Casual Friday + Another Week of Joyfinding

  • We lost our power last Friday. I alluded to this adventure in Monday’s post (my lamentations), and I was very thankful the experience was relatively shortlived. Several neighbouring streets (within eyesight of our home) were without power for days. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I was mostly disappointed about not being able to make my beloved waffles; after a long break due to all the delicious Christmas food, I was ready to have waffles again. Alas, the waffle iron requires electricity…of which we had none; John whipped up some delicious seafood filling and we made little sushi rolls in snack-size nori sheets. We played Crokinole by candlelight and watched a movie when the power came back on temporarily. It went off again around midnight – which did disturb everyone’s sleep (mostly because our sound machines went off) – but came on at 6:30 am. We lost power for almost a week years ago and it was a horrible experience so I’m always wary when it so much as flickers. How grateful I am for electricity!
Let the record show that I won THREE consecutive games of Crokinole. I am quite competitive and no longer let my children win (though they often legitimately beat me at things).
Not even a power outage could slow down the trivia-churning machine. There are notebooks – everywhere – full of trivia.
  • After dreading the start of online learning, it went more smoothly than expected. At one point John and I peeked our heads into Levi’s room and agreed it felt both tragic and heartwarming to see him at his desk engaging via a screen with all this classmates. One thing I definitely don’t give thanks for enough – that school has gone ahead. The kids teachers show up day after day and patiently explain how to mute microphones and what page of the daily reading log they’re all to be working on. It’s hard and definitely not the ideal, but even in the middle of it all, I couldn’t help but recognize the wonder of modern technologies and the tireless patience of wonderful teachers. That said, the kids are set to return to in-person schooling next week and we’re all relieved. One month home feels like more than enough for all of us.
That new birthday desk has been a lifesaver. It doesn’t solve all the problems of online learning, but not having him set up at the dining room table has been a huge help.
  • I’ve already written about my parenting break last weekend; I know one long morning of sleeping in and drinking tea isn’t going to reset my fatigue, but it did help. Monday morning I showered, brewed myself a cup of strong tea, and the kids and I walked 1 km outside in the bracing wind (including navigating lots of black ice) and they played a short game of soccer with some neighbourhood friends (and everyone managed to stay on two feet, despite the ice) all before we signed on for the first day of online learning. It set a nice pace for the week and I’m really glad I indulged in the morning nap and lamenting.

A few other thoughts:

EXERCISING | My streak of at least 1 km of walking OUTSIDE continues. I didn’t set out to do this religiously, but it has felt very felt therapeutic to get out of the house after almost a month of being largely cooped up. Some days we just walk around the neighbourhood loop. My favourite outing was a tromp through the woods to collect materials (pine branches, cones, berries) for our ice wreaths. We ended up coming across a little hill on our walk and the kids slid happily for about 25 minutes while I just paced back and forth on the nearby sidewalk.

I’ve also been walking inside. I have been feeling very “over” the treadmill and admitted defeat with my running habit which I have decided to shelve until the weather improves. I can force myself to run inside, but I really, really dislike it. I sourced a desk attachment for the treadmill and have been walking (currently typing this post while walking!) while I do various tasks on the computer. Since I’m not a big fan of watching things while I exercise (but like to be productive), this has been a huge win for me. I walk slowly (about 1 mile/hour pace), but it keeps me warm, helps me stay moving, and I have no problem concentrating on the task at hand.

ADVENTURES | I was able to host a few of the kids friends this week. We have two families we’ve essentially “bubbled” with; one day I hosted for an afternoon full of LEGO and lunch with one of Levi’s closest friends, the next day we welcomed several of Abby’s friends for (another) viewing of Encanto + hot cocoa. Thursday we walked over to those same friends’ home for supper. It felt…wonderful after a month of mostly isolating. The food was delicious and we came home with leftovers (though I think the highlight for all of us was listening to the 15-month-old impress us with his newfound language skills; what is it about a toddler say “baaa” and “mooo” that seems to universally send us all into fits of joyful hysterics)?

RECEIVING | A new mug from my dear friend (fittingly named Joy, she is such a source of joy in my life!). This was a highlight in many ways: a) a friend thought of me; b) she saw this mug and didn’t buy it the first time because she knows I’m a minimalist and wouldn’t necessarily want something else coming into the house so close to Christmas; c) she wanted to buy this BEFORE I posted about the days feeling so long – she knows me too well; d) once she read the post and rediscovered the mug was still there she bought it for me and wrapped it up with some tea bags. The cherry on top: it was a thrifted mug, and thrifting with her is one of my all-time favourite activities (pre-COVID we used to do this together one evening each week while our kids were all at an activity together).

The days are long…
…but the years…
…are short!

SIBLING FIGHTS | This was…okay.

I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve hired babysitters over the last decade. Almost literally. It just has never really fit into our family structure, but I’m working to change that. I hired a girl from our church to come over this week to watch the kids while I worked in the basement (which was amazing; it is incredible how much I can get done in 2 hours). The kids were squawking at each other when I went down to the office and I learned later that the babysitter sent them both to their rooms to cool down and then quietly explained to them both what the other sibling was feeling and they came together and mutually agreed it had been a misunderstanding and got back to having fun. Basically a successful hostage negotiation. This babysitter is 13. WHEN CAN SHE MOVE IN?!

Not fighting; all smiles.

WORK | Thankfully this week was quite light (except Thursday when I felt like a chicken with my head cut off). I don’t work specific hours so one week can be crazy and another (without being able to plan it out in advance) can be very, very light. I did have a few unplanned, intense phone calls which, conveniently, happened when we had a babysitter. I felt like I was able to offer genuine help and support. I also had to do some follow-up on this same situation. It was time-sensitive, so I had to compose the email quickly, but I wanted to make sure I captured all the nuances of the issue. After I sent it, I got a response from one of the people on the exchange complimenting me on my e-mail which was a great morale boost.

  • Taxes. Because one of my roles is managing day-to-day operations for our small business, I have annual responsibilities relating to corporate taxes. We have a great accountant, but I still have to pull together a series of documents before he can start. He touched base this week asking if I was ready (I wasn’t) and I decided to rip the BandAid. I got the corporate side of things ALL done. I am just elated, as it always feels like a giant to-do hanging over my head at the start of the year. The main thing I dread is navigating a specific set of forms on the government website. Every single year this trips me up. Last year I made myself up a “cheat” sheet with all the “tricks” to what information needed to go where and some of the nuances that are always challenging. It made things go SO much faster and, bonus, the same “cheat” sheet will work next year. While I was at it, I started pulling things together for personal taxes as well, which felt like icing on the cake.

ENJOYING |

  • The twinkle lights on the mantle still being up.
  • The new photobook has arrived! I’ll do a summary post sometime soon; I’m thrilled with how it turned out and it makes me so happy to see the family walk by and pick this up off the end table and then settle in somewhere cozy and spend 30 minutes flipping through the pages. (*It was crazy hat day, hence wearing a toque inside; the fire was also on, so she’s actually very warm in this picture!)

DREADING |

  • Starting back up renovations. Because supplies have to be ordered, permits need to be acquired, aesthetic and structural decisions have to be made – I/we do have to get my/our head back in this game. It did make my day when the person from UPS said the house was “looking fantastic” but I really wish I could just wave a magic wand and have the whole process completed.
  • Also dreading the next steps in dealing with the car accident; our car was rear-ended this week and even though it wasn’t our fault, there is still the hassle of dealing with insurance and getting the repair work done/coordinating rental cars etc.

WATCHING | The kids continue to be enthused with Lord of the Rings and Encanto (clearly wildly divergent viewing interests).

John and I have started watching documentaries again – my favourite thing to watch – for our weekly at-home date-nights. I’ve especially enjoyed the following:

  • The Dissident – About the murder of the Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi; it was sobering but well done.
  • The Lost Leonardo – We love art. We love Leonardo da Vinci. This was an interesting documentary with lots of intrigue. Right up my/our alley.
  • M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity | Another art documentary. Both heartbreaking and aweinspiring. It was a bit of a slow start, but I really enjoyed this one. Incredible artistry and great if you’ve ever been fascinated by Escher’s work.
  • Banksy Most Wanted | We’ve actually seen a Banksy in New York City; this wasn’t as good as the other documentaries I list above (to me at least), but still an interesting commentary on art, more generally, and what makes it “valuable”.

READING |

  • Anne of Green Gables (Book #2, Anne of Avonlea); Levi is quite upset I’m reading this solo, but I just didn’t have the energy to read another long book out loud to the kids right now. It’s hard to fit in reading sessions (ironically enough, with them both home), so I’m reading this on my own and enjoying the comfort of familiar characters.
  • Fresh from the library: I just picked up Everything is Figureoutable by Maria Forleo (this will be a re-read), Burnout by Amelia and Emily Nagoski (about how stress impacts women), and Vitamania by Catherine Price (since I enjoyed her book How To Break Up With Your Phone so much).
  • Also: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. I bought this book for John for Christmas and after he finished it, I added it to my reading pile. It’s short but very engaging and I’m enjoying the story (and writing style) so far.

JOYFINDING

Snow – a nuisance, but beautiful and a source of joy for the children so, begrudgingly, a source of joy for me…as long as my feet stay warm.

I keep rolling this term – “joyfinding” – over and over in my head. I’m noting things in my daytimer when I realize that I’ve “found” something to be joyful about because there really is so much, even when there are car accidents and tears over gym class (and, yes, even when pipes burst over wrapped Christmas gifts, right?!)

Joyfinding this week:

  • Bedtime snuggles and a long talk where I said nothing and just listened to the sweetest words and nighttime observations. Parenting is hard – no lie about it – but it is also wonderful in so many ways.
  • Walking solo while the kids slid on their little roadside hill. The sun was shining, I could see a half-moon in the bright blue sky. We met a border-collie named Devlynn who was so friendly. The kids were happy and laughing. Joy, joy, joy.
  • Watching my friend’s toddler…toddle…around our house. Toddlers are just pure, squishy joy.
  • Ice wreaths. Easy, fun, beautiful. My arts-and-crafts checkbox can now be ticked off for the winter.
  • Drinking tea out of my new mug – the mug, the gesture, a warm drink…it was all joyful.
  • Watching the kids swirl (to the point of nausea – oops) to the soundtrack from Encanto. Giggles and tumbing on to the floor from dizziness. So good to hear them joyful; and deep belly laughs that leave them gasping for breath are my favourite.
Ice wreaths – stay tuned for more details next week!

How was your week? Any must-see documentaries to recommend?

24 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Another Week of Joyfinding”

  1. This was such a joy to read! And the photos are gorgeous! I’m glad it’s been a better-than-expected week (although a rear-ending, ooof!), and am hopeful that your kids are back in school for a good long time!

    (We, now, after being back in school in person for one week, have a FOUR DAY weekend omg.)

    Also, I am very intrigued by your treadmill desk! I am going to look into one for myself!

    1. I’m hoping so, too. Though we’re supposed to get snow all next week (maybe just small amounts?!) and I expect they’ll be quick to cancel/move things online since the kids already have all the gear at home.

      Just to clarify: the treadmill desk is an attachment. You can actually buy a treadmill desk where it comes with the treadmill too (and I think that treadmill is only designed for walking). I bought a desk attachment that can be fastened onto an existing, regular treadmill!

  2. I honestly think I would lose my mind without my regular walks with the dog. Sometimes we’ll be gone for longer than normal and I’ll always throw the dog under the bus – she really just was excited to be outside! – but, 9/10 times, it’s because I just needed that extra time to decompress. Being out in nature, even if the nature is the four block radius of our neighborhood, does a body good.

    Earlier this week you posted some trivia questions that your daughter had asked you about Harry Potter and I have been wracking my brain about Nicholas Flamel’s wife’s name – all I could remember is it started with P – and I blame you for this preoccupation. Eventually I gave in and just looked it up.

    1. It really does. An outside walk is such a mental and physical reset.
      I’ve actually really enjoyed just staying in our neighbourhood. Generally that would “bore” me, but it allows me to completely turn off my brain. And, because we have so little traffic, I can avoid icy sidewalks and mostly just walk in the middle of the road.

      Sorry about the grief the trivia caused; you have now experienced a small glimpse of the brain trauma I have faced lately. You knew more than I did (recognizing it started with the letter “P”); his wife’s name was Perenelle. And Harry’s middle name is James, Hermoine’s is Jean, and Ron’s is Bilius. If anyone was wondering. I need to show off all my valuable knowledge to someone!

      Now she has moved on to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings which, if anything, may be worse. She has already memorized all the dwarves’ names (and the order in which they arrive at Bilbo’s in the book). I can think of much worse preoccupations for a 10-year-old, but it does get exhausting on my brain!

  3. really no point of running when you don’t enjoy it, so I would do exactly like you, ditch the treadmill and go for a walk when you feel like it. running is supposed to be enjoyable 😉
    I am writing down your list of documentaries. I find more enjoyable watching them than a light movie and usually hubby likes them too.
    so much snow!!!! can I say I’m jealous? our girls haven’t seen snow for 4 years!
    Love your recount of joyful moments, I need to be more conscious about them too.

    1. We’re supposed to get another BIG snowstorm tonight. I don’t mind snow as much as ice; at least with snow there are lots of fun activities. That said, I’d rather have clear sidewalks and sunny skies this time of year.

      Exactly about the running – I want it to be a habit, but I think it needs to be a seasonal habit. I just do not enjoy running inside (at least at home; it’s different on a treadmill somewhere else, which I did during my university years). It’s something to look forward to in the spring!

  4. Needless to say, I love the mug! And I love the story about the babysitter, and the twinkle lights (we left up a strand of white lights too and I’m loving it!). Yes, there’s lots to be joyful about, even with the issues of parenting and everyday life. It’s nice to list them out like this.
    I think I know what the ice wreath concept is- I can’t wait to hear more about it.

    1. My mug collection doesn’t hold a candle to yours, but it definitely brought a smile to my face this week 🙂

  5. I have a dear friend in Halifax and I’m always astounded at how often Nova Scotians lose power. I feel like I’m going to have a breakdown just thinking about it! Yikes. Glad it wasn’t for an extended period.

    That mug! It’s perfect!

    1. We just got hit with another snow storm overnight and there are A LOT of people without power again. I’m very grateful we’ve stayed fully on the grid this time around, despite lots of wind and snow.

  6. YES to all the joyfinding you do and to building a circle that helps you with it. These are such blessings… I love that they start with your own openness and generosity. The photos are truly gorgeous!

  7. I love the ice wreath. We wanted to make ice lanterns for our wedding but it just wasn’t cold enough. Will you share a picture when it is done. Id love to see it.

    I love you you collect those joyful moments. I find it always amazing how much fun, joy gratitude you can actually collect once you think about it.

    Thank you for recommending those art documentaries. I love watching this every once in a while and lately I could find any I wanted to watch.

    1. I did! Ice wreaths are my post for today.

      I do love documentaries; they are probably my favourite thing to watch, which makes sense since non-fiction is my favourite genre to read 🙂 Like books, documentaries are definitely a personal taste, so don’t feel bad if you don’t enjoy the ones I’ve suggested!

  8. Sorry for the belated reading/commenting on my part. Anyways, I love that you’re doing the daily 1kmoutdoor walking streak! It was around Thanksgiving (of 2020) that I started doing daily outdoor “activity.” AT the time, I was runstreaking, so it was a no-brainer, but when the streak ended (on New Years Day, 2021), I decided to keep getting outside on the daily. Many times it was just a very brisk 1-mile walk (under numerous layers), but it was a fun little daily conquest. And, that streak is still going 😉 I think the fresh air is a big factor in my never getting sick (other than on occasional runny nose). I, too, can appreciate what you said about electricity. We had a terrible derecho sweep through our town (like an inland hurricane, with terrible 100mph wind) in August of 2020. We were without power for almost 12 days! We managed, with some creative engineering, but it was tough.

    1. 12 days! That’s terrible.

      When I was pregnant with Levi we lost power one summer for about a week and it was dreadful, but I can’t imagine 12 days. When I was pregnant with Abby we lost it for a few days, but friends further our of town with a NEWBORN lost it for two weeks. They were boiling water on a BBQ outside in the snow to sterilize bottles. It’s incredible how dependent we are on electricity, yet I think so rarely about how precious and important it is to the function of our everyday lives. Definitely something I take for granted, along with clean running water.

      I’m really enjoying the outside walks each day, and setting a low bar on the distance has really helped it feel light/fun/easy. We walked the kids to school today so without even trying I got a 4km walk in (through snow, so burned extra energy that way) before 9 am. I have missed the walks to school – for a number of reasons!

  9. Lady, when do you find the time to write so much? I feel like I am constantly catching up (but this is no complaint, I enjoy catching up on your blog on the weekend. This is when I read – and get most of my blog writing done!)

    I am a bit jealous of your treadmill. I’d love to walk while I work (and I would also love to have it for running when the weather is inclement – which, if I am honest, is never as inclement as yours in Canada!). Good for you for keeping up that walking streak!

    Do you guys have a generator? I cannot imagine being without power when it’s freezing outside. California residents have been dealing with a lot of power outages throughout the fire season (especially outside of the bigger cities) and I counted myself very lucky to live in the city that has its own “power grid” that hasn’t been affected much by outages. I could go without power for a night, but a whole week? Gah! That’s scary.

    What are your “famous waffles”? Have you shared them before?

    1. I don’t maximize on the treadmill as much as I should/could; it was a hand-me-down from friends, but definitely shows its age. It squeaks when I run which drives me nuts (I’ve tried so many things to fix this). I also just…don’t like running inside. I find it depressing and I don’t like running enough to stick with it if I can only do the treadmill (pre COVID I used to run on an indoor track a few minutes away, but can’t access this anymore because of COVID). When we first got the treadmill I powered through and would run relatively faithfully on it, but I’ve just lost the motivation. I did it 3x/week before Christmas for a month or so, but…ugh. I think I get better bang for my buck with lower-impact outdoor walks and the running can come back when we actually can access sidewalks again!

      BUT, the walking and working thing is wonderful. I find it helps me stay focussed, keeps me warm because of the constant, low-impact movement, and I get to be productive AND exercise. I’m currently walking while typing this 🙂

      We don’t have a generator but really should think about getting one. We have a propane fireplace, so do have a source of back-up heat (and we are on town water, so don’t lose water access when the power goes out), but if we were without power long-term in the winter, the propane fireplace wouldn’t be enough. We do have friends with wood stoves where we could go…but a generator would likely be a wise investment.

      I have shared about the waffles before, but it’s buried in older posts. Here is the link and I’ll blog about them again soon! They’re GF and DF and they are one of my favourite things ever. https://cookieandkate.com/easy-gluten-free-oat-waffles/
      I love this recipe so much I’m going to e-mail it to you too…just to make sure you have access to this treat 🙂

      1. Thank you so much for linking the recipe here, AND for sending the email. How very kind, Elisabeth! (Here you are, putting your word for 2022 to use! ;))

  10. Nearly all of what Phil and I watch together is documentaries, but that includes True Crime. Nothing says romantic time together like learning about the Times Square Killer. Ha! We watched a documentary called “The Alpinist” last week – it’s about a free solo climber from BC. We had a good talk about what we’d do if one of our sons wanted to be a free solo climber! I was like – hell, no!!

    We have only lost power briefly thank goodness. We did lose it for a longer stretch a couple of summers ago so we went to my MIL’s so we could cook/make meals/have a sound machine for naps, etc. And we brought a lot of our perishables out to her house so we wouldn’t waste any food as we weren’t sure how long the power would be out.

    Last week was… not my favorite. I had high hopes for a week of health after Will got tubes but then he got a virus of some sort which involved a fever that only spiked in the middle of the night! So sleep was not good. But we did get him to sleeping through the night once the fever had passed. He will still wake up crying occasionally, but not for long and we don’t go in. Hopefully we are all sleeping much better very soon! But it’s far better than it was!

    1. We binged the Waco mini-series (dramatized) last year. I have less of a stomach for true crime lately (or anything dark/gritty), but do love documentaries. We watched Free Solo a few years ago; it almost made me nauseous just to watch that sort of thing. Definitely NOT for me!
      I’m so sorry about another round of sickness in your house, but hope the tubes make a real long-term impact in overall health (and sleep) in your household.

  11. Ugh, we got a bad storm in my area last weekend and it knocked my mom’s power out for a full day! But, in Florida, January is probably the best time of the year to be without power since it was in the 60s (F) and quite pleasant. Losing power in the summertime is miserable!

    I’ve been looking into getting a standing desk. I don’t know if I could manage a treadmill desk, even though it sounds nice. But I really want a standing desk because sitting all day is just no good.

    I love that mug! And I love the story of how your friend ended up buying it for you. <3

  12. What a wonderful word – joyfinding! I love that you are looking for the joy in every day. You’ve reminded me that my goal of “seeking joy” in 2022 needs to be my focus every day, not just on weekends, or other times when it’s more convenient.

    Also, good on you for swallowing the frog and dealing with the tax stuff. I hate having things like that hanging over my head, so the sooner the better in terms of just getting it done. As my mother would say, just do it! It’s like tearing off the bandaid – it might hurt in the short term but it (usually) feels good to have it gone!

    Also, yay for the babysitter! Use her every chance you can! (OR her techniques, perhaps? :>)

    For all the challenges, the pandemic languishing, and the struggles inherent in daily life, you really seem to be thriving this post-holiday season. I hope it continues for you throughout the year!

    1. January has been…tough. But onward and upward. I’m excited for February. It really does feel like a clean slate of sorts…and hopefully a less snowy one at that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *