Casual Friday + What Would Make This Easy?

Grab yourself a cup of something warm and delicious and let’s get started with some joyfinding, shall we?

  • First up – electricity. Lights and hot water can be downright joyful, I tell you. We received the full force of a winter blizzard last weekend, officially dubbed a “bombogenesis”. I don’t know the technicalities of that term, but my shoulders are still sore a week later, so I’m guessing it means a lot of snow to be shoveled. All weekend I kept waiting for the lights to flicker and fade to black…and they never did. It really was delightful to see the twinkle lights on the mantle, the nightlight still glowing in the bathroom, and to be able to run a load of laundry. I take electricity for granted, but in the middle of a raging storm, it is joy.
  • Our neighbours. On Saturday evening, when John was still storm-stayed at the airport, a neighbour came over to help shovel. I ended up doing fine on my own, but literally had tears in my ears when they stopped by. To know there are people I can turn to if the need arises is a wonderful feeling.
  • These same neighbours put up an outside wreath and Christmas tree every year. It’s not obvious from the road, but I can see it from our living room and several years ago commented how I loved seeing it at night and would be sad when it came down after Christmas; they in turn left it up for MONTHS (basically for my sake). And they’ve continued to do this the last few years and even dug out the spotlight after the snowstorm so it looked extra beautiful.
  • Those same neighbours came over on Sunday – when John was still storm-stayed, sigh – and dropped off a container of cookies. Now these are not just any cookies. These are the world’s best Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. I don’t even bother trying to make PB Chocolate Chip cookies anymore because my neighbour makes the best version. Full stop. She must use about a cup of chocolate chips per cookie and she always sends them over on some pretty paper plate and/or with a cheerful note. Last September she brought by a huge plate of cookies after the kids got off the bus on the first day of school. (One year for Abby’s birthday she made a gigantic bag of them after Abby repeatedly dropped hints about how much she would enjoy some of those delicious cookies again. To be fair, her birthday landed a few weeks after the first COVID lockdown and all her plans were unceremoniously canceled; a different neighbour made a COVID snowman, complete with a mask, holding a sign that said “Happy Birthday Abby” and then took a picture and sent it to us and then proceeded to pass her out a box of birthday chocolates through his kitchen window.) Those are admittedly “old” joys, but this is my space and I get to make the rules and I say memories of joys from days of yore count too. Amen?
  • John coming home. Boy we missed him.
  • The crossing guard at our school who is so relentlessly cheerful each morning despite the ice and snow and cold temperatures. And the bus driver who stops to talk to us each morning and then toots his horn and waves as he drives away. #TeamWolfville
  • Sledding not just once, but twice, with two different sets of friends. Both times we left the party early. There was hot chocolate and rosy cheeks. And it was worth every ounce of effort to make it happen.
  • Books. After some disappointing reading lately, things were definitely looking up this week. I have a great, albeit slightly daunting, stack.

First up was The Power of Fun by Catherine Price. This is the author that wrote How To Break Up With Your Phone, which I really, really enjoyed. The Power of Fun is, predictably, about the impact of fun in our lives and how most of us don’t have enough of it. Her definition of fun is: when playfulness, connection, and flow overlap. So if you get in a state of flow while cleaning out your linen closet (waving my hand like a crazy woman over here), it doesn’t count as fun (I beg to differ), but if you fold your towels into swans with a friend, it might be fun (I’m making this up – she never mentions towels a single time in her book). I do agree with her point that most of the time, fun experiences DO involve other people and I enjoyed some of her practical exercises for identifying what is “fun” as an individual. Price is also really, really funny. I laughed a lot at her dry humour and liberal use of witty footnotes. I rated this 4 stars on Goodreads and would recommend it but…have a few critiques. A) It felt too long. I contend that most books have 30% too much information/repetition in them and I would say this is the case for The Power of Fun. One of the reasons I loved How to Break Up With Your Phone was its short length and wish this book had followed suit. B) It felt slightly pretentious/unrelatable. I don’t think she meant for this to happen, but I got whiffs of this subconsciously. In this book the author talks at length about how she and her husband fly to a camp to take dance lessons for a week each summer and it’s SO MUCH FUN. Go her, but it just felt…not super relatable (sorry to any die-hard dance camp fans out there). She also talks about her weekly guitar and rowing lessons and, at one point, joining an improv group. None of these things sound like fun to me – which is fine, because everyone’s fun is different – but I just…didn’t quite click since I felt like we were working on different fun wavelengths. Also, many things felt like they required quite a bit of money (lessons, plane tickets, camp fees) + childcare (more money + logistical headaches). At one point she talked about how she and her husband moved back in with her parents during the pandemic so they would have childcare while she wrote The Power of Fun. Again, nothing overtly offputting about what she said…it just seems too far off from my reality. I’m not doing the book justice in this “review” – I really did enjoy it and took some good notes. But, if Goodreads would just give me those 1/2 stars, I likely would have rated it a 3.5. Worth a read, and maybe you happen to really love rowing and dance camp. Kudos to you.

The second book I read was When Time Stopped. I definitely judge books by their cover and, sadly, I almost didn’t read this book because of that very reason. The story sounded good, but I thought it must be B-level based on the cover. I rarely (RARELY) give books a 5-star review, but this one most certainly earned every star available to it. It’s an astonishing, heart-rending tale of a woman who sorts through a box of artifacts left by her father who survived the Holocaust. This is a very challenging topic, but she handles it with grace. I don’t want to give away details of the story, but will point out while there are some very sad descriptions, it is (overall) much less graphic than many other books I’ve read on this topic. The writing was masterful, her years-long saga of tracking down the truth after his death, and the incredible story of his life left me staying up past my bedtime to see how it all turned out. This was definitely a read-every-word sort of book; no skimming necessary. (It reminded me of Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – another truly incredible book.) Five stars.

Earl Grey tea with oat milk. Yes, please.
  • A quiet moment at my favourite cafe (slowly) working through The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  • Work (as in “work, work” not creative work) can be rather neutral or even decidely unfun. But this week, some elements of work felt joyful! The faculty of the university where I work went on strike (the poor, poor students; first a pandemic/online learning and now this), and I took some extra responsibilities on my plate to alleviate pressures elsewhere and it felt…good. I needed to draft a big report that is always tedious to put together. Done! I turned on my space heater, pumped out some tunes and got that baby out the door (which means I sent an e-mail because most of my working life is just sending and receiving emails; though I’ve started to call more colleague’s – via phone – and they always act startled. It’s like they’re wondering: “What is this crazy sorcery of a machine where I can hear your voice? I thought we were supposed to exchange 15 e-mails over 8 hours full of lots of Warm Regards, Best Regards, and Cheers to answer 3 questions that could be answered in one 2-minute phone call”). I needed to accommodate a software demo. Done (and gave the developers some great feedback, too boot). I needed to get on top of January business financials. Done. So…feeling productive and like I was “earning my keep” this week was a real boost.
  • Reader (and blogger) sustainablemum listing so many natural favourites for January. In the comment section on Monday’s post, she listed the following: daily walk, the woodburning stove, knitting in the evenings, sunshine and blue skies and doing less. Sunshine and blue skies and doing less trumps a treadmill desk and grapefruit cleaning spray any day.
The day after her comment, on my daily walk, I took this picture of blue skies and sunshine. And evergreens and snow. Joy.
  • You know where I find joy – in having friends where exchanging bags like this (contents: a pair of girls snow pants, a stick of deodrant, chili flakes, and a bag of tumeric) is completely normal. This same friend and I once met at a park and she gave me two carrots and a few stalks of celery; I gave her some cucumbers and zucchini. I’m not kidding. This was considered very, very normal. These bags (literally dozens and dozens of them over the years), and the friendships they represent, bring me joy.
  • I walked in the house last week and the song Give Thanks by Zach Winters was playing on Spotify. I’d never heard the song, but had left a morning playlist blaring when we left the house for the walk to school and this is where Spotify ended up. The tune is very catchy and Jack Johnson-esque and I have been playing it for days (bonus points: the kids love it too). And then on Monday afternoon, arm-deep in soap suds washing out lunchboxes, I paid attention to the lyrics. If Be Kind is my motto for the year, I think this song captures the essence of what I’m learning lately.

When you wake up in the morning do you ever say thank you to God?
It’s easy to be worried, but it feels way better when you are not
Think about the way that the sun comes into your heart
It brightens up the window and it brightens up some of your thoughts

We don’t have to be sure of everything to give thanks
Just to notice a kindness as we go on our way
We all know the pain of living every day
But watch the world change colors when we give thanks

  • Speaking of music, a friend shared a song via Spotify for Good News by Mandisa. I do not dance. I cannot dance. And I absolutely could not stop dancing (still washing dishes at the sink).

  • Seeing this Jordan’s brand granola at my local grocery store (ON SALE no less) – that I have never seen in stock. I don’t each much cereal, but LOVE granola with chocolate. The only time I’ve had this brand was when John and I bought several boxes, along with giant tubs of blueberry yogurt, from Woolworths in Sydney during our week in Australia. Every day for breakfast we ate yogurt with granola (and every lunch was cheese wraps) – we travel on the cheap, my friends! That trip ended up being the catalyst for a huge turning point in our lives…so seeing this cued up a walk down memory lane. A very delicious walk. And, ironically, this cereal came into our lives at another potentially huge (and related) turning point.
  • I was texting with a friend on Sunday morning and she sent me a verse as part of our discussion. Two hours later I was sitting on the couch watching the morning church service and guess what popped up on the screen – that same verse. I took a picture of the screen and asked if she thought someone had been reading our texts?! This was one of those “Oh. Hey there, God” moments, I’ve been really treasuring lately.

my Weekend summarized in WHATS-App messages (I’m the green bubbles, but you’ll figure that out fast enough…)

This is about 12 hours after I learn John won’t be making it home Friday night…
They read the instructions of 1:10-1:20 to mean 10-20 minutes. This picture was the aftermath of 4 minutes and 30 seconds of microwaving; I came out because the microwave was making loud beeps I’d never heard before. It was truly awful. I threw out the mug. This was about 12 hours before I learned John wasn’t going to be coming home on Saturday, either…
This was when John had been delayed for approximately 20 hours and we had been home for 36 hours in a blizzard…
Eggs and roasted veggies are just about the best lunch ever. The Raisin Bran was, admittedly, a bit of a wild card.

Summary: it snowed, my house smelled like smoke, I cried, and then drowned my sorrows in breakfast foods. John was delayed for 48 hours. Last weekend really, really sucked. Thankfully in the days since, I found lots of joy.

what would make this easy

Let’s just pause to enjoy Levi’s writing from last fall. It reads: “I scored. Let’s go! I sprinted so fast. I run like the wind.” That you do, little buddy.

On Sunday, at the tail end of my Very Awful Weekend, I found a scratch-pad (they’re everywhere) and a highlighter and posted this to the fridge: What would make this EASY? I desperately needed easy.

2021 was tough. January 2022 has been tough. Honestly, the last decade has been pretty tough. There are plenty of things bumping around in the background I don’t discuss on this blog that are tough. So rolling into February, I was craving some “easy”.

A few months ago I posted about one of my favourite Tim Ferris quotes. I’m going to paste what I wrote below…because that would be easier than trying to re-word a thought I’ve already articulated:

For many of us, the majority of our time is focused on maximizing – a situation, financial expenditures, time. Indeed, for some, life has become one giant experiment constantly being tinkered with as we’re coached to improve, iterate, and embrace the challenge. We channel our inner Sheryl Sandberg and “lean-in.” If life doesn’t feel overwhelming, surely we’re doing something wrong?

The “easy” way can seem like a trap.

For example, I’ll follow a mental path that goes a like this: “If I feed the kids cereal for supper one night…then I’ll become someone who feeds my kids cereal for supper every night.” Intellectually I know that’s false. My kids eat cereal for supper a handful of times each year; far too infrequently, I’m sure they would claim. They do not spontaneously combust these evenings. They do not wake in the night complaining of hunger pains. Child services do not knock on my door and declare me an unfit mother. In short, the kids are just fine. Literally nothing bad happens.

Self-discipline and hard work are great, and I’m not advocating laziness, but sometimes we just need to cut ourselves some slack. Several years ago I read Tim Ferris’ Tribe of Mentors. It’s a compilation of “wisdom” from a broad cross-section of creative, entrepreneurial, and athletic types. The quote that stuck in my psyche:

What would this look like if it were easy?

Tim Ferris

While the quote had more to do with existential questions of purpose, trajectory and, for Tim Ferris, a self-declared mid-life crisis, I think there is reason to apply this principle to smaller aspects of daily life. I can ask myself – would it make my life easier if I:

  • Put on a movie when I’m rushing to meet a work deadline and the kids are climbing the walls (mine literally do this, in the hallway, and find it quite a lark to touch the ceiling)?
  • Had everyone use the same shampoo and toothpaste to make shopping, organization and general hygiene more convenient?
  • Put the clothes in the dryer instead of hanging them on the line to dry?
  • Served supper on paper plates, made the dinner party a potluck, or ordered in take-out for Thanksgiving dinner?
  • Said no to that evening meeting that could be handled via e-mail in the morning?
  • Bought some people on my Christmas list the same gift (instead of brainstorming and shopping for hours to find a different “perfect” gift for everyone)?

Or what if I…upgraded my computer to a 3-monitor setup, or made a single recipe for my lunches all week. Easier doesn’t mean lazy; a 3-monitor setup will make me more productive and efficient and we all need to eat. I like the word “easy” though because it feels more whimsical – and less clinical – than some terminology often associated with productivity.

An important step toward finding an easier way: identifying the problem – whether that’s a mid-life crisis, a long commute, or the frustration of having six different shampoo bottles in the shower.

Life is overwhelming. Sometimes it’s important to embrace the challenge, push ourselves to excel, and expect more from ourselves…

And sometimes, I just need to feed my kids cereal for supper.

Hi, it’s present-day Elisabeth talking again. Last weekend’s easy looked like:

  • More screentime than I would have normally allowed.
  • Cereal for supper Saturday night (Levi’s suggestion he literally said – as I was shoveling through a wall of rock-hard snow the plow had so kindly dumped into our driveway while his father was 1000 miles away – “It would be really easy, Mama.”) and cereal for breakfast Sunday morning.
  • Sending them outside for “quiet-time” on Sunday so the house was actually quiet instead of the busy hum of regular “quiet-time” which always contains a disproportionate number of bathroom trips in an hour (my children’s bladders mysteriously shrink at quiet-time and bedtime and then magically expand during activities like video games or going out for hot chocolate).
  • My clothes. Okay, this isn’t just something I just made easy last week (though I did prep a bag for consignment), but it really helps. This is all my clothing upstairs. 4 dresses, 3 skirts, 3 pairs of pants (2 of which are the same cut of black jeans), and 15 tops (sweaters, T-shirts, hoodies) + a drawer of long jogging pants/leggings + a drawer storing capri pants and summer socks (I also have 20 hangers in a downstairs closet with summer dresses/skirts/t-shirts and a few miscellaneous odds and ends). I wear the same clothes. A lot. It really does make life easier.
  • Leftover waffles for supper one night. Delicious and very easy. I also made a batch of waffles for the freezer on Monday afternoon because that will make life easier for me this weekend.

And the kids survived, and I survived. It didn’t always feel easy, but I did my best to make it so.

Happy weekend everyone. Take it easy and do some joyfinding and I’ll see you here next week.

33 thoughts on “Casual Friday + What Would Make This Easy?”

  1. I’m so impressed by your “capsule wardrobe” as they used to call it! I know my life would be easier if I had fewer clothes, and yet…

    1. Clothes definitely aren’t my “thing” so having very few is both natural and easy for me…but if you love having lots of clothes, I say go for it! Nothing wrong with having lots of selection, I just find it more stressful!

      1. I love many pieces just to look/feel them etc. But I find excess stressful too! Like most people, I end up wearing the same stuff over and over anyway. I really admire people who can keep their wardrobe minimal.

        1. Well, if I can do it…you can too!
          One thing I find helpful is having a good place to consign clothes. While I do donate to local thrift stores, I appreciate having a place to consign my + the kids clothes. I might get a little bit of money in return and I find it really closes the loop on my experience with a particular clothing item.
          I think I might blog about my “capsule” (but not deliberately a “capsule” wardrobe) and how I source clothes second-hand (90% at least, I’d say) and then how I handle passing along clothes I no longer need.

          1. Oooh! I would love a post about your capsule! I find it helpful to see some practical and real world minimal clothing choices. I’m staring bleakly into my closet as I get ready to go back to work after almost two years of sweatpants and nursing tanks. So much of it doesn’t fit anymore so I kind of need to do a reset, but having a hard time telling what I might really want or need.

          2. I don’t think my wardrobe is overly inspiring, but I’ll see what I can do! And I agree – it can be remarkably insightful to see what OTHER people do even if their habits/clothing choices are so wildly divergent from our own.
            And, for the record, those sweatpants and nursing tanks mean you’ve been raising a tiny infant (along with other larger children) in the MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC. I understand wanting a reset, but let’s also all embrace the fact that we’ve lived a lot of “life” these last two years and those comfy clothes (and, in your case, nursing clothes) represent some big events. So gold stars to you for what those clothes represent!

  2. Thank you so much for the mention!

    It sounds like you had a tough week followed by a hard weekend, I hope that this week has been a little easier and this weekend is too. Good neighbours are such a blessing aren’t they. Our neighbour of 18 years died at the end of last year and he has left the biggest hole in all our lives. He was like a grandfather to my children, I loved chatting to him over the fence as we hung out our washing, and yes I do do that year round but I don’t want you to be beating yourself if you don’t.

    I am all for an easy life. We have to find out what works for us don’t we. But we should not judge either, one persons easy will not be the same as the next and that should be ok, but it so often isn’t it. I am glad to hear that you found things to make your life easier last week when things were hard, good for you. That is what we need to do sometimes don’t we, you can hold your head high and proclaim, I did it!

    1. So sorry to hear about the passing of your neighbour.
      It was a hard week and weekend, but this week has been so much better.
      Life ebbs and flows and there is always going to be good and hard, sometimes more of one than the other. I’m slowly learning this is life!
      And when it’s feeling hard, finding ways to make things just a bit easier can feel like a huge win!

  3. I would like my clothing to be more similar to yours in terms of volume. I am working on getting there but it’s going to a big project. I wore the same thing pretty much daily for the last 2 years – but different undershirts of course! But when I return to the office, I need to wear something different every day but I do not need as many clothes as I have! I don’t want it to sound like I have a TON and most of what I own is probably 5-10 years old. But I need to work on winnowing down my options and homing in on a capsule-ish wardrobe.

    I have definitely let myself choose the easier route. I remind myself that this is not a permanent decision. My kids won’t always eat veggie/chicken dinos. But right now, they have them a couple of times/week and they don’t eat what we eat every night because it’s just not possible in this stage of life – or I’m not willing to compromise on what I want to eat to meet them in the middle… like I love curries and stir fries and things like that, and that is just not working for a 1 and particular 4yo… But someday they will be more rational – I hope? And we can all eat the same thing every day. For now, I settle on us eating the same thing a couple of dinners/week and letting that slide the other nights.

    1. Absolutely re. the food. We (parents in general) have so much more pressure relating to how we feed our kids these days. I swing both ways – when I have the energy, I’ll make really great homemade food. But, at least once a week, I make something from a box or can because it’s easy and they enjoy it.

      If I had to work in-person I’m sure I’d need more clothes. I really like having a couple of pants that act as a regular base and then just alternate a handful of tops. I mix-and-match earrings, but that’s about it for accessories. I’m just…minimal! I also have a relatively hard body-type to dress because I have big-ish hips but a small waist. Pants are a nightmare. When I find a pair of high-rise ones that work, I basically just wear them until they give out! A-line dresses are actually my favourite (more comfortable for me than pants), but they’re not practical here in the winter, so I just wear them for church.

  4. Oh your neighbors sound so lovely! I am so glad you have nearby support when you need it.

    I hope this weekend brings you some time to breathe. It sounds like this past week has been especially tough.

    1. They are so, so sweet.
      This week has been good; the previous one + last weekend was tough, but we survived and this weekend should be a lot more relaxing. There IS another storm, but John is home and the kids just seem a lot less grouchy with each other which is about 95% of the battle most days!

  5. I follow a great lawyer/mom on instagram who is all about minimalism, and she shares a lot of hacks and tips about ways to simplify, minimalize, etc. (I know you’re not on IG! But if you were, I think you’d like following her!) She is doing some kind of ~35 item challenge right now, where you basically limit your total clothing items to 35 (I think it includes EVERYTHING) and that’s it, for some period of time. I would need to scale way way back if I did this- but it is tempting. And I love the idea of having a very empty/ cleared out closet, versus my usually overflowing one. I have a ton of clothes- but I can’t say I have that many things that I truly love, either. I especially have issues with pants currently- nothing feels overly comfortable, I don’t LOVE them…ugh. Jeans styles confuse me right now and seem ever-changing.

    I would really like to make wardrobe organization (weed out + purchasing some quality items to replace things I don’t actually love) a “project” for me, but the thought of even starting overwhelms me. I also struggle sometimes with going too minimalistic because I worry I will either get bored with re-wearing things indefinitely, or, this is a real concern- that when we travel, I won’t like that I’m wearing the same clothes in pictures in our family vacations year after year!! hahah! It’s true though- this does concern me.

    For example, I have a handful of summer/ beachy type dresses that I really don’t wear that often (we live in Wisconsin….) so they stay in good shape. I was recently looking at a picture on this “Our Family” project my 13 year old made when I think he was in maybe 1st or 2nd grade and still has up in his room…. and I was wearing this one sleeveless pink dress in Florida (at least 6-7 years ago?). I STILL wear that pink dress every summer!! Still fits, still looks good- in fact, I recently packed it for Mexico (though I didn’t end up wearing it). But there’s this part of me that now feels like- ugh, can I still wear this pink dress?? I still like it…but shouldn’t I move on? People will probably think this is the only dress I own. Ha. I’ve worn this dress on every warm weather trip we’ve ever been on. The same thoughts cross my mind about favorite tank tops I tend to always wear on vacation, etc. So, then I struggle to weed things out, because I feel like I should have alternatives/ options. Or another example- if I have a “Christmas-y” sweater that is nice, I’ll feel like, well, I can’t wear that same sweater every Christmas! So then I need…options. Other sweaters, other clothes, whatever. And then I never get rid of anything! UGH! Can you tell this is a dilemma area for me?! 🙂

    1. Oh jeans. The bane of my existence. When I find a pair that happens to fit, I wear it until they are threadbare and then mourn when they’re no longer respectable to wear out in public.

      I’m just not really into fashion/shoes/makeup, so I think this comes naturally. And I also hate choice. I’ve gotten to this point slowly, though. I definitely used to have WAY more clothes. Now I only have things that fit/I wear. It has been hard to get rid of some clothes that are still in good shape, but if I’m not wearing them…why keep them? I think it helps that I consign most clothes like this; I know they’re getting recycled to another home and sometimes I make a little money on the side. I also buy about 90% of my clothes (for real!) from thrift shops, so the investment is so minimal. I think I’d have a harder time letting go of a dress if I paid more than $5 for it.

      I know what you mean about wearing the same clothes. I definitely do this. My favourite dress (the one I’m wearing on the sidebar picture) is actually about 50 years old and was my mother’s. I also have a skirt I have worn every summer since I started university. It still fits. It’s still quasi-fashionable. I think I’m almost ready to retire it to a new home. I don’t really pay attention to what I’m wearing in pictures, but that makes lots of sense!

      I think clothes are a HUGE dilemma area for many people. And if it doesn’t bother you…I wouldn’t do anything. If it does, maybe take it one category at a time? Like get out all your long-sleeved sweaters and pare those down. Then summer dresses etc…And if you CAN consign things, that’s a great option from my experience.

  6. The local League of Women Voters is hosting a two-night book club to discuss Caste and I’m so excited to join it. I’ve never attended their book club before, so fingers crossed it goes well.

    Today, my poor dog who has a ton of injuries, was able to go on a 1.5 mile walk with me through the snow. She was so happy and her tail was wagging and it was a magical moment for both of us. That is my joyfinding of the day.

    1. I’ve never been in a book club; maybe a goal for 2023?

      I started Caste last weekend, but needed a bit of a break from heavy books, so it’s sitting on my bedside table waiting for me to pick it back up. I only have a week left (and I know I won’t be able to renew it), so I think that will be my reading focus next week. It’s a great book so far…I just really needed something a bit lighter over the last few weeks.

      I’m so glad Hannah had a good day. The poor thing goes through so much, so I’m thrilled she enjoyed her walk in the snow. It sounds magical and you both need those moments to stay motivated and hopeful. I’m so glad you mentioned this moment <3

  7. The thing that stuck with me from this whole post was your text about a nighttime walk sounds joyful for you, but taking your kids, not so much. This is my whole life and I know that you GET IT! This is probably my #1 frustration as a parent – there are so many things I want to do: go on hikes, travel, do crafts, build things from wood, garden, read, eat at restaurants. All those things would bring me joy. But taking a kid with me would make those things not fun! Kids on a hike is not always bad, but eventually there’s whining about being hungry, or tired, or bored, or not getting what they want. Tomorrow I would like to go to an Asian grocery store and find some interesting new food, but I’m already sure I will need to result to bribery to even get them into the car. I would have screamed at anyone who told me this back then, but taking babies places is actually a lot easier than preschool/elementary school kids 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sarah. This is probably the thing I struggle with the most in motherhood – the feeling of how much harder it is to involve kids in so many of my favourite activities. I think this is exacerbated by the fact I am VERY introverted. I like to have quiet and order and calm…and that’s hard to come by with two extroverted kids!
      I was sitting with a casual acquaintance at a kid tennis practice last summer. This person has oodles of money and a lot of childcare, yet she lowered her voice and admitted to a group of mothers – “No one told me this was 24/7. This is so much harder than I was expecting.” It’s so true. If we’re not physically with our kids, we’re thinking of them or worrying about their development.
      The baby stage was hard for me because of colic and allergies…but boy I miss naps. And no sibling fighting! Each stage brings its own layer of pleasure and challenge…but it can be hard to balance the desire for some ease/independence from the kids.
      To me, so many things would be so much easier if I didn’t have to think about when the bus arrives or that the kids wake up at 6 am every Saturday (though they’re not allowed to get us until 8 am and are now, blessedly, at the age where they can read clocks and respect this…but I still hear them puttering around their rooms at 6 am on Saturday morning).
      I hope you manage to get to that Asian grocery store…it does sound like fun. And, since my husband eventually got home from his work trip, I think I might head out for a solo walk (during the day)…?

  8. I love the bag exchange with your friend. I wish I have any of my BFF living in the same city, we’d definitely do that.
    I love Tim’s book Tribute of mentors. I’d re-read it and take more wisdom. I think making things the easier way (not the ideal way) is needed in some circumstances but it’s a slippery rope to do it too often then becomes the norm. Nothing bad with having cereal on Fridays because it’s fun and it’s easy. But with screen time, I see so many kids eating with a devise these days that I feel bad. Honestly, it’s definitely easy for the parents to eat dinner without disruptions, but once one get used to (both parents and kids) it becomes the norm, then it is problem.
    Except for devise use, I try to find easy way or efficient way to do things in my daily life. An example is delegating groceries shopping to husband. I love groceries shopping but I know that It takes two hours, and usually we buy similar things so instead it’s easier for me to just write-down the list and send him. I can do something else those two hours, including my favorite hobby reading.

    1. I already have another bag ready to go out the door. How do I have so much stuff?! I guess with kids forever growing out of things, it just naturally happens on a regular basis? This time all the items going are kids outdoor gear (rain coats, small winter gloves) that my kids have outgrown. Thankfully I have a friend with kids below mine in age, so anything she wants I’m thrilled to pass along to a good home.

      Tribe of Mentors is a really fun read. Some surprisingly deep insights, but also a lot of “favourites” which I always find fascinating.

      We almost NEVER eat in front of devices. The kids might do this…once or twice a month as a special treat. I remember growing up and it was a HUGE deal if we got to eat even dessert in front of the TV. That said, I’m so glad we got to do it occasionally, because it was so, so fun. Mostly this was to watch something like the Olympics or a live sporting event (never, ever a movie and never, ever a full meal – always just dessert). But when I visited my grandmother we were allowed to watch The Price Is Right (I didn’t have cable and only got to watch this show a few times a year at her house) using TV trays in her living room. That is one of my favourite memories from visiting her as a child.

      I love grocery shopping too! One of my favourite things to do (and I love getting to grocery shop WITH my husband. I know it’s not as efficient, but I always prefer grocery shopping with him to grocery shopping solo…though usually one of us does do this solo)…

  9. Yes, easy! This reminds me of the best piece of advice I ever got. My son was about to start elementary school and my daughter was a baby. There were all sorts of choices of schools- Montessori, Waldorf, different “choice” programs in the public schools that would require a lengthy commute each day. I was explaining all these options to another mom, and finished with “then there’s the public school we’re zoned for, which is a short walk from out house.” She immediately said “Do that one.” And then she said something that blew my mind: “Do the easiest thing first.” WHAT??? I felt like I had just spent the last five years doing everything the hardest way possible- I was allowed to choose the EASY option? I took her advice and it was the best decision I ever made. Having a short walk to school (as opposed to a car commute, especially since I also had a baby), having all our school friends nearby in the neighborhood, and being able to run over to the school quickly if anything went wrong- all those things were more valuable than any of the “special” programs we had been considering. Obviously you can’t always take the easy route, but whenever I can I “do the easiest thing first.”

    1. Such great advice, eh?
      I think this tends to be counter-cultural though? We’re taught to always be striving for the biggest, the best. In your case – the school with all the enrichment programs. Which lose sight of the blessing of having a community school. Of being less stressed. Of spending less time in morning commutes.
      Ironically enough, it can take a lot of courage and/or intention to take the “easy” way…

  10. I just ordered The Power of Fun. I’m intrigued by it! And definitely in need of some fun in my life.

    I’m with you on the clothes. It’s one area I try to reduce decision making. I tend to live in jeans, a vest top and my very old and tatty hoodie when I’m in casual mode. For work, I like to wear pencil dresses and I basically have four identical ones that I can slip a blazer or cardigan over. I don’t wear jewellery (even though I do like the idea of it… I just never think to put any on), and my hair is permanently straightened so it’s straight, loose and very low maintenance apart from the one day every year where I go to the hairdressers for literally eight hours!

    1. I’m very intrigued by the straightening (Sarah Hart-Unger does this as well, I think); I have wavy hair that is a nuisance to deal with…though I’m not sure if I’d want to NOT be able to have curls sometimes, but it would be nice to “wash and wear.”

  11. Re: fun – I think “linen closet flow” absolutely counts as fun. I took the Science of Well Being course on Coursera (aka the Yale Course on Happiness) and one of the assignments was to take a few personality tests because well being
    (or I guess you can all it happiness, but I feel like happiness is kind of over-rated as a sustainable long term goal) is often affected by whether or not one can use one’s personality strengths. So if organizing your linen closet lets one use one’s signature strength then of course that can count as :”fun.”
    I’m sorry for such a tough weekend – the winter sounds so unrelenting right now. “Easy” seems essential.
    The quote about “Easy” is something I’m going to hold close right now as I go back to work. There is so much that I’m worried about, but I think prioritizing “easy” actually will help distill things down into what is important.

    1. Distilling things down is so key…I remember reading someone say once, women especially, humans today tend to major in the minors. We are so divided with so many different priorities (some of this is by choice, admittedly, but so much is because of modern societal burdens and by our adhering to the “norms” ascribed us). I really want to Major in the Majors moving forward…
      Winter has been tough. But at 6 pm last night there was still light in the sky and February is flying by and I know that March tends to be winter’s last hurrah here, so I can see light at the end of the tunnel. Trying to make the most of things while I can – sledding with the kids, lighting candles at the supper table…while also looking forward with great expectation to a day when I DON’T HAVE TO SPEND 20 MINUTES HANGING UP WET SNOW GEAR EVERYDAY. And yes I know I should be very thankful we have appropriate winter gear – and I am – but it also get very tiring to handle it over and over again.

      I do love the flow of “puttering” around my house. Quasi-mindless tasks often are very therapeutic to me because they involve all my senses. I touch objects and move them back into place. I can smell the various rooms – in the linen closet, where I store our bar soap, it smells like “clean.” I can hear the white noise of all the movements of objects and my own body etc. It really does feel like fun to me, so I’m running with that. I don’t do knitting or other handwork, but I think decluttering and organizing and just resetting our household spaces really hits the same target for me.

  12. I am so glad to hear someone else eating their granola with yogurt, because that’s how it’s done! Haha. (No seriously, for some reason, that is an odd thing to do for many people… but I would never imagine eating my granola with just plain (non-dairy) milk.

    I am so glad that the power didn’t go out during your snow storm. As previously said, in your case, I’d probably have a backup generator, because I get cold so very easily and would freak out without power.

    I am definitely a fan of easy options. It doesn’t have to be all the time or even for everything, but if we can make a lot of things “easier” by choosing an easy option, it’ll leave more room for other things to focus on and these days, I feel like we’re all stretched so thin that we have to be strategic about our energy and where we want to apply it.

  13. What would make this easy is something I’m constantly ruminating over and thinking about. It’s part of the reason why I started my little “extra supplies” closet because I’ve grown tired of being frustrated every time I run out of something and don’t have a backup ready to go!

    Something I’m curious about is why we are all so averse to the term “lazy.” Is it really all that bad for us to be lazy every now and then, and it doesn’t have to mean anything when we are? Something I’m going to keep thinking about!

  14. Obviously late with my comment but had to mention 2 things…

    Yes, taking the “easy” route is, many times, the best choice. What will work best for you, right now, in this situation? And by “work best”, I mean, not overwhelm you, make you do unnecessary tasks, etc. For me? I take the easy route on a lot of things. I buy frozen veggies. Cheaper, less prep required, and tastes just fine to me! I buy commercial cleaning products. I buy the presliced mushrooms (which, if you ever read cooking blogs, is apparently a sin of the Worst Sort). Even worse, I eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day, and the big changes in my dinner plate are what protein and carb I choose for that particular meal. Why make it hard?

    Also, who doesn’t eat granola with yogurt? How else would you eat it?

    OK, and one more thing. You’ve inspired me to – yet again – take a look at my closet and think, *really* think, about whether I feel good wearing something. Does it fit? is it comfortable? do I like the color? If not a yes to all 3 then it should go. I will never have the number of clothes you do but I can certainly have fewer than I have right now!
    Happy Monday. 🙂

    1. I had no idea people were anti-sliced mushrooms. I buy whatever it cheaper!
      I love eating the same thing over and over (actually, in general, prefer this)!
      Granola with yogurt has gotten a bit overboard in my house and I’m trying to wean myself down to reasonable levels. It’s just…so good.

      Those are great questions when looking at the options in a wardrobe! And I think having a (even slightly) pared-down wardrobe makes the remaining clothes feel more special.

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