isolation station

On Saturday night I got a fever. It wasn’t high, it was specifically a mild fever. I’d been feeling sore and achey for a few days before but I thought it was from sleeping on my neck funny one night followed by overdoing it with yoga so I’d been trying to take it easy. But then I got the fever and used the Covid-19 online self-assessment tool to see if I needed to get tested. They now actually recommend anyone with flu symptoms, no matter how mild, get assessed for testing, so on Sunday morning even though my temperature was back to normal I went to the urgent care clinic.

By the time I walked there (it’s about six blocks away) the fever was back and after a very short wait I was called back to the exam room. At this point I was still hoping they’d just tell me to go home and take some Tylenol but after looking in my ears and throat and listening to my lungs it was clear I have some kind of upper respiratory infection so I had to be tested. You may have heard that it sucks, and that is accurate! Also terrible for the woman who administered my test and has been inadvertently smacked by people (not me) flailing their hands when the swab goes all the way in their nose.

Anyway now I’m self-isolating in my room and hoping I get a negative result soon. Sym is staying at her dad’s for the time being and Taylor has taken time off of work to look after the little kids (including Gwen’s distance education, which, more on that in another post) and house and pets by himself. And also me, even though now I feel fine and not sick at all, but still need to be waited on because I can’t get my own food and am also bored and needy (but trying not to be a burden).

I’m really hopeful that I don’t have coronavirus (although I guess who wouldn’t be, right?) and just have some regular, casual virus. I don’t have a cough or difficulty breathing AT ALL, but I know you can have it very mildly or be completely asymptomatic so I don’t want to get my hopes up. I just really don’t want to be stuck in here away from my family for weeks! The kids are good and they can talk to me from the door but Gwen says “I want to hug you with touching” and Nicky says “I need to SEE mama” and it’s hard hard hard. In just a day I’ve gone from being totally touched out from having them constantly in my personal space to being completely desperate to squeeze them tight (and Sym and Taylor too).

bocce babies

The gangs all here.

A long time ago I saw a picture of a wooden bocce ball set on like… tumblr. I TOLD YOU IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO!!! I loved the idea of it but that particular set was very expensive and sold out. In fact most bocce ball sets are pretty expensive, the cute ones are often sold out and the rest are very ugly. NO OFFENSE TO UGLY BOCCE BALL FANS.

So of course I did what any normal person would do and decided to make my own set! I figured… how hard can it be? I scoured the internet for some 3″ wooden balls (the largest size available, this is smaller than ~regulation~ bocce balls but a nice size for little kids hands, and the wooden ones are also quite light and easy for them to throw) and ordered them, along with a 1 1/2″ ball for the pallina, from an Etsy shop based in Ukraine. Why Ukraine? I think it was just the best price I could find. However it took forever for them to arrive and by that time the bloom had gone off the rose somewhat and I had no interest in completing the project.

I’m not actually sure exactly when I ordered all these wooden balls but I did find an Instagram picture from when I was sanding them- they were quite rough when they arrived and more ovoid than spherical, which was a little annoying. But there is evidence that I did eventually sand them, it was in June 2017 and after that I put them in a ziplock bag in my craft cupboard and left them alone.

PROOF.

I have a couple of ideas for why I never got around to finishing this project. First of all, option paralysis: since I was painting them myself I could pick any colours I wanted, but I couldn’t decide between a bright, pastel or neutral color scheme. Secondly, I was worried I’d fuck it up. Drawing a design onto a curved wooden surface neatly and evenly and then painting inside those lines by hand? I was terrified! And finally, time. Each color took several coats and I could only paint 2-3 spots at a time. When, exactly, would I find the time to work on this?

Enter a global pandemic. Now I’ve got all the time in the world AND I’m desperate for things to keep me busy.

Still more ovoid than spherical smdh.

As you can see I decided to go with an Easter-y pastel colour scheme, which the kids really like. If I was to make another set (which I want to do, it was fun!) I think I would do a neutral set with black, grey and white, like my minimalist wooden doll family.

She’s a single mother.

Originally I had planned to add black stripes to one ball of each colour and white stripes to the others so in addition to a four-player game of pink, purple, blue and green, there could be a two-player game of black and white. I eventually abandoned this idea as being too hard, but partway through painting I realized I should have painted the spots on one ball of each color and the negative space around the spots on the others. Innies and outies. I’ll do that next time!

To make the spots I used a biscuit cutter as a template and traced it with a pencil. I had to sand off some marks where the pencil slipped so I think for lighter paint colors using a white pencil crayon for the design would work better. I didn’t measure where I put the spots, just eyeballed it, so some are a little too close together but I think it’s fine. They’re rustic, ok?

To finish & seal the balls I used a simple, natural polish made from 4 parts jojoba oil and 1 part beeswax- I got the instructions from this site. It’s very easy but I do recommend getting the wax in pellet form; I have a big block that needs to be grated and it SUCKS. I actually made Taylor do it for me.

I finished the whole project yesterday afternoon and we went out in the backyard with the little kids to play. We played to five points and I modified the rules to allow two players to score per round so Gwen and Nicky would have a better chance of earning points. In the end the final score was Taylor 5, Gwen 4, Nicky 2 and Tanie A BIG FAT GOOSE EGG. All that work and it turns out… I am terrible at this game.

bidet-OK

I’M SORRY that title is abysmal but this is where we are at now. I also apologize for the puns you are about to encounter, I couldn’t stop myself.

Back in the early days of this current global crisis when people in Vancouver were starting to stockpile supplies, Taylor and I made a conscious decision to NOT stockpile toilet paper. We were using a lot, but we usually buy just one pack at a time because we live like, right by the store. Back in early March we did buy one extra 12-pack of double rolls but for a family of five… that really isn’t much. Buying two packs of toilet paper for a whole family is normal, probably more normal than just buying one and running to the drugstore at 11pm on a Tuesday night because you just realized you are on your last roll, every time. So no, no toilet paper stockpile.

We did however, buy a bidet. This is something Taylor has been wanting for a long time but I always pooh-poohed the idea, saying it wasn’t something we needed. I wanna go on the record right now and say this: I WAS WRONG. I WAS WRONG ABOUT BIDETS. I VERY MUCH regret not getting one sooner and I REALLY wish we had had one when I was pregnant in 2012 & 2016 and… having problems. Hindsight is 20/20 I guess.

Anyway. We’ve had it for close to a month now, I remember Taylor and I messaging back and forth about it while he was at work (remember going to work?) but I wasn’t working (I think) so it must have been the first week of Gwen’s spring break (she finally starts online learning tomorrow, or at least she’s supposed to, and I’m wondering if it will make our days HARDER or EASIER?).

The exact model of bidet we ordered from Amazon is out of stock but is most similar to this one, tbh that’s probably the exact same one, just from a different seller charging more money. I think we paid about $50? $60 Canadian dollars for it. It was pretty easy for us to to install and we haven’t had any problems with leaks; we left bowls under the hose connectors for a couple days after installation just to make sure.

anything that might look like dirt in this pic is actually adhesive from when the floors were replaced and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to get rid of!!!

It has two different nozzles, one for “🍑” and one for “””woman cleaning””” lololol. It also has warm water! For that you have to connect to the hot water supply under the sink so if your sink is very far from your toilet that might be a challenge, but our sink is right next to the toilet so it wasn’t hard. I did have to drill a hole in the side of the vanity to run the hose through, but I love drilling holes in things so that was fine with me haha. Once I was sure there were no issues with the hoses I used some cable clip nails to attach the hot water hose to the baseboards and cable ties to bundle up the cold water hose and it honestly doesn’t look messy at all imo.

never talk to my trashcan or my trashcan’s son again
I’ve replaced the toilet handle since I took this, it was cracked clean in half! the new one is also actually white not this hideous yellow.

There was a small learning curve with regards to temperature, water pressure, sitting angle (I sat… wrong once and it was very clear very quickly lol), etc but I think we are pretty used to it now (Taylor and myself, the kids don’t use it yet). I found some little baby washcloths (from Gwen’s infancy) to use for drying off that I keep in a box on the shelf right above the toilet, and got a small wastebasket from the dollar store to act as a laundry hamper for them. Each day used cloths get washed with bleach (along with all the other things I have to wash daily with bleach to comply with daycare regulations, just because I’m not working right now doesn’t mean I’m letting standards slip!). And that extra 12-pack of double rolls we bought in March? We haven’t even opened it yet.

(Also YES the first thing we did was crank it to the max to see how far it would spray, the answer is ACROSS THE ROOM.)

pb & j stuffed french toast

Like I mentioned in my family dinner post I’ve been getting pretty bored with making the same stuff all the time and lunch is no exception as it’s very often one of two things:

  • peanut butter sandwiches
  • cheese sandwiches

That’s it. That’s the list. I’ve made a lot of variations of the latter but not the former, so this week I decided to try something new with peanut butter and stuff it into some French toast. I added a strawberry syrup to make it a true pb & j experience and 2/3 of my kids really liked it.

Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast with Strawberry Syrup

for the toast:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 10-12 slices day old sandwich bread
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar for serving (optional)

for the syrup:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tsp water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp potato starch

to make the toast:

1. In a wide, shallow bowl whisk together the milk and flour until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, then the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside.

2. In a small bowl, use a fork to mix together the peanut butter and honey. Use the peanut butter honey mixture and the bread to make 5-6 sandwiches (depending on how much bread you have).

3. Line a rimmed baking sheet with wax paper and place wire racks inside. Dip both sides of each peanut butter sandwich in the egg mixture and place on the racks. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook one to two stuffed French toasts at a time for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Serve immediately, topped with powdered sugar and strawberry syrup.

to make the syrup:

1. Combine frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup water, sugar and lemon zest in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and strawberries are soft.

2. Remove the pan from heat and puree the strawberry mixture using an immersion blender. Return to heat.

3. In a small glass or bowl, mix together 1 1/2 tsp potato starch with 1 1/2 tsp water. Pour starch mixture into strawberry puree, increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring constantly, until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Notes:

  • My bread was frozen so I toasted it in the oven at 300°F for a few minutes to defrost and dry it out a little; if your bread is very fresh & soft you may wish to do the same.
  • In lieu of regular sugar and vanilla extract I used sugar with vanilla beans ground in it, this is only because I already had it on hand and I’m trying to make my actual vanilla last longer because it is expensive!
  • You can use corn starch in the syrup if that’s what you have on hand, I used potato starch because it’s what I had on hand and I’m not trying to make frivolous shopping trips!

family dinners

Like a lot of people right now, we are cooking more meals at home. I’ve actually made a big effort over the past few months/the last year maybe? to actually meal plan and properly grocery shop so this hadn’t been a HUGE change for us, but we were the kind of people who would often pop out to the grocery store a few times a week for a forgotten ingredient, or scrap the nights plan entirely and get takeout instead. So it’s definitely been a bit different than our normal way of life. I also think we need to shift or meal planning and grocery shopping to a different day because we have been doing it on Sunday which is like… the WORST day to go shopping, especially now.

ANYWAY. One thing that’s been hard for us and maybe others as well is getting EXTREMELY bored with making too many of the same meals and feeling uninspired. I’ve been loving seeing people’s meal plans & food pics to inspire my own so I thought I would share some of what we’ve been making lately. Obviously this isn’t EVERY dinner from the past month, just an assortment with a couple extras (breakfast pizza, soft pretzels) thrown in.

this recipe is from a cookbook, not the internet but I think you can figure out how to make it
one of my yolks broke but this was, honestly, perfection
Taylor made this all by himself because I was OVER IT that day.
making soft pretzels doubles as a family-friendly activity for almost all ages.
this was good but the sauce made the (previously crispy) cauliflower soggy so if I make it again it’ll be a dipping sauce instead

What have you been coming lately! Share your meal plans & favorite recipes with me!

* 1-3 of my kids would not eat any of this meal except for plain carb/carb + cheese

a journey home

YES that title is cheesy, and NO I won’t be apologizing for it!!!

(This post took a long time to write because I really didn’t want it to come across as super diet/weightloss industry-ish. It’s about the mental AND physical changes I’ve made in the last three months, but if you are sensitive to talk of diets or weight-loss or fitness etc then please bow out now.)

This cat is my constant yoga companion, as soon as I put down the mat he comes a-runnin’. This morning he laid down right in front of me as I went into extended child’s pose and I ended up with my nose right on top of his little paw.

I recently did one of those foot-peeling masks and my feet are tender and soft as newborn babies right now, and not great for exercising on (with?). I’m reminded of a time when I went for a pedicure at a fancy spa. Instead of individual chairs with built-in foot baths all the pedicure clients sat on the long upholstered bench against one wall of a large room and the estheticians had to carry over large bowls of hot soapy water to soak our feet. The woman sitting closest to me told her esthetician “Don’t scrape all the calluses off my feet, I’m a runner so I need them” at which point my esthetician said to me “oh, are you a runner too?” OUCH.


So I wanna start by saying I didn’t begin this journey as a New Years resolution as I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, I started in the week between Christmas and New Year’s and it had more to do with Taylor and myself both being off work thereby allowing me the time to get into a routine and any new year-new me business.

I also didn’t start with a goal beyond a sort of nebulous ~feel better in my body~ Like I’m not trying to lose weight or be able to run a certain distance or be able to touch my toes* or sign up for a marathon. That sorry if goal setting just doesn’t work for me, and anyway I don’t think of this as something with an end goal, it’s more like a lifelong commitment. Like a pet, only the pet… is me (real ones will get this reference). In the last eight years I’ve had two pregnancies, two bouts with an autoimmune disease that made me weak and exhausted, and a traumatic emergency invasive surgery that I never got over. All these things changed not just my body but also the way I felt inside it. I did not feel comfortable in here and I haven’t for a long time, and I just wanted to feel like myself, and connected to myself. Oh also I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money, and running outside and doing YouTube yoga is free(ish). Also with all the gyms and pools and fitness centers closing I feel PRETTY smart in my choice of exercise regimen.

I’ve tried running before, I think it was when Nicky was a baby there was one week in the summer when I woke up early for no reason and decided to go for runs but that was also right when my Graves’ disease recurred so I couldn’t keep it up. I’ve been doing yoga videos on and off for a couple years but it was always hard to fit them into my day. I’m not a morning person so I’d try to do it during afternoon quiet time but there’d always be someone crying or needing attention. So it took until this past winter break before I was able to really form a habit.

Now, I get up at 6 or 6:30 practically every day. Two or three of these days I go for a run (it’s about one kilometer running up and down the long sides of my block five times, walking the short sides, which I don’t count) and I do yoga (with Adriene) almost every single day. I started with the 30 Days of Yoga in January and then just continued with her monthly playlists. I allow myself some grace and take a break for a day or two when I’m sick (like from that cold sore!) or have cramps, but I try not to skip a day because I’m “just not in the mood” or “feeing lazy” because I think that opens the door to skipping more and more days and then what was the point???? of doing all this??? in the first place???

Proof of my commitment to working on my fitness no matter what and also evidence that I don’t wear socks.

So what has changed? I mean I’m specifically not doing this to lose weight and I haven’t, not really. Like maybe a handful of pounds in 3+ months. I haven’t actually really changed my diet at all (I mean I did get Taylor on board with changing our weekly take-out from our favorite poutine restaurant to bi-monthly and having a very nutritious salad the other weeks, but since this pandemic has been happening we’ve switched back to getting takeout to try and support the restaurant) so that’s not surprising, and anyway it’s not the point! But like I tweeted a little while ago, since I started running & doing yoga regularly my legs feel strong and like… connected to the earth (that sounds weird but it’s the most accurate description!). Considering one of my major symptoms of Graves’ disease was weakness in my large muscles, particularly my thighs, that is huge for me. Oh, and speaking of my thighs, and my butt, which we weren’t speaking of but whatever… they are rock hard. Like I would perhaps not go so far as to say I have thighs and buns of steel but maybe also I would say that? My arms and chest (my pectoral muscles you PERVS) are also developing. It’s kind of amazing! ANYWAY. The real change is how positively I feel about myself in all of this, how I can feel myself becoming stronger and more comfortable in my body. It feels good. It feels like home.

*I can touch my toes now though, for the first time in my whole life, turns out the problem was tight hamstrings lol.

broken things

So. The story about the break-in. If you follow me on social media you probably know all of this already, but the story is that early on the morning of December 12th someone used a hand torch to melt a hole in the window next to our front door so they could unlock and open it. As per health authority regulations for childcares our windows only open four inches but that was still enough space for them to be able to reach in, unlock the door and get inside.

At the time we were sleeping with our bedroom door closed to keep Georgie in our room (if she’s free to roam at night she’ll choose to pee on the floor) and white noise on, so we didn’t hear anything. I’ve chosen to believe that the burglars? robbers? BAD GUYS. were only in our entry way and the office end of the main living area, because those were the only places where things were stolen from, and those are also the furthest from where me & my family were sleeping.

All in all about $10,000 with of items were taken, including Taylor’s brand new work laptop, which turned out to be the only item our renter’s insurance didn’t cover. Do you rent? Do you have renter’s insurance? No? GET SOME. We were fully reimbursed for everything else in our claim, even items we didn’t have any records for, and one of my sweet friends arranged a GoFundMe to cover the deductible. We were able to replace and/or upgrade all the items we wanted to replace and/or (I ended up deciding NOT to get a new computer which I’m not regretting… yet) and plan to turn my side of the office into storage with some new cabinets and also a home for all my plants since it gets good light.

I think, for me at least, the worst part was that the illusion of safety was broken. A home invasion situation is LITERALLY my worst nightmare and in that sense I was relieved that they only took material items (many of which were very old, have I mentioned my computer was from 2011? Literally what… can you even do with that). But I also felt, and still feel at times, very insecure and unsafe at home. We installed a chain lock, a door alarm and a security camera. The window next to the front door is nailed shut. Everything is as safe and secure as we can make it, and everything looks like it is back to normal, but on the inside, I’m not there yet. It took a few weeks before I felt comfortable leaving Sym alone with the little kids at night so I could go out with Taylor, and when I started my ~fitness journey~ (a whole other story, I have a lot to catch up on here!) I couldn’t stand to be far from the house early in the morning while everyone was still asleep, so I planned out a 1km running route where I would never be more than half a block from home. The first few nights after the break in Taylor slept in the couch with a crowbar next to him and I put a hatchet in my sweater drawer. When Taylor came back to our bed the crowbar moved to our bedroom closet and then was put away with the rest of the tools but the hatchet… isn’t going anywhere yet.

cookie kids

IMG_20200327_152830

I went out this morning to try and find hand soap (we didn’t hoard any at the beginning of the month and now I’m filled with regret) and while I had no luck at the grocery store I did get a tube of store-brand chocolate chip cookie dough, which I thought would make a fun kids activity (I did find hand soap at the drug store, sorry for going to two stores but we need to wash ok and the drugstore had no hand soap when I was there on Monday for emergency cold sore medication, which is an entirely different story).

Anyway. Cookie dough. I told the kids I had a new fun activity for them to do this afternoon if they were well-behaved in the morning which they sort of were, although by the time I busted out the cookie tube at 1 p.m. it felt like I had bought it 3 days ago, like I legitimately could not remember how long it had been in my fridge for. I cut the tube in half and gave each kid a parchment paper-lined baking sheet a plastic knife and a plastic spoon (reusable of course, I’m not a total monster) at the kitchen island and let them have at it.

In the end it was kind of a disaster and kind of a success? Gwen decided to make the smallest cookies imaginable and was pretty resistant when I said they would burn the second we put them in the oven and she’d have to make them bigger (although she eventually did, her finished cookies are pictured above), and Nicky was mostly keen on eating the raw cookie dough, of which I was hypocritically discouraging. They banished me from the kitchen (not that I was complaining), but the constant shrieks from Gwen of “Nicky! Don’t eat the dough! You’ll get a tummy ache!” were a recipe for an instant tension headache. But the cookies finally made their way into the oven, and by the time we’d cleaned up the kitchen, baked the cookies, washed Nicky’s hair (unrelated to cookie baking, just necessary), let him play in the tub, mopped up all the water he poured out of the tub, and got him out & dried & dressed an hour had passed, and that is really what it is all about: killing time until it’s late enough that I can feel good about letting them watch cartoons and play Minecraft.

OKAY THE STORY ABOUT THE COLD SORE: I only started getting cold sores a few years ago but I haven’t had one in a while. I actually only ever get them inside of my nose which sucks because it really hurts, but is also great because you can’t see them. It had been a long time since my last outbreak and I think this one was brought on by stress (I can’t imagine why I’m stressed!) wearing down my immune system, so not only did I get the painful sore on the inside of my nose, I also got full body flu-like symptoms with aches and a fever and the glands in my neck swelling up so big I could hardly turn my head. Oh also my tongue became raw and painful like I’d eaten several entire bags of sour patch kids without even the enjoyment of eating the sour patch kids, although I guess technically that’s not a flu symptom. It was honestly beyond, and on Monday afternoon (when my symptoms were still developing) I called the pharmacy and asked them if they could please please please let me have an emergency supply of Valtrex since I didn’t have any refills left and I could tell this was going to be A Doozy (they said yes). I ended up spending almost an entire day in bed and I’m still not feeling 100%, but I do want to make it clear to everyone who heard from my daughter that I had a cold with a fever, I don’t have coronavirus, just herpes on the inside of my face.

Also I guess I’m going to try blogging again? I literally mean to start all the time but get busy/distracted/lazy. Oh plus in December our apartment was broken into and my computer was stolen (another whole different story) so I have to do this purely on my phone, in fact I re-downloaded the WordPress app and reset my password just for you all! I hope you feel blessed about it.  So don’t know if this is going to be formatted weird or look like pure shit; if it is I apologize but you’re probably reading this on feedly anyways so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

room to live

Ever since our tv was accidentally smashed by an errantly thrown toy hammer I’ve reduced access to the “living room” area of our open-plan apartment and increased the size of the “playroom” area by pushing the couch up against the entertainment stand under the window. Then last month when I had my initial inspection from a daycare licensing officer it was pointed out that if I turn the couch around before pushing it back, it could be included in the measured square footage of usable daycare space. DOY. Since then I’ve been turning it before pushing it and it’s been very nice to be able to like… SIT ON THE COUCH during the day.

It’s also really ignited the bee in my bonnet about replacing our current tv (the old one we moved back out to the living room from the bedroom after our new one was broken) with a digital projector. I could replace the entertainment stand with a smaller cabinet, push the couch against the wall, have side tables, a rug (we used to have one that I had to roll up ever day in order to move the couch but threw it away after an unfortunate milk-barfing incident), even a coffee table! I literally haven’t had a coffee table in any of my apartments since Symphony was a baby because I never felt the space in front of the couch was large enough but with the couch facing into a room six meters wide I think it could be managed, haha.

Taylor was not on board with my projector plan for a long time because he felt you couldn’t get a decent image with a super duper expensive projector and also he thought we wouldn’t be able to get our space dark enough to be able to see it well? Um we live in a basement, pal. Anyway this is all in the daydream stage right now because I don’t have money for a projector or side tables or a rug or coffee table but someday, I hope!