Microblog Mondays: Library Fines

We use the library a lot.

I largely stopped buying books for myself four or five years ago when it became obvious that books were my latte factor. Beyond the expense there was also the question of storage, particularly as our spare rooms became bedrooms for our children. When I realized just how good our public library system was (almost always has anything I’m interested in and will let me make holds inactive if I’m not ready to read something), it became very hard for me to rationalize purchasing books, although I do still make some exceptions for favourite authors.

I tend to work at our local branch in the afternoon on my work day, and I always pick up a few new readers for E. given he’s now at the stage where his reading confidence is high enough that he’ll sit and read books on his own for fun (!!!!!). I’ll pick up holds for myself if they’re in, and I’ll sometimes even pick a book spontaneously off the shelf, which is something I haven’t done in years. I think it’s partly because of the proximity of the books- sitting for hours next to them makes it impossible not to get intrigued by a title. Mostly, though, it’s because on work days I have the time and space to go upstairs to the adult section.

I often go with E. as well at some point during the week, and sometimes I’ll pop in with P. when we’re out for a walk.

Last year we got E. his own library card after one too many occasions where I couldn’t check anything out because he had so many books out (and my library allows you to have 50 books out at any one time, so that really is saying something). The advantage to doing this is his fines are much cheaper than mine are. The disadvantage, of course, is now I have two library cards to manage and two accounts to track.

The combination of two different accounts and multiple weekly trips has meant that the rolling due dates have finally exceeded my ability to keep track of them all. Even with helpful email reminders two days before something is due I’ve found our fines slowly but surely increasing. I often wait until the last minute to renew a book because I know E. loves it, and if you renew early the new loan period starts from the date you renew and not the date it was originally due. This is a great system unless a) when you go to renew the book you can’t because someone else has put a hold on it (not very likely for E’s books but it does happen) and you don’t have time to get to the library that day, or b) you see the email, delete the email, and forget to renew the books two days later.

I’ve renewed all of E’s books and then forgotten that I had some due on the same day. I’ve missed picking up a hold before it expires (which costs $1). The total of my fines is still relatively small but it irks me because it is a system that SHOULD be free if I manage it correctly.

I try to view the fines as a very small donation to a system that gives my entire family enormous pleasure.

But it still bugs me I can’t quite keep it all under control.

Do you use and love your library as much as I do? Do you have a system that works for keeping track of the books and their due dates?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Books, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Rake

Q. and I have recently started watching an Australian television show on Netflix called Rake, which is set in Sydney and follows a brilliant but deeply flawed barrister. We were tipped off it was available by an English colleague of Q’s who was sick of watching Dr. Who and Sherlock because they’d become too similar and too self-referential.

We’re continuing to slowly work our way through the Dr. Who reboot, but we’ve hit season 8 and I don’t like the new not new anymore but we take so long to watch it he’s new to us Doctor very much and there are still episodes that make it difficult for me to sleep afterwards so it’s good to have an alternative.

Rake is the sort of Aussie television that just cannot be successfully reproduced anywhere else (I gather there is a U.S. version of the show which has been a miserable failure, which doesn’t surprise me in the least). It’s irreverent and lewd and profane and deeply, deeply funny (although it definitely has points where Q. thinks it’s hilarious and I’m finding it to be just too much, which is typical, in my experience, of the difference between Aussie and Canadian humour).

It’s started off with such a flourish I’m a bit worried about where it’s going to go, as most of the other television series we’ve enjoyed watching have clearly dropped in quality (or just outright jumped the shark- Sherlock, I’m looking at you) as their run continued.

At this point, though, it’s fun to have something to look forward to.

What’s the best thing you’re watching right now? Why do you like it so much?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Daily Life, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Cake-tastrophe

E turned six today.

He requested, just like last year, a train cake (although with a few modifications).

I am not what you would call a Pinterest-worthy mama. The train cake last year was a stretch, but it turned out surprisingly well. So I wasn’t too stressed when I woke up this morning and still had to bake and decorate said cake.

By 11:03 a.m. I was sitting on my kitchen floor sobbing because absolutely NOTHING was working with the cake. It stuck in the pan and broke when I tried to get it out; it crumbled whenever I tried to cut it; the icing glued to the crumbed edges and broke them off; the jelly roll sitting on top of a flat slice of cake looked nothing at all like the oil tanker of my imagination.

The cake was completely, utterly, fucked, and I no longer had any time in which I could fix it because I was out of cake mix and out of icing and P. was soon going to wake up from her nap.

And although I knew it was JUST a cake, when E. had woken up that morning he had been disappointed because he had thought that all of his presents would be out and wrapped just like at Christmas and when I’d taken him to school he’d said to me sorrowfully that “this hadn’t been how [he’d] imagined [his] birthday would start” and the thought that I would have to pick him up that afternoon and tell him I hadn’t been able to make him the train cake he wanted, the train cake that he’d picked the decorations for when he went with me to Bulk Barn, the train cake that he’d asked for months ago, just broke my heart.

So I sat on my floor and cried.

And then I called in the cavalry.

My youngest sister turned up with a slab cake and more icing (AND helium balloons including a giant silver E) and my mother turned up with one of those icing nozzle things and together we fixed the cake.

And E. loved it (except for the fact that I directed my mother to put the boiler too far away from the cab of the steam locomotive).

Some days it really does take a village.

What was your worst baking disaster? Were you able to fix it?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), E.- the sixth year, Family, Microblog Mondays

Microblog Mondays: Pink

A couple of days ago I called E. over to look at a prospective sun hat on the computer (because who has time to go to a store in person?). E. badly needed a new hat, not only because he’d just lost his current one at school, but also because that hat was getting too small for him, and although he’d repeatedly said he wanted a new hat that was “exactly the same as the old hat!”, I’d several years ago only purchased said hat in small and medium, not large, and now the store no longer made it.

The potential new hat was from the same store, but in a different style. E. came over, looked at it, pronounced it a good hat, and then said, “Oh, and look, it comes in pink too!”

“Do you want to get it in pink?” I asked.

“Yes, please,” E. said immediately. “Navy really isn’t my style.”

I ordered the pink hat with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

E. loves pink: he will tell anyone who asks that it’s his second favourite colour because “pink is closest to red!”

Thus far, E. has remained blessedly oblivious to the gendered associations of pink (even though he frequently comes home from school and tells me that something is a “boy movie” or a “girl book”). At a birthday party in January he picked out the last pink balloon when it was his turn and seemed genuinely perplexed when the girl behind him challenged him on his choice (she had clearly assumed that that balloon was hers because she was the next girl in line).

But he is about to turn six, and I know someday soon he will be told he shouldn’t be wearing his pink hat or his pink, orange, and red leggings, that he shouldn’t choose the pink balloon. It will come from his peers or (worse) from adults in the community. I don’t know when it will happen, but I know it is going to.

I hope he is strong enough to ignore the naysayers.

It breaks my heart that he’s going to have to defend his choice, that he’s not going to be allowed to just be a kid wearing a hat.

Do boys wear pink where you live?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under Brave New (School) World, E.- the sixth year, Microblog Mondays

Life Tetris

I’ve always liked how Karen uses the term Life Tetris whenever she posts about trying to balance everything that is going on, so I’ve freely borrowed that from her while also mixing my metaphors, because I still think in terms of juggling.

Balls I’m Still Keeping In The Air:

  • Being a Good Daughter (in that I’m still researching potential new apartments for my mother and have arranged to go and see some of them with her when she is here next week [scratch that, Mum hasn’t been able to come yet because she is being a Good Daughter and looking after her mother who possibly has pneumonia] and I’ve been making contacts with Airbnb hosts to find out if their “wheelchair accessible” rental will actually allow my father to come and visit for an afternoon if we stay there)
  • The garden (in that I’ve weeded the front to within an inch of its life, so I probably have four days before I start to feel like it’s getting out of control again; the beds in the side yard still need attention are all tidied up too)
  • The car (in that I called to make the appointment to get its winter tires taken off after Q. didn’t manage to find the time to do it for six days in a row)
  • The back/side yard landscaping project (we wanted to do this last summer but 2016 happened. I have spent hours over the last three weeks researching potential contractors, meeting with them, getting quotes, clarifying quotes, comparing quotes, negotiating, asking questions, etc., and I finally made the decision to go with the same company who did the original landscaping in the front (which makes me feel like I’ve wasted all of those hours but if we’d just gone with them again we wouldn’t have felt confident it was the right decision as they are mainly landscapers and a big chunk of the project is converting an asphalt parking pad to interlocking brick))
  • Buying groceries
  • Doing laundry (including all of P’s latest hand-me-downs which appeared on our porch over the weekend)
  • Remembering we have a cat
  • Organizing car seats for our upcoming trip down under
  • Organizing E’s birthday and birthday party for friends
  • Keeping our main floor safe for P to explore (this is a constantly moving target at the moment as she keeps learning how to do new things (I can climb stairs! I can reach tables! I can haz keys!))
  • School forms, permission slips, and classroom requests (E has a centipede, an unidentified grub, and a June beetle larva in a jar to take in to school tomorrow after his teacher asked for “little critters your kids find” and he helped me weed the garden)
  • Managing the household finances (I even did our taxes really early this year)
  • Being a Good Mum and a Good Spouse (I debated whether or not to write this down. Was it self-evident? Was it presumptuous? I am not perfect but on balance I think I am doing ok.)

Balls I’ve Dropped:

  • Getting ready for warmer weather (we had a fluke hot day last week which made me realize that I have no idea whether P has any spring/summer clothes at all as I gave most of her current size away to an Australian cousin in 2012 and I need to completely reorganize the bins downstairs to figure out what she has for 12-18 and 18-24 months; also I think this year we probably have to admit that E should not still be wearing his size 3T shorts even if he can get them on; I did order sunglasses for both kids (E broke his last year; his baby pair we gave away a couple of years ago) and sunhats for E (he lost his only hat at school last week, which is incredibly unusual for him, but he needed new ones anyway as he’d been wearing it for two years and it was getting small))
  • Cottage vacation in August (I have not booked a cottage; our usual rental company has no suitable cottages for our current phase of life (read: probably newly walking toddler) available when we’re available because I should have done this in January
  • Mulch (we swore last year we would never again go a year without ordering and spreading mulch…)
  • The front railing (it is rusting and needs to be stripped and repainted)
  • The front door (our storm door gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago and Q. has done the work to determine he won’t be able to easily fix it, which raises the issue of whether we even want a storm door or whether we should buy a new properly insulated front door; this is a decision I don’t have the bandwidth for at the moment)
  • Getting the ducts and the windows cleaned (looooonnng overdue; I want to finally get them organized and done while Q. is away as a surprise)
  • Cleaning the house (we vacuum and clean the bathrooms every week but any aspect of “deep cleaning” (washing baseboards and kitchen cupboards, cleaning the stove (and behind the stove), washing walls and floors, dusting) is, let’s face it, never going to happen
  • Looking after me (see previous post re: exercise, hair cut, dentist)
  • A joint birthday party for P and E for family (There is one weekend between early May and late June where we’re not out of town, hosting relatives, or organizing some other event like E’s friend party. I put this in the too-hard basket. We will make P. a cupcake on her birthday and sing to her, but it will just be the four of us #secondchildproblems)

Balls That Are About To Be Added:

  • E needs 15-20 minutes a day spent working on various activities that will make printing easier for him by the time he starts Grade 1 in the fall (which means I need to organize what I need for all the activities and plan out how we will approach each day, etc.)
  • It’s May tomorrow, which means I really need to start writing my chapter for the edited volume
  • I’m sure there are more but Q. left yesterday for an overseas conference and today I took both kids on a major excursion to help make up for the fact that my Mum hasn’t been able to come and E. is bitterly disappointed and my brain is just fried.

I have always been busy, but the single biggest difference I’ve noticed from going from one kid to two is how unrelentingly out of control I always feel. It’s not even that P’s arrival has increased the life admin by that much (yes, there’s more laundry, and yes, I have more bins to sort through when the weather changes, and more doctor’s appointments, etc., but it doesn’t seem especially onerous), more that the amount of time I now have in which I can tackle life admin has shrunk.

When I feel that my life is getting messy, I get anxious. But you can never cross off everything that *should* get done on your list.

Muddle through. One day at a time.

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Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood)

Tipping Point

I am hitting a wall over here.

  • P cut back her nursing about a month ago and I immediately gained a bunch of weight. It’s not a large amount in the grand scheme of things but it’s enough that some of my clothes don’t fit as well as they should. I have an equilibrium weight that my body likes to sit at and I’ve strayed far enough away from it now that I feel even more sluggish and tired than I would from the sleep deprivation alone.
  • The last time I had my hair cut was back in August, a “get ready for the funeral” haircut. That was also the last time I had my eyebrows tidied up.
  • I have yet to do any form of exercise beyond chasing my children around and walking E. to and from school.
  • I need to go to the dentist. I normally go every three months because my gums are problematic but my long-time hygienist had a baby in February and is on maternity leave and I haven’t made the phone call to change to the dentist closer to our house where both Q. and E. go. I also can’t remember when I last had x-rays done and I’m worried my teeth are full of cavities because P. sucked out all the calcium.
  • I started eating dairy again because P. seems to be able to tolerate it in my diet now and as soon as I had any real milk my face broke out. This coincided with the drop in nursing and the weight gain so there might be a larger hormonal shift happening as well.
  • It’s really starting to be spring outside which means I’m not swathed in my usual winter jacket and sometimes P. is eating sand on the ground at the park which means I don’t have her in the carrier, and I need to stop turning up in ancient yoga pants and an ill-fitting sweater (especially since the last time I did that we ran into E’s best friend and ended up having a spontaneous pizza dinner at their house with two other kids and their mothers, whom I’d never met before, and who were appropriately dressed in skinny jeans and flattering tops and cardigans).

I don’t feel good about myself.

I feel fat and ugly and tired and old (and really, only one of those is true).

I hit the same wall with E. at about the same point. There’s something about the nine month mark, where you realize that your baby has now been out of your body for longer than s/he was ever inside and that s/he’s closing in fast on that first birthday, that makes me take a step back out of the chaos and take a good, hard look at myself. (And yes, P. is ten months now, but this post has been percolating for a few weeks. See the above comment about chaos.)

With E. I joined a boot camp with two of my mum friends.

Right now I’m just desperate to make some time to run. I want to start the Couch to 5K (again, sigh). I know I need to start from the very beginning.

I miss running. It is good for my body, obviously, but it’s also really good for my mind. Nothing else has ever helped as much to manage my anxiety.

I need three sessions a week.

One can be on Friday afternoons when Q. takes the kids.

One can be on Sundays at some time that works.

And then the third needs to fall on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Mornings are out. P. is totally unpredictable with when she wakes up (except this week it’s been 5:30 a.m. or thereabouts every morning, which is really getting tiresome).

Daytime is out, as I sold the jogging stroller I bought (and NEVER USED) when E. was a baby.

But it’s light enough now that I think I could get P. to bed at 6:30 p.m. and then go for a run while E. and Q. were eating dinner. I’d have to eat dinner after them, and Q. would need to put E. to bed that night (it’s not that he would mind, more that we’re in a rut where E. fights tooth and nail if his father does anything- he wants me to do it all), but it could work.

I need to make some space for me.

Anyone else in the same boat?


Filed under Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Choose Happiness, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), Running

Microblog Mondays: Parental Limits

Since I last posted about them, E. has lost both of his top front teeth.

His smile has changed irrevocably, as I knew it would, but it is still adorable.

And I’ve found one of my limits as a parent.

It turns out I can handle vomit, poop, wee, blood, bumps and bruises and fevers, but I cannot pull out a tooth when asked.

I’m not sure if it’s the thought of physically pulling the tooth out, or the fear that I would fail to pull it out and hurt E., or what, but even the idea of it makes me feel like someone’s running their nails down a chalkboard.

Luckily Q. isn’t remotely squeamish about such things. He pulled out the first one a couple of weeks ago at E’s request and pulled out the other one last night at dinner when it was flapping back and forth as E was trying to eat a hamburger.

Q. was quick and professional.

E. was brave.

And I tried not to shriek EEEEEEWWWWWWWWWW!

Do you have a surprising limit (as a parent or elsewhere in your life)? If so, do you have a partner, other relative, or friend who can step in when needed?

This post is part of #MicroblogMondays. To read the inaugural post and find out how you can participate, click here.


Filed under E.- the sixth year, Microblog Mondays