Author Archives: Cara - Hanging off the Edge

The First Thing To Go

Fall is my busiest time at work, and I had worried that I would find this fall exceptionally slow being away. It turns out, fall with a pre-schooler is pretty busy too. Sure, she’s only in preschool two days a week, but we also have Stroller Bootcamp two days a week. Add in library trips, grocery shopping, playdates, and all the fall birthdays, and I am hard pressed to find time to get everything done.

So something has to go.

Every time this happens, it’s the same things that go. Sure, we fall a bit behind on cleaning (my daughter’s smoothie cup is still on the table from breakfast and it’s 2:46 pm). We order out more than I’d like. In the grand scheme of things, those small things don’t matter. But one big thing always gets dropped. Every single time.

My “me-time”

I hate the term self-care. I really do. Back in the day, these were called “Hobbies” or “interests” or “relaxation” but it does make it seem much more important by labelling it “self-care”. And it should be important. I swear there is more pressure these days to fill up every waking hour that if we don’t actually schedule our interests, we never get to experience them.

Running? Haven’t been in over a week.

Blogging? Barely scraping together one post a week.

Knitting/crocheting/sewing? Well over a year ago, I’m sure.

If it wasn’t for the lie I tell myself that I do stroller bootcamp “for the girls,” my days are busy doing stuff for everyone else. So I’m making me a priority. I’m putting me on the schedule. And I’m not going to feel guilty about it. When the girls’ naps line up, I’m going to let myself take the first 30-45 minutes to write out some blog posts.  I’m going set aside one evening to work on a yarn or sewing project. And I’m going to figure out how to fit running in now that it’s dark out so early (any advice anyone?)

Sure, it’s going to make my schedule look all the more busy, but until I’ve established this habit, it’s important to make sure I’ve taken time for me.

 

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Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

Did you know my little girl turns 3 tomorrow? We’re all fighting colds so I don’t know how much fun we’ll be having this weekend, but we’ll definitely spoil her because, honestly, she spoils us. Here are five things that are just the best about that girl

  1. She is a snuggle monster after naps. She is not big into snuggles any other time so when I get the chance to wrap her up in a blanket and snuggle her on the couch
  2. She gets around her usual disdain for snuggling by playing “baby” if she needs extra love and affection. 
  3. She almost looks forward to “time out” and thus far she is also cool with beinb sent to her room to play quietly if she’s starting go get too hyper. 
  4. She adores her daddy and little sister something fierce, to the point that it’s hard to be insulted there isn’t as much mama love because she is so incredibly sweet to them
  5. She is so sweet, knowing that hugs help someone who is sad, but also knowing it’s ok to be sad sometimes. 
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

With M being allergic to chicken and eggs, it’s been hard to wrap our brains around meals. So much of our “go-to” meals are chicken or egg based. Some things are easy to adapt (many pancake or muffin recipes can actually be made just skipping the egg), while others just have to be abandoned (I’m looking at you, deli roasted whole chicken). 

But as with all things, there are some amazing discoveries that come with being pushed out of your comfort zone. Here are my five favourites

  1. Veggie stock is just as easy to make as chicken stock, and you can literally just use garbage to make it. We keep a container of veggie scraps in the freezer and add our carrot tops, onion peels, bean ends etc as we make suppers. Then, once our stock pile (hahahahahah) runs low, we toss it in a pot with some water and herbs and simmer for a few hours. 
  2. I read an article on a study of the composition of sausages in Canada. Following the alarming discovery of horse meat in European sausage and meatballs, a regulatory body in Canada tested sausages here for unlabelled meats. While there was virtually no horse meat used, many were using chicken as a filler, even if they were pork or beef sausages. Since we mostly eat sausage meat without the casings, I’ve found a couple recipes for spice blends that we can add to ground meats that taste like our favourite sausages. Plus, I can control the level of fat and salt!
  3. Like most families, we have a chicken nugget loving toddler. While she’s still a little slow to come around to them, I found a veggie and lentil nugget recipe that, with a few tweaks, will become a freezer standby for us. 
  4. Ground turkey can be used in almost the same recipes as ground chicken. While turkey nuggets might not rock our works, turkey burgers are close enough no one notices the difference. 
  5. We’re no longer constantly going over our grocery budget. Chicken’s expensive, y’all. You know what isn’t? Pork. You know what are so cheap it feel like thievery? Lentils. 

Don’t get me wrong: I’m definitely looking forward to the day M outgrows this allergy but it’s great to be finding new favourites!

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Currently: In September

I am dragging my heels into September. I loved this summer, and I’m not ready for it to be over. I could use another few months. But crunching leaves, sweater weather, pumpkin spice latte, yada yada yada.

Anne and her cohost du jour, Lowanda have brought us another set of prompts this month that I can get a little more excited about. This month, I am currently…

Currently In September

…celebrating: C’s third birthday. This year we’re doing a Tea Party theme after months of princess party talk, and a brief stop over in dinosaur party, hockey party and ocean party. Somehow I get the feeling this is what toddler birthday parties will be like for the next few years.

…watching: the last few episodes of the latest season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.  How did I not finish the season before? Granted this last season had enough season finale twists that I’m not surprised I thought I’d finished it.

…welcoming: a chance to start up some new routines. My year will always and forever start in September, and even though I’m not back to work until December, I think this is the right time to start moving us into a better morning routine. The other day, I finished getting C dressed at 10:30 only to turn around and find that M had already partially undressed herself. It’s going to be tough when it comes time to be out the door at 7:30.

…preparing: for the start of preschool. We have the meet and greet on Friday, and then C starts on Tuesday. We’ve been having some afraid-of-the-dark issues that came up the night we started back to school shopping, so I’m hoping once we get into the pre-school routine, we’ll get back to life as normal.

…photographing: M’s 10 month pictures this morning! While I miss newborn snuggles, I am definitely much happier as a parent of a 10 month old than a 10 day old. She’s crawling, pulling up, starting to climb stairs, and generally getting into everything so you can’t turn your back but all in all, it’s pretty great.

Categories: The new identity | 5 Comments

Five Things Friday

I came in from my run last night to find that both girls had been crying pretty much the whole time I’d been gone. I knew it wasn’t a good night when I heard C calling for me. She’s a daddy’s girl so it’s rare when she wants me. So I went in and chatted with her. Soon, it became clear that I was actually part of the reason she couldn’t sleep. She was worried about two things: starting school and me going back to work. As we talked, her fears were palpable and I suddenly remembered the nights I spent paralyzed with fear, bawling my eyes out while listing hundreds of worries to my mother who tried to be patient but also just wanted to go to bed. I felt guilty that I had passed my penchant for worrying on to my daughter. 

Of course, her fears are completely normal, and she is a good decade away from the height of my anxiety. But it made me think about what I want to pass on to her. 

  1. Fitness. We were shoe shopping today and in addition to walking, running and jumping in each pair of shoes she tried on, she also insisted on doing jump squats and jumping jacks. I drew the line at burpees. I’m probably the fittest I’ve been my whole life and I’m glad she’s noticing and taking an interest too. 
  2. Reading. I love that she loves books. I love that our books are all out in the open. I do wish she would catch me reading more, but that would generally mean actually reading more. 
  3. Music. We listen to music at breakfast and lunch, alternating who gets to choose the soundtrack. Music has always spoken to me so I’m glad she is taking an interest too. She also likes to join me when I play piano and once she gets her ukelele (and other assorted musical instruments as well) for her birthday, I’m sure she’ll join me on guitar as well. 
  4. Family. This week felt weird because I only saw my mom twice, and my sister once. The fact that we live in the same city as Scott’s brother but haven’t seen him in over two months weirds me out. I hope she makes family the same priority I do. 
  5. Gifts of the hands. Despite my earlier desires to be a writer, I inevitably find myself at a loss for words when actually interacting with humans when it comes to conveying emotion. I’m much more at ease making something – sewing a gift, knitting a scarf, baking cookies. While I hope she has better interpersonal skills, I also hope she finds a creative outlet that she shares with others. 
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

Logically, I know I have three full month until I go back to work (and I’m also aware that is more than many women get at all) but since I went back to work after having C in September, that’s what my brain thinks is happening again.  As a result, my brain is panicking about all the things we didn’t get to do… and the good news is that we still have time to do them!

  1. Summer things – one more trip to the beach, one to the splashpad and maybe one to the wading pool just down the street
  2. Children’s Museum – we’ll likely hold off on this one for a little while, since they charge you per person regardless of age, so we’ll wait until my youngest person is a little bigger and might get more out of the baby&tots area
  3. Have a Mommy & Me day – just C and I for a bit. I know this mat leave was to bond with my baby, but my big baby needs me just as much, if not more, now. Plus, she’s starting pre-school very soon and I feel her childhood is quickly slipping away
  4. Spend more time outside. If it’s not raining, we usually are outside for part of the day, but I never feel like it’s enough. That may be due to the fact that when I want to go outside, C doesn’t, but when we’re not outside, she’s crying to go out.
  5. Set personal and professional goals before I go back. It’s much too easy to rest on my laurels when I’m back at work, but I know I’m not happy in my job (not that I’m unhappy) so I want to see what I can do to make sure that if I have to work, it’s going to be something that I want to do.
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Moving Thoughts

I’ve made running a priority. I enjoy it. It gives me time to myself. It improves my health (my knees question that). It helps me sleep. It gives me time to think.

That’s not always good.

My running schedule (based off of the Hal Higdon Novice 5K schedule) has me running three times a week, with one day doing a 30-60 minute walk. While eventually the thought pattern on my run is: “half a mile left. You can do this. .45 of a mile left.  You can do this. .4 of a mile left. You can do this,” that walk gives me a lot of thinking time without the distraction of side stitches, legs wanting to give out or lungs gasping for air.

Yesterday, I started thinking about how happy I was that I had made running a priority, which made me realize that anything we give time to is a priority, whether we make it a priority or not.

And that stuff that doesn’t get done? We can say it’s a priority all we want, but if it’s not getting done, it’s because it isn’t high enough on our lists, and so likely isn’t important enough to us.

It was remarkably easy to make time to go running. I put M to bed. Not long after that routine starts, Scott starts putting C to bed. Once M is asleep, I change into my running clothes. I kiss C good night. I run. I stretch. I foam roll. I shower. I sleep. Sometimes I add in a bedtime snack  somewhere in there for good measure, too.

But that’s not every day or every night. There are days when I stay up past my bedtime to watch just one more episode. I read one too many news articles. I creep on that person from high school. While there is value in relaxation or awareness of current events, they don’t deserve nearly as much time as they get.

It’s time to start looking at how I spend my time, and move things around, so those things that I think are priorities actually become priorities. Afterall, if they are that important to me, it should be easy to make time for them.

Categories: The new identity | 3 Comments

Five Things Friday

I was stretching out my psoas after our warmup at bootcamp the other day and my instructor asked if everything was fine. Yes, I responded, I just had to do my evening run rather than my morning run yesterday so everything is a little tight. Later, when I was doing jump squats, she came over to chat – how often do I run? Was I signing up for the upcoming race? I said three days a week and I didn’t feel I had enough time to train for it; I’d never run that far before. She said: “you probably still have time. If not, at least you could do the 10K”

I laughed so hard I fell over. I had forgotten there was a half marathon option. “I might run three days a week but I never said I run that far!” 

In the end she told me to think about both, that I still had enough time to train for either, and most importantly reminded me to stretch stretch stretch. 

Two days later, I’ve taken a second look at the registration fee and I’m about to lace up my shoes for a “test run” to see how far I can run so I can see how ridiculous this idea is. But mostly, my brain is psyching myself out. Why? Here’s why

  1. You can’t fail if you never try
  2. I am far too anxious about the time before the race and starting the race to go alone, and everyone I know that runs is much faster than me so they wouldn’t want me holding them back
  3. I’ve had knee problems in the past and I don’t want them cropping up again. I’ve enjoyed being able to take the stairs, lift my kids up from a squatting position and not have to ice them every night. 
  4. I feel intensely guilty for running as often as I do and that is why I don’t go far. I don’t like taking the kids with me, and I don’t feel it’s fair to make Scott look after them and the house while I do something “fun”. It doesn’t contribute in a meaningful way to the family and therefore I won’t let myself recognize the value of it. 
  5. I am scared. 

Really, the first four of them can be summed up by the last one. I don’t know what I’ll decide to do. Likely, I will decide once it’s already sold out, or more likely, get distracted by the next catastrophe (like the apparently rotting garage we park our brand new vehicle in) and the date will pass me by. 

But part of me? Part of me really wants to go for it. The half. The 10k. Just to finally get my negative-talking brain to shut up for once. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Fashion Fast-Forward

I used to have a better sense of fashion. I knew what was in. I knew what trends to avoid. I knew what styles suited me and my body.

And then roughly three years ago, I checked out. Trends aren’t so much of a big deal when you’re pregnant and you feel like a whale in everything that you put on. Once you have the baby, your body is still changing so much that you wear whatever works because you are tired and you know the baby is just going to spit up on it anyway. And then you get pregnant again, and it just keeps going.

But after having a second kid? You aren’t allowed to stay home in your pajamas every day. If you’re making your first kid get dressed, they kind of insist you do too. And while you’re dressed, why not go out somewhere? 

We go out a lot. Every day. Sometimes it’s fun adventures to the zoo. Sometimes it’s for a walk to pick up something from the grocery store. That’s a lot of outfits and not a lot of time to create them. As a result, I’ve been rocking jeans and a t-shirt (or shorts and a tank top) on the reg. 

And I like it. 

If you’ve followed me since before kids, you know I did the whole “ootd” style blog. I did the whole layering dresses over other dresses and skirts. I did the mixing of multiple patterns. I paired bold and bright colours in seemingly unexpected ways. I had charts and spreadsheets to plan outfits. It was exhausting. 

But jeans and a t-shirt? I can do that without thinking. And that simplicity is redefining my style even when I have time and reason to get all dressed up. As I mentioned on Friday, it’s why I love dresses. One piece and you’re done. It feels like a step back, compared to the time and effort I used to put in, but I also feel much more comfortable in my clothes now (and that’s pretty significant considering jeans are much less comfortable than the tunic and tights I was rocking earlier!)

Fortunately, it doesn’t matter whether it’s because of laziness, or refined aesthetics, it seems the latest trends have skewed more basic. Then again, classic never goes out of style. 

Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

Five Things Friday

It feels likes it’s been a while since I did one of these; I’m almost daunted at the idea of it! But I feel like “Good Mom” days are starting to outnumber “Screamy Mom” days and as any parent knows, that’s not necessarily because the kids have been acting differently. No, here are the five things that are making my life easier. 

  1. Baby gate. I’ve been talking about putting it up all summer but once M started crawling, it became a necessity. But it also brings me peace of mind as we’re shuffling out the door because it’s a small entry way and a steep flight of stairs. Simply leaving the house seems much less tense with a clumsy toddler 
  2. Emptying the dishwasher. If you’ve read A Slob Comes Clean, you’ll know this is a huge part of her strategy to keep on top of the mess. For me, it’s less about the dishes themselves, but the fact that unloading the dishwasher usually means loading it back up, and grabbing dishes from the table usually means clearing the counters, and so on and so on. 
  3. Dresses. Sunday, M was sick. C was mostly better but still very moody and upset we had cancelled her weekend at the lake. And it was hot. I needed a break and a friend needed someone to take a look at a house on the market with her. I had very little time to go from “Nurse Mom” to pretending I had it together. Enter the dress. So fast. So pulled together. Doesn’t really matter what dress, I’m just loving them all right now. 
  4. Showing myself some grace. I put fake flowers in a planter that has been a struggle to keep alive all summer (every summer for that matter). I stopped trying to make every supper noteworthy since the toddler is going through a picky phase anyway. 
  5. Goodnight Yoga. We picked this book up at the library this week, and it’s meant that C wants me to put her to bed, something that hasn’t happened in a very long time (since I do naps, Scott usually puts C to bed.) It’s not a challenging yoga session, nor very long, but it’s nice to have some quality non-yelling time with my girl. And I think it makes the rest of the bedtime routine that follows more relaxed too.
Categories: The new identity | 2 Comments

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