Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Lady Who Lunches

Sorry I didn't post last week, readers.  I was busy.  Busy MAKING LUNCH.

Why does it have to be so stressful?  Maybe because it's not an option to NOT make your kid's lunch?    And they can't have anything delicious that's not good for you.  What, no Twinkies? Come ON.

But thanks to my brother and SIL and their portable food container savvy, Liliane is bringing her photogenic and organized mid-day meal in an awesome Laptop Lunch box.  Doesn't it look delicious?  It's really great for portion sizes and all the boxes and colours make everything look tastier. 

NOTE: she did NOT appreciate my putting cucumber in her wrap.  Cucumber is to be eaten BY ITSELF.  Also  a big N.O. on the snap peas.  Red, yellow or orange pepper s.v.p.  Carrots and cauliflower passed muster.  

I actually put fresh corn kernels in her lunch once (with a fork) but FAIL.  Corn on the cob STAYS on the cob.  Unless we eat it at home.
The lunch rules are complicated, people.  Parents of preschoolers, be warned. 

Otherwise, it's business as usual around here.  Alice is combining her love for horses with her skill in the salon:

And the girls got their bangs cut.  WOO HOO.

 I'm heading out of town tomorrow to go hang out with my Mom in Washington, D.C. for a couple of days.  If you happen to be in the neighbourhood, please feel free to stop in and offer my husband some  moral support as he'll be solo parenting for three whole nights.  Caffeinated beverages and adult conversation will be gratefully accepted.  He's my hero! 

I'll give my regards to the ruby slippers for you.  À bientôt!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Friday Favourite: Devotional Edition

So, I had a little revelation recently (ha ha, Bible humour) when I realized that maybe all the down time I've had since June has been for a reason.  A reason beyond the privilege of enjoying the sunshine and swimming and kids and holidays and camping and ice cream.  Which I did!  To the fullest!

They have not been carefree months, friends.  I think once you start working for yourself, that fear of never working again because actually I suck is never very far away. I had some of that.  I had more than one meltdown about money.  I had some general doubts about what the heck I was doing with my life.

But it turns out there was a point to all that.  That time was a gift.  Time to work on developing the habit of spending time with God and listening to what He has to say.  To develop the reflex of turning to God instead of giving in to the fear.  So much harder to do than it sounds.  And I'm still not very good at it but I am definitely better.

Turns out that for me, the best way for me to be in God's presence is by writing things down.  Hello! *smacks forehead* I am a writer after all and I always use words to work mah stuff.  So yes, it's perfectly logical and maybe I'm SLOW but better late than never, right?  SO.  I have my journal, I have some great music, I have some quiet time (thank you school and excellent subsidized daycare system) and I have this book called Jesus Calling.

Full disclosure: I was doing some research and I discovered quite a few folks who are disturbed by it calling it "dangerous" and "occult-like."  As if the author is trying to replace the Scriptures with her own words.  I disagree.  And I digress. ANYWAY.

This book has been incredibly helpful for me.   The other tool I use is this app written by Ann Spangler.  Someone else recommended it to me and I LOVE it.

It takes practice to build a good habit.  So I'm practicing.  I am also working on memorizing verses.  So far I've got "Jesus wept" (heh! we church kids know that as the shortest verse in the Bible), John 3:16 and I'm working on this one:

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. -Psalm 37:7

I read this for the first time about a month ago and I love it because it makes me feel better about all the crap that goes on in the world. Example: when I think about Syria, hotbed of wicked schemes right now, this verse gives me some hope.  I don't watch the news or read the paper anymore (it's a PPD thing) but I know what's going on and this verse soothes what troubles me.

Voilà.  That's what I have on my mind right now.  Along with school lunch ideas, pumpkin spice anything and starting to save money for a turkey.

Oh and we made all of Alice's soothers disappear yesterday.  (DAH SUCE!) She protested more than her big sister did but then it was over.  And she went to sleep.  Fingers crossed she does it again tonight.

Wish us luck! And wishing you peace, dear readers. In whatever form you find it.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


You may not know this about me but I like to keep summer going as long as possible.  Don't talk to me about how it's all over after Labour Day because *lalalalala I can't hear you*  

However.  It is tricky to keep up the charade enjoy the remaining days of summer when you have a child in school.  Sure it's easier to let go of my favourite season since we're all busy adapting to the routine and getting excited about kindergarten, etc.  And it helps that we really did make the most of summer with all the traveling and camping and trying new things and generally having fun as a family unit.  But STILL.  I'm not quite ready.

So that's why we squeezed in one more adventure over the long weekend!  It may not have been particularly warm or sunny, but we got to swim in a fancy outdoor pool, eat BBQ and drink rosé, hang out in Ottawa and generally slack off. 

We hit up the kids' section of the Museum of Civilization and it was awesome.  Super fun and well organized.  Also not too expensive.  Because, in case you don't know this, freelancing = POOR.  For now! It can also mean big bucks but I am grateful for the time just now.


We met Mr. Potato Head.  

Alice transported stuff.

And swabbed some decks.

They rode a camel.

We got in some family time in with Stéphane's sister.  I took these while they were playing a form of HIGH FIVE!  but with feet.  I highly recommend it.

Deb!  My dear friend from the waaaay back.  Let's not explore how far back exactly but we met in Junior High in 1987 so that means we were 13 - carry the one- OH SHUT UP.

 She kindly put us up for two days in her guest room.  AND came swimming in their swanky condo pool.  AND bought us lunch on Monday AND came with us to the mall.  We love her.

Liliane has declared Deb to be her best friend EVER. Like mother like daughter I guess.

I only share this so you can see Alice and her side eye wondering why are even bothering with this busted selfie.  Liliane was in charge of the angle, can you tell? 

So now, this is our new normal:

An excited nearly-6-year-old with new shoes, ready to skip out the door and plunge into whatever kindergarten adventure awaits.

OK FINE, summer. You are free to wind down.  But I'm warning you, fall.  You have big shoes to fill!

Friday, 30 August 2013


Oh friends.  I get it now.  This whole BACK TO SCHOOL thing.  It's BIG.

I seriously had to stop making Liliane's lunch last night and lie down because I was so tired.  My body was all "CAN WE PLEASE GO TO SLEEEEP" and my feet were screaming (school is seriously a five minute walk.  FIVE MINUTES) and my brain was insisting on two more episodes of Orange is the New Black because hello! We earned it.

I don't know if it's the newness of it all?  Or the millions of questions we seem to have that no one can really answer yet? Whatever.  This is insane.  And that's just the parents! 

 Liliane is a combination of comatose and cray-cray by the time dinner rolls around.  She loves it and is afraid of all the new stuff but... she loves it.  This morning she said, "Maman, school is like vacation." Ha!  Hang on to that, kiddo.  

It's a joy to watch her.  Information comes out slowly at the end of the day and we try not to ask too many questions but it's hard because I'M JUST SO INTERESTED.

We do know that she already made a friend!  This is Sarah and she is in Liliane's class.  Sarah doesn't speak much French so her teacher is happy they found each other so Liliane can help her out.  
Posing in front of the vegetable garden. Look! A patate! (Actually a tomato but that's why she's at school, right?)

Stéphane's parents came to hang out with Alice while we took Liliane on her first day.  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention.  Alice's teacher is on holiday this week so she's off, too!  Good times!

Grandmaman and Grandpapa brought some excellent back-to-school-type activities.  

Liliane has now traced over every single letter of the alphabet thanks to that book.  

Alice got out her horse collection for Grandmaman.

Liliane's new lunchbox hadn't arrived yet so this is what her first lunch looked like.  I also ordered reusable snack bags, so simmer down Judgy McEarthday.  


Her teacher, Marc.   We love him.   And they are supposed to call him by his first name.  WEIRD.

So this morning was the first day we had to get there at the regular time which is 8:12.  That's EIGHT-TWELVE AY-EM.  Friends, we usually roll out of bed around 8:12 and sometimes I have to go in and wake the girls up.  We were so nervous about this new schedule but it went off without a hitch.

The bell rings at 8:12 and then all the kids line up. 

Marc got them all organized then class by class they went inside. *sob*

I did not cry at all this week.  It's all so exciting and overwhelming that I haven't had time to feel sad.  Also this child has been ready for school for AGES.  AGES!  I say that because she's been talking about it for AGES! And waking up in the night all worried about it for AGES! 

I didn't expect to enjoy all the changes to our routine so much.  Turns out it's lovely to walk over to the school and to meet all the new people who will be a big part of our lives for the next few years.  It's lovely to be excited for my child and remember all the things I loved about school.  (For the record: everything except P.E. and Grade 11 Math).  

We heading off to Ottawa for the long weekend (Hi Deb! Hope you are still talking to me after our visit!) so all good things coming up.  

Enjoy your last summer holiday weekend!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Counting Down

So this happened on Friday.  

Four years at this school and just like that, DONE.  Liliane was totally fine.  She's so excited about school she can hardly sleep.  No, seriously.  I was up with her three times last night.

Around these parts school starts before Labour Day.  I KNOW.  So wrong.  First day is Wednesday.  Alice's daycare is on holiday this week as well so we girls are holding down the fort. 

And by that I mean wearing pajamas, watching movies and having a living room picnic.
 I got this blanket at Maxi (Great Canadian Superstore) for NINE DOLLARS.  Flannel on one side, nylon on the other and it has handles for easy transport.  
Also,  did I mention NINE DOLLARS?

Kinda crappy outside so we are all pretty relaxed around here.  Relaxed except for my brain which keeps tapping me on the shoulder every few minutes and screaming EVERYTHING IS ABOUT TO CHANGE! AWOOOOOOGAH! AWOOOOOGAH!

But then I opened my awesome new devotional book a few minutes ago (thanks Mom!) and this is what I read:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.    
 -John 14:27

So there.  Hush up, brain. 

Anybody else having back-to-school anxiety? 

Monday, 19 August 2013


Now these may look like normal family camping trip photos to the average blog reader. But to me, they are proof of a triumph over adversity!

Maybe adversity isn't the right word.  Triumph over our inner perfectionist! Triumph over the "you're doing it wrong" voice! Triumph over mind-numbing anxiety! 

Yeah, I'll just go with adversity.  

Our first attempt at camping was back in July and while we loved it, we were sort of overwhelmed with the learning curve and came back exhausted.  Plus I didn't bring enough warm clothes for the cool night and shivered my way through most of the weekend.  Plus the anxiety of we're sleeping outside! With the kids!  In a remote park in the middle of nowhere!  Surrounded by strangers!  Oh friends, I spent so much time praying, asking for peace and to please not be murdered on my many trips to the bathroom.

This time we shared a site with Stéphane's parents and they were all set up when we got there AND they had dinner organized for us!  Hooray! Stéphane and his Dad put our tent up in about half the time it took the first time while I took the girls to the playground.  Easy.

We had time to actually do some fun camping stuff and also do nothing.  Not pictured: roasting marshmallows because GET MY PHONE AWAY FROM THAT STICKY MESS and I was busy wiping hands for about an hour. 

Stéphane totally mastered the fire pit and we got to have lots of sitting around the fire time once the kids were asleep. 

Everybody slept well except me, I was cold again.  But hey! No anxiety! 

 I was a little worried on the first night when the people across from us started up a singalong just as we were coaxing the kids to sleep.  My heroic husband eventually half-jokingly asked them if they knew any lullabies and they hastily finished their set.  Sorry!  Party pooper alert!

Our campsite was about an hour outside the city and, no joke, had a Tim Horton across the street.  Thank goodness because guess who forgot our coffee mugs?  (me) $10 later, BOOM. Tim commuter mugs for our camping kit.

It's right on this little lake so it's perfect for kids.

 I can't remember the last time I saw a lilypad.  They're so purty.

On Saturday night there was a big ol' shindig up at the main entrance.  It was cool because lots of people were hanging out up there so it was pretty quiet down by our tent.  I was picturing a nice, peaceful bedtime.  But Liliane and her new friend (staying in one of the many obnoxious RVs surrounding us) wanted to go check out the dance party so I scrapped my plan of trying to get Alice to bed by myself and we all went.

Picture this: a roaring bonfire at least two storeys high.  I could hear it crackling and hissing well before we actually saw it.  Campers of all ages were burning up the covered dance floor under the watchful eye of this crumbling yet clearly beloved Elvis statue.  Liliane and her pal immediately got their groove on while Stéphane and I hung back with Alice.  Her eyes were wide and she got very quiet as she took in the towering inferno, flashing  lights, loud music and, of course, Elvis himself.

She cautiously got down from her perch in Stéphane's arms after a few minutes and by the time Footloose came on, she was tearing it up with the best of them, turning around every few minutes to so to make sure that Elvis wasn't going anywhere.  She and I watched in amazement as Shania Twain organized everybody into a line dance.  Dang, those people are COORDINATED.  The lines dissolved as quickly as they were created when Pump Up the Jam took over.

"I don't remember any campsites with dance parties when I was a kid," I said to Stéphane as we walked down the hill back to our tent about an hour later.

"Every Saturday night pretty much.  Welcome to camping in Quebec!"

Indeed.  Is this really just a cultural thing? This site has a 11PM curfew which people mostly respected although we could hear the thumping music (Wow, they're doing Shook Me All Night Long! Again!) until sometime before midnight.  But eventually it was completely quiet,  the stars were out and apart from the occasional frog or bird, the only sound breaking the peaceful silence was the chattering of my teeth.  


I am definitely in the market for a new sleeping bag.

To sum up: we had fun, we definitely appreciated sharing our space with the grandparents who made everything easier. (Merci beaucoup!) We enjoyed the atmosphere of this private campground as opposed to a provincial park but felt a little squeezed by all the RVs.  (Why would I want to see much less smell your sewage pipe? SO EWWW.) The disadvantage of being in such close proximity to everyone is that it's not super quiet.  On the other hand, Orford was quiet because the sites were really isolated BUT both nights we had closeby loud talkers carrying on until the wee hours despite the 11PM curfew.  

I think next time we'll try and find something between the two.  More experienced camping readers, help me out:  what is the official camping etiquette?  There is curfew but no one respects it?  Some people respect it but it's not enforced?  Where are the best places to take kids whose mothers are overly obsessed about not being kept awake all night?  

Thank you in advance.  I am going to go hide the leftover Nutella now.
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