A tale of time

Once upon a time I started a blog and I was very excited about all of the things I could write about. I have a list of many ideas, topics, and anecdotes. There have been trips and projects and problems and opportunities but the problem is that when all of these things are happening, I’m too busy with them happening to find time to sit down and write about it! I often think back and wish I’d found the time. Made the time. Whatever. I just wish I’d done it!

I don’t sit around beating myself up for it, that would be silly. There are no consequences when the blog doesn’t happen. Apart from you know, a dream and vision not coming to fruition. The upside is that I know there is still time for that to happen down the road. And it’s not like I’m sitting around with my feet up relaxing instead of working away at it.

For instance. Last week I was planning and prepping for Bear’s second birthday party on Saturday (hosted 20 guests all afternoon and evening). On Monday we hosted 20 more for a family dinner. I baked and decorated two dozen sugar cookies from scratch. I made two dozen cupcakes (not from scratch but I decorated them). I made a 4-layer purple ombre birthday cake. I had a magazine deadline. I’m home full-time with a toddler. And I’m 26 weeks pregnant! (SURPRISE! Yet another life event not featured on the blog). So I’ve been busy and tired and yes, if I added up all the minutes I spend scrolling the facebook-instagram-twitter circuit I’d have lots of minutes for blogging. But it would be hard to blog in three-minute intervals!

So the point of all this is to say that there’s no day like today! There is always tomorrow! Try, try, again! Don’t give up! While my posts may be few and far between, I am here. Things are happening. And eventually I will write about them.

 

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Baby Fegan 2.0 due October 2015.

No-fail ant solution

With the awesome warmer weather has come the annual ant invasion. I can’t stand having ants in the house, especially in the kitchen. Those tiny, little black bugs running amok over the countertops and clean dishes, in the sink, the dishwasher and all over the floor. This year, they’re even trying to take over the high chair. I became ruthless, taking them all out with one swipe of a paper towel but was quickly reminded this does not work. There are always more where those ones came from.

I don’t like the idea of having ant poison in the house with Bear and the dog running around getting into everything. We’ve tried child and pet-friendly ant traps but they  don’t work. Last year, my mom shared a recipe she found for an all-natural ant killer with me, and it works. It really, really works. And it’s too easy. Here it is:

  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 6 tablespoons active dry yeast

Stir up this sticky concoction and spread it on narrow strips of cardboard or in bottle caps and lids from your recycling bin. Set them out – while it won’t hurt a child or pet if they happen to get into them, it would be a very messy situation, so you’ll still want them out of arms reach of little ones. The molasses and sugar will attract the ants to eat it, and the yeast will expand in their stomachs, taking them out.

Three weeks ago I set out my homemade traps and the next day the number of the little buggers creeping around had drastically reduced. The next day I saw one or two straying around and then that was it – no more ants. The key is to NOT kill them once you’ve put out your poison. You want the ants to take the ‘food’ back to their anthills to share with all their friends. After their feast, they’re toast.

This week I started to notice a few hanging around and all of a sudden it was a mini-invasion all over again. I noticed the poison in my traps had hardened and apparently become ineffective. So I replaced them with a fresh batch. Again, the next day there were one or two hanging around and now there are none to be seen. Hopefully, I got the entire colony this time.

Hot off the press

I have a few new published pieces to share today.

Feature story

In the summer issue of East Coast Living, available this week, I explore all things fabric – lots of advice, ideas, inspiration, and pretty patterns! It’s a bit of a fabric 101 with advice on where to start when redecorating, what fabrics to pick for reupholstery projects and how to care for different fabrics. I encourage you to pick up a copy of the issue. The layout is fun and there are lots of other inspiring home ideas. In the meantime, you can read online here: “For the love of fabric: creative ideas on how to freshen up your home with fabrics”. I wish I’d known about Marilyn Smulders woodland prints when I was decorating Bear’s Woodland-themed nursery. Time for a fresh touch?

Feature story

For the June issue of Halifax Magazine I wrote “It still takes a village” all about Public Health’s decision to move prenatal classes online. I touched on this in a blog post way back (read it here: Why Googling is the Worst). I know the Public Health Prenatal program is not the same as the vast, vast internet but it is still isolating to sit at home on your computer reading information online. We took the prenatal classes not because we felt we needed them to be able to parent, and yes they were helpful, but even more so it was something my husband and I could do together to prepare for baby. We made a date night out of it and went for dinner before each class. We met other couples to talk to, who we’ve since bumped into around town. Some of the mothers from the classes were in the same baby playgroup. It’s simply encouraging to meet and know other people who are going through the same thing as you. As an aside: I found some of the questions some people asked to be quite surprising, so it’s sad this real-life resource is now limited. Find out what some critics in the community think here: “It still takes a village“. Hint: parenting classes are best taught offline and in the community. Thankfully, there are classes new parents can enroll in, most for a fee. As if having a baby wasn’t expensive enough…

Author Q&A

This one is from early May but I spoke with author Debra Komar for Atlantic Books Today. I love writing for Atlantic Books Today because it really broadens my horizons (which is what I love about journalism, becoming an ‘expert’ on such a wide range of topics). These the assignments often have me picking up books I ordinarily would not. I am always pleasantly surprised. So I admit that I was a bit daunted at the title of Komar’s book: The Bastard of Fort Stikine: The Hudson’s Bay Company and the Murder of John McLoughlin Jr. (Goose Lane Editions). Not my usual fiction read. Komar is a forensic anthropologist and her series of books uses archival research and modern forensic science to look into unsolved mysteries in Canada’s past. Super interesting book, super interesting author, super interesting q&a (can I say that about my own interview? I think so!) Have a read here and decide for yourself: Historical crimes meet modern science to unlock mysteries. 

Book review

I also reviewed The Drop Zone by Bob Kroll for Atlantic Books Today. Similarly, it’s a detective mystery that I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own but am glad I did. It’s a good read, though not for everyone – it’s gritty, raw, dark, violent and sleazy (as you would expect when the topic is underage prostitution). I love supporting local authors, especially when the stories are set in places I recognize. This one is set in a port city on the east coast of Canada. As I write in the review, while the city is never identified, it’s reminiscent of a larger Halifax. I’m glad this is the first of a series so I can continue the story – reviews or not.

And the press keeps on rolling…

Close call

Last week, a car drove into our front porch. Really. It’s a good thing the guy trying to pull a (fast and dangerous) u-turn, hitting the gas instead of the brakes, knocked down the stop sign and dragged it with him across our driveway because it slowed him down. The sign plowed through some lattice and landed under the porch. The car screeched to a halt before smashing the entire porch into smithereens. The damage doesn’t look too bad although we are slightly concerned about the structural integrity of the porch, as it appears to now be detached from the garage on one side. We’re waiting for an inspector to come and check it out.

Luckily, Bear and and I were out and returned home to the scene – the truck, 2 police cars and a CTV news vehicle. So many things could have gone wrong. The car could have slammed into oncoming traffic as it’s a blind corner where he pulled out to make the u-turn. There could have been someone on the sidewalk he jumped when he was out of control. Our car could have been in the driveway. Bear and I could have easily been in the driveway. Getting ready to go for a walk, coming home for a walk or sitting and watching the cars go by, as she loves to do from the front step! It makes me shudder to think how it could have been so much worse. In any case, it made for an exciting morning for Bear to watch the police car, and then tow truck, out the window.

So, aside from stray trucks driving into them, what better time to think about freshening up your front porch now that summer’s just around the corner? My article “Front porch face lift” for East Coast Living Magazine is now available online. Click here if you haven’t had your hands on a hard copy of the magazine, and get to work! Next up on my to-do list is to fill the wooden barrel beside our front door with fresh greenery and spring bulbs, and then put a fresh coat of paint on the front steps. How about you?

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Wrong turn buddy!

 

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CTV tweets the breaking news…

 

Let it go

Along with this new-found independence I wrote about in my last post, our spirited little bear also wants to make a lot of her own decisions. Especially, again, when it comes to her socks. She NEVER wants them to match. When her dad gets her dressed, she comes out of the room wearing three hair bands and 2 barrettes.

The OCD in me has to grin and bear it because who am I to tell her she’s wrong? Unless of course we’re dressing up for an occasion. She doesn’t make all the rules! But I love that she’s using her imagination in her own funky little way.

And while we’re on the topic of OCD…. Just a touch… I like everything in its correct place. Cupboard and closet doors shut, shoes in a row, nothing off kilter. My husband laughs every time we sit down to watch TV because it takes 5 minutes for me to get the room in shape before I can relax. So let’s not even talk about the play-doh. OMG the play-doh. You aren’t supposed to mix the colours!!! Blue is smushed into yellow, white and red are all crumbled together…oh it drives me nuts! But…it’s not my play-doh. She can mix it if she wants too.

So, for someone who’s bossy and likes to be in control — of everything– I need to learn to let it go. Choose my battles. A great piece of advice from my favourite parenting book (no, not Mom’s Who Drink and Swear, that’s my second favourite parenting book) Happiest Toddler on the Block, is that I am not actually her boss. I’m more like her ambassador, here to guide her and help make smart decisions (ok, ultimately I am “the boss” but that doesn’t mean being bossy all the time and if I play it under the guise of ambassador, we’re going to get along a lot better). They don’t have to be MY decisions, they just have to be safe decisions.

I can’t even begin to imagine the battle of the wills we’ll have to endure in the teenage years. At least for now a little bribery goes a long way when I really want it my way. I think that could get pretty expensive when they’re older…

Miss Independent

We’ve recently entered a phase that’s equally awesome as it is frustrating. Miss Independent has decided she wants to do more things for herself. It’s awesome because she’s developing and learning and on her way to becoming more self-sufficient. It also means when she’s determined to put her own socks on, I have 15 minutes of hands-free time on my own – to finish getting ready to go out, tidy things up, peek at my phone or the computer, in peace.

It’s frustrating because when we’re rushing out the door (which is most of the time. it is never a calm, quiet and relaxed departure) I really just want to get her dressed, put her shoes and coat on myself and GO but it often ends up in a battle, usually with her crying and squirming out of my arms and onto the floor.

We’re going to have to start preparing for our departures earlier, so she can have the time to try and figure things out on her own. I don’t want her feeling rushed, me standing over her, telling her to hurry, hurry up.

Enter yet another life lesson from a tiny little child. As Bear says, “slowly down!” We shouldn’t always be in a mad rush. I need to give ourselves the time to get where we need to be. Schedule less as daily life just takes up more time in general. I’m not talking about lazing about and taking our sweet time everyday. We can still be efficient, go places and get stuff done, we just have to be smart about it if we want to make it easier on ourselves.

I’ve come to learn that staying at home with children is still very much a job—as such that it requires prep time, planning, and organization is definitely one of the top required skills.

But most importantly, we all need to learn to stop, take a big breath and savour the moment. Hey – if she wants to spend 10 minutes trying to get one shoe on to the wrong foot, that’s 10 more minutes for me to sneak into the kitchen and finish the Easter chocolate!

The balancing act

Well one thing is certainly clear. I can’t do it all. I can’t stay home with a toddler full-time, work steadily on freelance writing and keep up with regular blog posts. It’s impossible. Every time the writing picks up, the blog falls by the wayside. It’s a good problem to have, I suppose. The blog is pretty much a hobby and it doesn’t really matter if it falls by the wayside, if paid writing is taking up my time. But the writing is not full-time or part-time, it’s just writing and I take on what I can handle when I can handle it.

The flip side is, as I’ve said before, it ebbs and flows. So when I have some time between deadlines I can pick it back up, and I always will. I still haven’t gotten this blog to the place I want it or written the kinds of service posts I want to write (posts that serve a purpose for readers). But stick with me and I’ll get there! The beauty of it is there is no deadline (maybe that’s the problem… working to deadline, I can do). I just need to be better organized and get myself ahead of the game. I’d love to always have some posts in my back pocket for when the days are crazier. But I’ll cut myself some slack. These are busy times. We’ve got a lot going on. My family is young and there’s lots of time to take this where I want to go.

In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to. Just click on any of the articles you are interested in to have a read (except for the first, you’ll have it pick up a copy of the magazine for that one!).

I’m very excited about my first piece in East Coast Living. Pick up a copy of the spring issue for my article on freshening up the front porch for spring!

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My first review of a short story collection: Freedom Songs by Kathleen Winter

Author Jim Lotz inspired many Atlantic Canadian writers. In advance of his memoir’s launch, friends and colleagues shared their memories of him.

I explored the University of King’s College Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Non-fiction program.

And visited the success of the Central Library’s coffee shop, Pavia Gallery Espresso Bar and Cafe.

And snowshoed with three and four-year-olds at a forest school nature kindergarten! 

And there’s more to come, which I’ll share as they are published!

March Break Madness

Even with a 20-month-old, March break is already starting to affect me. All our regular activities were called off, because the space and time was needed for grade schoolers. Not exactly fair, because now we were found stuck at home so grade schoolers wouldn’t be. No gym, no library program, no music class, nothing.

Then the humongous snowstorm hit and we were literally STUCK. AT. HOME. Snow days are the worst. It’s fine when there are days that I choose not to go anywhere, but it really sucks when left with no other choice. There are no perks to snow days for me, apart from not feeling guilty about staying in pyjamas. There’s no such thing as a snow day for my husband because as long as he has his laptop or even just his phone, he can do his work anytime, anywhere. Hey, what we need is a snow day with no power… wait a second what am I even talking about? I’m not THAT desperate for him to hang out with us on a weekday!

So what it means is Bear stands at the bottom of the stairs hollering incessantly for Daddy (or my new favourite, DaddyMatt!) because she knows he is upstairs working. I manage to distract her, but then he needs to make a call and she hears him and it starts all over again. Fun for no one. So by the end of the week I HAD to get out. But I should have known better. Don’t go anywhere child-related during March break. And especially not after three snow days at home, when every single person in the city HAS to get out, parents included.

The storm had postponed plans with a friend and her little one (our mat. leave besties) so we were keen to reschedule, for an afternoon just like old times. Well, it took me 50 minutes to make an otherwise 15-minute drive to the play place — incredible snow banks had most roads down to single lanes). It was bedlam. There wasn’t even any parking! There were literally hundreds of kids. It was noisy and chaotic (and yes, still fun) but there was no way my friend and I were coming close to starting a conversation, let alone catching up.

We had fun with the girls but decided next time our husbands would be on playground duty while we were on coffee shop duty. I called M and told him I wasn’t leaving the industrial park until well past rush hour. He would come meet us for dinner. The Mexican place we’ve wanted to check out. Except once he finally made his way (45 minutes for an otherwise 15-minute drive) and we were walking through the parking lot that it occurs to us, oh, it’s burger week, let’s at least go to Flipburger! Because it’s just on the other side of the industrial park! Rookie mistake. If you are with toddler, and you are within spitting distance of a restaurant, you stay where you are!!!

45-agonizing, inching, bumper-to-bumper-traffic-minutes later, an otherwise 10-minute drive, we arrive at Flipburger. And the line up of at least 40 people ahead of us. Not possible with the hungry little bear we have with us. Matt remembers some family restaurant on the other side of the parking lot, let’s just head there. Back to the car. Said family restaurant is deserted. As in gone. Empty. Space for lease. It’s now 7:30p.m., usually bedtime snack time, and still no dinner.

There’s a MacDonalds across the street, let’s just go there. Except we can’t because there is NO parking and the place is jammed. Since when does MacDonald’s do burger week? Because you would think there was something super special going on. All right, we’re going home, where there are no groceries, to order food. Except it will take too long, Bear will be asleep before it arrives.

At this point, in hindsight, we should have just settled on breakfast for supper, at the very least bowls of cereal. There’s a MacDonalds near our house, but we’re meeting friends for breakfast there in just over 12 hours and I can’t do MacDonalds twice in 12 hours, especially not the SAME one. But there’s also a Swiss Chalet. I love that we don’t feel like we need to always go to “family” or “kid”-friendly restaurants, and Bear’s been to most of our favourite haunts, and she’s really good at eating out. But sometimes that family-favourite restaurant is there to save the day.

We pull up at about 7:45p.m., trudge in feeling like shitty parents bringing an under two-year-old to dinner so late. (I told myself to pretend we were on vacation, just rolled into town. Nothing matters on vacation!) But the staff are so friendly, the service so fast and within the hour we are walking back out the door, bellies full. Passing parents on the way in with their under three-year-old for dinner. Well, we certainly weren’t the worst. And likely neither were those parents, because there’s always a backstory…  And we will certainly consider a real vacation next March break!

Do you wanna build a snowman?

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s blizzard, as we were outside shoveling/playing, I joked that we should persuade the city to use our driveway as the bus stop (actually situated about 10 feet to the side of our driveway). That way, the city would have to come clear our snow away. The 10-foot wide, 15-foot long, 4-foot deep snowdrift blocking our way to the street. The city has to clear the equivalent amount of snow away from the bus stop anyway, so what’s the difference? It would be a win-win situation.

Apparently not. Because the snow has still not been cleared away and our driveway that we Matt cleared is the bus stop! Hello city tax reduction?! Of course we don’t mind, the city is working hard to clear away the impossible amounts of snow. We’re lucky, some people’s streets still haven’t been plowed and ours, a fairly main route, was pretty much clear the day of the storm. But the sidewalks in our neighbourhood haven’t been touched, apart from the older man who spent all this morning working at clearing them by shovel. I wished I could have offered a hand, but I did keep a careful eye on him through the window in fear he’d have a heart attack.

And there’ve been plenty of other acts of kindness.

I was on Facetime with my sister in Sackville on the storm day and an ambulance appeared at the top of her road. People were literally shoveling around the ambulance so it could make its way to her neighbour’s house. A man with a snow blower helped it back up the road again.

As Matt was clearing the bus stop driveway, neighbours from a street over stopped by to help and the job was done much faster. Neighbours are snow blowing my parents driveway while they ride out the end of winter in Florida.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints on social media about the poor job the city has done handling the (copious) amounts of snow this year and that the responsibility of clearing sidewalks should shift back to residents (no please no no no we have so much sidewalk….). But how about stop the complaining, grab a shovel and help out. Just because it’s not our responsibility doesn’t mean we can’t help work on it anyway.

There’s nothing like a major weather event to get neighbours out in the fresh air, face-to-face and getting some exercise. Maritimers love talking about the weather so the camaraderie in the neighbourhood is high. Every passerby has a witty comment to share. Of course you know, I’d rather it be SPRING that brings out the best but regardless, I love seeing people rallying together, lending a hand and getting things done.

So this weekend, help a neighbour out. Clear a patch of sidewalk. Play in the snow. Embrace winter (oh crap. It’s officially spring.). We built an awesome slide in the snow bank for Bear and she used it for nearly an hour. Embrace the snow and enjoy it while it lasts and let me know how it goes.

Unless you’re on vacation somewhere warm this March break. In that case, I don’t want to hear about your sun, your sand or your pina coladas. I hope there’s sand IN your pina colada. Just kidding. Kind of.

Spring forward

I am loving the recent time change. In the past, springing forward an hour has usually messed up my system and I’ve struggled to get back on track. This year, it has worked to my advantage.

We are so extremely lucky in that Bear sleeps in until a decent hour. The week before last, she started waking up around 7:15/730a.m. Yes, that is early for her. And me. I like to have the chance to be showered, dressed and ready to go before she’s out of her crib. The time changed, and she still woke up 7:15/7:30a.m. her body time, but that now reads 8:15/8:30a.m. on the clock, back to the time she used to wake. Excellent!

The night before the clocks changed we had company stay over, so she was up later than usual, slept in a bit the next morning, and has transitioned to the ‘new’ time (and her old schedule) seamlessly. I’m guessing as time passes she’s going to start waking earlier again, but I suppose I can’t complain.

The next best thing about the time change is the daylight. It has made all the difference for me. I’ve been stressing about having dinner too late (for Bear), but when we are sitting down to eat at 6:20 p.m. and it’s still broad daylight, it just doesn’t feel late anymore. I know it’s an illusion but it feels like we have so much more time until bed. And two days ago I took this photo at 6:45p.m. Still sunny! And it’s only going to get better. It’s like my spirit is lifted and I can finally see the end of winter, despite yet another snowstorm that will be walloping Nova Scotia on Sunday. Oh joy.

Storm aside, have a wonderful daylight-filled weekend!

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