53. A Moment of Gratitude for this Perfectly Ordinary Day

It may only be lunchtime, but today has been absolutely perfect in it’s ordinary-ness.  And for that, I am SO grateful.

I had a great morning with the kids, even if it did start at 4:30.  I had a great class at the gym, and had the chance to catch up with a few friends.  I did a few errands, including picking up bat-shaped pasta for the kids to have for dinner tonight.  I did some laundry.  I had a quick lunch.  And then I sat down to get some work done.

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Yup, it was a perfectly ordinary day.

“It has taken awhile, but I certainly do know it now – the most wonderful gift I had, the gift I finally learned to cherish above all else, was the gift of all those perfectly ordinary days.”
-Katrina Kenison

I discovered Katrina Kenison a few years ago, and absolutely love her writing – her books are true gems, gorgeously written, and filled with wonderful little quotes like the one above.  If you have time, you absolutely should pick up one of her books . . .

But I digress.  I was so happy today, and so filled with gratitude to have this perfectly ordinary day, that  I chose to celebrate with a small slice of leftover cake from our family celebratory dinner last night (the Husband planned and made an amazing dinner for my whole family to celebrate the 5-year mark of the surgery).  The cake is from The Rolling Pin – it was the Dulce de Leche cake, and it was PHENOMENAL.  While I don’t normally eat sweets at lunch, well, I don’t normally eat too many sweets period, I’ll take my small slice of lunch-time cake over any halloween candy my kids might bring home later tonight!

On that note, I’m going to get back to my ordinary day and see how much work done before I get to pick up my little ones and hear all about how much fun their halloween celebrations were at school today!

And yes, in case you’re wondering my work today is pretty tough . . . it involves lots of photo editing and photo book creating . . . with some last-minute planning for our upcoming trip to Disney sprinkled in too!

Have fun tonight – enjoy your little ones, or if you don’t have any little ones at home, enjoy seeing the little ones out and about tonight!  And I hope you can find some joy in the gift of your ordinary day today.

 

 

52. Drawing a Line in the Sand . . . Over Beanbag Chairs

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So, I’ve always loved the idea of the Pottery Barn Anywhere chairs for kids – but I could never quite wrap my head around them . . . when the kids were little, we read books with them on my lap.  And by the time they were old enough to read books on their own, they preferred to sprawl out on the couch, or in the big chairs in their rooms.  Which is to say, I could never quite justify purchasing the chairs.

The kids each have a beanbag chair at the cottage – I bought them at the Walmart up north a few years ago – and this summer, they really took them.  And Pottery Barn also makes super cute beanbag chairs (the ones on offer at Walmart currently aren’t exactly the sorts of things I’d like to have on display in my family room). . . And I got really excited . . . Until I saw how much the beanbag chairs cost at Pottery Barn.

And I drew a line in the sand.

There were several free patterns for beanbag chairs on the web, I do know how to sew, and who doesn’t like making a trip to pick out fabric?  It was a win-win-win.

In the end, I chose the pattern featured on Thread Riding Hood’s site.  I picked up some cute, heavy-duty fabric.  And I got to sewing.  In total, each chair took me about 90 minutes to cut out, serge and sew – which is about how long it took me to make the rounds trip to the closest Walmart in the city to pick up the little styrofoam beans that I filled the chairs with!  That being said, I did NOT make a lining for my chairs, nor did I use any batting.  I simply made the outer shell.  Why?  Because I figured that we will outgrow these chairs before they are in need of a serious wash (the upside to making these for older kids).

Which brings me to my next point – you can totally fill these with the little styrofoam beans that you can get at Walmart for about $15 a bag instead of stuffed animals as the pattern suggests.  If I ever undertake this project again, I think I will choose to use stuffed animals to fill them – for the simple reason that our house seems to be overflowing with stuffed animals and my son is getting too old to have a bucket of them in his room.  But for now, the little “beans” work perfectly.

The kids love them, I love them, I loved making them, and I can use all the money I “saved” from not buying these at Pottery Barn to buy something nice for myself . . .

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51. Five years later . . .

This morning, just a few minutes before 5, both kids were awake and bounding into our bed for a snuggle.  And I didn’t mind one bit.  In fact, it was probably one of the sweetest snuggles we’ve had.

Five years ago today, just before five, I snuck into each of their rooms to give them each one last kiss before heading down to the hospital for the surgery to remove my tumour.

I wasn’t sure that morning how I would be returning to them.

And this is how I did actually return to them . . .battered, bruised, but SO happy to be back with them in one piece with a good prognosis.

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As I look back on the last five years, I know, without a doubt that, I have returned to them in a way that is SO MUCH better than how I left them.  While this journey hasn’t been easy, I have come across some  of the most wonderful and amazing people that have taught me so much, and helped me along the way (I believe you all know who you are . . . THANK YOU.).

And as I reflect on it all, I can distill all that I have learned into this:

  1. Don’t rush through life.  We live in a time when there is always something more we could be doing, getting, becoming.  And it’s all to easy to get caught up in this endless cycle of trying for “more”.  We do it ourselves, and we do it to our children.  When I look back over the last five years, it’s not the activities my kids did that I look back on fondly – it’s the time we spent together – reading, cooking, playing, and even just snuggling.  What do you want to remember about your life right now five years from now?  Do more of that.
  2. It’s important to be strong.  Physically and emotionally.  Life can change at the drop of a hat.  We don’t know what we’ll be tasked with enduring.  Physical strength can help you weather the storm.  Emotional strength can help you survive with your marbles intact.  Get into the gym, do what you can, and get as strong as you can get.  That might mean getting out and walking.  It might mean challenging yourself to pick up a heavier weight.  Or it could be pushing yourself just a little bit harder in a workout class.  It’s a funny thing . . .but I’ve found that when I push myself harder physically, I get a little bit stronger emotionally too . ..  And the added benefit of physical and emotional strength . . . you’re less likely to fall ill.
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of food.  Food has the ability to heal, to strengthen, to soothe.  Food also has the power to cause illness and disease.  Choose the food you eat, and the food you feed your family wisely.

And on that note, I am off to make myself some breakfast and spend some more time with my two favourite goofballs before they head off to school, and I head off to the gym (like I said . . . it’s important to be strong!).

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50. Putting the Garden to Bed for the Winter

Yesterday morning was gloriously sunny here, with temperatures bordering on warm, meaning it was the absolute perfect day to get out into the garden and to finally put it to bed for the winter.  We’ve had such a warm fall here, it’s been next to impossible to even think about pulling out the annuals and planting bulbs.  But winter is going to come, and I’ve found it’s usually nicer to get this work done when it’s warmer rather than colder.

When I got out to the garden, this is what it looked like:

Three hours later, this is what I was left with:

Luckily, I had some help in the form of my sweet little girl, who was particularly interested in harvesting the last of our fruits and veggies.  We picked our prize watermelon that has been growing for quite some time, and about a million green cherry tomatoes that never had time to ripen on the vine.  I’m hoping to turn these into some picked tomatoes tomorrow if time permits . . .  She was also quite interested in helping me with all the bulbs . . . together we laid out and planted over 400 of them!  I can’t wait to see what spring will bring . . . if the animals get to our tulips, we’ll at least have some narcissi to usher in the warmer weather!

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The only thing I haven’t touched is my roses.  Because they are FILLED with blooms, and I just can’t bear to see them gone just yet.  I figure I need to wear gloves when I deal with them anyway, so I can leave this chore till it gets a bit cooler . . .

 

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I hope you all had a chance to get outside yesterday and enjoy the weather!  Happy fall!

49. Getting Back to What Works

If nothing else, this blog has been a place for me to share with you the tips and tricks that my family has found works to make our lives happier and healthier.  And while my family is certainly in a very happy place, and we are all quite healthy, over the past few weeks, I started to notice that I didn’t have quite as much energy as I normally do and that my clothes weren’t fitting quite like they had in the past.  A quick visit to the scale confirmed that my weight had indeed gone up by not an insignificant amount.  And so, I panicked.

As the panic subsided, worry set in.  How, given all the way I eat, my workout schedule, and the fact that the Husband and I (well me for the most part), have been abstaining from alcohol since September, could I have gained so much weight???  My first thought was that something had to be medically wrong.  My second thought was despite all the good I am doing, I have to be doing something wrong.  And my third thought was to send an email to the Coach to ask him for some help and guidance (yes, I am extremely lucky to have someone like the Coach that I can turn to when I find myself in these predicaments).

Having lived through a few health crises in the past few years, I have established a 2 week waiting period before I go to the doctor with any non-urgent health “issues”.  Two weeks, for me anyway, is long enough to assess whether something really is an issue, but short enough that if something really isn’t right, it won’t get too much worse.

And so, the Coach and I decided to wait 2 weeks, to return to keeping a log of what I eat, my workouts, my water intake, and of course, how I feel, and to assess the situation once those two weeks were up.

Simply getting out my binder with all the log sheets got me back into the mindset I was in three years ago when I first embarked on this journey to health.  And reviewing past log sheets, I was reminded of some of the habits and foods I ate that helped me to shed weight, but more importantly FEEL better.

Starting last Monday, I went back to eating eggs for breakfast, not the yogurt, granola and fruit that I had fallen into the habit of having in the mornings and I went back to eating those eggs as soon after I woke up as I could, not when I got around to it (as in 10 minutes before I have to leave to take the kids to school).  I went back to ensuring I had a proper lunch for myself prepared in the morning (I do this when I’m assembling the kids snacks for school), and I ate that lunch at, or as close to noon as I could (not 10 minutes before I have to leave to pick up the kids from school).  I cut down on my caffeine consumption, especially in the afternoons so I could be sure to have the best sleep possible at night.  And I went back to having a SMALL snack before bed.

And the funny thing is . . . getting back to what worked before . . . worked again.  I already have noticeably more energy (even after staying up late on Monday night to watch the Jays!).  By the end of the week, I had lost half of the weight that I had gained.  And most importantly, I FEEL better again!

This has been an interesting experiment for me . . . because, while I thought that I had been doing my absolute best to eat healthfully and to lead a happy life, I wasn’t necessarily doing the things that make me feel (and look) my absolute best.

If you’re feeling stuck . . . that you’ve maybe gained a few pounds, that maybe you don’t have the energy that you did . . . it might be worth pulling out a notebook and keeping track of what you’re eating/doing/feeling for a few days . . .and seeing if that gives you any clues on what little (or big) things you could change to help yourself to feel (and look) a little better.

 

 

48. Running & What I Learned From Running with My Son

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Yesterday I ran the Scotiabank Marathon Jr with my son – a 5k race that was part of the larger Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon.  The opportunity to do this came through my son’s school – all fall, as part of their cross country program, the boys have been recording the distances they have run, with the idea being that by the time they had finished they would have run a total distance equal to that of a full marathon.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a natural runner.  My running technique is suspect at best (I’ve been compared to a kangaroo when I run . . . and that’s not a good thing), and running long distances have never been my forte.

But something about this challenge captivated my son, and he was extremely keen to get out and “practice” his running.  So as we’ve been out running over the past few weeks, racking up kilometres for school and for our Hogwarts Running Club medal, we’ve both had a chance to improve on our running.

I mentioned in my last post about running with my son, how I loved that he talked to me throughout our runs, and the kinds of things he would share with me as we ran.

But yesterday, as we ran what was the first official running race for both of us, I found a lot more to love, and I learned a few lessons along the way too.

I loved the excitement and enthusiasm that my son went into this race with – there were no nerves, no pre-race jitters, just a sense that we were about to do something fun, despite the fact that what we were about to do was run a 5k race, a distance which he had never run in one shot before.

I loved that he was comfortable enough to tell me when he needed to slow down and have a bit of a break.  He didn’t push himself to the breaking point . . . he knew when he needed to slow down, and when he was ready to pick the pace back up again.

I loved the gentleness in my voice as I encouraged us both along the course.  Phrases like “you’re doing great” and “look how well we’ve done so far” were offered often, and were truly heartfelt.

Reflecting on all of this made me think – what if I faced my challenges in life with excitement and enthusiasm?  What if worked better on pacing myself, not in the gym, but in life – slowing down when I need to, but also picking up the pace when I can?  What if I was gentler with myself, and truly accepted the encouragement that’s given to me?  Wouldn’t life feel so much better if we lived a little more like that???

I’d be remiss, though, if I didn’t mention what might be my MOST favourite part of the race yesterday – seeing my son’s face light up when he saw that he could have Gatorade at the water station (“Really mom, I can have Gatorade???”).  And his excitement when he got to just toss the empty cup on the street – apparently he threw it just like Bautista . . .

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And now I can’t wait until we can do our next race together . . . and maybe even get the little one involved too!

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47. If At First You Don’t Succeed . . .

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Sometimes things just don’t go quite according to plan.  And it seems I’ve had a streak of sorts of things not quite going according to plan lately.  It started at the end of last week when I proudly presented my son with a bean bag chair that I had sewed for him in my spare moments during the week . . . with in seconds, he jumped and landed on it with all the force his 8-year old body could muster.  Guess what didn’t survive . . . yup.  The bean bag chair.

On the weekend, I embarked on a series of little projects around the house – we are hosting Thanksgiving for our entire family next weekend, so what better time to get the house ready?  Well, one of these projects involved removing the fabric from our TEN antique dining room chairs and replacing it with new fabric (that I’ve had stored under our bed for at least 2 years).  Well . . .that little project ended up taking an entire day . . . and still isn’t done.  Turned out there were FOUR layers of fabric under the top layer, with each one held in place by about 1000 staples.  I wish I was exaggerating.  But sadly, I’m not.  My fingers are still raw from prying all those staples out . . .

Yesterday I tried a new muffin recipe that I thought would be an awesome addition to our nut-free, refined sugar-free snack rotation . . . I was so excited, I thought they were pretty fantastic, I couldn’t wait for the kids to get home to taste test them . . . and only one of the kids will eat them.

And then there was this morning.  Let’s just say it wasn’t my ideal kind of morning with the kids.  Tempers may have flared (mine), feelings may have been hurt (theirs), and it really wasn’t the start to the morning that we normally have in our house.

While the kids were still at school, I took advantage of the quite time I had to myself so I could think about what happened this morning, why I got so upset, and how I could change things to keep that from happening again.  Turns out, I was a little over-tired (I’m back to getting up at 4:30 with the Husband so I can get things done in the morning when the Kids aren’t yet out of bed), I’ve been a productivity machine this past week, methodically ticking items off my to-do list, but possibly over-extending myself in the process.  And the kids are still adjusting to their schedules for the year, leaving them a little more tired and cranky than they might otherwise be.

As pick-up time neared, I sat down, took a few good, deep breaths, and rather than dwell on feelings of guilt that I had over the morning, I resolved to try again.  And so far . . . post-pick up, our afternoon is going swimmingly.

If ever you find yourself all wound up, with things not going the way you wanted them to, stop, take a deep breath, or ten, and try again.

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