Casual Friday + A Week of Mondays

At times over the last 7 days, it felt like I was living through a week of Mondays.

Garfield says it best…

But let’s start off with some excellent news: the kitchen plumbing has been fixed and it has been wonderful to hear the dishwasher whirring or to hand-wash dishes in the sink and have all the water disappear when I pull the plug.

The plumbing success capped off a wonderful end to last week – an intense but productive string of work events, beautiful sunshine, and a fun adventure with friends on Friday evening (see below).

The bad news? After the highs of Friday, the next few days felt like repeated thudding along at ground level.

Levi came down with a bug over the weekend – some congestion and coughing. Rapid tests keep coming back negative (for every family member) so, thankfully, this appears to be “only a cold” but we have negative testing requirements for some upcoming travel; the last minute chance of plans being completely upended by the virus is an ever-present reality in this new pandemic world that leaves me with a general sense of unease.

Levi was easy to entertain while home from school – he was energetic and in a great mood (the best kind of “sick”). He skunked me in so many games of Sorry it’s depressing (and I was trying very hard to win). But it also meant the days lacked structure and left me feeling… restless.

And then there was The Big Banking Kerfuffle. We did what, many times in the past, has been a fairly routine banking procedure to maximize a bonus interest promotion. When we got to the end of the process, we received an error message which told us to try again. So we resubmitted the form – successfully this time – and printed off the reference number. And then we received two e-mail confirmations. As in, despite the error, the original transfer had happened. Cue phone calls – lots of them – to solve the issue. We were reassured Worst Case Scenario wouldn’t happen. Multiple times. By multiple different bank representatives. And then Worst Case Scenario did happen…which caused layers and layers of headaches and more phone calls. It was decidedly unpleasant. Eventually, two trips to the bank and various account contortions temporarily solved the issue, but it still isn’t fully resolved. The whole thing is figureoutable…but it also really sucked.

The next round of renovations, which keep getting delayed, are tentatively set to take place while we’re away on a short family vacation. Part of me is relieved, as being around during renovations is my idea of a living nightmare. But, another part of me is very anxious. There are hundreds of little decisions that have to be made on the fly and while I hate making said decisions, I also don’t like to think of them being made without me. We have done everything we can to prepare in advance. But it still feels unsettling to the control-freak-stress-about-everything side of my personality.

Okay – enough with the complaining. Nothing remotely “bad” happened this week and we’re fine. Just sometimes life feels decidedly unfun and this whole being-a-grownup thing can seem very overrated. Know what I mean?

READING | After a string of sub-par books, I’ve had a set of relatively good reads over the last few weeks (no 5/5 books, but most fell into the 4/5 range).

I’ve been called melancholic by friends and naturally tend toward what Cain describes as a bittersweet temperament. I love how she captures my feelings about beautiful and joyous things feeling tinged with, well, melancholy – not out of sorrow, but a loving ache or longing.

In fact, you could say that what orients a person to the bittersweet is a heightened awareness of finality. Children splashing joyfully in puddles bring tears to grandparents’ eyes because they know that one day the children will grow up and grow old (and they won’t be there to see it). But those aren’t tears of sorrow, exactly; at heart, they’re tears of love. (Bittersweet)

I read two “anti-diet” books. They exist on a spectrum of intuitive eating, but even eschew that term/movement as being too restrictive. I’m not going to unpack things further here, but both of these books are interesting reads if you’ve struggled with food, weight, and body image.

I have lived my entire life believing (and I still live in a culture that believes) that the only way I would be able to accept my body would be, ironically, to change it. (Project Body Love)

I am not anti-goals. I’ve got goals. But I am anti-expecting-external-goals-to-actually-make-you-happy. That raise will not solve all of your problems at work. Falling in love does not erase self-doubt or feelings of loneliness…We have to look at what we are really searching for underneath the goal. If what you’re really seeking from weight loss is more kindness to yourself and a cute new shirt…you need to be willing to give those things to yourself now…The way you seek out a goal is the state you will still be in once you get there. (The F*ck It Diet, emphasis mine)

While All We Want fell a bit flat for me (didn’t love the structure or writing style), I can’t stop thinking about the issues it raised surrounding consumerism and wellbeing/happiness. It left me feeling very sad about how we humans care for this earth God created. I also thought a lot about hypocrisy; I mentioned reading a book recently where the author discussed – at length – her disdain for single-use cups (even approaching strangers at cafes to berate them) but then hops on an airplane to reach various hiking destinations. Last weekend I caught up on some blog posts from an “influencer” I used to read years ago (before she started “influencing”). Her content has become more and more sponsored/tailored for SEO, but she talks at length about eating “cleanly” and using only “clean” products for personal care and home maintenance. But then she mentioned ordering a huge number of clothes online, expressly highlighting her plan to “just return whatever doesn’t work” which necessitates generation of additional fossil fuels and other forms of waste. Even people that claim to be focused on prioritizing the planet (e.g. clean products, eat-local) only seem to (in most cases) take things as far as it works for their lifestyle and brand. And I don’t necessarily take offense to this UNLESS they go out of their way to discuss how much they prioritize environmental causes. They’re environmentally conscious… when it’s convenient. End rant. (To be fair I do this same thing in various areas in my own life; I have no right to cast stones in this argument, it’s just something that has been nagging at me lately.)

The book didn’t necessarily help me process any of the above, but left me thinking about all related issues from various perspectives.

A shattered bedroom window, a lost wedding ring, even a scuffed sneaker can make us feel vulnerable because our self-hood partly resides in what we claim as our own…[Corporations] encourage this intimacy between ourselves and our things. They encourage us to pour some part of ourselves into each possession: if those possessions are lost, we are prompted to feel “a sense of shrinkage of our personality, a partial conversion of ourselves to nothingness.” Perhaps each of these miniature losses is an intimation of that greater loss – our death, when we lose our most valuable treasure, the body. Perhaps it hurts so much to lose a coffee mug, a book, a toy, because it reminds us that nothing material is everlasting and we will one day forfeit even our flesh and bone. (All We Want)

This quote raises some interesting points; as it relates to my faith, I would take it one step further with the following verses in Matthew 6: 19-20. 19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Stanley Tucci book was both hilarious (I laughed out loud a lot) and heartbreaking. I considered this book in a new light knowing that reader Katie works with his father-in-law and has met Stanley Tucci (Tucci is now married to Felicity Blunt, sister of Emily Blunt – who is wife to John Krasinski, aka Jim Halpert). How cool!

But perhaps the most precious heirlooms are family recipes. Like a physical heirloom, they remind us from whom and where we came and give others, in a bite, the story of another people from another place and another time. (Taste)

I didn’t love Island of the Blue Dolphins. I know this is a revered classic, but I found it sad and…tedious compared to, say, The Swiss Family Robinson which I’ve loved for as long as I can remember. But perhaps that’s because I came to this book late in life; I know someone who adores this book but has a deep sentimental attachment to it from her youth.

“In the beginning of life, when we are infants, we need others to survive, right? And at the end of life, when you get like me, you need others to survive, right?” His voice dropped to a whisper. “But here’s the secret: in between, we need others as well.” (Tuesday’s with Morrie)

Picture books have not been stellar lately but we checked out Snowflake Bentley…again. We’ve been reading this book for years and it is one of my favourite picture books of all time. I love the re-telling of this true (albeit heartbreaking) story.

WATCHING+ENJOYING | Meltdown (a Netflix docuseries about the nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island). Julia (the HBO dramatized series about Julia Child). And we just finished Masterpiece’s All Creatures Great and Small (fans of the Harry Potter movies, actor Matthew Lewis – who plays Neville Longbottom – is in this series). The latter was…simple, heartwarming and entertaining.

JOYFINDING | The cardinal right outside the window as I type this. I’m not sure why we’ve seen a sudden uptick in these beautiful red birds (climate change?), but they are lovely.

The playdoh creations the kids made one afternoon for over an hour. Together. No fighting. It was amazing.

The Arts for Kids hub projects the kids made one afternoon for over an hour. With new oil pastels they had to share. No fighting. It was miraculous.

Family walks; especially the stretch where Levi and I did mental math for 25 minutes per his request.

I won’t tell you how many Keto Mug Cakes (this recipe) I made during the week. Okay, I’ll tell you. I made one every single day and they were delicious (topped with a spoonful – or two – of peanut butter which melts into a pool of liquid peanut butter gold).

EXERCISE | Daily walks. I only ran once this week – Levi was home from school multiple days and all the hassles of being a grownup sapped my energy. But, John and I managed to fit in one long run together yesterday and it was great! Years ago, when I was running more regularly, I had a favourite route which was 8.34 km (how’s that for specific; I’m sure the distance varied slightly, but this is the number that stuck in mind). My goal this year was to work up to running that same route. Check.

THRIFTING | A pair of sneakers at a local consignment store. In like-new condition; $25 – $12 credit (from clothes I’ve consigned) = $15 (taxes included) for new sneakers!

ADVENTURING | Last Thursday, about an hour after we’d returned from visiting an abandoned textile factory and old railway cars, and about 5 hours after we’d returned from our long hike to Cape Split, a friend texted to see if our family was up for a “playdate” after she finished work on Friday.

I knew Friday was going to be nuts at work, and it had already been a busy week (what with all the water pouring out onto the kitchen floor). I waffled, wanting to say no but also remembering this friend, and her husband, are some of the best adventurers we know.

So we said yes. And she suggested Medford Beach.

Several years ago John and I visited these local rock formations (about 20 minutes from our home), and we’ve been planning to take the kids ever since. Last Friday ended up being the perfect opportunity; the tide was perfectly aligned for an early evening/post-work adventure. We had the beach and formations to ourselves and the weather was ideal.

After exploring for a few hours we all came back to our place and heated up waffles (this recipe, always) and played JustOne.

And then I did laundry on Saturday morning, for obvious reasons.

I love this picture John captured of the kids. The beautiful formations + their candid smiles.

Below are two throwback pictures from the last time John and I visited; sadly the archway of the bottom formation has eroded in the last few years.

And that’s all from me. Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend – with nary a plumbing or banking debacle.

And here’s to a Friday that feels…like a Friday (not a Monday).

27 thoughts on “Casual Friday + A Week of Mondays”

  1. I have a Carolyn Dooner book on my pile right now – it’s not that one, though.

    Hypocrisy like what you’ve described drives me crazy. I mean, we should all be doing what we can for the planet. We should all do our best. But hounding other people and then wasting resources like that is frankly stupid. There are things we all get right and things we don’t, but berating other people for their choices is not only unkind, it’s hypocritical.

    Sorry Levi was sick and fingers crossed you are all well for your trip. That is VERY nerve-wracking. Also nerve-wracking, banking issues! Ahhhh! So stressful.

    1. Yup. Nerve-wracking and both situation are virtually complete out of anything I can control. But, such is life I suppose?!

  2. That beach is 20 minutes from your house? You are so lucky- it looks incredible!!!
    Sorry for your week of Mondays (ugh, that sounds awful but I’m also laughing a little at that description.) Glad the plumbing situation got fixed! And, I have a recipe for keto mug cake that I haven’t made in a while, but now that you’ve reminded me of it i’m making it this weekend!

    1. While the beach is only 20 minutes away, it is in a bit of an obscure location, and many people don’t even know it’s there so it’s a bit of a hidden gem. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the country!! On the 8K run I mention, the route takes me right by a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I try to really appreciate the high density of breathtaking scenery and interesting locations. Aside from the winters, living in Nova Scotia is incredible (also with a relatively low cost of living and relaxed pace of life).

  3. Wow, those photos of Medford Beach are extraordinary! I REALLY want to visit Nova Scotia! It just seems impossibly beautiful.

    YAY for working plumbing! I am so, so glad it is fixed and everything is working as it should. Thank GOODNESS for plumbers, right?

    And BOO for annoying banking situations. Those are so frustrating and so tedious to fix.

    I thought your comment about Island of the Blue Dolphins was so interesting, because it was one of my FAVORITES when I was a kid. I have been longing to read it to my daughter, but haven’t yet (there are too many books to read!!!! and obviously she has reading desires beyond my childhood faves lol), and now I wonder if I… shouldn’t? What if it doesn’t hold up?

    1. Nova Scotia really is a jewel in Canada’s crown. I might be slightly biased, but I’ve spent a lot of time in New Brunswick (and my parents still live there) and I would choose Nova Scotia 100x over! So much coastline, a more temperate climate. I hope you make it to Nova Scotia at some point. It’s definitely worth a visit (and you could swing over to Prince Edward Island, too. It’s so accessible)! If you come, I’ll prepare an itinerary of our favourite spots 🙂

      I would definitely read the book to Carla. I’m not entirely sure why this book didn’t translate for me. As mentioned, I found it sad, perhaps in a way I wouldn’t have when I was younger? Just like reading the Anne books is a very different experience now that I’m a mother, I think I found the premise of Island of the Blue Dolphins more heart-wrenching than I would have as a child. Also, I loved The Swiss Family Robinson SO much as a kids, that will always be my gold standard in the shipwreck/isolated living genre, and it’s just a very different style book than Island of the Blue Dolphins. It’s such a short book so I think you have nothing to lose. And Carla might adore it?!

  4. Speaking of online shopping and returns….I keep having this “idea” floating around in my head lately. I’ll see if I can explain it coherently.

    So, you know how shopping malls seem to be kind of going downhill- at least around here. In-store shopping seems to be a struggling industry, yet we all still need clothes…. hence the uptick in online shopping (for those of us who do not have nice local thrift stores ;).

    But I personally do find online shopping to be very difficult! Sizing is not consistent, pictures don’t always do justice, etc. So I’ll admit, sometimes (not too often, but I’ve done it) I will order two different sizes of something, planning to just return the one that doesn’t fit. (Not to mention, they usually make you spend at least $50 to get free shipping…so it can be hard to “just” by one on-sale $20 shirt, for example….which is frustrating). Anyway, I keep having this thought- if eventually the malls go “under”, what if they turned at least some of those spaces into like, online shopping “hubs”? Meaning- you could order stuff online from home (hopefully with free shipping) and it would be sent for you to pick up from this “online shopping hub” center. Inside would be sort of generic pick-up centers- not separate “stores” like are in the malls currently. So you’d pick up your order from a kiosk or something, and then there would be a bunch of fitting rooms, so you could open up and try on your stuff right away. Then anything that needed to go back would just go back, and a return could be processed immediately. Popular stores could then batch ALL their shipments and returns into say, one big shipment back per week (since theoretically other people would be visiting this location and doing the same thing). The idea would be that you could go to one single location and pick up/try on/ return your shipments from a variety of different stores, all in one place.

    The customer wouldn’t have to mess around with packaging things up and driving to a separate postal location for returns. And the stores could save money/efficiency by batching their shipments to just one place- same with returns.

    Yes, we’d still have to drive “to the mall”/ this online shopping hub, but it still seems it could be more efficient than delivery trucks dropping off single items all over town every single day. I guess I’m not sure exactly who would pay for operating this building- maybe somehow the stores would all chip in? I don’t know, lol! I’m not a businessperson. But I feel like it’s not a terrible idea!!! Could make some of the stress of online shopping better, too, if you knew you could easily and painlessly return things WITHOUT feeling like it’s either a huge hassle OR so terrible for the planet. I suppose some might object, saying it’s more convenient to have items come straight to your house. But I’d be willing to go to a local, central, convenient location, at least sometimes, if it was a win-win for everyone, including the planet.

    1. To be clear- the idea would be that you could have stuff sent from ANY online business to this online shopping hub- not just the select few “in the mall” stores, like we currently have. (Most of our mall stores are not the greatest anymore. Most of the clothes we want to order come from stores that we do not even currently have brick and mortar stores in our area- or stores that are online exclusively!)

    2. Kae, I think you need to quit your day job and make this happen. It is a GENIUS idea.
      (To be clear, I have definitely ordered more to get free shipping/ordered various sizes – for the very reasons you mention). I find online shopping almost impossible (I know some people have great success with it but I can’t think of a single thing I’ve bought online – other than socks, maybe – that has actually worked well for me. This is another reason why I LOVE thrifting because I can actually try on the clothes!).
      Seriously, this is such a great idea. Malls where we live are also in pitiful shape with very few tenants. The pandemic feels like the final nail in the proverbial coffin.
      I also think having a centralized place would be nice in terms of NOT having to manage the returns (printing off labels, getting to a post office). If things came into a centralized spot and you could try things on and then return from that very spot, the whole process of returns would feel so much less onerous.

    3. This exists kind of for Amazon – you can return things to Kohls, then they batch them in huge containers to send back. I would hope it reduces the carbon footprint somewhat! But I see what you’re saying though, this would be even better if it were for ALL stores!

      1. I actually only just heard about this recently through another blog. I don’t live the US (and don’t have access to Kohl’s), but this seems like a mutually beneficial arrangement for both stores (when people come in to return…they’ll likely buy something from Kohls!), but will also hopefully reduce the overall carbon footprint!

  5. Nova Scotia looks absolutely beautiful. Having such a gorgeous beach so close must be a real boon to you! I keep thinking that maybe I’ll do an epic road trip to Canada sometimes, but it just hasn’t worked out. Someday!

    1. Nova Scotia really is such a beautiful place (and most spots are within 2-3 hours driving distance; it’s a small province). Admittedly we don’t go to Medford very often. The part of the coast where we live (which boast the world’s highest tides) have very muddy beaches since they’re tidal. But we can get to a “white-ish” sandy beach in about an hour.
      I hope you manage to do that road trip to Canada.

  6. I’ve read The F*uck It Diet, and I think I liked the book The Anti Diet a little better. That beach is amazing and you’re lucky to have it so close!

    I feel like with kids and houses it’s just one thing after another. As soon as your sink is fixed, something else happens. It’s kind of impossible for anything to actually go right these days! Orders get messed up, banks don’t know what they’re doing, etc. It’s actually made me more minimalist because I don’t want to deal with things! But yes, you do actually need a kitchen sink and a bank unfortunately 🙂

    1. These “anti-diet” books (and I went and put The Anti Diet book you mention on hold at the library) are a new-to-me perspective in some ways. Most “diets” either restrict calories or restrict a certain food ground (i.e. on paleo you can eat all you want, but only of certain foods). I think I’ve naturally tended toward some form of intuitive eating, but it was a good reminder that I need to feed my body and sometimes just listen to the cues it’s giving me (it’s not a bad thing if I’m hungry some nights at 10 pm; it could very well be exactly what my body needs to thrive).

      You’re on the money with the kids and houses (sometimes both at once). I think this is a big draw of minimalistic living to me, too. But kids will get sick or go through rough stages and houses just need constant repair. And yes, a sink and a bank account are both very handy modern conveniences I’d rather not live without 🙂

  7. You know, regarding consumerism/sustainability, I think most people can’t “do it all”… but I think every little step we take to be conscious of how we consume and help the planet is worthwhile. However, if someone makes it their “brand”, I agree that it’s hypocritical to only be environmentally conscious when it’s convenient (or hip).

    I hope the bank situation gets figured out. This is highly annoying and stressful. And yay for working plumbing. (We just discovered a leak under the sink and in the backyard… so I am waiting for the landlord to deal with it.)

    1. Absolutely, San. My rant was lacking enough context and I am absolutely guilty of hypocrisy (on various topics, consumerism notwithstanding) myself. As you rightly point out, every step forward is a positive one and I feel an obligation to do what I can to preserve the natural resources of our great world while recognizing I/we absolutely can’t “do it all.”
      In this case, it is largely about the branding to me. When people at climate conferences fly long distances to get there and chug out of plastic bottles and eat out of styrofoam take-out dishes and then tell others not to fly long distances, chug out of plastic bottles, or eat out of styrofoam take-out dishes…that sort of thing frustrates me. That said, it’s all VERY complicated. Because perhaps the only way to enact change on the big level is to fly to such a conference (where the only food and water available are served in fossil-fuel heavy materials).
      Maybe the root of my discontent after reading this book was a feeling of hopelessness? The world is set up in such a way it is HARD to not to be reliant on fossil fuels. The world is set up in a way where branding matters so much to individual (and corporate) success. This is a big topic I am NOT qualified to handle, so I leave it there. But, thanks for pointing out how valuable our individual efforts are, especially as they gain traction and inspire higher-level change.

      The bank situation is now ~80% solved, so it’s moving in the right direction. Hope your water woes are tackled smoothly and in short-order.

  8. I want to read bittersweet.. seems like an interesting book. does it have a conclusion or is It mostly descriptive?

    stunning pics!!!!! that color of the rock… isn’t nature so amazing?

    1. There are some takeaways I suppose, but it mostly weaves stories of how the topic of “bittersweet” impacts society (at both group and individual levels). It was a solid 3.75/4 for me; not a book I feel like I need to own/re-read, but I enjoyed it!

      Nature is the most beautiful art gallery around…:)

  9. “There are hundreds of little decisions that have to be made on the fly and while I hate making said decisions, I also don’t like to think of them being made without me.” This is so much me, too. I sympathize.

    I may be the only person on the planet to say this but I didn’t care for tuesdays with Morrie. I know, I know… you’re unfollowing me stat. But another book by Susan Cain I could get into. Hope your weekend is going well.

    1. I was underwhelmed by Tuesdays with Morrie, given the hype. It was fine and I enjoyed parts of it, but I’d never read it again or necessarily recommend it. I actually didn’t even finish Quiet (and feel like the only person on the planet who didn’t rave about it, especially since I’m an introvert). I really should try to read it again!

      Bittersweet was good, though not a book I’ll feel compelled to read again.

  10. Did you like Mitch Albom? Such glorious pictures! I’ll email you a couple of the babies – I’m home and missing them so much! You have so many online friends as a result of your blog – visitors to my writing blog are few and far between, but I’m a very irregular poster, too…
    Happy travels!

    1. Always lovely to see you’ve stopped by, Jan.
      I’ve still only read the one (Tuesday’s with Morrie); my reading of fiction has been very sparse lately, but I have a number of his books you mentioned on my radar.
      The utter joy of spending time with those new babies must make it so hard to say goodbye. Can’t wait to catch up on your trip soon and hear about all your ongoing creative ventures.

  11. These pictures are so beautiful! What an amazing gem to have so close to where you live.
    So glad your plumbing got fixed and now you have a functioning sink/dishwasher again. Hooray!

  12. Wow that beach looks so gorgeous! You live in such a pretty part of the country!

    I am glad Levi didn’t have covid and I hope you guys stay covid-free so you can take your trip as planned. I hope that nothing significant comes up on the renos while you are away! How stressful that you will have to test on the way to the airport. I hope it all goes smoothly!

    This has been the longest week with Will at home. The last 2 days weren’t too bad since it’s been nice outside but today it will likely rain all day so walks aren’t possible. 🙁

    1. I’m so sorry, Lisa! Hope Will is feeling better soon (and that Paul and Phil stay healthy!!).

  13. OK, you had a very Monday-ish week. I often refer to non-Mondays as a “Tuesday-that’s-a-Monday”. My parents always know exactly what I mean. I’ve also used “Jonah day”, which I THINK is from Anne, right? You know, the days when the whale eats you and you despair of ever getting free? 🙂

    Also, I am the most shallow of all of your commenters. Why? Because I am dying to know who that blogger is. HA! I have several I have unfollowed due to their complete focus on being “influencers”, and not providing any interesting content in the process. One went completely off the deep end, basically subsisting on any “alternative food” she could find.

    And yay for some new sneakers, a, and b, for spontaneous adventuring. I hope to learn from you! 🙂

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