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.
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.)
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???
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.
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.
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.
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!
This week is the one week Taylor and I both have off of work while Symphony is around. I’m also off next week, but Sym is at her grandma’s and Taylor is back at work EVEN THOUGH I told him he should take BOTH weeks off because he says he can’t be away from the office for three weeks and he’s going to a conference at the end of the month. I say that doesn’t count because it’s a WORK conference and he’ll be WORKING and also the HR department at his job recently told him he had too many vacation days accrued and he had to take a random day off immediately but that is another story.
Anyway. We didn’t have big plans to go away somewhere but I did want to do some Family Fun activities with… mixed results. Last weekend was a long weekend, with the last night of the annual fireworks competition and also Pride weekend. On Saturday Taylor, Nicky and I drove up to Merritt to pick Gwen up from her grandmas who she had been visiting for the past week, and that night we took them to the beach to watch the fireworks. Nicky had barely napped all day and was up super late so he was incapable of sitting still and kept trying to a) escape into the night, and b) smack me in the face. This led me to believe taking him to the Pride parade the following day would be a mistake so instead on Sunday we went to the Davie Street Promenade to let the kids play in the Love Bus (a school bus that has been painted pink and converted into a giant ball pit by some Burners) and then run a few errands. In the afternoon we had our own impromptu backyard party with a couple kiddy pools and our neighbors. Later my sister came over, Taylor and I picked up fried chicken for dinner and we finished building my Lego Cinderella castle which we had started the previous weekend (it has over 4,000 pieces so it’s a real production).
On Tuesday afternoon I had an initial inspection with a licensing officer from Community Care Facilities Licensing scheduled so Monday we spent most of the day trying to get the house back into some semblance of professionalism. Tuesday morning we took the kids to Science World. I also took Sym to the bank to get her account information so she could register to order to start withdrawing money from her RESP for college. She’s had a bank account since she was a little kid when one of her great grandmas used to write her cheques for her birthday and Christmas but hasn’t used it in years. Anyway… we had a fun time at Science World but unfortunately at some point on the way back Sym lost her cards out of her wallet! We know it had to have happened downtown because she used her Compass (transit) card to tap out of the train station but when we got home it, her Science World membership card and her bank card were missing! She and I retraced our steps all the way back to the train station and then home again but no dice. She needs to be able to access that account to like… pay her tuition, but also she doesn’t really have proper photo ID right now. So on Wednesday I had to take her to apply for photo ID and try and get a new bank card using a somewhat expired passport with a picture from when she was 11 (which we were thankfully able to do). Unfortunately all the walking around in the heat for two days and and waiting in lines killed me and that evening I felt very overheated and sick and had to take a cool bath and go to bed to chug Gatorade while everyone else had dinner.
Thursday was our big Family Fun activity: a day trip to Alice Lake. We went last summer and had a blast, and this year I was determined to actually get Sym into the water instead of just reading in our beach tent all day. Taylor had prepped all our food & supplies the night before while I was feeling ill so after he picked up our Zipcar we were ready to head out. We made a brief detour to a store in North Vancouver to pick up one of those folding wagons all the moms have as well as an adaptor to allow up to plug our electric air pump into the car to blow up all our floaties and LET ME TELL YOU they have already paid for themselves!
We got to the lake around 11:30 and I took the kids & all our stuff (in the wagon) to the beach to set up while Taylor stayed at the car inflating things. I went back and forth bringing floaties over but no one else had to make multiple trips which was nice- last year it was a huge pain getting everything from the parking lot to the lake with no wagon. When the last float was done Taylor had a little trouble getting the Zipcar to lock using his card but the app worked fine so we didn’t worry about it (this is foreshadowing by the way). It was super windy at the lake and everyone’s floats kept blowing away when left unattended, especially ours (mostly because… we had a lot) but it was fun and funny and after lunch I did manage to convince Sym to come out for a float and have fun in spite of herself.
Around 3:30 we decided it was time to head home so we deflated and packed up everything. I took Gwen to the washroom and then we went to meet everyone else at the car. It was a little weird because they were all still standing around it with all our belongings, and as it turned out… it wouldn’t unlock! The card wasn’t working and now neither was the app, because Taylor didn’t have enough service. We had to call Zipcar on my phone because Taylor kept getting disconnected and then he was on hold forever. When he finally spoke to someone they couldn’t even locate the car in their system because of the lack of service so it couldn’t be remotely unlocked. Taylor was put on hold again while he waited to be connected to roadside assistance.
In the end a tow truck came and the driver popped the lock on the car, but doing that locked up the ignition so it wouldn’t start. He needed to tow the car to somewhere with service so Taylor could try unlocking it with his card because that was the only was to unlock the ignition. I had to stay alone with the kids while this happened, and we didn’t even know if it would work or if Zipcar would pick us up in a new car, which would probably take hours- by this time it was rush hour in the city. Also the tow truck happened to be one of the flat bed kind and loading our car onto it blocked the entire exit from the parking lot right at the time everyone else decided to leave so there was a big line of steamed up people fuming at us.
We had taken the kids up to a little playground in the woods and again, GOD BLESS THAT LITTLE WAGON! Literally the best $65 I’ve ever spent! Dragging our cooler, deflated floaties, Taylor’s Swim bag, Nicky’s diaper bag and a big Ikea bag full of wet towels, swimsuits and lifevests around by myself would have been impossible, and moving the kids around from the concession to the lake side of the playground to the parking lot side of the playground to the concession again broke up the wait so they didn’t get too punchy (although Nicky who had skipped his whole nap and was now creeping up on his bedtime had reached the gravel-throwing stage of overtiredness).
Finally, after having the car towed to somewhere with decent service Taylor was able to get it started and came back to pick us up. We’d started trying to leave at 3:30; when we were all finally in the car it was 6:45, and we were still an hour+ outside of the city. The first thing we did once we got out of the park was hit a drive-thru for fries for the kids and then it was straight home. Nicky fell asleep so hard that not only did he stay asleep when we moved him from the car to the house he stayed sleepy enough while I changed his dirty diaper that I was able to put him straight to bed.
In spite of the rather large hiccup of being stranded in the woods for several hours with no clear plan of how or when we were going to all get home (at one point we thought Zipcar might send a driver in a car with carseats to bring me & the kids home while Taylor stayed with our car until???), the day was still a lot of fun and I look forward to next year’s trip, although this time… no Zipcars*
*We actually did use a Zipcar last year with no problems but we parked at the other end of the lot which is higher and I guess has better service? Still, not willing to risk another stranding.
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?).
When Gwen found out that Friday was the longest day of the year she begged to go down to the beach to watch the sunset. Actually she STATED she was going to watch the sunrise AND the sunset but I dissuaded her haha. I also made her swear up and down that she would sleep in the next morning but Nicky had different ideas (and a virus) so in the end no one slept in. We had a lot of fun although next time I think I would pick a different beach (this one was very crowded).