Saturday, November 28, 2009

We've Arrived.

We're here. We're in. We did it. We're actually living in our new home.

Over the last few months we've purged, packed and moved, squeezed in at my parents while major renovations took place at what was then referred to as the new house, demo-ed, roofed, insulated, breathed in too much plaster, drywalled, compared prices, deliberated swatches, painted, cleaned, floored, washed, swept, swept, swept, familiarized and remembered, and now... we breathe. I'm feeling thankful tonight.

I am thankful for our new space, even though we still have far to go with it. It is beautiful and peaceful. It is now also cozy, comfortable and feels like home. We still have a lot of renovating to do, but I like renovating anyway. It's rewarding work. You know what else I am thankful for? My hard-working husband, who I'm sure does not share my views on renovating but does it anyway, sans complaint.

I am also thankful for my great kids, who are funny and loving and breezed right through this transition. They managed through the tight reins at my parents home and now have settled right in at our house and in this new town. Kudos especially to my oldest Thane, who is not my outgoing child by any stretch, but who plopped himself right into his new class and made new friends. That's hard even for adults to do.

I am thankful for our loving families. One who despite their sadness at our leaving their city, loves us so much that they rolled up their sleeves, went to work, packed and lifted and babysat, and helped us on our way. And for the other, who welcomed us into their home and back to my town. We've been through sharing their space, my grandfather's death, a divorce in the family, our renovations.. all in a few short months. My Dad's sage advice on everything house has never been more welcome.

I am thankful for libraries, for that beautiful quiet space that welcomes our little people and gives us story hour. Some things seem the same, new house or old house.

For kind teachers, who help my boys feel at ease. For small town neighbours who are genuinely glad to see you move back.

For wood cut to keep us warm, the fresh fall air to pile it in, and for the geese that congregated behind our new house getting ready for their big trip. For not hearing their honking in the last few days and knowing it's good our winter tires are on, for living in a place where geese tell you winter is just around the corner.

For Santa Claus parades and Christmas lights in this dark month, and for boxes almost unpacked, which means I'll let myself decorate for Christmas soon.

I'm very cozy and content tonight. This was a good idea.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Facebook status'

Since the advent of facebook, do you ever think in terms of facebook status'? I do, particularily when driving. "Victoria is... hungry", "Victoria is... ready to go for the day", "Victoria is... cleaning, again.". Succinct little phrases, summing up one's existence and attitude at the moment. The other day, had I been near a computer, it would have been "Victoria is older and wiser today." I feel older, in a more steady, reasonable way, maybe a little less rash, not just doing because I want or I feel so.

Today though, "Victoria is.. sad." We're moving.

I should be excited. My facebook status brain has tried out, "We bought a pretty house in the country!" and "Victoria is moving home!". But I'm not there yet.

We got the deal of the century on a pretty home in the country near my parents in NB, where I grew up. It has eight acres where I can picture my kids exploring, surrounded by pretty hardwoods with their excellent climbing branches, a view of the Saint John river. I remember driving home from university for the first time, for Thanksgiving weekend my first year away. I suddenly noticed the river as if I had just seen it for the first time and realized all of a sudden how much I had missed it, ever-changing but ever-constant, something so meditative about it. It has a holistic feel, something zen that makes you breathe in deep and appreciate nature. Part of the house is probably 150 years old, an old farmhouse with character, the type of house I always imagined buying and fixing up. These are the list of pros we've compiled.

There's also of course, that we'll be close to my parents. And my extended family, my sister and her family, my aunts, my cousins, my grandparents. But that's not the reason in itself that we're moving. One of my sisters is here actually, I'll miss being near her. Very much. I've gotten used to the 6 hour drive home. And so have my kids. I see my parents often, probably every couple months or so. They come here often, we go up. I used to cry at the end of each visit as they drove off. But that's easier now. I know now it won't seem like long until we'll see each other again.

We're moving because it's a smart decision. With what we'll profit on this house, and with our new mortgage being a fraction of this one, it makes sense. Now we can fathom paying off our student loans simultaneously with our mortgage. Not having to include overtime for Troy in the budget will be a welcome change. Visions of sugar-plums dancing in our heads? Yep, our sugar-plums are family vacations becoming a possibility, savings accounts that don't get raided, and hopefully a little extra for renovating.

I hope it works.

Because in the meantime, we're leaving what we know. Moving home is not so hard for me, but nervewracking all at the same time. It's been 10 years, although it's still my family and my hometown. A very small hometown that I think will take some getting used to again, but mine nonetheless. But for Troy and the kids? Although Troy is fully on-board, the one to make the final call on the moving idea, we're leaving what has always been their home. We're uprooting and moving away from Troy's family. Which makes me miserably sad. Not going out for Sunday afternoon visits? Not having Grampie Hutt call and say he misses the little men, he'll pick them up after work? I can't even go there, it's too sad.

The kids were all born in Halifax. I was planning on Claire going to the same preschool the boys have attended, the one with the teachers who we love. I'm familiar with Thane's school, the other kids in his class, the parents there. I know when and where to register the kids for swimming, gymnastics, skating. I know most of my neighbours now, the familiarity is comforting. I looked in my wallet the other day and had the sudden realization that I am going to need a new NB health card, doctor for that matter, which reminded me we are also going to need a new dentist, chiropractor, eye doctor, babysitters, even our library and movie store cards must change. Our car license plates, our car and house insurance, our telephone, oh my. It's daunting.

I'm sure this will be followed by many posts about how excited I am. But not tonight, tonight I'm sad, nervous, apprehensive. I'm feeling old, the weight of making responsible decisions for your family, one's that aren't so easy, is feeling heavy.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


As one of my friends would write; sigh, sigh, sigh.

I type as I wait for the babes to transition from getting in their beds to actually going to sleep. I may renounce them as my muses for the moment. Speed-bumps are more the metaphor I'm looking for right now.

Bedtime tonight started out with me being grumpy and feeling really lazy, so letting bedtime get started later than I like to start, never a sign of a smooth bedtime to come. In the midst of feeling hurried to get to my post-bedtime me time, feeling grumpy that me time tonight is going to consist cleaning and laundry because I didn't fit it in today, Troy heading off for another night shift, and Claire fussing for me to sit down to nurse her before bed, I discovered a spill that had been a full cup of tea, one I meant to sit and enjoy this afternoon and in the midst of demands was forgotten. Already annoyed at the mess in this house, and being the sole one to clean (for Troy's sake I will put 'most of the time' here, he does help when he can), this tipped me over the edge. Not to mention the irritable idea that I shouldn't have left the tea there anyway, mixed with the frightful idea that it could have been spilled when it was hot, and topped with the thought of the annoying ants we've been fighting having a field day in this lake of sugar. At this I didn't think to take a deep breath and decide to have a pleasant bedtime anyway, an idea that I realize now would have been my best plan. Nope, I proceeded to nurse Claire while shouting directions at the boys to get their teeth brushed. Directions that were in no way, shape, or form followed. I'm sure this was a peaceful way for poor Claire to eat and get to sleep. Thane had been grumpy also, since getting a bump in the head this afternoon. With a shovel. I wasn't there for that one, Troy assures me it was a one-man accident and sounds worse than it was. Anyway, being yelled at for claiming 'he didn't notice' the whole cup of tea crashing to the floor and spilling (did I mention this was all over my wicker basket of knitting and new knitting book?) and then not even attempting a clean up or getting someone to help him with the mess, did not help his mood or his desire to be obedient getting ready for bed.

So now I sit, fielding this boy's room exits (thankfully Seth just went to sleep tonight) and waiting until I know he is actually sleeping so I can feel free to go downstairs, start laundry and cleaning, without him wandering all the way down there to me with his bedtime questions and issues. This involves a conversation something like this..

Thane comes into the hall and looks over the railing into the living room where I sit here: "Mom, I need to get something."

Me: "No you don't. Go to bed."

"But I need this part to this toy."

"No you don't, it's time for bed. You can find that part in the morning."

Thane goes back into his room. Maybe five minutes later, he re-emerges.

"Can I go into Seth's room to get it? I think it's in there."

"No! He's trying to go to sleep! You coming out into the hall making noise is not making his bedtime any easier either, go to bed!"

"But I really need it!"


Thane goes back into his room.

Then he's back.

"I need some water."


"I'll get it myself." And he scurries to the kitchen.

At this point I herd him back upstairs, full of endless lecturing and admonitions. I tuck him in, again, and come back downstairs.

Then I hear, "Mom?"

Sigh, "Go to sleep Thane".

Ignoring that completely, "I lost ten Pokemon cards at school today to Aidan".

Wondering why the child had his treasured cards at school at all, wondering when and why the six-year olds were allowed to gamble them away at school, wondering about the supervision at school and adding this to the list of why homeschooling would be a good idea, thinking we should have an in-depth talk with him about taking care of his things and standing up for himself (I'm pretty sure he doesn't know the 'rules' to the game), but that now is not the time, I stutter out, "Thane, don't take your cards to school."

Then, annoyed at falling for his distraction techniques again, I get back to my guns. "Close your eyes and your mouth and GO TO SLEEP!"

I think he's asleep now.

Onwards and upwards to scrubbing tea from the floor, couch, books and wicker. Sigh, sigh, sigh.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Yummy summer.

Seth and I have a weakness. He can bend my rubber arm any day when we drive by MacDonald's, asking for "a fruit and yogurt thing", aka the McD's parfait. So in the spirit of saving money and trying to combat the idea that MacDonald's is ever a good idea, we've made our own homemade fruit and yogurt parfaits!

One part yogurt, add berries of choice (blueberries are great, this day it was strawberries and bananas), a sprinkle of Kashi and voila! Instant fruit and yogurt parfait, perfect for interesting conversations on the deck in the sun with Seth. The most use these Bailey's cups have got in ages.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Making, making, making

I've been making!! As opposed to obscene amounts of daydreaming and planning, this is some actual doing! Check it out:

This little number on cute rolly-poly baby legs out for a crawl are reversible shoes!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Much ado about nothing.

I'm sick. And so tired of being sick. I'm not talking of serious sickness. I have a cough.

And I'm being a big baby about it.

But I am sooo tired. This cough is the energizer bunny cough, only competing with the cough I had once when I had broncitis in university. At night it rears it's ferocious head, just in time to keep me up coughing until 4, and then when it seems I can cough no more, I fall asleep until Claire wakes up at 5 to eat. And then her and I sleep until 7:30, when the house must wake up. This is how I spent the first two weeks of this cough. Did I mention Claire was sick through this also? And that she was getting up several times a night herself?

It's making me crazy.

Luckily the last few days Troy has been home, not doing night shifts while I alternate between coughing and Claire-care, and I've been getting some sleep-in's come morning. And when I was beating myself up over my messy house and my failed attempts at meal-planning today, he reminded me I'm on week three of being sick and shouldn't be analyzing my quality of stay-at-home-mom-ness. Although I still can't help but notice that finding a spot to place Claire on the floor has been difficult lately, and that poor little Thane had quite a lot of trouble locating enough clean clothes for an outfit this morning. I'm trying to get on that. Maybe tonight I won't cough?

Let me think of a few things I appreciated today to leave this on a more interesting, less self-pitying note...

- I think we've found a good deal on a van. 4 years old (aka affordable!), pretty red, room for the babes with no picking at each other, and the best part? 30,000 kilometres on it. I'm pretty happy about the thought of these new wheels. No more squeezing the three into the car backseat, or worrying about whether our poor old van will make it to the destination.

- My husband, who doesn't mind that I'm blogging in the middle of our living room that looks as though a bomb went off in the middle of it. I'm actually snacking on the wonderful banana muffins he made with Seth today, and he is making us nachos to snack on while we veg.

- Rhubarb. I want to grow some. It would be a nod to my Besma, and the raw rhubarb she would cut for us off her plant and let us dip in sugar. Everything was dipped in sugar at Besma's house, I believe that's the Dane in her. And to my other Grammie, who cooked rhubarb to spread on homemade bread. The world needs more rhubarb.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A catch up...

I've been a little absent (from here) lately. I've been busy Getting Organized. Such a momentous task I feel it needs capitalized. I seem to do this about half way through each babies first year, coming up through what I now kindly refer to as 'the sleepy fog' and deciding I need to have personal expectations for my stay-at-home mom-ness again. I gave up long ago expecting anything in particular from myself while laden with a newborn, let alone having high expectations. I've been getting the itch to attempt supermom again lately; organizing and purging through our stuff, taking a hard look at what I've been attempting to pass off as dinner (sorry Troy!), picking up some projects again. At the library the other day I picked up The Complete Guide to Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman, as a kickstart to my efforts. It was a random pick but a good book!

I like how she writes on organization but keeps in the forefront that every great to-do list we draw up must often concede to the to-do's our littles have in mind. I will not even pretend to be the church-goer this author is, but I really appreciated how she writes of being organized meshing with and aiding her strong family values. How taking care of the must-do's allows time for the want-to's. I like this quote,

"When we just take the day as it comes, without being proactive in planning how we'd like it to stack up, we are left with piles of undone projects and confusion on the part of our kids and dear hubbies."

On that note, I've given myself about 10 more minutes before getting to a couple evening to-do's, but really wanted to post on a couple things.

Thing #1. Having a new little reader in the house is so cute.

Tonight about half an hour after bedtime, a word that sometimes seems to have little meaning in our house, I heard two certain little boys tittering away in Thane's room. I went up the stairs with my growly voice ready. (I digress, but check out Betsy Shaw's recent post on growliness. I loved it, and her, as usual.) So I had the growliness ready. I opened the door... to see Seth cuddled up, thumb in, listening to Thane reading Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!. It was one of those moments where I failed miserably to be a disciplinarian (surprise surprise, I have a lot of those), and instead just shooed Seth into his own room while trying not to laugh at his description of how Thane had changed the character's names. Thane piped up, describing that the hen who kicked a bucket had become Victoria-hen, the bucket hit "Farmer Thane", Troy came speeding to help, and the boat Mary-Seth had sunk.

Later (even later after bedtime, probably only egged on by my prior lack of discipline), Thane came out with The Jungle Book in one hand, Tarzan in the other, and a book-club conversation in mind. "Mom, have you ever noticed how these two stories are alike? They both have people who die in them, and growing up in the jungle in them, and meeting human girls in them, and Tarzan was raised by apes and this boy was raised by... (thinking for a minute) a big cat." I love that kid. While of course I think he's the most creative and pondering soul ever, these moments always bring on the same two conflicting thoughts. Visions of him growing up to pursue art, and the concerned hope that he doesn't go through a 'creatively inspired' teenage emo phase.

Thing #2. Seth is a little ball of happiness.

Seth was recently fit with his new braces (aka AFO's, ankle-braces). The need for these, to say the least, has brought on much motherly anguish. Long story short, while still being the most active boy ever who prides himself on being the fastest runner ever (complete with arms stretched backwards, for aerodynamics I suppose) Seth has mild mild cerebral palsy, spastic diplegia to be specific, and needs the braces mostly to make him put his heels to the ground so his calf muscles don't develop shortened. Since the recommendation for the braces (since the diagnosis?) I have worried about his self-esteem, childhood depression, his ability to get around, to participate, to be included, you name it, while trying to be nonchalant about it with Seth of course.

So on the way to the fitting, we were mentioning that the appointment was for Seth to get his braces. He had had an earlier apointment where he was shown the braces and casted to get a mould of his legs, etc. Thane, I think feeling a bit left out of the activities and probably trying to visualize the braces, said "I think I might need braces on my teeth someday" to which Seth giggled, "They won't fit in your mouth Thane!".

That night we had him testing them out for a half an hour. New braces on, Seth wandered around, mostly not seeming to notice them, sometimes admiring them a bit. Did I mention they have an aliens in the night sky design? Troy had some music on and Seth started to wiggle. Then in his four-year old way, "These good dancin' shoes Mom! These good jumpin' shoes too." And proceeds to demonstrate his jumping ability for 15 minutes. The last couple of days have included him ecstatically showing them off when Uncle Drew popped by and going to preschool with them on without batting an eyelash. I love that kid too.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I have recently read The Creative Life: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections, by Amanda Blake Soule (aka SouleMama to the blogging community).

I cannot begin to describe just how INSPIRED this book and this woman have made me. For any of you who would have once described yourself as an artist, and then have found yourself with children and 'no time' for your art, you need to read this book. It's a light read, it took me about a day and a half of picking away at it. It includes cute and fun little project how-to's (I instantly made my Claire some pants from one of Troy's old shirts), but it was the words surrounding the projects that hooked me.

Amanda seems to hold many of the same convictions and values as I; an appreciation for the earth and the gifts it offers us, a sense that gratitude, kind thoughts and positive thinking will take us far, a desire to live in the moment, to let her children 'get messy', be creative, and catch these values from us. I love how she describes that the items she creates carry her 'intentions and thoughts of love' for the person to receive the item. I've read a lot of her blog posts out loud to my husband, laughing that she also has a chronic falling down the stairs problem (I thought only I managed to do this so frequently) and an affinity for rearranging furniture. I particularily loved/identified with a line in this post, when she writes "It was just a little rearranging - not one of my "let's put the living room in the dining room and the dining room in the kitchen! Today!" rearranging moments." Ahh, Troy loved it too, I could tell.

But what struck so near and dear, and inspired me SO MUCH? She describes how the act of creating sustains her inner calm, centers her, fulfills her, and in helping her to be this better person, helps her to be a better mother.

The 7 years since the arrival of our first baby boy I have lamented that motherhood has taken away my time to be the artist that I am. My sketchbooks, once drawn in daily, dwindled and finally stopped. When I do create, it's usually in some house form (sewing, gardening, decorating) or for work (I'm a graphic designer). Not that the form art takes is what's important, but more importantly it's the feeling that I've applied to doing any of it. Since having the kids I've designated art/creating as a guilty pleasure, a frivilous activity that when I do, I am neglecting my family. My creativity has been placed well below all of our other family priorities.

I have caught a creative fever since reading this book and beginning to follow SouleMama's blog. It's like I've finally given myself permission to do what I love.

I've starting sewing some clothing for the kids that I've been wanting to try, I went to the library and picked up a How to Upholster book to tackle that chair I've been meaning to, I made myself some knitting needles, picked up some pretty yarn, and have found that knitting away on a little hat for Claire. I've discovered knitting is a great way to sit and be with the boys as they play. I have found the materials to make our own montessori sandpaper letter cards. The kids and I have been infusing more creativity into our days every day. We've searched out and planted more in our gardens, we've made a little veggie garden, and yesterday, Thane asked me to teach him to knit. My mom is currently packaging up some of her unused embroidery materials, because I think the clothes I'm making could use some nicely stitched animals on them. And the best part, I haven't spent evenings exhausted and collapsed on the couch to veg and watch shows in weeks. I am doing more but feel more energetic. It's amazing and I am so greatful for this inspiration I've stumbled on.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crazy boys.

The boys were 'entertaining' Claire today.

Poor Claire.

I must remember to quiz my sister-in-law on her survival tactics for growing up with two older brothers.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


It's Mother's Day, and although it's 1 in the morning and I should go to bed (had an extremely productive evening on a website I owe my photographer though), I feel the need to post about my Mother's Day.

I woke up to Claire as usual, for her early morning snack. I nursed her in bed as usual, we both half sleep during this feeding. Today, she must have drifted off earlier than her belly would like though, and then I think she woke up and realized this, and was really upset all of a sudden. I picked her up and hugged her and told her it was okay, and helped her to start nursing again. This was just a normal moment for us but where today was Mother's Day it seemed so poignant to me. Claire is going through a little stretch where I am her person, and she would be perfectly content to see only me. It's the best part about being a mom. Just me, as is, I'm enough! To her I'm great, I can fix all that's wrong in her little world.

I had two sweet little boys who were particularily sweet today come into my room just busting to give me their presents. I got to 'sleep in' until all of 8:30. They had made me presents at school and were so pleased with themselves. Thane then said, "Breakfast is ready. You can come up if you want to or we can bring it down if you want us to. But it's whatever you want to do." How cute is that?

At the thought of sausage in my bed with these sweet (but messy) boys, I decided to go upstairs, where my husband was cooking away (french toast and sausage!) while feeding Ms. Claire her brekkie. Where my birthday is days away and the plan is a new camera (yay!), he had gotten me chocolates and a knitting magazine. It was such a nice little gift, a thoughtful little token that he notices what I'm up to, that I would think a knitting magazine would be pretty neat right now. That man. I love him. I feel very lucky today.

I remember when each of these babes were born, and how, and the little moments along the way that make them them, and the little quirks and cuteness that we love about them. And all of this sweetness and my heart just busting for my three favorite little people made me think about my own mom, and think for the upteenth time since I've had babies that as a kid I didn't (couldn't really) realize how much she has loved me also.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Where to put the herbs?

In the midst of all this outdoor gardening glee, we've been inspired to plant a little indoors as well. This is our new herb garden.

My husband also has his own plant projects on the go. The plants on the right? Pineapples. You can't even see the avocado seeding going on by my kitchen sink, and the prayer plant that is constantly a work in progress. The kitchen window seems to be our only great plant growing window in the house, partially because of it's light, but partially because we remember to water them there! These plants are pretty and we love them, but they're sucking up my precious counter space around the sink/window.

What I want is a shelf for them in front of this window. Like this one from Ikea . Or this. I want it to go between my two upper cabinets that flank this window. About a foot down from the top of the window, high enough to miss dishwashing heads, giving me my counter space back, while still letting the plants have their perfect plant light that this particular window offers. I have it all visualized in my head, but do you think I can find such a shelf?! Unfortunately, these Ikea ones aren't long enough and after scouring Halifax I am convinced no such shelf exists here. I think this project is doomed to the 'carpentry' to-do list. This is the list that, in our house, has approximately a one to two year wait period. Being put on this particular to-do list is reminiscent to being referred to a specialist with a non-urgent health issue. Loonnnggg wait. We have plenty of excuses (babies, carpentry inexperience, wood expense) but really, I'm not sure what is the main issue with this type of to-do's. Whatever it is, it makes me sad that I can't just find this shelf. Sometime, when I am feeling quite upbeat and patient, I will fill you in on the carpentry to-do's I have planned for my poor abused kitchen.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Blooming garden!

Look at the difference one week of warm sun can make in beautiful Nova Scotia! Seriously, the bleeding hearts are practically growing as we watch, the tulips are blooming, the burning bush is starting to live up to it's name, and I'm starting to remember what else I planted last fall.. hmmm. A call to my gardening guru (aka Mom) is required.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

In the Garden

I know I'm biased, but how cute is a baby enjoying her first spring day in the sun? And the toes! Oh the toes.

Claire accompanied me in planting my side garden, one that has been woefully neglected over the past few years. I've been dreaming of filling it with lupins and calling it my wildflower garden, and this spring I have actually moved on from working and reworking my front garden. I planted lupins and 'Alaskian Snow daisies' (which my mom gasped at, so I guess they're pretty), and phlox and one 'Bachelor's buttons' that was stuck to the side of my lupins so he threw it in for free. I'm very excited! I found this guy on Kijiji who sells plants, and he dug them out of his huge garden for me, it was weird but informative, he was full of gardening wisdom, and cheap.

Troy's pretty sure I was sold weeds. Here's crossing my fingers for the lupins.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

My new little corner

I think I may have a new favorite corner of my house. I rearrange furniture, umm, a lot. I've explained to Troy (my patient husband) that it's because we keep growing and changing as a family and our needs keep changing, so the house must follow suite. I'm sure though that he realizes it also has a lot to do with my need to make things pretty. Poor Troy gets the pleasure of being the muscle of the operation. Some things should just be part of a dating 'interview' when you meet. "How's your parents health? How are you with money? What's your family plan? Will you make me move the piano three times?"

My most recent endeavor was to move the main computer out of the dining room and into the more spacious living room. I had put the computer into the dining room just over a year ago, mostly in an effort to have it in a central place for supervising the boys, who were getting much more independant on the computer. I've been getting really annoyed lately though with squeezing between the desk and dining chairs to sit at the dining table. So one day last week I was analyzing my long, skinny living room and attempting (once again) to resolve the layout issues that shape creates when I had an aha! moment. The desk must be moved.

Now I must explain, that our dining room 'desk' was created last summer when I came home with a three legged table. It was either a yardsaling morning or a garbage day find. Did I mention how much Troy loves when I come home dragging a bopping open trunk busting with an unloved furniture piece? Highlight of his day, I'm sure. So I finagled him into helping me cut it into half with the table saw, and with the back edge screwed into the wall it became the desk it is today.

A few holes in the wall later, I now have the coziest little computer corner that was previously wasted space AND a more spacious dining room again. You can walk around the whole table without bumping into anything!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


At the risk of being the most soap-boxing, long-winded blogger ever, I am going to make this post short and all about lovely. And what do I think is lovely? I'll show you.

My first bit of lovely is our Earth Day walk, lead by my oldest son, who was determined we should actually do it in the pouring rain on the real Earth Day. Thane can such a deep thinker, seeming to worry about the big issues so much, it makes me melt. At some prompting from Mama that Claire wouldn't like that very much (yes, I blamed it on the baby), two days later when the sun was shining we were out picking up garbage around our block. Seth was just pleased to wear his gardening 'glubs'.

Our Earth Day walk quickly digressed into a play at the park, but that was okay. At least the thought, and a little effort, was there. It was gorgeous out and we were really, really, really enjoying the return of the sun. Another bit of lovely? Claire's first ride on the swing.

This is her scrunched up nose, I am the cutest baby-in-the-world, loving the sun and this funny swing moving, and my mama is hilarious face. I'm sure that's what she's thinking.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mom was right, again.

So I've been thinking lately that mom just had it right. Or if I think about the specific dates, her mom had it right. Has anyone seen The Story of Stuff? Watch it. And then again. And then show your spouse, your kids, their teachers, and your relatives. And then watch it again a year later when you've slipped back into 'ruin-the-world-itis', aka: consumerism.

Annie goes through the materials economy system, through extraction, production, consumption, and disposal, pointing out the flaws, limits, excess, chemicals, human-rights issues and environmental issues along the way. Our earth can't handle this abuse and humans can't either.

"The average U.S. person now consumes twice as much as they did 50 years ago. Ask your grandma; in her day stewardship, and resourcefulness, and thrift were valued. So how did this happen? Well, it didn't just happen. It was designed. Shortly after WWII, these guys [the government and the corporation] were figuring out how to ramp up the economy. Retailing analyst Victor LeBeau articulated the solution that's become the norm for the whole system [the materials economy system]. He said, 'Our enormously productive economy... demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption... we need things consumed, burned up, replaced and discarded at an ever-accelerating rate.' "
- The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Does this mesh with how you feel? I know I certainly have to fight against my consumerist actions, they've been ingrained to the point of becoming instinctual. Shopping makes me feel happy when I'm blue and blue when I'm broke. I'm proud and excited when I acquire new 'things', and I'm embarrassed of my stuff that's old. So their plan worked, 50 years later, consumption is our way of life.

Annie goes on to describe the two ways we are sold on this consumerist cycle, why we drank the juice. There's planned obsolescence, where the company figures out how to make the product last just long enough to break as quickly as possible while managing to not jeopardize the consumers trust. But perceived obsolescence is the one that really gets us.

"Perceived obsolescence is the one that convinces us to throw away stuff that is still perfectly useful. How do they do that? Well they change the way the stuff looks. So if you bought your stuff a couple of years ago, everyone can tell that you haven't contributed to this arrow recently [referring to the 'golden' arrow of consumption] and since the way we demonstrate our value is contributing to this arrow, it can be embarrassing." - The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Now this evening I ran into a conversation over on Babycenter, called "Working Moms; Are they shortchanging their kids?" Wow. Did this article ever start a cat-fight. Between the working moms and the stay-at-homes of course, today's epic battle. To sum it up, Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book titled In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms, and argues that all moms should stay at home. I find this statement faulty in that it's all-encompassing, obviously the single moms would have a tough time with this one. However, my opinion has began to lean in this direction lately too. I've worked full-time, I'm educated and career-orientated, but my family needs me home!

"She says that while women may find it financially difficult to stay at home - particularly in these tough economic times - it’s just a matter of setting priorities and making it happen." -

And the working mom readers panicked - stating that their kids are happy and whole, and they need their money and their stuff! (Sound familiar?) While other readers, the stay-at-homes generally, stated things like we've sacrificed a big home, but yeah, we're pretty happy!

I particularily liked this post (by Meribel), mostly because I identify closely with her (not that I had a six-figure income by any means, but the work vs. stay-at-home personal struggle bit):

"Sensationalism sells books…I’m less concerned with what Dr. Laura has to say than I am about the nasty comments some have made here. I NEVER thought that I’d be a SAHM [stay-at-home mom]; I worked hard for my MBA, had a six-figure income, and was positioned for a rapid ascent to senior management and even more money. When I had my son six months ago, though, I found that I simply couldn’t entrust him to someone else’s care (and I had the luxury of even making that choice because my husband has a good income). I am not a female slave, a robot, lazy, or any of other other slurs I’ve read here because I stay home. I thought my 90-hour workweeks were rough; I’ve found that being on-call and engaged all day, every day, is significantly harder. Sometimes I miss the financial and psychological benefits of work; but we’re all making trade-offs. Don’t judge mine, and I won’t judge yours."

And this one (by Nicole), because it reminded me of the consumerist way of life we're in...

"Let’s face it ladies, now-a-days the world is set up for working mommies. There are breast pumps, next-best-to-breast bottles and formula, nannies, au pairs, home day care, center day care, picture mobiles, and voice recording toy cell phones… -anything and everything to make your baby thrive away from his/her mommy. We teach our daughters in order to be a valuable member of society she needs to get that undergrad, graduate or doctorate degree before she ties herself down and gets hitched with a baby. Then, why on earth shouldn’t she have it all? The job and the family.

The world is not set up for working mommies. American culture is raising little girls to tie her sense of value to her degree or her income, or all those material things that ‘make you happy.’ Cost of living has skyrocketed: cost of homes, food, gas, utilities, taxes, etc. and many women feel like they don’t have a choice, or frankly, don’t want the choice."

Over the past 7 years of motherhood/adulthood, I've been slowly but surely maturing and changing into an earth-conscious and health-conscious mother. Loving these little people this much (more than yourself one could argue) just made me realize these are critical issues and you can't just accept what you're told should be your way of life. Not only do we have to nurture them, we have to nurture the world they live in. So in the name of keeping contaminates from my children, my mother has watched me first learn to breastfeed, like she did. Then get rid of my plastic spatulas in favor of bamboo, like her old wooden ones. Then my teflon coated frying pan in favor of stainless steel, like her hand-me-downs from her mom. Then my plastic bowls and cups for glass. Plastic grocery bags for cloth. One of our largest sacrifices in the great back-to-basics? The microwave. It zaps the nutrients, puts god-knows-what into the air and the people standing nearby, and acts as a crutch for meals not planned. You know the meals I'm talking about, the ones that never end up as the whole and healthful meals we aspire to. Pizza pockets anyone? Recently we've been moving towards the Paleo (caveman) diet - vegetables, lean meat, nuts, and fruits for dessert. I try to use vinager instead of Mr. Clean, and grab the dye-free, scent-free, decent for the environment laundry detergent. Tempted to run for an antibiotic? Let's try the naturopathic store first. New baby clothes and furniture? No thanks, I'll wash the gently used, hopefully the flame-retardent douse has long since wore off. I'm learning to re-upholster, using the good bones of old chairs that would be thrown to the curb otherwise. Old wooden furniture? I'll take it. Would love to not have chemicals seeping out of the presswood variety. When I need to get rid of something? Word of mouth, Kijiji, or Freecycle can find someone who can use it, it doesn't need to be part of a landfill. Bit by bit, I have 'healthified' our lives and hopefully our environment. By doing exactly what my grammie did. And you know what? ALL of these things... save money. Seriously.

However, like in Grammie's time, none of these things are convenient or easy. I'm not saying I don't have my washing machine running often, or that the Shout stain remover isn't an important part of my arsenal (can't find a natural concoction to match it, but figure the environmental impact is less than buying new clothes?). I'm also not saying that my facebook status is always "happy, happy robot-mom vacumming". In fact I'm pretty sure yesterday it read something like "I miss my 9-5, it was so much easier!". What I'm saying is that our moms had it right, and I think what is required to save our earth and our littles is going to be hard and not convenient. We need to take a step backwards, in time, take some cues from our resourceful, thrifty moms, be there for our kids, and get out of this consumerist cycle.

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Dream Job.

So today I was cleaning, moaning and groaning and whining about it the whole time, as per usual honestly. My oldest son, Thane, happened to be my unfortunate audience, attempting to catch some quality Wile E. and Roadrunner action in between mommy's bellyaching. As I'm consolidating clothes into a hamper from the hallway floor (cursing in my head as to why the clothes don't make it into the hamper before I come to collect them for laundry) I catch Thane drop his pear core to the floor, not moving from his horizontal position on the couch.

"Are you serious?!!", I screech, which I'm sure is my families favorite tone of voice, otherwise why would they make me use it so much? Then I launch into 'mini-lecture' mode. If you're a fan of Barbara Coloroso you'll know what this is; slamming your kid with redundant info they are already well-aware of. Unfortunately I haven't finished the book yet, so while familiar with the definition of the mini-lecture, I haven't yet been acquainted with the cure. This particular mini-lecture went something like this:

"At least put your garbage in your bowl! The floor of this house is not your garbage can."

Then I got really spectacular, "Do you know this is NOT mommy's dream job?" Seriously? I just said that?

Then, since I apparently felt the need to explain this statement to my 6 year-old, I went on.

"I did not grow up dreaming of becoming a maid to two little boys someday!! I am your MOTHER, I am for teaching you and loving you, I AM NOT YOUR MAID!!!" Oh yes, I went there.

Then Thane, without budging from his vegetative couch-post, with all the care of an old man who would like this raging lunatic to be quiet so he could please hear his show, looks slowly sideways at me (I'm pretty sure one eye was still on the show), and says, "Then you better figure out how to make it your dream job mommy".

I was floored to the point of not saying anything at all.

If he had been a grown man, he would have been lynched for such a comment. As it was though, coming from a 6 year old, all of his laziness and sauciness of the moment aside, he seemed quite ... right.

I bitch and moan every day about cleaning. Ask me what I miss the most about working full-time? My cleaning lady. Hands-down. Unfortunately for me, the financial transition from 9-5 to stay-at-home mom involved that sacrifice. But the truth of my reality is that I do want to be home with these messy little people, and often feel quite lucky for the chance to do so.

I can't remember the details of who, but at one point while listening to me rant my sister told me about a people (I'm thinking Buddhist monks or a sect of nuns?) who revel in the everyday. The repetitive tasks that drive me crazy because they are just going to get dirty again, be it the dishes, the clothes, the floors, are the very tasks these people practice appreciating. They appreciate these tasks because they are just going to get dirty again. The theory is that the repetition means we go on, we get to continue being part of this cycle.

On the prompting of my mother-in-law that I should have seen it, I was looking up Oprah's Secret Lives of Moms episode, hoping to be able to just YouTube it. It's too new apparently, but I was able to read the brief synopsis on Oprah's site. While perusing there, I came across the bit on the book I'd Trade My Husband for a Housekeeper by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. A more apt title I've never seen! Their excerpt was discussing how we are at this point in life that we can deeply identify with a title like that? When did we get so tired and so stressed that trading our husbands (who we do love very much when we remind ourselves to) for a housekeeper seems like a good idea? After discussing how women and feminism have reached this precipice where "Dammit we are successful!" meets "But omigod I'm so tired...", one thing they list is this:

"Another item crimping our happiness in married life is fear—fear of not being the same people we were before we had kids."

You mean fear of becoming 'only' a maid? Fear of losing that part of me who used to be an artist? Fear of wondering how I'm ever going to continue my career after the baby break? The article wrote that to overcome this fear you have to accept that you can't go back to become your former lovely, young and single self (who I might add was not a maid) but that you have to re-invent that self to include your lovely 'now' life. I can do that, I'm sure I can.

Right after I finish the laundry.
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