Monthly Archives: February 2016

Moments of Gratitude #8

I’m filing this one under “You know you need some ‘me time’ when…”

Friday I woke up with a scratchy throat. C and I took it easy that day. Saturday, I woke up with a scratchy throat and a slight feeling of stuffiness. C, Scott and I took it easy that day. Sunday morning, I woke up SICK. Simply taking it easy wasn’t going to be enough. After sleeping in (on Scott’s day to catch an extra hour or two), I sent Scott and C off to church and watched Fuller House.

I didn’t feel that much better when they got home, and figured if nothing else, I could try to recuperate by putting on an episode of “The Inquisitive Simian” (Curious George, if you’re in a household where uttering that name doesn’t result in mass hysteria). But by 3:00, even that was too exhausting.

So I had a nap.

I closed the door, curled up under the blankets and hogged all the pillows.  It was only 45 minutes, but it was easily the best 45 minutes of sleep I’ve had in a very long time.
Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for Monday Moments of Gratitude

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These Little Moments #7

This weekend, we went to Scott’s parents’ town for some friends’ wedding social (think of it as a fundraising engagement party?). C was THRILLED to stay at their place. There was a dog! And a cat! And the TV was always on! And even Uncle A was there! While that made it a bit of a disaster at bedtime, there was a clear moment when it was obviously worth it. Sunday morning, as she was eating breakfast (toast with peanut butter that had sugar and salt in it… none of this “organic one ingredient peanut butter” her parents force her to eat), she clutched a piece of bread in her little hands, scrunched up her face into the biggest, goofiest smile, and said: “happy”.

There are, undoubtedly times, when we adults are happy. There are many times that we look back at moments and judge them as “good” memories. But when we’re in the moment, we’re not taking the time to think: “hey, I’m happy” and so we’re not taking the time to actually say: “hey, I’m happy”.  While it’s all fine and good to reflect on the times that we’re happy, passing judgement on them after they’ve already happened, maybe this world would be a happier place if we all just shouted out “Happy!” the first moment we feel it.

Linking up with Simply Shaunacey for Monday Moments of Gratitude

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2016 Reading Challenge: Book 5

MMD-2016-Reading-Challenge-page-001Little C has a touch and feel book that has pictures of animals and text descriptions of what sound they make. Perhaps to be non-discriminatory towards animals that do not typically have sounds, they have included descriptions of their colouring or shape instead. It’s rather jarring to go from: “a monkey says ‘ooh ooh! Aah ahh!’” to “a starfish says “FIVE LONG LEGS!” I don’t know how many of you watched Futurama (heck, I don’t even know how many of you are out there!), but there is a character named Hypnotoad, and every time Scott reads C this book, he yells out “FIVE LONG LEGS” in the voice of hypnotoad. To be honest, I’m not sure if C finds in funny, startling, or, since this has been going on pretty much since she was born (it was a random gift from her sweet little cousin, A, who insisted she have a copy of the book), whether she’s just so over it. But she also has great joy from screaming things loudly at random. Of course, not to be outdone, I too will scream things loudly at random.

Until I read this book.

In this book, you follow three characters. There is the obvious protagonist, Millie, who is just a young girl whose father has died, and whose mother has recently abandoned her (in a terribly gut-wrenching scene, describing her mother’s shoes disappearing into the distance as the invisible string that Millie pretends attaches them together stretches further and further) . There is Karl, the Touch Typist, whom she meets in the department store where she is still waiting for her mother to return. He has recently lost the love of his life, Evie, and has escaped from the institution his son placed him in. Finally, there is Agatha, who has also recently lost a spouse, but who was never really sure if she loved him, having married him because that was what was done in her day. His death seems to set her free from social conventions. She eschews the meals and desserts brought over by neighbours and friends, locks herself in her house, measures the progression of her age daily (the length of her wrinkles, the depth of her jowls), and screams all of her thoughts of those passing by her windows: “Too hairy! Arms too skinny! Needs a belt!”

I’m not sure how I feel now having identified myself with a crone.

I had high expectations of this story. I had read a brief synopsis one day when Scott and I were browsing bookstores, but failed to make note of the title, figuring it didn’t seem to be my usual book (ie: “International Bestseller” often translates to my brain as “pulp”), but it haunted me. For months. One day when perusing the shelves again, I thought I found it. The cover looked strikingly familiar. The style was right. The colours were right. But the story was wrong. Defeated I went home. A few weeks later, perusing shelves again with a gift card burning a hole in my wallet, I asked a staff member if she knew of “the book where a little girl is looking for her mother…” and before I could recall any other details, she launched into it herself: “… in a department store? With an old man and an old lady? It’s an amazing, touching book. You have to read it. You just have to. I don’t know what kind of book you usually like, but it’s just beautiful”

But of course, she couldn’t remember the name either. She called another staff person over, who knew the book as well, but also couldn’t remember what it was called. She did, however, provide the best clue: she knew exactly where in the store to find it. We walked over to the third table from the end, with the salesperson still gushing about the book-that-has-no-name, and picked up the one in the first row.

It had the right colours.

It had the right style.

And by George, it had the right story.

And my little lost book that I just found? Ironically, it was Lost And Found by Brooke Davis.

The salesperson and I spent the next 10 minutes talking, with her continuously effervescing : “you will not be disappointed in it” and “it’s not Kleenex box sad, but it tugs at those heartstrings¸” even as she wrote up another set of recommendations for me.

I may have discovered this book the first time, by myself, but I feel fairly comfortable letting this one check off as my “recommended by bookseller” pick for 2016.

It was high praise, and while it was a good read that did indeed pull at my heart strings, the resolution seemed hastily stitched together, and there was little difference between the narration from each point of view. It was an enjoyable read, but not exceptionally well written. A solid 3/5 for me.IMG_6182

 

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A Day in the Life: Working Edition

A few weeks ago, my TimeHop app reminded me of the last “A Day In The Life” that I did when I was still home on mat leave with Miss C. Not too long after, Shaunacey did a day in her life. I figured that life has changed a fair amount since then, so why not give it another go?

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6:00 — Alarm goes off, and by 6:12, I’m dressed and ready to head downstairs for some calisthenics.

6:45 — Workout complete! Time for a smoothie and a shower.

7:27 — Out the door and off to the bus. The commute is anywhere from 25 – 60 minutes depending on weather / traffic patterns

8:30 — Time for work. It’s cold in the office, so some days, I wear a sweater as a blanket, and leave my winter boots on, at least until my tea warms me up.

12:00 — Lunch is the best part of my day, especially when it has ham in it. I used to do lunchtime workouts, but I’ve been hesitant to double up when the morning workout has been T25.

1:00 — Back to work Time to do the double sweater and winter scarf to keep the chill off. Say, where’d I put the tea?

4:30 — And now we wait for the bus again. On a good day, it shows up within 2 minutes of me getting to the stop. On a bad day, it’s an hour.

6:00 — I’m home, I’ve hugged my kid, and eaten whatever supper I have planned and Scott has made. Tonight, it was the ever classic sloppy joe.

6:15 — Time for dishes, during C’s neediest time. Some days she wants to play and some days she just wants to be in all the action. (Where’s her shirt? Oh ya, SLOPPY joes are aptly named when it comes to toddlers!)

8:00 — C is in bed, and while there is still a mess in the house, the 6 am wake up (especially since C tends to wake up around 5 and needs help settling back to sleep, and my brain says there’s no point in me going back to sleep) has caught up with me. I’m not moving from this couch until that glass of wine is done.

9:30 — Who can resist taking a peak at this cute little bum when you walk past her room?

9:54 — in bed, time for sleep. A little later than I hoped, but still early enough to hope for 8 hours of continuous sleep (…someday…).

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These Little Moments #6

I know this should be about appreciating moments that have happened in your week, but sometimes, it takes planning to get moments.

I have, and always will be, a big proponent of traditions. It’s a tradition in and of itself. Once we had C, I thought it all the more important to cultivate family traditions. One of the ones that I am insistent upon is going to Festival du Voyageur, a winter time festival celebrating the fur-trading days of early Canada. Last year was the first year I had been in almost two decades, but it went surprisingly well, despite the very cold temperatures. C was young enough that, bundled up tight, she could fall asleep if she wanted. I can remember her getting fussy a time or two but we managed to see the sights, get some food and head home before any meltdowns happened.

This year, we bundled all of us up to go once more, cautiously optimistic that C might get a little more out of it. While the temperature was warmer, the wind was stronger and snow was falling quickly, melting, leaving us feeling damp. C struggled to be able to see through her scarf and toque while being carried on my back, but was unable to see enough facing into me on my front. The fresh snow made it even harder for her to walk.

We barely made it 45 minutes, and it was a fussy 45 at that. We were all much happier when we were back in the car. C fell asleep the minute we started driving home, while Scott and I talked about having soup for lunch to warm us up.

While it would have been nicer to have seen C enjoy herself, to have better weather, to have stayed a while longer, there is no point in deal with things we can’t change. These moments set the stage for future moments.

Linking up with Shaunacey from Confessions of a Frumpy Mom for Monday Moments of Gratitude.

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2016 Book Reading Challenge: Book 4

I can never order a cream soda when I’m thirsty. Even when I’m not thirsty, I have to drink a couple glasses of water first, otherwise it just goes.down.too.fast.

So deliberately choosing a book that can be read in one day, and giving yourself one glass of wine to finish it?

It just goes.too.fast.

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My friend Coby Stephenson published a novella called Violet Quesnel a couple years ago, and I snatched it up immediately. And then didn’t read it. I meant to, but life picked up, and it soon became “That book that I really need to read”. And as embarrassing as it was to be like : “ya, I do really want to read it, but I just haven’t” when I saw her, I lived in fear of reading it and NOT liking it.

It turns out that shouldn’t have been my fear. My fear should have been knowing that something so desperately sad could be written by someone with whom I’d had many good times and crazy adventures (and even then, I was just catching the fun from the sidelines!). The whole book made me want to drive across the prairies to go give her a hug. How else can you respond to a book about a girl struggling with mental illness, carrying a child who wasn’t entirely planned, so close and yet so far from the man who sees her for the complex, magical being that she is, feeling ostracized from her family with their own assorted baggage, including rape, physical abuse and alcoholism?

Oh the feels. Too many of the feels. And while you’re overpowered with them as you read, the minute you are done, you find yourself wanting more. Wanting a resolution that just isn’t there.

3.5/5 for all the feels, Coby. For all the feels.

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Brain and Muscle Fatigue

Two minutes into my workout yesterday I threw in the towel. I just.could.not.do.another.minute. I tried twice to jump back into it, but nothing could persuade me finish the cardio workout, which is usually one of my favourites. As I jumped on the treadmill (I thought it would be rude to leave Scott working out alone), I started listing all the reasons T25 has fallen from my good graces. 

  1. Every (well almost every) workout starts with high knees, high knees on toes, controlled jog and fast high knees. 
  2. It’s usually followed by a lunge progression, moving into squats. The exception is ab intervals which skips the lunges, but still has the squats, only they involve punching your stomach. Uh-huh. 
  3. It’s 25 minutes five days a week. Except it’s 50 minutes on Friday. And there’s also a 6th workout on Sunday
  4. His team often struggles with the workout which can sometimes make the workout feel impossible. 
  5. It works. And so I’ll wake up today and get back into it. 
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These Little Moments #5

Everyone has bad days at work and so I can’t be immune to them. And as long as the good days outweigh the bad, it should be sustainable. But since Christmas, it’s been hard to bounce back from the bad days. Yes, there have been good days and even they haven’t been few and far between. They just haven’t been re-energizing me like they should.

There was one day that the impending sense of doom (that I’ve taken to feeling at the end of a difficult situation which should be properly concluded but I know will rear its ugly head again) led me to hide out in our file room. Only when I got there, a coworker was doing his filing. I rambled something about my “decision to file every single paper I generate the minute I generate it because I lost my filing basket in the move and don’t miss it, and sometimes you just need to get away from your desk because work is stupid and…” Well, you get the point. His response after I gasped out a concluding sentence (because I forget to breathe during a rant) was: “in case no one has said it, keep up the good work. You’re doing a good job”.

It’s entirely possible the comment was sarcastic (since I was totally in a classic “procrastinate real work” situation), but in that moment I realized that he had said exactly what I needed to hear.

You can get through a bad day, and know you did everything you could. Some days, that’s all you need to get over it. But some days, it just helps having someone else say it.

Linking up with Shaunacey from Confessions of a Frumpy Mom for Monday Moments of Gratitude.

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2016 Reading Challenge: Book 3

About a year ago, when I was devouring books like crazy on my eReader in the middle of the night as Charlotte refused to sleep anywhere but in my arms in her rocking chair, I asked my mother and sister for books to read. While my mother tends to go for soul wrenching tales of woe, I can’t quite bring myself to willingly break my own heart, especially not in the middle of the night. And my sister? I’ve spent my entire life trying not to be her, so I certainly didn’t take any of her suggestions to heart.

But when all the books on my Amazon list had been bought and Scott needed one for my stocking, I told him about a book that my sister recommended, and was not the least bit surprised when I opened it Christmas morning. While it wasn’t a direct “You should read this” “Ok” transaction, I’m using The Table of the Lesser Valued Knights by Marie Phillips as my “Recommended by … sibling… book”MMD-2016-Reading-Challenge-page-001.jpg

This was a delightful and quick read. I used to claim that the lightest beach reading that I would be willing to do would be Margaret Laurence (who, for the record, wrote highly symbolic tales of terribly downtrodden people living miserable lives in miserable places — you likely know her from The Stone Angel). I think it’s fair to say that this book is significantly more… fluffy. But, it was amusing and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

Until the end. Seriously. I get that it’s a fairy tale spoof, but did we really need the terribly saccharine ending? I was all ready to go out and buy a few of her other books until I read her very last paragraph that was so sweet, it reminded me of the terribly putrid glucose beverage they make you drink for your gestational diabetes test when you’re pregnant.

But I still have to give it 3.5/5 stars, because it was highly amusing until that point.

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Currently: In February…

What does February look like around these parts?

Sending: positive thoughts into the atmosphere. I still have all the usual complaints (Whaa whaa, I’m a working mom, whaa whaa, I don’t get enough time with my kid… you’ve heard it now for months). C is also at the imitation age, so she likes to grab my lunch bag, stand by the back door, blow kisses and say: “Buh-bye! Luvff” in the evenings (like I do in the mornings) which breaks my little heart that that is the image she has of me. I don’t want to make any changes at work that aren’t the right changes, so I hope if I send good vibes out into the world, the good vibes will come back to me.

Eating: Good, homemade meals for the most part. We’re trying to branch out from the “Usual” to find new “usuals”. We’ve had a lot of fails (turns out Scott’s love for lemon pepper chicken wings does NOT equate to a love of lemon chicken in general), but we’re slowly figuring out what works for our tastebuds and our schedules. Wednesday supper? Ham and broccoli quiche.

Dreaming: I keep dreaming about work. Of course, I’m creating forms and databases right now, so those are what I consider (frustrating) fun, so it’s not that bad. But seriously, when we dream of work, why can’t we count it as overtime?

Smelling: Beer. Beer is the only reason hockey games are bareable, and it isn’t a Tuesday night if the Jets aren’t playing. Tonight, it’s an Alexander Keith’s IPA (which really isn’t an IPA). I don’t know who the Jets are playing. The green team.

Hearting: Morning workouts. I know I begrudge them every morning when the alarm goes off, and I have to start with knee lifts (why does every T25 exercise start with knee lifts? my hip flexors don’t appreciate it), but days we don’t work out I feel super groggy. Current February.jpg

Thanks again to Jenna and Anne!

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