Casual Friday + Home Stretch

Our second round of family company arrives later today; this time it’s John’s brother, sister-in-law, and their brood of three adorable (yet rambunctious!) blond-haired boys. After they leave, our family unit is set to enjoy the grand finale to our summer – a much-anticipated lake adventure with friends – before settling into a week or so of downtime before school starts.

An update on the Renovations That Never End:

Drywall work started yesterday; it took weeks to find someone who was available/not sick, but everything has been taped and the first layer of mud is up! I’m expecting every surface in the house to be covered in a thin layer of white dust by the end of the day (just what one wants with a houseful of guests). It’s progress.

Our final energy audit inspection is next week. We had an initial assessment completed before all the renovations; they come back to reevaluate our house and there is a provincial rebate program that will help offset the cost of upgraded insulation and new windows. We have made a lot of the recommended changes, so fingers crossed we get some financial kickback?! We thought everything would be ready back in June and here we are scrambling at the last minute. We just need to finish some final insulation around one door and window before the auditor comes. We’ll see if it gets done in time (the drywall has to be finished first). Either way, it will be fine. And done.

Sweet friends have kindly offered to help us paint our exterior shed. They are all but holding our hand the entire way – bringing over necessary supplies (like paint scrapers! a power washer! sanders!) and showing us what needs to be done. We really are so out of our depth with home renos, so a huge thanks to C & E (seasoned renovators) for sharing their expertise and time.

More generally, this was another up-and-down week. Some days felt great. Others felt like a total slog. This summer has felt off-kilter from the start, like one of those crazy houses you see at science museums where you step into a room with wonky mirrors and angled floors that make you feel dizzy and mildly nauseous, even though it’s unmistakably adventurous. You can’t tell what’s real and what’s faulty perspective and it’s all a bit disconcerting.

I’m also weary about being so melodramatic, but there are big things happening with the house and parenting and company and careers and my health and I’ve felt a bit (a lot) paralyzed by it all lately. At this point, even little decisions feel exhausting. It won’t be like this forever; new issues will crop up, but many of the current stressors will be resolved in the near future.

In lieu of perpetuating further angst, let’s abruptly skip ahead to the good stuff, shall we?

  • A friend joined me for a lovely mid-evening walk to a local farmer’s market where we indulged in ice cream (waffle cone, please). When we were standing in line she looked at me and said: I’m never here without kids! How true. It felt refreshing to skip the petting zoo and climbing structure for a change; we found a quiet bench and watched the sunset. Also, one of my favourite flavours – Mariner’s Sea Salt Caramel – was back in stock.
  • John and I were able to squeeze in a run together. It was very hot. There were hills. And it felt great!
  • I jumped off the diving board at a local pool. Twice! To know me is to know I am always cold around water. And it was cold, but also so worth it.
  • We had an impromptu picnic one night for supper at a local lookoff. It’s only about 5 minutes from our house and is such a gorgeous spot (overlooking The Landscape of Grand Pré, a UNESCO World Heritage Site). We cooked a boxed pizza, grabbed a bag of chips and some water bottles, and headed out the door. It was such a nice evening and felt so…normal. Just the sort of summer experience that I love.
  • We went on a long family walk. John had to take a work call, and this actually ended up working well. The kids amused themselves quietly – finding unripened chestnuts and even a tiny caterpillar on our route. We used to do these long walks around the perimeter of our town daily, but it has been hit and miss over the last year. It felt good (and normal) to be doing this again as a family.
  • I did some “deep work” on the organization of digital work files (not something I typically prioritize during normal working hours) from 3:00-5:00 am. There have to be some upsides to insomnia.
  • I accepted a spontaneous invitation to pick blackberries on a local trail over a friend’s lunch hour. I was not dressed appropriately – a dress + white sneakers, so my shins are covered in briar scratches – but it was still fun).
  • Levi seeking me out for “one more hug” every night. He uses this as an excuse to leave his room after bedtime, but it still warms my heart…
  • Meatball! How have I not been talking about Meatball (our new hamster)? He is hilarious and sweet and loves broccoli more than anything in the world.

And a few more – rapid-fire – for good measure:

  • PB + banana on a warm, toasted flatbread
  • Playing Yes He Can by CAIN – LOUD
  • Honey roasted peanuts
  • Yellow rain boots
  • Hot showers
  • Watermelon-flavoured sparkling water
  • A sushi and salmon date-night at home with John
  • Making it home safely from a walk in a thunderstorm

And now I’m off – chaos is calling. Happy weekending!

22 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Home Stretch”

  1. Good luck with all your houseguests, renos, and rebates! That is a lot going on all at once!

    That picnic supper sounds so fun. I never think to do things like that, and we have been having a gorgeous summer so I COULD do that! Maybe I will, summer is not over yet.

    I’m sorry you’ve been struggling so much this summer but I love how you find the joy as well. Also, just the words “honey roasted peanuts” makes me hungry! Mmmm, love those.

    1. We picnic quite a bit with sandwiches on the road, but to go somewhere close enough where we could take hot food and not have a cooler to unpack when we got home felt…especially lovely!

      Thanks for the encouragement. The last few days have been good – busy with company, but I think also being in the middle of the chaos and busy moments is less tiring than anticipating it! I can see September on the horizon and that feels good, and also allows me to relax a bit more and enjoy the current moment.

      ALSO – for the first time in almost a year we DON’T HAVE STAGING on the outside of our house. Like, we can actually use our deck and open our sliding door. That alone makes things feel lighter.

  2. “I’m also weary about being so melodramatic…”

    I hear you on that one. When I bugged out of blogland in June, I was to that point. All the interior renovations, which had been planned since last fall & were FINALLY happening, well– they had me frazzled. Now we’re onto exterior issues, and while extremely pricey, I’m less uptight.

    Also, I want some watermelon-flavored sparkling water. I’ve not seen it around here and it sounds refreshing. A new quest when grocery shopping!

    1. Frazzled describes me to a “t” – glad you’re past the invasive inside renos and have moved on to the exterior. You’re 100% right about those things costing more money, but they also do feel at least a bit more removed from daily life and have less impact on how you move through your own space.
      I don’t like watermelon-flavoured things, normally, but have found this to be one of my favourite sparkling water flavours. I waited for over a year to try it, and now it’s a regular go-to.

  3. Oh, man. Home renovations that never seem to end are the worst. Funny story about painting a garage. The couple who owned our house before us primed the (white) garage, but never put a final coat of paint on it. One of our neighbors mentioned how it drove him insane that it wasn’t painted. Lo and behold, we’ve lived in this house for five years and we’ve never gotten around to painting it, either!

    Good luck with your houseguests – I hope it’s fun and delightful and that it’s not as stressful as you’re imagining it might be!

    1. I had to laugh. And I also want to ask if you’ve fixed that little piece of trim in your dining room (?).
      We have so many things that have been left undone and then it’s hard to get the motivation to take next steps. I think what doesn’t get tackled right away (or before moving in) is just so agonizing – to me at least.
      I was just saying to John the other day: I NEVER want to renovate a house again…but I know so much more about it now. Including: do most of the work BEFORE we move in. It wasn’t an option when we bought this place (and some of the big issues we didn’t realize were going to happen – problems with the drainage, removing four trees)…
      Live and learn!

      And thanks for the well-wishes. This round of company has gone more smoothly than I expected, mostly because I’ve kept my expectations and stress under control. I have literally said at least 50 times over the last 3 days: “Noy my circus, not my monkeys” to remind myself I don’t have to stress about other people’s plans. Sometimes it’s fine to just retreat to my bedroom and read a book or the news for 10 minutes!

      1. Yes!!! We (my husband) fixed the trim in the dining room!!! We had a houseguest last week and he just went to the hardware store and bought the necessary material and finished it in two days so it would be finished when she arrived. He also hung a curtain rod in the only window in the house that didn’t already have one. Yay!!

  4. GOOD LUCK! I hope you have fun with your visitors, and then you’ll be in the home stretch. I love the impromptu picnic, the fact that you had a great run, and the fact that you’re loving Meatball!!! It’s so funny how even the littlest creatures have such a personality.
    I love the picture at the top of this post!

    1. Yes! The home stretch, indeed.

      Isn’t that picture of Levi adorable? John (who is fine with not getting credit on his pictures that make their way on to the blog – but he really is such an incredible photographer, so shout-out once again for his skills!) took this at Medford Beach, one of our favourite local spots. We took this when my brother and sister-in-law were visiting. The kids found a huge rock to jump off and a little sandy spot right below. I heaved a sigh of relief when they were done and no one got hurt!

  5. It sounds like so much has converged to be going on this last several months. I hope the chaos was not too crazy and fun.
    I have seen watermelon sparkling water but wasn’t sure if I would like it. May have to try it!
    Hot showers are a favourite of mine as well! Today was my last day of vacation, which I spent buying a vehicle. With all of the shortages, it was more stressful than I thought it would be. But it is done and I should have it in six weeks. Good luck with your week.

    1. Thanks!
      I do NOT like watermelon flavoured things at all, but really enjoy the subtle flavour in the sparkling water. I will say, the brand I tend to use (a store brand – PC – here in Canada) has a lighter flavouring than many other brands. I might not like it in another variety that tastes stronger of watermelon. But I’ve been loving what I have.

      Three cheers to finding a new vehicle. It is a tricky time for sourcing them; I keep hoping things improve before we have to get a new car. Ours is over a decade old…so might be living on borrowed time?!

  6. It does sound like you have had a very busy summer! I do hope the renovations continue to go well without any hiccups. Your lake adventure sounds lovely. I hope your time with family is good. I can see why you are looking forward to September it sounds like you need a rest!

    1. Thanks!
      I’m also hoping for no “hiccups” – or, if there are “hiccups” that I can manage to keep everything in perspective?!

  7. Yes to watermelon sparkling water! Love it for summer. I always WANT to be productive when I can’t sleep but then I think maybe I will magically fall asleep if I just lay there SEETHING which of course has never worked not even once. How did you feel getting up and working? Would you recommend?

    1. Hmmm. I try to give myself a time limit (which might prevent me from falling back to sleep?) – is in, if I’m not back to sleep by 2:30 am, I will get up and work.
      For a while last year, when my insomnia was particularly bad, I would actually keep a list of Things To Do When I Cannot Sleep. I was very, very productive in those middle-of-the-nights…but I also burned out so badly. When I’m sleeping well, I do sometimes think “What I really need, is to wake up in the middle of the night so I can get caught up!”

      Unfortunately, I do not do early-morning wakings well. The kids tend to hear me up and find me and that breaks my concentration. So there are distinct advantages to working in the night. Often, I get back to sleep from like 5 – 7 am, but often feel pretty crummy – maybe worse than if I just powered through and stayed up?

      That’s a long answer to say: I’m not sure if it’s a good strategy, but I DO appreciate the fact I get a lot done in those quiet hours. And if you do find you stay awake for a long time, having a specific list of things you want to work through if you wake up, can help it to feel even more productive since you have a focussed plan.

  8. I hope you had a wonderful weekend with the family. I know having company can be stressful, but it’s also a memory-making opportunity 🙂

    I am sorry that you’re feeling so up and down these days, but I love that you’re still looking for the silver-linings.

    1. Memory-making indeed and we have made (and continue to make; they’re here 2 more nights) lots of memories. It’s busy, but we’ve actually fit in some nice downtime as well.
      Things feel lighter this week now that the anticipatory stress of several things has passed!!

  9. Oof, working from 3-5am sounds awful! I hope your insomnia improves soon. I am sure all the changes around you are not helping matters. Hopefully when things quiet down, your sleep will improve. You must be exhausted. I remember almost falling asleep while going to the bathroom at work when my insomnia was bad in 2015.

    You have hosted a lot of family! I will say I do not enjoy hosting people very much… a night or 2 is fine but I don’t like to be encroached upon as awful as that sounds! But we have not hosted many people and people’s stays are very short when they do visit! So an easy guest or close family for a night is easy peasy. But 3-4+ days would be so hard for us! But my husband also hates being a guest, so we don’t stay w/ others very often either.

    1. It was relatively isolated; thankfully nothing like the issues I had last fall. I remember you linking to – and me reading – your post about insomnia. I’ve actually used melatonin a bit more lately (after your reading your experience) and it does really seem to help a lot!

      We’re nearing the end of our company. It’s a lot for me – I’m not the personality type that loves having people visiting. But, I really enjoy the memories, so it’s a tradeoff I’m willing to make. That said, after this summer…I’ve had my fill for a while! Especially since the last few years, most of our company has been visiting while we’re in the middle of renovations!!! It’s just layers of stress 🙂

  10. Elisabeth, I am so glad that the finish line for the visitors was in sight (they must have left by now, I suspect?!?!? :>) and that the renovations are progressing. Fingers crossed that by the time winter comes around, your home will feel much more like, well, home. You’ve had a lot of upheaval and uncertainty this summer; I hope that the coming seasons will feel more stable and grounded for you. I need that – I suspect you do, too.
    You know what I love about your picnic? It’s a meal that you *could* have just eaten at the kitchen table… but the simple act of driving 5 minutes made it a special memory. You are so wonderful at doing that for yourself and your family. <3
    And, ahem, if you can't be melodramatic here, where can you be? I love that you share your whole self – melodrama and all. After all, I do the same. But I throw in some whining, just to round it out. 😉

    1. Company is all gone! And renovations…continue to progress. It honestly feels like the slog that will never end, but some of that is our desire to keep costs low and some of it is the labour shortage that seems to be impacting the whole world.

      Isn’t it incredible how a short drive (literally 5 minutes) made such a difference in how special the evening felt.

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