Thursday, September 29, 2011

Snippets for Fall 2011

You know the ever elusive refreshing 20 minute cat nap? One that you may attempt on a Saturday afternoon,  but either end up being woken up approximately 0.893678 seconds into falling asleep, or actually getting to sleep and crashing out for a sweaty, sleep-crusty 2.5 hours that you wake up feeling completely disoriented (and frustratingly more tired)... of course I managed to catch one tonight during the first PVR'd Modern Family of the season. Out like a light after the first commercial break, only to wake up, get myself to bed and lay there for a solid hour, wide awake and unable to fall asleep.

Which brings me here... to you... for some incoherent ramblings...

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Maddie's "new" thing is picking out everyone's outfit in the morning. What started with her sometimes picking out her sister's outfits have morphed into Total Fashion Domination. She (sometimes) gets the chance to pick out the Hubs tie. She (always) picks out lil' Kate's duds. And my "walk her to school outfit" - meh, I'm down with being told what to wear - decision making before 8am was never my strong suit. Except yesterday - when she looked through my closet and picked out a green sparkly "going out dancing back when I was in my early 30's and perhaps did that kind of thing" tank top. She declared it JUST PERFECT and told me that OF COURSE it matched my yoga pants and no it WASN'T TOO FANCY for 8am. (I'd love to be that cool, "who cares what people think" mom and say I wore it ... but too effing bad - I do have some dignity...)

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Recovering from hernia repair surgery means I haven't been able to pick up (read: tote around on my hip for 68% of my waking hours) my little Katiebear. Like, at all. While still a tiny one, she definitely qualifies for over the 5-pound limit I have for the four week post-op recovery period. I've had plenty of help from my mom and MIL, and really, she's not had any lack of attention... but OF COURSE this past week is when she has decided to pull out the big guilt guns, right? And started mewling "MA-MA" whenever she wants a cuddle. (Also? As an aside? What is UP with toddlers sounding like baby goats when they first start saying "mama"? It's all gurgly and bleaty and baby-goaty, non?) So yes. To answer any aspiring-mom-to-be who may not know this - the emotional manipulation starts EARLY, yo.

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Aside from spending time not-picking-up-my-baby and not-wearing-sparkly-tank-tops-to-JK-drop-off, I've also been making good on my promise to get myself organized. The garage. Our closets. The spice cupboard (oh you don't even want to know what was going on in there). It's just been organize, organize, all the time organize, around these parts. (Which you know, makes the Hubs a BIG fan of me. *cough*cough* Lifting totes of clothes up and down 2 flights, back and forth, several times buddy - yay!) But at least I can say I've accomplished this month's goal. As for the actual list of goals for the next 11 months - that is coming... soon. Erm.... Shut up. I've been busy organizing...

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Remember that cookbook that Jerry Seinfeld's wife wrote a few years ago. Teaching moms everywhere to hide vegetables in various meals. Because, Yay! Healthy! And also, Yay! No more complaining from the loud, annoying kidlet at that table! Well, I saw it on one of the restocking carts at the library last week and was all... I'm Inspired! Let's make purees! And hide them in food! And try out new, weird, recipes!!!

Big fat 'effing failure. Three recipes in and I'm already eyeing up the pureed beets with suspicion of just HOW long will I let them take up precious ice cream space in my freezer before they hit the green bin.

I give them 3 months. A month per recipe failure perhaps...

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It's an old friend's birthday this weekend and I'm taking her up on an afternoon facial, some hardcore window shopping for me (here I come Anthro - you better be ready for me), and an evening soiree. My prediction for the outing goes like this... I spend so much time window shopping I don't allot nearly enough time to hair-straightening-the-mane, and therefore spend the evening looking like a 1987 throwback (thereby solidifying my entrance into cougertown), I drink just that one glass too many glasses of proseco and become the loud "I DON'T GET OUT MUCH" lady at the party, and spend at least a half hour on the drive home looking for a drive-thru McD's in downtown TO so that I can scarf a hangover-reducing Sausage & Egg combo (supersized for the extra hashbrown) on my drive home to the 'burbs and screaming kidlets. All in all - a great time that I'm VERY much looking forward to...

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Speaking of girls' nights out ... I'm planning an awesomesauce party of my own for November. It's an idea I first saw on Pinterest (if you haven't checked this site out, you need to set aside, oh, AN ENTIRE WEEKEND, to really go through and savour the gorgeousness and inspirational messiah that it is)... It's called a Favourite Things Party and essentially is this: everyone brings their favourite thing (anything they like... favourite lip gloss, favourite kitchen tool, favourite gift wrapping supply, etc). It can't cost more than $6 and each person brings five of the same thing. Then, everyone draws names - and there's a massive exchange, so everyone goes home with 5 different items - of other's party-goers' favourite things... I think this, along with copious bottles of wine and kid-free weekend status will make this a fairly fantastic evening.

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That's all I've got... Oh - a Seamus update.... he's still around (barely, some days) - his puppy-ness is starting to subside (as in, no more chewed toys/shoes/random boxes of kleenex), but he seems to have forgotten everything he ever learned in puppy class. He can't walk on a leash for shite, he still jumps on everyone (including Kates - which doesn't help her "new walking status" so much), and he stinks. Like very, very bad. It's like he's rolled in a pile of mildewy, rotting, wormy, leaves. Every day. All the time. Mr. Stinksalot. (Yes, I've tried bathing him - it just adds the distinct odour of "wet dog" to the above.) Maybe it's a terrier thing? It bothers me less-so than the Hubs - but even I can't deny he is a stinky gross smelly hotmess. Awwwww - and he's all miiiiiiiiiiine!

Yes, that's totally a skull + crossbones leash. Maddie calls him her "Pirate Dog".

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And on that note..... I'm hoping the two mugs of warm milk I've had while writing this incoherent mess of a post will actually do something and I'll catch some zzz's. G'nite.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

I would like to thank...

With the Hubs off the past week taking care of me (Aside: I got to cross one of my "firsts" of my life list - reluctantly - surgery - nothing major, just a little hernia thanks to having two massive baby bellies in the past 3 years - for that I get a frankenbutton and the inability to lift anything over 5 pounds for a month - can I get a wootwoot?) I decided to take advantage of his spare time and get a good start on the organizing resolution for the month. 

After months of renos, our garage was PACKED full of items that needed to go. I'm talking full on hoarders-style garage where things were packed on things and tables were precariously stacked upon boxes and bags of SHITE (this is where any good blogger would insert a pic of said hoarders-style garage - but not me - I keep you guessing as to just how disgusting it was!)... Luckily for me, I was up and able to move around enough by Monday to start snapping pics and measuring furniture. Several hours later I had posted everything that needed to go on Kijiji or Freecycle. Within the week I've made over $250 and reduced the clutter in our garage by, oh, 70%? (Yes, there was some big stuff in there - but still, I am awesomesauce - just for the record.) I got $50 alone for the drapes that were hanging in our house when we bought it - which I promptly took down, stored in the garage and FORGOT ABOUT for 4 years. That's like finding money right there, my friends. For drapes that I never did, and was never gonna, use.

So thank you Kijiji, thank you Freecycle.... your powers of clutter-reduction have brought me a lil bit of zen this week.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Project: Happiness

This summer has been balls. I got laid off. We've been living with extensive home renovations, which has been hard, really hard. Needing to get out of the house for weeks at a time meant living out of a suitcase. Arguments. Tired, off-schedule, cranky kids.

I can usually look at a situation that bites and see (good or bad) what needs to be done to improve it. It's a talent (sort-of) - very useful in a professional sense. On a personal level I've been called ruthless on more than one occasion. But I'm efficient. I'm a problem-solver. I get things done.

Until this summer. I don't know if it was being laid off (sorry, restructured) that threw me off balance. Or not being able to live in my house for almost 3 months. We were there - on and off - but never living in any kind of order, and always under a cloud of drywall, carpet, renovation dust.

Two major life stressors at once. Two children with non-stop summer colds and sore throats and ear infections and fevers and just sickness. Two adults that weren't getting enough sleep or "me" time or sleep.

It all resulted (and is still in recovery stages) of a very "hard" time for our family. One that you'll look back on in memory as "Oh that was the hard summer" or, "Yes, lucky we survived that time". It's a period that requires italics in the memory banks of our brains, for one reason or another.

But we are coming out the other side - renos are complete. Maddie has started school. Fall is approaching. A change of seasons always brings about a change of mindset. And fall, being the start of a new (school) year for so much of your life always has felt (to me) like the true beginning of the "new year".

At such a key time, this past month I have been reading the book, "The Happiness Project" by Gretchin Rubin. I think it was during a regular errand-filled pilgrimage to the local Walmart, where I was walking around zombie-like, with Pampers and dog food piled high in my cart, that I noticed the book on display in a middle aisle. I know I stopped suddenly in front of the display, because I remember the lady behind me giving me a sigh of annoyance as she veered around me. I had promised myself not to buy any more new books (in one of my first efforts to hone a thriftier household budget), but after glancing at the book jacket and "Note to the Reader" I couldn't put the book back on the display. And so, it came home with me. And slowly (about as slowly as possible actually, as leisurely spare reading time is not freely on tap of late) I read the book.

Any time I've tried to explain the book's concept, people have responded, "oh it's a self-help book"... it isn't. It really is just, almost, a thesis if you will, of another person's attempt at making her life happier over an extended period of time. And the premise on which she did that, was to break it into "themes", assign them to months and tackle it as it if was just like any other project. Except this one is completely and utterly self-serving. Selfish, in fact. As it really is her own happiness (not her family's, not her children's) that she is concerned about for the entire book.

And yet - shocking, I know - the result of her being happier of course is her family, her children become happier as well. Be it through changes they make in reaction to her changes, or resulting from the benefits of the changes she makes.

It's quite fascinating - and inspiring. So much so, that I in fact, have been inspired to start my own project happiness. One that I'm going to document here - even just as a behavioural check to ensure I stick to it and at least reflect on any results - good or bad - that I observe. (Don't worry, this isn't going to become a self-improvement blog where I pontificate about how to become a better person. In no way will this be a major life overhaul. But perhaps an interesting way to set some goals - resolutions - and see if it makes a difference in the end if I follow them or not)... And dudes - if there was ever a time where I could use a little dollop of happiness - now is it.

Following the same type of structure the author set, I'm going to assign "themes" to each month. Here is September (hoping the results of it will help me get the rest of my months planned out!)...

Project: Happiness - September - Month of Organization
I picked organization because I have a lot going on in my head and it's hard to be focussed and make progress on anything lately because of so many things floating around up there. So before I get started on making progress on anything, I think I need to get organized...

- clean car (like, really, really clean the hell out of it)
- clean off dining room table (this is our junk/mail/bills/papers depository and just makes everything look messy on our main floor at all times) + keep it clear for entire month
- Kijiji/Freecycle/give away items in garage not returning to basement
- update Flickr + Facebook photo albums, organize and backup photo/videos on computer
- pack away summer clothes, sort through winter clothes - make goodwill donations and reduce wardrobes by 30%
- clear out email accounts, unsubscribe from unnecessary email lists and delete or respond to all incoming emails that day
- create remainder of monthly goals for Project: Happiness

Holy shit, I feel like I've just given myself a lot of work to do. And yet, it's so freeing to ignore a few of those other niggling "to do's" (like the bookcase for Katie's room or printing photos - that's just going to have to happen another month, and I refuse to worry, plan, spend any more brain-time on that).... so now, my "free" time will be spent attempting to bring some order to our lives and clear out some of the chaos, baggage, whatever...

Here's hoping I actually stick with it (my track record with proper "new year's" resolutions is absolute shite) - and if I don't, please feel free to openly mock me. In fact, I realize how loopy this post may sound anyways, so feel free to openly mock me in general.

Aaaaaaand..... away we go!


Sunday, September 4, 2011

First day of school

It only took me a month to write about it - not because it was traumatic in any way - life, as it does, has gotten in the way a lot, and this blog seems to be the biggest sufferer. Whatevs, no more apologies - back to the topic at hand...

Maddie's first day of junior kindergarten was August 4th. The school on our street offers both regular and "modified" school calendars - since we had heard so many great things about the modified program, we chose to enroll her in that schedule - which means we lucked out with getting the most amazing teacher for Miss Madds. She's young. She's stylish (bonus points from Maddie for all her cool belts and scarves and shoes). And she's so lovely and patient and everything you think a Kindergarten teacher should be.

So yes, kindergarten is a big shiny bright spot in our rather grey, grumpified life right now. Maddie loves it. She's learning, she's making friends, she misses it on the weekends. Pretty much the best case result for the whole "sending your child to school for the first time" scenario. Lucky = us.

How adorably cute is my firstborn on her first day?

And how adorably cute embarrassing is this exchange between us - right before we walked her to school for the very first time:

Me: So - when we get to the gate, you will go in with the other kids to line up for school. Mommy and Daddy will say bye to you at the gate.

Maddie: {silence}

Me: But that doesn't mean we won't be thinking about you the whole time you're at school. We'll miss you while you're there and we'll be there to pick you up as soon as you're done.

Maddie: Mommy, you won't be sad that I'm gone. Don't cry, okay Mommy?

Me: Umm.... well, I might be a bit sad. But it's a happy sad. I won't cry Maddie. I mean..... well, I'll try not to cry, okay? I will miss you though. Such a big girl, going to school. It's a big step. Mommy is very proud of you, boo.

Maddie: Mommy, I'll be right back, okay? You don't have to miss me. And don't cry, okay Mommy?

For all those friends that knew me, way back when, whoever thought I'd be counseled by a three year old not to shed emotional tears - yes?? Jeebus...