tbt: are you ready?

This is a post I wrote as we prepared for the big one to go off to school. Now, in what feels like a blink, we’re about to do the same for the wee one.

IMG_3246To my almost five year old as he prepares for his first day of big-kid school,

I could open with a cliché about how time has flown by. How it seems like only yesterday that you were taking your first steps. All of that is true, of course, but the passage of time is obvious. What isn’t so inherent is the mixed bag of emotions that come with this new stage in your life. Our life.

At your primary orientation, I’ll admit that I was a bit teary-eyed, though not because I was sad, but because I’m excited. I’m almost giddy with anticipation about the memories you’ll make, the wealth of knowledge you’ll absorb and the experiences you’ll have over the next 12-plus years that will help shape who you will become. (Because I’m sure you’re not actually going to be the Hulk when you grow up).

I’ll take a picture of you on the first day, sporting your specially selected blue, green and orange school bag. I’ll see you onto the bus and follow behind as you make your way to school for the first time. And I’ll come to your classroom and give you a high five instead of the emotional farewell I might be tempted to make.

I love that when I ask you what makes you feel excited about school, your reply is always “I can’t wait to meet all of my new friends!” I can’t wait either. I hope you pick ones that will treat you with as much joy and enthusiasm as you will bring to the playground. Share your confidence, kindness and humour with everyone you meet, and always be yourself.

I hope that we’ve prepared you well for this new stage. You can write your name and recite our phone number. You can count to 100 and pride yourself in carefully colouring inside the lines.

Over the years, we have answered your millions of toddler and preschooler questions to the best of our abilities and now look forward to hearing all about what you’ll learn in a classroom with a teacher and a couple dozen other curious minds.

But what about all of the questions I still have?

When I’m not there to give you a knowing glance, will you remember your manners?

Will you be shy or will you be as engaging, bright and funny as I know you to be?

Will you eat your sandwich before your dessert?

Will you confide in us when something worries you or someone bullies you?

Did we prepare you enough?

Are you ready?

Am I ready?

This article originally appeared in Family Matters. For more family related content shared on a daily basis, click here.

on the wagon

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For clarification, I’m not sure I’ve ever weighed just 128.2 lbs.

 

I weighed myself yesterday. It’s my new start weight. I could tell you what it is, but I won’t. I’m definitely more of a how-do-my-pants-fit kind of person when it comes to weight and not so fixated on the number, but it’s heavier than I’ve ever been (aside from when I was pregnant, and that doesn’t count). It’s actually 23.8 lbs. heavier than my pre-pregnancy weight (which happened to be the same number both times). After Isaac, I lost a little, then gained a lot. It’s time to get back on the proverbial wagon.

And what better time? I just spent 10 days eating and drinking non-stop during my vacation, and it was oh so good, but now it’s time (long overdue, actually) to get back into a better routine.

During the summer, when I’m not on lunch-packing duty, it’s easy to be lazy and default to buying lunch, which is inevitably something calorie-laden. I don’t have breakfast as regularly either because I’m not in my get-everyone-fed-and-out-the-door mode, so that plays a role in my eating for the rest of the day. It’s summer, so I tend to justify more casual eating and drinking at odd hours. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

Part of me feels inclined to just wait and align my new leaf with the return of the new school year, but I know I can’t put it off. I’m guilty of being the type of person who loves a fresh start on a Monday. Meh, can’t start dieting on a Thursday; might as well wait until the start of a new week. Oh, can’t start dieting this week; I’m on vacation next week. I’ve already eaten one “bad” meal today so the rest of the day is a write-off anyway. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I’ve eaten great all day, I can justify a treat. I ran at lunch so I can get away with some extra calories. I work hard and I’m tired so I deserve takeout. Oh, the excuses! I seem to have a mental excuse for just about everything. I’m my own worst enemy.

I love food. I can’t diet that away. I just need to start making better, more balanced choices and enjoy more reasonable portions. Calories in, calories out. I know how simple it is; I just need to be accountable.

So I’ll start here, writing about it weekly with a few key areas of focus:

  • Nutrition: Out with the junk and in with the healthy, whole foods. I need to focus on creating a more balanced vegetarian diet that includes more protein, B12 and iron. Part of this will also be visiting my GP for updated blood work.
  • Activity: I really need to be accountable to just myself on this one. While I love the accountability of exercising with others, but I really want to get into a routine in which I’m exercising for me. I’m going to try walking while listening to podcasts, yoga before bed and creating the ideal circumstances to make exercise a habit.
  • Overall health: I need to drink more water, reduce stress, go to bed earlier, limit caffeine and alcohol, find my zen … all of it. A big part of this for me are routines. Be in bed with the lights out by a certain time, keep my water bottle with me at all times, take breaks from my desk during the day. It’s not hard; it’s just a matter of conscious participation.

 

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.**

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*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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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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.

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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.

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