Wednesday, 18 November 2015

My Real Job

My daughter (age eight) told me yesterday that I should get a real job.  And it broke my heart.  I know she only says that because she thinks daycare would be fun.  But it hurts to think that maybe she doesn't value the same things I value.  It is important to me that I be able to pick up the kids from school, help them with their homework and piano practice, and be there to teach them to be good and kind and helpful and loving.

This job I do all day, every day, and even every night as I'm tucking my son back into bed because the wind is too loud or he's feeling sick or he's too bored to sleep, is real.  It takes all of my energy and all of my thoughts and all of my heart.

I've never been a great housekeeper, even though that is part of my  very real job.  But I do keep trying.  I get enough mental criticism from my own mind that I don't need it from others.  What I need is encouragement.  And to have them believe in me.  And to find worth in the goals I am striving for.

Dearest daughter, you will have your whole life to hang out with your friends.  But your childhood here, with mom and dad and little brother, is so fleeting.  And guarding it is my job.  You're nearly half grown up already.  I want to be here for the rest of it.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Proof that I'm no poet

I was really bored on the flight from Calgary to Victoria. With the turbulence, reading made me sick, and I felt like I had been knitting all day. My seatmate's long legs kept me from digging around in my bag for my headphones. I used to write poetry when I was a teenager. None of it was any good. Nor is this one. I always feel cheesy or fake when I try to be poetic. Additionally, I have no clue about poetry's conventions and rules. Enjoy!

The sunset taunts as it lays
on a horizon of blue-grey cloud
spread in drifts far below me.

Ever before me in my westward journey,
never changing, never setting.

It rests and waits for me,
its smooth orange glow
holding a promise of the rest
that I know I will find eventually.

Until then, I fly,
sitting too long and thinking too much.

My fingers fly too, with needles and yarn,
as my mind, awkward and rusty,
composes poetic nonsense
from a muse long banished. 

Calgary at dusk. 

Friday, 24 April 2015

What I Love About Our New House

Well, it's about time for some positivity around here! My recent posts have been full of Big Feelings, but have been rather on the depressing side. So let's walk through the new house—with words, because I don't have very many pictures. (All photos taken by me at the home inspection, and purposely chosen to show a minimum amount of the current owner's things, out of respect.)

To start with, I love the neighbourhood.  It has a mix of traditional house styles, like colonial, craftsman, farmhouse, etc. Ours is more on the farmhouse side of things, or would be if it had a bigger front porch and a steeper, more gabled roof. Our street is lined with trees on the boulevard, and in 15 years the street will look just like the beautiful riverside neighbourhood that I've always loved. 

The front porch is a little bigger than the one on our duplex, but not quite big enough for a swing. But that's OK because I have the perfect bench for it. And visitors will be welcomed by a cheery red door, which opens into a real entry instead of straight into the living room. I was quite impressed with how pretty the tiles in the entry are (and by our realtor's gorgeous shoes!).

As you walk into the house, the living room is to your left, with its big southeast-facing bay window that I adore. The room also has an awkward corner fireplace, which is not ideal. I've never liked corner fireplaces, or gas fireplaces (although I do concede that they're more convenient than the wood-burning ones that I love). It's going to take some creativity before I'm happy with it. I've never liked corner fireplaces. But, as The Nester says, it's a "lovely limitation," and I'll be gleaning ideas from the way she worked with her own corner fireplace.

Except for the entry and bathrooms, the entire main floor, stairs, and upper floor have gleaming hardwood in that variegated blonde colour that makes me think "Swedish farmhouse" for some reason.  Maybe because it's exactly the colour and sheen as the pine Ikea table we had for the first eight or so years of our marriage.

Between the living room and kitchen lies a broom closet (Yay! Our duplex doesn't have one!) and a powder room. But the curious thing about the powder room is that it is also the laundry room. This room is going to benefit from my time spent browsing Pinterest. I'm really excited to work on it. It has a lot of potential, and will look amazing when I'm done with it.

The back left corner of the house holds the kitchen. I get a white kitchen, finally! I don't care that the cupboards are that plastic-covered MDF instead of real wood and the counters are basic dark grey laminate. It will look pretty for now, and there's plenty of time to upgrade if we choose later. One thing I will definitely change ASAP is the backsplash. It is currently shiny white 4-inch square ceramic tiles in impeccable condition. But to me they look like they belong in a bathroom. I think that's because they're so much shinier than the cupboards. (You can keep up with my ideas for the new house on Pinterest)

The back door and closet are in the kitchen. I'm really going to miss my mudroom, tiny as it is. But we can make it work, as long as we work hard on developing tidy habits once we move in.

A lovely, large dining room is in the other corner of the house, with a huge window looking out on the deck. I've never had a dining room before. I've never actually lived in a detached house before. This room is just the right size for our big farmhouse table, and wide enough to have a lot of versatility too.

Upstairs, the main bedroom is at the front of the house, with another big bay window. The room is huge, and what it lacks in versatility, it makes up for in floor space. The closet is weird. It takes up one entire long wall, is not walk-in, and is accessed via three evenly-spaced bi-fold doors. This will eventually be remedied. I don't yet know how, and it may take me a few years of thinking before I come up with something.

The ensuite bathroom isn't as big as we would have liked, but it is definitely bigger and more functional than the teeny tiny one we've had for the last six years. It has potential. And a window.
The other upstairs bathroom looks exactly like every other basic bathroom you'd expect to find in a house like this.

The kids' rooms are a nice size and look out to the backyard. It will be fun getting them set up.
We were lucky to find a finished basement in our price range. And it's nicely done, with a large and versatile rec room, and a large bedroom/office/whatever. The small bathroom actually includes a jetted tub, which is funny (but nice!). The house has an excessive number of bathtubs. Our main problem with the lovely basement is the 2 smallish storage rooms. We will have to carefully curate what we keep in there. But that is actually a good thing, and will keep us from being burdened by unnecessary junk.

To finish off this wordy tour, one of the best perks of this house is what it doesn't have: loud traffic! It's a really quiet street. I've driven by several times (like a stalker), and it's always peaceful.

Now I feel better. One of the things that makes the issues I mentioned in my last post harder is that we have to wait so long to move into the new one.  If I could immediately start working on the new house, I wouldn't have the time to dwell on the disappointment of my ideals.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Mourning a Dream

Don't get me wrong.  I love our new house.  I can't wait to get my hands on it and farmhouseify it and make it ours. July 3rd can't come fast enough!

But I'm also in mourning.  This new house, close to schools and family, and in a lovely neighbourhood, is where our kids will grow up.  And I have to say goodbye to my lifelong dream of raising my kids in the country.  That door is closed.  I'm not sure if I want to push it out of my mind and stop thinking about it or allow myself to grieve.

I spent half my childhood on my best friend's acreage in the country, complete with woods, a pond, and a big garden.  We wore elaborate prairie-girl costumes when we walked miles down the dirt road unashamedly, because there was no one to see.  We picked armfuls of lilacs, and cuddled kittens and sang loudly as we jumped on the trampoline. I learned what cornflower blue really is from the flowers in her mother's garden. I explored the woods on my own, and even lived on a horse farm for two months when I was thirteen.  Even back at home at the very edge of the small city I grew up in, I had country experiences, catching salamanders and frogs in the creek and weaving mats with the cattail reeds.  I always wanted that kind of life for my kids.

I've known for several years that it was unlikely that my husband would ever want to move to the country.  Between the commute to his job downtown and the high price of land around here, there was very little chance that it would happen.  And I thought I had accepted it.  But with a simple signature on a piece of paper that says we're buying this beautiful house in the suburbs—the one our kids will remember when they think of home—has brought back all this longing that I now know will never happen.  It's official now.  I think I really do need to allow myself to feel these emotions and truly mourn this loss, as silly as it may seem to other, more logical people.

   I will never be able to help my kids build a fort in the woods (and then check them for ticks?).

   I will never be able to raise a horse or have chickens or a big vegetable garden (I'm undecided whether I actually want to do all that or just like the idea).

   I will never be able to send my kids outside to play out of sight without that tiny worry in the back of my mind about traffic or kidnappings (but then, I'll also never have to worry about wolves or cougars or a cranky bull moose).

   I will never have a clothesline.

   I will never learn to shoot a bow (at least not without either spending a fortune on club fees or driving an hour to my brother-in-law's acreage).

   I will never be able to watch the sunrise on the horizon from my kitchen window (or any window) before the kids wake up and the day's rush begins.

   I will never be able to build an addition on the house (it has no mudroom.  Just a back door straight into the kitchen, with a closet to the side), or a bigger porch, or a detached studio/office.

   I will never be able to walk out of my house, look up, and see ALL the stars.  I've almost forgotten what that even looks like.

   I will never have an orchard (although I'm pretty excited about the one apple tree in the new backyard).

   I will never have enough flowers in the garden that it doesn't look denuded when I cut a lot to bring in the house. And wildflowers are completely out of the question.

   My kids will never be able to explore the woods and fields at will, or climb trees or have a treehouse, or learn about wildlife because it visits our yard.

Have you ever had to mourn for something that was only a dream?

Sunset at my in-laws' cabin...the place that soothes my longing for natural beauty, even though it's crowded among all the other lakeside cabins.

We Found a House!