Monthly Archives: November 2017

Making It Work

Remember back in August when I was running 3 days a week, and going to Bootcamp twice a week? Ya, so do I. So do my clothes. Especially the ones I bought that month. November is a very different month with colds and cold weather. At least I’m still making it to bootcamp once a week?

I felt confident in my body when I was putting all the effort into it, and found it easy to get dressed. But now, not so much. But sometimes you just have to put clothes on, regardless of how you feel. And you have to work a little to make them work for you.

IMG_5362This dress is a little tight in the waist, so it bunches up the torso, really accentuating how it’s big in the chest. The logical thing to do would be to take the dress off, and find something else to put on instead. Except that rejecting one outfit — even for a good reason — just starts the cycle of rejecting all outfits and leaves me crying on the bed that I have nothing to wear. Instead, I made myself just find a way to make it work.  That’s where the sweater and scarf came in.

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No more beating myself up for taking it easy on the work outs. No begrudging myself up for indulging in some foods I love. No raging at my closet for being so full and yet still having nothing to wear. Does it work? Can I make it work? It’s a much more productive commentary to keep in my head.

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Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Not For Chickens: Allergy Cooking

I hate meal planning. I know it’s necessary, especially to keep on budget, but it’s not easy coming up with quick meal ideas that two adults and two kids will like. Especially when one of those kids is in a picky phase where what is delicious one week is disgusting the next. You know, that phase when you live off scrambled eggs and chicken nuggets?

And things got even more complicated once we discovered the baby has allergies to two very common meal staples: eggs and chicken.

I’ve been spending a lot of time getting creative in the kitchen, or rather, getting creative on my Google searches. And while not every family has to avoid chicken and eggs, my adventures outside our comfort zone may just introduce you to a new favourite for your family. And so, without further ado, I introduce my new series: Not for Chickens, which will highlight some of the foods we’re eating to accommodate our new chicken and egg free lifestyle.

First up, our favourite breakfast or preschool snack: Applesauce mini muffins from Keeping Life Sane! This blog is my go-to for any egg-free baking I need. Holly has been allergic to eggs her whole life and has mastered a number of recipes, so it was a relief to find out that egg-free doesn’t mean taste free. I follow her recipe most of the time, though sometimes adding in 1/2 c of infant cereal, if I have any on hand, in place of 1/2 c of flour, just to kick up the nutrients a notch. I’ve also had success adding about 8-10 minutes onto the cook time and making full-sized muffins.

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The ingredients are:

  • ¼ cup softened butter
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ cup Mott’s Applesauce
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • sugar and cinnamon mixture for topping

Check out Holly’s blog for the full recipe!

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My favourite thing about this egg-free recipe is that it’s easy to halve or double as needed without having to figure out how to cut an egg in half. And it works well for those of you who may have the urge to bake but may not have eggs on hand! We always have at least a dozen of these in our freezer at all times.

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Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

Selling Myself

I may be a little late on this, but it’s been sitting in my drafts waiting for the day I was ready to post. That may not be today, but let’s give it a go anyway.


It’s kind of nice being a Canadian because you can stick your head in the sand about a lot of things. On days when POTUS gets news coverage for calling sex assault victims liars, our PM gets coverage for the socks he was wearing. It’s easy to convince ourselves that it’s not so bad up here.

But it is.

As many women did, I scanned through my memory for examples to join in on the social media movement of #metoo, which featured stories of misogyny and sex assault, to show the pervasiveness of the toxic power structure within our society. As many women did, I had a variety of stories that I could have tweeted. Most of them I could easily wave off as “not that bad” or “well that doesn’t count because…” and that was precisely the point of the #metoo movement: its so pervasive that we’re not even taking these situations seriously.

But one stuck out in my head.

I had wanted to work in advertising since I learned about the job of a copywriter in grade 8. I was so thrilled at this prospect that some 15 years later, when I was hired as one, I ignored all the red flags waving in my face and took the job.

We’ll instead just focus on the person I reported to. We’ll call him Jeff. Because that was his name.

As the lead strategist, all my ideas had to be run through him. He was not big on praise, but was liberal with criticism. He justified it as “it doesn’t matter if I think it’s good. It matters that the client thinks it’s good.” As someone starting out in their first “real” job and in a field in which I admittedly had no experience or training, I needed more direction or encouragement. I’d taken the job being told I would be mentored, but was soon told to “figure it out myself. [He was] too busy. But do it soon. We need something better than this crap. Is this really the best [I] could do? [He] knew they shouldn’t have hired me”.

I would fight tears the whole bus ride home, (over an hour) and burst the minute I got in the door. I would spend the next three hours still working at home – entirely unpaid – and then coax myself into going to bed where I’d cry myself to sleep, pep talk myself up the next morning and repeat. A toxic working situation for sure, but that’s not the point of #metoo. He was equally as tough on the males of the office. He was a feminist. He told me so. Which is why what follows is obviously not on him, right?

My job was also to boost our company’s social media presence. It started out easy enough: schedule tweets, Instagram posts, Facebook with current specials.  Try to convince coders why it’s good for them to have LinkedIn accounts so our company looks semi-legitimate. And then one day I walked into Jeff’s office and he had my personal Facbeook page up on his computer.

“You’re going to need to get rid of this. Make it something more… attractive” he said gesturing at my profile picture. The profile picture I still haven’t changed in 6 years. The profile picture of my husband and I on our wedding day. The day every girl dreams of growing up. The day she feels the most radiant. And about 6 months into my marriage I was still on a wedding picture high.

“How do you expect guys to friend you on Facebook if you look like you’re not available?” he continued. “They have to think “there’s a girl I want to meet. That’s a girl I want to…..”  He gestures as though he wants me to finish the sentence. I stare at him horrified.

He holds his hands up to show is innocence. “What? It’s not my fault! Sex sells. If you had taken any marketing classes you would have known that. You have to stop thinking about it as selling yourself, and more about selling the company. If you want the company to succeed, you won’t have a problem with this.”

And then he gave me tips on what would make a “better” profile picture. There was a mention of: “well, you’ll just have to work with what you’ve got” at one point, so apparently I was a bit of a tough sell.

For my own personal Facebook account…

To entice men…

For the company…

Sell myself…

For the company.

And JUST for good measure, he repeated: “It’s not me. It’s just how marketing work. Sex sells. Basic marketing”.

There was nothing good or redeeming about that entire job situation. But the minute the success of the company hinged on me trying to take an enticing enough picture to use my small social media presence (thank goodness he didn’t know I had a blog that people actually read at the time!) to drum up business, I knew I had to leave. And not just the job: the industry. Even if every company didn’t have as toxic of an environment, or didn’t have the same reductive view of marketing, I wouldn’t be able to do that job without feeling as exposed and vulnerable as I did that day.

Was I any good at my job? I don’t know. Did I have any potential? I don’t know. Would I have found the work rewarding? I’ll never know. None of that really seemed to matter in that office that day when the sum of my contributions to that company hinged on how attractive I could make those 170×170 pixels.

 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Excess

I’m currently reading (and scanning) through the letters my grandfather sent his parents as he went off to college and then enlisted in the military during the Second World War. One thing that strikes me is how little he had. He lost his one pen. He wants his brother to make him a lamp, as store bought ones are expensive. While it certainly sounds as though money was tight, it also points to the vast excess that our lives today.

Do I really need 50 some-odd pairs of shoes? How many pairs of jeans is really necessary? And why, when there is a big event, is my first thought “I have to buy something new?”

We recently shuffled around some rooms in our house. Nothing makes you aware of your excess as much as having to move it. Even though we regularly donate boxes upon boxes to the thrift store, we have more and more that we don’t use. And we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back for “helping out the less fortunate by donating to charity” without acknowledging our own privilege of buying more than we need, and the simple truth that there is also a decent chance that our stuff may just be picked up by someone comfortably sitting in the middle class to add to their collection of things they probably don’t need either.

I’m wrestling with this idea of excess as we move into the Christmas season. I’m set to go Christmas shopping for the girls this weekend. Socks, a book, pyjamas, a small toy and a big toy from Santa. A gift from each other. A gift from us. The mind boggles at how much these two girls will be getting, especially so close to their birthdays where they were inundated with so much, as well.

I don’t have a plan or solution. It’s easier to crave “the simpler lifestyle” at 1:45 in the morning from a place of relative financial comfort than to actually cull our possessions, restrain our urge to purchase, and limit the generosity of holidays.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

October Books

I’m trying to revisit C’s library books on a monthly basis, rather than every 6 months. This month, we read 11 library books, and many many more of our own.

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Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by James Dean and Kimberly Dean
I hate Pete the Cat, but at least this one didn’t have a song that she made me sing. It’s also a good introduction to math, with a frog eating the cupcakes.

Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney
I love Llama Llama, and this is a good one for reminding me that sometimes, when we’re dragging our kids around on errands and they’re so not going for it that it really helps to just level with them that it’s not fun for us either.

Baby Love by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brooke Boynton-Hughes
This is a sweet book and was our choice for Madeline this week. It’s very sweet and well illustrated — probably the best example of the parents appearing as real people rather than just stock “mother”and “father” images.

Tea Party Rules by Ame Dyckman and K. G. Campbell
This book wasn’t a favourite, but that’s not to say it’s bad. C could definitely relate to the bear doing something she didn’t want to all for the promise of a cookie.

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Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen and Kelly Murphy
I don’t know about this one. The illustrations were fun, but the story? It was like there were two books smushed into one, and only the first would have been suitable as a winding-down bedtime story.

Ladybug Girl and the Dress-Up Dilemma by Jacky Davis and David Soman
This was cute, and I enjoy that grabbing seasonal/holiday books often introduces you to a new series. Ladybug Girl has to decide on a costume for Halloween, which she ponders as her family going apple picking, on a hay ride and through a corn maze — can you get more quintessential fall?

Scaredy Squirrel Has A Birthday Party by Mélanie Watt
Scaredy Squirrel is currently part of the McDonald’s Happy Meal book options, and while the format bugs me, Charlotte liked the original so we went ahead and got another one from the series. I still don’t like the format. Maybe it will be better once C can read herself?

The Scarecrow’s Dance by Jane Yolen and Bagram Ibatoulline
These were beautiful pages with a dancing rhyme. As much as there is an important lesson in it, its a beautiful, calming read. C was slow to warm up to it, but loved it in time.

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Olivia and the Haunted Hotel by Jodie Shepherd and Patrick Spaziante
I should know by now to steer clear of any non-Ian Falconer written Olivia books. The ones based on the show are disjointed and poorly written. It’s much easier to jump around from scene to scene in a show than in a book. Hard pass on this one, guys.

Pete the Cat Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
For an “adaptation” of the classic kids rhyme, it sure doesn’t wander far from the original. Sure, C loved it, but really? Was this just a lazy attempt at cashing in on a holiday.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Currently: In November

All right, now I’m all about time moving forward quickly now. We’re getting “practice snow” (or so we’ve been calling it for C who doesn’t understand that season changes aren’t automatic) and I’m ready to check out until spring is back, thank you very much. So hello, November! This month, I am…

Currently November

Realizing: my baby is turning one in just a few days. It’s felt like she’s been a part of our family for an eternity, but that she was just born yesterday.

Stirring: apple cinnamon muffin batter. It’s egg-free for the allergy baby, mixed with baby cereal for additional nutrients for the picky toddler, and basically no sugar, so I don’t feel bad when it’s all my kids want to eat.

Appreciating: relatively healthy kids. We will be taking M to see her allergist finally to confirm her FPIES disgnosis, hopefully get a plan for any accidental exposures to chicken and egg, as well as a schedule for food challenges since you can’t test for FPIES allergies with skin prick or blood tests. It sounds daunting until I remember that the most effective treatment is diligence, and that’s a whole lot better than a lot of other health issues we could be having.

Investigating: different strategies for keeping M’s feet warm this winter. Despite being a year old, her feet are tiny. The size of the average 3 month old. You know what they don’t make? Legit snow boots for 3 month olds. I’m leaning towards Stonz, because I love the pair we got for C, so I might as well try their infant version.

Following: not my resolution to take some time for me. I’m not sleeping enough, I ‘m not drinking enough water, and I’m not taking time to intentionally take time to do something for me.  I get grumpy when I’m sleepy, dehydrated and trying to put too much into a day. Imagine that!

Thanks to Anne of In Residence and Julie of A Hopeful Hood for another month of Currently!

Categories: The new identity | 5 Comments

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