Author Archives: Cara - Hanging off the Edge

Five Things Friday

My kids are pretty much driving me batty this week. We had a mini-vacation, having been camping Friday through Monday with my family, so the kids are spoiled from all the ice cream, spoiled from staying up late, and spoiled from all the attention. M never wants to be put down because she was always in Grandpa’s arms or on Mommy’s back. C is constantly bored because there aren’t two boys poking at her with sticks (I fear she probably started that), or an older cousin making her presents every two seconds.

That being said, there have been a number of really sweet moments over the last few days that I don’t want to forget

  1. M’s great big belly laughs at her sister. M has always been a tough cookie when it comes to cracking a laugh. Weeks would go by where I would be the only one that she would giggle for, and that’s only if I tickled her just right. But the other day, as Scott and I were making supper, C was driving a little car around M, and she was just cackling with laughter.
  2. A soothing song between sisters. M’s separation anxiety is at its worst in the stroller because I think she knows I’m there but can’t see me. Since I refuse to drive to my sister’s (unless I am also running errands), it usually means a rough walk home from a tired and lonely baby. But today, C started singing “Puff the Magic Dragon” to her, and it melted my little heart — and calmed her sister down too (though having just seen Peter Yarrow live at Folk Fest, that song *might* be ruined for me).
  3. C’s silly jokes. C has one joke, and she tells it (using two different voices) as though it’s her and M interacting:Knock Knock

    Who’s there?
    M
    M who?
    M, you sure like some silly jokes!

    It’s not a good joke, but it usually makes us laugh at her attempt, and even gets a decent reaction from her sister.

  4. C is starting to understand consequences and responsibilities. M was chewing on one of C’s toys, and C started to get angry, and then said: “Oh no, M. You’re not supposed to chew on that! I should have put it away!”
  5. Spontaneous development. M has shown no interest in clapping. I don’t know why it’s always felt like such an important milestone to me. She’s started “dancing” when she likes a song, but her moves are all in the waist. But one morning, Pharrell’s “Happy” came on, and she started clapping her hands as though she’s always been able to do it.
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I’ve got a new game that I keep trying to convince C to play. It’s called 5 Minute Clean Up. We set a timer for 5 minutes, and see how much of one room we can clean in that time.

She isn’t in to it. I know, can you believe it?

It may not be the most fun game around, but it’s definitely the most successful strategy I’ve had for getting my house under control. You see, I tend to get bogged down in the details. Putting a towel away devolves into a Pinterest worthy re-organization project, and considering few people snoop in my linen closet, it’s not a worthwhile endeavour.

Here’s why it works for me:

  • I respond well to timelines. If you know you have 5 minutes to do a 10 minute job, you’re going to focus on what will make the biggest impact.
  • It doesn’t suck up my whole day. There are 6 rooms on my main floor that can conceivably be tidied in 5 minutes, adding up to just 30 minutes of cleaning time (elapsed time tends to be more, since inevitably, a toddler needs a book, a baby needs a nap, I need a snack).
  • It takes the pressure off everything being perfect.  The top of my piano is still messy, but all the small toys that M could try and choke on are off the ground.
  • I have a better idea of what I can accomplish in 5 minutes. I no longer put off unloading the dishwasher because I know it takes less than 5 minutes.
  • If a room requires more than 5 minutes, I’m ok re-setting the timer for another 5-10 minutes, because I know I haven’t wasted any time frittering around.
  • I can actually see what major issues need to be re-organized and make note of it for later.
  • The more often I do a 5 minute clean, the deeper I get in that clean.

What tricks do you use to get your house under control without losing an entire day?

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Five Things Friday

A year ago yesterday, we found out that M would be born with clubbed feet. While it was initially a huge wave of relief — we were anticipating an issue, and that was certainly much more treatable than the other options — it was also kind of world bending since treatment for CTEV (congenital talipes equinovarus) is relatively non-invasive from a surgical standpoint but drawn out over the first four to five years of a child’s life. I felt every emotion as I researched the crap out of it that day, and I’m glad, for the most part I did but here are the five things I wish I had known

  1. No doctor knowingly and willingly compromised treatment and while there are terrifying tales of mistreatment, a lot of the “warning signs” can be totally fine and normal in many cases so it’s best to not listen to armchair doctors. 
  2. Every step taken in this journey is two forward and one back. Except moving to BNB (boots and bar). That’s like 7 steps back into a dark pit filled with ice water and sharks. I mean, it’s doable and all that but it’s a tough learning curve.
  3. Keep it simple. I totally loved the easy click bar for full time where when it could just click on and off. But the spring-loaded articulating joints were a pain. The straight, steel bar is much easier to pack, to pad and to maintain on a regular basis. 
  4. Everyone knows someone with clubbed feet. And sometimes that person didn’t even know they did until they were much older and happened to mention to their parents about their friends kid and *surprise*!! Obviously, treatment can’t be that badly psychologically damaging. 
  5. You’ll never understand how resilient a baby can be until they’ve adjusted to their casts, their tenotomy and their BNB long before you do. 

I am anxiously awaiting the end of part-time BNB in 40-52 months. I’m anxiously awaiting the end of specialist appointments in 15ish years. I know every popped heel, blister, funky toenail and case of athlete’s foot will make me feel helpless. But I also know that most nights, we’ve got this. 

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Mom-iform

Can I just say I love that joggers are a style? I lucked into a pair thrifting (didn’t try them on, realized they were too small when I brought them home, waited until more baby weight came off and then… *angel chorus*).  It’s officially part of my mom-iform.

The first time I said “mom-iform” outloud was to my dad and he looked at me like I was crazy. But admit it, every mom needs that outfit that they can reach for when they need to be able to play with kids but also look like they have it together. Having an on-trend item? Takes it to another level

IMG_0862

(I suddenly wonder if I’ve taken too long writing this post and now joggers are out? Please tell me no. I’m trying my best here!)

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Adding It Up

My sister has a lawn care service.

I don’t know why that revelation blew my mind. It makes sense. They live on a huge piece of property, with a fairly decent slope to it. They own a successful business which eats up a lot of their time, and have three kids. We have commiserated with each other over the fact that laundry never gets done, and shared secrets for what to do when your kids are out of clean laundry.

But she still always seemed to have it more together than me.

I could never figure out what I was lacking. What made me so ill-equipped to face life with a smaller house, fewer kids and a husband who worked fewer hours? I could tell myself that my kids are younger. I could tell myself its because I value, even need, my downtime more. I could tell myself its because I’m not getting as much sleep at night. But at the end of the day, I just felt inadequate.

But that’s not the case.

Between establishing careers, raising children, pursuing interests and setting ourselves up for pinterest fails, something has to go. And it does for everyone. But we don’t often get to see how others cope with it, usually because we’re comparing our failings to their successes.

The day after I found out my sister gets someone to look after her lawn, I noticed our neighbour has someone come in to clean his house. And the house across the street had someone in to paint. While we used to joke that my brother-in-law didn’t have a toolkit, he had a wallet, there is something valuable in knowing your limits, and knowing your price. Is it worth it to pay for someone to do this so I can focus on something I find more important ore rewarding?

It turns out the issue isn’t with where I fall short. The issue is where my bank account does.

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Five Things Friday

Some days, I do nothing. Other days, I do so much I exhaust myself. I haven’t quite learned to pace myself yet, but I’ll slowly figure that out, right?

Of course, it feels like there are more days I get nothing accomplished than days where I’m very productive. I could choose to focus on the days nothing went right, nothing got done, and the days that I felt like I was nothing. Instead, I’m going to focus on the good:

  1. I made jam. Turns out it’s easy. Who knew?
  2. I did a 5 minute clean up of all the major rooms on our main floor and while the house isn’t clean, it’s passable.
  3. I managed to only overreact for a little while when M randomly developed an allergy to eggs and began to vomit rather violently at the grocery store. And in the parking lot. And in the car. And in the kitchen. And in her bedroom.
  4. I got one work out in. The other days were spent walking and swimming, so at least still being active.
  5. I scheduled a bunch of blog posts, finally finishing off a few that have been in draft form for weeks, because after having a crazy few days, I decided I needed a glass of wine and some me-time.

What did you do this week — however small — that made you want to give yourself a pat on the back?

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Currently: In July…

And here marks the start of me trying to slow down time because summer is flying by just too fast and there is only a couple of months of summer left and so much to do. Nonetheless, seeing the reminder email for this month’s Currently, hosted by Anne of In Residence and Stephanie of Wife, Mommy, Me, made me smile and remember to stop and pay attention to what I’m doing.  And what am I doing? This month, I am…

Currently July.jpg

…documenting: how to put on M’s boots. We’re going out on our first date night since she moved to just wearing her boots and bar at night (might actually be our first date since she got them, too. I can’t quite remember. Does car shopping count?). It also means the first time Scott or I will not be the one to put on her boots. I barely let Scott do it, so I’m nervous to say the least. Do you think an instruction manual and a video, in addition to a couple “training” sessions will be enough to ease my worried mind? (The answer… is no)

…accomplishing: things in fits and spurts.  I’ll go for days not being able to even get beds made, and then there will be a day I get the house cleaned before morning naps, get to the library before lunch, get everyone napping at the same time, and have supper on the table — and kitchen already cleaned — before Scott gets home. The goal for this week is to deal with the three baskets of strawberries we picked last week before they go soft in my fridge. Yesterday, I tackled jam.  Today will be smoothie packs.

…enjoying: my garden and it’s first big-ish harvest. My flower gardens are still a mess, but my veggie garden is (mostly) rocking this year. My oregano and tomatoes are out of control. My lettuce and spinach are tender and delicious. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of growing something from scratch. Now to figure out why my basil is being grumpy…

…reading: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. For years, I mocked people that read anything lighter than Margaret Laurence at the lake/beach/camp. And yet, I find that my tastes have changed dramatically. This was a great book to start at the cabin, and I hope to get a chance to finish it before we go camping.

..spending: money on me. we have a clothing budget, and that usually covers the girls and Scott. Anything I want usually comes from my entertainment money because I don’t “need” it. But then I nearly flashed my whole family diving off of a diving board in a bathing suit that used to fit. Instead of my usual Old Navy or Joe Fresh sale section, I found the sale section in a swimsuit store to get a bathing suit that might actually fit and suddenly can’t wait to hit the beach.

Categories: The new identity | 7 Comments

Being the Woman I Want My Girls To Be

I don’t always stand up for myself and if I do, I don’t often do it effectively, forcefully, or immediately. I spend a lot of time thinking of what I should have said, analyzing what I did say and figuring out how I got myself into that situation. 

A couple weeks ago, we were at a car dealership, dealing with a gentleman who had plenty of years experience selling cars. He knew his stuff. But he did not know us. When he was walking us through the first car, he sat me in the driver’s seat, but brought Scott upfront to show him the engine. When talking about the layout of the interior, he spoke to Scott about hauling sports equipment, and me about strollers and groceries. On the test drive “experience” (which involved a prescribed route, and him driving the first stretch of it), he kept instructions to a minimum for Scott. He walked me through how to adjust the mirrors properly. 

While it seems terrible when you write it out, everything was said in such a way that it managed to go right up to, but not cross that line into misogyny. 

But there is no doubt that he didn’t take the time to get to know us at all. I am the one that knows about the benefits of an engine with double overhead cams. I am the one that is more likely to coach soccer. I am the one that feels more comfortable in the driver’s seat. Other than when I measured the trunk space to see if I could get a 2×4 in there (no, not with an 8′ length), we let him keep trafficking in gender stereotypes and it did made me feel kind of scuzzy. We didn’t buy the car and weeks later, I still wish I would have said something the first time. 

Yesterday, M had an appointment for new boots for her brace at the local children’s hospital. The technician switching over the footplates was running through the usual information. These boots are leather. They will soften and stretch the longer they are worn. As a result, the strap will need to be pulled hard to get it tight enough, so you may want to get your husband’s help. 

I cringed. But again, it’s like the tech went up to but didn’t quite cross the line. After all, when we were first shown how to put the boots on, it was a two person job. (And some days it still is with the way M likes to roll around). Before I had enough time to debate whether to say something, he said: “there, the footplates are on. Kids tend to kick a lot, so the screws could loosen over time. You’ll want to get your husband to grab his screwdriver every once and a while to tighten them.”

Now that certainly was over the line. 

And for once, I said so. 

“So why can’t I use my own screwdriver to tighten them myself?”

He looked flustered and replied “it’s just in my relationship, I am the one who is stronger”

“Well your relationship is not my relationship. I’m plenty strong, thank you very much.”

And for once, I was. 

I know M is too young to remember that fleeting moment of time but in that moment I spoke out because I didn’t want her to grow up in a world that assumed men own the tools, and that men were automatically stronger. I didn’t want her to inherit my tendency to give people the benefit of the doubt, to keep my mouth shut to avoid discomfort, to only push for change on a theoretic level. If I wanted her to believe she could do and be anything, I had to show her how to do that. 

Walking away, the only regret I had was that C wasn’t there to witness it, too. 

Categories: The new identity | 4 Comments

Calm

My house is a disaster. Granted, a couple hours this evening did help bring it back a little more under control, but overall, it’s still a mess. We’ve become way to habituated to tossing anything that belongs in the basement just to the bottom of the stairs. We’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that there are some toys just not worth putting away. And we’ve just become lazy when it comes to putting our clothes away at the end of the day.

It doesn’t help I get lost in the details when it comes time to clean. I love the look of things perfectly organized, and so I will often take the extra time required, when putting one thing away, to straight everything up around it. It’s a good habit to have when you are dealing with a small mess, but not very productive when you’re dealing with a disaster.

Tonight, my priority was to clean M’s room (done!), C’s room (done!) and the living room (…..kind of done?). Instead of ensuring all the messy build up was off the floors, I found myself re-organizing a bench just inside the door.

We’ve got a busy week ahead of us. We are out of the house for at least one activity every day that will likely disrupt naps, which will mean less cleaning time during the day. Plus, Scott and I each have one evening activity this week, which usually means the other can just write off being productive that evenings because the kids will be upset. And of course, next weekend we’re hosting a barbecue lunch at our house, so we may need it to be tidy.

And yet, instead of making sure that the shelves are tidy, the floor is clear and kitchen is clean, my brain prioritized re-folding meters of woven fabric that make up my baby carrier collection, folding the long trapezoids in half, and in half, and in half, and in half until they stacked nicely on top of each other inside the bench.

I could hear part of my brain saying: “what are you doing? Just dump it all in and shut the lid! Even if everything looks perfect today, you know you’ll be pulling carriers out of here all week any way!” and yet I just kept folding in half, and in half, and in half, and in half until they stacked nicely on top of each other.

Part of my brain knew this wasn’t a restful weekend. Friday evening was so long ago, I couldn’t remember anything about it. Saturday was spent tending the garden and preparing for an afternoon of laying sod. There was barely enough time to shower before going to a Father’s Day supper at my sister’s and then coming home late enough to ensure rough nights for both kids. Sure, we slept in on Sunday, but that meant hitting the ground running to get to church, make Scott a nice Father’s Day lunch, run off to get grocery shopping done before coming back to get both kids down for naps, make supper (burn supper), get one kid in the bath and the other to bed before trying to get the messy house under control. So folding the wraps in half, and in half, and in half, and in half until they stacked nicely on top of each other? That was the calmest part of my weekend. 

Categories: The new identity | 1 Comment

Five Things Friday 

It’s Father’s Day Weekend! I figured if I was going to give myself a whole weekend for Mother’s Day, I might as well do the same for Father’s Day. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun, laying sod, weeding gardens and mowing the lawn. Ok, I might try to make sure we have some fun in there too! But I’m pretty lucky to have a completely involved partner in this parenthood thing. And he’s pretty good at it too!

  1. He’s been C’s favourite since Day 1. I never stood a chance with her if he was around. I’ve had a pretty good run with M as her favourite but the tide is shifting there too. She radiates joy when he comes home at the end of the day
  2. He puts C to bed almost every night, which is an exhausting endeavour of “I need to pee! I need to poop! I need to brush my teeth in the living room” the minute the lights turn out. And he remains pretty patient through out it. 
  3. He lets the kids play all over him. Obviously C is the more rambunctious one, doing summersaults, climbing, and swinging off of him. He gets virtually no personal space when they are awake (and yet she manages to respect the closed door of the bathroom when he’s on the other side…)
  4. He never complains about how often I leave him with both kids in the evening to go out for supper with friends even though I can’t remember the last time he got to do anything with his friends that didn’t include the kids. And never refers to it as “babysitting”
  5. He (almost) always hears them wake up and will (almost) always be the first one to their doors. And even if it’s 3am and M is up to eat, he’ll still try his hardest to get her back to sleep if I’ve become confused, thought the baby was crying in my dreams and fallen back asleep. It’s happened more than once. This week. #sleepdeprived

 The girls are pretty lucky to have a dad who exposes them to random music, comic books and video games with great enthusiasm. He even does a pretty great job of faking enthusiasm for some of their other interests. And I’m very lucky to have someone who carries his share of the load of parenting these crazy girls of ours. 
Happy Father’s Day, Scott!

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