A Farewell. And an Explanation.

Dear friends,

As with almost everything I’ve ever tried to do in my life, my #wordy30 didn’t really work out.

I started strong, writing a new blog post every day even when it meant typing it on my phone with only my right thumb while nursing ten-month old Holden in the rocking chair at midnight.

Then we went on a trip to Arizona (the last before finalizing our official green card application for Kyle, after which our lawyer recommended that we not cross the border until we’re hopefully approved), and I fell off the wagon.

Then Trump became president, and I sank into a deep, anxiety-ridden depression.

Then I pulled myself out of it (mainly by deciding to become a full-fledged Zero Waste eco-warrior hippie, instead of just dabbling in it like I used to). I started to actually *do something* instead of sit around panicking about it.

Then I started to feel normal again.

Then I started to get busy with new projects, plus all the old stuff I’ve always had to do (i.e. raise my darling boys).

Then it was 11 months later and I hadn’t written a single new post on Archives of our Lives.

Then (and here’s where we get to the farewell) one day, feeling nostalgic, I pulled up this dusty old archive of my life, and began reading posts from throughout the last decade. A few of them made me smile. Every now and then one made me laugh. But mostly?

Mostly they made me cringe.

The more I read, the more I became overwhelmed by an intense feeling of self-loathing. I couldn’t believe having ever written some of the things I did. Why did I get so personal? Why did I share so much? Why was I such a freaking B? So entitled, so self-centred, so whiny? So. Annoying.

I’ve changed, everyone. The good news is, I’m really happy with the person I’m becoming. The bad news is, I don’t like the person who I used to be.

I wanted to delete it—all of it—right then and there.

I called Kyle to tell him my plan:

“Why,” he asked?

“Because I am so embarrassed of it. It’s awful.”

“I always wondered why you shared so much,” he replied.

And immediately I felt a whole lot worse.

There are a few posts I might try to salvage, but all the drivel has to go. I’m not fishing for compliments, and by saying I’m not fishing for compliments that’s not just a secret way of actually fishing for compliments. I really really don’t want anyone to tell me not to be embarrassed or irritated with myself, because it won’t make me magically not feel this way.

I am leaving this post up for a week and a half, and then on my 31st birthday (because my BA in English Literature made me love symbolism, and because that seems like enough time to say goodbye), I’m taking it, and everything else, down. Archives of Our Lives will be no longer.

If you want to follow my new Zero Waste journey, I invite you to check out my new site, The Non-Waster. It’s the thing that’s been taking up so much of my time this month, and Zero Waste is the thing that pulled me out of the depths of Trumpian despair earlier this year. I’ll be blogging there (hopefully regularly), and you can find all my other social media stuff related to Zero Waste, minimalism, and prepping over there. It will be a toned-down version of my life, but it will still be me.

If you want to follow me on a more personal level, I’m still instagramming at my private account here. It’s private for two reasons (little boys whose names start with H), so if I don’t recognize your username I probably won’t be accepting the follow request. Ain’t nobody got time for child molesters. I can’t imagine why you would, but if for some reason you really *really* want to follow me there and I don’t accept the request, feel free to shoot me a line and tell me who you are. Make sure to clarify whether or not you’re a child molester.

Thank you to anyone who stuck with me through the last decade of my life, in all its dramatic glory. Even though I’m pretty embarrassed of all the stuff I shared with you, I’ll never regret the people my blog allowed me to meet, both in person and virtually. Relationships are everything. I love you all.

Unless I hate you. But you’ll probably never know.

XO,

cpsf

Posted in goodbye forever | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Of crumbs and frump

The other day I was talking to my mother-in-law while Holden was napping twenty feet away and I realised it was LITERALLY (the real literally, not the hipster kind) the first time in four days that he had been farther than an arm’s reach from me.

The realisation was startling. 

No wonder my house is a mess and I rarely have supper on the table right at 5:00, if ever! Try doing anything productive (let alone all the things) with a twenty pound squirming human squealing for you, strapped to you, sucking on you—and often all at once! It’s a lot to ask a single person! Just look at these exclamation marks!

Plus, times have changed since we were kids. My mother-in-law claims she could let her children roam the neighbourhood for hours growing up, and never see them until supper; if I did that I’d be arrested. Sure, if I had three or four hours per day with my kids happily, safely, freely entertained (at zero cost to me), my house could probably be spotless too. I might even have time to excersise, or at the very least nap. (Let’s not kid ourselves which of those two would be my priority.) It sounds pretty dreamy, truth be told. 

And maybe the time will come when I will have that. I sure hope it will. But even in the 70’s you couldn’t leave a baby to wander in the backyard alone for hours on end (could you??), so I’m sure things weren’t completely carefree back then. The village can only do so much until it becomes absolutely imperative that the parent step in and parent. So until Holden is a little older, and a little more weaned, this is my life. 

The only (good) solution is to embrace this season, this season of crumbs and frump. Someday I will have time again—time to wear a little makeup if I want; time to wax my armpits; time to sweep, mop, do dishes AND scrub the toilet in the same week—but until then, I have to be okay with looking this way. Feeling this way. Because my kids are alive, sort of happy, and well adjusted-ish. 

That’s not all that will ever count, but it’s all that counts today. 

Posted in #wordythirty, family, Holden, kid stuffs, motherhood, parenthood | 4 Comments

On Saying Yes

It occurred to me tonight as I was rocking Holden to sleep (the only chance I get to reflect on life these days, it seems), that it was 10 years ago this weekend Kyle proposed to me. 

Now I’m going to tell you something that not many people know: I told him no. 

I was a mess. I thought I was too young. I had so much I wanted to do before I got married. I wanted to live abroad, learn French, be awesome. We had dated on and off for an entire (dramatic) year but at the time, we were dating long distance and I was also tentatively wondering if a guy I dated in high school was still interested in me after being on a two-year mission for our church. (It’s embarrassing to admit that now because it shows me for the jerk I was, but to leave it out would be witholding a big piece of the story, and it’s important for me to tell the truth. Even when the truth is that I suck.) Anyway, like I said, I was a mess. 

Kyle was so sweet when he proposed and I felt like the biggest tool, but I hadn’t been expecting it and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like saying yes would make me a giant fraud. I remember just sitting there and staring at the ring for what felt like hours, but it must have only been a minute or two. I could feel the disappointment radiating off him—it’s not exactly how a guy pictures his proposal going. I hated hurting his feelings, but I just couldn’t say yes. 

That was a Saturday afternoon. The next day was Sunday morning, October General Conference weekend of 2006. We watched the morning session together in the basement of the house 25 year-old Kyle had just bought a few months earlier, but it was awkward and weird. (I was living in Arizona at the time and had come up to Canada to visit, not knowing he’d propose, and when I said no I thought about trying to get an earlier flight home but I didn’t want to add insult to injury. Looking back though he probably wished I would have…who wants to spend the next two days with a girl who just sucker punched you in the proverbial gut?) Anyway, during one of the conference talks I got a phone call from my sister: my beloved grandpa had gone into the hospital, he’d taken a turn for the worse and she just wanted to let me know, in case I wanted to try to get home sooner. 

After I hung up the phone I told Kyle the situation. We looked online but because of how far away the airport was and the timing of the flights, I wouldn’t be able to catch one that day. I decided to get the first one out the next morning instead. So we settled back in to finish watching conference but I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was racing. I just kept thinking of my grandpa, and how weird it was that we probably wouldn’t have him much longer, and how short life was and how much I loved Kyle and what was I waiting around for, I knew I would never be able to let him go for good, I’d tried and failed (like I said, I thought I was too young to get married), but I always kept coming back to him, like some sort of weird Kyle addict, he was my grounding force when I was in trouble, he always helped me solve my problems, there was nothing he couldn’t do, I could count on him one thousand percent, and dammit I loved him. 

My heart pounded hard in my ears, but I knew what I had to do. When conference ended I went to give him a hug, and I just kept hugging him because I was so scared. I knew when I let go the course of my life would change forever. But finally I worked up my courage to pull away. 

“Remember yesterday?” I asked. 

He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I do.” 

“Will you ask me again?”

“… what?”

“I’m serious. Will you ask me again?”

“No.” 

I paused. I hadn’t expected that. (What did I think, that he would fall all over himself to try again after I’d hurt him so badly the day before?) I did the only thing I could think of. I begged.

“Umm, please?”

“Why, so you can say no again? No way.”

“You really need to ask me again.”

“Are you going to say no?”

“Don’t be stupid, why would I want you to ask me again if I was going to say no, do you think I liked doing that?” (Leave it to me to pick a fight with someone while trying to get him to propose to me.)

We carried on like that for awhile, but finally he relented, and this time I told him what he’d wanted to hear all along. I would marry him. 

Our long distance international engagement lasted a year, and it was not without its struggles. (Drama follows me wherever I go, I can’t help it. It’s a disease. Of the head. I’m truly very ill.) But we made it. 

Before I met Kyle the longest I’d ever dated someone was four months. We’ve now been together for eleven years, and that boggles the mind. October is significant to me: not only has it always been my favourite month of the year, but also it marks the month we met, the month (a year later) we got engaged, and the month we finally got married. 


When the leaves begin to turn colours I find myself waxing nostalgic. I look at Kyle through the eyes of my nineteen year-old self (just a baby!) who had met him for the first time, and craved his infectious laugh. I see him how I did back then, as my protector, my rock, and the sweetest guy I’d ever known. How completely I came to trust him with my life, how I somehow knew he’d never let me down. 

In the fall I remember these things and I fall in love with him all over again. 


I’m so glad I said yes. And then no, but then yes again, at last. 

Posted in #wordythirty, awesome., family, Married Life, Poor Kyle | Comments Off on On Saying Yes

To My Dad on His 70th Birthday

When I was growing up, my dad was always around to support my sister and me. I can’t think of a single ball game, piano recital, spelling bee, band concert, or award ceremony that he missed, ever.  I always took that for granted, his presence. I distinctly remember those hot summer nights in Mesa Arizona, standing with my hands on my knees on a dusty softball field, dying of boredom and praying a ball would come to me just to end the monotony (softball is a slow game until it’s your turn to bat, but that only happens a couple of times per game; the rest is freaking drudgery). My mom was the loudest cheerer, always, but every now and then I would look into the crowd and pick them out, my parents, together. He was always there. It never occurred to me that some kids’ dads couldn’t, or wouldn’t show up for that kind of thing. Even as recently as last summer, when I got to go to Salt Lake and present at a book signing and conference for Fresh Courage Take, he made the effort with my mom to be there and cheer me on; they flew from Phoenix for it. And when I had to present at the book signing but didn’t have childcare for Hutch, instead of sitting for the presentation like he originally planned, he took my almost-two year old to the park so I could present without worrying. 

Now that I’m a grown up myself (how the hell did that happen?!) I find myself on the brink of becoming that parent for my own children. And I have never for a moment considered not being that kind of parent for my children, the way mine were for me. 

Although we didn’t always see eye to eye when I was growing up, the thing I love most about my dad is that he was always there anyway. And he always loved me anyway. 

It took becoming a parent myself to understand what a big deal that is. 

I love you, Dad. Happy Birthday!

Posted in #wordythirty, family, parenthood | 3 Comments

Online Shopping in the 🇺🇸 

As we prepare to live in the United States for the first time in our married lives, Kyle and I talk constantly about what it might be like, both the good and the bad.

“How will we find a doctor down there? How much will healthcare cost?? How will we ever make it???”

“Think of all the places we’ll be able to eat out! It’s going to be amazing.”

“Unless we don’t find a good employment situation once we get there. Then we’ll never have enough money to try any of them. And we will be living on Ramen indefinitely.”

“But online shopping!”


It’s that last one that gets us both riled up the most. Online shopping exists in Canada, but it’s kind of a pain. I don’t know if it’s just because the population is so small up here, or because customs is such a hassle, but for whatever reason, a lot of online retailers don’t ship to Canada 🇨🇦. And the ones that do almost never offer shipping free, and certainly not overnight. And Amazon is not the same up here—different (worse) selection, and more expensive at that. Online shopping in Canada is not the ubiquitous one-click free-for-all that it is in the good ol’ USA.

I moved away in 2007, and I feel like online shopping wasn’t quite as extreme back then as it is today. (And let’s be homest, I never had enough money to do much shopping of any kind until I married my sugar daddy, which actually is as depressing as it sounds.) So I really haven’t ever experienced online shopping in all its American greatness. Milk delivered to your door? Never feel frantic because you’re down to the last roll of toilet paper? Order a last minute birthday present at midnight and wake up to it on your doorstep, gift wrapped and ready to go?! 

Amazing. 

Suffice it to say, we’ve been looking forward to online shopping ‘murica style. 

But after reading this article by Carly Knobloch (love her website, so handy and lovely to boot!) I’m a bit hesitant to take it up. After all, my ultimate goal in life right now is to become a minimalist (oh, have I not shared that with you yet? It’s coming), and it does seem like the effortless click-of-a-button shopping I crave might make it easier than ever to fall into the trap of impulse buys. Just today I walked into Costco with two items on my list (mini cucumbers and cheese strings), and walked out with an advent calendar (Lindt chocolates, tell me you wouldn’t have passed that up either!), turkey pepperoni, canadian bacon, and sparkling apple pomegranate juice (those sample pushers guilted me and I did partake). I’m a terrible self-manager…do I really need to make wasting money even easier on myself? 

Probably not. 

So my new plan is to tread carefully with my e-cart through the online shopping world. I think I’ll commit to buying only the least thrilling items online: reams of paper, ink cartridges, kombucha scobies. You know, the real snoozers. That way I can condition my heart (or decondition it, as it were) not to leap with a surge of consumerist joy every time I see a little brown box show up on my doorstep. I mean, how carried away can I get with a scoby, y’know? 

And then if I’m able to control myself after a year or so, I might graduate to Items of Great Convenience, but force myself to purchase only the necessities. 

Is that reasonable? Am I setting myself up for failure? What do all you American online shoppers do with such freedoms; do you find yourself overspending online? 

Help a sister out. 

photo credit: Lynn Friedman High Speed Shopping Past Cal Mart Baking Aisle via photopin (license)

Posted in #wordythirty, Canada, Cutting Back, mediocrity | 4 Comments

Oh boy

I have lost count of the times people have seen Holden in the store and commented on what a beautiful baby girl I have. It happened once Tuesday and again today, and that was just this week. 


I never take offense to this because it can be dang hard to tell the difference sometimes, with babies. (Sometimes even with adults amiright?) And two days ago when the teething started to get bad, I put an amber necklace around his neck in the hopes that it would help. So yeah, he’s probably looking a little girlier than usual. 

I guess it’s because it never offends me that I’m always surprised at how many people are horrified to have gotten it wrong. “Oh my gosh!” they exclaim, “I’m soooo sorry!” Then they make it worse: “I just thought that outfit looked like something a girl would wear, oh my gosh I’m so sorry I can’t believe I did that! Ahh!” Some get so embarrassed and upset that I end up apologizing to them: “Nonono, don’t worry about it, it happens all the time, it must be his eyelashes or his womanly curves or something, I’m so sorry for bringing my clearly girly baby boy out in public and causing you this distress.”

I’m more Canadian than most Canadians I know. (Tidbit: as of last year I actually am Canadian!)

Anyway, it’s unnecessarily awkward and I wish I could do something to make him more identifiably boyish, not because I care, but because I hate feeling bad for people who feel bad because they think I do. 

With a girl it’s easy, you know, just put a bow on her and all is well. But with a boy, what? A necktie? Suspenders? Penny loafers? A tiny little pin that says “I have a penis?” 

Seems a bit extreme. 

Posted in #wordythirty, Holden, It's All Good, kid stuffs, motherhood, oh brother what next | 1 Comment

Give, oh give


Every night I sing Holden a series of songs as I nurse him to sleep.

Always in the lineup is a little song with the letters of his name set to a particular tune, in the hopes that if I sing it to him enough he will eventually learn how to spell it by osmosis and be the smartest kid in preschool. (You gotta have a dream.)

Holden’s name song is set to the tune of Give Said the Little Stream, and it’s such a nice peppy melody that I always follow it up with the actual lyrics. 

Well, today my baby has been sick: runny nose, drippy eyes, nothing serious I think, but just generally unpleasant. So as he cried in his high chair while I was trying to put dinner together, I knew I needed to help him rest. I came to a good stopping point, thankful that Kyle was home at last and able to entertain Hutch, and picked up my snotty, sad baby to rinse him off and have a cuddle. As I rocked and nursed him, his eyes started to droop and I sang this song: 

Give, said the little stream

Give, oh give; give, oh give. 

Give said the little stream

As it hurried down the hill. 

I’m small, I know, but wherever I go

The grass grows greener still. 

The words were so familiar to me that I didn’t really need to concentrate on them, so as I sang my mind wandered…

I thought about how sore my eyes were, exhausted from being open since 7 am and much of the night before with my congested baby. I proudly thought about how I got dinner in the oven, even though it was a cop-out pre-made Costco entree. I smiled at how Kyle would actually be excited upon the discovery of said pre-made entree, because he always loves those more than anything I make from scratch. I knew Hutch would be the same. I rolled my eyes remembering how Hutch begged to drink out of my water cup earlier, despite having his own identical cup just inches away, and how ultimately I gave in, the crystal clear water in my glass now tinged with toddler backwash. I felt the ache in my shoulder that creeps in every night from many hours of babywearing throughout the day—a necessity if I’m to get any chores done. I cringed as I assessed the state of my t-shirt, caked at the seams with dried up snot from where Holden had buried his undoubtedly sore face into my shoulder and rolled it from side to side, smearing the slime with infantile abandon mere seconds before I could wipe it with a tissue. I remembered all I had accomplished today: though the house was (of course, as usual) a mess, I had nevertheless sent Hutch to preschool with clean clothes, including socks, and nutritious food for snack time. I had arrived—early!—to an appointment with our lactation doctor, who gleefully praised Holden’s weight gain and pronounced us “graduated” from her care, at last, at 10 months old. I had cried when she told me, embarrassed but I couldn’t help it—tears of joy for making it this far, and tears of anxiety for knowing that I’m on my own now. I had bathed. Flossed. Filled the van with gas. Read books to Hutch when he begged me to, instead of tackling the laundry in the basket at the foot of my bed, itself begging to be put away before actually becoming empty from being picked through instead. 

Give, oh give; give, oh give. 

I’m not trying to play the martyr. I know how important it is to carve out time for my own interests, even my own self-interest. I’m trying to do that too. I got a massage this month. I signed up for French classes that I’ve attended for three weeks so far and have loved every minute. I’ve tried to be diligent at date night once a week. 

But the truth is, 95% of my life right now feels consumed with others. Giving, giving all the day. At the end of the day, when Hutch wants me to tell him the story of how Jack broke his arm “just one more time,” and I’m trying to soothe Holden and be present for Kyle and remember to pay the bills, and my head and arms and whole body hurts, it feels impossible to give of myself even one more moment. I feel completely spent, often before I even get out of bed in the morning. It’s exhausting to be the little stream. 

But at the same time, I know how important it is. Because wherever I go, and bear with me as I veer into excruciatingly cheesy territory here, but wherever I go, and wherever I give, I’ll be damned if that grass isn’t growing steadily greener. I see it when Hutch’s preschool teacher remarks on his progress in just three weeks—ain’t no Paw Patrol on the iPad teaching him how to put his socks on by himself. I see it when he can dunk his head underwater at swimming lessons without freaking the hell out. I see it when Holden mimics my clapping during Patty Cake, and when he figures out that putting a blanket over his face will prompt a rousing round of Peekaboo. I see it when Kyle comes home exhausted from work, worn down and weary, but magically perks up enough after a *maybe* homecooked dinner to play Lego with Hutch and read him five billion books before bedtime. 

I see how it works, this giving thing. And even though it’s hard, I have to remind myself that it will be worth it. Someday this investment—this constant payment of what feels like my entire self to everyone but myself—will come to an end, and I will reap the dividends. 

I know it won’t always be this way. 

Give oh give away. 

photo credit: ell brown Rea Valley Route – Kings Norton Recreation Ground – path on NCN 5 – stream off the River Rea via photopin (license)

Posted in #wordythirty, kid stuffs, motherhood, parenthood | 6 Comments