Casual Friday + Middle School, Surgery & The Queen

Life has been busy. It was the first complete week of school and surviving this always feels like a bit of a triumph. The kids are settling into a rhythm (I managed to spell it right on my first try, Kae – miraculous); everyone seems reasonably happy, and some of the kinks are getting worked out in terms of logistics and relational hiccups.

notes from last weekend

Friday was packed full. By the time 8:30 pm rolled around I felt ready to collapse; once we got the kids corralled into bed, John and I retreated to the deck with drinks in hand and a beautiful moon view. What a lovely way to end the work week.

Saturday morning started well – coffee outside while our kids played. Little by little a large crowd of kids gathered at our place. I’ve been trying to be outside more to help with some complicated neighbourhood dynamics. But, honestly, being in the fray just stressed. me. out. John saved the day by planning a long hike for the kids at Blomidon. They’ve been begging to go back and when your kids are ASKING to do a ~12 km hike, why say no? I stayed home and tackled work all afternoon. Win, win. I don’t mind working on the weekend when I know I can transfer some of the benefits of this flexibility into the regular work week. When they got home, John and I had a great at-home date night – the food was delicious and we watched the new Thor movie.

Sunday was busy. Abby has officially “aged” up into the middle-school group at church which meets during the second service. It felt odd to reorganize our Sunday morning (we usually go to the early service), but she loved her group! It did make me want to cry, just a little, when I dropped her off in a new room where EVERYONE LOOKS SO TALL and there are no pint-sized chairs. Wasn’t she just crawling around the nursery a week ago?

This meant we got home later than normal and didn’t finish lunch until 1:30ish. John and I needed to join heads on a work project, so we set the kids up with a movie (since we couldn’t supervise outside play) while we tackled that. We went right from this to a neighbourhood block party. Words cannot describe how much I did not want to attend this event. My introverted soul is weary, and I was definitely stuck inside the wrong storybook. But the kids were excited and, in the end, it was a lot of fun. None of the awkward/hard stuff I was envisioning actually happened. There was a know-your-neighbour Bingo where you had to mingle and find: someone who was 6 ft tall, someone who votes in every election, someone who had milked a cow, someone who had more than 2 siblings, someone who shared the same birth month (or year) with you, etc.

We left that mid-way through to go to a birthday celebration. There was ice cream cake and a trampoline for the kids; the adults sat around a fire pit and talked while the kids jumped…it was quite lovely.

By the time we got home it was LATE, but I felt inspired to tackle my inbox and batched that task (this time of year I get a lot of e-mails over the weekend, and my trick is to set messages to go out the next work day at 9 am).

MISC From the week

RUNNING | I was tired after the weekend and couldn’t face a Monday morning run. I felt mildly guilty all day but by supper time I felt more energetic and fit in my fastest run yet! I continued on with run-walk-run intervals and shaved another 14 seconds off my lowest average km pace. My continuous run yesterday (which felt great and fast) was slower than my interval run, which still seems surprising!

SOUP | I made a loose reconstruction of the Creamy Tortellini Soup from Pinch of Yum. I’ve been making it for a few years, but do it differently every time (always with coconut milk instead of heavy cream). It was delicious and I froze some leftovers.

SURGERY | Big news – it looks like my surgery will happen next month. Lots of emotions on this, but mostly excitement and relief. While there is no “convenient” time to have a 6-week recovery, the timing is not half bad. It will come after my 5K, Canadian Thanksgiving, and a slew of major work commitments; things should be back to normal well ahead of the Christmas rush. Pre-op appointments have already started!

WORK | September/October is the most intense period of the year for me. I had a few daunting calls that went SO well. It feels good to work hard and get back into a routine of interacting with adults again.

THE QUEEN | I have been spending an inordinate amount of time this last week on the BBC news site – almost exclusively to read headlines and in-depth profiles of the Queen. It’s hard to believe that she is gone. She was such a constant presence in the world and it seemed like she was always going to be there. It feels odd to reach for my wallet and see her face on every coin and bill and know that we now pledge allegiance to King Charles III. In retrospect, she was a grandmother figure to my generation. The kids now unexpectedly (!!) have Monday off school in honour of her funeral.

EXTRACURRICULARS | Things are changing, friends. Middle school comes with a whole new set of opportunities. Abby has access to school soccer. Next week she starts drama, and there are two youth groups and a youth choir. We have always been an “underscheduled” family with our kids registered for just about…nothing. This is definitely poised to change but I’m mostly feeling excited about it all.

RENOVATIONS | I’ve started having nightmares (or at least dreams about things going catastrophically wrong) about renovations. Gah! I can’t even escape it in my sleep. In reality, things are going just fine. We got our energy re-assessment done and are now crossing our fingers and toes the various promised rebates come through (we upgraded all the windows and doors in our 1970’s house + added a lot of exterior insulation). There are still all sorts of final little decisions – paint colours, vents covers, figuring out how to configure the entryway with some prefab IKEA options (we had to completely rebuild our old entryway because of rot and currently have no closet, shelves or working light fixtures). I don’t want to make another decision about our house – ever?! Hence the nightmares?

DECISION FATIGUE | To that end, I’m feeling very overwhelmed by all the decisions to be made – from big to small. Should I say yes or no to this extracurricular for a child? The painter is coming Friday – yikes, we need to finalize a colour! What clothes should the kids wear for picture day? When should we turn on the furnace to see if that August water leak ruined it (NO, we still haven’t done this yet, mostly because I just don’t want to make expensive furnace decisions. How’s that for classic avoidant behaviour)? How should I respond to a challenging work e-mail? What do I want to eat for lunch?

Oh, and which of the proposed time slots would be most convenient for having a part of my body sectioned out?

I hate decisions at the best of times and can tell I’m stuck in a spiral of wanting to pick the Right decision when there really isn’t a “right” or a “wrong.” I’m following the mental gymnastics of various scenarios: If x, y, and z happen, I should go with Decision 1; If a, b, and c happen, I’d be better off with Decision 2. At the end of the day I have various Perfectly Good options, but I’m getting hung up on finding that elusive Perfectly Perfect option. For the most part, decisions can be changed – extracurriculars can be dropped and bad paint choices can be corrected with a fresh coat of paint. I know this intellectually…but putting it in to practice is tripping me up. And then I add to the chaos by getting frustrated with myself for this response. Like, why can’t I just shrug my shoulders, make a decision (without researching it to death) and move on like a normal adult?

I think that’s a rhetorical question?

PICTURE BOOKS | The clock is winding down on this and it makes me sad. The kids still tolerate picture books, but never ask me to read to them. And now they’re more likely to focus on things like the illustrations or some deeper theme. It’s not “Ahhh, look at that cute chipmunk” it’s a comment like “Look at the detail in the shading on that chipmunk. What a great illustrator!” or interrupting me mid-sentence to ask: “Mama, did you know a group of chipmunks is called a scurry?” Sigh. I know I’m going to have to let go but I really, really don’t feel ready. Last diaper change and final bottle feeding? Mostly just a blip on my radar. But an end to stacks and stacks of picture books flowing through our house legitimately breaks my heart.

But let’s celebrate with some final curtain calls while it lasts, shall we?

The best ones from this week:

The illustrations in The Little Forest Keepers were simply adorable. Please Don’t Eat Me made everyone laugh.

JOYFINDING | Oops. I just complained a lot. As always there was so much good. I get to make lots of fun decisions, too. Like:

  • Tuna filling in my favourite hand-size nori. Delicious. Also delicious: my favourite oat muffins, snap peas, and an ice-cream sandwich.
  • A week delayed, I enjoyed my annual The Kids are Back in School! meetup with a bestie at our favourite coffee shop.
  • Visiting the Open House night at school; I got to sit in Levi’s pint-sized seat and left him a little note in his pencil case (he’ll get it today) and we slipped a note in Abby’s locker and left her a bonus message on her whiteboard.
People buy this? And store this where?
  • We are very minimal in terms of Halloween decor and activities, so our kids live vicariously through sightings of holiday gitch at Home Depot.
  • The night sky. We got home late one evening and John showed the kids various constellations and snapped more great images of the heavens. Gorgeous.

Kids, work, home…the hours have continued to flow by, thankfully without any major catastrophe. I’ll call that a win.

Happy weekending friends. What are you most looking forward to in the week ahead? Do you ever suffer from decision fatigue where even little choices start to feel…overwhelming? What joyfinding have you done this week?

Header photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

26 thoughts on “Casual Friday + Middle School, Surgery & The Queen”

  1. Decision fatigue, I have it too. In reference to the never-ending list of things that need to be upgraded in this house. It’s all great when it’s done, but deciding gives me nightmares.

    I agree about the inordinate amount of time the BBC has spent on the Queen, and now the new King. It’s news, I get that, and she was like a great-grandmother to me, but maybe a little less jibber-jabber, a little more quiet respect is in order?

    1. I just didn’t expect the nightmares to become literal – as in, when I’m sleeping! Alas, this too shall pass and in my better moments, I reframe it all to recognize what a special privilege it is to own a home and be able to make improvements.

  2. Well, the surgery is scheduled! So very glad that it is at a more convenient time of year, and so hopeful that it has the results you are looking for.

    The renovation nightmares sound awful! As if you don’t deal with that headache enough when you are awake!

    Glorious photo of the night sky — wow.

    Hope your weekend is great!

    1. Ha. Thankfully the nightmares have been much worse than the reality. And we managed to cross a few more items off the list today. Slow and steady and the race will eventually be over!!

      And thanks for the well wishes on the surgery!

  3. I am glad your surgery is on the horizon. I think/hope you’ll be so glad you did it when it’s behind you. My sister went through something similar almost 2 years ago and afterwards she said she wished she had the surgery sooner!

    I definitely can suffer from decision fatigue. I would have a really hard time w/ a big renovation project. I hope the end is sort of in sight for you guys!!

    Even if your kids outgrown picture books, I think you should keep getting them/reading them at the library. They are really so delightful and I am fully enjoying the picture book stage!! We read so many good books with such wonderful messages. So please keep sharing your gems. I always request them from my library when you recommend books! I have you to think for “The Dinosaur that Pooped the Past” which is a book Paul still talks about!

    This past week was pretty exhausting with my work travel but there were good parts and it was time well-spent. I just struggle with mom guilt big time. I come back tired but then feel like I need to be a super parent to give Phil a break as he had an exhausting stretch of solo parenting! What I’m looking forward to the most this week is getting my hair cut/colored on Tuesday. I took the day off since my appt is at noon. My hair person has really cut back her hours so I have to take what I can get! Then on Thursday we have family photos which I am glad we are doing but can’t say I’m looking forward to? But we are doing them at 5pm this year instead of in the morning so I think/hope it will be a more pleasant experience. We did photos at like 8-8:30 last year so we would be done before Will’s nap and it was a hectic morning and it was unexpectedly cold that morning! The weather looks fall-like on Thursday so we likely won’t be out there shivering. 🙂

    1. Oh man – I dread family photos every year. We ALWAYS did them in the morning to prioritize naps/bedtime, but this year if we do them it will be much later in the day. Every year is was freezing or there was still dew on the ground so our shoes got soaked. The end result is always worth it, but there were so many miserable moments over the years (and why did I never think to do it in the summer? I guess I’m a sucker for fall colours on a Christmas card, but it was a big Mom-fail!)

      A haircut sounds wonderful. I’m overdue but it takes weeks to get in and I’m always hesitant to book it too far out because I hate being tied down by a 30-minute hair appointment (I just get it cut there, not coloured so it’s pretty quick).

      I might still get some picture books but the true magic happens when I read to the kids. I’d love when a story made them giggle or when they’d beg me to re-read a favourite.

      A friend for me started on the Dinosaur That Pooped books…and they were all SUCH a hit.

  4. Oh, the surgery is scheduled! Yay! I mean, yay? It’s uncertain, isn’t it? Fingers crossed it goes off as planned and that it offers you some relief.

    While our Halloween decor isn’t quite as extensive as our Christmas decor, it’s getting close. We have two Rubbermade totes with Halloween lights and decorations in our basement. I mean, we don’t have any house-sized skeletons or anything, but October is a fabulous month dedicated to all things spooky. My favorites are some orange and purple rope lights we put around the four pillars on our front porch. The house looks amazing.

    1. I have one set of mini light covers I put up over a string of mini lights on our mantle and we usually carve a pumpkin. That is literally it!!

      Thanks for the well wishes. Hoping everything goes smoothly and long term it ends up being a rousing success for my overall health.

  5. You’re practically famous! That was a REALLY nice shout out- not only did she link to your blog post but recommended that people start reading it regularly- how exciting! Soon I’ll be one of the “little people” who knew you when.
    Anyway… I’m guessing the kids’ school goes through middle school- here, most schools are elementary (kindergarten- 5th grade) and then they switch to a different school for 6-8. So Abby is middle school age but didn’t actually switch schools? Still- it’s a milestone. I can see why you’re sad to see the end of picture books. But you can be like Gretchen Rubin- she’s very into children’s literature and that includes picture books, even though both her kids are in college now.
    Ha ha ha… i know a blogger (Hungry Runner Girl) whose husband goes nuts for Halloween and they got that giant skeleton. I have no idea how they’re going to store it.
    Good luck with the surgery! Good news that it’s moving forward.

    1. Ha – practically famous might be a stretch! But I’ll take it as a compliment❤️

      Our school does go from P – 8 which is lovely! I think it makes the transition less jarring (and, bonus, we can walk both kids to school together!!)

  6. Way to go on spelling rhythm correctly! I feel like I recently kind of cured myself on this one too, because it annoyed me so much that I always misspelled it… so I finally took a good long hard look at the word one day, and was like, “Ok. Only one y. 2 h’s. Every other letter only appears once. I can do this.” hehehe!

    I just read a blurb in my book about decision fatigue, and it said essentially that if you can’t tell if option A or option B is better (and there’s really no further information easily accessible to determine this), then for all intents and purposes, they are equal choices. So, just pick one. I liked that!

    I can appreciate your wistfulness at the end of the picture books. We haven’t read a picture book in a long time (sad…. I wonder when we read the last one? I’ll never know. sob. haha.). Actually, not totally true, because we still do often pull out the holiday picture books, and the boys will humor me and let me read them a couple Halloween or Christmas books. We switched over to reading novels together years ago, and actually through earlier this summer they were still game for that, despite being pretty old now! But they haven’t asked in months now, and I haven’t brought it up again… I feel like my youngest would still go for it, but my older might be like, mom, i’m too old for this…. Maybe he’d agree if I swear I won’t tell anyone. ha.

    1. I’m definitely not cured – I’d say I have a 75% fail rate on rhythm still!

      A great point about decisions, and I think I’m getting better at this…sometimes there sheer number of decisions (even a combo of mostly “little” ones) can feel overwhelming!

      We’re REALLY dropped off the novel reading; this was a huge part of our entertainment during COVID, but…the rhythm (ha!) of our family has shifted such that reading a few chapters over a meal or at bedtime just doesn’t seem to make as much logical sense. Or it would take a lot more work from me as the kids no longer go looking for this sort of engagement. I guess that’s life, though, eh?!

  7. As someone who (multiple times) woke up in a cold sweat regarding the placement and size of a bathtub, I fully sympathize with your renovations worries. They are expensive. Mistakes are difficult to fix. Sometimes you have to look at and be annoyed by your bad decision daily (white painted floor).

    1. Thanks, Sarah!! It feels a bit (or a lot) ridiculous how “big” these “little” decisions can feel, but there are many ripple impacts regarding convenience or cost. I also think I’m a maximizer at heart and would give just about anything to be a “satisficer.” I notice mistakes especially if those mistakes are because of a choice I made. I have a hard time letting go/giving myself grace.

      I WILL say, that this seems to dissipate over time. I’m most upset about a bad decision right after it happens; eventually, things normalize and I’m not as frustrated by a paint choice or a light switch placement.

  8. I’m so glad you have your surgery scheduled! It’s good to just have a date so you can plan around it.

    It’s a busy week ahead here for me. Teaching has started up, my son’s wrestling has started up although as soon as we can get a parking pass for him he can DRIVE HIMSELF, which is the biggest parenting win ever. Also he’s going on a camping trip with his gym class at the end of the month, so we are busy preparing for that.

    1. Yes! I love to plan and having a set date feels reassuring.
      Busy times indeed. KIDS THAT CAN DRIVE = #LifeGoal…and also #Nightmare. I can’t wait and I’m also secretly horrified there will come a time when either kid gets behind the wheel of a car.

      Camping in September…brrr. It has been cold here at night lately, but I think if I was still a teen, I’d likely not mind the thought of tenting in potentially chilly weather!

  9. Woooo so soon for the surgery, i’m sure you are nervous. i’m sure it will go well and hopefully it address your long time issues.
    sometimes I get decision fatigues too when they come all at the once then I don’t want to make any decision. in those times, I just write them down and deal with those that matters later once in a calmer state.
    i’ve heard about how school changes from elementary to middle school, so makes sense that their extracurricular activities also change with kids interests.
    oh… finally good that you listened to your body and didn’t run in the morning but once energy is back. being less structured is hard because we don’t know it’s real or we are making an excuse to not run, but more time than not, extra rest is what we need to make the next run more enjoyable.

    1. Writing things down is a huge help! I’ve always loved the quote: Action is the antidote to anxiety and that is so true. Sometimes it can be hard to get over the hurdle of worry/stress, but even the “action” of writing everything down in one place is a great way to start.

  10. That is great that you have the surgery date set. You nailed it that a scheduled surgery will never have a “right” time. I had surgery 5 years ago so the kids were 7 and 4 and a half then. The first week was tough, but I had some friends who brought food and my husband was off to do kid wrangling.

    I am also a maximizer and feel decision fatigue hard. There are lots of good ideas in the comments and then being kind to yourself as well.

    1. I’ve actually been literally exhausted for the last few days and I can’t quite figure our why. I’ve been getting much better sleep than I did over the summer. But I think it’s just a recovery slump of having so much literal sleep to make up + really crashing from months of an overload of decisions. Ugh. I’m feeling crummy about being so tired, but also need to show myself grace and patience.

      Yes – I’m very glad the kids are old enough to be largely independent for so many day-to-day activities and we have some great support systems locally that will help with food etc.

  11. Making decisions is hard. Making multiple decisions at the same time is even harder. I am not good at making decisions, especially when they have longer term implications… but overthinking doesn’t usually help either. I like the idea of “building a house” or making renovations, but I think I would overthink decisions ad absurdum! (Often because I have a eclectic taste and it would be so hard to stick with “one theme” LOL).

    I am so glad to hear that the surgery is going to happen – even though a 6 week recovery is always inconvenient to fit it, just remind yourself how much time it will “free up” in the long run if you don’t have to deal with the issues anymore.

    1. I USED to want to build a house. I honestly don’t know how I’d survive. BUT, it is a little different when you’re not living in the space as work is being done. I think that makes it a bit harder. And there are some decisions you make once and you’re done – like picking out a toilet is about the same amount of work if you’re doing one, or building a house that needs 3. The same research is mostly required in both situations. That said, I don’t think I’ll have the courage to build anytime soon.

      Yes! It is a bit surreal to think such a huge thing impacting my quality of life will be changing – hopefully exclusively for the better, though I am wary of some of the side impacts. But…I’ll cross those bridges at a later time. I’m very confident in my decision to move forward, so feel at peace about next steps.

  12. I am really glad to hear that surgery has been scheduled, and I hope it provides the relief you’re looking for long-term. <3

    Decision fatigue is HUGE for me. I get very overwhelmed by decisions, and I can't imagine how many decisions go into a renovation. I've always envied friends of mine who get to build a house from scratch but then I think of all the decisions they have to make for said house… and my envy quickly leaves. Every little thing is a decision! No thank you.

    1. Thanks, Stephany. I’m cautiously optimistic 🙂

      I hate decisions. I also think building sounds so overwhelming…though, a) it is different if you’re not living in the space b) things tend to get a bit faster with a new build overall since multiple contractors can be working simultaneously on things where we have to piece it together on our smaller projects and c) sometimes you can make one decision that covers a lot of different areas – for example, you might pick one style of toilet out for every bathroom, or pick the same door/handle for every room. In that way, sometimes you have to make a single decision but it ticks off a whole bunch of boxes. When we replaced our toilet and did all sorts of research, it was only for ONE toilet. But if we had been building a new house, I would have done the same amount of research and applied that to every bathroom in the new house.

      All that said, I am so, so, so over renovations!

  13. So late to this but so, so glad that the surgery has been scheduled. I hope that it helps your symptoms, your quality of life, your (physical) health, your mental health… I know that is putting a lot on one surgery, but I also know that “just one” problem can have an outsize impact on all of those outcomes. I’ve been there – several times – and hope that you get the results you want. I’m also so, so glad that you are in the community you are – with your support system, your connections to the community. I hope – I know – that they will all step up to help you and John and the kids through this. Six weeks stinks…but think of how long you’ve been living with this!! And think of how many days you have lost to it. I hope that will all be in the past. <3

    I cannot fathom doing renovations. At this point, I can't even fathom moving. Making decisions is the worst. My best trick – but it doesn't work as well for things like this – is to make the decision then live with it for a while. So, picking between two jobs? Pick one, see how it "sits", etc. With this, it's more "pick something, close your eyes and jump (and hope it works)". I would be exhausted, too.

    Take care of yourself, friend. You have a lot going on and it would be overwhelming to me. I hope that when you come out of this crazy season, you feel better physically and mentally, your home is once again your own, and you feel more well-rested. (I also hope you do not have to make more important decisions for a while!)

    1. Thanks, Anne.
      There was a lot of busy, hard stuff to wade through this summer and I can slowly feel myself unclenching every muscle from the stress. I’m feeling good at the start of October and that makes me happy!

Leave a Reply

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