when you’re home alone

My family comes home today; they’ve been in Cape Breton since Sunday. Having some alone time gave me all the feels, including but not limited to glee, relaxation, loneliness, ambition, exhaustion, laziness and fear of the dark.*

I started my respite at the beach for a few hours with friends and the book club book. It was a picture-perfect Nova Scotia beach day so if (god forbid) I don’t get another, I can sail through 2017 with the satisfaction that I got to soak in one perfect afternoon.

FullSizeRender2

I had an appointment to have multiple surfaces of my face waxed, which will not be immortalized with a photo, so I give you Ryan Gosling.

b9f0ae11a75fcd496814415f24a2136e--christian-grey-christian-humor

I scrubbed my kitchen floor within an inch of it’s life; isn’t it purdy?

FullSizeRender

I sorted out a ton of the kids clothes. I packed away things that are still too big in bins labeled “2018” and laundered hand-me-downs that I think will fit just right in September for the new school year.

IMG_4875

IMG_4876

I ate everything I wanted to eat, which included a take-out burrito, homemade poutine and these incredible oatmeal chocolate chip cookies from the market down the road.**

IMG_4877

*I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve slept in my house alone, and that includes the three nights I just spent. That first night was scary as shit.
**I actually ate one and took the rest to work because I would’ve otherwise eaten them all myself and been saddled with monstrous regret.
Advertisements

friday favourites

I’m working today for the first Friday since June. Can’t really be bitter about it when I had three summer long weekends, right? Anddd I’m only one work week away from 10 days off, so there’s that.

Parenting today vs. parenting in the ’80s (aka before social media): “The competition, the overload, the busy card — it’s all trendy these days and I don’t know a parent who hasn’t gotten caught up in it. That, coupled with how intense kids’ homework and sporting events are, doesn’t exactly leave us time to make any spur-of-the-moment plans — and isn’t that supposed to be the spice of life?” Here’s the link so you too can read why it’s different.

No kids: We got super lucky last weekend when a friend invited BOTH our kids for a playdate and they kept the kids for SIX hours. Naturally, we did errands because that’s what boring parents do and shopping without kids is as close to luxury as I get lately. Then we considered going to a restaurant with a patio, but there’s other people there. And we weren’t feeling it. (When I don’t have my kids with me, I don’t want to hear other people’s kids). So, we stopped at both Pita Pit and Booster Juice on the way home to have lunch alone on our own deck. And it was great. Not to mention the hour-long nap that followed.

IMG_4741

Letting go of the phone: I’ve done digital detoxes before, but like this writer says, it’s just a quick fix rather than a sustainable solution. I love these ideas in this article because it really is a legit addiction. Check it out here.

ed32806b39d6bb4b68461e80bf6a3f9f--baby--toddler-alone-time

No kids: Is it weird to list this twice? Makes me sound like I really like being without my boys, but that’s not true. But omgalonetime. It just so happens that my menfolk are heading to Cape Breton on Sunday for a few days to visit family, but I’m reserving my vacation time for a full-blown Bunin reunion later in August, so I’ll stay home to work. I’m never alone in my house, let alone overnight. I don’t even know what I’m going to do with myself. (That’s not true. I do know. I’m going to clean and clean and clean. With Grey’s on in the background, naturally).

Happy Friday!

 

10 things

10 things I intend to accomplish this summer

  1. Finish the deck and spend a lot of time on it. A lot. Read, soak up some vitamin D, drink coffee, drink wine, chat and laugh with friends, eat barbecue, drink wine.
  2. Get to the beach at least a handful of times. We had our first dip in the Atlantic over the weekend (mine didn’t really count since I was only in as deep as my booty), but hoping to have many more salty swims! The summer seemed to escape me last year and I didn’t do as much beaching as I’d hoped. If what they say is true (who the heck are they?), the weather is going to be (eventually) ideal.

    IMG_4819

  3. Run 2-3 times per week. I may have to run at 10 p.m. to avoid the heat, but I’ll make it work.
  4. Go camping with the fam at least twice. We already had an amazing first outing at Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park! The challenge with summer is that it’s already pretty packed with to-dos, but we’re hoping to have at least one more weekend in the wilderness before the snow flies.
  5. Host friends for a deck party and bonfire. Hopefully, we’ll be able to do this more than once, but at the very least our new deck will need to be warmed.
  6. Visit one local landmark that I’ve never visited before. Not sure where this’ll be yet, but it could include York Redoubt, Long Lake Provincial Park, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame or a craft brewery tour.
  7. Spend a solo day with my boys. I’m pretty jealous that dad gets to be at home through the summer, having quality one-on-one time with the kids. And honestly, he could use the break. I plan to take a day off and spend it with my guys, doing all kinds of fun things that will hopefully make dad jealous.
  8. Read two new books. And the book club books don’t count. Any suggestions? I’m thinking more beach read vs. epic tome.
  9. Practice new recipes to prepare for lunch-packing season. I’ve only been out of practice for two and a half weeks and already I’m anticipating the demand of packing lunches, and this fall will include an extra as Isaac starts school. I would really like to avoid pre-packaged junk as much as possible (“gummies” are just candy!) so while they’re at home, I’ll plug them full of fresh baked goods and have them all provide their rankings so I can keep track of their favourites.
  10. Grill something I’ve never grilled before. I grilled homemade pizza before and it was awesome. I’m thinking dessert this time. I’ve always wanted to try to grill pineapple and banana.

    Thanks, as always, to Mama Kat for the writers’ prompt. 

on parenting

Are you tired? Me, too! But I’m willing to bet that our lives are probably pretty different.

18951307_10154696857021033_4194384528861745092_n

I have two kids. You might not have any or you might have a whole bunch. I work full time outside of the home, but perhaps you stay home. I have a very supportive partner, though he also works full time and is completing a masters degree, so I am also solo with my kiddos fairly often.

My point is, we are all operating under a unique set of circumstances. The unity in our diversity is that, for the most part, we’re all doing what we think is best for our children.

That’s why the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate is exhausting. As a working mother, I certainly don’t choose to work in order to be away from my kids or because I’m materialistic and value making money over quality time spent at home.

By the same token, it’s unfair to assume that stay-at-home moms have it easy (they definitely don’t) or are any less successful because they don’t technically earn a paycheque.

Still, we can often be made to feel guilty about our choices by those with differing opinions.

According to Statistics Canada, the employment rate among women with children has risen sharply over the past three decades. In 2009, about 73 per cent of women with children under 16 were part of the workforce. There has been steady growth in labour force participation among women with young children, too. In 2009, 64 per cent of women with children under the age of three were employed, more than double what it was in 1976.

My mom worked and, believe it or not, I turned out pretty well. My husband’s mom was home for the most part and he’s a fairly well-adjusted adult, too.

As long as our kids are healthy, happy and well cared for, we shouldn’t need to make justifications for why we choose (or choose not) to work.

Why do we question each other’s motives when it comes to parenting?

We pressure ourselves to host the biggest birthday parties, make the best bake sale goodies, sign our kids up for the most extracurricular activities, cook healthy, organic meals seven days a week and don’t even get me started on keeping up with the laundry.

Mom guilt is palpable enough without casting judgements on each other.

We all struggle (agh, will my son ever poop on the potty?!) and we all revel in our parenting successes (my son finally pooped on the potty!).

To each their own. Every parenting decision is as unique as the kids we are rearing. All different, but all very much the same in how much they love their kids.

Let’s try to cut each other some much-needed slack. Because despite our parental differences, I think we can all agree that we could really use a nap.

Lindsey Bunin is a full-time editor and even fuller time wife and mum of two boys. She suffers from mom guilt, but balances it with saying yes to requests for “just one more story” at bedtime and taking every opportunity to have family dance parties in the kitchen.

This is an editors’ note I wrote for Family Matters, which is no longer in print but still available at facebook.com/CHfamilymatters

camping: the wrap up

We had an amazing weekend. I don’t say that often, to be honest. There’s often a scheduling hiccup, a logistical issue, a sour mood, a big mess or some other kind of annoyance that can, to varying degrees, put a damper on the time we’re having — that’s just life with little kids (we can’t put all of the blame on them either; Mike and I have had our share of disagreements to send a day into the crapper).

But this weekend was one for the record books. We were outside, away from it all (while admittedly having access to our phones and semi-consistent wifi), well fed, entertained and happy.

Here are five things that made it great:

1. Family friendliness at its finest. Jellystone is made for kids. There’s a huge playground, complete with sandbox, two different jumping pillows, an outdoor pool with lots of chairs for lounging parents, mini golf, a rec hall with arcade games … I could go on. Plus, lots of pre-planned activities like crafts, scavenger hunts and organized games.

 

2. Eating outside is the actual best. We bought a single butane burner and it was perfect. I did some food prep at home, but we used the burner to heat pasta, boil water for coffee and grill bagels. Since I now know how awesome it is, we’ll be planning more cook-in-the-outdoors meals for our next outing.

 

 

3. Fresh air does us all good. We went full-tilt for 48 hours and enjoyed great sleeps in our tent. We decided to opt out of the air mattress and it was the best. We had great sleeps, the weather was decent (only a few showers) and we all soaked up some much needed Vitamin D.

 

4. Extra adventures. Since we were about an hour away from home, we took advantage of one of the area’s best amenities — the drive-in movie theatre! Luckily, they were playing something (semi) kid friendly — Spider-Man. We tried enjoy it from the back of the car with the hatch open, but the mosquitoes proved too annoying, so we snuggled up with our pillows and blankets in the front seat. The wee one toughed it out for a full hour, which is saying something since the movie started at 9:40 p.m., and was happy to go to bed in the back of the car. The big one enjoyed the entire movie and will be bragging for weeks to come that he stayed up until midnight.

IMG_4670

5. Brotherly independence. Now that the big one is almost seven, we trust him with a lot of new responsibilities (he’s always been the dependable one … jury’s still out on his brother). For this camping trip, it included letting them explore on their own. They ventured to the playground, occasionally out of sight of our tent, but not further than shouting distance, and maybe the better part — Jacob accompanied Isaac to the nearby washroom facility every time he had to go (which not only helps the wee one in his independence for Primary, but allowed mum and dad to keep their feet up and relax). They were an awesome team all weekend.

FullSizeRender.jpg

Now that we’re home, everything’s cleaned up and put away, the only task left is to book our next weekend camping adventure.

marriage monday: romance

Logomakr_4hRBWL

 

Heart_Eyes_EmojiYou know when, every single season, there’s a one-on-one date on The Bachelor/Bachelorette (Oh, you don’t watch that show? I do – judge as you wish!) and the couple ends up slow dancing on a private little stage in front of a crooning country band that no one has ever heard of? And there might be a crowd of people around them, snapping cellphone photos, while the couple spontaneously makes out like teenagers because ohmygod it’s the most romantic setting ever?

BARF.

I have never been a rose-petals-sprinkled-on-the-bed, three-course-romantic-candle-lit-dinner kind of girl and I never will be.

Recently, we cleaned out the clutter from our basement workshop/storage area and I found a bunch of notes and cards that Mike has written to me over the years (Yearsss ago. Like circa 2003). In the beginning, we were so gross. We wrote the sappiest crap to each other. And I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that we actually exchanged cards at monthly and weekly intervals in the days counting down to our wedding. I have no recollection of doing that, but I think if we’d just saved all that card money, we probably could’ve afforded to invite a few extra people to the reception dinner.

Poisoned_Emoji_Icon

I mean, I know I liked those things back then and those gestures made me feel special and blah blah blah, but both back then and now, I have always believed that actions speak louder than words. It wasn’t the card or the mushy sentiment written inside, it was the fact that Mike was thinking about me when we weren’t together and he wanted to do something nice for me to make me happy.

Now, 15 years (where did 15 years go?!) and two kids later, my idea of special is even more transformed. Small things like taking the garbage out without being prompted and replacing the bag are what truly make me happy. Doing all of the laundry all summer because he’s a teacher … that’s better than a box of chocolates. Deciding what’s for supper AND making it? That’s at least as good as anything from the jewelry store.

I’m not being facetious. Having a partner to shares half the household and parenting load (mostly) is worth much more to me than any grand or expensive gesture could. Would I say no to the occasional $5 bouquet from the guy selling flowers out of his van down the street? Of course not. But if he’ll listen to what I have to say, respond thoughtfully and remember the details of our conversation five minutes later, I’ll take it! #marriedlife

a camping we will go

I pulled out the tote of camping supplies over the weekend and besides being a little musty, the bin was still surprisingly well stocked after our adventures last summer.

I made a quick list of things we needed to include — sunscreen, bug spray, marshmallows, glow sticks. The obvious stuff. But then I wondered if, now that the kids are getting older, if we should try to up our camping game a little.

I did what any self-preserving mother would do — I turned to Pinterest for check-list ideas and holy. Depending on what level of camping you intend to do, you might need a second vehicle just to tote all of the stuff.

conforts-hotel.87dc4c0fAfter some thought, I decided that we are a middle-of-the-road camping family. We’re not bare-bones basic — we want some of life’s comforts, like easy access to water, electricity and plumbing. But we’re no where near glampers — we tent but without cots and Persian rugs and pennant banners. Who has time or money for that?

So here a few creature comforts we’re adding to our arsenal for the 2017 camping season:

  • A butane burner. Since we’ve only ever camped for one night at a time, we’ve gotten by with sandwiches packed from home and hot dogs roasted on the fire. This time, we’re going for two nights and I hope to go even longer as the kids get older, so real cooking is a new necessity.
  • A bike rack: As the kids get older, they’re becoming more independent, which allows them to roam a little further from us than in years passed. Our camping gear fully fills the back of our Mazda 5 so the bikes or scooters need to be attached on the outside.
  • Sleeping mats: Most people would disagree, but we are not air mattress fans. Even the best, top-of-the-line one we own loses air over the course of the night. Plus, when you’re sleeping with others on an air mattress, every movement is felt by all. We hate it. So this year we got extra-thick camping mats to create a barrier between us and the ground for warmth. I’m pretty optimistic that these will do the trick until we opt to invest in a used pop-up camper.

What are your favourite camping comforts?