Kitchen Busy Box

Sometimes simple toys are best, right? Some of Sweet Pea’s favourite things right now are at her great grandma’s house.

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Another favourite is this yet-unpacked bin of spices. Those little bottles are just irresistible!

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Sweet Pea is pretty good at independent play, but she likes me to be nearby. I thought this morning that she needs some kind of box of toys to keep her busy while I’m in the kitchen. This little bin came from the Free Table in our community, and rather than filling it with toys, I decided to fill it with baby-safe kitchen items.

Contents of our Kitchen Busy Box: A couple bamboo plates, wooden spoon, plastic baby spoon, spatula, old spice jar filled with rice, small tupperware container, egg carton, measuring cup, empty water bottle, empty formula canister, IKEA dish brush (another favourite!), and a colourful cloth napkin. I will add a couple empty cardboard food boxes as I get them. This was a totally free little kit to put together, and can adapt and change as she grows, or as disposables need to be disposed of.

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I think it’s a hit – this managed to keep her busy long enough for me to unpack 2 kitchen boxes. Long overdue, I now have cupboards to unpack into, and I found plates, bowls and drinking glasses. Success.

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An Unfair Fight for a Fair Deal

I don’t normally write particularly political posts, but oh, would you just indulge me for a moment? I am feeling incredibly dejected today about this fight for a fair deal for our B.C. students and teachers.

I am sad that my mom, who has seen a 0% wage increase for the last 2 years, may not ever see one before retirement.

I’m feeling sickened that my “little” cousin Wes, who just proudly graduated, has spent his entire schooling in a system abused by our government.

I fear that my daughter will face the same.

I will be grateful if Sweet Pea  doesn’t need extra resources in school. But, I worry that she will be overlooked, because I know – I know – that right now those kids who can make it don’t get enough attention, because teachers have to focus on those who can’t. There are too many kids in each classroom, not enough help, and unfortunately no superpower bestowed upon teachers to allow them to spend individual time with each student.

I worry that if I decide to homeschool, because I believe that my daughter deserves more than the above, that it will be seen as a slight against teachers. My dear husband, I support you. Mom, I support you. My friends, and acquaintances, and you who I honked at while you were on the picket line the other day, I support you. I know how hard all of you work, and I know that this system is failing through no fault of yours. It is failing despite you, not because of you, and I hear how frustrated you are about that. I’m so sorry.

I am scared that we will have to leave this beautiful province, my home, our friends and our family, for the Mr. to even get a permanent position anytime soon, because teachers who graduated TEN YEARS AGO are still being laid off due to classroom closures and lack of resources.

I am concerned that even when he does get a job, he will burn out awfully fast.

I am disgusted by the bullying that is going on by the government. Did you know that the Mr., as a teacher-on-call, would not have qualified for the signing bonus that the B.C. Liberals were “offering.” He does, however, qualify to have his pay stripped 10% due to the current job action? There is no fairness to this fight.

I worry about our own financial future.

I don’t know how we’re going to be able to afford to stock a classroom with books, or to buy a coat for that 5 year old who can’t go out to play at recess because he doesn’t have one. I promise you I will try. I don’t know your kids, but I can tell you my husband cares for them and we are committed to them. I promise I will try.

Parents, I’m sorry. I know this job action is inconvenient, and I know it’s tiresome. I know you’re worried too. But please, PLEASE know that teachers are on your side. They are not teachers for the glory, or for the money. By and large they care about your kids, and many of them are parents too. Many of them are, like me, being kept up at night with their worries. And all they can do is keep trying to be heard, keep trying to fight for a fair deal.

Early Morning

Good morning, baby mine,

When you were wide awake at 6:30 this morning, I was annoyed. You had been wide awake at 5:00, and I don’t know if you remember this, but after I nursed you AND offered a bottle (are you going through a growth spurt?) I held you until nearly 6:00 while you fell back asleep. I watched the brightening sky and told you the birds were singing to you. I put my phone down and thought about being your mom, stroking your cheek and praying for you. I am sure I felt righteous in our early-morning moment, and deserving of the sweet sleep that was still to follow. I was not ready, at 6:30, for that little hand that was reaching for me through the crib slats.

Your Daddy was already up and getting ready for work, so after I soothed you yet again, I brought you into bed with me. It is amazing to me how your little body can take up so much space in his half of a king-sized bed! 

I got to fall asleep with my hand on your tummy.

I got to be just a little bit of aware of you stirring some time later, only to reach out and touch my arm, which was enough to comfort you into staying asleep.

When you did wake, demanding more food and more comfort, I got to buy an extra half hour for myself by lazily nursing you right there in bed.

I appreciated your beautiful smile as you realized that I was still there.

I snuggled you and smooched you and sang a silly morning song that I had made up when you were brand new.

We played peek-a-boo under the blanket that I still didn’t want to give up. You laughed.

I was grateful.

Thank you for waking up at 6:30, little girl. But tomorrow, maybe sleep a little longer.

Love, Mama

Tree Musings

This is a short post, because I’m still packing here. Growing up on the west coast, I’ve always loved the trees. I feel at home in the woods, in parks thick with foliage, and in the cherry-tree lined streets of Vancouver and my old neighbourhood. And I’ve been thinking a lot about them in general lately.

I’m sad we didn’t get a family photo on the farm, under this gorgeous cherry tree, while it was full with blossoms. This is a picture of it just around this time last year, through the freshly-painted window that would soon be my baby’s room.


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We finally planted the magnolia tree that has been sitting in a pot since about this time last year. I wanted to buy a tree for the baby. Having decided to move, I wondered where to plant it, and finally decided it should be here. Sweet Pea’s first home, her birth place, ancestral land. Yes. The new lady of this house is an avid gardener, and I consulted with her as to where she’d like it. She suggested a spot in the front yard, and we got it in the ground just yesterday. I know it will be well cared for, and I love that we’ll be able to see if when we come by on walks.

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And, in what I think is wonderful timing to be taken as a very good sign, our cohousing community is having a tree planting on Sunday, the day after we move in. When we took a load of boxes there the other day (in fact, the same day the magnolia was planted), there were a bunch of potted cedars and instructions to choose one, label it, and show up to plant it on Sunday. Almost all were already claimed, but this little shorty was still looking for a human to choose it – perfect for a 9 month old! My girl’s got a tree with her name on it at the new house.

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I’m pretty happy about that.

We’re moving soon. And I’ve hit the Point of Moving Lethargy. Packing? Who needs to pack?

I’ve moved a lot, as you may know. And it’s always the same. You give your notice, run out to the liquor store, and quickly pack up your bookshelves (you know you won’t have time to read). Then you acquire some large boxes and look around and… there’s not much you can do. You don’t want to live out of boxes. But your energy is HIGH, because something very exciting is happening, so you declutter and pack any little box that you can.

Then your high wears off as reality sets in. It’s okay because you’re 2 weeks to move date and you can legitimately start to pack more. It’s okay if we have to live with a single set of dishes each, right? And two towels a person is all you need to allot. The boxes start to stack up, and things are looking good and going well which keep you at an even keel.

And then. THEN. Then it’s tonight – and you realize you only 3 more days to get this job done. The packing sucks now, because you have 4 books in a box and one crummy dust jacket that will get crushed, and it’s okay to just chuck stuff in a box and label it “MISC,” right? No, it’s not. Misc never gets open, friend, and you know it. So now packing is a pain in the butt and your energy dips to a low that not even Red Bull can assist with.

You sit here in no-man’s land because you haven’t reached panic point, but you know it’s around the corner.

So you enjoy making helpful graphs before it does.

Wish me luck.

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What is Cohousing?

People ask “what is cohousing?” and as often as possible I direct them to this cheerful little video. Belterra is not the cohousing community we are moving to, but we hope to visit there sometime soon (in fact, I may just make a bit of a mission of visiting other cohousing communities for weekend getaways, but that’s another story). I think they really nailed the explanation here, so check it out!

Somebody else who nailed it the other day is my friend Wendy. I was joking-but-serious on Facebook about giving away my stuff. Need something? I probably have it, and you can probably take it away right now. Wendy commented, “I heard the best presentation yesterday on the Sharing Economy. Seriously, we could all share ‘stuff’ a lot more and buy less. It creates jobs, saves resources and encourages social interaction.”

Cohousing in a paragraph, right there.

The Next Great Adventure

The Mr. and I were recently talking about the places we’ve lived over the years, and he pointed out that a lot have had an interesting story to go alongside them.

We’ve lived in a condo in Surrey which belonged to my grandmother. I loved the place, I did not love the neighbourhood. I was still sad to leave when my grandma had to sell it.

We’ve lived in a basement suite where we developed some of our closest friendships, with the couple who lived upstairs. I think my favourite story was when the Mr. and I came home with a pumpkin pie in the middle of the summer… only to find out that our friend upstairs was cooking a turkey.

We moved in to the upstairs of Porter’s Coffee House on 5 corners in Murrayville. This was a bit of an impulsive move. We had no real reason we needed to leave the above-mentioned basement suite, except that this place came up for rent and I desperately wanted to move in. Porter’s is a Murrayville heritage building. When I was in high school, I participated in a historical writing project centred on the early Murrayville families and buildings. My tale, a ghost story, was set at Porter’s, and the completed book is still available to flip through in the coffee shop (don’t go read my story, hey? It’s terrible).  We had the whole top floor here, and waking up every morning to the smell of cinnamon buns was amazing. The tab they allowed us to carry at the coffee shop was dangerous. You can understand why I jumped at a chance to live at Porter’s!

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We lived in a 500 square foot (including stairs!) residence at UBC immediately after marrying. I loved living on campus. It was truly gorgeous, and it was my favourite place to live in terms of having lots of spaces to walk and explore. I did not love 500 sq. feet.

And, 3 years ago, on a snowy March 1st weekend, we moved to the little farmhouse. This place, as you may know, has plenty of family history. I have adored living here. I am glad that Sweet Pea had the privilege of being the 5th generation to live in this very place. And on this snowy March weekend, I am both excited and a little bit sad to announce that we will be leaving the farmhouse at the end of April.

We are moving on, my friends, and the spring will find us living in a Cohousing Community. I had not expected it to happen so quickly, but doors have opened, and we are listening to that timing.

What is cohousing? Glad you asked! Let me quote my little cohousing cheat-sheet from the Yarrow Ecovillage…

“A cohousing neighbourhood is planned, owned, and managed by the residents. The private homes are similar to conventional homes, and are supplemented by a community hall, workshop, and vibrant play areas. Couhousers own their own homes and have separate finances, but are inclined to work together with neighbours who become friends to host community dinners, tend to garden spaces, and tinker in shared interests. All ages, religions, and walks of life can be found in cohousing. The common thread? A strong desire for community.”

What do I like about cohousing? I am excited for indoor and outdoor playspaces for Sweetpea, and other kids for her to play with. I think it’s an incredibly healthy space to raise our family. I am glad to be part of something that is a little less material, a little more eco-friendly, and a lot more community oriented. I like the people I’ve met. I am looking forward to sharing tea and dinner with neighbours, but retreating to my home when needed. I’m looking forward to having my own laundry room… but being able to use the community laundry space when I need to catch up. 😉 I might even be looking forward to trying some gardening again, with many seasoned gardeners available to walk me through it.

We have 2 months to say goodbye to the farm, and I know it’s going to be hard. But we are ready for our next great adventure – and I think it’s going to be good.

I don’t have pictures yet. For now, you can admire the farm in the snow.

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What Siri Said

Siri and I usually get along just fine, but we were having some serious communication problems yesterday.

For the record, I was trying to send the following message to my mom: “Sweet Pea is wearing the cute tunic you bought her.” (except, ermm, Sweet Pea’s real name. I’m counting on nobody going back and reading this post later).

Did Siri just break up with me?

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Have Hair, Must Accessorize.

My girl was born with hair. I mean, a lot of it. No lie, the first thing I heard a nurse say when Isla was born was “whoa, look at all that hair!” In fact, a nurse who came in to hook me up to some monitor while I was in labour told me she was going to have a lot of hair (but that’s a story for another day).

I’m not planning to cut it for a long time, but Sweetpea’s bangs get in her eyes, so I will do what I can to manage that. Most of the time, this involves pushing her bangs to the side dozens of times a day, but more and more I’m putting her in these little crochet hairbands, and while there’s no clip in this photo, pretty clips attach right to the hairband to mix and match for any number of outfits.

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Cute, Right?

So, I’ve been dreaming up a project to hold all of Sweet Pea’s pretty accessories. Pinterest directed me to dozens of pictures of ribbon-based clip holders, and while there are plenty of places to buy them, none were exactly what I was looking for. A cheap die-cut frame and some clearance ribbon from Michaels, and we were ready to go.

First, two coats of shockingly vivid spray paint.

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Next, cut and laid plenty of ribbons across in a visually pleasing pattern, and secured them with hot glue. I added a strip of ribbon across the back because it looks tidy, even though nobody will be looking at the back. I’m just that way. Excuse the one ribbon with poor manners, please.

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I realized that the best place to put this when complete was going to be the door to Sweetpea’s room. So, when I went out for more glue gun sticks, I also picked up some small wood painted letters. Out of interest, why does everybody need L so badly? I could only get it in black (which luckily, worked out just fine).

The Mr. helped me out by securing the finished project to the wall… I’ll show you in a moment. I was pretty pleased with how cute it was overall, but you know what’s not cute? These screws.

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They are, however, easy to cover up.

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While tidying up today, I spotted this little dragon which arrived in Sweetpea’s Christmas stocking. He’s adorable, exactly the right colour, and happy to hang out and hold stretch hairbands! Perfect.

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Here is the finish project in full.

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And finally, doing it’s job.

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I wish the lighting was better for these sorts of photos. I am absolutely in love with it turned out. Sweetpea is appropriately indifferent, of course, and I’m sure by the time she’s old enough to notice, it will just be part of the woodwork. But, these little projects make me happy, and for now, the pretty bows are really all about me anyway. 😉

Bonus photo. We’re in the planning stages of a Disney vacation, and Sweetpea will be ready! Disney bows arrived fromMiss Maddi’s Cutie Creations just this afternoon. I might be a tad excited.

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We’ve met some new neighbours. I’m pretty excited about it. They are moving in today but I met them a few days ago – they were wandering around their new neighbourhood, and they’re babywearers, which of course immediately caught my eye. Their 9 month old boy was strapped to mama’s back in a beautiful carrier while I walked Sweet Pea in a wrap, desperately trying to get her to sleep. My husband met them today on a walk. In a lovely neighbourly gesture, the Mrs. of this family offered to sew his buttons back on his jacket.

“What?” I ask, when he happily tells me about this exchange. “What’s wrong with your buttons? I hadn’t noticed.”

“They’re kind of unraveling, and you did notice the cuff button because you helped me put a safety pin in it’s place about a year and a half ago.”

Well there’s the truth, folks. My husband has been walking around with a large silver pin holding his jacket cuff together for a year and a half and I’ve barely noticed.

I mentioned to the Mr. that everybody seems to be doing a great job of this stay-at-home mom thing but me. “Facebook is a terrible place,” he commented. “It serves no purpose but to make yourself feel inadequate in comparison to your friends.”

Let me help you out and make you feel adequate. Allow there to be no illusions that I have it all together here. As of this moment, the baby is in a disposable diaper because I’m behind on laundry. So behind on laundry, in fact, that my blouse for today’s memorial service is still drying on a heated rack in the bathroom, and we’re leaving in half an hour. So behind on laundry that my daughter is sleeping in a onesie and footed pants rather than one of the two thousand sleepers we have in her dirty laundry bin. So behind on laundry that I used one of her tiny hooded towels for my shower today. There are dishes in the sink, and I opened a new pack of bottles just to get a lid. And a terrible secret: my Christmas tree is still standing in the corner, brightly decorated, though I dare not turn on the lights for fear the whole thing will go up in a spectacular flash of fire, because it probably hasn’t been watered in about 10 days anyway.

My husband leaves for 10 hours or so every weekday. I consider my day with Sweet Pea successful if we’re both dressed and fed and relatively happy when he gets home.

I’m excited about our new neighbours, but my terrible fear is that they’re going to knock on the door one day, and I’m going to have pull a kitchen chair into the living room and offer her a seat in front of my Christmas tree (which by the way, we’re obviously never ever having one again).

“Anyway,” says the Mr., “I guess she sews!”

My home-ec teacher would be having a fit. Poor Ms. Anderson gave up a prep block to do a private tailoring class with me, and I don’t even notice hanging buttons. So did I sew, dear readers, so did I. But I will happily let our new neighbour fix my husband’s jacket… and probably I’ll manage to take a plate of cookies over.