marriage monday: romance

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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.

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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?

marriage monday: our wedding

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I got married before Pinterest was really a thing. And I have to admit that I’m pretty happy about that. I could see myself falling down the DIY rabbit hole and never making my way to the alter.

There’s also plenty I coulda-shoulda-woulda about my wedding day, but I’m pretty damn lucky that almost nine years later, I’m still pleased with the partner I picked.

If I could go back in time, here are five things I would’ve done differently for our wedding:

  • Mike would’ve bought a really well-made, tailored suit. Instead we cheaped out and his attire didn’t fit him well then and it doesn’t fit him at all now. (We recently invested in a nice suit for him and he looks so great in it — makes me want to marry him all over again a little bit).
  • I would’ve picked a colour other than brown. We got married at a place called Chocolate Lake and I think I took that theme too far. And I wouldn’t have tortured my friends with the brown dresses that I swore they’d definitely wear again (seriously? what was I thinking?).
  • I wouldn’t have worried about having the same number of bridesmaids to match the groomsmen or what the etiquette is of who is invited to what (when you’re buying dinner for 100 people, what’s 10 or 20 more?) or having cheesy favours for people to ultimately toss in the garbage in their hotel rooms. I would’ve focused more on the food, family and friends and the party.
  • I would’ve put more priority in photography, videography and the DJ. We were very lucky to have Mike’s university band play a set, but the DJ wasn’t stellar. Also, I wish I had more candid photos and video of the day (this was before we captured every single second on our cellphones) because only nine years later, the details are already kinda fuzzy.
  • Why was I nervous? I’m not sure I’ve been more certain about another other decision, before or after that day. Marrying Mike was one of the easiest and best choices of my life. I wish I could go back and experience that day again only to replace my misguided anxiousness about the event with excitement for the days that would follow.

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Who works on Fridays? Not me! (At least this week, next week and the one after that … but who’s counting?)

Another year bites the dust: The school year is ovaaa! While I could spend this time being excessively bitter because my menfolk get to stay home all summer while I work like a schmuck, I choose to be grateful because:

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It’s also the season in which I have several pointed conversations with people about why teachers aren’t “lucky” to have their summers off. I work year-round with three weeks of vacation and my husband puts more work hours in annually than I do. That’s a fact.

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Happy Canada 150: We recently had a music-related discussion at work that turned into the creation of an epic Canada Day playlist. Check it out here.

Gifts for friends: Isaac and I created tags for bubbles as a gift for his friends to say farewell (I still can’t believe he’s finished daycare and headed to school!). I love doing little projects like these with my kids.

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A good book for the weekend: Digging into this month’s book club read, Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller. Have you read it?

Have a lovely weekend!

grading day

When I was a kid, grading day wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t even called that. It was just the last day of school and it certainly wasn’t cause for celebratory gift giving. We may have gone out for ice cream after supper or something like that (I’ll have to consult my parents to confirm, but I feel fairly certain about this), but it wasn’t a big to-do. I wasn’t bringing home report cards full of straight As either. Regardless, decent grades were also an expectation, not something incentivized by presents.

Now, with social media giving a lens into everyone’s living rooms, I see that grading day can mean big-ticket gifts and accolades. It makes me wonder, what ever happened to the reward being two months’ off school or getting to proceed to the next grade?

Last year, at the end of Jacob’s primary year, we went out to supper. But to be honest, that was more about the fact that Mike works his tail off during the month of June to grade a pile of assignments, record marks, write thoughtful report cards, wrap up the softball season, clean out his classroom and  million other little things that make the end of the school year more of a marathon than a sprint. I think he earns a plate of Swiss Chalet for that, don’t you? Because it was a special occasion and we were in a mall that had an Indigo store, we bought the kids each a Beanie Boo that night, too. They weren’t wrapped or presented specifically for the end of the year, but just a spontaneous bit of fun.

This year, our boy brought home straight As again so to celebrate his and dad’s accomplishments, we are going out to supper tonight (Montana’s this time). It was a milestone for the wee one, too, who marked his last day of daycare today.

Update: Then, over the weekend, I gave them a slip ‘n’ slide. I’d picked it up a month or so ago because the one they loved last summer was quite worn and was tossed. I’d tucked it away for a special occasion. When I gave it to them, I said “Happy summer!” and praised them both for having excellent school years. I can’t decide if this means I got suckered in to the grading-day-gift-giving-palooza or not, but I admittedly can see the excitement involved. But they’ll never be getting new bikes or video games. A $15 strip of plastic is my limit.

summer reading club #goals

The local library visited Jacob’s school yesterday to talk about summertime literacy and to encourage kids to enroll in the summer reading club. They asked if anyone had already joined and my kid was the only one to raise his hand, a fact he was pretty excited about and his mudder was pretty proud, too. #wordnerd

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My wee readers, circa 2015.

We love it! The kids each choose a goal. This year, Jacob chose 75. He had the same goal last year, but this summer he intends to do it all without mum and dad’s help. Isaac’s goal is 50, many of which will be read to him by his big brother, which also makes me ooze more of those fuzzy proud feelings.

It does take commitment on the parental end too though. We will write each book title in their record books and remind them to work toward hitting their goals. Each achievement comes with special prizes at the library, too, like pencils, stickers and tattoos, which is unsurprisingly huge incentive for my boys.

Here are three ways we intend to hit our goals this summer:

Books before screens: Reading time will be priority. TV and video games won’t be an option unless they’ve spent 30 minutes with their noses in books. This is just one thing on a list of things they’ll need to do to earn screen time in the summer — that post is coming soon.

New books: In addition to our weekly trips to the library, we’ll also browse yard sales and Value Village shelves for new reads to keep things interesting.

Character projects: Our kids love a good project and the Internet is a foolishly infinite wealth of ideas, like these on Pinterest:

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Satisfying shows: We finally caught up on Scandal and the end of season 6 was the best to date. While I don’t really want to have to wait until the fall to pick it back up, I’m also glad to be finished for now and move onto other things. Since then, we’ve watched Bad Moms (in two sittings because I can’t possibly be expected to stay awake to watch a whole movie in one sitting) and about 839 episodes of Jeopardy.

Summer lovin’: Today is the last full Friday of school for my menfolk! This represents multiple levels of excitement for me as exhibited by this handy dandy pie chart I whipped up.

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Wine: When you’re on an office-cleaning roll and you wipe down the desk of a colleague who happens to be the food and drink editor and he brings you a bottle of wine because his house is literally full of wine and can do things like that. And you also don’t have to look at his dirty desk anymore. Double score.

Fridays: This is my last Friday to work for a couple weeks. I have next week’s off for Grading Day and I have the following off to take my handsome hubby camping for his birthday (with the kids, of course, because it would be kind of weird to go to camping at Yogi’s Jellystone Park without the kids). Hooray for short weeks!

Happy Friday!