School's out for summer

It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before.

It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before.

It’s the Monday-est Tuesday ever but I’m not complaining. But I am panicking, just a little. It’s the first official day of summer vacation. The weekend and the Holiday Monday didn’t count, because that was a regular long weekend holiday.  Now it’s Tuesday and for the first time in 10 months the girls are out of school. It’s our first official school-year summer vacation! And it’s a summer that looks unlike any we’ve ever had before. 

Sure, I’ve been freelancing year-round, but this is the most freelancing I’ve ever done, and I’m doing a lot of it. Far too much too balance at the same time as the kids, my mental sanity, and the safety of my children. The past six summers, I’ve been home with the girls and freelancing on the side and it’s been manageable. Awesome, actually. Summers are the best part of stay-at-home parenting, if you ask me. Basically living in the backyard, beach days, day trips. It’s helped to have some teacher friends with kids who are off and friends on maternity leave. But that amazing season of life has passed, which makes me a little sad...the days are long and the years are short, or so they say. But I’m working - writing! - and it feels good. And I’m super grateful with what we have arranged for this summer. 

Because she’ll be starting pre-primary in September, we wrapped up Rosie’s full-time journey at pre-school. If Anna is going to be home from school, Rosie might as well be here with her. Plus  my rate is way cheaper than pre-school. Actually I guess it’s exactly the same. Instead of paying for her to attend, I’ll keep her home and the money in the bank! Shame the standard of care will decline. jk, jk. Kind of. The grandparents have ever so graciously offered to help out this summer. Between two days with my parents and one day per week with my MIL, I’ll be able to work full-time three days a week, rather than five days just during school hours. I’m confident I can get the same amount of work done with longer, uninterrupted work days and by adding an evening, weekend, or extra babysitting here and there when needed. 

I’m happy the girls will get some time with their grandparents, time with me, time for playdates, and time to be bored. Anna’s in a couple different weeks of day camp to give her something adventurous to do with some friends. Rosie’s still too young. But I’m still looking at three solid days to work and two days off to spend time with the girls, lapping up the summer. It’s the best of both worlds and a balance I am looking forward too. (Please check in on me in a few weeks. These could be famous last words). But hold on. I am actually lol-ing at myself right now as I re-read what I just typed. Rewind to “two days off to spend time with the girls.” HA HA HA. Reality check. These won’t be days OFF. These will be days filled with endless sunscreen applications, constant snack and meal prep, cleaning up, struggles to get out the door, sibling fights, whining, threats, and tears. Probably mine. Matt’s predicting it will be  2pm on our first day at home when he will receive my “I’m done” text. Give me some credit. I’ll at least make it to 4p.m! Hopefully our days together will also be filled with swimming, beach days, ice cream, playgrounds, water fights, and reading stacks of books. 

At the end of the day…there’s always wine.

At the end of the day…there’s always wine.

My thought/hope/prayers are that if I’ve handled the kids five days a week in the past, two days a week will be a breeze. Especially being granted three whole days to do my own grown up thing. The key will be to stay on top of my work so I can focus on my days with the girls, which will be a challenge. While flexible, the freelance life is unpredictable. And stressful. Sometime’s sources can only talk on certain days at certain times. Sometimes opportunities will pop up, deadlines will loom. So I’m going into this summer with an open mind to go with the flow and try not to stress. It’s summer vacation for my kids but I need to be the most organized I’ve ever been to make this work. So yes, it’s already Tuesday and omg it’s already Tuesday?! I have deadlines to meet! See? Already panicked. But at the end of the day...there’s always wine.  All of the wine.

Based on how insanely fast the school year went, I believe summer’s going to go by in the blink of an eye. So to all the work at home parents balancing your kids summer vacation, I salute you. May the odds be ever in your favour. May the force be with you. I’m here with you (lunch date anyone? Kidding. Nobody’s got time for that!).  I don’t know about you but I’ve already booked a very important vacation day for myself. It’s called the first day of school and it’s going to be all mine! From 9-3pm, anyway.


My daughter's potty mouth

Yes, yes she is a Rebel Girl!

Yes, yes she is a Rebel Girl!

Stick with me to the end, this is a good one.

Over March break, both girls were excited to head back to the library program we used to attend on a regular basis. I pulled into the parkade and parked in the same spot I always do. As I hopped out of the car I grabbed my parking ticket, thinking to myself, ‘don’t want to lose this again!’ I had misplaced my ticket once before and had to pay a $20 lost ticket fee to get out of the parking lot! I hadn’t had time that day to try and find the ticket because I was en route to pick up a kid from camp.

This time, I forgot that I actually started leaving the tickets safely in the car and paying at the exit with my credit card, as you can do, rather than the ticket machine at the door. Nonetheless, ticket safely tucked in my coat pocket, I got both girls out of the backseat, switching their rain boots to sneakers, arranging snacks back into the bags I had packed only 15 minutes earlier when leaving the house but of course they got into them, balancing my coffee mug and negotiating to “PLEASE leave the umbrellas in the car, we aren’t even going outside.”

Finally, as I went to walk away from the car with the girls, I patted my pocket for the ticket one last time and it wasn’t there. It wasn’t anywhere. I couldn’t find it. It had vanished into thin air. Not in my coat pockets, not in my bag, not in the kid backpack, not between the seats of the car, not on the ground, not anywhere.

The overhead announcement chimed in announcing the children’s program was about to start. We weren’t on time anymore, dammit. I dragged the kids over to the ticket machine at the entrance and buzzed for help. “Hi, yes, I JUST got here and have already lost my parking ticket. Can you issue me a new one so I can get out later?” The crackly voice on the line informed me to press the “lost ticket” button. “But that will cost me $20.” She informed me that was the only way to get out. “Seriously? But I JUST got here. I JUST parked. I need a ticket to get out in 45 minutes.” The lady claimed there was nothing she could do to help but kindly suggested I “take time and look for the ticket.” $#%^@. I kindly informed her that yes, I’d looked. Everywhere. That this was ridiculous and then I huffed away, not wanting to miss anymore time at the program I was now paying $20 for, rather than the $2 fee for parking for one hour.

While the girls played, sang and danced around under the guidance of the librarian, I sat crankily texting my husband about the ridiculousness of that system, which I was not trying to cheat. I wasn’t even trying to get out for free. I was willing to pay for my time parked. I knew it wasn’t the library’s fault, nor could they help me since the parkade is managed by an independent company called Indigo. Matt decided to call them and question the absurdity of the situation. After arguing their every point (they actually have no way of reviewing camera footage to see when cars come or go, and she even admitted they can’t see the license plates on the vehicles. So what’s the point of the cameras?), the woman finally gave in and said someone would call me to meet at the exit to let me out without my ticket. Hurrah! Finally some common sense.

Indeed, a parking attendant did meet me at the exit with a new ticket for a total of $2, as it should have been. Yes, it was a bit of a fuss but it was the principal of the matter and well, $20 is $20!  

Now for the best part of the story. Fast forward to about 5p.m. when we finally arrive home from a busy day about town. The girls run inside and as usual I’m left to carry in all the items accumulated and expanded over the backseat of the car throughout the day. I picked up a discarded rain boot, still left on the car floor from the morning, and there was the parking ticket! It was stuck to the bottom of the boot.

“You’ll never believe what I just found!” I exclaimed to Anna, the five-year-old, once I caught up inside. She stands there gaping at the ticket in my hand and replies, “Let me say it. Just let me say it. I need to say it!” I am perplexed and she continues with a big, booming, “Bullshit!”  

I can’t even get mad. I burst out laughing. She was absolutely right.

Gratitude

Fall #reflection, #thankfulness and #gratitude in full effect

Fall #reflection, #thankfulness and #gratitude in full effect

With Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day behind us, and the holidays looming largely ahead, it’s time for some neglected #reflection and #gratitude. I didn’t even post an obligatory #thankful photo of the fam jam on Instagram over Thanksgiving like I usually do. I did attend two Remembrance Day services this year (one at the elementary school and one at the Grand Parade downtown). The school ceremony was wonderful and Anna was overjoyed to be asked to help light the peace candle. And on November 11, even though we are always way at the back where it’s hard to see and hear and its cold out, I enjoy the city ceremony as a time to pause and reflect for all that we have here in Canada. There’s also three generations of military service in my family to be proud of.

In our house, we sometimes find ourselves craving the chance to slow down. We’ve made an effort to stop booking our schedule jam-packed full, but sometime that’s hard, because life. And we like being on the go. But maybe 2 or 3 things at a time, not 4 or 5! As long as we regularly schedule some down time, and use it to unwind and reflect on what we have going on - the good and the bad. It’s equally as important to open our eyes during the flurry of activity and gigantic messes and whirlwind motions of the day to look around and be thankful for all of the craziness too.  

I wrote the following post last winter, but wasn’t blogging at that time, so never shared it. I’m thankful for the encounter because it was a reminder to be thankful and grateful for what I have, so I’ll share it today:

On Thursday I overslept - on the morning after a small snow storm, which slows everything and everyone down in and of itself. I messed up Anna’s appointment time at the eye clinic and thus the rest of our regularly scheduled morning, which morphed into a hectic sprint to get organized. When I double checked the appointment time before we left, I discovered the appointment was earlier than I realized and we missed it. A quick call to the office confirmed we could still come in, as long as we got there right away. I then drove completely the wrong way to get to the hospital. And I didn’t realize my sweater was on inside out until after we left the appointment. Then I found myself at least 15 people deep in a line at Tim Hortons, because I let Anna have a treat after her eye appointments at the hospital and she never lets me forget. ‘What a rough day,’ I grumbled to myself, annoyed.

Unsurprisingly, Little Miss Chatty made friends with the woman ahead of us and they gabbed as the line slowly moved, me interjecting with a fake smile or murmured laugh here and there. As the woman stepped away from the counter after her turn, she crouched down and pressed a five dollar bill into Anna’s little hand. “Hey, will you use this to buy you and your mommy a treat?” I was surprised and of course followed up with a very quick “No, no, you don’t have to do that.”

“No, please,” was her response. “Let me. I miss my kids so much I want to treat her. I’ve been here for 3 days!” And at that she took off. Anna was beside herself with excitement and I wanted to kick myself. It was a very kind reminder that what I considered to be a rough or frustrating morning can easily sound pretty damn good to someone else. It was a reminder to be thankful for all I have. It was a reminder not to sweat the small stuff. It was a reminder to slow down, and be grateful for it all - the good, the bad and the frustrating.

ThaNKFUL EVERY DAY.

ThaNKFUL EVERY DAY.

A whirlwind weekend away

Last weekend Matt and I popped up to Ottawa for a quick weekend away to join in the festivities celebrating my brother’s retirement from the military. No, I am not old enough to have a brother who is retired but he is the oldest sibling and I am by far the youngest, with 15 years (and two sisters) between us (surprise!). He served 33 years in the Canadian Armed Forces and will now transition to new adventures as a civilian.  

My mom and dad drove via the outlets in the states with my sisters in the backseat. I opted out of the middle seat (though an old school family road trip would have been… interesting) and enjoyed a luxurious kid-free flight complete with wine (yay, Porter!). We absolutely love travelling with our kids. Between the two, they’ve been down south, to Toronto multiple times, Ottawa, California, Florida and as far as Italy and it’s all gone well so we plan to keep going. But travelling sans kids is really a treat. Suddenly I don’t mind the lines and the wait times, especially with a hot coffee (or glass of wine) and a magazine or good book in hand. Or some uninterrupted conversations with my husband. Can you imagine?!  But still. It is so much work to get away.

I had to felt the need to make sure the house was tidy and organized for my in-laws to stay a night with the kids (which included having all the laundry not just washed but also put away), pack a bag for the kids to then spend the weekend chez the in-laws, pack ourselves, and also coordinate the dog for a weekend of being boarded out of town. Phew. Long gone are the days of throwing my stuff in a bag and being ready to go. With kids in tow or not, all of the things still need to be done.

Of course it was worth it. A lot of drinks, late nights and fun. We missed the girls the entire time and came home exhausted. I thought I was coming home for a rest, ha ha! We are a bit slow on the uptake this week but the bags have all been unpacked. The laundry's been redone. The dog is home. Without a blink we’re back in the thick of our new weekly school routines.

Maybe our next kid-free weekend away should be spent at a spa...but of course there are still all of those things to be done. For now, the wheels keep on churning and the coffee keeps on brewing!


Shack Wacky

I am slowly going crazy, 1-2-3-4-5-6 switch… I had this little rhyme in my head on more than one occasion last week.

The city is entrenched in ice and snow and it’s been far below freezing. Not ideal conditions to be running the roads with an 18-month-old, when there’s nowhere we really have to be. Our regular activities like music and gym have been cancelled more than once, so there have been a lot of stay-at-home days as of late. It doesn’t help that I really hate driving in winter conditions.

Yes, yes, I’m thankful I have no commute. I don’t have to deal with bad weather, traffic snarls, boots/mitts/hats/scarves x2 on a daily basis. Technically I can stay in my pajamas all day long (I don’t) and… just relax? Ha! Guess again. There is nothing relaxing about being home with a toddler when you don’t really have the option to leave. Sure, there’ve been days when we don’t leave the house (but the best piece of advice I received when having a baby was to try and leave the house at least once a day, no matter what. Yes. Do this. Everyday. For your sanity!). But that’s because it was my choice. There is a difference!

After a few days in a row of bad weather, the days get longer and l-o-o-o-n-g-e-r. Especially when a toddler has the attention span of a goldfish. Set up all the sensory play stations, art & craft tables and reading nooks you want. Each will be used for approximately 3 minutes and it will take you three times as long to clean them up as it did to set them up. Yet reading the exact same story 736 times in a row is just to be expected.

By 10:45a.m one day I had to leave the house. It had been flurrying for a while earlier on but it stopped, and the roads looked ok, and there were lots of cars passing by the house. There was just over an hour until I had to think about lunch and I just had to get out. No answer at my parents place. No point dropping by there. To the library it was. Bear LOVES the library. This is the kid who one day stood by the door with her backpack and when I asked her where she was going, she said “library” and when I asked her where she’d like to go on holiday, she replied “library.” By the time we were bundled up, out the door and across town it was 11:20. I didn’t care. Thirty minutes of playtime anywhere but my living room sounded good to me.

There weren’t many people around for a change. The place is usually packed so either everyone was already home for lunch or avoiding the roads like I’d been all week. Bear happily tore around the playroom and became fascinated with puppets. She even took them into the puppet show booth all on her own, making the little frog toy “talk”.

We were back home in the kitchen by 12:30p.m. The short but sweet outing broke up the day. Bear was chanting “Library! Fun!” And I had a bit of my sanity back. All in all, a good day. And only 25 more until spring!