46. When Dreams Come True

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One of the things I’ve (stubbornly) held onto since the tumour diagnosis/surgery/recovery is that I spent the bulk of my daughter’s first few years of life distracted by what was going on in my own life, and because of that, I never got to spend the same kind of quality time with her in her infancy and toddler-hood that I had wanted to.  While the Husband and the million and one photos from that time paint a slightly different picture than the one I have in my head of that period of our lives, it’s sometimes hard to shake how we feel about things.

Since my older one has started at his new school, he’s thrown himself eagerly into the extracurricular activities offered to him – soccer, cross country and choir.  As a result, he needs to be at school early – 7:15am early – three times a week, and three times a week, if not more, he’s picked up from school at some point between 4 and 5:00.  With my daughter’s school only running from 9am to 2pm, and my decision not to over-program her with activities . . . well, it turns out that we have a LOT of free time together.

In the past two weeks, the two of us have relished or “girl mornings”, “girl afternoons”, and the occasional “girl night” (thanks to all the professional sports going on right now).

Today, as the two of us spent a quiet hour and a half together before she needed to be dropped off at her school, it hit me.  The two of us were finally getting our quality time.  My dream of getting this time with her was coming true!  With the distractions of the tumour decidedly behind me, my mind is quiet, and I have nothing else to focus on but her, and what we can do together that’s fun for both of us.  We’ve read, we’ve done crafts, we’ve coloured, we’ve watched some shows, and we’ve even just cuddled.

While the gift of this amazing time I’m getting to spend with my little one isn’t coming exactly when I thought it should have, the fact is, it did come . . .and,  well, after all we’ve been through, our time together now is even more special, and we’re both treasuring it more (or at least I am).  Which is basically my very long-winded way of saying . . . never give up on your dreams – even if they don’t come true when you really hope or want them to, just keep dreaming . . . you never know how or when they might come true!

45. Partner Workouts Part II

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My older one is involved with his school’s cross country team this fall.  All summer he’d been curious about running, and would often ask if I could take him to practice his running so that he could get faster.  So his interest in cross country this fall isn’t exactly surprising.

What is surprising (in the best possible way), is that the boys on his cross country team get to participate in the 5km run as part of the Toronto Marathon next month, AND as part of their training, each boy has a goal of aggregating 37km of running during course of their training so that when they’re done the 5km at the marathon, they will have run a full marathon over the course of their season.

And the BEST part about all of this . . . well, clearly it’s that I’ve gained a running partner.  This morning was our first run together.  We did a solid 2km at a decent pace (I let him set the pace, and worked on technique as I had a bit – not much – of a slower pace than normal).  And while he could use this run towards his total kms for school, I’ve looked up a few virtual runs that would be fun for us to do together, and came across this,  The Hogwarts Running Club.  This month has been shaping to be a Harry Potter kind of month . . . we’re reading the first book together, we’re going to have a movie night and watch the first movie as a family when we’re done reading the book . . . and now we can do a run together and earn a Harry Potter medal!

But on a serious note, this morning’s run was one of my favourite moments as a parent yet.  Running may not be your thing, but try going for even just a walk with your kids.  It’s amazing what they will share with you, when you’re one on one with no other distractions, and how connected you may end up feeling by the time you walk through your front door.

44. (Really) Late Summer Gardening

Today is one of those absolutely perfect late summer/early fall days.  The sun is out, there isn’t a cloud in the sky, and the cold temperatures of this morning have given way to warm, almost hot conditions this afternoon.  In other words, it is an absolutely perfect day to get out and garden.

Fall may have technically started earlier this week, but my garden didn’t seem to get the memo.  While I would normally start pulling plants at this time of year, everything seems not only to be in full bloom, but also sprouting new buds!  So rather than pull plants, I did some weeding and pruning that will make the process of putting the garden to bed a little easier a few weeks from now.

And because I had so much fun in and amongst the gorgeousness of some of my plants this afternoon, I had to share a few photos . . . As much as I curse my roses every single time I need to deadhead or prune, when they are in full bloom, I just can’t get enough of them . . . which I suppose is why I keep planting more and more of them in my garden.

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And the dahlias are absolutely gorgeous right now.  For some reason this year they weren’t ravaged by slugs despite not using any sort of slug bait or slug deterrent.

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By far, though, I spent the most time amongst my tomato plants.  Right now, they look a lot like a metaphor for my life . . . branching out in every and all direction, some stalks bearing copious amounts of fruit, other none at all.  Must like I’m pruning back parts of my life that haven’t/aren’t bearing much fruit, the tomato plants needed a good prune too.  And they got one!  And no, I didn’t use tomato cages.  Which in retrospect I now have a great appreciation for.  Why didn’t I use them??? Simple.  A year or two ago, during one of my great garage clean-outs, I tossed all the cages we had inherited from the family that owed our house before us (they were great gardeners that maintained a large vegetable garden).  I’ve put other things in the place where I once stored them, and wasn’t sure where I’d put them after this year.  So I thought I’d let the plants go and see what happened.  I didn’t think they’d end up in this much of a tangle!!

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As for the melons . . . well, I think they’re just about ready to pick.  If only the local squirrels/raccoons/ground hog would stop eating the baby melons (and pumpkins for that matter), we would have had a bumper crop!  But as it stands, we only have 2 left on the vine, a few more little ones that likely won’t have enough time to mature before the cold weather hits, and quite a few tiny ones that have been knocked off the vines.

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It’s days like this that have to be absolutely savoured . . . they’re the ones we’ll miss most when the weather turns cold and damp and the sunlight isn’t quite so bright.  Hope you’re out and enjoying every last drop of today!!

43. Partner Workouts, A Morning of Baking, And there are only 100 Days Left in 2016!

Those that know me know that there aren’t many workouts that I don’t like.  I love group classes, but am equally happy to workout on my own, or just go for a run.  But most of all, I love partner workouts.  When you get to work through a program with someone that can equally challenge you and push you, but still have fun . . . well, that’s where there’s magic.  Today, I had the privilege to do a partner workout – something I haven’t done in a while, and I got to do it with some that I haven’t been able to work out with in a while either.  And it was awesome for so many reasons.  If you’ve never done a partner workout before, grab a friend, and at the very least, go for a short run together.  You’ll have fun and I’ll bet you get more exercise in than you thought you could!

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But, before I made it into the gym this morning, I had a little baking session.  With both kids back in school, the issue of snacks has reared it’s ugly head again.  Since both kids’ schools have a no-nut policy, any snack they bring must be nut-free.  Before you all start screaming at me to pack them fruits and vegetables, don’t worry, they get a LOT of fruits and veggies.  That being said, for my son, snacks must be eaten outside the school (and don’t forget, we do get cold winters here in Toronto), and in his case, they need to be able to be eaten quickly (in an ideal world, he’d have his snack eaten in the 30 or so steps it takes for him to get from the door to the soccer field).  Sure, both kids will happily eat my chocolate chip cookies any day of the week.  But if that’s the ONLY snack I pack for them, they will eventually tire of those . . . so I need some new snacks.

I’ve spent the past few days searching the web for nut-free kids snacks.  Not surprisingly, most of the suggestions involve fruit.  But when we’re dealing with the time and weather constraints, there are only a few fruits that make the cut as acceptable – like pre-sliced apples in a ziplock bag that can be stuffed into a pocket when they’re done – anything else requires too much packaging, is too fiddly, or wouldn’t be great to eat in the cold (most likely while wearing gloves).  Same thing goes for veggies – cucumbers are a go-to for us, especially the little pickling ones (we even grew those in our garden this year) along with peppers.  But other veggies, like cherry tomatoes are more likely to get squished than actually eaten!

So, where are all recipes and advice for “healthy”, low- or no-sugar, nut-free baked-good snacks to make for kids to take in their lunches??????  Oh right.  They don’t exist.  Ok.  I’m exaggerating.  There are about 4.  Which is why, I suppose, I keep going back to my chocolate chip cookie recipe.  When you take out regular flour from baked goods, the way to achieve a decent facsimile of a traditional baked good is through the use of various nut flours.  Removing traditional forms of white and/or brown sugar also changes the texture of baked goods (altho brown sugar can be quite successfully replaced with coconut sugar in most cases).

I did, however, find a carrot cookie recipe that fit all my criteria, so I decided to give it a go, but only after I had made a full batch of my chocolate chip cookies!  They were super easy to make, they smell delicious (in fact my whole house smells so good thanks to these little gems), and they can easily be frozen and brought out as needed.  The kids just got home and did a taste test for me, and to be honest, they thought they were a lot tastier than I did.  I’ll be honest my biggest complaint about the recipe was that the cookies ended up being a little dry for my taste.  Since the kids seemed to like them, they were cheap and easy to make, I’ll have another go at them next week using a bit more butter.  Once they are truly edible, I’ll post the recipe!

Ok . . . and now for my last point.  I read in a post on Instagram that as of today, there are only 100 days left in this calendar year, and I can’t quit believe it.  If you’ve never done a 100 Day project, this would be the perfect time to start one . . . And if that is just way out of your comfort zone, maybe you can use to today to reflect on what’s gone on in your life so far this year and what you might like to focus on before this year is though.

42. Getting Back to Basics & Finding Real Joy

Have you ever had a period in your life where you were truly content?  Not just for an hour or a day, but for a stretch of a few weeks or more?  I got a text from the Husband this morning – he wanted to tell me how good he’d been feeling lately – I immediately wrote bak “Me too”.  And then it hit me – I haven’t felt this deeply contented in a long time.  Like it’s been a year and a half since I’ve felt this good.  Cue the thought train (yes, my little one has been watching Inside Out on repeat since I bought the DVD for her on a rainy day at the cottage in August).

You see, for the past little while, I’ve read a LOT of books in the “self-help” genre, I’ve tried saying “YES!” to things for the sake of trying new things and to add excitement to my life, I’ve changed my eating plan. I’ve changed my workout plan, and I’ve done different things with the kids.  And sure. I did have some fun.  But as a whole, none of it was really coming together to put me in the deep down happy place.

Over the summer, an idea popped up several times in things I read; “What would your 19-year old self do”.    Then yesterday, the Coach and I mused over why people can get into an eating pattern that helps them physically (they lose weight, get stronger, feel better) and mentally, but then just as easily fall out of it and back into their old physical and mental habits.  And finally, I read this post in Instagram from Emily Ley who was talking about how she is trying to care for herself the way she would care for a loved one.

As I look back on the past few weeks of this new school year, I realize that I’ve subconsciously gone back to basics, and back to many of the habits I had not just back when I was so deeply content, but back to when I was a teenager.  And not surprisingly, I find myself in that state of deep contentment and in possession of real joy again.

So . . . what exactly is it that I’m doing differently now??  Well, for starters, I’ve gone back to the workout and diet plan that works best for me.  I’ve experimented with lots of different things, and I know what works best for me and my body.  So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m cooking (with the kids), and having fun finding recipes to make – something I’ve always enjoyed doing – and finding ways to make sure that they fit into the way of eating that works best for me (higher in fat, lower in carbs, lacking in sugar and all processed foods).  I’m reading.  Novels.  Not “self-help” books.  And I’m drinking less caffeine – the by-product of having more energy!  And combined with a low- to no-sugar diet and very little alcohol, I’m sleeping better . . . which means much happier mornings.  Oh . . . and I got back into finding a way to have some “me” time again and a way to express some of my creativity – I’m taking my favourite sewing classes again (more on that later).

If you could go back to doing things the way you did at a time when you were truly happy, what would you have to change in your life to make that happen?

Of course the fact that the weather here has been absolutely stunning lately, that today, on the last day of summer, I could sit out in my backyard (with my curried sweet potato soup), and look out on a garden still fully in bloom while I write this . . . well . . . that does help with the happiness quotient in one’s life . . .

41. You’ve Got Mail

A while ago, back when Target still existed in Canada, I found these adorable little mailboxes in the dollar section.

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My daughter’s is pink, and I found a white one for my son.  Initially I used them for their intended purpose – so they could receive valentines cards from me on Valentines day.  But they never got put away after that Valentines day.  So that March Break, I used them each night to put in a note about what we would be doing the next day.  And as time went on, I would put little notes in them, or even little treats.  And of course, if we’re doing to be doing something special that I’ve managed to keep as a surprise for them, well they often find out by way of a note in their mailbox.  I also like to use these mailboxes as a way of reminding them how proud I am of them if they’ve done something really special, or been particularly brave.  Somehow, they seem to take my words that much more to heart when I’ve taken the time to write them out in the form of a little note.

As a mom, there are lots of things you love to hear from your kids – like the sound of their laughter or the sound of siblings playing happily together.  Well, I also LOVE to hear when one of my kids realizes they have mail.  There is nothing better than the shriek of “We got mail”.  (Which is usually followed by the pounding of small feet down the stairs and a mad rush to find the other child so they can both discover what mail they received together).

This weekend I’ve bitten the bullet and I’m taking a little trip with 2 girlfriends.  We’ve picked a destination that is far enough away that we won’t feel compelled to come home if one of our kids gets sick, but close enough that we can maximize our time away.  This will be the first time I’ve ever left the kids for more than an overnight (aside from my hospital stays).  As I dropped the kids off at school this morning, they were both a bit anxious about the whole thing and neither one quite knew what to make of it.

Cue the mommy guilt.

So, in an effort to remind them that they are always on my mind, as soon as this post gets published, I’ll be writing a few little notes for my little ones to put in their mailboxes.  While I won’t be around to hear their squeals of excitement when they find that they have mail, just knowing how they’ll react is enough to assuage this mom’s guilt for taking a little time to herself.

Wishing you all a most wonderful weekend!!!  And hoping that you find the joy in leaving some little notes for your loved ones, whether or not you’re going to be with them this weekend.

40. Rainbows

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As I was sitting on my front porch after dinner trying to gather my thoughts after a hectic day, I looked up to find a beautiful rainbow gracing the early evening sky.

I’ve had the lyrics to the Rainbow Connection song in my head ever since (I grew up watching The Muppets and my kids are growing up watching them too).

Of course there’s that other famous song about rainbows … You know “Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue”.

But neither of these songs are particularly uplifting nor do they capture the beauty and magic inherent in witnessing a rainbow.

Yup  you guessed it … I looked up the symbolism of rainbows and found some truly fascinating interpretations of seeing a rainbow.  But of all that I read, I found this to be the most wonderful explanation of all:

“In essence, a rainbow is a symbol of reprieve – a symbol of hope and promise – a gift of grace”

(you can read more about the symbolism of rainbows Here)

As I have embarked on new journeys this week, stumbled, questioned my direction, and wondered if I’ll ever find the right path, I’m going to rest well tonight knowing that the rainbow I saw this evening is a sign of hope and promise for what’s to come.

Xo

39. One Second a Day

By now you’re probably catching on to the idea that I life to document life . . . that I enjoy taking photos . . .and that I equally enjoy writing about life and the photos I take.  Right now, I’m working on this 100 Day blog challenge, I just finished my 100 Day creative challenge, and I’m simultaneously continuing with my photo-a-day project (I’ve been doing this for almost 8 years now) while working on my daughter’s week-in-the-life project.

But for some reason, it wasn’t until a story I saw in passing on a website about how recording 1-second a day of your life made a woman realize some things about her life that I got to thinking about these projects more in depth.  Which in turn lead to poking around on the internet and then on to Cesar Kuriyama’s TED Talk where he talks about documenting one second of every day of his life.

I’ve talked in the past about how my photo-a-day project of the kids has helped to to realize there was still lots of happiness even in the darkest days of “tumour land” when I was feeling my absolute worst about life and my situation.

But this project has also helped me see just how fast time flies by.  And how things that were SO important (insert any adjective you choose) at one point in time, can be completely out of the picture (literally and figuratively) just a few short weeks later.  And of course, with that comes the realization that, it really is true, it time, everything really does pass.

And so, as I, and all the other moms I was talking to at an event at my son’s school this morning, are struggling with feeling overwhelmed, underprepared, and dis-organzied . . . I want to remind myself, and everyone else, that this too will pass.

If you’ve never done a photo-a-day or a one-second-a-day project, I highly recommend them.  I love that I have so many tangible memories of my kids and their childhood.  And all of the insights that come from looking back through all those photos.

 

 

 

38. I’m In Love with the 1-Minute Rule – And You Will be Too

I was inspired this week to try out the one-minute rule.  Haven’t heard about it yet???  You can read about it here on Gretchen Rubin’s site.  Or I can explain it to you in a single sentence: If you can do a task in a minute or less . . . DO IT.

For me, this has meant getting rid of a lot of the paper work that I find piles up . . . Bills get filed as soon as they’re opened – it takes less than a minute and saves me the hour of sorting and filing that I used to spend once every few months in the past.  As soon as I get home, a load of laundry goes in.  Ok, so, doing constant loads of laundry may not sound like the most fun, but I’d rather sort just one basket of laundry a day than 5 baskets of clothes in a single go once a week.  And of course, there’s all the stuff the kids bring home – I have a folder in my kitchen for all the school stuff I may need on a moment’s notice (class lists, spelling test lists, that kind of thing).  Everything else gets put into it’s rightful place right away . . . forms are filled out and put right back into their backpacks, art work is “filed accordingly” (either in the blue bin, or in the “keep forever” bin), and garbage, dirty clothes, leftover snacks, all get dealt with as soon as we get home.

Of course, this is all well and good . . .but there are 2 other little people and one other adult that live in this house too!  But you know what, it’s a whole lot easier to get buy-in from the other adult, and especially the little people, when I ask them to do something that is only going to take one minute.  With the kids, I often make it a race . . . who can make their bed in less than one minute?  Who can clean up the most in one minute?  And with the Husband, well, it’s far easier to take little things quickly through the course of the week than try and fit in an hour or more of little chores during the weekends.

So . . . I have a (relatively) tidier house, I’m more on top of things than ever before, and there has been buy-in with this project from the whole family . . . what’s not to love???

 

37. Making Time . . . and Forgiving Ourselves When We Don’t

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We had an absolutely fantastic drop off on the first day of a brand new school for the older one today.

While I thought I had today, this week, this month all planned out, organized, and sorted, I didn’t even manage to stick to the plans I had for today.

Not that it wasn’t a great day . .  .it was fabulous in every way . . . but it was yet another reminder for me, that things come up, things happen, and life doesn’t always go according to plan.

It was also a great reminder that my plan NOT to over schedule the kids, me, the Husband, and any combination thereof was a good one.  Without downtime, quiet time, unscheduled time written right into the calendar, it’s hard to keep balance and composure when things don’t quite go according to plan.  Because we had spare time built into our schedule for today, having to run a few extra unexpected errands wasn’t the end of the world.

And of course, as I’m writing this at 9 at night, having had little sleep last night and a far busier day, getting far less of the things I had planned/expected/wanted to get done, I’m reminding myself that it’s ok when we don’t quite manage to make time for all the things we wanted to do.

Tomorrow is a new day and, in this gloriously less-scheduled regime we now have, I just may get back some of that time I lost today!

 

 

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