on minimalism

a rainbow in my cloudy sky of an apartment

Gwen has been away this week visiting Taylor’s moms and her cousins and I’ve noticed two things since she’s been gone: Nicky has been sleeping in every day and I have been doing half as many loads of laundry as I normally do. I can understand the former; Gwen is a very early riser and tends to wake everyone else up, but the latter??? Does she really wear that many clothes in a week???

I’ve been thinking a lot about laundry lately because it’s a frequent topic of discussion in the Minimalist Moms facebook group I mostly joined for lols (the group is a wild west mess of a place with something like 100,000 members, no post moderation and just a minimalist approach to moderation in general from the modmin team which leads to INCESSANT DRAMA in every post). I’d say a significant percentage of the group wants to minimalize their/their children’s wardrobes but there seems to be a disconnect about clothes washing? Theoretically it’s just a choice between washing more clothes less frequently or washing fewer clothes more frequently but I see a lot of comments asking WHEN will the laundry be DONE??? Tragically… never.

I don’t really consider myself a minimalist because I honestly try to never put myself in a box like that but I do have to admit that:

  • painting my whole apartment the same light grey (with the exception of the white powder room & hallway and the off-white in the kid’s bedrooms)
  • my carefully curated selection of decorative objects that are all white or were something found in nature, artfully arranged on shelves and windowsills
  • my constant donating of bags of clothing and housewares
  • my even more constant decluttering in general
  • living in a multi-family dwelling instead of a SFH and not owning a car, although those are less “choices” than “financial requirements”

… make a bit of a case for it haha. I know for me this all stems from the ten years of my apartment being painted an eclectic variety of bright colours with the playroom mural and kid art everywhere. It was so visually cluttered and just started giving me anxiety. I guess if I HAD to call myself a minimalist I’d say for me it’s really more of an ~aesthetic minimalism~ because I just want a nice-looking (to me!), peaceful environment, which is kind of looked down on for being superficial but seeing as how I’ve changed my space to better serve my mental health it’s really not, you know? I’ve also come to believe that a less visually stimulating space is better for child development so really it’s a business decision as well.

I kind of feel that minimalism can definitely mean different things to different people and subscribing to one set of beliefs about it doesn’t necessarily invalidate another’s set of beliefs about it, something I think some of the facebook minimalist moms should try to understand! The amount of posts that have descended into vicious name-calling because a homeschooling mom-of-seven takes offense to a person who’s chosen to be one-and-done saying they’ve minimalized their carbon footprint by only having one child is NEXT LEVEL and honestly kind of depressing they way people refuse to consider other people’s choices as valid.

Anyway. This post went in a completely different direction than I thought it would, and I’m not sure of my point? I guess this is just what I’ve been thinking about lately, and also… I should probably leave that group.

july & the summer


I’m obsessed with that giant tree. It’s down near the edge of Stanley Park by Georgia Street and I just think it would be perfect for a treehouse and/or a swing, or even just climbing up to sit on a wide branch and read. I wish one the trees in our yard was like this but ALAS we just have a prickly hawthorn, a short dogwood and a spindly rowan.

For the whole month of June Gwen and I were both counting down the days until the end of the school year. I was SO READY to be done with the twice-daily down-and-up the hill with all the kids. School in this district went all the way to June 27th this year and it was SUCH a relief to be done… until July 3rd when she started her summer daycamp, which is at the school. I’m actually really thankful that she got into it, it’s a program for kids who need more support with reading, there are super limited spaces and it is very low cost, but the down-and-up the hill! Plus I can’t just drop her at the door, I need to take her up to the library on the second floor and sign her in which means I have to take Nicky and the daycare kids up to the library on the second floor. I don’t know what it is about being inside the school but it makes them all (ESPECIALLY Nicky) go bananas! The building it mostly empty so there’s a fantastic echo and I feel a little bad to the other parents subjected to Nicky’s yells of CHEESE! and SQUEAKY! up and down the stairs and hall- but not too bad. We’re on day 7 of 16 of the program and so far it seems to be going well.

After a few false starts and a lot of confusion and maybe a few frustrated tears Symphony is registered for her first college classes! We’re still holding out hope she can get into some art classes (registration for them is reserved for only students in the fine art program until the 17th) but if she isn’t able this semester there’s always next time. This month she’s helping out with the kids when I pick Gwen up from daycamp (the pickup is in the middle of quiet/nap time) and her other goal is to do lots of baking and crafts because as she said “I can’t just spend all my time in my room watching videos.” THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN SAYING FOR LIKE THREE YEARS OH MY GOD. Anyway she made cookies last week and last night she made the brownies pictured above. I made the wooden bench and little wooden mushroom, both with scrap wood I pillaged from the construction site next door. They are finally almost done over there and I’m looking forward to being able to open my windows whenever I want without worrying about fumes or noise or dust BUT I will miss pillaging their scrap heap for bits for my projects! (FYI I was given express permission to do so and was even given an extra piece of white quartz countertop they had, which is beautiful but weighs a million pounds and I’m not sure what to do with it?).

inside outside

I almost titled this post “full house” but then I thought… better not.

Gwen felt a little under the weather today so I let her stay home from school, but I needed Taylor to stay/work from home as well since I would be busy with Nicky & the daycare kids. We’ve been spending most of our time outside lately (more on this below) and I knew Gwen wouldn’t be up for that. Then Sym was also feeling sick (unrelated to how Gwen was feeling sick) so I let HER stay home from school as well, and honestly… it’s a lot. There are a lot of people here! Spring break starts on Monday and this is kind of a trial run for that and I think it’s going to be a long two weeks! I mean don’t get me wrong it’s nice to have others here to help with chores & child wrangling, lovely not having to walk down to the school with all the kids, and Taylor made me tea while I was out in the backyard with the little ones but I’m just not used to doing my family thing and my work thing at the same time all day.

Recently I read Balanced and Barefoot and much like There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, it has inspired me to get the kids outside more, as well as just let them play as they choose rather than setting up activities for them, or guiding their play. I will bring up a selection of toys for them and just let them do what they want and they get on just fine. The biggest struggle I had been having was rainy days, because it’s a lot of standing around in the rain for me, and also trying to fit outdoor play around school drop-off & pick-up as well as snack times was a little tricky when the weather was foul. Like we would all get wet going to the school and then take off our outdoor gear to go in and have snack, and then who wants to put, cold, wet, clammy outdoor gear back on to go play? Not I, and not really the kids either, so I’ve been planning a way to put a roof over my little patio so there’s somewhere under cover to eat snack outside instead. I’m hoping to put together a prototype (using my fave material: DOLLAR STORE SHOWER CURTAINS) this weekend.

I’ve also been gathering old bricks to make another, smaller patio area on the other side of my stairs. I’ve gotten enough now and just need a bag or two of sand and I can lay it all out. I’m going to move my outdoor storage shelf & garbage/recycling up on to it and the space right outside the door (which is the most sheltered) can be for the kid’s bikes and muddy boots, etc. You MIGHT be thinking “Tanie why are you planning to keep bikes outside, isn’t that how your giant stroller was stolen?” and the answer is I’M GONNA LOCK THEM UP. I actually have a lock out there already (I have for years) that I used with my giant stroller but the night it was stolen I forgot to bring it down to lock it up. Bikes are smaller, lighter and easier to move down the stairs and don’t need to be folded up like the stroller, plus I think in total they cost about $130… not EIGHT HUNDRED lol so the risk is significantly lower.

I would also like to have a few more options for outdoor toys. Right now there’s some large trucks & cars, balls and badminton equipment (I brought that out for the first time on Tuesday afternoon and it only took two minutes before someone’s lip was busted open by an errant racket swing but I’m pretty sure that’s a learning experience for everyone involved?), and an assorted of shovels, rakes and other beach toys (we also use these when it snows, but I don’t want to just let the kids dig up the shared yard so I’m trying to figure out an area they can use them). I have sidewalk chalk in my storage room that I can bring out soon, and last weekend I used some scrap wood I pilfered from a construction site to make a balance beam, which I’ve so far only let my own kids and their friends upstairs use, NOT the daycare kids. It’s literally just a 2×2 securely screwed to a a pair of 2″ high “feet” to raise it up and stop it from tipping over so I don’t see why they couldn’t use it. I would also like to get some large wooden blocks for outside but I think I might have to make those myself as well, unless someone has a giant Jenga set they would like to donate to me!

Anyway. That’s what is going on around here. Sick kids, outside time, and planning, planning, planning for spring.

snow days

It started snowing on Sunday after Gwen’s last ice skating lesson and kept going on and off for the next few few days. I was happy because the little kids LOVE playing in the snow and it happens so infrequently here. That afternoon I took her for a walk downtown and then after Nicky’s nap Taylor and I took the two little kids to Sunset Beach to go sledding down the big hill there. We have a little “baby-boggan” infant sled for Nicky to use and brought our least favourite pool float (an ugly donut) for Gwen. It got absolutely destroyed and deflated but she was able to get in plenty of runs before that happened!

Monday she had school like usual but Tuesday was her first snow day and also SYMPHONY’S first snow day because we NEVER have snow days in Vancouver. I personally feel like cancelling school had more to do with staff living in the suburbs (which typically get more snow than the city) being unable to get downtown than the amount of snow we had. Of course I still had to work but we took full advantage of the snow and played outside for most of the day.


I actually had the daycare kids out playing for hours morning & afternoon on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (on Thursday we were out a bit less BUT we did go down to the snowy beach to throw snowballs in the ocean) and I had a bit of an epiphany. You might recall that over winter break I read There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather and have been trying to make more of an effort to spend more time outside with both the daycare kids and my own kids. It hasn’t necessarily been easy and the reason is THE RAIN. Going outside to play in the snow for hours and hours is one thing: you can build snowmen and throw snowballs and go sledding and make snow angels. You can get out the beach toys from storage and make snow castles and snow pies. You can invent new games like “throwing a snowball straight up in the air and trying to hit the top of your own head” and “jamming toy trucks into a snow bank so you have to stage an emergency rescue” and “throwing snowballs into the tree to knock snow out so it falls on everyone” (this was my own invention) but when it RAINS??? What??? Are we??? Supposed to do??? It’s cold and wet and gross and mud and NOT in a fun way for so much of the winter here. I HATE standing around in the rain! The kids HATE getting muddy! I’m going to keep trying to find a way to make it fun but so far that’s been a struggle. It’s raining today and Gwen has no school (it’s a professional day) so I can already find myself looking for excuses not to go out at all.

routines

Will 2019 be the year I finish painting the playroom? STAY TUNED…

shark

Now that winter break is over we are all slowly getting back into our daily routines. While I don’t typically like to have my kids over-scheduled in a lot of activities I DO try to stick to a schedule for meals, naps, and bedtimes. It’s especially important for my work week as I have to fit morning snack, lunch and afternoon nap for Nicky and the daycare kids all into the five-hour block of time between getting back from dropping Gwen at school and leaving to pick her up. In order to make it work we have to have morning snack at 9:30, right when we get back, and the kids have developed their OWN routine from there:

  • 9:30- 9:45 morning snack
  • 9:45-9:50 help me move the couch (see below)
  • 9:50-??? listen to Baby Shark and run around in a circle

They do this EVERY DAY and honestly… I don’t even find Baby Shark that annoying anymore. Oh and re: the couch, I don’t want the kids playing in the “living room” part of our living area because they always jump on the couch and throw all the cushions on the floor (annoying) and one time a toy was thrown by someone running through the living room and it SMASHED our tv so…. Anyway we push the couch forward to the entertainment stand (there needs to be a shorter word for this…) which pretty much eliminates the living room as a play area and makes the playroom huge with more room for running, playing and dumping out all the toys.

dough

Before Christmas my friend gave me a little jar of sourdough starter, which I promptly put in the fridge and forgot about. If you keep them on the counter they need to be fed every twelve hours but in the fridge you can let them go a week, two weeks or… a month? I’ve heard conflicting things from different people and websites, and of course there is my own personal experience of just leaving it for a month. Yesterday I FINALLY pulled it out and was like… is it alive? is it dead? WHO CAN SAY. I figured I’d feed it some to find out, and then I forgot to put it back in my fridge. This morning I have to say YES, it is alive and ALL OVER THE COUNTER. I transferred it to a bigger jar and popped it back in the fridge but HONESTLY I should start using it to make bread. Sourdough bread is actually one of my FAVES so it makes sense. If anyone has and tips, tricks, techniques, recipes or advice please let me know and REST ASSURED I’m going to set an alarm on my phone to remind me to feed Li’l Yeasty… weekly? Bi-monthly? Something-ly.

skin

Over the winter break, especially the last week when I was sick (I literally got a cough/lost my voice on New Year’s Day and I’m still not better) I definitely started slacking in the skincare routine department. SHAMEFUL in these times I know. I needed to get a new nighttime moisturizer so I decided to jumpstart my return to skincare by getting a TON of tiny products from Sephora. I wanted to try the Herbivore Pink Cloud moisturizer but I didn’t want to buy a full size jar in case I didn’t like it, so I got a set of small Herbivore products and THEN because I’d never used any of my Rewards points (I have literally never ordered anything from Sephora because the entire time I’ve been regularly buying stuff there it’s been three blocks from my house) so I got every (free) tiny product I could. I ended up with a bunch of new masks, moisturizers, cleansers, serums and facial oils, and a bunch of lip colour for some reason. SO be on the look out for a lot of well-hydrated selfies from me in the months ahead.

dishes

Last week we got a new dishwasher! You might recall we tried to replace our old, third-hand one a year ago but the new one we bought at the time turned out to be contaminated with mold and returning it was an extremely huge hassle that took honestly months. MONTHS! After Christmas we decided to give it another try with a different dishwasher from a different retailer and HONESTLY it turned out great. We were really anxious about something else going wrong so we weirdly kept it a secret? We just didn’t want to jinx it! But in the end we got a brand new dishwasher that had the look and all the features that I wanted/needed delivered, installed and the old one hauled away in a week and a half.

With our old machine we had to completely pre-wash everything before putting it in (you might ask “why put them in at all then?” and the answer is DAYCARE REGULATIONS). So we all got into the habit of leaving our dirty dishes in the sink/on the counter until there was enough to justify filling the sink with water. It was frustrating for me because I ended up washing up after everyone’s snacks and drinks all day long (I’m talking about people over the age of sixteen here) . With the new machine everyone can just put their dishes in it right away and wow. WOW. What a difference! We are all still getting used to this new routine but I sincerely hope “putting dishes in the dishwasher” remains a fun novelty activity my kids are happy to keep doing, haha.

go outside

Just before New Year’s I read There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather and I feel a little silly about it but I really did find it inspiring. Obviously I did have some problems with it, like literally HOW can you say the only obstacle between kids playing outside in wet/cold weather is high-quality outdoor gear and not even acknowledge that these things are out of the budget for a LOT of families. Even secondhand may be too pricy/not an option if you don’t have the time/capability to troll through used clothing shops to try and find the sizes you need OR go all over town sourcing them from randos on craigslist or fb marketplace??? Like I got Gwen’s ice skates and helmet used via fb marketplace and YES I saved money but also YES picking up each item took literally hours of time. Anyway, there’s is definitely some seriously unexamined privilege in this book.

This issue aside though, before I even finished it I was really doing my best to get the kids outside more. This two weeks of winter break has been awesome and it’s been wonderful to see Gwen & Nicky have the chance to play and interact without the added variable of the daycare kids; last time I had vacation Nicky was still too small to really *PLAY* the way he can now and it’s been a delight. HOWEVER they (and everyone) have had a bit of cabin fever and too much screen time and there’s been a few temper tantrums and bad nights of sleep as a result. The day after I started reading the book I was DETERMINED to take the kids outside rain or shine and wouldn’t you know it, it was a gorgeous sunny day! Fully blue-skied and clear in the morning. It was cold as heck though, but I didn’t let that stop us and after a small amount of cartoons I bundled them up in head-to-toe waterproofs and we hit the playground. And you know what? We had fun!

Of course, I already knew how much fun my family could have outside in gross weather after Nicky’s extremely wet & muddy but also extremely successful pumpkin patch birthday. And the kids often ask to go outside in any weather at all, which is something I definitely should not be discouraging. I have found myself saying “not right now, it’s too cold/wet/muddy to play outside” which needs to stop! I think my main obstacles are:

1. I can’t send both kids outside to play on their own.
Growing up in the country I definitely had one of those “go out to play see you at dinnertime” childhoods with plenty of forest exploring, creek-wading, fort-building, and tree-climbing. We’re lucky to have a fenced backyard that the kids can play in but we do still live downtown in a major city and honestly… not all the people who live or pass through our neighborhood or even our yard are kind, or harmless. I’m just not comfortable letting them both go out alone, especially with my limited view of the backyard from inside the apartment. Also the gates don’t necessarily latch securely and while Gwen is very good about staying in the yard, Nicky just isn’t there yet. So both of them going outside also means me (or Taylor, or Sym) going outside and with work, school & home responsibilities that’s just not always an option. I will admit though that sometimes I just don’t wanna go out and stand around in the cold/wet while they play!

2. I get burnt out on outside time from school drop offs/pick up
Obviously this hasn’t been a problem these last two weeks but during the school year dropping Gwen off & picking her up with all the daycare kids in tow is a HUGE production. Getting everyone’s outdoor gear on and walking five block there and back at the speed of two- and three-year olds takes an hour, two times a day. Fitting in snacks, lunch, and nap around it takes some tight scheduling and when you factor in the dressing/undressing/cleaning up sometimes there just isn’t time to get in a good amount of outdoor play. Additionally during the warmer months we typically go outside after afternoon snack and stay out until pick up time but at this time of year it’s basically pitch dark by then.

Something that ISN’T an obstacle for us though is outdoor clothing; both kids have an abundance of waterproof rain gear and warm snow gear. Of course it hasn’t snowed at all this winter but the snowsuits are getting a decent workout as non-rainy-day outer layers to keep small bodies and inner layers of clothing warm, dry and free from mud. I know that we’re lucky that we can afford (or have previously been able to afford; all Nicky’s stuff is Gwen’s hand-me-downs) a variety of layering options and that makes overcoming my other obstacles easier. I have been trying to let go of the idea that expending the effort getting the kids and myself geared up for just a short amount of outdoor time is a waste, and recently we have been going out to play in the late afternoons when it’s dark and honestly, they have just as much fun as when it’s light. The other day I even brought sparklers out for them to play with in the rain before dinner and it was a huge hit! (I don’t think I could get away with that during the work week though, the child care powers-that-be probably frown on fireworks lol).

Going forward I want to continue making more of an effort on this. I’ve already seen positive results from both kids with better sleep and fewer tantrums when we’ve spent more time outside. Of course as soon as I embarked on this new adventure I immediately got sick as shit but I haven’t let that stop me… much.

the end is hopefully near


Me prancing away from anything that DARES to go wrong for the rest of the month.

The end of the year I mean, because I am READY to move on! I was hoping for an easy breezy December but I guess 2018 just couldn’t let us go without a couple more setbacks…

First of all, in early November I FINALLY replaced my very, very, very old phone with a new model. It was great at first but after a couple of weeks the accelerometer & proximity sensor crapped out (how??? why???), which disabled a lot of features and also basic functions, namely the one where when you hold the phone to your ear during a call the screen goes to sleep so you don’t accidentally hang up on people! This was very frustrating and after spending half an afternoon on the support chat I was informed the phone needed to be replaced. Unfortunately I couldn’t exchange it through my cellphone provider at the store because it was 3 days past their return window so this morning I had to ship it back to the manufacturer for repair? Replacement? idk, I just want a phone that works, and for now I’ve had to switch back to my old phone which only has about an hour of battery life left at a time and it tends to die unexpectedly. This morning when I was out with the daycare kids it died at 60% battery and I couldn’t even get it to turn back on until I got home and plugged it in! It’s not great! And ‘m going to be stuck with it for 5-15 business days.

Second, my dishwasher, my very old and decrepit dishwasher that is at least third-hand and pre-dates my relationship with Taylor and also me even living in this apartment, the one we almost replaced a year ago, has finally died. Seems like when we tried getting a new one (about which I will be forever bitter) we had the right idea, because over the past few days it started having a new and very uncool problem in that the start button didn’t work. Like I can select a wash cycle and a delayed start and all the other buttons light up when I press them, but I can’t make it go. Taylor did some research and it could be one of about three different problems, all of which would require replacement parts, and some of which we can’t get because the machine is so old. So I’m pretty loathe to spend money on it, especially when it doesn’t ACTUALLY wash the dishes well. It’s just really frustrating because between my family and the daycare kids we go through a lot of dishes and because of the daycare kids, the dishes need to be sanitized. Without a dishwasher with a sanitization setting I have to sanitize all my dishes in bleach solution, and it’s going to take me months to save up for a new dishwasher so like… these next few months are going to be loooooooooooong. I have two different dishwashers picked out for when I CAN afford one, the first is the cheapest one you can buy that has sanitization (need) and the second is the cheapest one you can buy that has sanitization, hidden controls and a stainless steel tub (need, want, want). SO I’m really being practical here, since last year splurging on the fancy, expensive, highly recommended dishwasher was such a disaster.

Finally, yesterday I was doing some laundry and my washing machine started making a weird noise. Not a loud noise or a thumping noise, a kind of quiet whiny noise, like a small car engine that won’t turn over. I was like NOT ANOTHER PROBLEM but thankfully I had accidentally turned the water temp to warm/warm instead of cold/cold and the hot water was turned off! This was because the other week Nicky threw up all over his bedroom and I stuffed all his bedding, some stuffies and the bedroom rug all in one load. The rug is just a flat woven roadway play mat which I had washed before, but only ever by itself. Having it in with everything else caused the washer to go super unbalanced and it shimmied the whole stack around in my laundry closet. I moved it back (not easy as it is a washer & dryer stack that is very heavy) but I didn’t realize the wiggling and jiggling had cause the hot water hose to loosen just enough to start dripping down the wall. The drips somehow got under the vinyl flooring planks and for a few days we had mystery liquid oozing up between the planks whenever we walked down the hallway. I eventually figured out what was up, shut off the water, tightened the hose, dried everything I could dry and waited out everything I couldn’t. Luckily we have heated floors so once the leak stopped it dried in about a day or two, but GOD. ENOUGH ALREADY.

this season

The last three weeks…

After Halloween it was the girls’ birthdays, which are just three days apart in early November. For Sym we had her dad’s family over for cake (she requested triple chocolate) and presents the weekend before, and then on her actual birthday I took her out for ramen and a movie, which has become our go-to mother-daughter activity. On Gwen’s actual birthday we had a feast of Chinese food followed by strawberry pie (her request and something I’d never made/she’d never had?) and on the following weekend had a bunch of her little friends over for a unicorn-themed party. We bought a bunch of decorations and supplies in like… February, added a crêpe paper streamer rainbow wall, a mini ball pit (an inflatable pool filled with crush-proof balls from Amazon, our small kiddie pool needed 400 balls so if you do this plan accordingly) and a HUGE mylar unicorn balloon. I made funfetti cupcakes and pretty much just let the kids run wild.

For all the birthday cakes this year I’ve used recipes from The Stay at Home Chef and they’ve all been fantastic

Once the birthday season ended I had a week’s reprieve of doing nothing and now… it’s Christmas. I like to put the tree up bare for a few weeks to let the kids get used to it before adding decoration, with the idea that they won’t go crazy and trash all the ornaments. This has always worked, by the way, until Gwen and now Nicky. Last year Nicky broke so many ornaments (shatterproof DOES NOT equal toddlerproof!) I ended up stocking up on clearance ones after Boxing Day but I can’t remember exactly what he wrecked and what I bought so it’ll be a fun surprise in a couple weeks when we decorate. So anyway I put the tree up last weekend, as well as some lights around a couple of windows and a few bits & pieces on the sideboard.

Due to all the endless emergency vet bills we had this year Taylor and I are in a pretty tight financial situation, so we’ve elected not to exchange gifts (which is killing me bc my love language is buying you stuff and having stuff bought for me) and focus on the kids instead. I’m really hoping for some fun family outings and as redemption for last year’s multiple cookie disasters, successful cookie baking! Sym and I got a head start last weekend with these ginger molasses cookies which I HEARTILY recommend.

Some other things I’m looking to make happen during this last season of the year:
1. I need to make myself some new slippers as mine are a wreck. I’m slowly formulating an idea for some bootie-style slippers with a sheepskin insole, wish me luck on this!
2. I am DESPERATE to finish painting. The hallway, playroom, and kitchen are all still half-done, and the foyer (which was the first room Taylor and I painted in this apartment in like… 2007) really needs a refresh. Owing to my tragic finances this will def not be done this year except for maybe the hallway since I think I have white paint left for that, and mayyyyybe some medium grey part of the foyer (because who doesn’t want endless half-painted rooms?).
3. SPEAKING OF MY FINANCES I’m changing the structure of my client fees in a way that I hope will help sort things out; wish me luck on this too.
4. FINAL FINANCIAL BIT but hey why not check out my etsy shop if you are looking to treat yourself or someone to a little sparkle this holiday season! There are currently rolling strikes with Canada Post but I can provide price quotes for alternate carriers or just like… order early! And often!

This is one of the prettiest things I’ve ever made IN MY LIFE and I’m honestly shocked it’s still available?

autumn leaves

The foliage around the city is BONKERS right now. The weather has been bright & clear for the past few days so we’ve been able to get out and really enjoy it before everything turns into wet brown yuck.

on cars and mud, or, Nicky is two!

For the most part, I really love having a car-free life. We live downtown and both work within walking distance from home (some of more than others, haha #oneroomcommute) so Taylor and I don’t ever really miss his old car. Well I assume he doesn’t, I myself have never owned or driven or even learned how to drive a car so it’s not something I think about much. But we don’t have to pay for a car or parking or gas or maintenance, which is obviously a big bonus. It also makes us more mindful of when we DO use cars; Taylor has memberships with a few different car sharing services, but before we book one we usually do a cost/benefit analysis. For example, we always used to take a zipcar when we went to Ikea, but the money we spent on the car was money we couldn’t spend on other things (like… stuff at Ikea). Last year in the summer I figured out how easy it was to get there by transit (it’s literally one train and one bus) and obviously it takes longer than driving but it’s so much less expensive! Plus any time we can avoid installing carseats YET AGAIN is a good time for us.

Now there are obviously times when a car is the only option, this summer’s day trip to Alice Lake for instance. And using car shares, especially on the weekend and double especially if you need to fit in a whole family including two car seats, means you can lose spontaneity. We usually have to book the car several days in advance, and once you pass the cancellation window come hell or high water or inclement weather you are taking that car trip! This worked in our favour for Alice Lake and we had a beautiful clear sunny day. Nicky’s autumn birthday excursion? Not quite so much.

Originally I was planning on throwing an at-home party for him and inviting his little friends, but then I thought about it and I have multiple toddlers here making a mess all week, do I really want that on the weekend too? NOT SO MUCH. Instead I decided we should go on a family excursion out to a farm for like… autumn activities. I picked Maan Farms in Abbotsford, about an hour’s drive from downtown. We never do this kind of classic fall family activity so I figured this was a perfect idea, but we’d definitely need a car for this one. I checked the weather forecast and it had Nicky’s birthday sunny and clear, so Taylor and I went ahead and made our plans. Then we watched as each day the forecast got worse and worse.

Hope springs eternal though, and rather than cancel his birthday and pay for a car we then wouldn’t be using. we pulled out everyone’s rain gear and packed a bag of towels. His birthday dawned grey and wet and I was a bit worried we’d all have a miserable time but as it turned out, it was kind of perfect? The rain meant the farm wasn’t busy, so we had all the attractions pretty much to ourselves, and while two of my three kids ended up slicked in mud from head to toe, they were also waterproof from head to toe (god bless Mountain Equipment Co-op). I had my camera but it was so wet that we couldn’t really take many pictures so instead of posing, we just had fun. Even Symphony, who can be somewhat of a difficult teen at times, had a blast.

In fact, Symphony was on cloud nine because she got licked by a goat in the petting zoo.

Taylor tried one of these pedal karts and when he sat on it his rainpants pulled down in the back and all the water went straight down his behind.

Nicky was OBSESSED with the pumpkin patch, we had to go in it twice and he wanted to bring home every gourd he saw. It was too muddy for pics though so here he is in the corn maze (also muddy).

This is the ONLY picture of me (other than a selfie with the birthday boy I posted in my instagram stories) from the WHOLE DAY, someone else needs to step up and take some pictures sometimes, maybe a person whose hobby is photography, I’M JUST SAYIN’.

After we got home we had our neighbors down for a some cake & presents. I baked the cake the day before, a 3-layer funfetti cake with cream cheese frosting.

It was a big hit (I think it’s safe to say I’ve been fully redeemed as a baker), as were Nicky’s gifts: a Green Toys car carrier truck, a Little People zoo train, and a plush surf van (finally a toy car he can have at bedtime!).

In the end I’m so glad we just sucked it up, went out and got wet and muddy, and I think everyone else is too! (Which also bodes well for the CHRISTMAS family activities I’m planning…)