Daily Joys

Daily joys.

Positivity.

The first sunshine after a long, cold winter.

That first sip of coffee after a long sleep.

The excited squeals of my daughter when I re-appear after being gone, even for a minute.

Warm sweaters from the dryer.

Slipper socks.

Long, meandering days filled with treats, walks and strolls.

Nature watching.

The long, meticulous hunt and release of garden toads, worms, and crickets.

Beautifully coloured fall leaves.

Fresh cookies from the oven.

Cuddling up at the end of a quiet day to read a book and eventually fall asleep with no cares at all.

 

New Christmas Traditions

20161127_122742 I have a confession to make.

I LOVE Christmas.

I love most everything about it, from decorating, to baking, and most especially christmas music. One of the great things about having a young child in the house is the ability to enjoy christmas with the new, exciting fervour that makes the season so magical.

So yesterday we started a new christmas tradition. We went to a local farm and picked our own christmas tree. It is a wonderful tradition because, not only is cutting your own tree more environmentally-friendly than a plastic one (especially from a local, no pesticide tree farm!), but the entire experience is special. PLUS, we get to pick a tree in the middle of a field and make my husband saw it down and carry it for over 2 km. So, it’s a family affair 😉20161127_122813

Nothing beats that fresh pine smell and the endless pine needles lingering around the house until you have to drag the dead tree out of your house to be burned in the firepit next summer.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and tradition filled holiday season spent with family and the many  happy shrieks from delighted children.

 

 

 

What we’ve learned about Thailand

We read a lot of things about Thailand before visiting.  This was really a trip 5 years in the planning until we could afford to go. Now that we have traveled around different areas of Thailand (Bangkok, Kata, Rawai, Chiang Mai),  I’ve accumulated a list (in no particular order) of things we noticed:

– Metered Taxi drivers will inevitably try to avoid using their meter and charge you a flat rate that will be considerably higher.
When we arrived in Bangkok, for example, the taxi driver offered to drive us to our hotel for 200 Baht. I insisted on the meter, and the ride ended up costing only 100 Baht.

– Chartered taxis and tuk tuk’s alike will make an extra stop at a jewelry shop because they get a commission for bringing people. The drivers collect stamps and get paid when they fill the card. This happened to us a couple of times. We went in to look around and didn’t buy anything. The driver was thankful. We’ve been told the jewelry is a scam, but not all the shops had terrible prices. The shops were clean and air conditioned,  so not too bad.

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– Thai people love babies. It is a daily occurence that we walk down the street and people get excited and run over to say ‘hi’ to Evey and smile at her. If my daughter has learned nothing else on this trip, she is awesome and worthy of worship 😉

– Bartering is expected for shopping, taxis, boat rides, etc. We found it best practice to not barter at the food stalls or places with small prices, because it’s so cheap already. Also, it seems like restaurants are set prices, too. Canadians are not known for bartering well, apparently, but we did our best. Ultimately, you pay what you feel comfortable paying and what it’s worth to you.

– The image of Buddha should be respected: you can photograph it, but don’t use it as decor, get it as a tattoo, or deface it in any way

– The Thai national anthem is played once a day. It’s respectful to stop what you are doing and stand.

– Papaya salad is way hotter than you would think. Way.

– Most places we encountered took cash, not Visa. But there are ATM’s everywhere, and especially in front of 7/11’s, which are equally everywhere. We take out cash every few days so that we aren’t carrying large amounts around.

– A lot of products like soap have ‘whitening agents’ in them. This is because Thai people see white skin as esthetically pleasing. As a result, we had difficulty finding soaps without these ‘agents’ at small shops.

– There are tons of places to get your laundry done. They charge by the Kg, and a load costs only a couple of bucks. I will begrudgingly do our own laundry now that we are back in Canada.

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– There are tons of places to eat, and so cheap there is no point cooking yourself. For even cheaper meals, street meat abounds. We had this wonderful kitchenette and used it to make instant coffee and store our empty beer bottles 😉

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A Vegetable & Fruit Vendor Also Selling Gas in Recycled Wine Bottles

-People are very entrepreneurial. This may be by necessity (few jobs available). Many places are family-run businesses, and it’s easy to support local. Many places provide several services to pay the bills (tattoo shop/currency exchange, tour agency/ laundry/gas sales, restaurant/internet cafe/ motorcycle rental).

– Quite recently (within the last  5 years), it has become very easy to fly all around Thailand to the major cities. We are told that prior to this, there were not many flights and you had to take the train (slower, but enjoyable), or drive. The opportunity to fly allowed us to get all over Thailand in very little time, and this was the easiest and most convenient method when travelling with a baby.

– There is a saying about the ‘Thai Smile’ in Thailand. It refers to how friendly Thai people are. We truly found this to be right. Everyone was welcoming, kind, and helpful. We always felt comfortable chatting with folks and getting around. When we came back to Canada, we missed that warmth! (and not just the weather)

That’s all I can think of for now. Reading through this list, I can’t wait to go back!

Dandelion

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My favourite flower is the dandelion
With its bright orange leaves and green, green stem
The dandelion that I would grasp in my hands as a child
And carefully deliver to my mother, with love

My favourite flower is the dandelion
As a first sign of spring
Sprouting above the thick, green grass
Growing tall before the lawn mower crops it away

My favourite flower is the dandelion
When my mother would braid crowns for me out of flowers of sunshine
That I would wear proudly and feel like a princess

My favourite flower is the dandelion
That my daughter hunts in the yard
Like treasures she finds, squealing with delight
As she clasps the buds in her little yellow fingers

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, MUM!

One year later

My baby just turned 1 year old.
However, this post is not really about her. She’s amazing, and I am so proud of her every day.  With her birthday floating by, I find myself looking inwards to what I have overcome with this pregnancy, birth, and the first year.
It’s probably evident by now that I am not one of those mom’s who spent her life wishing to have a baby, and then rushing to have another. I have no desire to re-live the pain, exhaustion, and borderline depression that came with pregnancy and caring for a baby. It didn’t really make me happy. While I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what child rearing would be, it wasn’t that. Maybe I shouldn’t say child rearing, but child carrying. It was, quite literally, the pregnancy and carrying the child that made me miserable with back pain. Pain that started at 12 weeks pregnant, and that continued until now. A whole year and a half later. I feel weak. Weakened by this experience that is motherhood. Something I thought I could pull-off effortlessly. It simply wasn’t the case. So here I am, on my child’s first birthday, checking in with myself. I know that I love my baby to death and wouldn’t trade her for anything in the world, but I also have no desire to do it again. I don’t romanticize the experience, seeing it through Rose coloured glasses. Nope, not this girl. I feel humbled by it. Weakened. Vulnerable. It’s not the empowering 1 year birthday story one might expect to read. I’m just being honest. I survived this year. I survived a traumatic birth and, lack of sleep, and excruciating back pain when my baby didn’t want to be put down. I’m sore. I’m tender. Perhaps one day I’ll look back on this time and forget all the pain I’ve felt, but this 1 year birthday is not it.

Things I Didn’t Do Before Having A Baby

Parenthood has been interesting. As this human grew inside of me and then proceeded to grow outside of me, I began to take on new characteristics myself. Some of them mundane, some hilarious, and some down right disgusting!
Here are a few things I’ve noticed (perhaps you can relate?!):

– Leaving the house with baby is a production. It’s no longer throwing on some shoes and running out the door. It’s also Murphy’s law that an impromptu diaper change will need to happen once everyone is dressed and ready to head out.

– Every time I leave the house without baby (read: rarely), I’ve developed a rocking motion while standing still. Oh, also, I sing and talk to myself now. Every. Time.

– I pee with the door open. I never did this before, but it became necessary with baby crawling around. The other day, however, she was at daycare and I realized I left the door open anyway. My dog just stared at me. I swear he was judging me.

– When I go to the mall (read: rarely), I find myself shopping for baby things more than myself. I think I’m just procrastinating, because, let’s be honest, my child doesn’t need any more clothes!

– I dance, jiggle, crawl on my hands and knees, and make more faces than ever before.

– I’ll just put this out there: diaper sniff test…

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself

– When I go into cupboards or fridge doors, I shut them really quickly so little wandering hands don’t start unpacking everything. Even when she’s not around.

– That being said, everything needs to be on a higher shelf. Think it’s high enough? She’ll grow and stretch and inevitably reach it.

– I’m always distracted and often repeat myself…Oh, wait…

Self

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This has been a difficult year for me. Since being pregnant and being a new mother, I’ve struggled to balance my need for independence with the total dependence of a new baby. Some days it is very clear to me how fleeting this experience is, but most days I am filled with doubt, self-analyzing, and insecurities.
You see, being a mother has not been a lifelong goal for me. I don’t think I ever fully comprehended how all-encompassing it would be. I definitely thought I would easily birth this child and then swiftly get on with ‘my’ life (baby in toe, of course). It simply wasn’t that easy. And I struggled with this new reality.
I struggled because all of a sudden ‘my’ life had new meaning and priorities. Sometimes ‘my’ days were spent engrossed in changing quite literally 15 diapers per day. I’ve spent hours sitting, nursing my baby, every 2 hours for the first 5 months. I would spend most days in an utter daze due to lack of sleep, or I would be rocking my crying baby while crying myself, in sheer exhaustion. In those moments, it seemed like I would be in babyhood forever. I really did wonder why I chose this for myself.
Now my baby is 10 months old, and I am beginning to see through the fog. We have found a great daycare that she will start part-time. I am finally seeing myself as a separate identity from my child…and this scares me.
She is weaning from me, physically and figuratively. While she still wants me, she no longer needs me every second of the day. It means this very intense, intimate, attached year is coming to an end and we both have an opportunity to find ourselves. She will have a whole life at daycare that I won’t even see. I will have some time to build my career ( whatever that looks like).
My life is forever changed, but truly for the better. I’ve struggled with my identity, and still do, as I evaluate and re-evaluate my self-worth. My identity is neither tied to my career nor my motherhood alone, but strikes some impossible balance where I find myself.
As I write this now, I have my precious baby cradled in my bosom for a nap. I’ve finally come to cherish these moments where we are as close as humanly possible. I’m aware of how quickly life changes and am trying to absorb every second.

Time

There exists an alternate space in time that you only discover when you are a parent. A time where life speeds up. You literally blink for a second and find that your child has grown to twice her size.
‘How long have I been sleeping?’

Suddenly your time is not your own. Each month and year is invisibly marked BB (Before baby), or PB (Post Baby).

It’s like life sped up and you remained in one place, not feeling like you’ve aged.
But how can you not age, when this little human has grown so much?
Gaining aptitudes, personality, and attributes that literally did not exist 1 year ago.
As my baby ages, I continue to be baffled when I look at photos from this time last year.
‘Whoa. Where did that time go?’
How does a little person grow so much in so little time, and I didn’t even notice a thing?
2015 was a year totally and utterly consumed by this human.
Other things happened, sure, but they all ultimately came back to this one person. I carried, birthed, cared for and nursed her as my prime objective in life.
I will never have a year like this one again. With it’s pain, learning curves, worry and joy.

I’m not sure I’d want to relive it, exactly. But I wouldn’t mind if time would stop playing it’s silly games on me.

Eating our way through Rawai, Phuket

Apparently Phuket Province is not known for its culinary creations.
However some of the best food we had while in Thailand was in Rawai. There were so many great spots to eat, I thought we’d break them down here.

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Anywhere along Rawai Beach

There are a string of restaurants,  many family owned, along the eastern side of Rawai beach road. The seating is along the water side, while the restaurants are across the road, so the waiters run your order over. The menus are huge, and we didn’t once order something we didnt like. Besides the food, the sea view is awesome, the breeze is cool in the evening and there is people watching on the street side, too.

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Gypsy Alley
At the very Easterly end of Rawai, next to the Pier, is a Gypsy fishing area. The fishermen display their catches for the day, you pick what you’d like to eat, and the restaurants across the alley will cook them for you. We picked up squid, clams and scallops. Each were cooked in different sauces or bbq’d according to their menu.

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Rawai View Café and Bar
This spot is a little off the beaten track, but worth finding. It is perched on the hill overlooking Rawai. The views of Rawai beach and surrounding islands are spectacular. The decor has a beach-hut vibe with a thatched roof and driftwood furniture. We ordered the curried beef and it was divine.

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The Flipside
I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention this restaurant.  It’s a chain, but is a great place to get delicious twists on burgers, fries and nachos. The staff are the friendliest we met, and it was a nice occassional break from Thai food.

Au Four et Au Moulin
Again another departure from the typical Thai fare, this French restaurant had excellent food. We ate here a few times,  ordering 4 cheese pizza (great), and lunch of sandwiches (excellent on baguette bread). They were also one of the only restaurants on the strip with a proper highchair that fit Evey, which was a relief from constantly holding her at dinner time!