Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Very Long Post About Day Planners

It's +2 today, which is equal parts fantastic and straight up dumb.

It's fantastic because it's warm, because frostbite is unlikely and the ice on the roads might melt a bit. It's dumb because I already ventured out to do my errands earlier this week when it was -40 with the windchill. I got rear-ended, and had to stand out in the cold talking to the guy who rear-ended me and taking pictures of our cars—my damage, his license plate—and wouldn't that all have been so much funner in +2 weather?

But I can't complain, really, because it's +2 now. And Saskatchewanians who complain about the weather when it's +2 are the actual worst.

I talk about the weather a lot on my blog. Probably because I think, somewhere deep down, that simply existing in -40 degree weather makes me a tough person (this is categorically false, though, because a lot of people exist in -40 degree weather. Some of the wimpiest people I know live here—due in part to the fact that most of the people I know live here. I'm digressing wildly).

So enough about the weather. But what else is there to talk about in January? Oh, I know: day planners!

Because in January, most places put their day planners on sale—up to 50% off, as though because you've missed the first few days of January, the value of the whole calendar is depleted by half. It makes no sense, but it's my favourite time of year. 

Is there anything better than a brand new day planner? (Yes, technically, like a billion things.)

But for the purposes of this blog post: NO. There is nothing. 

I took an entire evening last week to peruse the Chapters website in search of the perfect one. There were no less than 500 to choose from (which is kind of silly, Chapters), so it took a while. Lucky for me, I am super picky about planners and have a mile-long list of criteria (below):

1. Has to have a closure of some kind. A bungee cord that wraps around the front, preferably. I saw a few that zip shut like wallets and I thought that was a bit of overkill. Unless you're actually keeping change in your day planner. Which...actually...isn't a terrible idea? Is it? Pockets in the front for your cards? A wallet/planner hybrid. I could get on board with that.

2. Tabs for the months.

3. Lots of room to write—planners with tiny squares are stupid. What, do I only do one thing every day? Half a thing? Come on, Planner People.

4. Lays flat.

5. Month view and day view.

6. Doesn't have a stupid 'inspirational quote' on the front in gold foil. I am over being inspired, and I am over gold foil. (I don't understand 'inspiration culture' to begin with. Am I supposed to feel motivated in my work and personal life just because my planner, who has never met me in real life because it is not a person, says "YOU GOT THIS GIRLFRIEND" on the front of it? That's ridiculous. If one of my actual 'girlfriends' says to me, "You got this," in reference to something they actually believe I've, you know, 'got,' that's one thing. This is another thing. A ridiculous thing.)

7. Doesn't cost $65. I don't understand how a day planner can cost that much. It's a book with nothing written in it. A pretty, hardcover book with lots of well-thought-out, edited to bits words costs about $20-$30 brand new. I am supposed to pay twice as much for a book I have to write myself? 

I probably have other criteria as well, but I whittled down those 500 choices quite quickly using this list.

The one I finally settled on kept almost all of my rules beautifully, but it breaks #6 throughout. It's unfortunately bursting with 'inspirational quotes,' nattery BFFspeak, and has a secret code and a flow chart in the back to help you decide if you need bangs or not (I already know I don't). I feel like it's probably geared toward high school students, so whatever. It's fine. I'll probably take whiteout to some of it, to be honest.

But it's got good bones.

What it lacks in professionalism and bored indifference toward me and my life, it makes up for in functionality, pretty artwork, and a heft that feels very legit, if you know what I mean. And, like, there are two pages of stickers. You're never too old or stoic for stickers. ...riiiiiight?

It's this one here, and here are some pictures of it:

And now you need to tell me about/post links to your day planners, because I love talking about day planners. This is how you can tell I'm thirty.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sully as a Three-Year-Old

I was playing "checkup" with Sully the other day. The game is like this: I sit in the waiting room (the kitchen) while he types on his computer (the chair in front of him) and then he calls me into his office (the living room) and asks what's wrong with me. I usually lead with something like, "My stomach hurts."

So there we are, sitting across from each other in his office, and he's tapping away on his computer, and he leans back in his seat and rests his heels on the floor, hands folded across his chest. "What's wrong with you, Mom?"

"My stomach hurts."

He furrows his brow, leans in; he's seen his share of doctors this year, you can tell. He asks, "Do you have a heart murmur?"

"Yes," I say, "I probably do." (One of his best friends has a murmur, had to go to the hospital and watch his heart on a TV screen, and Sully talks about it constantly.)

"Ah," he says. "Okay. And do you have a broken infection in your hip?"

"Yes, that too," I say, nodding pathetically (he had an infection in his hip this summer and was crippled for a few days, so that comes up often as well).

He types something on his computer, looks at me again, and goes, "And did someone stab you with a knife?"




Kids grow up so fast these days.

Speaking of, he's turning four next week. I feel like the thing to say is, "Wow, that went so fast!" and, "Where did the time go?" and, "But he was just born yesterday!"

But really, it's hard to remember life before he came along, like it's a movie I saw four years ago instead of, you know, my actual life. It's even kind of hard to remember life with a newborn baby or to remember him as a two-year-old. I don't mean this in a bad way, but the past four years have just kind of felt like...four years. That's not a lot of time, but it's a lot of time. He's done about four years' worth of changing and growing which, in adult years, is more like forty.

That's not to say I don't ever dig my heels in and get sad about him growing up or feel like I want to pause him right where he's at and keep him there forever. But every time I think he's at my favourite stage, he gets a little older and develops some new skill, is able to express himself better, gets even funnier and cooler, and I'm beginning to sense a pattern. Maybe we're on a good trajectory here and I should stop worrying about the passage of time and just ride it out.

Just kidding, I'll always worry about the passage of time. Forever and ever. I will never not be sappy and weepy and schmaltzy.

But that's what blogs are good for, right?

So on this, the first day of the last week of Sully as a Three-Year-Old, I'll take this memory down:

He's sitting beside me building a LEGO car while I write. He's mostly quiet, except for when he figures something out that has been stumping him ("Oh! This piece goes HERE!"). We're listening to "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You" by Colin Hay. The rest of the house is silent except for the furnace. Sully's humming along to the music and I suddenly realize I am too.

I say, "This is one of my favourite songs." I turn it up a bit.

He says, "What's it called?" I tell him, and he goes, "Hm. It is a good song. I like it too." 

Saturday, January 06, 2018

That Christmas When

Christmas 2017 was one for the books, and I basically blame it on my little sister. Because apparently, on the way to my parents' place, she said to her husband, "Everyone else seems to have a 'That Christmas When...' story. I don't have one of those."

So, by way of jinx, we now have one. We have That Christmas When Everyone Got Violently Ill.
(All except two of us. I was not one of the lucky two.)

But, I mean, if you're going to catch a stomach bug like the one we caught (which I would actually be more likely to refer to as a stomach piranha, or a stomach crocodile, or a stomach something else that lives in the Amazon and conjures up images of knife-like teeth tearing into one's abdomen, not by way of hyperbole but, rather, accuracy), and you have other people to look after but you can't even look after yourself, what better place to do that than your parents' house? 

I guess it was lovely in its own way.

Plus, we finally got to spend our first night in the Foursquare.

In case you're new here, a quick recap: A couple of years ago, my grandma accidentally purchased an old farmhouse at an auction sale for $500 (full story in this post here). She wasn't in need of an old farmhouse, particularly one that needed so much TLC, so she gave it to my mom and dad as an anniversary present. My parents, who are obsessed with antiques and old houses and hardwood flooring and all that, were delighted, and immediately sold their farm (where they've lived since before I was born). They bought a $500 lot in Frontier, moved the house there, and got to work restoring it—and you can find pictures of that process here.

There is still a lot of work to be done, but they were able to move into the house in September. There are two functional bathrooms, and they just recently got all of the hardwood on the main floor refinished. The living room and dining room are so close to being completed (they just need to install the picture rail around the tops of the rooms), and it's exciting to be able to see their vision for the house more clearly. Next up, they're installing cabinetry in the kitchen. My mom's stoked about that.

Want to see just a couple of before and currentlys? Yes, I know you do.

This is the dining room, looking into the front sitting room.

CURRENTLY: (Again, it's almost finished but there will be a picture rail across the top of the room there where the two different colours of paint meet.)

This is the hallway between the kitchen and dining room, leading to the front entrance.

CURRENTLY: (Not quite an AFTER yet, but it's getting there!)

And another shot of this ridiculously beautiful staircase, for good measure:

I think the next time we go home, I'll be able to snap some pictures of the kitchen (no pressure, mom).

Anyway. As of Thursday, everyone is back to full health. We're back home and being very lounge-y and lazy in the name of Keeping This Bug To Ourselves. How was your Christmas? Very boring and unmemorable, I hope.

Friday, December 29, 2017

The ABCs of 2017

In a few days, it'll be 2018, which is pretty crazy considering I still think of cars made in 2003 as being 'pretty new.' 2017, the year that seemingly began two seconds ago, is coming to a close. Time is weird. And stressful. Like one of those side-scroll video games where the screen moves forward whether you do or not. I hate those.

Anyway, 2017. It was a strange year. I know a lot of people who kind of live on the edge of their seat, expecting the world to end at any second, and in 2017 I became one of them. I just kept thinking, "This has got to be it this time." And then the world wouldn't end and I'd live to see another day and be much more surprised about it than I probably should have been. Every day this year felt exactly like the beginning of every single apocalyptic movie ever made. Some of the days felt like the middle of every single apocalyptic movie ever made. A couple of the days even felt like the beginning of the end of all those movies.

But here we are.

For now.

(I looked out the window in front of me expectantly for a long time after I wrote that. Nothing happened.)

In case I live to see this time next year (or even if I don't), I thought I'd do my 2017 ABCs. I did this last year too, inspired by a few Instagram friends who had done it. It was a fun little challenge, and it was cool this year to go back and read it. You should do one for yourself, even if you don't put it on the internet. Next Year You will thank This Year Me. If Next Year You exists.

A - Agent: I signed with Victoria Cappello at The Bent Agency and we began the process of editing my first novel together. I haven't written about the process since signing, but it has been aaaa-mazing and I can't say enough good things about her and her—as they call it in the book bizz—editorial eye. 

B - Began writing another book. Actually two. My brain is bursting with stuff; it's like the attic of a very old woman who went to too many garage sales back in the day.

C - Ceese got married. I was the maid of honour. Sullivan thought it was his wedding.

D - Donuts! I kind of inadvertently got swept up in the burgeoning #YQRdonutscene. I think I ate more donuts in 2017 than the rest of my life as a whole. And I'm glad.

E - Editing. This needs its own separate point because 2017 was the year I wrote the same book over and over and over, so that in the end it was unrecognizable—in a good way. At points this was insanely tedious and frustrating and overwhelming. Lots of times it was exciting and fun and satisfying. Sometimes it managed to be all of these things at the same time. But the thing that it was most of all, was necessary.

(And it ain't over yet.)

F - Forgot so many people's birthdays. I'm so sorry, everybody. I have the hardest time remembering birthdays. 

G - Got a hand-me-down espresso machine and made a jillion lattes. Drinkin one right now. Thanks, Jason.

H - Hung out with some really great people. 

I - Invested in the stock market! Just kidding; I don't know anything about the stock market.

J - Joined a book club; only finished one of the books on time so far. Will either do better next year or quit.

K - Kept on being a Tourism Regina Ambassador. Highlights included Winterruption, fine dining at The Willow, Regina Restaurant Week, Waskimo, Peter and the Wolf by the RSO, tons of live music, Highland Games, Musical Ride, Queen City Ex, Reginacadabra, Folk Fest, and Pulse Week.

L - Live music: Iskwe, Begonia, Elliott Brood, Fred Penner, Vanilla Ice, Salt n Pepa, Jimmy Eat World, Vertical Horizon, Everclear, Fastball, Bryan Adams, Our Lady Peace, The Zolas, July Talk, Tegan and Sara, Begonia again (I love her), Joe Bonamassa, Hawksley Workman.

M - Magic of Motherhood: The book I wrote with the ladies at C+C was published in April and it did really well. My friends here threw me a surprise book launch at The Artful Dodger because I couldn't attend the one in California and it was so incredibly special.

N - Never left the country once, this whole year. 

O - Often left the city, though.

P - Penpals: Sully and I became penpals with my grandma and grandpa, and it was the best. 

Q - Quick! Skip this letter!

R - Reading nook: We finished building the reading nook in the living room and it's my favourite thing. I have read many a book there already and have already filled all the shelves, which is probably a problem since I still have like 20,000,000 more books to buy.

S - Sullivan turned 3. We had so much fun together this year; it really does get better and better every year. But also, IF ANYONE KNOWS HOW TO STOP TIME PLEASE TELL ME NOW.

T - Three separate trips to the emergency room with Sullivan. He fell off a couch into a coffee table and had to get four stitches just below his eye which has healed into a pretty legit scar, then he fell on a stick and punctured the back of his throat, and then he got some random viral infection in his hip that crippled him for a short time. I hate going to the ER. He does too.

U - 'Unexpected' was The Word of 2017. I didn't go into this year with a lot of expectations, so maybe that was why every single thing that happened surprised the crap out of me. I enjoy surprises, in general, so this is mostly a positive thing, but if 2018 was a tad less surprising, if a few fewer unexpected things happened, I would probably be okay with that. Just, you know, for pacing. 

V - Vindicated. A car drove past me very quickly in 2017, and the people inside sneered at me out the window as they went, because I was driving the speed limit or something. A few seconds later, a cop car with its lights on drove past me very quickly as well. A few seconds after that, even, I passed both the cop car and the first car, parked one in front of the other. 


X - XXX (see Y)

Y - Yup, I turned 30. 

Z - Zoo visits: 0.

Your turn.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Hey! Remember This Great Christmas Playlist?

Hi! Did you think I was dead? I wasn't.

It's December, though, and I don't think I need to explain myself beyond that. Shopping. Partying. Planning. Trying to avoid Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas is You. And, as a card-carrying member of the adult set (the card I am referring to here is my driver's license, which says I am 30 even though I'm certainly not more than 22), all of that is piled on top of all the responsible adult things I was already doing before the Christmas season hit.

I have been extra responsible this year. I know Santa primarily concerns himself with 'naughty' and 'nice,' but maybe there's a bonus points system?

Although, and if you are my friend on Instagram you already know this, I kind of forgot to teach Sullivan about Santa. Like, at all. We saw a Santa Claus at a thing a few weeks ago and he yelled, "Oh hey! Is that a mountie?" And that was when it occurred to me that kids aren't born knowing this stuff, we responsible adults have to lie to them about it first.

So Santa might bypass our house altogether this year. And that's okay, because we just don't have room for more stuff in here. And Sully doesn't even want more toys; he only wants jazz brushes, which Barclay and I are buying for him, so thanks but no thanks, Mountie Santa.


Mostly, the reason I'm dropping in right now is to remind you about the playlist I made last year of really great Christmas songs that are not All I Want For Christmas is You.

I'm listening to it right now, and even added a few new songs this year (I forgot to include Hawksley Workman in last year's version and I feel extra bad about it now because I went and saw him at the Exchange last week and remembered how great and strange his Christmas album is... Thanks for the reminder, Folk Fest).

Someday, I'll have enough really great Christmas songs that are not All I Want For Christmas is You to last a whole Christmas party.

And then I'll have to throw a Christmas party.

And have so many people in my house.

Which I'll have to clean ahead of time.

And clean again afterward.

(Actually maybe I'll just play my playlist quietly to myself. If you do the same at the same time, it's almost like we're partying together. Well aren't we so spunky and fun?)