Years ago I decided to knit a shawl for my sister-in-law. I picked a manageable pattern with an understated ruffle that complemented nicely the beautiful soft pink hues of the yarn. And to accompany the shawl I found a beautiful shawl pin in the shape of a treble clef. The whole endeavor seemed perfect for her. I planned to whip it up for Christmas that year.
That was TWO years ago.
For two years this thing sat in my knitting basket, I knit up a big chunk of it and then found myself deeply entrenched in baking a baby and knitting small things for this little bean-to-be. Then, during this past year, I started to knit a few rows here and there in between other project deadlines. Finally, in December with one last desperate push of knitting time (and a LOT of Homeland on Netflix) I actually finished and blocked this thing in time for Christmas.
My sister-in-law and I don’t have a ton in common aside from very strong wills. We run in different circles, wearing very different sneakers. It was nice to pick out yarn and a pattern with someone so different in mind. When I saw the yarn, I thought a bit of ballet slippers. It’s a bit more peachy, but still delicate and gentle, just like the dance. And the pattern seemed to suit her too. Something that can be dressed up for a formal night out with her husband or snuggled up around her neck for some extra warmth on a cold day (although, if I had predicted the Polar Vortex I would have been better off knitting her a chunky face warmer).
Making this reminded me of something I really admire about knitting. It has the ability to bridge a gap between two people that many not have much in common. I get to stay in my comfort zone (and avoid watching dance shows or hearing live classical music) and still hopefully show her I do actually care, with just two sticks and some string.Posted in I made this, Knitting | Leave a comment
It was bitterly cold one night last week. So cold that our furnace fought all night just to keep up with the cold air that forced its way into this drafty old house. And we three were already worse for wear, recovering from colds and gastro-viruses (a nice welcome gift from that ass-hat 2014).
Husby and I cozied in under the blankets. He drifting off to sleep and me wide-awake and worried. Worried about the little girl down the hall. Her sleep sack is pretty light and I should have put some socks and an extra onesie on under her – albeit warm – pajamas. “Is the okay?” I asked him. He murmured that she was. “Will she let us know if she gets cold?” He said she would. I told him I would bring her into bed with us if she woke up. A minute later I decided to throw an extra blanket on her anyway and tiptoed into her room. She was tucked up in the corner of her crib, clutching her little blanket square. I covered her with a knit blanket and tucked in the sides. Touched her warm cheek and headed back to bed.
She slept through the night and never knew anything of her mama’s worrying. And that’s how it will go, I suppose. I will whisper worries to my husband late at night when the static of the day is turned down and she is asleep down the hall. I do my best to keep her safe and worrying is part of how I do that. When she’s much older and my worries aren’t quite as basic as they are now – food and warmth – I will still worry. K and I will talk about concerns, big and small, over dinners out, on the phone at work, or in bed at night – with one eye on the clock – while she is out with friends.
And she will know little of our worries and that’s just the way it should be (and always has been) between a mama and her baby.Posted in Family, Isla, motherhood, Us | Leave a comment
It’s mid-January and by now donuts are being eyed longingly during Tim Horton’s coffee runs, workout schedules and waistbands are starting to give a little, and now that the weather has thawed a bit from its’ deep freeze, smokers are starting to mill around doorways again. Resolutions are so a-week-and-a-half-ago and things are starting to return to the status quo.
Which I guess makes me fashionably late? Below is a list of hopes and goals for the year ahead (give or take 10 days). Not really resolutions (for no reason other than I just really hate that word), but sort of a “let’s see how I do” list of tweaks to a life I already really enjoy.
#1 Keep a daily gratitude notebook. I know, it’s so very Oprah-esque, but I did this once years ago (probably on Oprah’s suggestion) and it really helped me see everything that was going right in my life during a time when some pretty big things were going wrong (like, for instance, failing my first year of university). I did pass, by the way (just not by much).
#2 Laugh more. This one will be hard to measure and I’m certainly not saying I will fake laugh just to hit the quota (fake laughing will be reserved for times when I don’t get the joke but don’t care enough to ask). It has more to do with my overall mood, and I think I will know by year-end whether it’s been achieved.
#3 Spend one weekend day a month doing things as a family in our city – museums, zoo, concerts, etc. explore our city with Isla.
#4 Knit 12 things in 12 months.
#5 Spend more time with friends. We sort of let this get away from us this past year (what with insane work schedules and a fussy, scream-in-your-face baby). But we have great friends and I really want Isla to grow up knowing these people are in her corner, especially given that we have no family in town. Whether it’s entertaining at home or adventuring out, I want to make entertaining and outings a more regular feature.
#6 Go for an overnight trip with my husband away from Isla. Scary and decadent!
#7 Knit for someone other than Isla (preferably for me), photograph something other than Isla, and write about something other than Isla. I know I will do plenty of things for her in the coming year, so this is really just a reminder that it’s okay to momentarily turn my attention away from her.
#8 Reno our bedroom (new closet, paint).
#9 Grow things. Edibles in the pots out back and beautiful things in the new garden out front. And involve Isla in this, too.
#10 Slow down. This one is the toughest but also the most important. Weekdays are such a blur and obligrations, chores, and the to-do list sometimes spill over onto the weekend, filling it to the brim. Isla is growing so quickly and the only way to slow it down is to slow me down. I’ve left it intentionally vague, but one such way I intend to do this is to be with her while she naps. Take that hour or so and listen to her breath on my chest. Feel her warmth and weight. Wait as the minutes tick slowly by. Watch as the world passes by outside the window.Life | Leave a comment
Layers. I thought a while about what to choose for this week’s challenge and then I went about the day to day living that has us inside and outside for a little while longer. There was a quick trip to the park for the swings (she’s still not sure about the slide), and some walking practice up and down our street, and the dog park of course, and raking up of the leaves (two full bags from our postage-stamp sized front garden!).
And that’s when it came to me. These days are all about layers. While Spring and Summer see the layers stripping off, Fall and Winter are all about cozying up, covering up, and bundling up more and more. As the temperatures dip the layers grow – both on the ground and on the person. The earth gets hard and leaves drop from plants and trees above. And soon, too, snow and ice will blanket everything. And we layer too, outside first with wool sweaters and hats, and then with mittens and puffy coats. And inside with flannel sheets and fleece blankets under down-filled duvets. Layers.Photography, Seasons | Leave a comment
Okay, here goes. I’m trying to get back to photographing more, documenting more of this utterly plain, amazingly awesome life that I have. So, I’m going to try my hand at participating in the Daily Post’s weekly photography challenge. Hopefully this will get the juices flowing a bit more in how my eye sees things, and, at the very least it should encourage me to free up some space on my camera’s memory card to actually allow me to take more photos.
So I was trying to think of what habit I should note. Coffee? Daily dog walk? The commute to work? It’s been a dark, cold, wet start to the darkest, dreariest month of the year (February comes a close second but its’ length and the promise of snow give it a bit of a glow) and with the shift in the clocks and my eyes still adjusting to the 5pm dark, I picked the brightest habit I have: diaper laundry. Every other day these lovelies pile up high in my laundry basket and aside from the actual ‘laundry’ bit, it’s a pretty great habit to have.
Posted in Photography, weekly photo challenge | 1 Comment
Confession: I hate beets. I know they’re a super food and packed with incredible health benefits, but I truly have trouble stomaching them. My husband, smartly, loves them.
The debate over beets aside, we have always eaten fairly well but in the last year we have both made a concentrated effort to up our game. With Isla starting on solids earlier this year we had enough incentive to finally really deconstruct the foods we put in our bellies.
We are trying to eat more whole foods and fewer packaged ones (which, thankfully we never ate a lot of anyway), more grains, less meat, and more interesting vegetarian dishes.
We are also paying more attention to where our food comes from. We get most of our produce through an organic/local food delivery program, Mama Earth. Every week a bin is delivered right to our front door. We even have the option of choosing the produce that we get each week and can have something put on a ‘never send’ list (for example, I would put beets on this list if it weren’t for my beet-loving husband.)
We shop locally for most other things, too. Meats are purchased from the local butcher shop and since we are paying a bit more for premium meat, we try to cut down on the amount we eat. Grains and other goods are bought from the natural foods store up the street, and we find ourselves trying new things that we wouldn’t have sought out in the big box stores.
I also accomplished my maternity leave goal of baking bread totally from scratch. I started with pizza crust from Smitten Kitchen and ramped it up to whole loaves from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I now can’t see us ever going back to store-bought pizza crust and while we do buy occasional loaves from local bakeries and still buy packaged sandwich bread, the Artisan bread method is so easy, I would be a fool to not incorporate it into our home cooking routine.
And on that home cooking routine. Now that I’m back at work and Monday-Friday feels like one long rush hour, we’re working on finding our food groove. The first month or so was tough and I really worried that we would fall back into ‘easy cooking.’ We really do treasure good, homemade food, and I so very much want Isla to grow up in the kitchen. We’re starting to find our way a bit more, and the differences between me and my beet-loving husband are helping immensely. He is incredible at coming up with on-the-fly weeknight meals, and can always be counted on to use up all of the week’s refrigerator remains in a delicious dish. I am a slow cooker and am better suited to putter around the kitchen on weekends cooking up stews, chilli’s, soups, and baked goods.
Isla, the baby who once lapped up kale, is developing her toddler taste buds and is showing signs of becoming a picky eater. Green things, especially, have trouble passing her lips. And this presents a whole new challenge: how to weather this stage while maintaining a varied flavorful menu for her to choose from.
I trust, though, that we will maintain and increase our commitment to good food and encourage smart food habits in the wee one. I already have plans to grow more things in the ground next year and would love to also try my hand at canning. Anything is possible, even me finding an appreciation for beets. A year ago I wouldn’t touch them, and now, now I even request them in my husband’s cooking from time to time…. in one very specific way.
Baby steps, as they say.Posted in Food, Green thumb, Life | Leave a comment