Friday, April 8, 2016

Hang on

There are seasons for everything.

My mother, who I probably quote too often (yes, I am most likely that slightly preachy know-it-all friend who is always quoting her mother), has many great tag lines. One of her most frequently dropped phrases is: "You can do it all, just not all at the same time".  I love it- because it's true, because it's simple, and because it speaks particularly well to the season I'm currently in.

These days, I am up to my eye balls in half finished snacks, stacks of dishes, sticky surfaces, dog hair on everything, loads of laundry left in the dryer for days on end. When my third kid hit toddler-hood, I started functioning in survival mode for the first real time since becoming a mother. My house is louder and busier than my noise sensitive ears can take and my orderly brain can handle. We hustle kids to school and daycare, and three days a week I walk myself across the city to run around at work on a pediatric oncology unit. On the weekends we avoid scheduled activities- my husband and I lounge and drink coffee until the mid morning, when we surrender to the antsy children, and take off in our mini van for a beach or a hike or a new farmer's market to explore. At night, we get kids into their respective beds, and if we're lucky, we squeeze in a half absorbed episode of something before we pass out and do it all over again. And yes, like all bleary eyed parents, we love it and wouldn't change a thing about it. I could actually pinch myself sometimes at the sheer beauty of it all, but damn, I am tired.

We are currently in a season of days that feel like they'll never end, and I have little to no time or energy left over in this overflowing cup for creativity. Dewdrop Crafts feels like a thing of the past, but I refuse to put it away for good. My creative side may be in a deep hibernation, but I have an inkling that when I least expect it, spring will come. For now, I will let my tiny corner of the internet linger longer- because I know that I will come back, one day, to another season of making. I always do. And then, it will feel like I never left.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Shine On: A response to "Is Nova Scotia the next Detroit?"

Print by Jill and Jack Paper

This is completely unrelated to my usual blog content. Completely unrelated.

A newspaper article, provocatively titled "Is Nova Scotia the next Detroit?" was published last week in The Chronicle Herald. There’s been lots of chatter regarding it in my social media world, we've chatted about it at the dinner table, it’s been on my mind. And since it’s my mantra to try to do/make/write what I feel like, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this one.

First of all, Roberta Hawkes' article was basically empty. If anything, it’s a sign of a failing print industry, not a failing province. A desperate attempt by a mismanaged newspaper to grab reader’s attention. Negative attention is better than none, after all. Ms. Hawkes shared stats on declining population, on unemployment, on increasing debt. As far as the Detroit angle goes, the article did not discuss many of the deeper issues that a city like Detroit is struggling with (note: Detroit is a city, not a province). The article did not delve into issues of race, did not discuss the challenges of a city that was once in an epic boom and has lost its industry. I don’t know much about Detroit, and I’m not going to comment further because I won’t do the city, its issues or its strengths any justice. I’d be prejudiced in my commentary- forming an opinion without anything of substance to back it up. I'd be ignorant.


That sounds an awful lot like that silly Chronicle Herald article.

So let's talk about comparisons. Because let's be honest- you can’t really compare one city or province to another. Each has it’s own unique set of challenges and strengths, it’s own demographics, it’s own culture. For instance, to compare the strengths of the West Coast of Canada to the failings of the East makes zero sense. Everything about the two is different- the climate, the history, the industry, the people that gravitate there, the people that stay.

I don’t have a solution to our challenges. I’m not a politician (although I’m not sure that they have the solution, either). I know that we are in serious need of more people- people to help us pay our taxes so we can look after the older and sick people in our communities. That’s an indisputable no brainer. I know that our health care system needs help and re-structuring- as it does everywhere in Canada. I know we need more jobs, that our economy is struggling… but I’m legitimately not qualified to comment on those subjects, so I won’t.

My husband’s family is from rural Cape Breton, where the culture is mighty, as are the challenges. There just aren’t enough jobs. The resources- health care, education, programming for kids- are unquestionably more limited than in the city. For reasons that we all understand. But let me tell you- for a week every summer, there isn’t a person who grew up in that area that doesn’t beg, borrow or steal to find their way home to be with family. To be with their people. Entire families who have been ‘away’ for years come home. 

The one thing I know for sure is this: I am choosing not to dwell on our issues. Because, quite frankly, most of said issues are not unique to us. The economy is not only struggling in Nova Scotia. An aging population, an overburdened health care system- look across the country. We’re not alone in this.

Complaining does not result in change. Negativity is too easy a bandwagon to jump on- and the results are never productive. Constructive, thoughtful debate is one thing. Tearing each other, and ourselves down, is another.

Sensationalising our challenges does nothing but reinforce a ‘down & out’ mentality.

We are vibrant. We are a hearty and resilient people- hell, we suffer through months and months of some of the most extreme weather on the planet and then we rejoice when the sun comes out. We are known for our kindness, our empathy, our sense of community. We are resourceful, educated, hard working and strong.

Let’s focus on that. Let’s see where that kind of thinking takes us.

Let me shove my optimism in your face, instead of my criticism.

Shine on Nova Scotia.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A random rant about choosing joy

Well people, the snow is *starting* to melt. It's a good thing too, because I feel like I'm hanging on by a thread here. Winter fatigue is... tiring. I am feeling more than a little desperate to take off these wool socks, to see some grass, to take my life back outside.

I mean, seriously. This is what we've been dealing with. I'm going to jump on the bandwagon here and say it, too. #enoughisenough

Today, I actually sent my younger girl to school in old winter boots with grocery bags on her feet. Her rain boots seem to have shrunk over the winter, and my hair dryer couldn't get the wet out of those slushy winter boots. If that doesn't just sum it all up.

But.... I sent my kids out the door this morning with the knowledge that we are going to break 5 degrees today. It's going to be grey and foggy, but my 5-year-old tells me that fog melts snow better than sun, and I trust her. The winter tires are coming off the family van today. It's all about the little things, people.

Today, I am choosing joy.

My grade primary kid bounded out of school on the last day before March Break a couple of weeks ago, walked over to me, and in all of her 5-year-old innocence, asked "Where are we going for March Break, Mom?"

My heart kind of broke a little bit.

You see, we live in a more than comfortable neighbourhood. Which is something that I am not always so comfortable with- yes, I am always thankful for the excellent school, the lovely homes, the fantastic sense of community that surrounds us. But when I sat at the Christmas concert this year, and realized that every single kid on that stage was wearing a perfect, brand new Christmas concert outfit (my child included), I cringed a little. And when most kids in school are going somewhere sunny and warm for March Break, or are skiing, or are at a fancy March Break camp, I cringe even more. Because I am scared that this is what my kid expects now, and I can't blame her for it. Except... my kid should expect food, and a warm house, and a family that loves her... and that's kind of it.

My heart broke for a few minutes when I had to tell Scarlett that "We aren't going anywhere", and then I planned a little stay-cation. I tried not to dwell, I tried to chose joy. I had lofty plans- trips to the museum, our new breathtakingly beautiful library, crafts, treats, the movie theatre. I was going to give my kid a March Break to rival all of those shiny trips, while still reinforcing our values- that big bucks don't need to be spent for quality experiences. And then my stay-cation was foiled by a whopper of a late winter storm- 80 + cm of snow in 3 days. We were stuck inside, literally stuck, for days. We managed a little bit of outside play when the weather wasn't more than the kids could handle, and the snow wasn't so deep they might drown in it. We watched a whole lot of movies, read books, ate our weight in baking. When our dad finally dug us out from under our snow-pression, we went bowling. To finish off our week, we had a spa morning at home while the baby napped, during which Scarlett spiked a fever and barfed everywhere.

March Break ended, and Spring officially started, and I felt worn out and dejected and like I'd let my kids down a little. And then the other night at bed time, during our nightly chat, Scarlett told me that she'd had the best break ever. Her favourite activity: spa morning. Her mind seems to have blocked out the barf. She also adored making a poster out of 6 pieces of taped together loose leaf- that was pretty damn cool, too.

I have not heard my kids complain about the weather once- they aren't blue, they aren't hanging on by a whiny thread like the rest of us. While I have been glowering at all of my Facebook friend's sunny trip photos, my girl was reminiscing about the 45 minutes we spent in a bowling alley, and the cupcakes we scarfed at the Superstore food court after. It has dawned on me- we actually may be doing what we hope to do.

We are trying to teach our kids to be thankful and to appreciate the lovely, extra comfy world we live in, but to know that it is a privilege to be here. I also hope we are teaching our kids to find beauty in all of the little moments around them, because it's actually there. Sometimes you have to look harder to find it, but it's there.

Or maybe... our kids are teaching us. Because once again, my kid brought me back down to earth the other night. Scarlett appreciated the good things about our yucky week, and didn't dwell in the low moments.

She chose joy.

I may have sent my daughter to school in wet boots today, but here's the thing. She actually has boots. And a new pair is on the way. How lucky is that?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

You can have it all, but not at the same time: In honour of International Women's Day

This week I was busy making. Now that I look back on it, making quite a random assortment of stuff. Which, I’m learning, is my style as a maker. I took care of some serious business Dewdrop wise- I got caught up on pending orders, I started a few new fun projects. 

This week I made a lot of stuff.

This week I seriously sucked at some of my other 'jobs'. The laundry is in teetering piles around me, I woke up to a sink full of dirty dishes, and it appears that there are barbie shoes on every surface of my house. 

You get the gist.

If you know me well, you know that my mom is my go-to quotable person. Which is understandable, if you know Babs. Have you read her blog? My dearest friend Sarah regularly reads my mom's blog, because she says it keeps her up to date on my life, and because of the Babs wisdom that permeates every post. She admits to skimming some of the detailed sewing posts, but Sewing on the Edge is a daily read for her. Which I find hilarious and awesome. But I digress.

My mom is a big feminist, a professor of Women’s Studies among other things. But despite her firm stance on all things female, she always says that women used to have it a whole lot easier than they do now. Although they didn't have equal rights, although they were typecast into being wives and mothers, they had clearly defined expectations, and they were not expected to do it all. They weren’t expected to have thriving careers, be thoughtful, flawless mothers, have Pinterest perfect homes, and be fit as 18-year-old fiddles.

My grandmother, who retired from her nursing career after a few years to have 4 daughters in the 1950s (and who, to this day, identifies first as a pediatric nurse), was the most involved, hands-on mother of small children around. That lady can still sit and play cards with my girls for hours. If you need to know anything about small kids, she’s your woman. But she is not a gourmet cook, and housework was not always her priority (She also famously once wrote f&*k housework on the bathroom mirror in lipstick, and then spent a week in the tent trailer in the driveway, on strike). But that was ok- her focus was on mothering her kids. No one can do it all.

No one can do it all.

Or, in the words of Babs “You can have it all, but not at the same time”.

This week, I made a lot of things. My three little kids, and my slightly out-of-control making schedule took all of my energy. Some things fell by the wayside. 

I sit here this morning, feeling quite fulfilled.

My girls couldn’t find clean underwear this morning, but I sure did piece some awesome pillows last night.

My girls. Here's hoping they're this confident on International Women's Day 15 years from now.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

March 6, I love you

Yesterday I turned 34. Holy smokes.

It's starting to sink in that I'm borderline middle aged. When did that even happen? When did I stop being 18? Yesterday I got up, just as excited that it was my birthday as I was as a kid. It's something I don't even try to hide. I love my birthday.

Then I put on my eye make-up, feeling perky and all birthday-ish, and some of it got stuck in my wrinkles.

But the sun shone

I felt celebrated I realize how incredibly lucky I am that I have a life full of people who make a point to reach out and let me know I am appreciated on my birthday- who make sure
I know I'm loved. Guys, I am so lucky. On my birthday, just like on holidays, I'm left with a feeling a deep gratitude. For my life, for my people. For the chance to share a few images of what made my day.

I can't wait to turn 35.

My friend Mary MADE this mug and I basically forced her to give it to me. Need some of Mary's amazing pottery in your life? She'll be at the East Coast Momma Collective Spring fair in Halifax on May 2.

My kangaroo baby loves being wrapped up, and I love rainbows. My Girasol woven wrap from Nurtured in Halifax is such a pretty lifesaver.

My 87-year-old grandma sends me flowers every year on my birthday. She's a pro. There's no one like Buddy.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The winter blues and tiny acts of kindness

Guys, I've been struggling a little lately. Not in any real significant way- in fact friends of mine who truly struggle with mental illness would probably like to wring my neck to hear me say I'm struggling. I'm just a little blue.

It's February in Nova Scotia. It's very cold, it's wet and windy, and everything outside is covered in snow and brown slush and ice. The winter blues are real, friends. And they've settled very gently in my house these past few weeks.

Yesterday I posted a pic of myself and Billy on our walk through the woods to get Scarlett at school. The roads are too narrow and too icy in spots for me to feel comfortable walking on them with a baby strapped to me right now... and my stroller is kind of lame for this weather. So through the woods we go.

Yesterday I was feeling worn out with snowsuits and baby carriers and knee high crusty snow- but off we went. And if I'm honest, it was probably the best part of my day. The fresh air woke me up- the interaction with friends at school was good for everyone. Still, I shared the photo of Billy and me because seriously. I live in the North Pole. And I've been a little blue.

My step sister (who is the 9th strongest woman in all of Europe, according to my mother), shared my complain-y photo on her Facebook and I've been thinking about it since. She shared my photo and she told me I was strong. She took one minute of her day, and she gave me a big pat on the back- which was exactly what I was needing, and what I guess I was asking for. She boosted me up.

She was kind. She is kind.

This got me thinking about kindness, and about reaching out. Positive exchanges like this are always worth it. They always affect the person who you're reaching out to- they will never fail to make that person's day a little better and a little sunnier.

When we are all cold in our houses- when we're worn down because it's February and we are at the ends of our rope with winter, reaching out to each other makes all the difference. Being kind makes a difference.

It shows our people that although we are all grumpy, with cold wet feet, we're all pale and dry and have static-y hair and cranky sick kids... we are also all human, and we are here for each other.

Tomorrow calls for sun.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Dewdrop does bling

I decided to try my hand at something new this winter... so I started making button earrings. Lots and lots of button earrings. So many earrings. 

They've been a big hit to say the least. I'm pretty sure they'll be a regular in the Dewdrop Crafts rotation!