Playing Hooky

My house is pretty disastrous right now. I managed to catch up on a few things this morning but I am slowly being swallowed by laundry. My stash of freezer lunches is dwindling, and my car is filthy. Having two parents working full-time is no joke!

I typically do both morning and evening daycare runs, make dinner, and keep up with the laundry basics for M and I (Matt gets his own work clothes clean when they need to be done and I try to fill in the blanks with t-shirts). M just wants to play outside the moment we get home now, and so, by the time all is said and done and she’s sleeping, all I want to do is crash in my bed and not have to move or think. Just keep swimming.

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By Josefa Holland-Merten

I love writing and blogging and creating, but right now, I feel like I’m playing hooky from that part of my life to keep afloat with the everyday. It sort of reminds me of having a newborn — just make sure you eat and get enough sleep that you aren’t going to crash the car, a bit of fresh air when you can, try to wear clean pants and hope for the best. I’m not sure when this new normal will feel normal but until I adjust I’m cutting myself some slack. I may meet my 3x a week blogging goal; I likely will not.

There are things I want to post about — it’s cesarean awareness month, I got some awesome Live Clean products in the mail, I started some garden seedlings and I’m back to dreaming of interior design. But that stuff is going to live in my head for this week, at least, because there’s too much else to do.

As always — I’m here, and I’m reading, and I’m grateful to all of my friends, online and otherwise, who have patiently waited for me to catch up.

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Here Comes the Sun

As I’m writing this, the sun is streaming through the window and I can’t see any snow. I believe spring has sprung, for real. On Wednesday, the Weather Network says, it will be 19C, which sounds absolutely delightful to me.

Last year M was little enough throughout the warm season that we could keep her corralled on a blanket in the yard, and later, in her playpen outside. This year she is a walking talking toddler who wants to explore everything! This means we basically can’t let her in the front yard, because she immediately goes running for the edge of the retaining wall. The back yard is safer, and will be even more so when the remaining chunks of snow and ice melt and we can rake, clean up all of the debris and yard things that didn’t get properly stored last year, and otherwise eliminate some problem areas.

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Over the weekend she mostly wanted to climb up and down our clothesline stand, which was fine until she tripped over her boots and fell down (thankfully onto a patch of snow). There are lots of stairs and steep inclines at the back so I’m hoping she will get more steady as the temperatures warm up!

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We had to block off these steps with a piece of wood after the header incident but she was mostly satisfied by using a sand shovel on one of the remaining snow banks instead. One of our side yards is relatively clear and flat, and while we would like to one day grade that land and develop it further, it should be an alright spot for running around without obstacles this year.

The only other thing I’m worried about in the yard, other than stairs and hills, is the patch of lily of the valley growing right near the deck and clothesline. It is apparently super poisonous and with a toddler on the go I have every intention of ripping it up and burning it ASAP. I probably should have done that last year for the cats’ sake alone.

So, we have a lot of clean-up and outdoor childproofing to do, but I am so excited to see grass in my yard again, even if its trampled and brown and waterlogged right now. I know we won’t be able to tackle our entire outdoor to-do list (patio, gazebo/shelter, a deck area with stairs, tree/branch removal, lighting, the list goes on) but with M’s love for the sun we have no excuse to stay inside so we’ll enjoy what we have, work on what we can, and try to squeeze as much enjoyment out of it as we can before the snow falls again.

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Easter = “SNACKS!”

Last year, M got socks for Easter. It was a busy weekend and she was so little that she had no idea what was going on. This year, the concept of the Easter bunny was still a stretch (and honestly, isn’t a giant candy-gifting rabbit sort of a stretch no matter how old you are?) but we upgraded her basket.

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She mostly had non-candy things — a pair of shoes, more socks (yes!), blocks, a toy boat with sand toys, four rubber ducks with whom she is now obsessed, and some stuffed animals. Her daycare sent a stuffed kitty, and her Grandma Jackie sent a beautiful dress from Mexico, and a card (with which she is also obsessed — “Happy! Jackie!”).

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But… there was some candy. We got her a few treats, daycare also sent a gummy stick, Grandma Jackie sent a few delicious things.

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Then there was the egg hunt. I only ever remember one year when I got to do an egg hunt; other than that my family just put everything right in the basket. But I think egg hunts are fun, even when it’s below zero and snowing, so we put jellybeans and gummy bears in three dozen plastic eggs and stashed them around the living room.

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To our surprise, she caught on right away and found every single egg, carefully depositing them in another basket. She has two shaker eggs, which are supposed to be used while playing guitar, so I think she thought they were just even more shakers. And then she found out what was in them.

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We had to take the basket with all of the candy in it away. Her auntie and uncle brought over a chocolate bunny and a puzzle, and the bunny went away too. Because while she had access to the eggs she went totally crazy and ate a ton of candy, didn’t nap almost all day, and cried her way through supper because she wanted “SNACKS! SNACKS!”

Yesterday she found the spot where I had stashed the basket and helped herself to three more eggs before I managed to sneak it away again. It’s a good thing she’s in love with those ducks, and the boat, and putting the ducks in the boat, or I’d feel like a mean Easter bunny.

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Easter Sunday was the highlight of the weekend, of course, but we did do a few other entertaining things together. We’ve been all out of sorts this month so it was nice to dedicate some extra time to family fun, even if it didn’t all go perfectly smoothly. We took M to see the horses, which is probably one of her favourite things to do ever. We actually went twice, and on the second day she fed a horse an apple — the equivalent of meeting Santa himself for this 1.5 year old, I think.

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We went out for breakfast one day, which has become a rare treat. M had dippy eggs for the first time ever.

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And, we did our semi-traditional coming out of hibernation celebration, even though it was too cold to really play outside. The car seat fits in Matt’s truck nicely so we were able to bump down a few logging roads in search of a decent place to stop and take in the scenery. Apparently I have become someone who gets carsick (or rather — I’ve returned to being someone who gets carsick) but once we weren’t in motion it was nice. M got to play in the back of the truck, we listened to some nostalgic tunes, and drank a cider or two (while stopped, of course).

Theoretically this means that we should be able to play outside any time we want from now on, but the current forecast would say otherwise. Once we hit this weekend, though, we should be in the double digits (or almost there) for awhile. I’m looking forward to it!

How was your Easter?

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Resolution Check-In: Month #3

First off, I’d like to thank everyone who has had kind words to share with us about our cat. We miss Marbles a lot and the circumstances of his death are frustrating and saddening (neighbours found him four days prior to calling us and removed his body without telling us) but we are slowly moving forward. I ordered a few pictures and we’re planning to put something up in the garden once the snow melts, to remember him even though we were not able to bring him home. I know he’s ‘just a cat’ but he was a family member for us.

Anyway — it’s time to check in on my 2015 resolutions. And instead of listing them out piece by piece, I’ll just be straightforward and say that I fell down on pretty much every single resolution, in March. Between shift work starting, losing Marbles, a few days of daycare closures and a lot of exhaustion and illness all around, it was a challenging month.

I did not reduce screen time — in fact I probably increased it because Elmo and mindless Facebook helped everyone. I was not productive. I did not declutter a thing. Matt did some housework, namely cleaning the kitchen to sparkling on a day off, but most of the time we have been pushing things aside to deal with our immediate needs. As for self-care, well, I think I’ve gained a few pounds, lost a few hours of sleep, and cried a lot.

But I’m going to go work out when I shut this screen down, assuming M stays asleep. And we just came from a mostly-good family weekend with time spent in the fresh air. We have been treating each other with a bit more grace and care, recently, because we are pretty sick of learning the don’t know what you got ’till it’s gone lesson. Things will get better, and are getting better already.

Hopefully April will show more progress, physically and emotionally and in every other facet of our lives. March was a write-off, but it happens. All we can do is keep on trying.

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Ode to a Cat

In a little white house, in a little town, there lived a man and a woman and a cat. The cat wasn’t little — he was big. He was a big black cat, and he was lonely. He wanted to spend every minute of every day with the man and woman, but he couldn’t. They had to go off to their jobs, so they could buy things like catnip and toy mice. The big black lonely cat cried a lot, and the man thought he needed a friend.

One day the man came home with a newspaper and an idea. He had found a friend for the big black lonely cat. The next day, the man and woman brought two friends home — a silly black and white cat and a little grumpy black cat. But the big black cat was not happy. He did not like his new friends, not one bit. He wanted to be alone with the man and woman, every minute of every day.

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The silly black and white cat worked hard to make the big angry black cat his friend. He tried to share toys. He tried to play. And one day, the man and woman came home to find that the big angry black cat was happy, and the silly black and white cat was happy. The little grumpy black cat was still grumpy, but that was okay.

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The silly black and white cat got into lots of trouble. He fell in the river — but he came home.

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He stayed out all night chasing fireflies and looking at the stars — but he came home. He jumped up on the roof — but he came home.

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He climbed to the very top of a tall tree — but he came home.

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He always, always came home.

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Just after winter turned to spring, the snow fell all around and the big happy black cat stayed inside with the little grumpy black cat. The silly black and white cat loved to chase the snowflakes, though, so he left the other cats at home and went on an adventure. But this time, he didn’t come home.

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The man and the woman looked everywhere for their silly black and white cat. They called his name. They put up signs with his silly black and white face, but nobody called. Until one day, they found out that their black and white cat was not going to come home, because he couldn’t. The silly black and white cat was gone, forever.

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The man and the woman and their baby, and the big sad black cat, and the little grumpy black cat, all missed their black and white cat terribly. He was their friend, and he was gone. His bed was empty. His favourite spot on the old green couch stayed cold. It was hard to imagine life without their goofy companion.

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The first time the man and the woman and the big black cat (and yes, even the little grumpy black cat) met the silly black and white cat their hearts grew bigger because they loved him so much. When he went away, his spot in their hearts was left empty and aching to be filled.

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They had memories of their silly friend, though, that knitted together to fill in the blank space. They remembered his meow that sounded like a yodel. They remembered his purr, and his soft, velvety fur, and how patiently he waited while the baby of the house gave him unruly kisses. It helped them feel less sad.

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One day, the snow melted. The grass turned green, and the flowers sprouted out of the garden where the silly black and white cat used to dig in the dirt. The birds flew by the windows and the squirrels ran through the yard, with no black and white cat to chase them anymore. The world kept turning, the sun kept rising, and though they missed their friend every day, the man and the woman and their baby and the big black cat and the little black cat were all okay. The silly black and white cat lived in their hearts and their minds and if you looked just the right way, sometimes you might think you saw a black and white tail flicking in the trees, moving skyward toward the birds, the lights, and eternity.

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