Wednesday, April 3, 2019


In an effort to lose weight and also get fit again, I joined the gym last April. The original plan was to start lifting weights. I never made it there. Believe it or not, I hit the pool. And loved it. I did aquafit 2-4 times per week -- until August. Then I stopped. I had kids in day camps, family vacation, and lots of running around to do to send another kid off to university. I had planned to go back once all the girls were back in school, but it didn't happen. As daylight got shorter and the days colder, I could not bring myself to go back. Finally, I canceled my membership. Suffice it to say, I was once again doing absolutely nothing. Videos bore me to tears as do the apps for your phone. I have tried yoga, and various other online programs, and just don't enjoy it.  I am too cheap to set up a new membership because I know I won't get the full value out of it.

On the whole, I hate to sweat! In other words, exercise indoors is not the least bit enjoyable to me. I prefer to be outside. I also suffer from bone spurs in both my feet -- the right one being the most painful. I have orthotics, have done lots of the stretching exercises (they don't help). I even went to the extreme the other way and tried barefoot shoes (sadly, although I thought they were helping, in the end, they didn't help either). However, despite the pain, it has not prevented me from walking. Walking at a good brisk pace doesn't seem to bother me. At the end of February we were getting these beautiful, but cold sunny days. I desperately wanted to get outside. Unfortunately, walking near our home is not the best option even though I love to go to the bush in the back of our house. That bush, despite having some short trails, is also used for hunting and I always feel just a little unsafe -- especially with Leo wanting to run off leash.

A mere five minutes drive away is a natural habitat that used to be gravel pits. It is a very popular place for dog walkers as it is quiet and sheltered and the water-loving dogs have an area where they can swim. There are two loops with nice wide paths for walking and two trails that run through the bush. One is horribly muddy at this time of year, but the other one is pretty good even after we have had rain. Leo and I have been walking there almost daily for a month now. We walk anywhere from 35 minutes to an hour depending on how busy my day is and/or what the weather is like. He lives for going for his walk and I am loving it too. There is always something to see there! I am now looking forward to watching things green up!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Moving Toward a Simpler Life

In late November, I went on a decluttering kick (again). If you know me or have read my blog, you know I love decluttering and organizing and that I frequently declutter. This has been my largest one to date. I wish I had thought to take photos, but as I wasn't thinking blog thoughts, taking photos of the process did not cross my mind at all.

At the same time as I went full on decluttering, I discovered the abyss that is youtube and started listening to youtubers and vlogs on minimalism, simplifying, and slowing down. I discovered podcasts as well.  This was just ahead of the Marie Kondo craze. I will admit that I did binge watch all her episodes on Netflix last month. Interesting, but I was already way ahead of that concept.

In late November I began a thirty-day challenge where the goal is to get rid of five hundred things in thirty days. I managed to almost double that amount -- and I wasn't counting 30 thumbtacks as part of the challenge. I would just mark down, a box of thumbtacks. My family was not a part of the challenge, so, for the most part, their stuff was left alone. I ended up with 7 empty 7 litre Rubbermaid rough totes, three empty varying height plastic multi-drawer towers, as well as a number of empty banker's boxes. I think at least six car or van loads were taken to various locations such as Habitat for Humanity, Goodwill, and St. Vincent de Paul. As I am sitting here typing there are two boxes of items that need to be dropped off again as well as several boxes of books that will be going to a fundraising book sale later this year.

The reality is though, that I am still not done. There are still large amounts of papers that need to be sifted through, cards to be sorted, photographs to be gone through, more crafting items that need to be passed along, a garage to tackle when the weather warms up again, and still more books to be gone through.

What has all this purging of stuff taught me? 1) less stuff equals less work. Less to clean, less to look after, less to feel guilty about. 2) If done carefully, you will have no regrets. In other words, I have not regretted getting rid of anything that has left our home. 3) I am able to be more careful and frugal with what remains in our home and I truely like the stuff that is here.

Ultimately, my goal in decreasing the amount of stuff in my home is to free up time and yes, finances for other things. Things that aren't necessarily material, but allow us to slow down, enjoy being home and spending time together as a family. I want to walk into my home and the various rooms in my home and feel at rest. I want to be able to sloooowww down and read, sip a cup of tea, savour a piece of dark chocolate, and not be thinking to myself that I need to hurry up because I need to dust this,  to vacuum that, to put all those things away that there is no room for because I have too much stuff already.

It is a process and it will continue to be a process. It is a matter of mindfulness and learning to embrace slow. Perhaps I will end up calling this the Year of Slow. I guess I am back to marching to the beat of A Different Drum. :o)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

What We Have Been Up To {Part 2}

Now for an update on the four girls that are still at home.

 Squirt is already in grade 11 and so focused on what she will do after high school that it's a little crazy! Her goal is to become a pastry chef and eventually own her own bakery She did a co-op at a nearby bakery (not the one her older sisters worked at as sadly, he gave up the business to move on to different things. They are still missed by many of us locals!) and learned the basics of cake and cookie decorating, as well as working with confections. She also just completed a semester of the foods course at school and loved every minute of it. A photography course and some business courses are also being completed this year.

She still swims on the swim team at school and likes to get involved in other activities at school as well. She got her braces on in February 2018.

Bella is in grade 10 this year. She is doing quite well. This past fall, she joined the army cadets and is really enjoying it. She is currently taking horseback riding as part of the cadet program. She continues to enjoy reading and really that is about it with her. We have been trying to cultivate other interests with her, but she shows no interest in doing much but reading. She is a bit of a mystery.

She got her braces on in March 2018.

Bright Eyes is in grade eight and it definitely going to be our smallest child. (Abygail is rapidly passing her in height.) Alendra now has an IEP (Individual Education Plan) so many of her subjects have been adjusted to her abilities. We have discovered that she will be able to go to the same high school as her older sisters and we are quite relieved about that. There are a few behavioral issues that we continue to try to work through with her. When she is at home, she loves to create -- whether it be drawing, colouring, baking, etc, just like her mom and her oldest sister. :) Alendra took up embroidery this Christmas and finished her first project just after the new year! I now have her learning cross-stitch as well.

Peanut is in grade 6. We are in the depths of establishing an IEP for her also. Her learning issues are quite different from Alendra's. We are curious to know and hopefully understand this girl better as there are many days where we feel we are banging our head against a wall with her. Aside from that, Abygail continues to be a social butterfly. She loves to read, colour, draw, play on the Wii, and if we let her, she would watch tv all day long.

She also has little fear as you might be able to tell by the cast on her arm. She fell off the monkey bars at school and broke her arm just two weeks before school got out and spent until mid-July in a cast.

This winter has been miserable for being outdoors. I think the four of them have been able to play outdoors twice and those two days were two of the coldest days of the winter so far. So the outdoor activities for all of them have come to a grinding halt. I hope we have an early and cooperative spring. Thankfully, everyone has been staying quite healthy so far this winter.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

What Have We Been Up To {Part 1}

I think it will take a few posts to update our lives here -- suffice it to say, not everyone lives at home anymore -- so, I will start with the three oldest.

Nathanael (aka Bub), graduated from university in the spring last year (2018) with a degree in global business and digital arts (GBDA). After spending about a month at home job hunting he found work at a company in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

He works for a Software-as-a-service company providing a cloud infrastructure management and optimization solution. Basically, their technology allows companies to purchase the most optimal cloud products to run whatever workloads they're running in the cloud. It reduces risk, saves them money, and simplifies the lives of app owners, developers, and cloud ops.

Nathanael is a graphic designer. He works in the marketing department. He creates external and internal facing content, social images, trade show booth designs, collateral video, photography, etc. He also manages the company's relationships with various print vendors throughout Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. He gatekeeps all the visual content that the company produces. His goal is to maintain and elevate their brand to make the company a recognizable player in their industry.

(If you understood all that you are much smarter than me. I asked him to send me that information. 😚)

Nathanael rents a room in an apartment within decent walking distance of his work, a couple of grocery stores, and church. He does not have a car, but it is the GTA, so public transport is pretty accessible. Cost of living is very high in the GTA, so this arrangement works well for him at this point.

Peach is in her third year of university. She is in a work/study program meaning that they do a semester or two of school and then a paid co-op. This semester, she is on co-op working on a project run by the university which examines the behavioral implications of government tobacco policies. She does a lot of reading, but in between the reading, she does summaries and little write-ups that have a purpose.

She lives in a lovely little apartment off campus with three other girls. She enjoys cooking for herself, and last spring took up embroidery and is waaaay better at hand-stitching than I will ever be.

Beans just started her first year of university this fall. She is majoring in voice (surprise surprise). For a long time it was a toss-up between voice and piano, but in the end, voice won out. She has adjusted to university life far better than we expected and is the happiest we have ever seen her. I guess because she is finally doing what she loves.

That's about it for the three oldest. They are busy, happy, and healthy. We message and chat fairly frequently. They come home less frequently, but they are busy and life here continues to roll right along too.

Friday, January 18, 2019


Hello! And happy new year! Here it is over halfway into January already and although I decided to start blogging again this year, it hasn't happened until today!

Life here is constantly changing. I'm not talking just the weather outdoors, or the seasons, but within our home and our family. I feel like I constantly have to re-adjust how I do things. Thankfully, as I have aged, I have mellowed a bit (I think).

I am still at home full time with no plans to "get a real job" anytime in the near future. I LOVE being home! The second shift of children gets on the bus shortly before 8:30 and before I know it, the first shift is walking in the door again because it is 2:42. How quickly the days fly! It seems funny now how I used to just dread the winter months. Now I love them! Especially the days where I don't have to go anywhere! I will let you know over the next few days and weeks what I and this family have been up to, but for now, I just wanted to say, "hello!"

Thursday, April 12, 2018

When You Are Stuck

I never had any intentions of quitting blogging. It just happened. I know now there wasn't any one reason, but a host of reasons put together. Combine the reasons, and blogging was one of the first things to go. In late October of 2017 after yet another visit to my nurse practitioner because I was feeling extremely tired, she suggested that I see a life coach, because I was healthy (despite being about 30 lbs overweight. Yup I am).

I was pretty excited to get started, but the first visit was not very encouraging. I actually left feeling even more frustrated with myself. I was overwhelmed with life. A asked me what I was doing that made me feel accomplished. She wanted to know what I did each day that made me feel good about myself. I didn't have an answer to that. Oh I did lots during the day and a lot of sitting doing nothing between getting the what I felt I must do's done, but none of it was anything that made me excited about my life. I was given homework for that week. I was to try to spend each day meditating for five minutes. I was a little leery at first. Meditate? Isn't that some new age thing? Actually, it isn't. It is just sitting completely quiet for five minutes focusing solely on your breathing and pushing away all the distractions that pop into your mind while sitting there. It results in bringing a little more clarity throughout the day.

After about three visits, I was feeling better about life. I was motivated in the mornings and the desire to sit and do nothing all day began to disappear. I had been stuck. I was in a rut. I lacked motivation to do anything for myself because whenever I did I felt like there were other more important things that I should be doing. The reason I didn't notice the feeling until almost November every year is due to stress. Having a house full of children in the summer -- especially our two youngest -- creates a large stressor for me. Truthfully I am not even aware of it, but my body is, and it takes almost two months for it to realize it doesn't have to be on high alert from dawn to bedtime anymore. Sounds crazy, I know, but our two youngest children are very high maintenance and cannot be left alone for more than ten minutes or so, as they tend to like to find trouble. This in turn causes me to have to keep an eye on them from the time they get up until they go to bed. It is a lot of work.

By the time they have all been back in school for almost two months, my body just wants to shut down completely. I felt tired all the time. A gave me ways to cope with the exhaustion and I have been feeling good. Some days I am legitimately tired because I went to bed to late. On the days that I do feel overtired, I give myself permission to just be and not feel guilty about it.

I am nervous about how I will handle the summer this year, but I will go to see A in June and perhaps again through July and August. This autumn I will at least know why I am so tired if I end up that way again and I can work through it.

In the end it was encouraging to know that I was simply -- stuck. Nothing major was wrong with me. I just needed to see myself as a person again. Not in a selfish way, but in a way that makes me aware of what my body and even my mind are telling me.

Now to figure out how to drop those thirty pounds!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Fun with Yarn

I  still don't think I have found my creative niche per say, but I have sure discovered that I like to crochet. This year I deliberately did not set any goals anywhere in my life because last year I made several and following through with any of them amounted to nil. Not a single solitary goal was met. Pathetic. So this year no goal setting whatsoever. None.

However, as the new year progressed from January to February, I completed several crochet projects and concluded I needed to start expanding my repertoire of stitches from just the simple basic stitches to some more -- not necessarily more complicated -- but stitches with a little more thinking involved.

My first completed project was a temperature blanket. I started it in January of 2017. Each row was a colour that matched a temperature range of about 5 degrees. Once it was completed, it was HUGE. It is 365 rows, so I guess that makes sense. It is wide enough to fit a twin bed -- or should I say, a twin bed for a giant.

The left one is a lap blanket done in moss stitch. The middle one was completed in 2017 and the right one in February. They are both the granny stitch. They are also both baby blankets.

 This neckwarmer was finished in 2017 too, but I had to sew on the buttons. Hand sewing is not something I enjoy, so I put it off for months. Finally, I decided to just get er done! It is basically still a granny stitch except there are only two double stitches in each loop instead of three.

I call this my January Blues blanket for several reasons. The obvious two being that I began it in January and that is is in shades of blue/blue-green. There is a third reason, but it will eventually get a post of its own. This is a new stitch I learned called the V-stitch. You can now see why almost all my projects come complete with dog hair. 😏

This is my most recent blanket and the one that took me to the next level. Piecing. And a new stitch called corner to corner. Once I got the hang of it, I had a hard time putting this project down. After stitching it together, I learned that I should have blocked it first (a crochet term for dampening the yarn and pinning it into position until it dries. Somehow this causes the project to hold its shape). Credits for this project belong to Brittany who posted it at bhookedcrochet.

I have made three of these Wildwood cowls from the Unraveled Mitten in varying combinations of colours. They crochet up quickly and are great for using up leftover yarn. The first one is a little bit of a mess at the join, but it is hidden at the back so it isn't obvious. After the first one, I got the hang of it and the next two worked up perfectly.

Over the weekend I completed a number of headbands and started yet another blanket. I will post them once I have taken some photographs.
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