Category Archives: navel-gazing

The Future of Family Time

The future of family time according to a recent advertisement by Rogers Media.

Family time according to a recent advertisement by Rogers Media.

Last May I set a challenge for myself. I was participating in a 31 days of yoga challenge and, I won’t lie, not many people thought I could do it. But I did. I did 28 out of those 31 days. I had to hire a babysitter and beg, borrow and steal time away from my children to do it but I did it.

I felt great.

During the same month I set a couple other challenges: I gave up sugar, ate minimal bread products, greatly reduced my caffeine intake. I even weaned the baby that month.

All of that was easy-peasy compared to the one challenge I failed at miserably: giving up my phone.

Epic fail.

That advertisement above? The one with the family each staring at their own devices? That’s kind of my biggest fear. Except, I’m the one staring at my device.

I’m the one who is modelling that for my children.

I will admit to having a love/hate relationship with my phone. I love to take photos and the camera on it is both more convenient and better than my non-phone camera. I enjoy posting those photos and reading the comments. I like to check in with friends and text the Mister to make sure he gets a couple good LOLs throughout his day. I know it makes him feel connected to his family while he is at work. I enjoy the freedom of being able to read on my phone.

But it’s too much. My face is attached to it all the time. I go to check the time and end up checking my email at the same time. Maybe I will send off a quick text to a friend that turns into a discuss about (essentially) nothing. One thing turns into a dozen – none of which were necessary or important.

I’m not even sure how to break the cycle but I know I need to – I know I owe it to my girls to be more present in their lives.

I won’t lie, last year was a long hard year. Having three children ages 5 and under was probably the biggest challenge I have had to face in life thus-far. Especially when one of those was a non-stop nursing baby and another one was an miserable tantrumy 3-year old.

Plus the winter was seemingly never-ending and I had to walk the kids to school every day up hill in a snowstorm both ways in bare feet whine whine whine. I know, we all have hard lives sometimes. However, my coping mechanism was to escape and read stories on my phone. Once the noise and the whining pick up I would reach for my phone so my brain could go to it’s happy place – which is far far away.

Life is so much better these days. That baby is now a hilarious toddler (who is now entering her tantrum phase – why do I get such tantrumy girls?) The 3-year old is now a 4-year who happily goes to preschool and is almost a different person than this time last year. The 5-year old is now a 6-year old in grade one and is out of the house all day long, I actually miss her these days. It’s great!

My coping mechanisms need to change. Even if this winter turns out to be another hard one (we’ve already had our first snow storm) I don’t need to let it beat me. Life is too precious and I have too many more interesting and important things to do than have my face glued to my phone all the time.

So I’m turning it off again. I will have to dig out my watch and get a clock in the bedroom so I’m not reaching for it in the middle of the night as both clock and flashlight when I have to go hunt for someone’s soothie under her crib. I’ll have to pull out the regular camera and re-learn how to use it.

I’m thinking of locking the phone in the car and not having it in the house at all.

It’s going to be really hard.

My kids are going to love it.

Question: How much time do you spend on your phone? Have you had to break this habit and do you have any advice for the withdrawal symptoms I’m inevitably going to face?


Winter Sun

Winter Sun: January 1st

The weather was beautiful today so we went for a walk in the deep snow and enjoyed the winter sun. Most days it’s too cold for me to feel comfortable venturing out with three little ones but it’s a holiday and the Mister was home to help. I remembered that I have my Dad’s Arctic parka in the basement and it is (almost) the perfect size to wrap around Oonagh and I.

I think going for a walk is the perfect way to celebrate the first day of the year and something we often do – although I know we didn’t go last year since I was too sick and pregnant to do much of anything. It is has been a while since I have felt strong enough to be able to wear Oonagh around so I was feeling particularly grateful for that. I’m definitely not strong enough to push a stroller (either single or double) through the snow yet but I haven’t lost my voice in a couple of weeks and I’m pretty sure I’m over everything (although I have thought that before and I still have to be careful to not overdo things).

We met an older couple from the neighbourhood while we were on our walk. The man asked our girls, “Do you know whose birthday it is today?” To which they answered: “Mummy!” of course. However, it wasn’t me he was referring to but his own wife. It was nice to run into someone else who is also a first-of-the-yearer but I didn’t ask her if she feels as much pressure to make resolutions and changes on this day as I do. Maybe someday I will.

However, since today is my birthday I don’t have to start any resolutions until tomorrow. Which is why I had a lot of sourdough french toast for breakfast, six veggie tacos for lunch and two pieces of chocolate banana birthday pie. It’s been a good day for eating.

Oonagh and Mum: January 1st






Some days I want to tell everyone to go away and let me lay on the couch and read all day and maybe just eat Froot Loops if I feel like it (even though they give me a stomach ache). I don’t want to talk or answer questions and I certainly don’t want to prepare eleventy billion snacks or go to a playground or even be asked if we can go to a playground. I think this is the curse of parenting in some ways – once you sign up you are in for life no matter what your mood. Some days my mood is so black and foul I have a hard time understanding why the girls would want to be anywhere near me – and of course that kind of mood just makes them cling closer. I will even say truly inane things like, “why do you want to be near me? I don’t even want to be near me!”


Oonagh who?

I think of all the parenting/mommy blogs I used to read (when I had fewer children and more time) where it always seemed like fun things were going on and the moms were doing so much with their children and I have come to the realization – 5+ years later – that I don’t want to do that much with my children. Yes, I love them. Yes, I do enjoy spending time with them but No I don’t enjoy spending all my time with them. And while once upon a time I thought I would be one of those moms who wanted to hang out and do crafts all day I am decidedly one of those moms who does not want to do crafts any day and I think it is okay to admit this now.

I’m not here to be their friend, I’m here to be their mom and raise them to be adults we can live with and I think some days that must really suck for them. Because no matter how many times they ask I am always going to wash the dishes after breakfast before I agree to do anything with them. There is also a good chance that they will have to wait until I make myself a cup of tea – and usually the only thing I will agree to do is read them stories for a while before I feel the need to get up and do something else. Most likely that something else will be laundry.

I have turned to this blog many times in the last couple months and wondered what to write. I want to write but in my head I keep whining, “but I don’t wanna be a mommy blogger” even though I am so entrenched in mommy-ness I don’t actually know what else to write about. However, I can’t be one of those bloggers who is just so freaking happy all the time about being a parent and I also don’t want to be one of those parents who does nothing but complain about their children in an ironic hipster way just for some cheap laughs (besides, I’m not that funny). There is a fine line between over-sharing and being honest and interesting. In the spirit of being honest: this job often sucks but I know that’s more my problem than theirs – they are just doing their job which is to be children and all that entails.

Morning calm.

Morning calm.

Having that third child has put even more things into perspective for me and what it means to be a mother and maybe one of these days I will have the time to sit down and write about it in an honest and interesting, and hopefully not over-sharing, way.

Looking forward

This photo pretty much sums up the difference in personalities.

This photo pretty much sums up the difference in personalities.

As I was writing my previous blog post I realized that I haven’t taken the time to think about goals or resolutions for 2013. The reason for this is rather obvious since I know that this year is going to consist of sleep deprivation and non-stop breast-feeding of baby #3 (by choice) and I hadn’t really thought beyond that.

However, I feel that is unhealthy to get complacent and obviously so much more is going to go on this year that has nothing to do with a new baby. Moira will turn five and start Kindergarten in the Fall. Fionnuala will turn three and will be at preschool in the Fall (I’m really looking forward to the Fall – probably to an unhealthy degree). Baby #3 will hopefully learn to nap in his/her car seat and anywhere else we end up since it will constantly be on the move following after his/her big sisters.

Of course there will also be gardening and hanging out on the front stoop as soon as the weather permits. We are looking into getting a second bathroom put into the house which I suspect will take up a big chunk of our summer. Mostly I’m just interested in seeing what our new balance is going to be like and taking it from there. Still, I would like to have a couple of goals in place no matter how lofty or unattainable they may seem in a year overshadowed by the appearance of a new baby.

Still here. Still pregnant.

This pregnancy has been a lot of things but inspiring in terms of creativity or writing hasn’t been one of them. I feel as though my brain has been mush since July and other than just coping (barely at times) it seems as though I’ve got not much to show for the last nine months. (Yeah yeah, I know: just a small human being I’m growing inside of me).

In fact, I’ve been rather depressed but it’s a situational/hormonal depression I haven’t really wanted to talk about. I have a wonderful life with a wonderful husband/partner/best-friend and two wonderful children. I keep repeating this to myself knowing it is true but it hasn’t stopped the crying jags on the couch or my spectacular lack of mothering skills lately.

It is so easy to lose your filter with the instant gratification that social media brings but I promised myself I wouldn’t use Twitter or Facebook to air all of my problems and I think I have been rather good with that. I have a couple of friends I can vent to and, of course, the Mister. Venting is good, over-sharing isn’t. Even with angsty venting texts I have to (figuratively) bite my tongue so I don’t sound like some crazy lady who hates her children (even if that is exactly what I am at the time).

So here I find myself at 35 weeks pregnant and less than four weeks to go before our scheduled c-section day. I was sick for most of December and am currently fighting off another cold and trying not to feel too sorry for myself. Things are pretty much ready for baby #3 and the girls are very excited and keep talking to my belly. I feel as though I am all belly these days and am terribly uncomfortable. I won’t lie – I hate being pregnant. This one has been rough and tiring and overwhelming and I am so ready for it to be over. And while I know it is easier to look after this baby while it is on the inside – I ready to meet it get on with life.

(That being said, I really want to get back to blogging so I’m going to try. Thanks to all who have sent e-mails and quiet encouragement over the last little while.)

Now, tell me what is going on with you because I need a distraction from myself!

How I’m really feeling about baby #3 (since a couple people have asked)

I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that this baby was unplanned. In fact, this is going to be the only time I mention it. In some ways all our babies were unplanned (although we planned on having two at some point).

The truth is that I tried a couple different birth control methods and they all made me either ill or uncomfortable and I was contemplating what the next step should be when life made the decision for us. That is what happens when you rely on the baby-roulette method of birth control – you might know it as the fertility awareness method. (This is also what happens when you are really attracted to your husband and, well, everyone should have our problems). Whereas before getting pregnant I wanted the girls to be older before doing anything permanent with my body – right now I’m really, really looking forward to getting my tubes tied.

So, I’m trying to focus on all the good things that this means for our family even though I know that should anything happen to this pregnancy I would not be trying again – I would, in fact, make sure I wouldn’t get pregnant again. Ever. That fact makes me feel rather guilty. As you know – nothing is stronger than mommy guilt.

When I first found out I was pregnant my Mum gave me some very good advice: she told me it was okay to go through all the emotions and feelings of not wanting to be pregnant, not wanting another baby, and really really not wanting another c-section. Because in the end I will love this baby just as much as I love the girls (I’m not worried about that part) – it still doesn’t mean I have to like being pregnant. It’s okay to be freaked out by the thought that I am going to have three children when my mind was made up to only have two children.  At one point in my life my mind was made up to be an actress – until I started spending a lot of time on stage and realized I was in the wrong place. At least I’m good at being a Mum (most days).

Life, as we all know, rarely goes according to plan.

This is the #1 thing I keep telling myself: nobody ever says they wish they had fewer children. Most (older) people I’ve met tell me they wish they had at least one more. (Never take advice from anyone with small children – we are too sleep deprived and abused to think properly.)

This is the #2 thing I keep telling myself: At least I’m in the thick of it right now – and by “thick of it” I mean I’m already in young-children mode. I don’t have to get back into that mind-set. I hadn’t even given much baby stuff away yet. Although three children under the age of four does freak me out – I already feel like I am out numbered by the two of them most days.

This is the #3 thing I keep telling myself: Shut up and be happy. In truth, this is the third time we have gotten pregnant without planning it. I have friends/family who will never have children for one reason or another and I’ve always been grateful of my ability to get pregnant without having to try. I might be venting a bit on my blog but you will never – ever – hear me complain about getting pregnant.

Really, everything will be fine. Right? Even if we are out numbered?

These past couple months have been a real mixed-bag of emotions. My hormones are all over the map and my skin, like with all my pregnancies, is total crap. I’m pretty sure the girls are getting whiplash from my mood swings. One day I started dry-heaving and sobbing because the Mister was cooking with sage. (I still have no idea what that was about.) Things seem to be calming down a bit now – except sage still isn’t allowed in the house just yet.

*Tap, tap tap* Is this thing on?

Butterfly girl

Well hello there. What’s new?

Today I found myself arguing with a four-year old over the way she holds scissors and why couldn’t she have learned to hold them properly at preschool this year. All of a sudden I could hear my father’s voice coming out of me and I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that while I may be many things, a teacher I am not. I did not, however, call her stupid so we can all be thankful for that.

This may seem like an odd thing to write about since I haven’t written a blog post in a really long time but… that’s all I’ve got. I’ve spent most of this evening reading about stain removal for laundry and creating a list of things I should buy for my laundry room if I ever hope for my family to have clothing that I am not embarrassed for them to wear. Did it really take me hours to read about stain removal? No. But, as always, reading about one thing leads to another and that is the way it is with the internet.

So, how was my ‘internet sabbatical’ you may ask? Not that interesting. I would have to call it more of a ‘blogging sabbatical’ since near the end I found myself on the internet more and more but managed to stay away from reading (and, obviously, writing) blogs. Pretty much all the information I want is stored on the internet so that is where I go when I am doing research on something (we don’t even bother keeping books like the Yellow Pages in the house).

The beginning was hard. I found that I kept thinking about things I wanted to blog about and I was tempted to make a list but in the end I avoided that. Making a list seemed like not living in the present which is what I was trying to do. One of the things I hoped to do was clean my house more – but not being on the internet didn’t magically make me a better housekeeper. In fact, mostly I just read in the evenings. I read a lot of books – and it was nice. I watched more movies with the Mister than I usually do and that pretty much sums up the last 100+ days.

Getting down to business.
Life during the last 100+ days:

  • Became seriously lost in Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle. Both books were large and consuming. I think that took up the rest of the winter. Highly recommended if you like fantasy – but not if you like your novels to be less than 600 pages).
  • Moira turned four and we have been steadily working our way through the Little House On The Prairie series.
  • Fionnuala started putting words together and then jumped into full sentences like, “No, Daddy go get my sippy cup,” and “I DO IT MYSELF!” She calls herself Lula and sings non-stop.
  • The garden got planted, we bought some plum trees and there are eleventy billion sunflowers growing around our house.
  • I took a knitting class and made one sock. One. (Although to give myself a bit of credit, the yarn I was using was terrible and kept breaking and we had to throw it out to save my sanity and I refuse to buy more yarn until I’ve used up more of my stash – and that was the only sock yarn I owned).

I know much more than that happened but I didn’t take notes and honestly didn’t try to think too much about what life was like without blogging. Truth is I missed it, but maybe not as much as I thought I would? Truth is I’m still struggling with where I want this blog and my other blog to go. Truth is my house is still a mess and I could write more but I promised myself I would scrub out the kitchen skin before going to bed.

So tell me – what’s new with you?

100 Days

I’ve taken a couple of days to think about this and have decided I am really going to do it. It is something I need and yes, if you really want to know, I think it is going to be really hard.

And lonely.

I started blogging twelve years ago for various reasons but I will tell you I was going through a very lonely time in my life. Or maybe I was coming to the end of that lonely time? I was in a relationship that at times was held together by my fear of being forgotten after putting so much effort into it. First I wrote obsessively in journals – and then I discovered the world of blogging. For the first time I had people to talk to while I wrote. It’s a lovely world at times but it can also be a bit much.

Twelve years is a long time in the blogging world – even if you have closed down numerous blogs and changed your name a number of times. As Steph at Bella’s Bookshelves mentioned in the comments on my last post the blogging/social media world is fickle. It takes time to build up a readership base and it takes very little to lose them. I’ve never been one of the popular bloggers and I’ve always been okay with that but I do appreciate every single person who reads my blog. At my best estimate there are approximately 12 loyal readers/commenters, two family members, a couple of my mom’s friends and two ex-boyfriends who pop in now and then but don’t leave comments. I am grateful to all who read – whether you comment or not.

However, somewhere along the way I’ve lost the thread of what I want to say. I’ve lost my focus. I get on the Internet and I open up a dozen or more tabs while trying to write a post and my attention span is pulled in a dozen different ways. I spend an inordinate amount of time doing nothing.

When I am away from the computer I think about the things I could be doing on the computer. I’m reading a book and the thought hisses slowly and softly in my mind, “check your e-mail.” I fight it for a while but as that snake hisses louder I put the book down and check. The Mister is helping the girls brush their teeth before bed and I turn to the computer. Why not fill those 2.5 minutes with pure nothing?

The Internet has killed my attention span – I have no one but myself to blame for this.

So how long am I going to step away from the Internet?

100 days.

100 days to break myself of what I feel is becoming a bit of an addiction.

100 days to relearn how to live with free time without filling it up mindlessly with checking my e-mail or blog surfing.

100 days is a long time in the blogging world but a month seemed too short. 40 days seemed too biblical and I’m not ready to start just yet so this isn’t a Lenten thing. 100 days seemed like it might be enough time to find myself again without searching the Internet to find who I am looking for. Sometimes the comparisons get to be too much – you know? The options too many.

So what will I do? Well, I suspect in the beginning I won’t know what to do with myself. Will I write or knit or sew or read? I will probably wander around the house a little lost. I fear I will be a little lost. Being on the Internet is a bit like having friends. I will miss the blogs I read all the time and wonder what is going on in the lives of others but it sometimes feels like I care more about what other people are doing than what I am doing and I need to get that back.

During this time I will hopefully be getting my second round of eye surgery and there is the garden to plant. I want to make some clothes for the girls. I want to make some clothes for myself. I have a whole house that needs purging and organizing and cleaning. I have a husband to hangout with in the evening. I miss holding a pen and writing letters.

This won’t be easy and it will take some preparation. No Internet means no obsessively putting books on hold at the library. It means no online recipes, sewing tutorials (that I have never followed anyway), knitting patterns or Internet shopping. In fact, I haven’t even thought of all the things it means. Obviously I won’t be able to give up e-mail completely because that is how people communicate these days but I am trying to decide the best way to limit that. Maybe twice a week? Only Sunday nights? See, instead of just letting go I’m already over-thinking it. How much do I prepare? Should I write down my favourite recipes or just wing it? What if the dozen cookbooks in my kitchen aren’t enough? What if I can’t sew anything from the hundreds of patterns in my basement!? (I’m joking here – see above about too many options.)

This all starts on March 1st and runs for 100 days. If I did my math correctly I will be back on June 9th. I will still be around here until then – still getting my Internet fix until I have the Mister change the password.

What if…

I closed my computer for the next 40 days and didn’t open it again. I wonder what I would accomplish?

Would I sew more or cook more or knit more? Maybe I would read more and write more.

What is it that has so many of us tied to our computers? Even just thinking about not being on the computer makes me feel a little panicky – what if I miss something? Would anyone miss me? (You don’t need to answer that, it is rhetorical.)

Maybe I would finally get my house organized.

I find I get a lot of inspiration from being online but that inspiration doesn’t really go anywhere. So far it hasn’t inspired me to get off the couch.

What would you do with 40 days (or 50 or 30) of no computer?

This is just something I am playing with in my mind.

The Bliss Filled Mama

I first heard about Kathy on Bliss Beyond Naptime from a high school friend, who heard about her from one of her friends from high school because Calgary is a very small city of a million people. Why I heard about Kathy from this friend I don’t remember – maybe it was because I was reading Simplicity Parenting or maybe I heard about Simplicity Parenting from Kathy’s blog (she is a Simplicity Parenting coach now) and this is all proof that I don’t have my brain back yet from having children and that sometimes I write run-on sentences on purpose.


I am so very happy that I did hear about Kathy and her blog Bliss Beyond Naptime because it quickly became one of my favourite blogs. You know, the kind of blog you will scroll through your blog reader for when you only have 5 minutes and you want to see if she has updated and then your heart drops a little when she hasn’t. One of those blogs.

Kathy is funny and quirky and not afraid to post silly photos of herself on her blog. She is also wise and caring and creative. Her vlogs are often hilarious (this one is a particular favourite) and always helpful when she is talking about her take on motherhood. And she has just released a really great e-book:

The Bliss Filled Mama: Self Care for Soulful Mothering

Kathy seems to be able to do what some of us mothers (I’m talking about myself here) think about all the time but don’t actually do: carve out some time for ourselves. I am, in fact, really terrible at this but I’m slowly getting better. Kathy’s e-book was the kick in the pants I needed too.

One of her recommendations was to create a Happy List. The Happy List is a list you have on hand to remind yourself of all the things you love to do that make you feel recharged and more yourself.

So, embarrassing or not (Kathy’s words) & in no particular order here is my quick Happy List:

  • Writing on my blog.
  • Receiving comments on my blog.
  • Updating my agenda.
  • My cup of tea and square of chocolate during quiet time.
  • (Unless I’m) sleeping during quiet time.
  • Calling my sister during the girls’ bath time.
  • Going for a walk.
  • Taking a class (right now I’m learning to knit socks).
  • Scalding hot baths, with or without bubbles.
  • Going to fabric stores (by myself).
  • Sorting through my fabric stash and dreaming of one day using some of them.
  • Flipping through my craft books.
  • Getting rid of things we don’t need.
  • Discovering new favourite recipes.

Would you like to win a copy of the Bliss Filled Mama e-book? Just leave a comment telling me what is on your Happy List and on Sunday night (8 p.m. Mountain Time) I will draw a winner and Kathy will send you a copy. It’s like magic! The book also comes with an audio version so you can sit back and relax and desperately try to knit 7 inches of sock before Saturday (oh wait, that’s just me) while Kathy reads to you. (And no, you don’t have to be a mama either. As this blogger pointed out – everyone can benefit for Kathy’s wry and goofy wisdom.)

Good luck!

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