Laundry Room Upgrade

Over the holidays, we kind of randomly decided to upgrade our laundry room.

Before it was a basic basement room with cement floors and cinder block walls. It was a place to throw a bunch of our stuff and happened to have our washer and drier too. I don’t have pictures of it in this state, but I’m sure you can imagine.

DH cleared everything out and took down a small “bathroom”:

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The laundry room after DH cleaned it out. The line on the floor and wall to the left of the laundry machines is where a “bathroom” used to be. This was a cinder block room with a toilet and a pull-chain bare bulb. It was never used.

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All the cinder blocks from the bathroom. This is another large area in our basement, that DH is working on right now.

DH painted the walls (no use putting up drywall or ceiling at this point, because we often get water in our basement), put in a vinyl floor, and added some nice touches.We also purged a bunch of stuff and organized what was left. Here’s the end result:

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I’ll post photos of the other side of the basement when it’s done!

Valentine’s Protest

As with many elementary school classrooms, E’s requires students to either give valentines to everybody OR nobody.

The past two years, he’s given them to everybody, but never seemed to care too much about it.

This year, after I bought him some dollar store valentines, he said he’d rather not give them out. When DH asked him why, he said that there are a few kids who have been mean to him this year, and he doesn’t want to give them Valentines. So, he’d  rather just not give any given the choice.

I totally respect that, and am actually very impressed and proud of his decision.

I think the whole “you have to give Valentines to EVERYONE” rule is ridiculous and totally takes the meaning out of the tradition. Yes, I get that some kids would not get any, and that’s sad. So, since both these options suck, I wish the whole thing would just be abolished at this age.

6 year-olds don’t care about cards! Why not just have a Valentine’s party without the stupid cards and be done with it?

We got a message from C’s daycare about this topic. Since the kids don’t know how to write and no parent knows all the other kids, they suggest just sending in blank cards. WHY? Just GET RID OF THIS PART, for the love of God!

Based on this, you probably wouldn’t be surprised that DH and I basically ignore this holiday (unless me asking him to pick up 50% off chocolate the day after counts). His birthday is about a week after VD, and mine is in mid-March, so we’d much rather focus on celebrating those.

What do your kids end up doing for Valentine’s? 

The Over-The-Top Pout

Sometimes, when E starts a new class/activity we enrol him in, he complete shuts down, starts pouting, refused to take part, stands by a wall/on the sidelines, and just shakes his head while repeating “no” anytime someone tries to get him to participate.

Notice how I say sometimes. He does not do this with outdoor soccer, and not when he knows someone else (so we try to do that when we can). He usually does not start out this way. Instead, usually a game of tag or something will send him into this state.

Both DH and I are at the end of our ropes with this behaviour. When it happened when he was 2 or 3, we just assumed he’d grow out of it. But, he keeps doing it as he gets older, and it gets more annoying every time (and embarrassing too!).

We’ve tried positive strategies (talking it up before hand, getting him to choose  the activities, being super encouraging, offering rewards, etc.), neutral strategies (ignoring behaviour), and negative strategies (time outs, lecturing, taking away privileges).

Sometimes he’ll eventually and reluctantly start participating, but with an over-the-top-pout, continually looking at us (to make sure we know he’s not happy?), faking like he’s hurt, etc.. NOTHING seems to have the desired affect of getting him to participate in a positive way.

Any thoughts or tips?? HELP!!!

The Activist In Me

I grew up in Calgary, Alberta  – a pretty conservative area of the country, by Canadian standards, anyway. So,  I therefore grew up with fairly conservative views that were common at the time in the 80s (pro-oil/gas, anti-union, the homeless should just get jobs, feminists are “feminazis”, left-leaning people are “bleeding hearts”, etc.).

Those views followed me to Manitoba, where I did my Masters degree. Even though I mostly held strong to those views, I was beginning to be exposed to more left-leaning views (mostly the inequalities of the education system when it comes to First Nations communities, and inner-city schools).

I moved to Ontario in 2005, and noticed my views moved slowly from right-leaning to centre, then to the left. I began mostly with finally being able to see  (I’m sure it was there in the past, I just had my eyes closed to it) the sexism in the academic world, which turned into me caring about women’s rights in general.

That started an avalanche in me and I’ve learned more about (and have started to care much more about) the inequalities in the education system, the environment crisis, the struggles and burdens of other marginalized groups, the poverty in our own cities, and what privileges I am automatically given because I’m white, middle-aged, middle-class, able-bodied, and cisgendered.

Though I’ve tried to be more vocal and open with my views in recent years, this past year I’ve felt like I’ve been pushed become involved in a more visible way: our family walked in the Pride Parade, and I marched in a Sister March on January 21st, with 2.5 million other women from around the globe. To keep that momentum, I sent letters to the leaders of all the federal political parties in Canada outlining a call to action for them to commit to ensure women’s rights are part of their agenda (want to do the same? Find a template here).

One of my goals for this year is to become more involved in my community, and I feel taking part in these events that mean so much to me is a step in the right direction.

I think my political evolution has to do with several factors:

  • Political geography (Alberta is right-leaning, Ontario is more left),
  • Who I interact with (Alberta: I was young, so family and other adults in their sphere + other teenagers/20-somethings – we knew nothing; Ontario: mostly academics/teachers/other professionals)
  • I’ve gotten older, and therefore empathize more with the struggles of others, and am finding what’s important to me (I assume this happens with age, but maybe not?)
  • Learning, reading, and trying to keep on top of current events

Regardless of the reasons, I have witnessed and evolution in myself but  I am trying my best to be unapologetic about it. I’m sure some see the change as negative and others as positive, but it shouldn’t be US vs. THEM, or LEFT vs. RIGHT. We should find ways to work together to solve the issues facing our world today.

Yes, I’m a feminist! Yes, I care deeply about our environment! Yes, I am troubled by how marginalized groups are treated as second-class citizens! Yes, I think everyone should have a minimum income level! Yes, I think many of us in Canada are privileged and refuse to acknowledge it and the problems it causes!

So….Yes, I’m a bleeding-heart liberal! And I’m not sorry.

Things Making Me Happy

Since going on my leave, I’ve been able to focus on ME as much as possible, and it’s been a) very weird and b) awesome.

It’s very rare to get so much time to focus on your own life and happiness, and it was difficult in the beginning. It induced guilt, of course, because I’m used to putting the needs of others before my own (as with many of us).

I know I’m very privileged to get the opportunity to work on this, so I am trying to take advantage as much as I can.  I have been continuing to do the things in my initial post about my leave, and have achieved some of the goals I listed there (baking, new recipes, making phone calls).

The good thing is this inner focus seems to be working to “fill my cup”. A month ago, I was in a deep pit of despair, would break down in a sobbing mess over the simplest things, and I was worried that my heightened anxiety/panic state would lead into a deep depression, as it had in the past.  Now, I am feeling more relaxed and calm regularly, and even have ever-extending moments of happiness.

Here are some things lately that have been making me happy:

  • YOGA is amazing. Even if I go to class in a horrible state of mind, I come out feeling grounded and happy
    • meditation does the same thing!
  • I got tickets to see U2 with two awesome friends
  • I signed up for a knitting class to learn how to make socks (I’ve been wanting to do this for years)
  • I bought a new purse on Etsy, that was exactly what I’ve been looking for (something else I’ve been meaning to do for a long time)
  • READING! I’m on my 4th book already since starting my leave
  • Today, after waking up to help DH get the kids out of the house, I went back to bed and slept until 11am…11 AM!!!!!!!! It was glorious!

Another reason I know this is all helping is the fact that I am able to think about going back to the classroom without panic or anxiety. Last night, I was able to organize my notes/assignments/tests from the last couple of weeks, and I felt neutral about it. It was just a task, not something that was choking me or sending me into tears.

So, onward I go. I know I’m not fully ready to go back, but I am confident I will be able to. In fact, I think I might be in a better mental headspace now than I was in September.

 

Back on the Needles

One thing I let go when I started teaching in September was knitting, which has been an important piece of self-care I’ve been investing in since my grad school days (can’t find the post where I first write about it, but here’s one in which I write about knitting as therapy).

So, when I started my medical leave about a month ago due to extreme stress, panic, and anxiety, I knew I had to pick up the needles again.

I picked up where I left of, with this flowered headband:

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Flowered Headband

This was a relatively easy and quick knit from 60 Quick Knits from America’s Yarn Shops.

Part way through the headband, I realized I was using 5mm needles (size 8), not size 5 (3.75mm) needles as the pattern called for. But, instead of frogging it and starting over, I plugged along,  just doing fewer repeats of the pseudo-lace patterned bands in the centre. It also turned out a little wider because of this, but more coverage in our winters is not a bad thing!

Nice to be back to this fine hobby, and now to one of the best things about it: picking my next project!

Home Updates

A couple posts ago, I briefly mentioned that we have done some smaller updates in our home over the last year. We chose these specific projects to make our house more functional and to get rid of what felt like clutter…except the kitchen. I just wanted to make it less boring and tear down the subway tile that wasn’t put up correctly.

Here are some photos!

Mudroom area

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DH designed & built this at the bottom of the stairs leading to the basement (the stairs are off the side entrance that leads to the driveway – we don’t use our front door!)

 

Kitchen Update (Before & After)

Office/Guest Room Update

In preparation for my new teaching career, I wanted to make the office/guest room into a more usable space. I don’t have any photos of it before, but it was basically crammed full with a queen size bed a massive wooden desk. The murphy bed is awesome, and it’s from Costco! The closet had a bar, small shelves on one side, and another above the bar. DH made it into what you see here!

 

Hacking back

We (and by “we”, I mean DH) took a ton of bushes/saplings/overgrown crap out of our yards. Things looks much more open, and give us room to plant what we want. Here’s an example: we yanked out the giant hedges at the front of our property. Now I can see when I’m backing out of the driveway. WIN!

Right now, DH is working on the laundry room in the basement. I’ll post pictures when it’s done!

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