Around Here

29th August 2016

Am I the only one who can’t believe that summer is coming to an end?  Both Topher and Ellie start school on Thursday and I’m in hardcore denial.  I have three full days of outdoor fun planned before then with the hope of hanging on to summer as long as possible!

Here are a few of my favourite photos from the past two months:

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Ellie discovered Barbies.  The attraction was short-lived:  I think she spent two days dressing and undressing her Barbie before she got bored and went back to playing with her Paw Patrol action figures.

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We celebrated Canada Day!

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Topher had bronchitis for the first two weeks of his summer vacation, and spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office as a result.  Poor little guy!

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We painted with ice cubes, a summer activity I highly recommend!  I think it provided an entire 22 minutes of entertainment!

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Topher took a light saber training class at the local library and emerged with all body parts intact.

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He also baked a cake all by himself!  It wasn’t exactly edible, but we all ate some anyway.

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I learned to crochet.  So far I’ve made two lopsided washcloths, a scarf, a blanket and a half, and I’m working on my first hat.

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Thunder.  Lightning.  Hail.  Torrential rain.  A leaking tent.  Oh, and food poisoning.  But we survived camping!

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I spent lots of time in my happy place!

How did you spend your summer? 

When Dreams Change

15th August 2016

“Well?” he said, waiting for an answer. “What are you going to do?”

We were sitting in his office – him, leaning back in his chair with his feet on his desk, me, in the swivel chair across from him with my feet tucked beneath me, spinning myself around and around and around as I tried to make a decision.

I had been planning the cross-country move for more than a decade. I attended university after high school like my parents wanted, even earning a “sensible degree” in economics – but my passion had always been horses. The deal was that if I graduated from university, my parents would support me in whatever I chose to do next, even if that meant moving 3000 miles away to study horses at the best school of its kind in the country.

Hours earlier I had received a letter from that school informing me that I had been wait listed. They allowed ten students into the English Horsemanship program and I was unlucky number eleven. I had flown across the country a month before to tour the school and perform a riding test. I made one mistake – picking up the wrong canter lead and not correcting it quickly enough – and I was done. “You’re welcome to try again next year!” the letter said.

What was I going to do? 

I shared the answer (and the rest of this post!)  at Anchored Voices earlier this month.  I hope you’ll join me there!

Life & Love

8th August 2016

anni2016Last month my husband was part of a stealth operation. One of his friends wanted to propose to his longtime girlfriend and asked Nathan to provide the music. He chose a specific song – “Wanted”, by country singer Hunter Hayes. Nathan smirked the first time he heard it. “Seriously? Barf!” were his exact words.

We hung out the night before the proposal, three married couples and the dating one. All of the married couples split up on the couches, leaving one single beanbag chair for the lovebirds. “You guys sit there,” we joked. “You still like each other!”

The next afternoon Nathan covered himself in bug spray and hid in the bushes next to a walking trail. As the couple approached, he started to sing: “You know I’d fall apart without you. I don’t know how you do what you do. ‘Cause everything that don’t make sense about me makes sense when I’m with you …”

She said yes.

* * *

Nathan and I celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary last week. The proposal reminded me of us at the beginning of our relationship. We were constantly touching, arms around each other, holding hands. I remember one camping trip where friends bet us we couldn’t complete a mountain hike holding hands – and we won!

Life looks different now. After being pulled this way and that by kids all day, with a clingy toddler in my arms, Nathan’s lucky if he gets any greeting when he gets home from work, never mind a hug or a kiss.

Love looks different now too. We don’t have the time or the energy or the money to go on extravagant (or frequent!) dates, so we collapse on the couch after the kids are in bed and my work is done for the day. We hold hands in the grocery store parking lot instead of on mountain trails. We may not snuggle at friends’ houses, but we have more than eight years’ worth of inside jokes and communicate better with each other than with anyone else. Though we still haven’t managed to successfully escape a Breakout room

Most days aren’t filled with the freshness and passion that mark a new relationship. We’re more comfortable. We’re established in who we are as a couple. We celebrated our first anniversary with a romantic weekend getaway; we celebrated our eighth anniversary with burgers and an hour and a half of uninterrupted Pokemon hunting.

Sometimes, I will admit, I miss the newness. I miss the romance of it all. My husband is certainly more practical than he is romantic – he’s the man who catches our kids’ puke in his hands on airplanes, not the one who painstakingly crafts 1000 origami paper cranes and gifts me his wish.

But I love him more because of the life we’ve created together. He’s the one who proposed on bended knee on a dock while wearing rollerblades, and he’s the one who stops at the store on his way home from work almost every single day because I’m missing one ingredient for the dinner I’ve already started to make.

Our marriage isn’t glamorous. Romantic getaways are few and far between at this stage of life. Instead we sway together, dancing in the kitchen while the sink fills with bubbles and our children try to sandwich themselves between us.

And I wouldn’t give up these everyday moments for all the romance in the world.

What I Learned in July

30th July 2016

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One of my favourite writers, Emily P. Freeman, has been sharing what she’s learned each month on her blog for the past two years.  Some are silly, some are serious, and some are just plain useful!  I always enjoy reading her posts, so this month I decided to join her and share what I’ve learned in July:

  1. It’s important to count stitches when crocheting.  I started learning how to crochet a couple of months ago and I am horrible at remembering to count.  I’ve unravelled so many projects to start them over from the beginning  – just because I’m not paying attention.   Every row or two it’s also a good idea to take a step back and look at the project from a distance.  When you’re working up close it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  Which is why I got three balls in on a blanket before I realized it was more a trapezoid than a rectangle.  Ugh.  I’m sure there’s a life lesson in there somewhere …
  2. More than I ever wanted to know about Pokemon!  Nathan downloaded the Pokemon Go app on his phone and I have never seen him walk or rollerblade or spend time outside as much as I have this past month.  (FYI: Rollerblading doesn’t work very well unless you go slowly.  Otherwise you move too quickly for the GPS or whatever it is to register where you are/how far you’re going.)
  3. Stars Hollow is loosely based on the real town of Washington, Connecticut – which is where I’ve decided we need to go to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary.  We watched the entire series together while we were in the early stages of dating – forget about  Hawaii, I want to re-live the Gilmore Girls!  And yes, I’ve already told Nathan he needs to take November 25th off work.
  4. If you don’t submit your writing, you won’t get published.  I’ve heard it said over and over that what makes you a writer is writing – but I’m not sure I agree.  Are you really a writer if you have no readers?  I love to write, but I’ve always written somewhat anonymously.  My blog isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s not something I share with my friends either.  I participated in Hannah Brencher‘s Writing Intensive last November and an important lesson I took away from it is that there’s no point in secret writing.  We write for ourselves, to some extent –  but it’s more important that we write for other people.  This month I submitted writing to a couple of blogs and other online publications – and the first one was actually accepted!
  5. Smores with peanut butter cups are THE BEST.

What did you learn this month?  

Family Photos

26th July 2016

I don’t like to spend money on frivolous things.

My wardrobe is 90% Old Navy sale rack, I prefer the library to Amazon, and I shop three grocery stores, depending on sales.

But every year, at least once a year, I shell out several hundred dollars and force my family to pose for professional photos.

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Nathan hates it, Topher tolerates it, and Ellie – well, I think she actually looks forward to it!  She’s a bit of a ham :)

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My friend Lindsay started her own photography business when Topher was only a few months old, so she’s always been the lucky one who has to make my grumpy boys smile.  She’s gotten pretty good at it over the years – out of the 68 photos she edited for us this year, there were only 14 with silly faces/tongues sticking out!  (I don’t want to know how many she didn’t bother editing!)

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I love how natural the photos are.  She always manages to catch a couple of the kids that are just so them, like Ellie with her cheeky little grin.  We see that expression every single day and it usually means she’s plotting something she knows she’s going to get away with because she’s so stinking cute.

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And Nathan and Topher, acting like the goobers they are.  Somehow I can’t see them relaxing like that in the Sears Portrait Studio!

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There was a whole series of silly face shots.  Maybe I’ll put those ones on our Christmas cards this year?

She even got some nice pictures of me with the kids!  I don’t always like the way I look in photos but there are so few family pictures with me in them that I treasure the ones Lindsay takes!

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Now if we could only sell our condo so I could put up a gallery wall ….