The Life of K

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The long way home

It hasn't been an easy month.

Pockets of good here and there, but overall I'm feeling run down. I think it started about 4 weeks ago when I was on call and, just the way things work out, we had 3 clients go into labour. I was getting twitchy about my phone ringing. I was relieved when Sunday night came and I could switch the phone to one of my partners.

I was definitely in need of a break, but it didn't really come. Part of being the off call doula is you're the one working the postpartum shifts, and on top of that I had to go see all the babies that had been born.

I tried to relax, I really did.

I spent time with my family and time alone. I drank cider. All of a sudden I was on call again. It was two weeks later but it felt like only a couple of days. I made it through my week with one baby born and instead of feeling relief Sunday night when I passed over the phone, I felt a bit of dread. The kids and I had just dropped J off at the airport because his work is taking him away for 2 weeks.

I'm fine. We're fine. Being home by myself with the kids these days isn't too bad. It's so much easier than when they were younger and I have help when I need it. It's just that feeling of never getting a break.

What a sweet mug!
So I'm trying to do little things for myself. With a gift card from a client, I bought myself a mug that loves me. I also broke into the world of colouring. I bought myself some M&Ms and a cheesecake that I've been enjoying while I watch tv with Sandy the cat.

Jumping in!
Yesterday, on my way home from seeing a client, I took the long way home. I drove through downtown (something I typically avoid) and all the way down Bank Street. I watched the street change from cars and pedestrians everywhere with buildings crowding in to shorter buildings spaced out, to country highway leading out of town.

My first piece.
On my way home from the hospital last week, I drove down my favourite street in Ottawa: the NCC Scenic Driveway. It's like something out of a movie and I love it. I love driving down it year round, seeing the bare trees in winter, trees that are getting greener every time I drive by. Daffodils in the grass along the edge of the road.

I might have given myself a hand cramp.
I'm trying to be nice to myself. I'm trying to be gentle to my body that's showing signs of stress. Gentle with my left shoulder that's been hurting for a while. Trying to stretch my sore muscles.

I figure I'll get a break in 3 weeks... until then I'm trying to enjoy the pockets of good. To really sink into them and enjoy them. And to take the roads I enjoy.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Jack Pine Trail... Again!


What a difference two weeks makes! This weekend when we asked if the kids wanted to go to the forest, Little K insisted we go back to Jack Pine Trail so we did! This time we had J with us and we took the left path instead of going right.

Fun hollow tree.
It was so much greener and the left path took us through some areas of grass covering bed rock so it was a much different feel than the path that goes right through the forest.

Little J with his first snail.
We were walking along when we saw a snail. Little J picked it up to move it to the side of the path. Then we found another and another. They're pretty cool little guys.

Feeding the chickadees.

Once we got closer to the swampy area we started hearing chickadees. Little K got brave and had a few land on her.

Little K and the chickadee.

She seems more comfortable with the squirrels.

Little K and the squirrel.

And they seem to like her. This one got right up close.

J, Little K and the squirrel.

As we were leaving the board walk we ran into two kids and their dad. They were carrying a bucket/jar and I asked what they were hoping to catch. Frogs was the plan apparently but they actually caught a squirrel! They showed us the video - silly squirrel - before we kept moving, through the forest path to the car.

We've been doing our forest walks on Saturday mornings before getting lunch and getting Little K to gymnastics. It's a nice little activity that we all enjoy and I hope we continue.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

Love this piece I was commissioned to make!

My Mother's Day weekend was perfect: I got a bit of a sleep in, breakfast in bed, cards and presents from the kids, a hike, a swim, a bath, and I didn't have to clean up after dinner.

Sunflower #notasunflower
When the kids got off the bus Friday afternoon, Little K thrust a brown paper bag into my hands. It was a "sunflower". She was worried it would die if she left it in the bag until Sunday. She also gave me this:

Funny what she came up with.
Little J wrote me a nice note and gave me a picture of him holding a flower he made. Cute, eh?

Feel free to steal this idea.
My parents came by in the morning. We hadn't seen them in a while so it was nice to chat and catch up. They're currently in Atlanta visiting my brother, his wife, and their new baby.

Me and my mom.
I thought it was hilarious that, after lunch, when the kids were playing nicely in the living room, J passed out on the couch.

Too funny!
But I was able to sneak upstairs to read in the tub.


I've learned over the years that if I don't ask for it, I'll never get pictures of myself (that I don't take myself) so I got J to take one of me with the kids. You think they could just smile? Nope.

Crazy kids.
While J cleaned up after dinner, we had a dance party in the living room and played in the sunshine. It was nice.

Everyone sit on mom!
Even though Mother's Day is over, I keep getting little things with a "Happy Mother's Day!" shouted at me. Poor Little K is going through a thing and is having a hard time with me being out so many evenings. She made this card one of those nights.

Sad face.
And the kids picked some purple flowers from the front for me last night.

Pretty in purple.

I hope all my mom friends had a good Mother's Day too!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Lime Kiln Trail

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After our visit to Jack Pine Trail last week the kids have been asking to go back to the forest so we picked another trail near by, Lime Kiln Trail. We went armed again with our walking sticks and bird seed and had a great time!
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First chickadee of the day!
We weren't far along the trail when we spotted some chickadees so we stopped and got out the bird seed. Little J had great luck and had lots of birds land on his hand. A pair of cardinals came to check us out and a very cute red squirrel too.

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Little K being brave.
Even though Little K didn't like the prickly feeling of bird claws on her fingers last week, she held out her hand with J's help and giggled when a bird landed. These chickadees seem to prefer the black seeds in the wild bird mix I bought and would scoop up 2 at a time and go away to eat them.

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Trying to get the squirrel to take seeds from their hands (it didn't work).
The little squirrel on the other hand preferred the pieces of corn.

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Trying to spot the snake.
The big difference this time, other than having J with us, was the number of snakes we saw. Apologies if that creeps you out, but we saw six different garter snakes along the trail. When they aren't moving they're hard to spot.

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Checking out the ruins.
Lime Kiln Trail has some ruins where they used to treat/process lime (the details are hazy - I read the plaques years ago when we were last on the trail but didn't get a chance this time). There are two ruins - one looks a bit like a house and the other is obviously the kiln with a stone cylinder that you can peek into through a window and from the top.

I love our little outings and we already have plans to hit up other trails in the area.

Friday, May 6, 2016

April Reads

I've been reading the same book now for what feels like weeks so when I look back on this list I'm amazed at everything I read. Just like with March, I can't pick a favourite.

14. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert


In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want--husband, country home, successful career--but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she felt consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and of what she found in their place. Following a divorce and a crushing depression, Gilbert set out to examine three different aspects of her nature, set against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. 

What I thought

Everybody's heard of this book, right? It's a best seller that got made into a movie. I was never interested. I did try the movie but couldn't get into it. Then I read Gilbert's Big Magic in March and fell in love with her writing style. I told myself I'd give Eat, Pray, Love a chance. Well, I loved it!

I'm envious of Gilbert's bold move to leave everything she knew to go out on a crazy adventure. It's an escape to read about her journey.

15. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari


For years, Aziz Ansari has been aiming his comic insight at modern romance, but for Modern Romance, the book, he decided he needed to take things to another level. He teamed up with NYU sociologist Eric Klinenberg and designed a massive research project, including hundreds of interviews and focus groups conducted everywhere from Tokyo to Buenos Aires to Wichita. They analyzed behavioral data and surveys and created their own online research forum on Reddit, which drew thousands of messages. They enlisted the world’s leading social scientists, including Andrew Cherlin, Eli Finkel, Helen Fisher, Sheena Iyengar, Barry Schwartz, Sherry Turkle, and Robb Willer. The result is unlike any social science or humor book we’ve seen before.

What I thought

This book wasn't exactly what I was thinking it would be. Would have helped if I'd read the summary first, but still. It's a lot of research into relationships and how we go about finding them, written with comedy by Ansari. He's a funny guy and a lot of it made me think of his show. Interesting for sure.

16. The Illegal by Lawrence Hill


The Illegal is the gripping story of Keita Ali, a refugee—like the many in today’s headlines—compelled to leave his homeland.

All Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect and wealth at home. His native Zantoroland, a fictionalized country whose tyrants are eerily familiar, turns out the fastest marathoners on earth. But after his journalist father is killed for his outspoken political views, Keita must flee to the wealthy nation of Freedom State—a country engaged in a crackdown on all undocumented people.

There, Keita becomes a part of the new underground. He learns what it means to live as an illegal: surfacing to earn cash prizes by running local races and assessing whether the people he meets will be kind or turn him in. As the authorities seek to arrest Keita, he strives to elude capture and ransom his sister, who has been kidnapped.

Set in an imagined country bearing a striking resemblance to our own, this tension-filled novel casts its eye on race, human potential, and what it means to belong.

What I thought

This was an incredibly captivating book. You're rooting for Keita the entire time. Runner or not, you should read this book.

17. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown


Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?

In The Gifts of Imperfection, BrenĂ© Brown, PhD, a leading expert on shame, authenticity and belonging, shares what she's learned from a decade of research on the power of Wholehearted Living--a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, and to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.

What I thought:

I'm not really sure what to say about this book. I mean, I liked it and got really into it, but as soon as I'm done, everything I read leaves my mind. I just hope some of it stayed and makes me a better person.

18. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

What I thought

This is a short book, very quick to read, and fun. I got swept away in the story of Santiago and his search for treasure. I'll be checking out Coelho's other books for sure.

What are you reading?

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Jack Pine Trail


I've been so busy. In April I had 3 births in 5 days. And another not even a week later. That's a lot of babies and a lot of time away from my family, in hospitals, not eating well or sleeping well. Today is my last day off-call as tonight I'm back up. Back up isn't the same amount of stress, but it still means I have to have my phone with me and if there is a birth, I go on call.

So I've been trying to destress this week. I took myself to the yoga studio three evenings. I practiced at home too. I slept with my phone off. I watched a lot of tv. And this morning, when it wasn't pouring when I woke up, I asked the kids if they wanted to go feed the birds, excited when they said yes.

Me and my happy crew.

It was J's turn to sleep in today but that didn't happen due to some puking (Sandy the cat) and some screaming (Little K) so we left him home to do his own thing (breakfast and Home Depot from the sounds of it) and headed off to Jack Pine Trail.

On the path.

It wasn't raining at first, but it was that damp cold that soaks through to your bones. The kids were troopers. Little J brought his stick and we found a good one for Little K as we explored the paths, walked on the board walks, and marvelled at all the bird houses.

Freeing a rock from tree roots.
Jack Pine Trail is part of the forest that I grew up near so it feels a bit like home. My friends and I spent all summer for years ripping through the forest on our bikes, climbing the big tree just off the path, and hooting like owls. Then years later but before we had kids, J and I went hiking often, trying out a lot of the different paths Ottawa has to offer. I knew we'd find chickadees here.

Willing chickadees to land.
And we did. Birdseed in hand and patiently waiting brought us a few brave little birds. I was the first to have one land on my hand, but I'm also the tallest and able to stay the still-est.

Little K didn't like the feeling of their little claws - they are kinda prickly, but Little J was amazed.

Little J and his little friend.
Little K took over the bird seed and made some piles for a curious but so scared red squirrel. The promise of food won over and soon he was coming near us to grab seeds before scurrying away to gorge.

Coaxing the scaredy squirrel closer.

Scaredy squirrel.

The rain picked up so we headed back to the car, stopping to leave piles of seeds along the way. I was able to show the kids lots of things, drawing from my biology schooling, and I hope impressed on them a bit of a love for nature. I know neither of them wanted to leave and made me promise we'd be back. We will, babies, we will.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Visiting the National Gallery


Little J is in a split class, grade 1/2, and the grade 2 kids got to go to the dinosaur museum earlier in the year. The grade 1s had to stay at the school. He was sad, but SO excited when it was his turn for a field trip (which the grade 2s were also going on...) It was right around the time when the weather was being a little crazy, raining one day, dumping 3 feet of snow on us the next. There was freezing rain thrown in too. His field trip got cancelled. He was super sad so we told him that we'd go to the National Gallery of Canada as a family.

This got Little K excited. Little J's field trip was eventually rescheduled and he had a great time at the gallery. But we still had to go as a family because Little K hadn't forgotten. Easter weekend seemed like a good time to go.
Excited kids run into the gallery.
I know I've been to the National Gallery but I didn't remember much. The building itself is so impressive with really high and interesting ceilings. I should have brought my big camera. And the art obviously. Here are a few of my favourites.
It took everything in me to not center the bench.
One of my favourites.

A spot light was shining down from above.
The kids really liked this moving piece and Little K especially liked the garden.

Moving art team work.

Little K contemplating life.

The garden and water areas were nice.

Make a wish!

The kids really liked the treasure hunt. In the lobby an area for kids was set up with crafts and dress up clothes, and stuff for a treasure hunt. They were each given a box with clues inside and they had to find the painting that had all the objects in their box. The trick was that they could only feel the objects with their hands.

We were able to steer them in the right direction using the map with each box (or else we probably would have never found the paintings!) and they got little prints of the paintings when they were done.

Fun ceiling.
We had lunch at the cafeteria. It was a nice little family outing.

Parliament buildings in the rain.