Mean Girls

On Sunday we took M to a family fun fair. It was a last-minute decision, and I wasn’t entirely sure I had the times or dates right. We were all very happy when we turned a corner and saw a bounce castle — we were in the right place, and other people were there! M loves jumping so as soon as we set her down she took off toward anything and everything inflatable.


She went inside of a big jumpy castle with several other kids — no problem. She can hold her own quite well, and when she falls down she gets back up again with ease. Next she tried this slide, which was a bit tricky because everyone else was bigger than her and she needed some help up to the top. Matt cleared the way and the three other kids were fine with letting her take a bit of extra time.

We played on the playground, enjoyed a hay ride, and wandered the grounds of the camp area where the fun day was taking place. After an hour or so we knew we had to get heading home, so I asked M what she wanted to do with her last few minutes at the event. She wanted to jump, so I hoisted her into the biggest castle again. And a little girl, maybe seven or eight years old, looked at her with disgust and said, “Ew, a baby. Guys — there’s a LITTLE ONE in here. Ugh.”

I was completely taken aback. I said, “I think everyone can all play together and share.” They ignored me. M was already having a blast jumping.

One of her companions turned to us and said, “There’s only four kids allowed in here.” I thought that maybe someone had told them that, so I pulled the laminated set of rules out of the pocket where they were stashed, and read through the part that clearly read “6-8 children under age 12 allowed.” Of course there were four of the girls in there, making faces at us.

I turned to Matt and showed him the paper. As usual, when I lose my voice, he jumps in — “HEY. Girls. It says right here — up to eight kids allowed.” They tried to argue with him, I kept an eye on M, and having heard that there was no four-kids-only rule, a bunch of other kids were like “I can play too?!” and jumped in. After much eye-rolling, the girls filed out. It was incredibly bizarre.

Matt and I talked about it later, and I couldn’t get over how young those kids were to be so exclusionary. As a former teenage girl I know that that kind of thing happens — but I thought it was like, high school, boyfriends, teenage drama territory, not kids on a bounce castle not wanting to share with a not-even-two-year-old. When I was a kid I would not have dared to talk to a kid like that if their parent was around — and there’s no way I would have talked to an adult like that!

I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do in that situation. I tried to stick up for M but was so completely shocked that I fumbled. I’m glad she was none the wiser (she just wanted to play!). I guess I’m going to have to learn how to deal with mean girls, already, and do everything I can to ensure that my own child doesn’t pick up that sense of entitlement and exclusiveness.

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Mini Wardrobe: Aqua Tutu

I didn’t really keep up with this series very well, did I?! I’ve been picking up pieces for M’s fall and winter wardrobe here and there — I have a genetic aversion to paying full price for clothing so a lot of it is consignment, mixed with some inexpensive pieces from big-brand stores. She’s at an age where she’s really hard on clothes, between colouring, snacking, jumping in puddles, and daycare shenanigans, so I can’t justify spending a lot. Wash and wear is how we roll, these days.

We have a fun mix of clothes happening right now, in her closet. I pulled out some hand-me-downs that are all bright and colourful, she has a handful of the Canadiana things we love (moose and plaid — you get the idea), and then there’s the stuff she picks out. I usually let her grab an item of clothing if we’re shopping, because it’s fun to see what she picks. It’s not a very cohesive wardrobe, but it’s full of stuff everyone loves.

I usually let M have a say in her clothing for the day, within certain parameters — I tell her we need to pick out pants, and give her a few choices. On the weekend, I asked if she wanted to wear a skirt or pants, because it wasn’t a daycare day so she could wear something a bit less practical than usual, if she wanted. We built this outfit from there.


Sweater: Joe Fresh | Skirt: Old Navy | Tights: Joe Fresh | Shoes: Etnies

She loves that skirt. Every time she wears it she twirls around! I bought it for her upcoming second birthday party but she loves it so much that she’s worn it a few times in advance. Matt bought her the shoes, because he’s a sucker and doesn’t have an aversion to full-price things (kid shoes only fit for like a month! come on), and she loves them, too. The sweater is also a Matt pick and is one size small, but it was from the boys’ section so actually fits more like it should, now.


When I was a teenager I looked through my baby pictures and asked my mom if her strategy for dealing with my hair was just to throw it back in barrettes haphazardly. She said yes and I scoffed — but now I get it. This kid needs a haircut, but we don’t want to give her bangs, and her hair is so darn slippery that it ends up in a multitude of clips and elastics throughout the day to try to keep it off of her face.


My favourite part of this day was when we went to a kids’ crafting event and M spotted a tiny baby in a car seat (she loves babies). She ran up to him and kept saying, “Look, baby!” while showing off her skirt. :)

Soon we’ll be into the days of puffy snowsuits and face-covering winter gear. Our transition into fall is short and sharp here, and winter comes all too soon, so we’re all enjoying these last few drops of skirt-and-tights weather.

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Whole 30: I Quit

Let’s get it out of the way — I quit the Whole30 halfway through Day 17. This is what I wrote, that day:

In all honesty… I kind of hate the Whole30. I’ve yet to experience any of the awesome benefits touted by others. No ‘tiger blood’, no clear skin, no better sleep, no giant burst of energy. I am mostly somewhat hungry all the time and grumpy a lot. I’m struggling with intense sugar cravings, and it doesn’t take a lot for me to get hangry. I’ve yet to get through a day on three meals and can’t kick snacking. When I eat I feel full right away, but shortly after, I’m starving. I’ve been trying to follow the template for how much protein, vegetables, fats, etc., but no matter what I do I’m hungry.

I suspect I wasn’t getting the right mix of protein, fat, and fiber, although I did my best to follow the plan’s meal templates. No matter what I did I was hungry right after eating, and woke up each morning in a fog, struggled with focus all day long, and crashed, exhausted and angry, early on in the evening. It was no fun for anyone. The only reason I was sticking with it was because I said I was going to — and in a fit of why am I restricting myself based on what works for other people?, I quit.

I read a few blog posts from others who quit part way through — not within the first troublesome days, but a few weeks into it. They put what I was thinking into words, something like this:

  • telling myself ‘you can’t have this’ serves to make me want it more, which lead to obsessive thoughts about food, which is dangerous for me
  • having anxiety and stress about eating is no good
  • for some people, regimentation seems to work, but to me it feels like restriction — moderation is far better!
  • even if I got the right benefits at the very end of the 30 days there was NO WAY I was going to keep up eating like that, so it was mental torture without any clearly beneficial reason to go on

I was desperate to be able to eat Greek yogurt again in the morning, to have rice with my dinners, to eat peanut butter and beans. The most benefit I’d seen on this program within the 16 days had been weight loss — about four pounds — but I don’t even care about that if it means I can still eat healthily but not restrict my food groups anymore. I lost weight but I was starving and lethargic. Not worth it!

I realize this is kind of a bummer post, and I know that part of the Whole30 is mental — believe me, I  tried to remain positive! That’s how I got through stress without resorting to my usual glass of wine, and how I got through a kid’s birthday party with gummy worms and Reese’s cups and chocolate cupcakes. I recognized when and where I typically use food as a reward, which is good to know.

So I reintroduced pretty much everything right away, and my stomach was kind of unhappy with me, and I’m still trying to deal with sorting out appropriate portion sizes. But even with a bit of stomach upset, my energy levels have zoomed up. I woke up, the day after I quit, and didn’t have to pry my eyes open. I cleaned the living room, ran a few loads of laundry, made a homemade lunch and muffins, and took M to the park. I didn’t feel impatient or stressed or hungry.

I think the Whole30 has major benefits, and I am a believer in clean eating. I’m going to try to take more of an 80-20 approach — mostly good, clean food, with indulgences as a treat. I don’t think there’s anything hugely wrong with having a glass of wine or a cookie after a stressful day. I believe that food is one of the enjoyable things about life, and I would rather weight four pounds more and feel happy.

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Three Years

A third anniversary doesn’t seem to have as much pizzazz as other years. The first year is a novel thing, the second, “hey look, we’re still at this and we’re figuring it out!” Three… it feels like turning 22, in a way — you’re already legal everywhere, you’ve done the dancing on the tables thing, and you’re pretty sure the last big party was a year ago and the next one won’t be ’till you’re 30.

That’s not to say that I’m not excited for our third anniversary. It’s a moment that signifies that we are still choosing one other, and choosing love, every day. It’s a day to remember all of the nerves and joy and laughter and all-too-quick excitement that shook up our lives three years ago. It’s our day. I’ve had a full heart since I woke up this morning, flipping through photos and remembering. To me, a lot of the joy is in seeing how life has changed since we got married — people in our photos who had no kids now have two, our flower girls are kindergartners, we have our own house and our own child.


A few days before our anniversary I was by myself, colouring (because I’m on the colouring book bandwagon). It’s something I do when my husband is away on a night shift and my kid is in bed. I let my mind wander, as usual, and the thought that came up and made me set down my pencils and snort was Congratulations! Your marriage is three years old. Your marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts. Because I have an almost-two-year-old, and I know what all of the best toys say on the box — 3+.

I laughed because it was such a bizarre thought, but then I pondered on it some more and realized it was kind of apt. Three years in, and I think we’ve said the worst of what we can say to one another — and the best. We’ve never lived the most evenly-keeled lives, and this last one was a whopper, with a layoff, a new job, and the financial roller coaster that resulted; losing a beloved pet, intense work schedules and solo parenting and childcare issues. Of course every year feels like it’s a big crazy year, but this one felt trying and testing in all new ways. And we have come out the other side (although I am still wary of what is going to drop at my feet next). We didn’t choke on the small parts, or the big parts.

That’s not to say we didn’t stumble. Our marriage is old enough to not choke on small parts but it isn’t old enough to be left unsupervised. This has been the year where our vows have required cultivation and carefulness. This is the year where balance has become the hardest thing to strike. But if it a few hours after a misunderstanding, or it is at the end of an exhausting evening of angrily punctuated text messages, or even if it’s the morning after and someone is waking up huddled in a protective fort of blankets, we have each extended a hand through the storm, stretching to find common ground, to hold on tight and not let go.

I would not change a thing.

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We had one of those weekends that felt full but refreshing, like hitting the play button with gusto after a long time on pause. I’m not sure exactly why — Matt still worked overnight weekends, so we missed him a lot, but this time there was still a little more joy than usual injected into our time together. Maybe it was the outside time, maybe it was the crisper fall air starting to settle in, maybe it was the talk we recently had about how we just need to be sometimes — forget the laundry, forget the to-do list, and play.


It started with the return of Friday Night Meatballs — a small crowd, but I enjoyed opening our doors to our friends and family again! (I had sweet potatoes and a Whole30 compliant meat sauce, FWIW).


The next day we slept in a bit (i.e., half an hour — M started at a new daycare and I am fully willing to deal with the earlier wake-ups in light of the fact that she’s going to bed at a normal toddler bedtime instead of a college freshman’s bedtime), ate breakfast, and slowly made our way out of the house. We went to Cedar Bay, one of M’s favourite places, to see the horses at the stable and walk down one of the forest trails for awhile.


We headed to the town beach after that, where Matt and M played for awhile and I ran off to handle some work. At home she took a nap, then Matt took a nap in prep for his shift that evening, and I sat on the couch and did basically nothing, which was a rare treat. We had dinner all together before Matt took off, and M and I finished watching Lilo and Stitch before I convinced her to go to sleep.

The next day the two of us went out of town to grab some groceries and household things, which isn’t normally the most thrilling part of a weekend but it gave us something to do, let Matt sleep in silence for awhile, and there’s nothing wrong with the open road and some good music! When we came home Matt and M enjoyed some outside time colouring with chalk while I headed into the office briefly, then we shared dinner and Matt left again.


About an hour after Matt left I realized Maggie was not hanging around the house as she usually does, and in a moment of panic I stashed M in her stroller, already in her PJs, with a blanket and her new dinosaur toy (she is obsessed with them right now), to look for the cat. Of course she was sitting on the front steps when I finally got us out the front door, but I had told M we were going for a walk so I held up my end of the deal. To my utter shock she fell asleep after about twenty minutes! It was an early bedtime, but she stayed asleep when we got home so I transferred her to the crib and enjoyed some colouring time (and dearly missed my usual night shift glass of wine and handful of candy).

I ended up sharing the bed with a kicky toddler for half the night after she woke up, which wasn’t the most restful way to end our weekend, but other than that I’ve headed into today feeling like we had we had a pretty good time.

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