I Don’t Hate My House

I go through fits and bursts of feeling neutral about our house and feeling SO VERY FRUSTRATED with our house. Usually, if I’m not actively trying to fix or change something about it, I’m okay with it. But as soon as we go past the superficial – looking at molding, trying to fix a pipe, stepping close enough to a wall to see the paint splatters and scribbles all over it… I feel like we were duped and bought a lemon.

I always come back to the same refrain – “This house has potential. We can unlock it.” Every time we do something, we try to do it right. That means not getting paint everywhere, it means installing tamper resistant, clean, new receptacles, it means repairing broken things in a safe, smart way. Sometimes I wish we had bought the kind of house where you just move in, paint a wall, and call it yours, but I do get satisfaction out of taking something junky and making it nice again.

I figure this house was once one of the swankiest homes on the block. I would have loved to see it in its heyday, when panelling was hip. I imagine it with shag carpeting and a fire engine red bathroom and smile. I would have even liked to see it two or three owners ago, because I think SOMEONE cared about this house at some point. Whoever came along and splashed paint and stain all over everything, installed outlets upside down, glued vinyl over original hardwood – they did this house a disservice.


So I complain. I mutter that I hate this house, paintbrush in hand, wondering why yet another simple project has turned into something that will take twice the time and four times the expected cost. But I don’t hate it, really. Maybe I’m anthropomorphizing too much but this house needs love. It needs someone to hold its hand and make it feel better.

And whoever lives here after us some day in the future will know that we loved it, and we treated it kindly, and if they get glitter paint all over the walls I’m gonna show up in their windows and shake my fist for a week.

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Sample Killah: Report #3

I’m noticing a trend of less and less samples destroyed for this challenge, each week. I’ve cracked open a few more fun ones today (my face is currently covered in gold glitter which looks atrocious, really) in hopes of finishing off a larger chunk for the end of the month, though! There is no way I’m going to get through my entire sample collection, but I’m steadily tossing out previously unused things.
  • 6 samples killed this week
  • So that Tresemme stuff is supposed to be activated with a blowdryer and flat iron – there’s a styling cream that goes along with it. I basically never, ever heat style my hair and I really don’t have time for it during this stage of my life in particular, so I used it without the cream and without the tools. Surprisingly, it still smoothed my hair out a bit!
  • I pick hand soap based on how cute the packaging is because the last time we had a real soap dispenser, the kind you fill up with bulk soap, it rusted. Honest Company soap is not that thrilling but hey, it made my hands clean.
  • The bee venom moisturizer is really thick and rich – I was glad to throw it out because it’s the lotion I tossed in my hospital bag when I went to have M and looking at it gave me a nauseous feeling after.
  • Aveda products smell good.
  • I have nothing to say about undereye primer other than that I put it all over my (gold-covered) face to try and use up the package. Now I feel itchy.

Ta-da! Just a tiny bit of time left in this challenge – I’m going to make my nails pretty this weekend, I swear.

Check out the Sample Killah challenge at KalynLord.com!

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Garden Tour

I like to head out in the morning and do a garden tour. I don’t always get to do this – sometimes a shower feels more important, or we’re all running late and can’t spare the time, or it’s pouring rain. But when I get the chance to look over what I’m growing, I feel happy. I call myself a black thumb but I semi-secretly think I’m actually okay at not killing everything (I’m grateful for well-timed thundershowers this year, however, and I freely admit that I’m not growing anything challenging, and all of the well established perennials have nothing to do with me).

Here’s a picture-heavy virtual tour!


My first stop is the firepit garden. I grew the peas there, on a whim, and I’m happy with how they turned out. Matt built a little ladder out of twigs and they really took off! They’ve topped out and I think we’ll let them stop there this year. Next year I have grand plans for a lot more peas. Next to the pea ladder I have nasturtiums, which just started flowering, and zinnias, which are slowly growing. Beside that I threw down a ton of basil seeds – I need to thin these guys out but they’re also growing slowly so I’m not quite ready to dig them up. All of this stuff came from seeds!


Next to the basil is the sad half of the firepit. The pink impatiens are sometimes happy and sometimes sad, but not growing very large. The purple and white alyssum is pretty much dead but still improbably hanging on just enough to flower sadly. The creeping thyme that was there last year is doing well, though!

After I check out the firepit I head up to the garden tiers, which are immediately to the right. On the way I take a look at the creeping thyme – I want it to creep more! I also have no idea what to do about all the grass growing throughout it.



These freaking tufted vetch weeds are everywhere. I yank and yank and yank and they keep on coming. Apparently bees like it so I won’t complain.


I planted some sedum at the top of one of the thyme patches. I can’t tell if it’s spreading out but I like it and I want to plant more next year.


One more plant in the ‘things that creep’ category! I bought this creeping jenny on a whim, hoping it would fill in some of the bare spots around the thyme. So far it has nearly doubled. The biker frog is Noodlecycle. My dad got him at an estate sale and he’s quite happy in those fern things (which I spent a month attempting to dig out until I decided they could stay there and go nuts even though I have not a clue as to what they are).


I showed you the tiers last week but here’s a look at some of my favourite container plants. The red begonia is gorgeous, although it’s still rallying back from an incident in which the flowers and leaves turned brown and wilted and dried up while we were out of town for a weekend. That tiny tomato is planted in a waaaay too small container and still managed to flower! And my one healthy broccoli plant may just give us a veggie.


After looking at the tiers (and usually some quick deadheading and weeding) I hike over to the dug-in vegetable beds. These are two small little beds – next year we want to till the entire platform. It’s partway up our backyard hill and I’ve almost fallen down dozens of times, especially when the ground is wet, but it gets a lot of sun. On the right we have tomatoes, and on the left, kale and peppers.


I’m thrilled with how well the kale is doing, and even Matt is impressed with my tomatoes (he thought it was weird that I picked a determinate variety – next year I’m going to get indeterminates and deal with staking). The peppers, on the other hand, never really took off. Cats keep digging at them and they’re small. I’d be surprised if they are successful.


Just a few more feet up the hill is the raised bed. Matt put this together one evening when I was lamenting the lack of garden space in our yard. It isn’t pretty but it is definitely doing its job. The radishes, bush beans, lettuce, carrots and cucumbers live here.


I can’t believe how well the beans are doing! I swear they shot up overnight. I’m gonna highlight the lettuce, too, because I’m salivating over it every time I head up to check on it. I can’t wait for salad!


On the way back down the hill there are a few more garden beds I occasionally check in on – I’m not as invested in them, but I’m interested to see what’s happening.


There’s the rhubarb plant, growing next to our broken shed. We’ve harvested it three times now, but I’m not sure if we’ll harvest any more this year or let it store up its energy to get through winter. Once we get the shed situation sorted out – it needs to be repaired or scrapped – I wouldn’t mind dividing this guy and having more rhubarb!


There’s this sad, neglected garden bed in the very corner of our yard by the garage. I didn’t get around to weeding this – or doing anything with it, really. Matt wants to take out the L shape and make it a solid rectangle, and I’m fine with that, but it’s a lost cause until next year – we used our garden energy on the other half of the yard this time around!


And, there’s Matt’s experimental garden. He keeps rescuing sad seedlings and bits of fruits and vegetables from the kitchen. I don’t know what half of this stuff is, but he faithfully waters all of it.

That’s our backyard garden so far. I’m loving seeing everything grow and bloom – I’m hopeful we’ll have more bright, sunny days, and just enough rain to keep me from having to bust out the watering can.

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M at 8 Months

Here comes that familiar refrain of HOW IS MY KID THIS OLD?! In another month we’re travelling down south. After that it’s our anniversary. Then I’m back to work. Then she’s a whole year old. I’m not counting the days away or anything, but – eight months has flown by in a snap.

Somehow she has become one of the older babies in the playgroup setting – there has been an influx of teeny tiny babies and all of a sudden M is this hyper mobile baby tromping her way over to the newborns. We’ve come a long way!



At her most recent doctor’s appointment, mid-month, she was pushing 19 lbs. – she has actually jumped back up on the growth charts, and she’s essentially on the track she was when she was born, in the 70-somethingth percentile (she dropped down below the 50th during our breastfeeding problems and leveled out around the 50th after that). Go M! She also has five teeth all the way in and a sixth that is poking around in her gums.


Monkey, Buddy, Bug


She is super social! She loves other people, adults and children alike. When I take her out everyone always remarks on what a happy baby she is. That being said, she puts the grins away at home, sometimes.

Mostly she’s cheerful, though, and she’s more consistently happy these days. She finally has the ability to move herself around to where she wants to go, so she’s not frustrated by being immobile anymore. She’s also easier to understand – the things that make her happy and the things that upset her are obvious based on her more developed cues – so it’s much less difficult to keep her smiling!



She’s getting ever braver when it comes to moving. Yesterday I watched her bulldoze her way off of an air mattress headfirst. She squats and pulls herself up carefully now rather than throwing herself down, and rarely takes a spill. Recently she’s started moving around with an object in her hand (or mouth!) so she can bring her toys with her, wherever she goes. When she’s crawling she’s super fast, but luckily she’s really loud about it, slapping her hands off the floor, so we know if she’s going after something!

One neat skill this month – Matt taught her how to use a straw while she was freaking out in a restaurant, and she caught on immediately. She doesn’t necessarily drink all the water; mostly she sucks it into her mouth and lets it roll down her shirt, but she MUST have her cup with her at dinner now or she gets upset.


Totally off the wall, which I am used to and dealing with, as best as I can. The last few days she has been sleeping through the night or getting up once and going back down in her own bed, but just as frequently she needs Matt to go in and cuddle with her on the floor or in the Poang before she’ll give in. Naps are unpredictable – sometimes long, in her crib, sometimes short, on me, sometimes non-existent.

There is so much development going on in her world that I don’t see sleep working itself out for a long time. I’m happy when we are all rested, and I try to be understanding when we aren’t.


This month she seems to be backing off on nursing. If I try to offer with the frequency she used to upkeep she bites me or just isn’t interested (I much prefer disinterest to biting!) so I’m letting her set the schedule. Mostly she wants to nurse when she wakes up, before naps, sometimes after naps, and before bed.

In terms of solids she’s doing a great job of feeding herself. We still haven’t fully implemented breakfast but if I’m snacking in the morning I give her bits of what I have.

Interestingly, she’s developing food preferences! She used to love cucumbers no matter what but now if she has the choice between cukes or something else she usually picks the other thing. Matt has taken to offering her plate to her, to see what she grabs, and she’ll feel around the dish, sometimes picking food up and putting it down a few times, before bringing something to her mouth.



She’s into her 6-9/6-12 month clothing completely, and it’s one of my favourite wardrobe sets yet! This time I opted for a lot of classic separates – cotton tank tops, gingham shorts, vintage rompers, breezy dresses. Summer is awesome when you have a baby girl. :)


The cats. Animals in general, actually – she met a dog during her first visit with her babysitter and I thought she was going to explode from happiness. Lunch time, dinner time, her straw cup (which sits in her lap all through dinner), playing with bouncy balls, eating paper, swinging at the park.

2014-07-18 09.15.58

Doesn’t Love:

Diaper changes, being put down, going to sleep, if I stop to talk to her while she’s in her stroller and then move back behind it, going in the lake.


Mom & Dad:

Struggling with the realities of maternity leave coming to an end in a few months – Matt already feels bad when he leaves for work and he’s not excited about dropping her off at daycare, and I’m not sure what this whole transition is going to feel like for me. But, we know that it’s ultimately good for her and good for our family, so I imagine it’ll just be that initial transition that will be a challenge.

Things to Remember:

Her joy at seeing fireworks for Canada Day! We kept her up late and I wasn’t sure how she’d react, even though we were in the car, far away from the immediate action. She was enthralled, but sleepy, and after watching for 10 minutes or so she put her head down on my chest and started to drift off. We also had fun visiting Winnipeg, and she went all the way up to Pickle Lake, too!


Looking Forward To:

Family visits, as usual! More good weather, more new baby skills, more adventures and fun before summer ends. We have a community festival upcoming in early August and I’m particularly excited about bringing her along to a few of those events.

Dear M,

In these last few weeks I’ve been thinking about how much you’ve grown. I catch a glimpse of you, sitting tall in your high chair feeding yourself a fistful of cherries, or hanging off of the coffee table confidently, one hand steadying yourself as you wave at a cat, and I wonder how you got so big, so fast.

And oh, how my heart contorts. A couple of nights ago, after I spent a bit of time scrolling through photos and videos of tiny week-old you with your dinosaur noises and squishy little face, I cried to your dad – “I don’t want her to grow up so fast!”

He listed all of the wonderful reasons for you to get older – the love you’ll experience, the places you’ll travel, the dreams you’ll dream and the joy you will bring to the world, and the world will bring to you. “We do want her to grow up,” he reminded me.

And I do. As much as I want to freeze time now – now, when you still cuddle up to me, when you still grin adoringly at us for something as simple as saying “Hi!”, when you and I are spending all our days with one another. But that wouldn’t be fair to you. You need to shine your light into this world, and I need to share you.

It doesn’t make it easier for me to think about how it’s going to feel to drop you off at your babysitter’s house every morning, come fall. It doesn’t make it easier for me to think about how, one day, you won’t need me to help you get to sleep at night. How one day, you’re going to tell me to go away, to leave you alone.

I don’t want you to grow up so fast, but you are, and you’ll keep growing, and you have lots of great reasons to grow and learn and become who you’re destined to be. In the meantime, I will do my best to slow down and absorb these baby days, to map the planes of your eight-month-old face, to feel the heft of your body in my arms as you drift off, and know that it will not last forever.

All my love,

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Three Cheers for Tiers

Every time I catch a glimpse of our backyard through a window, I’m taken aback by how different it looks this year!

Backyard2 Collage

We moved in at the tail end of summer last year and the backyard was a big, overgrown disaster. It was beautiful, yes – lush and green and leafy – but nothing had been maintained. Just crazy foliage, everywhere. We were extremely shocked, back in spring, when we discovered an entire terraced garden under the trees you see in the top left photo above. Matt chainsawed the mugo pine into oblivion, hacked through some creeping thyme, and there it was, like an archeological ruin.

The first part of our warm weather landscaping was definitely devoted to the tiers. It was a lot of hard work, getting them restored to their rightful glory. Actually, I think whoever originally landscaped (Matt calls them The Ancients) probably had a much more glorious garden, but I’m trying my best.


The top tier was the first thing we dealt with. Matt shoveled and raked and dragged up bags of soil, and once it was all done, I went up and planted flowers – mostly annuals, mostly nursery starts. There’s celosia, gazanias (closed because I took these photos on a rainy day), portulaca, snapdragons. There’s a perennial Jacob’s Ladder and an aster. There are sunflowers and marigolds and really late lupins from seed. It’s pretty!


Once I got those plants in I was excited to keep going but the caterpillars moved in and made being outside gross – they are now cocooning which is gross in a different way, but I’m just used to being disgusted by bugs now. Anyway, I managed to sidestep creepy crawlers long enough, throughout June, to work my way down all the smaller tiers, pulling out old weed mat, digging, and otherwise trying to prep the soil. But it took forever, and by the time I had the tiers cleared, my collected flowers were yearning to be planted and I didn’t want to spend any more money on fertilizer or topsoil.

My simple solution for this year was to buy a few bags of bark chips, and a few pots – the tiers are hosting all of the leftover flowers and vegetables in bright, happy pots, no digging required, nor weeding.


There’s a bit of everything up here! Herbs, flowers, vegetables that should be planted in much larger containers (I had some seedlings leftover and not enough garden space, so we threw them into pots to see what would happen).

I’m not entirely sure what we will be doing with this space in years to come. I would love to rebuild the tiers with natural rock walls rather than wood, and it sure would be nice to have some kind of flowering, cascading plant in place, though the pots are a nice burst of colour. There are all kinds of weird weeds and trees that have established themselves throughout this part of the yard and I don’t know how well I’m going to be able to battle them – so I don’t know if leaving it mulched is wiser than attempting to rehabilitate the soil.

Either way, I’d like to buy some nicer, natural material pots when they go on sale at the end of summer! I also want to seed over that creeping thyme next year, if it doesn’t creep its way into the empty soil.

Whatever we end up doing, I feel like we added a lot of value to our yard, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of our garden tiers. I can’t believe they were left in such disrepair – it really felt like discovering a hidden treasure!

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