Monthly Archives: January 2018

Creating Content

One reason I was pumped about setting an editorial calendar was because I was going to use it as motivation to get stuff done in my life. “I like making stuff!” I said and so I put “creative projects” as my 5th Wednesday. I even went so far as to unearth the scarf I was making myself years ago but didn’t finish. And now a month has gone by and it’s sat under the couch upstairs rather than the couch downstairs.

But I will keep trying, because every few days, it comes out from under the couch, if even just for a few minutes. And maybe I’ll even get it finished by next winter!

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What I’m Watching

When I decided to start using an editorial calendar for my posts, I thought; “If I post 3 times a week with 4 weeks in a month, I only need to come up with 12 topics that I can just repeat month in and month out!” and then cue January, with it’s extra week! Fortunately, I realized early enough on, I came up with a few extra topics.

While I don’t always view it as a priority, the amount of time I spend watching TV lets me know it is kind of a priority for me. Right now, I am…

…. marathoning: The New Girl. This had been on Netflix back in the day, and then moved over to rival Shomi. When Shomi went under, it ended up back on Netflix. Unfortunately, enough time has passed I don’t remember all of it, so I started back at the pilot (and wonder whether Damon Wayans Jr. ever regretted choosing Happy Endings over New Girl, even though it was a much better show). Right now, Jess and Nick are just about to get together and I’m strangely all for that (shhh…. don’t break my heart so soon! I know what’s bound to happen and I’m sure I’ll get there in a week).

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…PVR-ing: Murdoch Mysteries. This is a Canadian show about a police detective at the turn of the century in Toronto, as the city slowly becomes industrialized. While it certainly shows a high level of progressiveness (there is a female city coroner who employs females of colour as interns, a constable who dates a stripper, etc.), it also is quite tongue in cheek in alluding to ACTUAL scientific and cultural progress that is to come. And I just find Yannick Bisson and his fancy suits quite dreamy.

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… dozing through: Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Yes, I do also have a tendency to fall asleep while watching New Girl (I *may* have needed 4 tries to get through one episode one particularly tiring week!), but Brooklyn Nine-Nine is my watching-in-bed-on-my-phone show right now.  I’m so glad it’s on Netflix during its broadcast hiatus!

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…queuing: Grace and Frankie. Yes, I know I’m a generation too young for the target demographic, but sassy women are ageless. I haven’t seen the latest season, and I’m looking forward to getting tired of The New Girl so I can marathon through this one!

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What are you watching these days?

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Five Things Friday

C, our biggest little, is going through something. There is this nagging sense of anxiety about her and she’s frequently complaining of a tummy ache. It’s worrying, but at the same time, these moments never last long so it’s hard to be convinced that there is a seriously problem lurking under it all. Still, I spent some one on one time with her the other night to try to figure out what’s going on and while I can’t be 100% sure that I know the cause, we do know that she immediately perks up after getting some extra love. So this week, I thought I’d list my five favourite things to do with C

  1. Read books. She snuggles in, she sits still, and she listens so intently.
  2. Dance parties. Oh man, we don’t nearly have enough of these now that we aren’t making supper at a more leisurely pace.
  3. Singalongs. Right now, it’s Moana, but Frozen and Muppet Movie are favourites too.
  4. Colouring. We’ve each got our own colouring book and our own markers. And until yesterday, that was pretty great.
  5. Snuggles. It’s not often but sometimes she just wants to snuggle and chat.
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What Are We Doing?

Do you ever have those weeks where you realize you’ve been going going going but nothing has happened on your to-do list? Since going back to work, my whole life feels like that. But since we’re nearing the end of January, I thought I’d actually take a look at everything we’ve been doing!

Personal

  • I read a book. It wasn’t good. But I finished it and while I should really be getting on my (own) case about starting the next one, let’s just focus on the positives here!
  • I took a photography workshop and while I definitely much more comfortable with my camera than needed for the class, I did learn a lot and gained some more confidence.
  • I kept getting sidelined on my workout goals, but I kept trying.

Home

  • My gym is mostly set up. We need to do some wiring which is not the number 1 priority, but everything is in place. And we’re actually using the space so yay!
  • We are rarely letting our house devolve into the disaster that we normally let it, and when we do, we’re faster at cleaning it up.
  • I’m getting a better grip on making sure we have food prepared ahead of time for rushed mornings, preschool lunches, and no effort suppers. I think as long as I keep up with one day a week where I make a double recipe, to freeze half, and one day a weekend where I make breakfast muffins/bars, we should be doing all right.

Family

  • We have had a couple weekends where it is nice enough to play outside, and even took C skating for the first time.
  • We’re alternating who is putting which kid to bed to help reduce the tantrums that happen when someone doesn’t get her way.
  • M is putting herself to sleep at night. And mostly sleeping through the night. And C is having some dry nights too.

Work

  • I try to keep my work life personal (does that make sense), but I’ve expressed interest in joining some committees, I’ve been zealous in my desire to learn more about other roles in my department, resulting in two training sessions and an invitation to a meeting, and I’m going to take an online course (free, though was apparently either strongly recommended or required for our staff while I was on mat leave).
  • I survived the busiest time period in my work, keeping overtime under control and, as far as I can tell, with no known errors. So far.

So we’ve been busy. Even if it feels like we haven’t made any headway, we really have!

Photography

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Bribery

My big kid? She’s fairly well behaved.

For a three year old.

We saw some threenager behaviour right around her birthday, but for the most part, she’s been pretty chill. Yes, we have temper tantrums when it comes time to leave some place fun, and yes, she is crazy grumpy when you wake her up in the morning and she doesn’t want wear what she chose the night before (or threw a fit the night before and so we chose for her).

I can’t tell you what we did to raise a pretty decent kid. We must have done something right at some point since she’s not a little shit. That being said, sometimes I know we’re not making the right decision, but I’m still sticking with it.

The other day, we came in from being outside and C asked for hot cocoa. Sure, easy enough to talk me into after coming in from the cold. And hot cocoa without marshmellows is just a travesty. But when she saw the cookies in the pantry, there began the not-so-subtle hintings of a three year old.

So I said she could have a cookie if she made sure that all of her winter clothing was put away.

And then later I added if she kept putting her toys away, she could bring something from the playroom up into the living room.

I’m sure there are a hundred and one reasons that it’s a bad parenting technique. But I’m also sure there are a hundred and one parents out there who do the same thing. Because, really, how is a bribe that much more different a chore chart?

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Five Things Friday

You know what I completely forgot about when I went back to work? Work treats. There are the office birthday parties with cake. The chocolates people bring in from home that are left over from Christmas that they don’t want to eat. There are the “it’s nice out, let’s walk to the coffee shop/doughnut store/place that will sell you designer sugar at inflated prices” coffee breaks.

And who eats it all? Me. Most of my meals? Pretty healthy. It’s what’s between the meals that isn’t. So in an attempt to fit back into the clothes I bought just after Christmas, here are my five favourite snacks that will satisfy my need to eat without making my grumpy

  1. Rice cake, topped with natural peanut butter and apple slices.
  2. Veggie sticks and hummus
  3. Almonds
  4. Cottage cheese and kiwi
  5. Air popped popcorn

What are some of your healthy treats?

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Boxed in by Capsules

After long threatening to, I grabbed a stack of money (figurative stack) and went on a clothing shopping spree to give my wardrobe a refresh. I was so excited about it. I accidentally stumbled upon a great capsule wardrobe and for about a week, I was excited to get dress again.

Turns out I had used up all the “easy” outfits and after years of reading and replicating OOTD blogs, I couldn’t bring myself to repeat an outfit.

Ok, it also didn’t help that the weather was being terribly uncooperative, and so I was always reaching for the same two sweaters that were guaranteed to keep me warm, and one of which was wool, so it needed a good layer underneath to keep the itch at bay, and I had to wait for the boots I wanted to arrive at my door since they didn’t have my size in store…

You get it. I had lots of excuses. Not all of them entirely valid. You see, the problem at the heart of it was thinking that once I had a solid capsule wardrobe, the pieces would put themselves together. I don’t know whether I envisioned them jumping out of the closet on their own when I opened the doors, or whether birds were going to go in and choose them for me Cinderella style, I don’t know. But somewhere my brain didn’t make the connection that it was going to called into duty as early as 5:30 in the morning to actually piece them together.

But at least I know on those mornings when my brain doesn’t want to put the effort into it, it all pretty much goes together.

Capsule

 

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Cara Reads: A Number of Things

I swear there is a Margaret Atwood work of prose that begins something along the lines of : “As a Canadian, I put geography first.” For so long, Canada has been heavily rooted in our geography. We have mountains. We have lakes. We have three oceanic coasts. And we have weather. All of it. Maybe not monsoons, but maybe global warming will be headed in that direction? But as all Canadian writers know, our identity is heavily wrapped up in our geography.

And geography is the undoing of Jane Urquhart’s A Number of Things: Stories of Canada Told Through Fifty Objects. Written as a tribute to Canada for our sesquicentennial this year, Urquhart examines objects rather than landscapes to describe the history of our nation.

Or rather, describe her views of the history of her nation.

I get that it is impossible to define a country with diverse landscapes, diverse climates and diverse cultures, but she tries. Weakly. to represent all of Canada. There is the token dance hall in the prairies (I have not been to that specific one. I have been to a similar one, and have heard stories of many others). She makes the necessary reference to the Arctic and the Franklin Expedition. She mentions a couple things about BC, a random story about Newfoundland, but mainly rests in what all Canadian writers like to believe is the heart of Canada: “Northern Ontario” — which is essentially about the top 2/3 of the province. There are nods to various cultural groups within Canada. Four if I remember correctly. She starts and ends the book with mentions of Indigenous artefacts.

But anything outside of faux-wilderness experiences of Ontario oh so common to Canadian literature (particularly, I want to say, from the 70s, but it has been a while since I’ve actually studied it) seems almost an insult or passing reference to “that branch of the family” that is given an invitation to Christmas dinner, but is smart enough to know it was extended only out of etiquette.

Don’t get me wrong. I usually love Jane Urquhart. I brought her novel The Stone Carvers on the train as my companion for an 18 hour ride to Chicago. But to have yet WASP Canadian writer defining Canada? It’s exactly as boring as you think it’s going to be.

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But this goose… this goose has all the pluck I had expected from this book

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Five Things Friday

What a week. I should count myself very lucky to be working in a job that is rarely high stress and rarely requires overtime. Except January. When it’s both. With the early mornings, short lunches and late “quitting time,” this week has been rough. And a lot of the time? I felt like I was failing.

But here’s the thing about failing: sometimes it’s better to fail.

  1. Despite my best efforts to try and get ahead of the mountain of work so it wouldn’t keep me from going to bootcamp in Thursday night, it didn’t work and I ended up staying late. But rather than rushing home to eat to rush back out again, I got to spend some one on one time with each girl, went through M’s clothes to pull out the ones that are too small, and fell asleep on the couch just after 9, which was perfectly fine with me in the end.
  2. I hit the “gym” hard in the mornings as a way to kick my butt into gear since I can’t ingest coffee the way most humans do. And then my knee crapped out on me one day walking for some tea because I hadn’t been planning my workouts well, and forgetting to stretch. A few quick stretches later, it was ready to finish the walk, and after a day or two of rest, I know what I’ll need to do to keep it from happening again.
  3. It went from above freezing to windchills so cold it felt like razor blades on my fully clothed legs. But I am the queen of layers and while I am still on the fence about wearing ski pants on the bus (great for waiting for it, a little too warm while sitting on it), extra tall socks, and lots of layers on my torso have kept the bone chilling coldness at bay plus it meant having lots of cozy options when the drafts through my office windows picked up
  4. We had planned to go out for supper for my birthday last Friday, but my parents wanted us to have supper with them, so we postponed until this Friday. But then the plans we thought we’d made for babysitters didn’t so much happen and we didn’t realize it until too late, so instead, we are spared having to go out in the cold, after a very long week, and instead get to go home, eat some comfort food, and relax.
  5. I’ve been coming home rage-y and frazzled. My supper table rants are not going over well with the younger set and don’t always make me feel any better. But I’ve learned to take them as a sign I need to take some time in the all too short evening to look after me, even if the answer has just been “go to bed”.

Everything at work peaks next Wednesday and then quickly falls off so the end? It’s in sight. And I know every year is like this and I get through. And in a few weeks, I’ll be down knocking on a coworkers door begging to take some of her work because I’m bored. That’s just the way this job goes.

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Legs on Fire

Like most the world, I took a lot of time off because of the holidays. And I don’t just mean time off work, but also time off working out. My workouts had slowly been ramping down. It used to be a 6 days a week with a walk on the 7th between bootcamp and running. And then I slowly dropped down to, well, nothing. Bootcamp took a hiatus. Miss M stopped being a reliable 5 am alarm.

So I had to push myself this weekend knowing bootcamp started back. A quick workout of standbys like squats, burpees, and star jacks? Should be easy right?

Monday morning I had planned some active recovery, but my legs refused to hold me up when my alarm went off. All day, every time I went to stand up to get a file, jump up to wave and direct a student over to me, or refill my tea reminded me just how quickly I could you lose it if you don’t use it.

There is no greater epiphany here because really it’s just the simple truth. Don’t expect your muscles to keep working the same way if you don’t keep up the same activity level. No amount of new equipment, new workout spaces or tricks to get ourself out of bed can can motivate me to pick up the more rigorous training schedule. But maybe, just maybe the fire in my legs will light the fire under my butt back in shape.

And then maybe I’ll also remember to stretch!

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It would really be a smarter idea to have the snooze button that much smaller than the stop button. Maybe then I’d actually get up rather than snoozing all the time!

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