Monthly Archives: December 2015

Book Review: Magic is in the eye of the beholder

Like every mother of a toddler, my house has a general level of what my mother termed “messy build up” which we can never on top of because as soon as we clean up on area, Little C destroys it as we clean the next. But nonetheless, like every mother of a toddler, I frequently find myself bemoaning the face that we have too much stuff. Since the internet is losing it’s mind over the KonMari method, I thought “what the heck” and added The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo to my Christmas list.

I’m not sure what it says about my house that I received not one, but two copies of it.

With a full week between our last holiday obligation and our first day back at work, it seemed the ultimate time to tackle this project so I immediately dove into the book on the way back into the city. I realize that there are a lot of internet fads that I don’t get, but I didn’t think it would be this one. But boy oh boy, I don’t get this one. Her writing style irritated me (there was a lot of repetition and redundancy), her philosophy seemed cheesy (really? my socks need to “rest” in the drawer, so I should gently roll them?) and her method in general seemed to ignore the issues I am well aware that I have (keeping my kid’s toys corralled went against the whole “don’t organize someone else’s stuff for them” and quagmire of the kitchen couldn’t be solved by “keep only what sparks joy” because I hate cooking and so most of my kitchen stuff would end up in the garbage and we’d have to start eating out all the time, which would not spark joy in my digestive system).

That being said, as I read, I did think of some areas where I had decided against decluttering, or items I had avoided trashing because I was over-rationalizing their value. Perhaps the most valuable moment was visualizing what you wanted as an end result, beyond just a “cleaner house”. Why did you want a cleaner house? Why was that important? Why? Why? Ultimately, I often put off cleaning on evenings because I want to spend time with C after work. And I often feel stressed as we spend time together, because the toys that interested her yesterday would still be spilled across the floor so there was no room for us to play with today’s toys. And then we’d lose our weekend time together cleaning a full week’s worth of mess. So I resolved to take the week that I’d love to spend with Little C and focus on streamlining our house to help reduce the amount of cleaning that is needed in return for spending more time together once I’m back at work next week.

And with that motivation, I really hope some of the magic rubbed off on me.

Book: The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Rating: 2/5
Features: Organizational strategies for tidying up on a category by category basis
Who should read it: people who have already streamlined their houses and are looking to take it to the next level

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Friday…err…Saturday Stuff & Things

There was just so much good this week. So much good.

Turning a negative into a positive

Scott didn’t want to shovel the driveway on our first full day of Christmas vacation as a family. Since we didn’t have a reason to drive anywhere, I couldn’t justify making him do it, and I certainly wasn’t going to either. Instead, when cabin fever set in, we took C on her first sled ride, pulling her up and down our snowy driveway.

Good Naps

While it did take a while for her to decide it was naptime, not a single nap was missed during the busiest three days of Christmas (24th – 26th… though we anticipate tomorrow being busy too!).  In fact, some extras were thrown in as well, which is hard to complain about. It sometimes took a while for her to fall asleep, but it provided endless amounts of amusement to family who aren’t used to kids being around as she babbled and giggled through the baby monitor.

Cold Weather

It’s not often that I’m thankful for cold weather, but here in the prairies, cold weather usually means perfect highway conditions. We weren’t going to be back “home” at Scott’s parents for long (just one night) so we didn’t want the roads to cut our time any shorter. Of course, that cold temperature also played into the reason our trip was so short. We have an Christmas brunch here in the city, and it just didn’t seem worth it to wake up at the crack of dawn and drive through -37 degree windchill instead of heading home this afternoon.

Bath Time

It’s not very Christmas-y, but thank goodness for bath nights. We typically bathe C every second night, but Christmas celebrations got in the way, so there were an extra couple of days between baths. Sure, the kid doesn’t get that dirty, but she LOVES baths. She can be in the worst of moods and then the minute to say “Bath,” she is practically skipping to the bathroom with a giant smile on her face. After 2 1/2 hours in the car and being generally overwhelmed by the whole “Christmas” thing, she was ready for that soul-restoring bath.

Family

CHEESY PANTS! My family is fairly tight knit and we stay in regular contact. C sees my parents 5 days a week, and her cousins and my sister at least twice a week (I’m not sure how often she sees my brother-in-law…). We rarely have a awkward silence, unless Scott or this aforementioned brother-in-law makes an awkward joke. But Scott’s family is a little more distant — partially because of distance. But even though C doesn’t see her grandparents, two aunts and two uncles as often as she sees the family on my side, it was obvious they all were very excited to see her (and she was super excited to see her Auntie Jenna most of all!). And while the brothers don’t typically have a lot in common and thus spend very little time together, we had a good evening talking and playing a trivia game.

I hope you have plenty to appreciate after a few days of festive times!

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Friday Stuff and Things

Each day gets exponentially longer the closer one gets to Christmas, yes?

The Holiday Slow Down

Admit it, productivity slows down at an alarming rate the closer to the holiday break for everyone, right? We have some newbies in the office, so it’s a good chance to get to know them.

Actually having your child understand “Gentle”

Our Christmas tree is still standing. And all the ornaments are still on the tree where I put them. It’s a small miracle. C is fully into the “ET Finger Tap” so she likes to gently touch each reflective ball, but has only accidentally knocked a couple off over the last 3 weeks (and was horrified).

Hummus

A couple girls are talking about hummus at work and now that’s all I want from life.

What sound does a penguin make?

The answer is waddle waddle. And a toddler who waddles as she says it? Too cute.

Work Christmas Parties during Work Hours

A little bit of wine in an office setting while being paid is much better than after hours, in my opinion. Going outside in the evening in winter is highly overrated. That might explain why I haven’t bought groceries in over a week.

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Friday Stuff and Things

This week has been hard to look at the good side. We’ve undergone some major changes at work, and while I know the issues we’re dealing with are just growing pains, I’ve felt the pressure to put on a positive face for the sake of my colleagues. And nothing makes the small issues seem big like trying to make the small issues seem smaller. The week has also been rough for Scott at work, and our poor little munchkin was beside herself last night for reasons unknown to us, but likely just because we’ve been bringing home so much work stress with us.

Clear Allergy Tests

Remember C’s egg allergy? Gone. Done. Over. A thing of the past. Sure, we haven’t been so brave as to make her an omelet yet, but we have fed her regular pasta, and regular bread, and of course, on the day of her clear test, let her gorge herself with cookies. Poor thing doesn’t understand why I got so giddy going grocery shopping this week, buying all the stuff that’s been “off limits” for half a year (but I forgot the mayonnaise. How could I forget the mayo?)

Warm Winter Night Walks

You know those days when you say to yourself: “I should really put my bus pass in a different pocket so it doesn’t fall out?” and then you forget and when you get home you realize it fell out somewhere? This prompted a family walk to the grocery store to pick up bus tickets. Not only was it a beautiful night out, Little C went crazy every time we passed a house with Christmas decorations.

Co-Sleeping Almost Snuggles

Little C is a champ. She let out one giant cry during the allergy test. And then she let out one giant cry later that day when I took her for her flu shot booster. And that was the only reaction she had to either experience during the day. But that night, she fussed in her sleep. Rubbing her back didn’t settle her. Rocking didn’t settle her. Finally, I brought her to bed with me, and while I didn’t have a great sleep for the couple hours she was snuggled beside me (not actually touching me, because, let’s face it, she’s not that much of a cuddler), it was wonderful to wake up to see her sweet sleepy face.

Wearing Former Favourite Clothes

The decided benefit of having returned to major turnover in your office is that you can start reaching for old standby outfits and have people thinking that you’ve got your stuff together, if you’re able to throw together amazing outfits without any effort. Ha.

Shoe Polish

I don’t have the energy to find shoes that fit. I don’t have the desire to figure out what shoes are “in.” But my shoes were looking worn, so I took the 20 minutes over the weekend to smear some shoe polish on them. They don’t look brand new. But they don’t look beaten down. And you know what? That’s kind of how I’m feeling these days.

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

In the ‘Burbs

I couldn’t wait to go on mat leave, I remember telling my hairdresser. I could get a funky haircut, dye it a funky colour and stop feeling so suburban.

My hairdresser reminded me of that comment last week, a year and a half later with no funky haircut or funky hair dye in between. A wistful smile crossed my face, and then I laughed.

“No,” I said, “I’ve come to terms with being a soccer mom.

It’s true: I own a house in a post-war suburb, drive a four door hatchback, and take our daughter on walks in her jogging stroller around the retention ponds while discussing whether we’d be better served by purchasing a van or SUV. No amount of neon blue under cuts are going to make me any less suburban.

And I’ve accepted it. I hear a lot of bad press about suburbs from people around my demographic. It could be due to the fact I work in a downtown location that is surrounded by some of the trendier neighbourhoods in the city. Sure, we considered living in more urban area. But I grew up in a small town. I walked to school, to the grocery store, I biked for miles and miles unsupervised. While I couldn’t bring myself to move back to a small town, the next closest thing I can offer is a suburb. Little C can walk to school. She can walk to the grocery store. She may not be able to bike for miles unsupervised but I’m sure my parents wouldn’t be thrilled to know how far down the highway I would bike before trespassing to wade into streams.

It’s true — there is very little that distinguishes our neighbourhood from other post-war neighbourhood. And yes, sometimes I get an “Edward Scissorhands” feeling from it (you know, before Eddie comes along to add some whimsy). But it’s clean. It’s safe. And it’s where we live, and so it’s home.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Friday Stuff & Things

Again, what a week. It twisted and turned and I’m so glad it’s almost over

Homemade Subs

My mom makes the best subs and I may have guilted her into making them for Grey Cup Sunday and inviting me over, even though I have no interest in football whatsoever.

C’s Reaction to the Christmas tree

When just the tree was up, Little C barely paid any attention to it. In her defense, there is a giant palm fern in the living room that she knows she’s not to touch. When the lights went on, and lit up? So did her face. And then the sparkly ornaments? She walks so cautiously up to them with her finger outstretched, just barely touching them. Sure, occasionally, she’ll misjudge her reach and one will tumble, but it’s hilarious to watch her try to hang it back up.

Easy Decisions

We got a call that here was a spot available for Charlotte at a local daycare. I checked some references, made some calls, did some Googling and discovered that it’s a very well regarded daycare with some excellent programs. But my heart sunk. How could I send my daughter to be looked after by strangers when she’s not even old enough to tell me if something is wrong? Fortunately, my parents seemed to be as upset as I was and offered to keep looking after her indefinitely. Um, yes please!

New Recipes

We’re trying a couple new recipes a week around here. So far, nothing has been exceptional. But we’re trying them. We’re planning ahead, we’re grocery shopping with a list, and we’re branching out. Tonight will be our first crack at tomato soup not from Campbell’s.  It could be interesting!

Settling into work

Maybe it’s because the daycare situation has been solidified after months of waiting and wondering. Maybe it’s because I’ve got almost a full academic term under my belt again. Maybe it’s because our currently in-progress office relocation is making us band together as a team to get ready to go, but I finally feel a bit more settled into work. I’m still itching to get onto the next step in my career, but I’m fine riding it out until then.

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Currently: In December

Thank you Jenna and Anne for another month of “Currently”!

Wishing: that I knew the right decision for C’s daycare arrangements. There *may* be a spot for her at a daycare. While I knew the day would come, I was perfectly content riding out our back-up plan for as long as possible. As hard as it is to leave her every morning, it’s been so much easier knowing she was going to my parents, not some institution.

Remembering: Little Miss C at last Christmas. I remember having a tough time sleeping with her in our room, but even a tougher time moving her into her own room. But that started our routine of morning snuggles.

Wrapping: haven’t started wrapping, but Santa arrived in the form of UPS arrived at our place last night, so wrapping is just around the corner. I am looking forward to putting on a Christmas movie Saturday afternoon when C is napping and getting started.

Baking: holding off on baking until Monday on the off chance that C’s allergy appointment reveals that she’s no longer allergic to eggs. You have to admit, it would be a LOT easier if you could bake with eggs, right? Admittedly, C will get very little baking, but there’s no way I’m going to remember what I made with and without egg.

Decorating: we’re decorating the tree one step a day. There are two reasons for that — first our “pre-lit tree” didn’t fully light this year, so I had to remove the lights and string new ones. I’m also hoping that if we slowly introduce decorations, maybe Little C won’t destroy the tree?

Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

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