Monday, January 30, 2012

Breaking news in Canadian Immigration

This handsome American is now, very officially, a permanent resident of Canada! I repeat, he is a permanent resident. Last week we received the documents, headed to the border, and re-entered Canada as two Canada--loving residents. This means three things:

1. The handsome face can now start working.

2. He is now required, by law, to listen to the CBC.

And most importantly,

3. I filled out the forms correctly. All 37 pages. Take that, forms.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Because then you'll never miss these

Are you on Instagram for iPhone or iPad? I'm probably the millionth person to say this, but it's amazing. Instagram lets you steal parts of your day and share them with others: good parts, hard parts, or any parts you like. You can follow me @mostdaysiwin.

P.S. Since we're talking about following, you can also find me on Pinterest. If you need an invite to Pinterest, send me an email and I'll forward one your way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

We bake

 We settled in at (on) the counter to make challah today. Shira was napping, so we got to baking.

We (Alyce) tasted the honey, because, I have no reason. It's just what one does. 

She put her entire self into the project.

She told me stories of princesses.

And best of all, she had the good sense to give me a break and do some dishes already.

Our house smells of warm challah, and I don't know if there is a better smell in the whole world (the cookies we also made this afternoon were a close second). More cookies, you ask? Yes, I need help. I. Can't. Not. Bake. But if you think that over-baking is really so terrible, than I don't think we should be friends. And you might want to stay friends, because then you can eat the cookies. 

Moving on. I'm excited for a relaxing Shabbat dinner tonight with Matt (the girls are heading to bed early tonight after they both woke up on the wrong side of early this morning). Tomorrow me and The Children have been invited to a tea party at a friend's house, and Sunday the three of us head to Toronto for a visit with other friends, where we will enjoy, among other good things, some Indian food. Matt is taking most of the weekend off because he deserves it. We like and and want him to stay happy.

What are your plans for the weekend? I hope it's a great one.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Food on Thursdays: a series

I spend a lot of time thinking about food, and the internet gives me so many opportunities to indulge in this little obsession of mine. I think about food at night before I go to bed, coming up with breakfast plans the night before (and you thought I was a procrastinator). I plan pretend menus in my head for pretend dinner parties that never actually happen, and I slowly make my way through each issue of Martha Stewart Living, going back and forth on which scone recipe I will try this time (this month it will be the apple oatmeal scones). When I open my reader every day, its often the food blogs I look for right away. What I love about food blogs is not just the recipes they taunt me with (and do I ever love those), but the way they talk about food. I feel like we're fast friends immediately when I read how I'm not the only one who spends actual minutes in her day contemplating the kind of bread I'm going to make next, or how I will fit kale into my next meal.

It's a good kind of problem, but a problem nonetheless. Because I could spend hours in a given day thinking about cooking. And the photos! How do people take such phenomenal photos of the food they make? Artists.

Sometimes all this thinking about food comes out of frustration. I live with two very picky eaters (I'm looking at you Matt and Alyce) and I'm often at a loss for ideas. I think eating together as a family is crucial for creating healthy food habits, and while I gave up thinking that we could eat a family diner every night of the week, I still do try for three or four dinners as a family. So I'm often online searching for ideas of what to cook that will appeal to Alyce's firm no-vegetable rule and Matt's preference to eat a steak at every meal.

What I'm trying to get is that one of the things that brings me the greatest joy is food and cooking, so I am going to begin introducing a regular series about food and the food blogs I love. Food on Thursdays is a place for me to share my food crushes of the week, let you know what's happening around here (and what we're eating). For today I will begin with a few links from the week. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.

This photo reminds me why I need to buy fig preserves.

I, too, have a granola problem. But it really is the perfect breakfast food, paired with cold yogurt.

If you are interested in starting your own starter, start here.

Do you think Alyce will eat green pasta? Stranger things have happened. 

I will be making this chicken salad before the week is through.

She should start charging me for the number of recipes I've tried from Smitten Kitchen. (That chicken salad I just mentioned a few seconds ago? That, too.) Buttermilk roasted chicken? Yes, please.

I'm not much for hiding vegetables in food (I tried and was very disappointed by Jessica Seinfeld's book), but I think Alyce will be eating more beets in the future. No one turns down a chocolate cake with pink icing.

It's almost the weekend. May it be filled with food, eating, and more food.

P.S. I'm also a sucker for food memoirs of all kinds. Have you read this one? Hands down it is my favourite. I'm currently reading The 100-mile Diet, but I haven't found myself taken by it the way I am by others. I think I'm a tough sell when it comes to such a structured approach to eating (and no matter what anyone says, denying oneself coffee on account of the distance it travels, makes me uncomfortable). I'm only at the beginning, so maybe there's hope for it yet. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Five things

1. It takes me and Alyce approximate 789 minutes to walk to school. It is two blocks away. I have recently found myself home in the mornings and I've jumped at the chance to take Alyce to school. I love that we can walk, but I need to face facts and make myself get ready a bit earlier. No matter how I spin it, there is no way that Alyce will make it to school in time if we only give ourselves ten minutes. I once looked after a boy who was always late for school every day (by twenty or thirty minutes) and I swore I would always get my kids to school on time. I think it sets a standard for the day, kind of like making your bed.

2. It is a very cold January day, which you might not have realized since Alyce did not wearing her mittens on our walk this morning. Her reason? She gave none. I guess being four is reason enough.

3. I'm heading out in a few minutes to sign us up for a family membership at the YMCA. Matt and I have become rather sloth-like in our year of job searching, and we need to find some energy. The girls have plenty of energy, but we think they'll like some regular access to the pool.

4. I purchased a bathing suit this morning, in honour of my new quest to work this body of mine. I did not enjoy buying a bathing suit. In fact, I would like never to do that again. The end.

5. On a sad note, a young colleague from my former doctoral program passed away this week. He was intelligent, curious, and a good friend to many. I wish all of his family and friends some comfort this week. This is just such terrible news.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Public Service Announcement: Go on a date with your four year old

I had some time off today (or, I took some time) and decided to take Alyce out on a date. She had a doctor's appointment late in the afternoon and I saw this as an opportunity for some me and Alyce time, since bringing Shira to a one-hour appointment seemed like a world-class terrible idea. So I grabbed Alyce and we headed out for a little shopping and some hot chocolate. At Old Navy (obviously) I assigned her the role of shopping coordinator as I looked for some pants. Try as she did, I was unsuccessful in my search, even after she gushed about how beautiful my jeans looked. If only. But you'll be pleased to know that she found herself a new pink dress and stripy leggings (pictured above), so the day was, for her, a win-win.

She was upset that we weren't getting a dress for Shira, too, but somehow she moved on.

Our next stop was a diaper store where we did shop for Shira, picking up a couple of new diapers to add to her collection. We started cloth diapering with about 20 diapers, and it seems that we should have started with more, because most of them are no longer absorbing (having been washed every day or every other day for 18 months). So we are rebuilding our collection with some new diapers and inserts. Yes, my life is just that interesting.*

At the doctor's office Alyce was easy going on account of my promise that there were no needles today. In return for this wonderful news, she was delightful and patient (doctor's words) during a very, very long appointment. She was irritated by all the questions, but ecstatic when the doctor finally pulled out her stethoscope and ear-ometer (our official name for that thing doctors use to peer inside our ears). Everything turned out well at the doctor's, which makes it a great date already.

We ended our date with a hot chocolate at Starbucks (for her) and a coffee (for me). You might notice that Alyce is wearing something different in the first photo, even though the photos were taken only five minutes apart. That's very observant of you to notice, and if you are a parent you might have already guessed that her change in clothing was a result of her spilling an entire cup of hot chocolate down her dress and tights. Poor thing, it was bound to happen. Thankfully her hot chocolate was made child-friendly, and the temperature wasn't scalding. And thankfully again was the fact that we just so happened to have a new pink dress and stripy leggings from Old Navy in the car, so that she could step out of her hot chocolate covered clothes. Things just have a way of working out.

I think the best part of our day together, however, was when I tucked her into bed tonight. I told her, as I always do, that I wish her sweet dreams. She whispered back to me (since Shira was already asleep in her crib) that she was going to dream of ice cream! And mermaids! And unicorns!

And that, everyone, is why dating your four year old is such a lovely thing to do.

That concludes our PSA. I wish you all the sweetest dreams. What do you think you'll dream about tonight?

*And I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Which one do you like best?

She was a brave soul, even undergoing an extra shot since we had to make up the difference between the American and Canadian vaccine schedule. But the most important part of her check-up, even more germane than the fact that both Matt and I are thrilled with our new doctor, or the fact that Alyce has reached the fortieth percentile since her first few months on this planet (she usually hovers between the tenth and fifteenth), was that she received not one, but two Dora band-aids.

She has probably asked us 40,983 times which ones we like best. She has also flat-out refused to wear sleeves, for obvious reasons. I think I like the one with the rainbow best, but I'm also partial to the fish on the other. Alyce likes them both.

Finding a new doctor, after all the emotions that came with discovering that our former doctor had been charged with possessing and producing child porn, has made our week even better. I want nothing more than to trust the people who look after our children, to give them the space to do their job. Our new doctor is warm, accessible, and has worked with enough children to know that there wasn't a chance that Shira, who joined Alyce for her check-up, was going to leave that office without a Dora band-aid of her own.

I wanted to say thank you, one more time, to the director of our previous medical clinic, who found us a female replacement doctor so quickly, and for taking my concerns about Dr. Speight seriously. I wish her and her clinic all the best.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A good week

This photo here about sums up why I have children. Because you can stuff them up in a snowsuit, throw them into a snowbank, and this is the face you get. She couldn't have had more fun in the ten minutes we were able to play outside before the below freezing temperatures got the better of her.

Speaking of cold children. Even though we spent twenty minutes searching for snow pants that have clearly been left at school (admit defeat, Matt), Alyce still managed to enjoy herself in the snow. Here she is telling me that she's not even cold. Raise your hand if you believe her.

It's Friday afternoon and I'm home with The Children before I go into work for a couple of hours (I'm still helping out at the restaurant I mentioned before).  Alyce and Shira are making things out of Play-Doh, we're all dancing around to Tegan and Sara, and I'm settling into quite a good mood.

This week the world opened up a bit and said, Relax, just for a moment or two. We few financial stresses are gone (thank you, government of Canada for reassessing last year's taxes in my favour), Matt is *so* close to his permanent residency, and I was rehired to teach part-time for a university I used to work for. The work doesn't begin until summer, but it was a pleasant surprise, with a capital Pleasant. I am grateful for so many things, but let's face it, the past nine months have been hard. We were all eager for some positive news and I think our shoulders have collectively dropped a few inches.

The hard work of this year isn't over. We still have a lot to do. But I'm relishing a bit in this change of mood. It's an awfully nice way to begin the weekend.

And your weekend? What are you plans? Mine include lots of work on the course design I've got underway, making a cake for my stepfather's birthday tomorrow, a long walk in the snow, and with any luck, a date night with a certain snowpants-at-school denying husband. Oh, and I'm working on a certain school application, details to come!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Thursday favourites

I love winter, it's true, but there is something so lovely about waking up to this sunny yellow wall and a bicycle in the middle of all this cold. I don't even ride a bike (yet) but I have big plans. I have even bigger plans to enjoy this yellow wall. I don't think I have a single yellow object in my house! That will have to change soon.

Here are few more of my favourite things this week, or, more to the point, here is the food I'd like to eat:

I don't even like mousse, but I'm helpless against this tiny pot of chocolate. It has two ingredients (three, if you like extra sweet). Via Cup of Jo.

These muffins (and her incredible photos).

I think I'm up to the challenge. Now I just need to get my hands on a starter.

Will Alyce approve of this new mac and cheese recipe? I'll report back.

I have been craving grain salads lately, like this one.

P.S. In a few minutes we're taking Alyce for her check-up at the new doctor. She's unimpressed by the shot she's likely to get, but eager for the chocolate milkshake she'll enjoy for all her bravery. It's hard work being four.

Bicycle photo from April and May.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

She wept.

My brave, sensitive, inquisitive, little (big) girl wept yesterday. We were enjoying a peanut butter sandwich snack while Shira napped, and we got talking about her name, and how we chose it. Here is how things got started:

Alyce: Mama, why did you name me Alyce?
Me: We named you after your great-grandmother, who is one of my favourite people in the entire world. Her name is Mary Alyce, and your name is Alyce Mary.
Alyce: Why did you name her Mary Alyce?
Me: I didn't name her. Her mama named her.
Alyce: Where is her mama?

Have you already figured out where this is going?

Me: (Instantly panicking. Unprepared. Hoping a giant Disney princess waltzes into the room on a unicorn.) Her mama isn't with us anymore. She died a long time ago.
Alyce: Why did she die?
Me: She got very, very, very old and her body stopped working. That's what happens when a person gets very, very, very old.
Alyce: (Pauses.) Am I going to die when I get very old?
Me: (Please kill me.) Everyone will die one day. But that won't happen for a very long time.
Alyce: (Instantly weeping.) But then I won't be with you!

Her little face crumbled into pieces. She jumped into my arms and wept. Then I started crying. Then she wept some more. I spent those minutes with my daughter as she came to realize a terrible truth. For the first time her curious mind brought her to a place where I couldn't protect her. I can't lie to her, not about this. I think it's my job to shelter her from many things in the world (slutty tween clothes) and I will stand guard against anyone who wants to hurt her (bullies), but the knowledge that people grow old and die, this I can't stop. This kind of truth is hard, but she deserves it.

She cried for awhile in my arms before she calmed down enough to ask me a few more questions.  When I die will I be able to stand up again? Will I be able to talk to you? I explained to her that there was something inside her that would never die. Sometimes we read a traditional Jewish story about how an angel picked out her soul down from the Treasury of Souls and brought it down to grow inside me, along with the seeds from me and her Papa. It's a magical story, one she has always loved. So I tried to talk to her about how she still has that soul, and that I have one, too. And Papa and Shira. I explained, badly, that our souls would stay together forever. She seemed to like that answer, and we went back to our snack, just like that.

At least she probably won't ask me any other difficult questions.

What? Oh, crap.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What does your crazy look like?

Hi there.

It's like I've been avoiding you. Well, not you, but the internet. Well, not the internet, but this blog.

Should I tell you that life has been crazy, getting in the way of all my over-sharing? It's true, but everyone's life is crazy. Should I tell you that a temp agency had me running around in circles last week for a very temporary job that they ended up filling internally? (Can I express to you how much I have come to loathe the phrase We have filled the position internally over the past nine months? Sure, for those on the internal-side of things, it's good news. But after three quarters of a year spent looking for work, it just doesn't sit well. Oh, how I long to be on the internal side of something. I'm tired of looking in from the edges.)

The rest of my week was usual, run-of-the-mill kind of crazy. There was a tea party with new friends, a birthday party for two of my favourite little boys (even if we forgot their cards at home), some painting, some princess movies, and a shopping date with Matt (a romantic trip to the Gap). I like this kind of crazy. I'll take it most days of the week.

But it has also been a week heavy with planning for Our Future, as in, what are our next steps going to be? I'm piecing together a couple part-time jobs that, sadly, don't do much in the way of supporting our family of four. I'm still applying for new positions and following new leads every week, but we really do need a new approach. At some point I need to admit that what I'm doing isn't working. Matt and I have been brainstorming a bit, even thinking about jobs that he might apply for, as we approach the last stages of the permanent residency process. Can I get an AMEN to sharing the job search load? It's really one of the nicest feelings in the world, allowing my shoulders to relax just a bit. I now have a new appreciation for how Matt must have felt looking for permanent academic work in Delaware. Now that we have a family, there is just so much riding on the income we bring home.

So we've been brainstorming. It feels a bit sneaky making new plans, taking my mind of the day-to-day job search just for a moment. I'm not taking about another big move or anything, and no, we're not sneaking in a third child (yet). All I'm saying is that our family needs a new approach.

Any ideas?

He enjoys cereal

 So I'm innocently enjoying my bowl of before bed cereal, and Hillel shows up. I'm not all that surprised. He likes cereal. And Doritos. Also, popcorn.

Now he's thinking strategy. Will he reach out one paw, or crane his neck all the way around and just dive head first into my bowl? 

But like everyone else in this family, he ended up distracted by the iphone. I jumped at the opportunity and devoured my cereal before the little thief could regain his focus.

And that, my friends, is how things work at our house. 

P.S. Of course I gave in and offered him a little milk. I'm not a monster.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

20 months

Yesterday Shira turned twenty months. I think you'll all agree that she is doing a fine job so far. All of these photos were taken over the past few days and I love them because they show all the parts of her that we love--the nursing, sleeping, bossy, playful, and silly little one. The only photo missing here is one for her beautiful smile, but that's only because she's usually smiling when she's up to no good, and there's no way she'd sit still long enough for a photo if she's got trouble to get into.

P.S. Alyce was this age when we decided to have a second baby (and we were pregnant a few weeks later)! Alyce seemed so big to us at the time, yet Shira seems so little. We aren't ready for a third yet, so maybe it's good that Shira isn't growing up too fast. Wait just a little more, Shira. Please.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Claiming their space while getting down with their bad selves

On January 6 250 women in Beit Shemesh, Israel danced in flash mob protest of the tension growing in their community between some ultra-Orthodox, who have been pushing for a more segregated community, and more moderate members of the town. Things have been getting out of hand, with some men making terrible decisions, namely spitting on an eight year old girl (on account of her so-called immodest dress). I love that the women of this community are standing up for the right of shared space and the dignity of all people, and I love a good flash mob!

Note to men who spit on the young girl: shame on you.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Anyone else excited about school tomorrow?

That's right, she's back to school tomorrow morning! The entire house is kind of excited. Alyce is all kinds of ready to get back to Kindergarten (or is that just us?) and in preparation for all that learning she's been trying on our glasses. I think you'll agree that this creature of ours is ready to be unleashed on the rest of society again. Let's hear it for the end of winter break!

Hope everyone is as excited for their week to begin tomorrow!

Any big plans?

This handsome face

This handsome face belongs to my cousin's son, Kymani, who turned five years old this week. I consider five a "big" birthday, one of those events in your life worthy of some going over the top celebrations. When you're five, you're not a little kid anymore. Five comes with some hefty responsibilities: maintaining friendships, asking big questions that come with big answers, and, of course, some serious hot wheels playing. I think Kymani has all of this down already, and he's only known five a few days. And don't you just want to kiss that face?

P.S. You'll all be relieved to know, just as she was, that there were girl toys in her goody bag at Kymani's birthday party yesterday. There were, after all, a few boys at this party, and she was getting antsier with each passing minute. Everyone can breath a sigh of relief, for there was both a tiara AND a princess stamp in the bag. I repeat, there was a tiara and a princess stamp. As you were.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tales from an accidental co-sleeper

There was a time when I couldn't pay her to snuggle for more than a few minutes (five minutes, actually). Oh, Alyce loved to breastfeed, relaxed and calm in my arms or on the bed next to me, but in this way our physical relationship was quite utilitarian. It's not that she didn't love spending time with me, or that she didn't need that mama-downtime that little ones seem to need to get them from adventure to adventure as they toddle about their day. But Alyce was not once to waste snuggles on non-nursing lounging or sleeping. Not my little girl.

I had never given much thought to co-sleeping or family beds or anything of the sort before having Alyce, even when my midwives suggested along the way I might like to sleep with my baby because it could be easier on me during the night (you know, when this tiny human was sure to wake up every 43 minutes, give or take a few seconds, for milk). I wasn't against the idea at all, but it just never seemed necessary. I had grown up with most everyone I know using a crib for their little ones (except for my radical cousin, you know who you are), and Matt didn't like the idea of sharing our bed. But then Alyce arrived in our world, wanting milk every 43 seconds, and I thought, co-sleeping! What a wonderful idea! Now I can breastfeed and sleep! Everybody wins!

No. Turns out Alyce wanted nothing to do with sleeping in our bed. Once she was done breastfeeding she wanted her own space and she made it perfectly clear that sleeping nestled in my armpit was not for her (fast forward two and half years and you'll find a different baby happily nestled in my armpit, thank you very much, Alyce Mary). She did not want to sleep snuggled up to me, she did not want to sleep touching me, and she most certainly did not want to stay in our bed. She would writhe and complain, snarfling up a storm the entire time, so I quickly abandoned any plans of getting any sleep and moved her back to her crib. And we never looked back.

Until about four weeks ago.

Moving in with my mum in November meant that Alyce and Shira were going to have share a room. Matt and I want the girls to share room anyway (though we had already tried once with little success), but we assumed that they were now old enough to figure it all out (note to self: they never just figure it all out). Alyce sleeps very well, from about 6:30 to 6:30, but Shira's sleep is still a bit erratic some nights, and it is always filled with what we call roll-over shrieks, where she whimpers and yells for a few minutes while she readjusts herself between sleep cycles. Shira falls right back to sleep after these moments, but Alyce? She immediately panics, hands over her tired little ears, and begins her own shrieking. This in turn reawakens Shira, and you see where this is going. If they managed to sleep most of the night together, Alyce's early morning sleep was interrupted by Shira starting her day pre-five o'clock (yes, we are that lucky), and then she'd be cranky and tired all day. So much fun!

Our first reaction was to bring Shira into bed with us so that our four-year-old could enjoy a full night's sleep, but that backfired. She immediately realized that sleeping in bed next to me meant constant, uninterrupted access to boobs. She lasted a week in our bed before putting her back in her crib. I love breastfeeding my toddler, but not every thirty minutes through the night. So Matt (I think) suggested that we bring Alyce in bed with us for awhile. Silly Matt, I thought. Alyce won't stand for that!

Except that she loved it, or I should say, loves it, because she's still there, in our bed. Since that first night together she has fallen hard for not just sharing a bed with her mama, but for snuggling on top of me all night long. Sometimes she swings a heavy arm across my trachea, while other times she uses her feet to "snuggle" up, rather violently, with my kidneys, but mostly she just wiggles her way over to me, rests her head on my chest, and falls asleep. She starts the night in her own bed, next to Shira's crib, but halfway through the night we bring her in with us. Matt has, unfortunately, taken to sleeping on the couch in our bedroom because he's more sensitive when it comes to being tackled by a sleeping a four-year-old. But he doesn't seem to mind these changes because he cares more about everyone getting sleep than he does our king size bed (oh yes, she takes up an entire side of a king size bed).

You know who else loves it? Me. I love it so much. She's such a busy kid now, tackling the world with enormous leaps and bounds, but for about six hours each night she's all mine. Sometimes she wakes me up and asks if I'll roll over and snuggle her better. Sometimes she pokes my arm until I open my eyes and then tells me that she loves me. I know there are some of you thinking, she's setting herself for a terrible habit to break, but we say, that's ok. We'll take the hit.

There are many worse things in the world than sleeping with your child, and I'm learning just how lovely it can be. I've felt closer to Alyce these last four weeks, as though we have this new store of patience for each other now that we're sharing a bed. I know this won't last, in part because I also really like having an adult bed, but for now, just for a little while longer, I'll enjoy my not-so-little Alyce snuggled in close. Better late than never.

Did any of you start sharing a family bed later in your child's life?

Now if you'll excuse me, this post is reaching epic lengths, and I need to retrieve Alyce and tuck her into our bed for the night.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sometimes I only win some days

Winter has finally arrived. There isn't much snow yet, but the cold is more than making up for it, just in case people were wondering if the seasons had indeed changed. Message received, hats placed on heads, and I better get to finishing that scarf for my husband who does not like feeling cold. It's no wonder that I've fallen for knitting this year, as though my stitching fingers knew that we'd be returning to the land of very cold winters.

But isn't it beautiful? The crispness and the brightness of the snow makes me so happy. And today I need this kind of happy.

I didn't get a job today. I guess that in the past eight months I didn't get jobs most of those days either, but today I didn't get a specific job, a job that I wanted. I was excited by the possibility of this specific job, and my excitement was fueled by two good interviews. But this morning I heard that they went with someone else, and that's not what I wanted to hear. One day soon, I hope, I'll get a different job, but today I wanted this one. So today I welcomed the sight of my family playing outside on this beautiful day in winter. 

What's that I said earlier about big girl panties? So back to the grind it is. I've already applied for another job this morning, and I'm re-brainstorming some new approaches to my job search. I'm setting some new goals (which I hope to share with you very soon), and trying to absorb as much wisdom as I can from people who have done this before. I'm also finding great comfort in my community of friends who I know want me to get a job almost as much as I do! Thank you, everyone, you have made today a lot easier already.

If you are working on your own job search, or just looking for some new ways to frame your own goal brainstorming, you might find these helpful:
  • Penelope Trunk has a lot to offer when it comes to building resumes, telling your story to a future employer, and some other ideas to get you going. She is also the author of this, one of the most helpful suggestions I've ever come across in my job search: 
    You’re going to need to show you’ve done the new job before you can get the new job. It’s not fair, I know. But it’s how the world works. So just make up a job, do it, and then put it on your resume. You don’t need pay or permission to do the job you want. Just start doing it. And if you already have the job you want on your resume, you’re much more likely to get hired for the job you want. (Find the rest here.)
  • I've always been a fan of the Biz Ladies posts over at Design Sponge, but this week's post was especially helpful. I'm using this model right now for my 2012 planning. I'm staring with choosing my five goals and trying to determine the scope of all the little projects that fit into these goals.
  • I'm also a fan of this worksheet for reflecting on the previous year's goals and outcomes. (I would love to sign up for one of her courses, but that will need to wait for now. Job first, then funds to take wonderful courses second.)
Ok, that's enough for now. Back to work. If you are looking for work, too, please know that you are not the only one struggling.!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012, a few words: Part One

Dear 2012,

I have some really big hopes for you, 2012, so big that I'm afraid if I say them out loud that I might jinx the whole process, that admitting to all the things I see for myself and my family will frighten you into hibernation, throwing us right into 2013. But we need you, 2012, and I know you can do it. We can do it.

Last year was hard on all of us, in that sort of way that teaches you important lessons that make you stronger, but that given the chance, you'd probably pass by in favour of other, more enjoyable, experiences. Now, at the end of that year, and on the cusp of a new one, I have the chance to the consider those lessons and do that thing that all humans are supposed to do: learn from them and then move on. But before I consider all these tough learning moments, let us first distinguish these moments from regret. When you have a challenging year, as we did, there are often many regrets, a lot of wishes that we had done things differently. So, yes, I regret that we left the relative stability of life in Delaware (where both of us were able to work) before both of us were employed in Canada. I regret not having a stronger savings account on which to rely during what ended up being a very stressful last eight months. I regret the choices I made in haste while trying to build a new life here (i.e. moving into our own place too soon). The thing about these regrets, however, is that I can't do anything to change them. Th decisions having been made, even if they ended up being bad decisions, are in the past. I'm ready to start looking at the future (that means you, 2012), but if I didn't learn anything from 2011, what's the point? So here are a few things that I've learned:
  • Stand up for yourself and choose the path you want, not the path you think you ought to follow.
  • That being said, and not to diminish the importance of pursuing your passion, spend time planning for your family first. Passions are hard to follow if you can't pay your rent or feed your family.
  • In honour of planning, everyone needs a savings account. We did not have a savings account. I cannot express to you just how important this lesson was for our family.
  • Sometimes people won't like the choices you make. That's ok.
  • Making decisions is hard, but you best put on your big girl panties and get on with it.
  • I am a very lucky woman. I never, ever forget that. The list of all the things that I'm grateful for would extend for miles, but I'll offer you a few: my husband, Matt, The Children, Alyce and Shira, my family that welcomed us back, my health and the health of my family, the opportunities to spend time with friends who were greatly missed, the chance to recharge with people who know and love me, the wonderful people I've met through this blog, all the people who have helped me with my job search, the encouraging words given to me by so many people. Just to name a few things. 
  • Also, that thing about making decisions? I need a lot of work on that one.  
I've learned a lot over the past year and I'm trying very hard to take these experiences and use them for good. I am still at this point of incredible transition, but I want to keep up what little momentum I've got and move forward. Follow my passion. Build a savings account. Make decisions.

On that note, I'll be back later, 2012, with some big ideas for you and me. I don't want to overwhelm you all at once.

Yours sincerely,
with great respect,
with love and kindness,
(I really need a lot from you),


And we're done with that year


The new year came in with a bang, or to be more exact, with a stomach flu. Nevertheless, I'm not holding that against 2012, because I have high hopes for this year. But before we get that, I wanted to say good-bye to 2011. It wasn't an easy year, but it was another year that I was able to spend with my little family, and so me and 2011 are on good terms. I am a very, very lucky person no matter how many jobs I didn't get, or opportunities that didn't come through, and I never let myself forget it.

Happy New Year to all of you!

And here are some of my favourite and most popular posts of 2011: