Casual Friday + A Hike and Water Woes

Well. That was a week.

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

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

Some highlights/lowlights from the week…

FRIDAY |

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

SATURDAY |

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

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

Home in time to prep for Chopped.

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

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

Did I listen?

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

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

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

(Yes, I was overwhelmed.)

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

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

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

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

Saturday was quite an adventure.

SUNDAY | Mother’s Day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MONDAY – WEDNESDAY |

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

THURSDAY |

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Header photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Casual Friday + A Hike and Water Woes”

  1. I feel that mom guilt too Elisabeth! Over the last few years of the pandemic my kids have had an embarrassingly enormous amount of screen time. Between the hours I worked to get all my teaching online in the first year, to me taking a certification program while working last year, meant I was on my computer 12 to 13 hours a lot of days. They of course did school and I tried to get us out for daily walks (weather permitting). But I have felt a lot of guilt. My son has started puberty and changed so much, the activities that worked when he was “a kid” no longer appeal. My daughter is social and needs lots of friends around so it is a challenge to balance it.
    I love how you create many, many memories of hikes, adventures and all the reading. Reading is a way I connected with the kids as well. The energy it takes to do something like chopped – I really am in awe of that. Some days just doing the normal routine is tiring and it is something I aspire to – thinking of fun family activities. We will have a camper out at a beautiful lake this summer and I’m looking forward to that.
    I appreciate your posts and sharing so much. Mother’s day can be so over hyped and I received a card and lots of love from daughter and silent presence of my son. I read Oona Out of Order for a large part of the day and we hosted my mom and brother for dinner – it was lovely.

    1. The pandemic has been hard and, too, the shifting needs of kids. It was easier, in some senses, to feel like a “good” Mom when all I felt I needed to do was love and feed the kids. There is a whole other level of emotional support that goes into a raising older children. That said, I didn’t feel like a “good” Mom when they were little either because I didn’t have natural births and wasn’t able to breastfeed. I have so much more peace about those issues now, but at the time made me feel very much less-than.

      I’m so glad you had a nice Mother’s Day! Reading and good food are top of my favourites list for any day 🙂

  2. Yeah, Mother’s Day can be tricky. It’s definitely a nice thought, but I try not to have too many expectations about the day- especially since my own mother is gone. There are plenty of sad moments in the day. But I did have a nice day overall (in case anyone is feeling too sorry for me!)
    How could we ever forget the flooding in the closet with your wrapped Christmas presents? You really have some bad luck with water in your house- a completely clogged drain on the day you’re having a cooking competition and people over for dinner?! I hope everything is fixed now.
    Thanks for sharing pages from the “Happiness” book- I love it!
    I love your photos- from the hike, the squirrel, and especially the one of Abby with the flowers. Beautiful.

    1. The plumber is literally upstairs working on it now. Fingers crossed. I told Abby this morning at breakfast (as she ate toast off a paper plate) she should be so thankful as she hasn’t had to empty a dishwasher in almost a week (emptying the dishwasher is her job).
      Ha – yes, water woes have been a recurring issue in our house. A shower leak that took a long time to figure out, a week after we moved in the sewer line broke. A friend of mine recently had a floor in her house too. I LOVE indoor plumbing, but water is such a nuisance in terms of the damage it can cause in a house.
      And I will never wrap Christmas gifts again without thinking of the pre-Christmas water. All’s well that ends well; I’m still so, so grateful that none of the books/paper products (like the homemade calendars) got wet. It was miraculous. And now any wrapped gifts will be stored safely in plastic totes until they go under the tree!

    1. It was…stressful. But the plumber is upstairs working at this very moment. Fingers crossed I’ll have a dishwasher by the end of the day?!

  3. Another busy week for you. I sympathize with your water troubles. We had the plumber here this week, nothing untoward happened though. You win the prize on that point. I’m glad you had no cavities. Do you remember as a kid when dentists used to give you a coupon for a free ice cream cone if you had no cavities? Talk about your mixed message. The mini pizzas look delicious. Thanks for the idea.

    1. Ha! I have taken one child, several times, out for a treat after the dentist and did always recognize the irony.
      Our dentist gives kids small toys which they ADORE. It is such a big deal to get a glow-in-the-dark bouncy ball or a lizard that will stick to the wall. It feels a bit disproportionate at times but…I remember clearly that my dentist had a whole tray of little rings with adjustable bands. And pencils. But those rings were such a delight to me.

  4. “I’m especially conscious of my shortcomings as a mother on Mother’s Day. Highlighting my role – and the importance of it – just makes me aware of all the ways I’m screwing up. (My family is absolutely wonderful and go out of their way to make me feel special on Mother’s Day which, admittedly, also makes me feel guilty).” I feel this to my CORE. Mother’s Day is so full of complicated feelings for me (and not for any of the very good, heartbreaking reasons that it’s complicated for many others!) and I kind of hate it. I am really extra struggling with feeling like my parenting skills are subpar lately, so I can empathize with everything you say.

    And now I am VERY ANXIOUS to know what is going to happen with your sink?!?! Did you get someone in to fix it?!?!

    The funeral timing mistake is something I would TOTALLY do. My husband and I were once invited to a baby shower by a friend who has a daughter the same age as my daughter. So the THREE of us all went happily to the baby shower… only to discover it was ADULTS ONLY. I was somehow the only person who had misinterpreted the invitation. It was so humiliating, but our friends were really nice about it.

    1. I’m glad someone else can relate on my Mother’s Day comments. I’ve already admitted that guilt – especially around mothering – is a recurrent issue for me (and, most of the time, if I’m being honest the guilt is misplaced). But I feel extra layers of guilt on Mother’s Day that I don’t seem to feel other days of the year? But putting it into the context of it being less about guilt and more about “longing” really helped. At least for this particular Mother’s Day. I’ve no doubt I’ll struggle with similar emotions in other years.

      The plumber is here now. Hoping it all gets put to rights (and we can actually discover the source of the issue and not just “put a Bandaid” on something as a temporary fix? We’ll see. It’s out of my wheelhouse and I’m hoping back into work calls so I’m leaving it in the very capable hands of a professional and hoping for the best.

      I have literally never heard of a baby shower that is adults only (as in, specified that way?). I did once hear of a wedding that was adults only and it shocked me. I can understand the practicality of it, I guess, but to include that in the invite seemed very odd to me! Then again, I am basically never at anything fancy so this may be very standard in other circles?!

  5. I hope your sink issues gets resolved! What horrible timing to have that happen with company coming over and so many dishes to wash! Ay yi yi! You poor thing!

    I kind of feel ambivalent about Mother’s Day. I sort of feel that way about a lot of holidays, like Valentine’s Day for example. It feels like a manufactured holiday with heightened pressure… We are so not gift people, so outside of the projects the boys made in school, I didn’t get anything which is JUST FINE! It was just a regular old day for us. Phil did make lunch which was nice and he got up with the boys that morning so I got a bit extra sleep. But overall, I feel like the holiday can create more pain than joy – like for people who’ve lost a mom or have a strained relationship with their mom or yearn to be a mom… So it’s just sort of under-emphasized in our house…

    The pictures of you and Abby/you and the kids are beautiful, by the way!! What a special experience for Abby to get you to herself in the middle of the school day!!! I would have loved that as a kid. As 1 of 5, time alone with a parent was a rare treat! But even in smaller families, that alone time is so special!

    1. They are resolved! The plumber found a huge blockage well down the line. Phew. The dishwasher is loaded and it is just SO nice to have a working sink again. It is so easy to take those “little” things for granted. But wow – when they don’t work, it really is so inconvenient.

      We tend to downplay every holiday except Christmas and Easter (though, at Easter, our focus is almost entirely on faith-based activities). Mother’s Day isn’t important/sentimental to me, I just feel a societal pressure to celebrate it in a certain way (where I ignore any pressures about Valentine’s Day, for example).

      Thanks for the kind words. I don’t end up in that many pictures with the kids, so I try to remember to make the effort to ask to have a picture taken! Both kids, but especially Abby, thrive with alone time. Now that both kids are in school it’s harder to manage; back in preschool days, the kids were on different schedules and had more time solo with parents. I think this would be a fun birthday tradition – taking them out for lunch in honour of their special day? Maybe next year I’ll implement this? Especially since there are a dozen places to eat within a 5-minute walk of their school. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun!

  6. Love the adventures!! That all sounds so nice. I feel like we have done NOTHING like that lately…well, not since our big vacation in March. I have said before, we really aren’t great about taking advantage of local treasures/ places to visit. And we have plenty of cool stuff around here! I think we did more of this when the boys were younger, but now they are older, we’re busy, and I feel like we have a hard time just fitting in our regular activities (see my post today….). Most of any random “free time” seems to get claimed by doing chore type work that we don’t have time to do when we are off at soccer games and such. Oh well. I think I’m okay with it, overall. We usually fit at least some of these mini adventures in each year, just not as frequently as I might like. I don’t really prioritize it I guess. Maybe that’s ok- we go pretty all out and do a lot when we travel. So, there’s that at least!

    Love the Mother’s Day pics! So great.

    1. Hopefully all the fun adventures from Rome and Ireland are still fresh in your memory.
      You’ve had such a hectic schedule with all the extracurriculars, but sounds like those may die down a bit (once volleyball and some of the school sports/events are over for this season)?!
      I do think we’re in a sweet spot with age right now; the kids are big enough to do just about anything, but are still dependent on us for transportation, don’t have jobs, and we’re decidedly “underscheduled” at this point, though both kids will be playing soccer over the summer.
      It is 100% fine to not prioritize this sort of thing! We tend to do this to “compensate” for the fact the kids aren’t in many regular structured activities. And, also, we just live in such a beautiful part of the world and so it makes sense/is relatively easy to go exploring!
      You definitely prioritize big-adventure travel (Mexico, Rome, Ireland already this year), and that is a whole other ball game. Our kids haven’t had much exposure to that sort of thing, especially with COVID thrown into the mix and I’m excited to get them out of the country seeing some new sights. Fingers crossed on multiple occasions during 2022…

  7. First of all, I think a lot of people (mothers) feel that mom guilt but most are not willing to admit it, so kudos to you for saying it out loud and making it less of a taboo (I can only imagine how hard parenting is – while I function very well in daily life, I feel like an imposter in so many instances… what was it we said the other day? We’re all just winging it ;)).

    I am glad your family spoiled you and that you got some “quiet” time on Mother’s Day (because isn’t this what most mothers want? Not just on Mother’s Day, but throughout the weeks and months!).

    P.S. Promise me you frame that photo with your kids. It’s perfect!
    P.P.S. I am sorry about the sink fiasco. How very stressful.

    1. Thanks, San. I do sometimes wonder how people feel under the surface? Especially in these areas where we’re “supposed” to be feeling only positive feelings by society’s estimation? Just keeping it real! And no one seems to talk about imposter syndrome or the bittersweetness of motherhood…at least not on Mother’s Day!

      I do love quiet time, so getting away for those few hours was the best treat and really helped me reframe that it’s okay to feel all these conflicting feelings about motherhood on Mother’s Day.

      The sink is fixed. Turns out there was a HUGE blockage down the sink drain line. Likely just years of food/grease build up. How thankful I am for plumbers.

  8. I love the pic of you on Mother’s Day, the dress is so beautiful and you look amazing in it!
    I had to laugh that you hate the first 2km. I think for most of runners, the first 5 min is the hardest so I try to go as slow as I need to warm up. then at certain mileage, I feel I can run forever before I crush down.
    I so want to read bittersweet. how does it compare to Quiet?

    1. Aw. Thanks, Coco.
      Yep. First 2 km just always feels tight and like it’s taking forever. I have a longer run planned for next week if all goes well (a specific route that’s about ~8.5 km) which is my “goal” running distance for the summer. I thought I was further away from doing it, but in reality, I think once I get past the 2 km mark, it won’t be a big deal to keep going?

      Okay – I actually did NOT finish Quiet. I really should try again. But when I started it the first time I just did not love it. I enjoyed Bittersweet. I found a few chapters tedious, but overall thought it was a solid book! And I’m not listening to her bittersweet playlist on Spotify a lot 🙂 Also, I have ALWAYS been a “melancholic” person who definitely tends toward the bittersweet/memento mori style of thoughts/life, so this book feels tailor-made for me. Though, I guess I am also an introvert, so I really SHOULD try Quiet again.

  9. Elisabeth; you bring great information, education and friendship to my life and I appreciate your literary talent and creativity… BUT I am here today to say, how GORGEOUS do you look in that first photo?! Wowzers!!!

  10. Oh my gosh…that kitchen sink (and dishwasher) catastrophe! I would have been in a major panic! I have an OCD thing with putting my bare hands in water like that…I don’t mind washing them (obviously), but if it involves any kind of household cleaning, ugh. I get squeamish. I have to use a long-handled brush for washing dishes because the sight of “dish water” almost makes me gag. Truth!

    1. This is so interesting! I definitely spend a lot of time with my hands in dishwasher, though agree once the soap suds clear away it can be kind gross. That was a good thing about having a small wash basin to deal with; I changed the water more frequently!
      It’s all back to normal, now, though and I am loving the dishwasher 🙂

  11. I can imagine (and see from the comments in this post) your guilt towards Mother’s Day would resonate with so many mothers. I need to ask my mom how she feels about that day. I feel like it’s just one of those holidays that places so much pressure on people and never quite lives up to what we want it to be. And it’s just a day that brings up so many feelings of grief and sadness for women.

    I love that picture of you with your kids! Your dress is so pretty!

    1. Any holiday seems to tug at the extremes of our emotional bandwidth; I feel a different type of (completely self-administered) pressure on Mother’s Day I don’t necessarily feel the rest of the year. Sure I worry about my deficiencies as a mother the whole year-round, but it’s different on Mother’s Day. I’m thrilled to hear of mothers that DON’T struggle with this, but I wanted to be upfront about my own perception since it can feel isolating to have these thoughts and wonder if anyone else feels the same way?

      Thanks! I’m so glad we got that picture. I’m rarely in pictures with the kids because I’m either taking the pictures or they’re running in a million directions). And, no one was crying this year. Bonus!

  12. First, as others have said, the pictures you shared in this post are wonderful! I also love the one of you and Abby at Subway (and wonder what type of cookie you/she ordered? :>).

    Randomly, I am so glad you did not finish Quiet but loved Bittersweet. I also did not finish Quiet (despite being the introvertiest introvert that ever introverted…), yet really wanted to read Bittersweet, for some reason. So, I shall continue to keep an eye out for it.

    As you know, I am not a mom, but I can see how a holiday dedicated to a role that you have (as you are not just a mom, obviously) could lead to feelings of inadequacy, particularly when it seems as though there are really high ‘standards’ for how to embody that role. If that makes sense? It’s kind of like the holidays dedicated to work-related roles (Nurses’ day/month tends to bug me – perhaps for the same reason? Yes, I am still a nurse but not what one typically thinks of when they think ‘nurse’…)

    And, oh, my, Elisabeth… I am so glad the plumber found your epic clog (makes me wonder what the heck it WAS?) and that you have a functioning sink/dishwasher. Years ago, my aunt’s toilet tank cracked. So their entire vacation, the toilet tank was “refilling” only to spill the water out through the crack. Eventually, it went down the stairs (both flights) and ruined, well, a lot of the floors and other things in their home. They did the necessary repairs, then… found a lot and built a new house. And ever after, our entire family turns off the water (at the master, if possible) whenever we travel. I’m just glad this part of your house saga has ended. Whew. <3

    1. Yes! Water terrifies me and we always turn off the water when we travel too! I’ve heard too many horror stories of things gone wrong.
      Not sure what cookie Abby ordered – I think it had white chocolate and macadamia nuts??

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