Another year

As 2015 draws to a close, I have become more aware than ever of how quickly time is moving.  I realize that I’ve been an absentee blogger for much of this year.  In fact, as I sat down to write this, I noticed that my last post was more than two months ago.  How did that happen?

I guess I sort of know the answer to that.  Or the answers (plural).  First, of course, I went back to work after a year-long maternity leave.  Being a working mom of two young boys has challenged me more than I could have known.  They are such good boys, but just managing the regular day-to-day tasks like daycare pick ups, making dinner, baths, laundry, packing lunch, etc. is enough to drain me.

Then there’s work itself.  I was promoted to manager while I was on mat leave and inherited an employee who I had never met before.  This employee is challenging in many ways and it has made the transition tougher than it should have been.  I was promoted again a couple of months ago and I now have five employees and a new area of responsibility.  This is a good thing but doesn’t leave me with any extra time.

And, as is to be expected, we enjoyed a few weeks of illness in our house, culminating in a miserable sinus infection for me right before the holidays.

So here we are now.  Christmas is over and it’s New Year’s Eve.  We’re at the farm with my family and the littles are napping.  The others are outside playing in the (tiny bit of) snow.  It’s too much for me to reflect on the whole of 2015, other than to say that it had its ups and downs.  It was a tough year for me in many ways, but a good year overall.  My boys are growing and developing and doing amazing things everyday.  We’re all healthy.  That’s all I really need.

I know I need to take some time to really think about this blog and whether or not there is a future for me here.  I did not intend to just drop off the face of the earth – I often wonder and worry about others when that happens – and I truly thought I could keep going.  But now I wonder if I really do have anything more to say.  And, more importantly, the time and desire to say it.

In the meantime, I’m still here in the background, following your celebrations and struggles, your losses and joys.  I’m still here reading about your kids and families, your recipes and fashion finds, your ups and your downs.  I don’t comment very often (I usually sneak in a quick read at the bus stop or on the elevator) but I am here.

Happy New Year… 2016 here we come!



What happened to your hair?

I keep meaning to sit down and write but then something else always seems to demand my attention.  I realize I’ve barely written anything since I went back to work and I’ve been particularly bad in the past couple of months.  I certainly haven’t stopped reading everyone else’s stuff, but I just can’t get my act together to spend any time in my own space.  I don’t know what that means for this blog…

But, I do have something new to talk about right now.  My hair!

I’ve always known that pregnancies can cause crazy things to happen to women’s bodies.  I’ve heard about a lot of people whose feet grew (ugh, imagine having to replace all your shoes!)  And, of course, after months of breastfeeding, many of us will never have full, perky breasts again (at least without some serious help).  But what I never expected was the most recent change that just happened to me.

Ever since I was a pre-teen, I’ve always envied girls with curly hair.  In the ’80s, my mom would spend hours painstakingly crimping my waist-length, pin-straight hair.  Much to my dismay, my hair generally refused to hold a curl, so the crimped look didn’t last long.  I tried braiding damp hair.  I tried hot rollers.  I even remember sleeping with my hair wrapped around some awful, foam-covered, bendy things in an attempt to have something other than perfectly straight hair.

By high school, I had given up and accepted that my hair was straight.  One benefit of the absolute straightness, was that I didn’t even need a blowdryer to get it straight.  I could wash my hair and let it dry naturally.  It was still straight.

As I got older, things slowly began to change.  My hair got a little frizzier and needed to be blow-dried in order to look smooth.  After my first son was born, I noticed a bit of a kink (or one giant wave?) had appeared at the very back of my head.  Kind of annoying, but relatively easy to deal with when blowdrying my hair.  After my second son, I noticed the kink was more pronounced.  When I’d finish drying my hair, it would never lie flat.  There was always a bit of a zig-zag there.  Kind of like this… 

 I wasn’t super excited about adding more time to my morning hair routine, but off I went to purchase a straightening iron.  After washing and blow drying, a quick straighten was all I needed and my hair was good for a couple of days.  Excellent.  Everything was under control. 

 But wait!  September arrived and it was the first week of school.  I had to drop both kids off at their respective daycares one morning and it was a very hot and humid day.  I had washed, blow dried and straightened that morning, right before we set off down the street.  I was pushing the stroller and Littleman was scurrying along beside me in an attempt to beat the imminent rain.  No such luck.   A misty rain began to fall.  I did my best to push the stroller with one hand while I held an umbrella with the other, but my hair got a bit exposed to the elements.  When I arrived at work that morning and popped into the ladies room, I was greeted with a surprise.  The whole top layer of my hair was wavy.  The underside was still pretty straight because it had remained relatively dry, so I looked pretty weird.  But, ignoring the weirdness, this was a bit of a breakthrough.  Wavy hair?!  Could it be possible?

I got some advice from my curly-haired friends and decided to play around with my hair to see what was really going on.  I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty shocked with the results.  It turns out my hair has COMPLETELY CHANGED since having kids.  I’m now the proud owner of full-blown wavy hair. 

 That’s right folks.  I’m the girl whose hairdresser couldn’t even get her hair to hold a curl.  Now, I actually have some texture to my hair without using any type of curling device.

I know I have a lot of experimenting and learning to do when it comes to styling my wavy hair.  I still haven’t actually figured out how to make this newly-discovered hair look nice.  I’ve purchased a couple of products (I’ve never used any products before so this feels so crazy) and I’m still trying to figure out what is the best combination of products and/or techniques to use.  I want something that will hold the wave without making my hair super-crunchy and wet looking.  I’ve tried to scrunch it to get rid of the crunchiness, but the more I touch it, the frizzier it gets.  This will take some practice.

I definitely don’t see myself as someone who will wear her hair wavy all the time, but it’s kind of fun to finally have some hairstyle options (beyond down or ponytail).

Anyone else discover any weird changes after having kids?  And, most importantly, any advice for styling wavy hair??

A frantic finish (and some lovely lunches)

This is it. The final days of maternity leave. Now that Bo is doing full days of daycare, we are filling our days with shopping, cooking, organizing and purging. The realization that I’ll never have free time at home like this again (or at least in the foreseeable future) is making me a little panicky. 

One thing I really want to work on is being more prepared when it comes to meals. I already stocked thd freezer with dinners but I’ve always been terrible at taking my lunch to work. There are lots of places to buy my lunch where I work, but I know I don’t need to be spending so much money (or eating so many calories) so I’m aiming to bring my lunch at least a couple of days a week. 

In preparation for this morning’s cooking session, I threw five chicken breasts and some broth in the slow cooker overnight. When I woke up, it was ready to be shredded. After dropping the boys at daycare, I jumped right into making wraps to freeze for lunches. 

I found a recipe for bean and veggie burritos that I wanted to try and they turned out great. 

I also decided to make a few other variations including ingredients like the shredded chicken, refried beans, black beans, quinoa, corn, caramelized onions, cheese, salsa and sour cream. I made a few meat-free in case I felt like a change. 

Once I had filled and rolled all the wraps, I wrapped them in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil. I labeled some large freezer bags and packaged them up for our chest freezer. 

We tested out a couple for lunch today and they were delicious!  Now I have something I can grab and take to work for easy reheating at lunch time.  

Life is going to get a lot trickier in a few days but hopefully these little things will help make it a bit easier. 

Halloween prep

I’ve been busy getting all Halloweeny this week.  I kind of love Halloween.  Especially the pumpkins.  And the candy.  But mainly the pumpkins.

I’m not crafty.  When I was a kid, my grade seven teacher called me to her desk and said, “art isn’t your best subject, is it?”  Luckily, I haven’t let that small (and pretty accurate) comment haunt me into adulthood…

Anyway, although I’m not very good at (and generally don’t enjoy) art projects, that rule doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to Halloween.  The only “crafty” thing I have any patience for is pumpkin carving.

A few years ago, our street had a pumpkin carving contest.  I was pregnant with Littleman so, obviously, I had way too much time on my hands.  I decided to try the scraping technique (where you remove some of the pumpkin skin without slicing right through) and I carved a witch’s face.  It took about five hours and it turned out amazing.  I won the contest and, ever since, have loved carving my pumpkins for Halloween.

This year, we had lots of pumpkins to choose from.  D grew them at our farm and we ended up with a bunch of different shapes and sizes.  I spent yesterday’s morning nap time scooping out three pumpkins.  I hate scooping the gunk so I wanted to get it done well in advance.  Also, last year was my first time roasting pumpkin seeds and I knew I wanted to try again.  I had much better luck separating the seeds this year.

After I got the pumpkins cleaned out, I stuck them in our cold storage room so I could focus on the seeds.  I searched the internet for instructions and was annoyed to find that everyone seems to have a different temperature/time for roasting pumpkin seeds.  Since I had so many seeds, I decided to do a few separate batches so that I could try different techniques.  My best batch was coconut oil and Himalayan rock salt, roasted at 325 degrees farenheit for about 25 minutes (checking every 7-10 mins).  I also did one batch that I tossed in oil, salt, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce before roasting, which came out very tasty too.

With the seeds dealt with, it was time to switch my focus to carving my pumpkins.  I found a couple of simple ideas that wouldn’t take too much time.  They were less elaborate than I’ve done in the past, but I just didn’t have the time to commit to them this year.  I managed to get two done during Bo’s nap.  I saved the third pumpkin to carve with Littleman after daycare.



I think we’re pretty much ready for the big day, aside from perhaps needing to buy one more box of candy.  It’s possible that I ate a bit too much of it this week…

Clothes bros – second edition

Before Bo was even two months old, I discovered the joy of dressing my boys in matching clothes. I don’t do it often, though. The main reason is that Bo wears all of Littleman’s old baby clothes and I don’t want to waste money buying a whole new wardrobe for no reason (besides cuteness!)

So, imagine my pleasure when I pulled out the next size of baby clothes we had stashed away and I found that I would be able to dress my boys alike once again!

It turns out that Littleman had a Batman onesie just like the long-sleeved tee he wears now! Victory!



More candy, please!

Is it just that I’m bigger or is Halloween candy a lot smaller than it was when we were kids?

I’ve been spending Bo’s morning nap time sorting out our Halloween stuff.  I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to carve on our pumpkins (I overdid it for a few years and I think it’s time to scale back and keep it simple this year).  I pulled out Littleman’s trick-or-treating basket and found the lights that we put up on Halloween.  I unburied our big Halloween candy bowls and opened up the candy boxes to see how much more I need to buy before the big day.

OK, I lie.  I could have figured out how much candy I have based on the number on each box.  But, I needed a little sugar hit.

So, here’s my question: when did the Halloween candy get so small?  As a mom of young kids, I suppose I appreciate the fact that the candy they’ll get on Halloween is nice and little.  One or two small bites is really more than enough.  But as a nursing momma who has a MAJOR sweet tooth, these things are ridiculous!  I could eat an entire box in one sitting and not even break a sweat.

Good thing I’ve started running…

When did life get so busy?

I have so many updates that I want to write about but I don’t seem to get any time to myself these days.  By the time everyone is settled in bed at night, I’m way too tired to write! Some of the things swirling through my head include:

  • our first plane trip and hotel stay as a family of four
  • the first couple of weeks of feeding my baby solids
  • my running progress
  • packing away the too small baby clothes, knowing that we won’t be using them again…

I’m going to dedicate some time to write about all of these things, even if only to help myself process my feelings.  Don’t get me wrong – these things aren’t all negative – but they all impact me in different ways.

Also, I have been trying to stay up-to-date on my blog reading but am finding that some of my favourite blogs aren’t always showing up in my reader (WTF) and for some reason, I can’t always comment and/or “like” from my phone (again, WTF?)  So, please know that I’m still here, following, reading, thinking about you.  I just don’t get much time in front of an actual computer.

That’s Manager Mommy to you!

So, last week I went into the office to meet with my new boss. He explained that there would be some changes to the team before I return from maternity leave next year. While I was happy to hear that, I also didn’t set my expectations very high. My colleagues and I have a manager that sucks and have been promised a lot in the past. Over the eight years that we’ve worked there, nothing has actually changed.

So, you can imagine my surprise when, less than a week after my visit to the office, I was contacted by HR because the new boss wanted to have a quick phone chat to update me on some changes.

Turns out he had two pretty big pieces of news: my crappy manager is gone and I got a promotion! Woohoo! I’m not gonna lie – I’m not sure which piece of news excites me more! Obviously it isn’t nice to be happy about someone losing their job, but holy shit, she sucked. And I’m pretty darn pleased about becoming a manager myself! Two of my other colleagues got promoted as well, and we will each have one employee reporting to us.

I’m glad that I still have many months before I have to return to work, but I think this will make it a bit easier when the time comes. I was seriously unsure about whether I would stay there much longer once my maternity leave was over, but this may be enough of a positive change to turn things around.

Now, I better get back to my current job. My boss needs his diaper changed!

Sick mommy

I’m sick. Not just a little sick, but sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true.

It started with a sore throat on the weekend. I felt kind of crummy on Sunday. Monday, I felt worse. By Monday night, I was a mess. D was working night shift, so I was on my own. I didn’t sleep at all, between feeding Bo and my sore throat and congestion.

Yesterday morning, I was a mess. D got home and took over. I spent the entire day in bed. I had a fever, chills, aches, chest congestion, stuffy nose and extreme sore throat. D brought Bo in every time he needed to eat, which turned out to be every 1-1.5 hours (6 week growth spurt?). I felt like I was dying.

I didn’t manage to sleep at all. I think I now understand what babies/kids go through when they’re overtired. I just COULD NOT SLEEP.

It doesn’t help that there isn’t much medication that I can safely take while breastfeeding. I’m back to taking the same painkillers that I took postpartum (Advil and Tylenol) but they aren’t doing much besides helping with the body aches.

D had to stay home from work last night because I was totally useless. I did finally get a bit of sleep last night. Bo actually went one 5 hour stretch between feeds! I feel marginally better today. Still awful, but at least I can manage to be upright for a short period.

My mom is coming to stay over tonight so D can go back to work. I hope I can kick this soon. I hate not being there for my kids. And I hate being sick. Must go lie down now.

Operation Big Boy Room – the reveal

I realized that I shared some of our progress on Littleman’s “big boy room” but never showed the finished product.  Now that he’s been living in there for a few weeks, I figured it was good time to take a look at how things have been going.

Since baby #2 is on the way, we chose to move Littleman into the spare room, rather than make any changes to the nursery.  It was easier to tackle one room rather than two.  That being said, the spare room wasn’t exactly “spare.”  In fact, it was pretty darn full of every piece of crap that we’ve ever held on to and didn’t know what to do with.  After some major purging and donations to charities, we finally ended up with a blank slate.

Choosing a theme for the new room was pretty easy.  Littleman’s favourite colour is orange and he loves construction sites.  So when I came across some super-cute construction vehicle sheets at Target, I knew that was our starting point.  I didn’t love the comforter that went along with the sheet set – and it would have been too big for our Ikea bed anyway – so my mom offered to use the sheet set to sew us a duvet cover.  She cut down a twin sized duvet so that it would fit the kiddie bed.  While the bed is the perfect size for a little kid, Ikea doesn’t actually make bedding that fits it (aside for a fitted sheet).  They recommend either a cot duvet or twin duvet, but neither actually fit the bed properly.  That was annoying to me, so I was happy my mom was able to help with a solution.

The new bedding

The new bedding

With the bedding figured out, we decided to use wall decals on one portion of the room.  I found a bunch of construction-related decals on Etsy but then realized that Target sells some in the same line as the bedding.  And for much cheaper.  So we decided to go with those.  We chose to run the road between the bookshelf and the window, creating a little nook where the bed is.

The decals

The decals

At the end of the bed, used a bookshelf we already had to store a bunch of Littleman’s stuffed toys.  Within the closed doors of the bookshelf, we keep all his books.  That way he can reach them himself, but we don’t have to look at the messy piles.  It doesn’t matter how often I straighten his books, they always end up in a big mess!

Book and toy storage

Book and toy storage

Finally, we put a couple of simple storage cubes on the floor so Littleman has somewhere to dump his toys.  Most nights, he wants to bring a toy upstairs with him while he gets ready for bed, but he knows he has to put them away before he goes to sleep.  Having an easy place to chuck the toys has helped keep his room nice and neat.

Along the wall that you can’t see is a simple white dresser that used to be mine.  It needs to be painted (I’m considering orange, but may stick with white) and I plan to replace the knobs.  We also need a piece of art for the wall above it, which is totally blank and plain.

So, now that it’s all done, how does the kid like it?  He LOVES it!  The transition to the new room has gone amazingly well.  I think we waited until the right time to move him and he was really ready.  It only took a couple of nights in the new bed before he was sleeping through the night again (I think he would wake up and get a bit confused/scared at first).  When he wakes up in the morning or after naps, he calls out for us and doesn’t actually get out of bed (fingers crossed that this will last for a while!)  When people come over to visit, he takes them upstairs to see his room.  He calls his old room “the baby’s room” and really hasn’t looked back since he moved.  All in all, we’ve very happy with the result!

A great place to sleep!

A great place to sleep!