Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cold Climate Moms

Day 1

Day 2

Can you guess what Day 3 will look like?

Moms in cold climates have a tough job. Don't get me wrong, being a mom anywhere is a difficult, all-emcompassing job, but Moms in cold climates face challenges that most warm-climate moms can't possibly imagine. Living in Canada, I get to be a warm-climate mom for 4 months of the year, during the other 8 months of the year I long for the days when the only additional worry I have is remembering sunscreen & hats. 

Challenge #1 - The +20. I call challenge #1 the "Plus Twenty". In June if it took you 15 minutes to get out the door, in October it takes you 35. Before you even leave the house you will spend +20 searching for socks, mittens & hats. You will do up jackets & snowpants and then you will take them back off just before you head out the door so someone can go pee. It doesn't matter how much experience as a cold climate (CC) mom you have, it doesn't matter how old your kids are, if you don't take +20 to get out the door, you are leaving something behind. In July if it took you 45 minutes to run to the store to grab milk and diapers, in November it will take you over an hour. Without even mentioning winter road conditions & parking lots that have suddenly become half the size you are suddenly +20 pushing a shopping cart across a snow-packed parking lot. Toddlers who slip & slide across the ice are being hauled under your arm as you single-handedly navigate your cart (which has been piled high with blankets, I swear there is a baby under there somewhere). And the minute you hit the heat that is bearing down on the front door, that sweet little toddler has stripped off her hats & mittens. The problem with a +20 is that even though you have had them your whole life (even before having kids) if you accumulate too many, your day is ruined. Gone are the days when a +20 meant setting your alarm 20 minutes early so you could start your car & scrape the windows... here are the days when a +20 means reshoveling a walkway that the little ones built a snowman in the middle of... and that's just the beginning.

Challenge #2 - The Front Door Fight. They have begged you to go outside since they woke up to a fresh coat of snow. And yet the moment you utter the words "Put your foot in here..." as you motion towards the snowpants there will be a fight. "I'm itchy" and "These are too tight" are followed moans & groans "I'm too hot". And from what I can see it doesn't get better with age... I have considered stopping to ask the "To Cool for School" teen-ager why she is carrying her jacket when it's -15 degrees Celsius outside or where the boots that her mother bought her are. 

 Challenge #3 - Winter puts the X in exercise. There are only so many days I can spend at indoor playground, no matter how much my kids love it. I think my personal maximum is 2 days a week. Expensive snacks, screaming kids & the fact that you aren't getting anything else done other than updating your facebook status makes the indoor play centre a last resort. I try not to even mention it until January & only on days -15 degrees or colder. The super mom I was in the spring, the one whose children got at least 2 hours of exercise each day has gone into hibernation. Don't wake her, she'll be grumpy. There's  the guilt of knowing that your kids have been cooped up inside all day, but even worse, there's the insanity. And after 30 minutes of screaming kids running laps around the kitchen island, I am on my last nerve. Some urban hipster mummas might be able to convince their kids to take up yoga or tai-chi but for those of us who rely on kids who play outdoors (you know, the old fashioned way) a cold spell can be excruciating. I am starting to understand how CC moms can get caught up overwhelming their kids with activities & full schedules. Would it be better to go insane driving the mom taxi to ballet, hockey, gymnastics and swimming or to go insane from the chaos of pent up energy in your little ones accompanied by a big slice of guilt?

Challenge #4 - Let me Entertain You. I'm a crafty mom. And I like to bake with my kids. But even with a full Pinterest board I struggle to keep my kids entertained during a cold-spell. For starters, I don't believe it's my job. When I was a kid, if I complained I was bored I was told "That's not my problem" or "I have plenty of things you can do" (and most of them were chores, and none of them were things I wanted to do). But in a world where kids are entertained 24/7, they've become complacent. In having everything, they have stopped using their imaginations to create the things they don't have. I don't want to spend my winters (or money) stocking up on new toys, they have enough. And I can't (although sometimes I would like to) spend every day playing Barbies or Dinosaurs with them. And I refuse to allow the TV to be playing in the background all day long, just to fill the void. So what then? What happens when I mutter "Go outside and play" only to discover that it's 30 below out there? CC Moms, if they are doing it right, will have to work harder to encourage and allow the development of creative imagination because 1/2 of the healthy options a warm-climate mom has aren't available to us. I said healthy. And everything is healthy in moderation, but let me tell you warm climate moms, that by December 15th most of us CC Moms have used up a moderate amount of Televisions and video games. And there's still 5 more months of winter ahead...

There they are. The four biggest challenges that I face as a CC Mom. Each day I will face at least 2, if not all four of these challenges. And because of that, it has made finding solutions worthwhile. Here's what I have come up with so far (of course I'd love to hear any suggestions you have)

#1. I'm looking to the past for inspiration. It shocks me that homes are now built in Canada without boot rooms. If you don't even know what that is, ask your Grandma. But if you live without a space (like I do) at your backdoor for boots, coats & mittens and a bench to aide in the process, then you need to make one. And that is what I am working on this winter. Another thing that can't hurt? Mittens on strings. Those moms (with their boot rooms) in the 1950's & 60's were onto something... so I'm going to take the next week and sew all of the kids mittens onto strings.
There are a lot of +20's that you can't do anything about. They are just part of being a CC Mom and living in (an awesome place like) Canada. 

#2. I'm not sure there is much you can do to get a child to love snowpants. Once they are in them, they seem to forget that they are wearing them... it's just the +20 of getting them out the door that is painful. My only tip: Open the door. And while I might freeze my butt off, my kids are much happier if they aren't sweating inside their suits.

#3. I have a rule. And I stick to it. If it's warmer than -15 degrees out there, it's warm enough to play. I didn't invest all that money in winter wear so we could have it hanging in the closet or pull it out during a chinook. The past two days, like every day before, I have kicked the kids out. And when they knock at the door, asking to come inside, I feel their cheeks, change their mittens and send them packing.

#4. I'm working hard at this one because I don't think it happens over night: I am raising kids who can entertain themselves and each other. I have taken time out to 'set up a store' or 'restaurant' in their bedroom. I show them how to role play & use their imagination so that they can continue to do it when I'm not there. As kids, we weren't 'shown' how to use our imaginations, it just happened. But a lot of my kids friends (I'm not blaming any parents here) don't play this way and I noticed that early on. If teh older kids weren't going to teach Miles how to 'pretend' then I would have to. 
But using their imagination isn't enough. There are two more (and probably even more that I dont know about) thing that I think help. 1. I put things at their level. My kids can get crayons, playdoh and lego out themselves. They don't have to ask. 2. I let them make a mess. And sometimes, I even let them move onto the next mess before making them clean up the current on. My kids clean up after themselves, but not while they are playing. That's ridiculous. Yet I see moms doing it all the time. Cleaning-as-you-go is an adult concept, and it limits the creativity that can arise from moving onto a new toy or area. When we were little we would turn the entire basement (even the stairs!) into a Barbie doll village. That was when the best playing got done. If I limit Molly to playing only within her house & only with the toys that are used specifically for Barbies then I limit her ability to play. It's harder than it seems. When I see her pressing play-doh into the Barbie pots & pans. But it's worth it (and yes, I do make her clean it up later) because those playdoh pancakes that my Barbies has for breakfast made the game so much more fun.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It would make a sad tour.

The other day when I was looking for a video to show a friend, I came to learn just how many scrapbook room tours there are on YouTube. Thousands. I didn't even really know that this was a 'thing'. A scrapbook room tour is exactly what is says, a tour of someone's scrapbook room. I'd like to think that the videos are out there to inspire & create storage solutions but it became apparent after watching a few that they are basically 'brags'. And there's nothing really wrong with that, to some extent all scrapbooking is a little vain. And blogging (at least in the way I do it) most definitely is. Anyway, I was jealous. Jealous of the beautiful (and some not so beautiful) rooms & the lucky ladies who get to slip away to them once they have their little ones tucked in bed. But on another level, I wasn't jealous at all. I use to have a beautiful (albeit not luxurious) scrapbook room. A whole room in my house dedicated to a hobby I had dedicated my career and free-time to. It's not that silly. But when the kids came along & I lost my space, most of my 'stuff' went into storage. And over the past 5 years I have picked at the boxes downstairs until there isn't much left. Most of it has been sold or given away.

This is what is left. This is my scrapbook "room" (corner) tour. Not worth making a video, it was a stretch to even find 6 photos. And after seeing the rooms & rooms full of JUNK in all of those YouTube videos, I have never felt so proud in the culling of my hoard that took place.

The thing is, my hoard had gotten so big that when it came time to use the red polka dot paper I bought 4 years ago, I couldn't even find it. So then, what's the point? I felt overtaken with my supplies. I was ready to give up scrapbooking. Between the supplies & the uncontrollable chaos that was my 'photo supply', I was done. It was all too much effort. And so I quit. Not entirely. I still got together with my girlfriends for the occasional crop, but I sure wasn't scrapbooking at home like I had once.

I remember attending scrapbook conventions where suppliers and retailers alike were worried that they were overwhelming their clients. The most common question I heard in my store was "What's new?" and it broke me. Fabulous items that were just a couple months old were 'old news' and required massive discounts to move. At the massive discounts required it didn't leave much money to buy new stuff to stock the shelves. Yet no supplier or store wanted to be the first one to say "Slow down!" or even "Stop!". It wasn't enough to stock a camping line, you had to have 4 or 5. And it created a vicious circle because even though you didn't want to, or couldn't afford it, the consumers came to expect it. But even avid campers can't use 5 different lines of camping paper seasonally. But they (myself included) were buying it. With fury. At Christmas time I bought no less than 15 different Christmas paper lines. I used my 2 favourites immediately & kept the others in my stash for later, only to buy another dizen next year. At this rate, later would never come. And when it did come (on rare occasions) the paper that I dug out seemed old & outdated. 

It was a hard habit to break. If I still had my store, I am not sure I would have. 

I use to be a retailers dream. Even in the years when I owned a store it wasn't uncommon for me to head state-side & drop $400 in 5 different scrapbook store stocking up on all the supplies I hadn't ordered to my store. They weren't good enough to make the cut for my shop but I bought them for my personal supply. It was ludicrous but it never phased me.

These days I have learned my lesson. When sorting through boxes of supplies I realized I could never use it all, nor did I want to. So I got rid of it. And as worried as I was that I might someday need it, that day hasn't come. But what has happened is that it is now much easier for me to scrapbook. I can look in the box labelled 'Christmas' and there are my options. And that is all. One box. And that's more than most have. Unless of course you are looking on YouTube.

Don't get me wrong, I would still jump at the chance to scrapbook in one of those rooms. But if I was overwhelmed with the massive amount of supplies that these women have, then I'd be back to being unproductive. And I am happy with where I am at now.

Last year I cleaned out my mug cupboard to discover I had nearly 50 mugs. I culled and 12 remained. And even then, I haven't had all 12 in use since. 

I have enough stuff to support at least 3 scrapbookers hobbies. Enough paper to cover a house (I would venture to guess). And yet, my scrapbook space would make for a sad scrapbook tour. I'm proud of that.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A psycho in love.

Tonight I finally got my grubby paws on some Cinder & Sage jewellery that I ordered and had my sister pick up for me. (My instagram photo doesn't do the pieces justice so make sure you go check out the page). In case you don't remember a while ago I lost one of my favourite custom-made pieces & I was in tears & hysteria until I found it 3 hours later. It was ridiculous. I was acting like a 3 year-old. I'm not proud of those 5 hours.

Anyway. Because I owned my own business, I appreciate a good-shout out. So here's mine: I love. love. love. love. Cinder & Sage. I love it in a psychotic way. Here's how I know that: A while ago, at the gym, someone complimented one of the pieces I was wearing. And this is what I said "Thanks! My friend Lindsay is a jewellery maker, her company is called Cinder & Sage." And then I proceeded to pull her business card out of my wallet & give it to the girl (who was working at the time). Doesn't sound psycho? Well, what if I told you that I don't know Linsday? She is my sisters friend, not mine. I've met her, but we aren't even Facebook friends. Also, I am the worlds worst sales woman (this was always a problem in my store) and I never feel comfortable telling people what I think they should buy let alone shove a business card in their hand. And yet, for some reason, I want people to discover C&S because it makes me so happy. So happy. In a super materialistic way. Happy. So I find myself going out on a limb to let people know about this cute little company. Anyway, a little while later while I was running on the treadmill (that's a lie, I wasn't running, I was stomping and panting, like a dog) I could see the staff on the computer at the front desk looking on the Cinder & Sage website. And I thought about all the stuff they might be able to order and I was ......... jealous.

Anyway, go support a local artisan. My (unbeknownst to her) 'friend' Lindsay and her beautiful work will be at Market Collective this weekend or you can order online. Now I am off to cruise Pinterest to try & figure out how to wear the hair comb I got. I though this comb might pull me out of my ponytail funk but now I am thinking I am just in over my head... My sisters are kind of girls who 'do' their hair, maybe I'll just show up at their house with my new comb.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Not busy, but occupied.

I dislike the word busy. I've said it before, I know. But it's a smug word. And I don't like to use it.
But then what word do I use for those days, when I really, truly am just that? Occupied? It sounds like I am in an airplane bathroom. Consumed? Well that just sounds like it's out of my control. When in fact it isn't. I have been very busy these past couple days, but at my own hand. Something about the fall is motivating to me. Maybe it's that we are spending more time indoors, but it prompts me to get things done & find projects for myself.

For FUN I am working on making a cute felted garland that I saw on Pinterest (above). It is actually easier (albeit more time consuming & costly) than I thought. It is going to look sooo cute when it's done, it will be worth the effort. 

Out off NECESSITY I am doing a 'deep clean' on my house, cooking with new ingredients (soba noodles!) and attacking the mountains of kids clothing that are taking over my laundry room.

Pretty soon I will sink into the sadness of winter (I mean, I'm not really sad, just more idle and missing summer) so I am trying to make the most of this phase. I will be productive again in the spring, until the busy adventure season of summer starts. I kind of like the dependability of seasons, knowing that in all the winter chaos ( January, February and March seem so long) I can look forward to emerging in the spring, in time to get cleaned up and ready for summer and then land back in autumn again.... where I prep myself for the long winter ahead. And I love it. I look forward to a day of making soup, perogies (new this year!) and  putting some elbow grease into my cleaning.

Happy Autumn Everymom!

Fashionably Thankful

We slipped up to our cabin for the Thanksgiving long-weekend, it's been years since we last were up there at this time of year (I was pregnant with Miles). I had forgotten how peaceful it is. The cool air, the crunchy leaves... it's perfect. And with no beach, boating, kayaking or tanning calling, there was nothing to do but sleep, read, eat & play boardgames (and Brian went for a couple runs while I rode an old bike alongside him).

My mom cooked a Turkey dinner, we carved pumpkins & ate sweets. I stayed in my sweatpants for 4 days straight! And the kids only got out of their PJ's to go play in the cool sandbox.

We watched bad movies (and a few good ones); 101 Dalmations, Austin Powers, Austin Powers II and  the Naked Gun trilogy (soooo bad). 
Each year I do a list of the thinks I am thankful for on Thanksgiving, but because I am fashionably late this year, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Layout 314 & 315

I was lucky to have the chance to hunker down and scrapbook for an hour or so last night. I got 2 layouts done that I had been putting off for a while (not sure why...). Two layouts of one train ride, seems excessive but it really was a great day.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Layout 312 & 313

Slowly (sloooooowly) I am making progress on Miles' baby album. 2 down, 30ish more to go. I am running out of things to say & pages just look weird to me without journalling. 
'Here is Mommy holding you'
'Here is Mommy staring at you'
'Here is Mommy cuddling you'
blah blah blah
My first layout was very heartfelt & now I am just grasping at straws, trying to fill the page. I enjoy scrapbooking but the journalling is getting tiresome. And once I am done Miles' album (will I ever really be done?) it's on to Molly....good grief.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

'R' Family

Today my sister-in-law posted sneak peeks of our family photo session. Here they are. I get excited for two reasons: #1. Who wouldn't love looking at gorgeous pictures of their family? I think most people are excited to see pictures that were taken of them. You hope they turn out, you hope you look skinnier than you actually are & you hope that the faces that you love the most look as beautiful through the lens as they are through your eyes. They are. #2. I am super proud of Lindsay. Not because she needs me to be, she doesn't, she knows her stuff & doesn't need someone to tell her how wonderful she is. Her work speaks for itself. But I am proud of her because she is talented, I guess it would be the same feeling I get when I see Miles play soccer. He rocks. She rocks. And I am proud of her & how she is pursuing her dream. I can't wait to see the rest of the pictures. And I can't stop looking at these ones.

Layout 310 & 311

These are terrible pictures of the layouts I did today. I had a couple minutes free so I thought I should post them but the lighting in my house is terrible after sunset. Terrible. Anyway, had a great day scrapbooking with my friend Michelle as the kids played. I got 2 layouts done, not bad for scrapbooking with the kids home...
I should mention that I had 271 layouts complete at the beginning. That puts my 2012 total at a lousy 40 layouts. So when you think of it that way, I got 5% of my yearly total done today... suddenly I feel productive!