Monday, May 30, 2011

Book club

"There once was a mouse who was very lonely and didn't have any toys. Then he got toys. The end."

-Alyce, book club member since 2007

A little tired. A little complainy.

We're all still adjusting to this crazy mess of a move. In case you were wondering, Shira's been able to sleep through the chaos. With just a few bumps, her sleep has been great. We even found her a new crib. It's been a big week.

Matt leaves for Poland this weekend, so I'm hoping to sneak in at least five naps before he leaves. Should I say that louder in case he didn't catch that? FIVE NAPS! One for every week that he is abandoning us. It's all starting to sink in now, that he's really leaving us for more than a month. I am so grateful that I'll have my mum around to help, but since she's at work until 6:00 every day, most of each day will just be me and the girls. I will now use this opportunity to solicit invitations from friends who would like to have us over for a visit. We are a crazy bunch, but we mean well.

I had a second interview last week for a job I'd really like to have. Fingers crossed please, internet. This world of job seeking and interviewing is so new to me and I'm not sure I like it. One of the perks of academia, at least for the stage I was in (i.e., not yet searching for a tenure-track position), was the way jobs had a way of finding me. Sometimes I'd have to submit a CV to a department chair, but other times the department chair would contact me and offer a TAship or even a part-time teaching contract. (Excuse me for a moment while I dodge the stink-eye coming my way from everyone else in the world who has had to find work the regular annoying way.) This is to say that my academic behind is being kicked by this new world of job hunting. 

I know. Poor me. But with the month I've had, and the move we've had, I'm just in one of those moods. But it's nothing a little nap can't fix, right Matty? In fact my mood is improving just thinking about it.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Finally Friday night


What a relief that we made it to Friday night. These photos are from a few weeks ago when Alyce was making Shabbat in her room, one of her favourite ways to pass the time. I find such a sweetness in watching her make her own Shabbat table. As a convert to Judaism, I don't have these kinds of memories. I didn't paint my own candle sticks and practice saying the blessings as a little girl (though I certainly have memories of my own, and have since practiced that blessing many times).  I think it's exciting that Alyce and Shira will know Judaism in a different way than I ever will.

I hope everyone can sit down tonight with people they love, some good food, and maybe even a delicious glass of wine. Have the best of weekends!

In the garden

Alyce and I kept busy on Wednesday afternoon creating some garden fairies for my Mum's garden. I was inspired by one of my favourite blogs, We Bloom Here (you can find the peg doll tutorial here). Is it just me, or are they not just a little bit magical? I can't wait to make an entire family for the garden, and maybe some for Alyce's doll house. 

Oh, right. The doll house didn't make the move. We'll just have to make a new one then. For now, these fairies will have to enjoy the garden!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Scenes from a long week

It's been a long week, but I'm still so happy to be here. We aren't in a new house yet, so the move is sort of on temporary hold. I'm waiting to see where I find a new job (please please please let me find a new job), and then we'll make the final decision about where to plant ourselves down.  For now we wait it out at my mum's house, which makes for a very happy Alyce. You might have noticed that she's spending her time baking on Nana's back patio, in denim shorts and pearls. Somehow she's managing with all these transitions.*

I'm perfectly content with this arrangement. The move was so draining that I think I would have crumpled on the floor in a useless heap if I had to move into a new place on this end. For this short time I will enjoy spending time with my mum, enjoying some lovely wine and dinners in the evening when the girls are in bed. On my list today? Buying Shira a new crib. I also plan on making this. It can't be all job-hunting all of the time.

I hope everyone is enjoying a good week. Are you covered in rain like we are? If you live in the tornado-affected areas of the U.S., I hope you and those you love are safe and sound.

*Or I should say, she's selectively managing these transitions. There have been many moving-related meltdowns, as was expected. But wearing Nana's pearls takes the edge off.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ten things I've learned about moving

1. Don't move.

2. Ok, I take that back. We all need to move sometimes, especially if it brings us closer to the people we love, but my feet still hurt, I'm exhausted, my brain is fuzzy, and I'm more than a little bit emotional. So while I can admit that this move was an excellent idea, I'm still a little mad at it.

3. You know that little story about the animal friends, where one works hard to make all the necessary preparations for winter, storing food and good books (probably) for the long, cold season ahead, while the other wastes away his time eating good food, lounging with the paper, and not making any preparations? So we all know that the eager preparer laughs his way through the hard season while the other suffers in his own pathetic procrastination. Are you still with me? Good. I certainly tend to fall in the procrastination camp, but I also like to organize and make lots of lists. Deep down I really want to be prepared. I tried very hard with this move, realizing early on that this move was going to drain all of us (the distance, the details, the immigration, the madness) and I was on a good path to an organized packing job. Then all hell broke loose and two days before the scheduled moving day we had to start all over from the beginning.

4. On a related note, it turns out that I very much dislike customs.

5. Without going into too many details, because I'm trying to heal and move on, I can tell you that it is not easy to reorganize a move in two days. Canceling moving trucks, opening all of the packed boxes in a frantic attempt to decide what to keep (and what will fit in the cars) and what to get rid of, is a little draining. And crazy. In the end we gave away or sold ninety percent of our belongings. Yes, you read that right. All furniture, almost every book, all dishes, Alyce's bed and tricycle, Shira's crib, cosleeper and highchair. When I say almost everything, I mean it. In two days I was desperately sorting our lives into piles of keep and give away, and it wasn't easy. Of course we saved all of our photos and prints (but no frames), clothes, all of Alyce's non-board books, the special toys, and those beautiful things we received at our wedding. And yes, of course I kept my mixer (and all important baking accessories). And my sewing machine. It's all about priorities.

6. Moving is an emotional business, and I knew that already. But this move kicked my emotional ass. It's one thing to purge your house of unused things that do little more than collect dust. It's another thing entirely for your husband to ask you, "Can you wake up Shira and take apart the crib she is currently using so that I can give it away in about twenty minutes?" Yes, we'll get a new crib--Shira won't be forced to sleep in the shed. But it's not easy. We all like our stuff.

7. But in the end it turns out that all you really do need are the people (and cats) you love, a few clothes, a few books, and a mixer.

8. After the chaos of re-moving, Matt and I got in our separate cars and drove 12 hours. Shira, Hille, and Pomegranate drove with Matt, while I partnered up with Alyce and Lucy. Part of me was dreading my first solo-parenting car trip, but things worked out, as they often do in these situations (except at customs), and we had a wonderful drive. Alyce and I had plenty to talk about and here is a sampling of topics:
  • I'm not driving fast enough
  • I'm driving too fast
  • I'm driving the wrong way
  • Are we there yet?
  • Look at the sunset!
  • What's a sunset?
  • Is Lucy still in the car?
9. It was a hard few days, probably some of the most difficult we've faced. But we're a good team and we made it in one piece. Hille struggled the most, wanting desperately to be sprawled on a bed instead of stuffed in a box, but even he is recovering, sprawled out on a bed somewhere. Matt and I didn't yell too much, and I only cried twice.

10. Finally, I learned that I have an incredible friend, with incredible sorting-packing-brainstorming-and bringing us lunch-skills. I am so, so grateful for her help and might have plunged into complete despair without her. Sorry for the madness, Dani. We send our biggest hugs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

one woman army

I need to be a one woman army today. The move, as moves do, has exploded on me. Plans changing left and right, and still there are babies and children to entertain. So fortunately for me I found this shirt while packing a few days ago. Purchased way back when at the Toronto Women's Bookstore, it no longer fits my post-two-babies body, but damn it, I need today.

I'll be back once this mess is all over with!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Date Night

I'm going to interrupt my regularly scheduled rant about having too much to do and too much to pack and too much sleep not enjoyed, and give you an update on my Life List. I wanted to offer some evidence that I had indeed accomplished #34, which required that Matt and I find a sitter and have a date all to ourselves (thanks, mum, and may it happen many more times). We enjoyed dinner, coffee, and ice cream, all to ourselves. It was glorious. Now here is the evidence:

I'm not sure what this proves, except that maybe we had caught a little bit of the crazies, spending all that time away from The Children, and all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An awfully big Monday

Here is my Monday to-do list for today:
  • get rid of nasty head cold that appeared out of nowhere
  • nurse Shira, suffering from same head cold, back to health
  • sell some furniture on craigslist
  • pack up some of the kitchen and the toys
  • tackle that pile of paperwork that is threatening to smother us in our sleep
  • have a really long nap
So that last one might not happen, but I am determined to be in bed by 8:30 tonight. I was out late last night, partying as usual (ok, so I went on a movie date with a friend. Bridesmaids is fabulous and you should probably go see it tonight) and now I'm dragging myself around this to-do list. 

There is an unbelievable amount of things to do before Thursday, when we will pack all these boxes and bits and pieces into a moving truck. And of course because I'm like this, I still have some working hanging over my head that needs to be finished before we go. Whenever things get crazy like this I just want to sit down and knit. But instead, I will need to power through and get all this done.

Have I mentioned that Alyce is in daycare this week? (Yay!)

Any good packing strategies?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

And now she is one

Modeling the cap she wore coming home from the birth centre one year ago.

No matter how much I try to avoid it, Shira's birthday did happen. I know everyone says they don't know how it happened so fast, but why does it happen so fast? I sometimes have a hard time remembering Alyce's first year, and I wonder all the time if I'll remember the details of my days with Shira as much as I want to. Everyone always tells new parents that you're lucky to forget so much about that hard first year--the pain of childbirth, the sleepless nights, the sleepless days--but I learned the first time around that you also forget some of the good stuff. I can't remember so much of what my days were like with Alyce as a baby. I remember the events of that year (like Matt getting a job here in Delaware), but like with most things, the day to day stuff is harder to remember. I will never forget some of the really good stuff, like how her skin smelled and the noises she made while breastfeeding, but I wish I could remember so much more.

Clearly, I should have started this blog three years ago.

So with the passing of Shira's first year I'm feeling a bit down about the things I might forget. Like the sound of her voice when she yells at me for more strawberries, or the way she fits against my body perfectly when she nurses in bed with me at night, or the look on her face when Alyce walks into the room. But here's what I won't forget: how she immediately became part of our family, like she was here all along. I will never forget her sweetness and the gentle way she greeted us each morning. And I will never forget all those glorious hours we spent in bed together, my little nursling and me.

P.S. If you are interested, you can find some details about Shira's birth here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Somewhere in Philly there is a giraffe wearing a purple hat

Oh, hi there.

Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn't, but I have been around here much this week. I have three excuses for you. I think they're good ones.

1. Blogger was down for some reason. But that only accounts for one day.

2. I had a job interview to prepare for. It was my first interview ever that wasn't for a job serving beer or fancy dinners. But that's for another post.

3. Oh, and I'm moving permanently back to Canada after three years of going back and forth between two countries. In six days.

A lot has happened this week in the meantime. There was a first birthday, anxiety about the job interview, a trip to the zoo, baking these incredible cookies for a farewell lunch with a good friend (my farewell!), and the usual chasing after my children. I'll be back with some of these details soon. Right now I'm off to do some packing. A lot of packing.

I'll leave you with my favourite photo of the week. At the zoo on Wednesday Alyce wore her favourite purple hat, a recent gift from her Nana. I guess the urge was just to powerful, because the second my back was turned, Alyce thew her purple hat over the fence into to giraffe enclosure. Of course she did. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Ten things about my day

1. I began my day being slightly irritated by Pomegranate, who didn't let blinds stand in the way of sitting in a window.

2. Who am I kidding, I began my day sleeping in an extra hour and not caring at all about Pomegranate. It was Matt, up early with Shira, who took this photo. I didn't become slightly irritated until later. 

3. It's beginning to hit me that I won't be spending much more time in Delaware. And by not much more time I mean next week I'm leaving for good. Am I sad to say good-bye? I'll miss some incredible people a whole lot, and there are a few things about Delaware, and the U.S. in general, that will be hard to part with, but mostly I'm just excited. 

4. It also hit me that enough with the reflection and nostalgia, and finish packing already.

5. I think my priorities might be slightly off kilter when I worry about packing up my stand mixer, because what if I need to make brownies the day before I move? What then?

6. I realized today that one of the perks of having children is being able to indulge in some delicious luxuries for the children. Like tomorrow is Shira's birthday and I declared that we really should have a birthday breakfast, with pancakes or french toast, because it is her birthday. Shira, of course, would be happy eating cat hair, which she daily.

7. I packed away, for selling or for giving away, piles and piles of books that I've been holding on to from my dissertation research. This is such a big deal that I can't even talk about it. So right now, I won't.

8. In other news, I'm seriously thinking of packing away, for selling or for giving away, our three cats. 

9.  You know how, as parents to a young baby, you sort of waffle around about introducing certain foods to your baby, because you're not sure if they can chew it or handle the carbs or the sugar or whatever, and then your baby disregards you and tackles the bowl when you're not looking, grinning at you with a mouthful of contraband food? You know what I think? It's about time someone made a decision. And it's about time that someone wasn't me.

10. Tomorrow my baby turns one. This time last year I was watching the series finale of 24, which was made all the more exciting by contractions every six or seven minutes. The next morning, Shira was on the outside. Now she looks like this:

Sleep well, Shira. Tomorrow is a big day.

Spring crush

I don't think it could have been more beautiful today. I'm having a huge crush on spring this year.

P.S. Sometimes I feel a bit like a dork posting all my photos online that I take with my iphone, and not a fancy pants camera (that I do hope to own one day soon). There are some stunning photos out no question (like these I found today via Pinterest). But on a day like today, when we took an impromptu after dinner walk/hill roll/chase in the field next to our house, I feel lucky to have that phone in my pocket. Because you all know that I'm too lazy to carry anything else but a baby on my back and a phone in my pocket. 

P.P.S. When's the last time you rolled down a grassy hill?

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I have these two children and they know me as Mama. They both call out to me in the night when they need something, they look to me when they're hungry, and they find comfort in my arms. Sometimes they get angry with me when I hold them back or push them forward. They share things and moments with me. I share my body with them. They make me grin, they make me laugh, they make me tired.

1,025: That's how many days I have breastfed.

2: That's how many times I grew a baby and pushed her out into the world. Once in a hospital, once in a birth center. Once on a bed, once in a tub.

30,463: That's how many questions Alyce asked me this week.

How did I get so lucky?

P.S. Happy Mother's Day to my mum, one of my favourite people on the planet. Talk about being lucky.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Slightly organized chaos

This week has been all over the place. To give you some idea, I have experienced the following emotions in the past seven days: excitement, frustration, love, panic, fear, anxiety, contentment and hunger (for me, hunger counts as an emotion). There is just so much going on around me right now in order to make this permanent transition to Canada. And then there is the job search, planning for the summer, planning for Matt's abandonment of his family while he traipses around Poland, and the fact that my baby turns one next week. Pardon me while I lie down a minute.

Adding to our crazy, yesterday Shira tumbled down a long flight of basement stairs. Somehow she's just fine, with only a little rug burn on her head to show for her adventure. Matt and I were probably  more shaken up than she was, and we coped the best way we know how: dessert.

One of the highlights of our week was the Wilmington Flower Market. It was an unexpected surprise, an afternoon spent wandering around a market complete with carnival. Alyce enjoyed some of her first rides, triumphantly reaching the three feet height requirement (with an inch to spare, even). Between the rides and baby farm animals, Alyce didn't think her day could get any better. That is until she saw the fairy wings.

Our weekend plans include packing, cupcake baking (I'll use this recipe), and a birthday party for Shira and her friend, Finley, on Sunday afternoon. There will also be some Mother's Day sleeping in and breakfasting in bed! 

What are your weekend plans? If you haven't spent enough time online this week, let me help out:

Joanna Goddard's Friday lists on A Cup of Jo never disappoint.

A new place to store things you love.

Will I make this? I think I will. I have such a soft spot for birds.

I also want to make this. I think I might have a problem.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


When in doubt, make a fort.  Invite your best friends and make sure to keep out your baby sister. Surely a good fort is the cure to a long day, when you just need a little time to yourself.

May all your forts be filled with good snacks, good friends, and a little quiet!


In less than a week she'll be one year old. My tiny, squishy, happy, hungry, delicious, sweet little Shira Clementine. This time last year I was coming to terms with fact that she was going to be late, laughing in the face of all our hard planning to have friends and family around to help with the transition. Plans, schmans, who needs them anyway? She arrived and we welcomed her, just the three of us.

I posted my list yesterday, one of those lists of all the things I want to do with my life. I introduced my list saying that the items were in no particular order, but that wasn't entirely true. It wasn't true at all, actually. The first item on my list is to have more children and this is what I want the most. I want more babies and first years that go by too quickly. I want more goofy grins and chubby fists squishing blueberries. I want more first birthdays.

Now excuse me while I make some birthday cupcakes. Alyce has informed me that Shira enjoys chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. Isn't it sweet how Alyce thinks of her sister?