Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Insomnia sucks.

It's already 10:33 a.m., which means I've been up four almost four hours, and I still haven't shaken that sleepy, hungover sort of feeling.
I'm not hungover. (Haven't had alcohol in a few days.)
I am sleepy though. I am sleepy because I got hardly any sleep last night.
I haven't been sleeping well for weeks. Since when? ...Since the end of our two-week summer vacation in late July. That makes sense. I got totally off schedule...
For a week or maybe two I treated it with medication. I took a minimal dose sleeping pill and went to bed early.
Then when I thought I had my schedule back, I tried sleeping without the Rx. (I don't want to take sleeping pills regularly, for lots of good reasons.) Happily, I was able to fall asleep relatively well the first day or two. Saturday I was reaallly physically exhausted and I slept better than I have in a long time.
Last night, not so much.
I did eventually get sleepy, put down my book, turn off the light, and fall asleep.
But I woke up when K. came in to bed.
And I was awake two hours later when the baby monitor started beeping in the living room to tell us that it was out of batteries... F*&%.
Which also woke up our son!
Who crawled into our bed, to be coaxed back to his bed with a trip to the washroom and two stories (well, one story, read twice).
Eventually I gave up tossing and turning and moved to the kitchen and then the couch where I read, until I got sleepy at 4:30.
Crawled back into bed at 4:30.
Heard my hubby reset the alarm clock before it went off. Cuddled up with him.
Was SOUND asleep when the alarm went off at 5:30. Slept until 6:30 when I had to get up and parent.
And have been trying to shake this foggy feeling ever since.
I know that I will shake it at about 8:48 p.m. this evening, just before I crawl into bed...

Insomnia sucks and I'm sorry that was SO long and boring but IF YOU HAVE ANY SUGGESTIONS I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR THEM! Thank you.

I guess if I am to learn from my own post, physical exhaustion might be a good place to start...
Chatelaine suggests walnuts... can I put them in a pastry?

Monday, August 27, 2012

"You do not have to change in order to love yourself." Some of the most obvious ideas are surprising.

Today, just an interesting quote from a post by Glennon Melton:
  1. You do not have to change in order to love yourself. You have to love yourself in order to change. That means embracing yourself completely, right now at this moment -as a bitter, scared, disorganized faithless mess. ...  We must stop loving ourselves conditionally. We MUST stop being such jerks to ourselves. We must treat ourselves how we’d like others to treat us.
  2. No one can have it all and people should just stop saying that already. I just listened to a woman give a speech the other day about how you CAN have it all. ...  I’m sure she meant well, but I kept thinking: you don’t have it all, lady. For example: you’re not a fisherman. Fishermen get up before sunrise and pull on their plastic gear and head out onto the bay before anyone in the whole world has woken up. They glide through the water and they sit, and they wait, and they work, and they watch the sun rise over the water and they say good morning to God first. And that is their slice of happiness. Made just for them. Not you, not her, not me.
How can ideas be both obvious and surprising?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Childhood then and now

Then: Children talked to imaginary friends 'face to face'.

Now: Child talks to imaginary friend on imaginary cell phone, in the car.

(p.s. They talk about how things are going on the "job site".)

Friday, August 24, 2012


I'm short on time here, but I do feel compelled to write a follow-up to yesterday's panicky post.
First, just writing that post made me feel a little bit better. (Thank you internet.)
Second, it led me to do something else that made me feel a lot better. I finally opened up to my husband that I am having some doubts. That's it. Just doubts.
I'd been afraid to say anything for fear that he would reply, "Well, if you don't want to go then just don't go," to which I would have frostily replied, "I didn't say that I don't want to go; I just said I'm having doubts."
He didn't say that though. (Which just goes to show that it's better to talk to your spouse in person than in your own head.)
He said something like this:
"Try it out. If you don't like it stop. But I want you to try it so you don't have any regrets."
It was a very brief conversation, as are all conversations during dinner with a four-year-old. The entire conversation took place during the brief window between, "I have to pee and I want more milk," and "Mom! I need help!" at which point I ran off to help in the bathroom.
And yet this conversation made me feel much better. And very, very loved.

For the record, it's not the school itself that is worrying me.
Rather, it is the prospect of going to school for three years, which is a massive investment, only to potentially discover that I have chosen the wrong career, again. Shudder.
However, I have to have faith in my ongoing ability to judge this for myself. Studying will help me discern whether, as I believe, I will be good at this and I will enjoy it. It's one thing to read about a topic, or to engage in it for oneself; it is quite another to perform on command. So, we will see.

With that out of the way I have to admit that I am a liiiittle bit nervous about the schoolwork -- I have a lot of software to learn, and I will be jumping into classes alongside students in their third and fourth years of study. I remind myself that I have seven (!) years of post-secondary education, but none of it is relevant, with the possible exception of a half-course on Medieval architecture -- best grade ever; go figure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


So, I've pretty much abandoned my blog. The usual reasons. Lack of time; too easy to get swept away in the internet once I go online... yeah, you know what I'm talking about; summer time...
I am experiencing something so unexpected and unwanted that I am throwing it out to the universe (well, the teeny tiny fraction of the universe which may read this post, anyway).
Here goes.
After years of cluttering up my life with things that might logically be organized in a home office, finally creating a home office, MONTHS OF PROCRASTINATION, and days of actively decluttering and organizing said home office, I AM ALMOST FINISHED! The end is in sight. There is just one more box to file away, and it contains stuff that I already sorted a few months ago but didn't file (telling, I know).
SO, I'm almost finished my most-dreaded decluttering job, and I feel... surprisingly... nauseous.
I should feel happy, but... my throat is swollen. Imagine if your throat were removed and replaced with a section of live boa constrictor. Exactly.
What gives?
Am I just anxious because it is time to pick up my son now and I haven't QUITE finished this job and my house is covered in paw prints and my in-law's are coming for supper tomorrow and, um, I start grad school in a brand new field in less than two weeks?
Um, yeah, maybe that has something to do with it.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Swinging through summer

It's been a busy few weeks -- and it's only going to get busier!
I did some career counselling as I try to find my path -- and figure out if my 'fantasy career' is really the right one. It's not that I don't dare to follow my dreams. I'm just wondering if my designated 'fantasy career' is in fact the career of my dreams. You know, if you got the chance to date your celebrity crush, would you want to? Perhaps not for long! And not at all if you're already sharing your life with the real man of your dreams.
On a completely different note, I got all craft-tastic which is totally unlike me.
First I warmed up with a hideous castle cake.
Then I helped my son make gifts for all nine(!) of his former teachers. They were supposed to be his own creations but, mea culpa, it turned into a bit of a family project.
And hosted a dynamite dino-party. Photos to follow. Roaring success followed by never-again resolution.
Finally, I recovered with a completely craft-free camping trip with our son, his two best friends, and their parents. A little (okay, a lot) disorganized, a little buggy, a lot hot, ample beach and chill time.
What will the next few weeks bring?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Consider me pinched

This morning my four-year-old invited me to have some Rice Krispies with him. As we sat across the table over breakfast, he began to sing in his pure, sweet voice:
Mothers are the best.
Mothers are the best.
Mothers really are the best.
"Do you like it?" he asked. I did, and I asked him where he'd heard it.

"I just thought of it," he said.

Pinch me!

Unfortunately, an hour later we had this little exchange:

Four-year-old: "What the heck is that?!"
That sounded a little rude coming out of a four-year-old's mouth, so I said:
"How about you try 'what in the world' instead of 'what the heck', okay honey?"
Four-year-old: "Okay mama. What in the world is that fucking thing?"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Parentism and petunias

I think I jinxed K with my Happy Father's Weekend post. His email struck me as funny and prompted me to try a dad-mocking tone (isn't that what successful mom-blogger's do?).
It's sad how common it is for moms to mock dads. Last night at soccer one of the kids arrived woefully underdressed for the cool, misty evening. She was accompanied by her father and I caught myself thinking, "Dressed by dad." I didn't say it out loud, but a minute later my friend did. I've ranted about men who don't hold onto their toddlers in parking lots. I've complained about dads who don't supervise their kids on the play structure.
It's sexist.
There are more-attentive parents and less-attentive parents of both genders, and we all have more- and less-attentive moments. The world is full of wonderful fathers, and I am blessed to raise my child with one of them.
As for Father's Weekend, both the Father's Friday Fire and Father's Saturday Golf were cancelled, and K spent lots of time with our son. On Saturday afternoon they shovelled mulch and even planted the annuals I'd bought for my hanging basket, while I cleaned up our basement storage room. Win-win! I missed being with them but my heart smiled when I caught a glimpse of them working on the basket together. Now I am happily reminded of them both whenever I glance up at this:

Gym test

I did another full-body workout today. This one brought to me by my cousin-in-law M, whose own inspiring post quoting my words got me out the door. This morning I did not want to go to the gym. At all.
I haven't been sleeping well. Little J hasn't been sleeping well. I think there must be a full moon. And we're closing in on the longest day of the year. I am grateful that I don't live any farther north -- here in the-land-of-the-10-p.m.-sun is far enough.
I woke up feeling like hell and all I wanted to do was crawl back into bed and nap as soon as possible.
However, I remembered these words, quoted by M: "I went into the gym feeling exhausted and I left feeling great." Apparently I wrote these words myself, but I wouldn't remember or believe it if it weren't for M's post. (Thanks!) So this morning, when all I wanted to do was nap, I dragged my ass to the gym. I picked up my sports bra, then my regular bra, couldn't decide. I put on my jeans, and then, reluctantly, stepped out of them and into my Lulu's. In the car, I drove past the gym, but then pulled a U-turn and parked right in front.
I resolved to test the gym. If the gym could make me feel better today, then it should work any day.
I sweated. I increased my cardio by ten minutes (so I could watch the HDTV reveal!). I did my stregth-training as efficiently as possible. I marvelled at the guy doing insane sprints, the guy bench-pressing 140 lbs., and the elderly ladies.
And then I stepped out into the cool fresh misty air outside and breathed. Nothing like a workout to make me appreciate a cool day in June!
Do I feel great? No, not quite.
But I do feel a million times better than I did this morning.
And now that I've had my tea and some blueberries and yogurt, I even feel good!
So, yes, gym, you passed the test!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Growing, growing, growing

No, this is not about my garden, although that is growing too and actually deserves a post with pictures -- as soon as I can get the latest plants into the ground and weed AGAIN and so on... Or just learn to love its imperfection.

After all, I adore my little boy and he is obviously a work in progress -- aren't we all! He is the one who is growing, growing, growing. He, however, is perfect at every stage. It's miraculous and wonderful that babies are pure perfection when they are born, and then they get better and better! I suppose at some stage they become teenagers, and rumour has it that teens are less than perfect, but I'm pretty sure that my little one will continue to glow with pure love in my eyes forever.

If we could all love ourselves with the pure love that parents feel for their children, what might happen?

All of which makes me re-think perfection. I say and feel that my son is perfect even though, by most definitions, he is not. How often have I said that, "we are all imperfect"? I truly believe that, and I mean it in a positive, accepting way. Somehow, my child, despite the behaviours I try to correct (please stop whining, wash your hands, and PLEASE don't head-butt me again!), remains perfect in my eyes. I suppose that is love. It is also the recognition that we are perfect just as we are, despite all of our "imperfections". I'm suffering from a linguistic shortcoming here. I falter trying to find a synonym for perfect that embraces our inherent imperfection... We are all imperfect but we are all...Whole? Radiant? Good enough? Perfect?! ...I need some help expressing this concept!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Father's Weekend

Just received the following email from my dear husband ("DH"), with the catchy subject-line "FFF":
"HI Angel, just a heads up that Frank may have a Fathers Day Friday Fire, although just like golf tomorrow, the chances are slim that it will happen as it may rain tonight. I will be bringing home 2 frozen steaks tonight maybe for supper tomorrow."
It's official. Father's Day has been repealed and replaced with Father's Weekend, so as to accommodate Father's Friday Fire and Father's Saturday Golf. These are not father-son activities. The fire gets underway immediately after bedtime, in that narrow window between the initial tuck-in and the first request for another story/drink/hug/Kleenex/monster removal. At three years of age, our dear son is not yet welcome on the golf course, a fact which I will attempt to explain, repeatedly, throughout DH's 6 hour round on Saturday. The celebration of DH's own father will take place on Sunday, the day formerly known as Father's Day. My dad lives far away and gets a phone call, which is a shame because he would enjoy the FFF and FSG if he were here and could talk his way in. Mothers need not apply.

But hey, I'm looking forward to those frozen steaks.  

Happy Father's Weekend

p.s. For the record DH is an awesome dad and deserves all the R&R he can grab. 

Dear Fitness Diary

Went to the gym this morning. All novelty has worn off. Thinking about myself becoming stronger is my sole motivation. Which is not bad motivation.
Today I'm grateful for the person who discovered that strength-training twice a week is almost as effective as three times a week. I read that in Shape magazine almost twenty years ago. If that study has been disproven, I don't think I want to know about it.
They play the worst music at the gym. I'm thinking about audio books to make the time pass. Suggestions?
Now to clean my house. At least I get to pick my own music. :-)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


No, it's not a recipe, although it sounds yummy.
I stopped paying attention to what I ate and I gained weight. F*#%. I'm still a pound less than when I started to watch my diet about six weeks ago, but practically speaking that is zero progress. My too-tight summer clothes are still too-tight, and now it is summer.
Time to get serious. Back to myfitnesspal.com. This super-handy little app helped me lose about 4 pounds in a month without deprivation, so hopefully it can help me do it again, but better! Bring on the deprivation! ;-)
I am still working out at the gym. The post-workout high is never as good as the first time, but yes, it does feel good. Next step: outdoor workouts.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

My sentiments exactly.

J says a lot of awesome things. Usually I'm so busy enjoying the moment that I forget to write them down. This one isn't "awesome" (which is probably why I remember it) but it made me laugh.

"There's something wrong with the house!"
"What's that?"
"The freezer is coming out of the floor!"

That would be the air-conditioning.

"It's happening all over the house!!!"

Friday, June 8, 2012


This morning J commented that heaven is in the clouds. "Hmm," I replied.
"I don't see Jesus in the clouds," he said.
I explained that heaven is actually farther than the clouds [where, I have no idea], and no, we can't see Jesus. I added that Jesus is with us whenever two or more are gathered in his name, although we can't see him.
I asked J if we should invite Jesus to join us.
"Yes," he said. "Hi Jesus."
I suggested that we tell Jesus what we are thankful for.
J thought briefly and said, "Thank you for my friend..." and named one of his best friends.
After we talked about gratitude some more, I told J that he could ask Jesus for help with something if he wanted. J said, "Jesus, will you help me make my cereal by myself?" I was surprised, and grateful to know that he wants to do this, because we can definitely make it happen.

I didn't grow up with much religion, but I married a spiritual man. He is too wise to ever push me, but he has inspired me.

Studies show that, on average, religious people are happier than others. There are a multitude of possible explanations, of course. I suspect that gratitude has a little bit to do with it. When I began to pray (when you really need help, you might be surprised by what you're willing to try!) I immediately found that I couldn't ask for help without first expressing gratitude. Sometimes it's tempting to jump straight into the requests, but my conscience reminds me to pause and say thank you. I suspect that, on average, religious people may be prompted to recognize their gratitude more frequently than others.

Of course, gratitude does not require religion whatsoever!

This week NorCal Katie wrote a post about a great new email service called grateful160.com. The beauty of this service is that it prompts us to recognize gratitude at various times and places (assuming mobile email) throughout each day. The website records each user's expressions of gratitude in a private journal. I have been using it all week and loving it. For example, the service emailed me while I walked past a long hedge of blooming lilacs, prompting me to express gratitude for one of my favourite scents. I don't need a service to tell me that I love lilacs, but it will be nice to have a reminder on a dark, cold day, particularly compiled with all of the many other things and people for whom I am grateful. Thanks for the tip Katie. I am paying it forward!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Brown paper packages tied up with strings

I decided to write a post about my favourite things. Not people, music, or places -- but things. Products, to be specific. These are the things that consistently make me glad I bought them. No, I'm not being paid to mention these (ha!). I just sincerely recommend them. I'm curious to know about your favourite products too!

Here are a few of my favourite things products, in no particular order:
  • Estee Lauder skin care. Expensive but worth it. When I quit my job I tried to find more affordable substitutes, which turned out to be a waste of money. Estee Lauder products work. When I use them, I look better. I am particularly devoted to Advanced Night Repair; Resilience Lift (despite the strong scent); Idealist Pore Minimizing Skin Refinisher; and Time Zone eye cream. 
  • Organic strawberries. Is there anything more pleasantly fragrant, delicious, and healthy than a fresh strawberry?  
  • Bumble & bumble Tonic. Hair-detangler and mood-enhancer. Good morning in a bottle. 
  • Neutorgena Wave. This gadget claims to reveal, "smoother skin in just one use." It's true.
  • Neutrogena Night Calming Makeup Removing Cleansing Towelettes. For evenings when I'm too lazy to wash my face. Not at all irritating. When my pre-schooler came home covered in Spiderman face paint (including his eye-lids) these wipes took it all off in a flash without a single complaint. 
  • Rembrandt toothpaste, because it makes dental cleanings quicker.
  • Aveeno fragrance-free Skin Relief Moisturizing Lotion. I discovered this when I was pregnant and scented products made me nauseous. I love the fact that it has no scent at all. 
  • On the other hand, I love Aveeno White Peach & Ginger Uplifting Body Wash, because the scent is just so uplifting! Squirt some on a loofah, rub it all over, and you will glow inside and out. 
  • Method Lil' Bowl Blu Eucalyptus Mint toilet bowl cleanser. Makes an unpleasant task more pleasant. 
  • Method Green Tea & Aloe foaming hand wash. Fun foam. Chartreuse colour. A mild, fresh scent.
  • L'Oreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, because it rinses off completely with water, without staining my skin. Absolutely no raccoon eyes. Note: this product is not recommended for swimming, tear-jerker movies, or extremely bad days. 
  • The PVR. 
What are your favourites?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I feel good!

This post is a few days late, but I have to write it, if only for the motivation.
On Friday I went back to the gym. I did twenty minutes on the Ark (Arc?) --  sort of an elliptical version of a Stairmaster. Then I did 3 sets of 10 reps on 10 weight machines. And 50 pushups [Ed.: Oops! In my dreams.] sit-ups. I went into the gym feeling exhausted and I left feeling great. :-)
I haven't met my goal of 30 minutes of cardio ("which could be a brisk walk") at least five days a week, but I haven't been totally inactive either. 
Does walking to and from and all around a carnival count? How about the heart-racing thrill and elation of a mini roller coaster? I'm pretty sure that hot mini donuts are the secret to eternal youth, anyway. 
Best of all(?), I weighed myself yesterday morning and found that I have lost 3.8 pounds in a month. I know it's not earth-shattering, but I did it without feeling faint (memories of the Atkins diet) or even particularly deprived. 
It's been another indulgent weekend but I'm motivated to get back on track tomorrow. Family gatherings seem to be my biggest challenge. Today my sister-in-law served home-made caramel rolls at brunch. Have you ever eaten a grilled smokie at the same time as a fresh-baked caramel roll? Let me tell you, warm pork sausage with a dab of fresh, hot caramel is an unbelievably good combination. Particularly on a deck in the sun with a nice glass of wine. Yes, this family does brunch right. I later learned that the sauce on the caramel rolls consists of equal parts butter, sugar, and ice cream(!), cooked to gooey perfection. 
So, yes, I have to go back to the gym tomorrow. I can't say that I'm looking forward to it either...there's so much else I have to do! However, I'm trying to remember how good I felt after working out on Friday, and I want to lose more weight (and eat more caramel rolls). I can't stop now!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The carnival is coming to the end of our street! 
I love this week. 
On Monday, the rides appeared. 

On Tuesday, they began to unfold...

I'm looking forward to a magical weekend.

Buddy G and Buddy J
at the carnival in 2011

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

...and starts to sweat!

i did it! i went to the gym and i worked out! (I'm sorry if this looks like it was typed on a phone -- I'm typing one-handed because I'm holding a celery-and-peanut-butter stalk in the other...yum.)

I got weighed and measured and body-fat-indexed and generally assessed. Surprisingly, my cardio was rated higher than my strength and flexibility -- I would have guessed the opposite. Best of all, I have a benchmark, so when I'm feeling fabulous in the future, and especially if I work out diligently but don't feel fabulous, I'll be able to see how far I've come.

Then I did two sets of 10 strengthening exercises (yes, just two sets, but it was the first day) and 30 minutes of cardio. I tried something called an Ark, which seemed intense. And I used a reclining bike, which was not particularly intense but enabled me to read a magazine at the same time. I don't think I'll use the bike again.

Now I'm contemplating a boot camp, which would require me to get up at 5:30 twice a week. Hmm.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A flabby girl walks into a gym...

I did something new today. I entered a gym. It's been a while since I've had any exercise. After a little running and a killer outdoor bootcamp last spring/summer, the naturopathic fertility guru blacklisted cardio, so I gave Ashtanga yoga a try. It was good for a while, but I never really got back on track after my trip to Vegas.
Then came summer weather and vacation planning.
A month ago, I asked my husband to add me to his gym membership, which he did. Then I did nothing.
There's never enough time for everything; how can I fit in fitness? So I asked him to cancel my membership; he steadfastly "forgot" to do so.
I kept reading and hearing (thanks to my inner voice) that fitness-time pays for itself in increased productivity. Today I realized that fitness-time might pay for itself another way -- more days on the planet.
So this afternoon, finding myself walking past the gym, I went in and scheduled an orientation. Tonight at 7:00 p.m.? Um, nooo...well...okay.
I went. I was oriented. I'm going back tomorrow for a fitness assessment and consultation.

On a related note, I started watching what I eat about four weeks ago. I lost a little over two pounds the first two weeks. Not exactly a stellar start (aren't the first five pounds just water???), and then I lost motivation and succumbed to the temptations of sangria, etc. This morning I weighed myself for the first time in two weeks and I was relieved to discover that I hadn't gained weight, although I hadn't lost anymore either. Hopefully going to the gym will help to build my resolve on the diet front too.

Motivations? Better health. More energy. More strength and resilience. And, absolutely, vanity.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A soccer mom is born

I have been feeling a lot of gratitude lately.
Above all, I am grateful for these two wonderful people with whom I am privileged to share my life. Thank you both for being exactly who you are.

On a related note, thank you to my parents-in-law for all you have done for my husband and for our family.
And thank you to our soccer coaches and everyone who makes children's soccer happen in our neighbourhood, for bringing us this moment.
Before I became a parent, when I heard others moan about hours spent at cold arenas and damp fields, I wondered why they did it. Now I know. We watch our children play because it fills our hearts with joy.
I am so grateful to have this opportunity.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Easter consumption update

Well, it's been three weeks and J has almost finished eating the Easter Bunny that he was holding here (the one without ears).

That's the Easter Bunny that we got for him. The rest of the haul came from grandparents and neighbours. It's still untouched, except for half a bunny that my husband ate (shhhh).
I try not to think about all that chocolate lurking in the house, especially the Lindt carrots.
I also try not to be judgmental about the (in my opinion) excessive amount of chocolate that others gave our son.
I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't. I could say something to the others and feel mean-spirited. I could let him eat it all despite the fact that it makes him jittery and keeps him up at night, which I won't do. Or I can throw some of it away, and feel guilty for effectively betraying the donors. A little birdie suggested that I freeze it and use it in my Christmas baking. Two problems: my freezer is small and I don't do much Christmas baking.
Solution! We're having the family over for Mother's Day. Stay tuned for my Mother's Day chocolate creations...

p.s. My own Easter chocolate is of course long gone. It was delicious. Thank you K, J, and Godiva.

Friday, April 13, 2012

A thousand words on Easter today

It is worth a thousand words, isn't it?

Today this bunny nibbled in my garden and denied all responsibility for the treats shown above. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let It Be

Paul McCartney says it best.
{I posted this video last Tuesday with little comment. I had heard the song on the car radio in the morning, and it caught my attention. It's striking how we sometimes hear an old song as if we're hearing it for the first time. I had been baptized in the Catholic church a few days earlier on April 7, 2012, so the reference to Mother Mary intrigued me. When I came home I looked it up on-line (thanks Wikipedia).
I read that the song, written by Paul McCartney, was inspired by a dream in which he was visited by his late mother. It must have been a beautiful experience.
John Lennon later dissed the song in an interview. I wonder if he's run into Paul's mother upstairs...}

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Just read an interesting 2011 publication called Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney.
I can't recommend it completely. It's a bit long-winded and it actually contains several typos. This is a hardcover book published by Penguin. Typos, people?
I also can't recall all of its points, because I read it each night just before sleep. This is actually one of the things I appreciated about the book: it put me to sleep. I'm serious. Sorry Baumeister and Tierney; I'm just saying. I am one of those people who cannot read novels, or apparently memoirs, before bed -- they keep me up all night because I can't bear to put them down. Willpower, on the other hand, is full of studies. The studies and their results are interesting, but it's not a story.
Since I was peacefully drifting off to sleep each night as I read it, I need to re-read it, with a pencil and a note pad this time.
If nothing else, this should generate another week of good sleep.
Moreover, it will help me to better understand and apply the authors' findings that (a) willpower is a finite resource depleted by use; and (b) willpower can be strengthened with training. This initially struck me as paradoxical, but of course it's no more paradoxical than muscle-power.
Why haven't I re-read the book yet? Well, it's a library book(!). This is part of the new austerity around here. I am LOVING the library. One catch -- no renewals if someone else has requested the book. So I rushed to finish up and return the book by its original due date, and promptly put in another request. Now I wait.
In the meantime, I can't get the book out of my head.
Fun fact from Willpower: it's weakened by low blood sugar.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Best Potty Chart Ever

I'm so happy to say that I have created the Best Potty Chart Ever.
It's easy: 
  1. Find a piece of black construction paper.
  2. Tape it to the bathroom wall.
  3. Offer stickers.
It looks good. (Black goes with everything.)
It's J's favourite colour (again, black). 
It doesn't expire.
I get to decide when it's full. 
It's customizable. We started using just stars, but one day when we needed a big incentive we added the smiley planet stickers. 
Best of all, it worked!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Imperfectly happy video!

I love this very happy video. Life is too short to be perfect.

"We just have to be the adults we hope they grow up to be."

I just watched two fascinating, motivating talks by Brené Brown.
Apparently Dr. Brown's December, 2010 talk went viral, but I was pretty much immune from the pull of the internet at that time, being fully pulled by my career, so I'm grateful to NorCal Katie for posting Dr. Brown's latest talk.
Dr. Brown's research led her to an unexpected -- and initially unwanted -- discovery about the power of vulnerability. Based on her research, her advice is to let ourselves be fully seen; to love fully; to practice gratitude and joy, even in the face of insecurity; and to believe that we are enough. That dry summary is a tiny hint of Dr. Brown's findings shared in her engaging 2010 talk.
This month Dr. Brown gave another talk, Listening to Shame, preceded by a Q&A, Being vulnerable about vulnerability; Q&A with BrenĂ© Brown.
Dr. Brown's findings are both inspiring and challenging. Daring to be vulnerable may be valuable, but it isn't easy. So, as a parent, I was particularly moved by Dr. Brown's comment at the conclusion of the Q&A:
You can’t raise children who have more shame resilience than you do. Because even if you don’t shame them, and even if you are actively trying to raise them feeling good about who they are, they’re never going to treat themselves better than you treat yourself. ... We can’t give children what we don’t have. We just have to be the adults we hope they grow up to be.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Recalling Little House in the Big Woods in my last post got me thinking about other books I love.

I recommend Anthony Swofford's memoir Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles, the story of Swofford's experience as a marine in Operation Desert Storm. This memoir has one of the best openings of any book, in any genre. I'll be watching for Swofford's next memoir due out in June, 2012.

Some memoir-writers have experienced something life-altering, an experience shared by some but almost unimaginable to the rest of us. Yet experience alone does not make a great memoir.

What are your favourite memoirs?

Monday, March 12, 2012

A day in the woods

This weekend I took my son J back to the marsh for the first time in months. We avoided the boardwalks and walked in the woods instead. On our way to a bird-feeding station, two small deer crossed our path and arrived at the bird-feeder just ahead of us. We stood and watched them eat fallen birdseed in the snow. J was eager to get closer but I reluctantly held him back. After a while we moved on, leaving the deer to their lunch.
At the end of our hike we entered a Sod House and tried to imagine living in a one-room home. One smoky room without plumbing or electricity (or wifi). It would be a simpler life, but so dependent on one's attitude, the quality of one's marriage, and the natural world. I recently re-read Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, an evocative and idyllic portrayal of a young family of five living in a log cabin. I have such fond memories of this series from my own childhood, and Little House in the Big Woods was just as good as I remembered. I can't wait to introduce the whole Little House series to J when he gets a little older!
We also saw a few Canada Geese exploring the late winter landscape. People in the South are probably happy to be rid of them already, but here in the North the return of the geese is a sign of spring. Welcome.

p.s. I loved the Little House books so much that I've added an Amazon link. Full disclosure: Amazon promises to share with me a little bit of any purchases through this link.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Stumbling into Lent

Lent is off to a bit of a rocky start here. No surprise since it's the first time in my life I've paid any attention to Lent whatsoever. (Long story short: I grew up believing religious faith was delusion. I fell in love with a man who has faith. He's never tried to persuade me. It may be catching.)
Anyway, I just ate the rest of my son's "prayer pretzel" for lunch. At breakfast-time he ate two candies from the purple goody bag he got at church last night. This is the first time in his life that he's had candy at breakfast, and it's the first day of Lent.
Should I tell our lovely Catechism teacher that it's really not necessary, and perhaps counterproductive, to bundle the prayer cards and Jesus magnets with lollipops and gummy bears? On Shrove Tuesday no less! [Shrove Tuesday (a.k.a. Mardi Gras) is the day before Lent. Ritual consumption on the eve of a period of abstention and religious observance.]
I wonder if she expected him to eat it all before bed, or was this just the ultimate Lenten challenge for a three-year-old?
I guess I failed the parental pretzel challenge.
Well, I'm thinking about Lent now, aren't I?

Thursday, February 16, 2012


It's been a few months, but here I am, writing. I'm not sure why this is the moment. It could be related to my plan to clean my home from top to bottom today, and my desire to delay such plan. But I'm perfectly capable of procrastinating in other ways.

My dilemma is this. I want to write. I want to really explore some issues, some trickier than others. At the lighter end of the spectrum I want to guide myself through some should-be embarrassingly simple processes, like creating and keeping an organized home.

In other words, I want to write for myself, to put my inner-most thoughts into words, to reflect upon them. So the logical thing would seem to be to write in a private diary, not a public blog.

Yet I'm drawn to write in this forum. Why, I ask myself, would I want to do such a crazy thing? The answer I suppose is that I just might encounter some kindred souls. I have been so happily surprised to discover this intimate, supportive world. That and Blogger's handy formatting and pretty colours.

And yet, I've resisted it. Ultimately, I think I need to write for my eyes only.