Wildwood Wonder: New Beginnings

Wildwood Wonder is, officially, the name of this little area of the ‘net I’ve carved out. It’s new, and you may be wondering why I’ve made the change. Even if you aren’t wondering, if you keep reading you’ll at least know where my head is at, these days — and maybe find some inspiration for yourself, too.

The Backstory Behind Wildwood Wonder

The past several years have been… intense, to say the least. I went from moving to a rental home with my then-boyfriend-now-husband; becoming engaged; getting married; getting pregnant; buying this home; having our daughter and learning how to be a mom; three devastating pregnancy losses; getting and staying pregnant and all of that anxiety; having our son… plus some love and loss and job changes and challenges and joys all mixed into that.

Now that M is a fledgling kindergartener, and A is developing his own personality and independence, I am breathing. A little bit. But breathing. This last month — September 2017 — I have been working hard to take important steps toward cultivating the life I want. That sounds complicated, maybe, but it isn’t. It actually just means I’m doing simple things like getting into a cleaning routine, using paper and pen to plan our days, feeding my family healthy meals, and fixing up our household spaces to bring calm and peace.

It has not been a long process thus far; I’m in the beginning stages. But I believe I’m making great progress, and I think it’s changed the vibe of our household for the better. My ultimate goal is to seek wonder, in everything — in little moments of light spilling into our home in the in-between hours, in getting ourselves out the door to breathe in crisp fall air more often, to finding the right spot to hang M’s kindergarten artwork, to perfecting my morning routine.

What’s the ‘Wildwood’ in Wildwood Wonder?

Wildwood is another word for forest — but doesn’t it sound so much more alive? I love the idea of finding wonder in what is in its natural, wild state. Sure, we can cultivate it, too, but there’s something to be said for what already exists.

The tagline for Wildwood Wonder is letting go and living and that’s because it’s exactly what I want to do: embrace the wild and the wonderful, let go, and live my best life. I want to balance that with guiding my life in easy to manage, simple, peaceful ways.

As I was ruminating on the idea of wildwood wonder, I thought about one of our favourite places to visit in Sioux Lookout. Cedar Bay is our local equestrian centre, but it’s more than that. There is a trail network running deep into the woods, leading to the lakeshore or winding around in the wilderness. When one first arrives at the parking lot trailhead, there’s a quote carved into a sign as greeting:

Wildwood Wonder - Thoreau

I can’t sum it up better than Thoreau did, truly. At the end of my life I want to be able to say that I lived, and that I did it with wonder and greatness and love.

I want to be able to say that I lived, and that I did it with wonder and greatness and love. Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean I need to have accomplished anything spectacular — as Krista O’Reilly-Davi-Digui says in What if All I Want is A Mediocre Life?:

What if I embrace my limitations and stop railing against them. Make peace with who I am and what I need and honor your right to do the same. Accept that all I really want is a small, slow, simple life. A mediocre life. A beautiful, quiet, gentle life. I think it is enough.

But I want that beautiful, simple life. And I am working toward it. That’s what you’ll find here.

 

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The Day We Didn’t Meet the Prime Minister

Thursday, July 27, I was lying in the dentist’s chair with a mouthful of instruments, listening to the radio when I heard that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was going to be in Kenora the next day. When I got home, mouth numb, I googled for more information and discovered that indeed, PMJT was scheduled to host a community barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Kenora is about three hours away, but I still floated the idea of taking the kids there and M was thrilled at the idea of meeting ‘the boss of Canada.’

So, as lofty as a six hour round trip as a solo adult with two kids seemed, the next day we hustled as hard as we could. We had to eat breakfast, get ready, go to the bank, get out of town — by the time we fought our way through construction on highway 17, and terrible American tourist drivers, and A screaming as loud as he could while I tried to navigate to a parking space at Kenora’s harbour, it was 1 p.m. But all of the information I’d read made it sound like the event was fully in swing till 1:3o p.m. so I popped open the trunk, wrestled out the stroller I’d previously wrestled in, corralled the kids and headed off to the BBQ…

… where all that was left were a few sad hot dogs, some straggling people, and no prime minister. Apparently he had been there at the start and left after that. After M received her hot dog we sat at a lakeside bench and I told her that we had missed the PM and managed to drive three hours just for leftover hot dogs.

Being a three year old she took it mostly in stride. She was a little disappointed, she said, “but at least we can sit here and watch birds catching fish!” (they were seagulls). We watched the MS Kenora sightseeing cruise take off, then I pressed my solo parenting luck and offered to take M for a sit-down meal. With all Kenora offers, kid-free me would’ve gladly sat my butt down on a patio during that 30+ C day, but M chose Boston Pizza so I loaded everyone back into the car, drove literally around the corner, and fed them both with no backup but a glass of wine. It went surprisingly well.

We filled up on cheap gas, visited a few big box stores, and headed right back down highway 17, this time with far less traffic.

I’m still a bit rankled that the info was so unclear that we ended up driving three hours each way for nothing but hey — M said she was more excited about hot dogs than the prime minster anyway.

Why I Quit (Most) Carbs

This summer we spent some time with my mom and her partner and were introduced to the ketogenic diet, or more commonly, ‘keto.’ I’d heard of it before and had some concept of low-carb, thanks to my parents trying Atkins when I was younger, but staying with two keto dieters for the weekend was a great crash course. While the rest of us ate sandwiches and cookies and amusement park food, they stuck with meat, cheese, and veggies.

Keto is low-carb, high-fat, so your body eventually gets used to burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. The ‘rules’ are fairly simple: you can have dairy, any kind of meat, veggies grown above ground, and berries. Alcohol isn’t forbidden, so you can drink wine/spirits, but it may stall your weight loss as your body will burn the alcohol before the fat. This site (and others) will explain it better than I can, in greater detail.

I was intrigued by the concept, especially the benefits my mom outlined: weight loss, of course, but also increased energy, no sugar cravings, and less hunger. I did some research during our trip, determined that it’s a lifestyle that is compatible with breastfeeding for some — for others, the body really requires carbs to produce milk — and after two weeks of craft beer and ice cream, I came home wanting a change. I love sugar and I love bread but both of those things make me feel bloated and sluggish.

So, I finished the last beer and set out on a keto adventure. I went into it woefully unprepared, despite my mom telling me I needed to handle my electrolytes — sodium, magnesium, and potassium are harder to come by on keto! I was stricken by ‘keto flu’ by day two and felt hopelessly ill for two days until I started salting everything, using a salt alternative on top of it (potassium), and shovelling leafy greens and avocados into my mouth.

Aside from being thirsty a lot that week, once I was over keto flu, I found myself feeling normal, but better. I didn’t crave sugar despite kicking it cold turkey, and I wasn’t all that hungry. Since then I have mostly felt great — a few days of amazing energy, which was especially nice, but overall, less bloated, fewer stomach issues, weight loss, and a decreased appetite. I find this way of eating fairly easy to stick with, though I cheated with two jujubes when Matt kept eating them in front of me last weekend (my favourite candy — ugh).

We generally eat simply. Breakfast for me is eggs and cheese/meat/avocado/whatever, or nuts and seeds and yogurt/milk/peanut butter/berries/whatever. Lunch is typically deli-type snacks: meat, cheese, pickles; or I’ll put together a salad. Dinner is more involved, with various keto casseroles, but often it’s just a roasted or grilled cut of meat and a side of veggies, typically roasted broccoli or cauliflower in some form. I’ve tried a few keto alternatives to ‘regular’ food — ice cream is good, bread seems not worth it until I figure out how to tweak the recipe. I’ve yet to try the pizza crust recipes out there, but they’re on my list!

I’m keeping various Pinterest boards with recipe/meal ideas going, but here’s one with my tried and true favourites. Matt is officially giving keto a try as of this week so here’s hoping it sticks and we find more great meals — and great results!

We Have a Kindergartener

Autumn is one of my favourite seasons. It’s between that, and spring — I guess I have a thing for the shoulders, when everything around me changes and morphs as quickly as the days meld into one another. I like spring because it brings a sense of renewal and growth, but more than that, I find autumn is charged with an energy of Big Things Happening.

Part of it is probably the back to school feeling ingrained in me since I was a kindergartener myself. I used to pine for the last week in August because it meant back to school shopping — heading out to the mall and the office supply store to get new shoes, some new outfits, a backpack, markers, everything; and then heading home and putting on a fashion show with all of the new gear, packing it up carefully and eagerly awaiting that first day of school.

Part of it is probably that big things do seem to happen in autumn. Yes, there’s school, but there’s also our wedding and dating anniversaries, lots of family birthdays including that of both my kids, the anniversary of when I moved up north; and the non-sentimental big things like prepping the wood stove and winter wood supply, procuring winter gear, rebooting our fall and winter rec activities to survive the upcoming deep freeze. It’s apples and pies and warm socks and cozy sweaters and extra blankets and hot drinks and, although very brief up north, that brilliant shock of colour when every green thing starts to die.

All this to say — this autumn feels extra-big. M started kindergarten today!

She is going back to the school building where she went for daycare so I don’t think it will be too much of a transition for her, aside from her anxiety over a packed lunch instead of a catered hot lunch (more on that later). Today, she was just worried about getting to her cubby and getting her outdoor stuff off on time!

A is napping peacefully and will hopefully be getting a bit more sleep these days. 😉 I’m not sure what our new normal will look like yet, but this feels like the start of the Big Changes for Autumn wave that comes every year, and I have high hopes for a good season — and a good year for our little kindergartener.

A at Nine Months

Wow this month flew. I blinked, and it’s almost September. The weather is turning, the leaves are falling (although that may have to do with the utter lack of rain through August), and A is babbling with purpose, almost crawling with his hands AND knees, and pulling up on everything!

Stats: 

Hi, bad mama here still doesn’t know. We have a nurse practitioner appointment this month though, so maybe I’ll know what he weighs and measures… next month. 😉

Nicknames: 

Nothing new — A-bum (what he calls himself), Abrummy, A-boom. None of which I would call him in real life outside of home!

Temperament:

He started this month as a pretty grumpy guy, but has cheered up for the most part as we’ve rounded the tail end of August. He’s happiest in the morning still, and when people are actively slathering him with attention! He gets quite offended, for example, if the gate between the living room and kitchen is closed. He wants to be part of everything.

Skills:

Getting closer to actually crawling — he’ll go a few paces on hands and knees now, before dropping to his belly for the army crawl. He’s pulling up on a lot of things but doesn’t quite trust himself to stand up fully, for the most part. He’s got great manual dexterity, is super fast at moving around, and loves to ‘play’ instruments like the bongo drum and xylophone, and using shakers/maracas. He also loves to dance! He’s making lots of noise, and saying more syllables (his favourite is a loudly pronounced “BA!”).

Eating:

Everything. Dude likes to eat. He can put away a shocking amount of food! We’ve been shying away from bread/grain based foods and trying to ply him with fruits and veggies to help with digestion, and at our nurse practitioner’s suggestion we’ve been heavy on pears, apples and prunes lately. He LOVES berries, pears, and prunes!

Sleeping:

Not very well — so nothing new, really. Except naps have gotten worse and he doesn’t go down very easily at night anymore. One day he’ll sleep. Until then, I won’t.

Clothing:

Pushing the limits of the nine month-sized clothing, though he didn’t outgrow them before his age did, this time around. He’s comfortably in 9-12 month clothes and has a good stock of 12-18 month waiting! I actually put him in a Joe Fresh one-year-old sized tank a few days ago and it fit perfectly. He’s got lots of comfy sweatpants and leggings for fall (I still can’t stuff him into jeans successfully) and whole rack of adorable plaid shirts. <3

Loves:

Any kind of attention or social interaction, especially with his sister and his dad! He likes being outside, going for walks, eating, and bath time (unless he’s tired). Still trying to catch those cats. He loves playing with all kinds of toys, listening to music, and making music of his own.

Doesn’t Love:

The car seat if he’s tired, when the food on his tray is NOT the food he wants, diaper changes if he’s expecting literally anything else to happen.

Things to Remember:

We started this month off with some local town festival fun — A was mostly too young to really understand a lot of the events (though it was a great week for M!) but he had fun being towed around in the Thule, and especially the grand finale street dance which we closed out with him stroller-dancing with glee. We also travelled to a wedding this month, where we all got to see family and A didn’t set foot on the ground for a good eight hours because everyone wanted to hold onto him! We hosted my dad and our niece, too, and it’s always nice to have family around to see him as he gets older. That also included a great day at the fair with his Auntie and Uncle!

Mom and Dad:

I’m feeling a bit rejuvenated in a way — I feel less anxious about the next few months, and am enjoying those incoming autumn/back to school vibes that make me want to get stuff done. I think Matt is still feeling slammed for time, but in a general household sense it’s less daunting. I would still like to sleep, though…

Looking Forward To:

What the next few months hold! M is off to school next week so it’ll be just A and I, and he’s not quite old enough for a lot of the structured activities, and it doesn’t make sense to go to them without M (like story time — is a nine month old gonna get anything out of that? I’m not sure.). So, we’ll be finding a new routine again, which sounds refreshing to me!

Dear A,

Summer is quickly fading to fall — that was it, your first summer! It went by quickly and I don’t know if we adventured enough, but I suppose it’s all about quality, not quantity. You’ve splashed in lakes and pools, snacked on all kinds of ice cream and fruit and grass you pulled from the ground, made your voice heard across the province and grown faster than the weeds in our neglected garden.

What will our next season hold? I’m not sure. You’re getting bigger and stronger and I think you’re going to stand up and walk one of these days. One thing I know for sure is that you’re going to go back to being my sole sidekick, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and I’m excited to see what we can get up to. You and your sister are going to miss one another, maybe, but that means a greater emphasis on weekend family fun, which I think we’ll all enjoy.

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to see you learn and explore every day — so let’s keep going!

Always,

Mama