakes, sibling fights, wrong turns, and all manner of foot-in-mouth situations.

Would you rather arrive somewhere...

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Both sound awful, but I think I’d go with being late. I know I could always spend a book and kill those extra twenty-five minutes quasi-productively/enjoyably, but I think being routinely early would drive me crazy at this stage in my life when time seems to be at a premium.

Would you rather...

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Um, lounge chair please! With a cold drink, no wind, and an umbrella handy for when I want some shade…

Would you rather have a personal...

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My kids currently get both in me, so the answer is clearly to hop into a time machine and go back to my childhood. But I think I’d pick the chef option. I love to eat and while cooking is fine (I don’t hate the job), I also don’t think I’d miss the task in the slightest. Don’t get me wrong – having someone do all the pesky home management work would be nice, but I definitely get more satisfaction out of doing those care tasks than I do cooking.

Would you rather be able to...

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We don’t have pets outside of Meatball and I wouldn’t consider myself a big animal lover (don’t get me wrong – nature, pets and all living creatures are wonderful, but I’m not particularly drawn to spending time with animals). My language skills are abysmal; I can understand a handful of French words and phrases but mostly only speak and understand English. So I’d opt for the human languages option…

Would you rather...

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Left to my own devices, I wouldn’t watch very many movies in a year, so this seems like the logical answer for me. I could easily limit my movie viewing to five for the year and call it a day. As long as I can watch White Christmas with Joy each December, all is right with the world…

Your turn. Elaborate on your selections from some of the above! Flowers or houseplants? Communicating with animals or humans? Reading on the beach or swimming in the ocean? Arriving late or early?

Header photo by Nick Karvounis on Unsplash

I Can See Clearly Now…Sort Of…Not Really

So, my Friday adventure turned out to be more of an adventure than I bargained for…

After almost 30 years of wearing glasses (all day, every day), Friday afternoon was my long-anticipated date for corrective laser eye surgery. Years ago – nearly a decade now – I went in for a consult and was told I have steep corneas and dry eyes. At the time, I was considered a candidate for LASIK, but not an ideal candidate – in particular, I was at an increased risk of developing chronic dry eyes. Abby was just a toddler and we were bootstrapping our first startup, so it wasn’t exactly a great time to make a big financial investment…and then I wound up pregnant with Levi, which temporarily disqualified me from having any vision correction.

After that, life just…kept plugging along, I kept wearing my glasses (and hating them), and I took no steps to pursue corrective surgery.

Fast forward to 2023: this, I decided, would be the year.

I had a virtual consult several months ago and, based on my prescription, was tentatively approved for an advanced custom LASIK procedure.

When we drove to the clinic on Friday I was shaking like a leaf. After so many years of hating glasses, the time had come! But instead of being excited, I was terrified – of something going wrong, or of being deemed ineligble.

Sure enough, within a few hours, I learned that because of my steep corneas, extreme nearsightedness, dry eyes and, worst of all, thin corneas, I was not eligible for any LASIK procedures (which all involve cutting a flap in the corneas) but I was a candidate for PRK (photorefractive keratectomy) where the surgeon literally reshapes the cornea without making any cuts.

Long-term, PRK is considered the safest option (there is no scar tissue resulting from a flap) and less likely to cause chronic dry eyes (a common side effect of LASIK), but it comes with an unfortunate tradeoff. A significant recovery time – potentially weeks of discomfort and months of blurry and/or fluctuating vision.

Within a day or two after LASIK, life goes on as normal. With PRK it can take months to get to that point.

It was such a hard decision but I did opt to move forward with a PRK procedure, after hours (bless John, he has been a saint through all of this) of deliberation.

I’m supposed to limit screen use for the next little while, so I’ll be taking a bit of a blogging hiatus, at least for a few days. The discomfort seems to be getting better; Saturday and Sunday were…very unpleasant. Light sensitivity is intense and my vision is blurry but at my first followup ~18 hours after surgery, I could faintly make out letters at a 20/15 vision range.

Now I’m off to attend to my drops regime – basically a full-time job in the first week after PRK!

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

A Perfect Weekend…

A few weeks ago, as part of my blog swap with Lisa, I described my perfect day. A steaming cup of coffee, a walk with a friend, good food, great weather, a massage. Turns out, I managed to get all of these things – multiple times! – as part of my “perfect” weekend.

When I climbed into bed Sunday evening I couldn’t think of a single thing I would have changed about my weekend which felt…lovely. Nothing momentous happened – I didn’t win the lottery or ride in a gondola down a Venetian canal. But I drank delicious cups of coffee. I carted my houseplants outside in the sunshine and got my hands dirty as part of my attempt at “indoor” gardening. I went on a walk with friends. I worked up a sweat on the treadmill (twice). I laughed and played games with the kids. I had three at-home date nights with my husband (who treated me to various shoulder massages – sometimes while I sipped my coffee). I read a great book.

In short, the weekend was delightful.

Generally, I lump weekend activities into a Casual Friday post, but this one was so enjoyable I thought it deserved its own moment in the limelight. Plus, it’s something I can refer back to when I’m grousing about bad weather or grumpy kids or cars that won’t start.


Coming off a mediocre week, I was thrilled to see the sun shining when I woke up Friday morning. Despite the nice weather, I drove the kids to school since I had a 9 am walk planned with some local friends.

This left me with enough time to make (and enjoy) a great cup of coffee and blast through some work tasks before meeting up with our little walking crew.

The time of social exercise was delightful. The air was crisp, but the sunshine balanced out the cool undertones of the day. We walked loops around a local pond system and crossed paths with many happy dogs, several still dripping from their first brave plunges into the water.

I came home from the walk and blasted music through every Google speaker in the house and worked until it was time to head to the airport to collect John. I had tracked his flight and touchdown projections kept shifting. I almost always end up waiting for at least a few minutes, but a great tailwind from Europe resulted in an earlier-than-expected arrival time. He wasn’t in a rush, so I enjoyed the rest of my solo drive (sunshine! no kids fighting in the backseat!), knowing he was going to be there when I arrived.

And indeed, before I even pulled into the passenger pickup lane, I spotted him walking toward me with a giant smile on his handsome face. My heart flip-flopped in the best possible way. Seeing him still gives me butterflies (every single time) and we enjoyed relaxed and wonderful conversations on the drive home (remember: sunshine! no kids!).

I’ve written before about how challenging transitions can be with his frequent travel so I was mentally bracing myself for what can seem like inevitable (albeit minor) speedbumps.

But this time his return home was seamless.

We had about an hour to settle in before the kids got home from school. When I saw Levi barreling across the lawn, I thought he was making a wild run for the bathroom. Instead, he rushed around in a tither, rummaging frantically to find something important in his book bag (Don’t come out! You can’t see it yet, Mom!). I assumed it was an early Mother’s Day craft from school – but it ended up being a trophy…because he won a school-wide pushup contest!

Apparently, the principal issued a challenge to the entire student body to see if anyone could beat him in a pushup contest. Our school runs Pre-K to Grade 8, so there is a broad spectrum of ages and abilities. Levi signed up with about 30 other kids and handily beat the principal (who tapped out at 40-something pushups).

Levi did 61 pushups (beating a family friend – a girl in Grade 7 – by 1 pushup).

The rest of the afternoon passed in a relaxing fashion. The kids played outside with friends and I topped up the soil on our existing houseplants (hadn’t done this in several years – oops). The kids ate…something?…and John made delicious savoury waffles and we enjoyed an at-home date night watching several episodes of the sports docuseries Legacy: The True Story of the LA Lakers on Disney+.


After a good sleep, I woke up relatively early and enjoyed breakfast and a coffee in peace. The kids were downstairs watching cartoons while John was on the treadmill. I think? It was quiet, so I didn’t investigate and just enjoyed the solitude.

Mid-morning John took them on an 8 km walk – they did trivia the whole time and came home in great moods, not always the case I can assure you – and I used that time to: Eufy most of the upstairs floors, mop said floors, wash/dry/put away an entire load of laundry, run 3.5 km on the treadmill, shower, and get dressed. All. by. myself. Pure Saturday morning bliss.

If I thought the day couldn’t get any better, we solved Wordle in 2.

Levi had a birthday party to attend about an hour away, so we grazed on leftovers from the fridge before heading out. We ended up with some time to kill and went to several thrift stores and managed to source some great summer gear: a beach bag for me, a bathing suit for Abby, shorts and cleats for Levi, some clothes for John.

We dropped Levi off for the party – at a circus school! – and headed to IKEA with Abby.

Again, this was just…perfect. Shopping at IKEA can be overwhelming and frustrating (lately, often the items you desperately want/need are out of stock). But this time we wandered around leisurely and looked at all the fun new things and ended up finding a handful of items to complete our entryway decor. I had also been looking for some additional houseplants and, unbeknownst to me, IKEA was having a 50% sale on plants. We stocked up!

These 5 plants cost about $15, total!

We capped off the shopping adventure with hotdogs and ice cream (obviously) and went to collect Levi who had a great time (obviously; circus school + friends + cake).

No one fought on the way home (miraculous), the kids were already fed so they each hopped in for showers and then launched right into a “start sleepover” with a movie, while John and I watched more of the Lakers docuseries.

I stayed up too late reading All The Light We Cannot See…and loved every minute of it. I was close enough to the end I wanted to finish, but John woke up, saw me still reading and said: What are you still doing up? I knew I’d regret staying awake another hour to finish the book and I’d been caught red-handed. Sigh. So I dutifully went to sleep which almost certainly paved the way for a more pleasant Sunday.


Ah, Sunday. I love Sundays. I love eating my giant bowl of delicious oatmeal. I love having a leisurely start to the day (no bookbags or lunchboxes – plus, we leave a whole hour later than school days), but also appreciate the structure of a 9 am departure for church. I love our worship service and small group and…all of it.

We grabbed a rotisserie chicken for lunch and used it to make wraps. Easy and delicious. We always end up eating late on Sunday, so it was almost 2 pm by the time the kitchen was cleaned up. I did a bit of meal/lunchbox prep, but didn’t actually make food for Monday/Tuesday since I had some leftover items that needed to be used and couldn’t really be cooked up in advance. The cherry on top: Abby had a school band camp on Monday and lunch was provided!

The sun is reflecting like crazy, but it’s a very sweet picture of the kids from a few years ago! And one final 50% off IKEA plant.

The kids spent several hours playing outside and I transferred all the new plants from their flimsy plastic pots into glass containers. I also hung a picture of the kids in the entryway and set up some new folding chairs/a little bistro table from IKEA on the deck so we finally have an outdoor seating area.

I didn’t feel like going for a walk, so I did a nice little run on the treadmill and then went through my bathing suit bin. Trying on bathing suits isn’t exactly high on my favourite activity list, but I discovered I have accumulated various suits/rash guards that I actually like and fit relatively well so even this was a pleasant task. (I was wise to tackle this project on a day it was sunny and I was in a good mood; bathing suit assessments on a cloudy day when I’m cold and grumpy would be a recipe for disaster).

Then John and I threw caution to the wind and had a THIRD at-home date night. My heart was just so full and happy.

I assign arrows for my mood each day in my planner calendar spread. An up arrow for a good day, a down arrow for a bad day, and a sideways arrow for an okay day.

Sunday night, I awarded the day two up arrows.

Your turn. How was your weekend? Have you had a “perfect” stretch of days lately? Do you track your moods? Do you like having houseplants?

Four New Routines: Current Habits That Are Working Well

I like consistency. Structure. Routine. I prefer to “roll” through life in calculated and measured moves. But I’m not necessarily a long-term creature of habit; I regularly get an itch to rearrange things – both literally (furniture, knick-knacks on a shelf) and metaphorically (routines). I also think I’m at a point in life where frequent pivots are unavoidable – kid extracurricular schedules shift, John has an intermittent travel schedule, there are regular school breaks. Every week there is something to push me out of my rhythm.

There is nothing earth-shattering below, but here are four new routines I’ve been (loosely) adhering to lately that, for the time being, are working well:

tauy creek: Late-Night Comics
  1. Device-free lunches. For most lunch breaks I’ve been sitting down at the table, ignoring screens and reading a book. Often I would spend lunchtime catching up on blogs, commenting, checking my e-mail, reading BBC news, or texting. Now I sit, eat, and read. Occasionally, I lay down on the sunny patch of the floor by our patio door and close my eyes for 10 minutes. Bliss.
  2. Cooking on Sunday afternoons. This is actually a reboot of an old habit. So many productivity experts bemoan spending flexible weekend time prepping for the week ahead. Why make lunchboxes on Sunday night, when you could do it Monday morning? While I can appreciate the logic – and all the chatter convinced me to temporarily drop the habit – I find this time in the kitchen on Sunday afternoons relaxing. It’s literally the one day of the week I DON’T feel obligated to juggle work and kids and household chores. So I work at a leisurely pace. Anything that I get accomplished feels like a bonus for the week ahead. My go-to hack is preparing a large one-pot meal that we eat for supper on both Monday and Tuesday evenings. Entering the week without needing to do meal prep the first few days feels like such a gift to my future self. I also usually make baked oatmeal (halving the sugar!) or French Toast (based loosely on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe) that can be reheated for some easy breakfasts, a batch of these muffins (I use 1/4 cup brown sugar in place of the 3/4 cup dates now), and Monday/Tuesday school lunch boxes.
  3. Prepping before the kids come home. Taking a few minutes before they arrive from the bus to clear off the table and set out a snack makes that transitionary time run much more smoothly. (Even still, it can be an emotional gong show.)
  4. Moving my phone charger. If I’ve heard this advice once I’ve heard it 100 times: don’t charge your phone by your bed. After reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, I finally listened. My phone is still in the bedroom, but now charges on our dresser (which is across the room). I don’t have the option of rolling over and scrolling mindlessly in the morning or before I go to bed at night. I still dread mornings, but at least I don’t get slammed with an anxiety-inducing e-mail or horrific news headlines before I’ve even put my feet on the floor. My phone is no longer setting my emotional equilibrium for the day. More generally, I’m thinking a lot about my screen time as I recognize the kids are watching. I am their primary role model for phone/screen use. Would I want them to have their heads buried in their phones when I enter a room? NO! Do I want them mindlessly scrolling hours and hours of their day away? NO! Also, when I zone out on a cell phone screen, for the most part, I feel like crap when I move on to my next activity. I’m sluggish and grumpy. It feels like the equivalent of binging on Doritos and Coke; mildly satisfying at first, but downright sickening by the end. I’m sure when (and it will be a long time yet) they get phones, I will be constantly reminding them to put it down/shut it off. How can I ask this of them if I won’t do it myself? Now is the time to model good phone etiquette. A few weeks ago I sat watching a group of teenagers eating together; they were all in their own worlds, staring at their individual screens, scrolling and clicking like zombies. Together…but completely apart. I want better for my relationships, and I want better for my kids. For the last year, I’ve been aiming for the 90-minute mark/day (there are a few work things that I need to do on my phone + photos + Wordle) but lately, I’ve been hoping for 45 minutes or less (ideally) and I’m mostly making that goal. Even 45 minutes is a lot of time – it adds up to almost a WHOLE DAY each month! Smartphones really are “great servants but bad masters.” A few things that are helping me reduce screen time:
Even though my phone is set to grayscale, the screen capture turns out in colour. It’s also now late April and clearly time to swap out my MARCH background…
  • Setting my phone to grayscale. Aside from when I turn the colour back on for Wordle and Canuckle – to me a net-positive use of my phone since it’s a fun family activity with a distinct start/finish – I leave my phone set to grayscale (on iPhones, triple-click your home button to switch this off/on). It’s shocking how much of a difference this makes to the addictive nature of a smartphone.
  • Adding a time widget to the main screen. The reasoning should be self-explanatory. We manage what we measure…
  • Using texting apps (for me, iMessage and WhatsApp) on my laptop. I find this is a great way to make texting more efficient – I can type on a keyboard much faster than on a screen – and it also limits how quickly I respond to texts.
  • Moving my time-sink apps (primarily WordPress, Feedly, Mail, Safari) into a folder labeled Limit!
  • I really do feel like smartphones are more insidious than the other screens. My work – and one of my favourite leisure activities, writing here on this blog – involve screens. But I’m not lugging my laptop to a kid’s sporting practice or to a lineup at the bank. I’m sure not everyone would draw a clear distinction between the two but, for me, screen time on my iPhone is the main thing I feel dedicated to reducing.

I want to give a shoutout to Rachel who has been posting a lot about how her household has very deliberately reduced screen time, and I especially appreciated her observations about the impact on parent/kid relationships. I drafted this post last week, and her “case study” has since ended up on the most recent episode of Best Laid Plans!

And that’s a wrap!

Your turn. What are some routines you’ve been enjoying lately? Do you like to meal prep on the weekends? Where do you charge your phone? Do you have any idea what your screen-time average is in a day? Do you ever nap in a sunbeam?

Header photo by De an Sun on Unsplash

Recent Dental “Adventures”

This is one of those posts that is completely unnecessary because no one on the interweb likely cares what happens to my teeth. But Nora Ephron* said that “everything is copy” and I have a few (admittedly gross – take this as your official warning) stories to share.

*Fun fact: I have never read a single Nora Ephron book. I have seen Sleepless in Seattle, but not When Harry Met Sally!

In my last round of demerits, I mentioned putting off going to the dentist to get a suspected chipped tooth checked out, in addition to having a wisdom tooth removed.

Why would I do this the Thursday before an extra long weekend? I don’t know. I really hated having this to-do hanging over my head. It was the first available appointment. More pragmatically, I wanted to make sure John was home to help support my recovery, along with getting the work done before summer travel plans (the thought of having an extraction-site infection while out of town filled me with dread).

So, Thursday morning I headed in.

First up, I got freezing. I’m mostly neutral about dental work. I don’t enjoy it, but I have a fairly high pain tolerance and can grin and bear it like a big girl – even the needles. But for the first time in my life, I got freezing in my palate. This was deeply unpleasant and much worse than getting needles in the gum. Ugh. I gripped the seat handles hard, and got through it.

While we waited for the freezing to kick in, the dentist looked at my suspected chipped tooth. It did indeed have a tiny chip, which he was able to smooth out quickly with no harm done. Hooray. I didn’t tell him how I chipped the tooth, but I’ll tell you now.

Several months ago my parents invited me down to their rental house for lunch. Ordinarily (when they’re not living a few minutes away from me), they live in the middle of nowhere in rural New Brunswick. They are hunter-gatherer types, heavy on the gathering. They buy local apples and prep gallons of applesauce for the winter. They collect buckets of fiddleheads – a delicious and edible wild green that costs a fortune in grocery stores – to blanch and freeze for the winter. They pick flats of strawberries in early July that they process and freeze for the year ahead. You get the idea. Occasionally, my Dad will hunt partridge. And he did indeed get one partridge last fall, which they brought to Nova Scotia (frozen).

All that leadup to tell you that one day my Mom called to invite me for lunch, prefacing the invite by mentioning that she knew how much I enjoyed partridge. What now? For starters, I think this was only my second time having partridge in my entire life. I assume she had me confused with someone else, but when I get an offer for a meal I don’t have to prep myself I am all in.

She made a huge veggie stirfry that included meat from (sorry vegan friends) the single partridge my Dad had hunted on their property.

When you hunt partridge – or any wild bird – the shells have a bunch of little metal balls inside – completely different from bigger game hunting (I speak like I know something about hunting. I don’t. But Google does.)

You may be able to tell where this is going. I was eating my stirfry, enjoying the occasional piece of wild partridge, when I bit down on something hard. It was a metal ball from the bullet.

I’m not Laura Ingalls or Davy Crockett. This should not be how I’m chipping teeth!! But that is exactly how I chipped my tooth.

The dentist didn’t ask. I didn’t tell.

For the record, I didn’t care too much about partridge before and I will be avoiding it at all costs moving forward.

With the chip all sorted, next up was the wisdom tooth.

We really, really like our dentist (and the whole dental office). He was very kind and told me if I felt any pain to let him know and he would stop immediately. Of course I did feel pain and I didn’t tell him because I just wanted it over. Getting my tooth out was supposed to take seconds, but turns out my wisdom tooth decided to get all fancy and had developed an enamel pearl (this is a thing!) which is a little round bump of enamel…which made it very hard to extract. But, eventually, the dentist got it out and I went on my way.

Before leaving he warned me about the risk of dry socket. When you get a wisdom tooth pulled a blood clot will form – sorry! gross, I know (I did warn you before and it is about to get worse) – and it is very important this blood clot stays in place and doesn’t get dislodged. He told me to not take up smoking in the next 48 hours (tough, but seeing that I have avoided the habit for 35+ years, I thought I could hold off for another 48 hours). Also – I needed to avoid sucking, spitting, coughing or anything else jarring that could dislodge the clot.

He gave me his cell phone number in case something went awry, seeing as I was the crazy lady getting a wisdom tooth out right before an extra long weekend.

I was supposed to bite down on gauze for 30-60 minutes. I followed these instructions to the letter and at the 60-minute mark took out the gauze and was very, very careful the rest of the day. I had a bit of yogurt for supper and some water.

Friday morning my jaw felt stiff, but there wasn’t much pain. The dominant sensation was the awful taste in my mouth. It was so gross. “Like death or how I imagine it would taste if a cow took a giant poop in my mouth“, I told one friend who checked in on me. You know that earthy manure flavour of brie rind? It was that times 10,000.

I brushed my teeth as best as I could, but it was still so gross.

We went to Good Friday services and I felt like my jaw was glued shut on one side, but there wasn’t any real pain. I could feel some swelling (my cheek was puffy), and the blood clot felt enormous (again – sorry, gross!). At one point, a family member – who will remain anonymous – leaned over and asked if I had farted. While we were sitting in church! On Good Friday!!!! I had not farted (hopefully obvious to readers) and later they said: Oh, I’ve figured it out. It was your breath!

I could hardly open my mouth to talk and chewing food at lunch was quite an adventure. I took some pain medication but mostly felt pretty good. But the horrible taste was out of this world.

Saturday morning I woke up and felt worse. I couldn’t remember my recovery timeline with lower wisdom teeth (removed as a teen), but this felt like it was taking longer. All day Saturday I had a lot of stiffness, my lower teeth felt sore from the pressure of the enormous blood clot, and it felt like something was sticking to my cheek. I didn’t want to risk dislodging anything, so I basically kept my jaw snapped shut. But by Saturday night I just couldn’t take it. I had been talking with a friend on a walk and when I got home my mouth was in agony. My jaw was SO sore. And that gross taste was overpowering. I was terrified to open my mouth way up but figured it had to happen.

When I looked into the mirror I literally thought:

I am either about to die of a horrible gum infection, or that is a piece of gauze still stuck in the extraction site.

It was the latter. And I am still reeling from the fact that I left a piece of gauze in my mouth for over 48 hours.

It was one of the grossest things I have ever seen and I was momentarily worried that I had accidentally given myself blood poisoning. I texted a picture of the gauze to my sister (a hygienist) and she said it looked okay and not to worry.

My mouth immediately felt 10x better. My breath was 100x better.

But I still cannot believe I didn’t clue into the fact that what I assumed was the world’s largest blood clot was actually a piece of gauze.

Recovery after that, not surprisingly, has been a cinch.

Your turn. Have you had any dental (or medical) misadventures lately? How do you feel about going to the dentist? Have you ever chipped a tooth? Any “facepalm” moments in your life lately?

Header photo by Nati Melnychuk on Unsplash

Things Making Me Smile Lately

Over the last few months, I’ve been jotting down little moments that have left me smiling. I’ve already blogged about some special memories – like my wonderful museum outing with Dad and just about everything that happened in Rome! But there are lots of other heart-warming events that could easily get forgotten in the chaotic shuffle that is “life”. Here’s a compilation of some of those moments:

  • One Sunday morning at church Levi stood up on the chair next to me while we were singing and put his hand on my shoulder. In addition to tapping out the beat of the music, he was singing along in an adorable, clear voice. My heart exploded with love in that moment; imagine how God must have felt?!
  • Abby has the lead part in a local drama production and it is going to be a lot of work. She has almost 200 lines; one other character has about 120 and almost everyone else is in the 30s. She hasn’t been overly proactive (or so I thought) about practicing, but she asked me to work on her script with her one day last month and started RATTLING off her lines with military precision. I was shocked. She looked at me and said: You didn’t think I was working on this, did you? I’m not sure her methods are conventional, but hearing her work through the first part of the script so effortlessly made my Mama heart very happy.
Sitting in my favourite coffee shop almost always makes me smile.
  • One Sunday afternoon in February, while Abby was at a birthday party, I packed up my laptop and planner and headed out for my beloved Earl Grey. It was lovely. Bonus: I still had a gift card from Christmas, so my little afternoon treat was free!
  • Speaking of that birthday, when I dropped Abby off I asked if she wanted me to walk her to the door. She thought about that for approximately one millisecond and said: No, that’s okay. And she proceeded to go in solo. It made me very happy both in terms of logistics (I didn’t have to turn off the car and make small talk) and what it represents with her growing independence.
  • One day in March, based on the weather forecast, I was convinced the kids were going to have a snow day. I had a long list of work tasks to get done and I steeled myself for juggling the kids and the snow and all. the. other. things. And then, at the last minute, the forecast shifted, the roads were clear and schools were open. It ended up being one of my most productive days in recent memory and it felt AWESOME from start to finish. I kept catching myself in a giant grin all day long. There was something uniquely wonderful about reclaiming a day I assumed was going to be lost to managing wet snow gear and snack preparation and monitoring movie consumption.
  • Levi had been playing in the neighbourhood late one evening and came home without his hat. It was dark and I wasn’t about to go hunting for the hat but it was his favourite and I was disappointed at the thought it might be lost. The next morning, on my way home from walking the kids to school, I passed by a high schooler who lives in our neighbourhood. He stopped me to say: Did you know Levi’s hat is hanging up on the post by So-and-So’s driveway. The fact he took the time to stop and tell me about the whereabouts of Levi’s hat made me smile! (Unfortunately, Levi now seems to have officially lost this hat. It has been missing for weeks – lost while we were away in Rome.)
  • On a related note, there are MULTIPLE high schoolers in our neighbourhood who take the time to make eye contact and say hello on their way to the bus stop each morning and this makes me very happy every time.
  • Crisp winter mornings with no wind. I don’t enjoy cold and snow, but most of all I hate wind. A crisp, sunny winter morning without wind is borderline pleasant. It’s the wind that kills me and so it’s a special delight to walk outside our door in the morning to nary a breeze.
  • Speaking of weather, when Kaelyn mentioned she had checked the weather forecast in Rome when I was there…it made my day!
  • So many moments with my parents. Watching Mom and the kids lined up on the couch doing a Word Search together; Dad on the floor playing mini-hockey with Levi. Having them stop by for an afternoon coffee, bringing homemade chocolate chip cookies (which one of Levi’s friends has declared to be “way better than my mother’s chocolate chip cookies!“).
  • Watching Levi play outside for hours in the spring sunshine. He comes in filthy and all the extra laundry is slowly driving me crazy (how does mud get on every square inch of his coat and boots?!)…but I adore looking at his pink cheeks and he smells just like spring and sunshine – which more than balances out the increased domestic responsibilities.

Your turn. What’s making you smile lately? Do you check the weather before you travel? What’s your favourite type of cookie (and who makes them)?

Header photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

The Last Round of Winter Demerits and Gold Stars

Here we go again – life continues to move along, and I accumulate demerits and gold stars on the way.

Two things I’ve been pondering lately:

  1. Demerits can easily morph into gold stars! Labeling a behaviour as a “demerit” generally helps me reframe the situation and feels far more positive than calling something a “failure”. Also, I’m keen to move demerits into gold star territory (or at least into a neutral holding zone).
  2. These categories are fluid. Some months I’m going to fail at getting enough fruit and veggies (spoiler alert: that was this month); the following month I might be eating roasted broccoli with the same enthusiasm I usually reserve for Sweet Chili Heat Doritos (unlikely, but theoretically possible). I can’t sit back on gold stars and assume they will always be there for me, but this also means I shouldn’t get too discouraged by demerits. This too shall pass.

Demerits (All MINE)

  • Not moisturizing my legs. I am low maintenance when it comes to grooming and cosmetics. While I think this is generally a net positive in my life, it can backfire. I hate adding anything to my routine and that includes using moisturizer. So I don’t. But my legs have been very itchy lately from the dry winter air and I know using a moisturizer (or even my beloved coconut oil) would solve the problem. Despite scratching my legs like a flea-riddled animal, do you think I take my own advice? Not. a. chance. Why is this so hard for me?
  • Lack of veggies. The last year has involved some major shifts in my eating patterns and priorities. More than anything, a move to intuitive eating has been a wonderful relief for my brain. But…I would say I eat about 1/2 of the fruit and veggies that I used to eat. I refuse to categorize food as “good” or “bad” or “healthy” or “unhealthy” but I do think that I can view certain choices as more or less nutritious. I’m working on this demerit and of special note is a friend’s recent suggestion to “add, not subtract.” Basically: don’t try to remove the treats you’re enjoying…but add in other more nutritious options. As I try to nudge this item into neutral/gold star territory, over the last week I’ve focussed a lot more on fruit – apples mostly, but also bananas, oranges, and even some melon, I made a huge soup packed with veggies, and I’ve been sprinkling chia seeds on just about everything. (On a related note, I think one of my 2023 mantras needs to be: Buy the good apples. I’m always looking for the best deal at the grocery store and sometimes buy subpar apples because they are what’s on sale. No more! I genuinely enjoy eating a good apple…but it’s a slog to eat a bad apple. I’m giving myself permission to buy the apple varieties I prefer, even if they aren’t on sale.)
  • An avoidable tax situation. For years after getting married, John and I always received some sort of tax refund. Discovering how much we would get back from the government was one of the most exciting moments of the year! More recently, we’ve tended to owe something. This is fine. Taxes are an essential part of society. I get income from two different sources (our small business + a university); when I started working at the university over 15 years ago (where did that time go?), my income was so low that I checked a box to not deduct any tax. I keep assuming payroll will change this because I now make more than the minimum income that is exempted from taxation. But they never do. Fixing this would take one e-mail. But I hadn’t sent this one e-mail for…the last 8 years. Ordinarily, it came out in the wash and I owed an insignificant amount. This year, it did NOT come out in the wash and I owe a not-insignificant amount. On the one hand, I had that non-taxed income to invest and spend over the year. But it’s the principle of having a sizeable amount owing that rankles me. AND I STILL HAVEN’T SENT THE E-MAIL TO PAYROLL (though I have added it to a to-do list). Okay, I just sent the e-mail, filled out the required forms, and this should be done.
  • Not making a dentist appointment. Last year, around this time, I went to the dentist and he suggested I have a recently-erupted wisdom tooth removed. The timing didn’t work well for me to have this done, and he said there wasn’t any urgency. A few months ago, I bit down on something hard and think I either chipped a tiny part of a molar (or a filling). I have not called the dentist to make an appointment. Here is why. I hate paying the dentist. I shouldn’t. But I do. He (and the rest of the team) is perfectly lovely. But IT COSTS SO MUCH MONEY to get needles poked into my gums. I don’t mind the discomfort at all. I just hate paying the bill. But the longer I wait, the more it will cost if things spiral down with an exposed cavity or a wisdom tooth that might impact other teeth. I have no follow-up to this; I have still not made the appointment.

gold stars (mostly other people)

  • Our neighbour coming to help shovel. In mid-February we had a sizeable snowstorm; John was away, but it didn’t feel like enough snow to justify calling a plow. Abby and I headed out and slowly made progress on cleaning the driveway. As soon as our neighbour finished his driveway, he came over to help with ours. He and his wife were heading out of town and it was so sweet for him to take the time out of their preparations to come help Abby and me shovel.
  • Friends that issue invitations. One friend invited Abby and me to join her at a local production of High School Musical (Hi Elaine!); another friend invited us to join her family sledding; another friend invited me to go to a dance recital. It’s fun to do things together and it takes someone reaching out; I appreciate people making the effort to connect and champion fun things!
  • Support at home during our Rome trip. A row of gold stars to my parents who spearheaded the majority of childcare while we were away, but also to friends who hosted the kids for two nights (and took them skating and skiing), and other friends who took the kids for an afternoon/evening.
  • People sending pictures of my kids having fun. Levi attended a birthday party a few months ago that involved a reptile demonstration. The mom texted me a picture of Levi with a snake around his shoulders, which was my only insight into the fun adventures at the party. When our neighbour had the kids over for games and snacks, she sent pictures. Both sets of friends that hosted the kids while we were away sent pictures of Abby and Levi enjoying fun adventures. A bit like sending picture Thank You notes, these visual representations of special events – that the kids are experiencing solo – mean so much. (And, when we were away, receiving these pictures also made me feel less guilty. The kids were fine and doing so many cool things!!)
  • Going skiing. This was literally set to be my TOP demerit for the winter (I had purchased a season’s pass but, until March, hadn’t made it to the ski hill a single time), but I converted it into a shiny gold star by putting on Big Girl Undies and going to the hill solo. And then going back four more times!
  • John. He deserves gold stars for so many things, but in the last month, I’m especially appreciative that he took almost all the pictures during our time in Rome. He absolutely loves photography and is so darn good at it! It was wonderful to know he was memorializing our trip with awesome photos. Also in Rome, gold stars to him for doing all the navigating of tickets and public transport. And, finally, gold stars for not complaining about all the jet lag he has endured lately for his job. At one point he was only home for 36 hours and while I knew he was really dreading the short turnaround, he did his laundry and packed the luggage…and just got on with it. He’ll tell me he’s tired while on the road, but almost never as a “complaint”. (The same can not be said about me recounting my experiences on the home front.)

And that’s a wrap for this month…

Your turn. Any demerits or gold stars of special note lately?