Thursday, May 31, 2012

girl talk

{little girls in pretty boxes}

Tonight as Violet stood up in the bath to get out she looked at me and said, "I have a big fat belly". She didn't appear to be bothered by the size of her middle, rather she was simply stating a fact. She smiled sweetly as I wrapped her in a towel. I paused, quickly wracking my brain, is this a self-esteem thing? Did someone call her fat? I could feel my heart in my chest. She is half-a-step past being a baby,  I said to myself, there is no way she is cognizant of her weight. I am totally reading into this, deep breath. I gave her an extra big squeeze and told her she was strong and beautiful. She smiled and said, "I know". Maybe I needn't have worried about her self-esteem.

Remember when I said how fun it was to have a daughter...this is the not so fun part (although I know boy's can have issues with weight too). It is hard finding a balance between promoting healthy living (eating well and moving around) and allowing a kid to be a kid (moon mist ice-cream comes to mind). It is especially difficult because I am torn between the two myself; doesn't everyone want to be healthy and enjoy their life too? Just because I am a mum doesn't mean I am not susceptible to pressures about appearance. It is hard to teach someone about having good body image when you feel pressure in that area yourself. I doubt I am alone here.

Even though I am pretty sure Violet's comment was totally benign it made me feel so protective of her. I don't want her to have to care or even know about things like her weight. I want her to love herself and be proud of her accomplishments. I try to compliment her on things other than her appearance, but I catch myself saying, "you are so cute" or "don't you look pretty".

Maybe all I can do is to try to show Violet that I love myself, and that I am proud of my accomplishments. Kids are pretty smart though. I think they can tell if you are being honest, which is too bad really because actually loving yourself and really being proud of your accomplishments is sometimes hard -- even if you are amazing!



Tuesday, May 29, 2012

footballer's mother

{"this jersey is clearly too big and I am freezing"}
It was less than 10 degrees in Halifax tonight. Awesome for three and four year olds who want to place soccer... Actually, it was the parents who really suffered, at least the kiddos were running around!

I can't write as affectionately about soccer as I can about dance class. I played soccer as a kid so I don't have to live this one through Vi. (My friend Aja will tell you I played on a remedial team, but I was blissfully unaware of that fact at the time, although the revelation certainly stung in high school!) Even though I can't wax poetic about my experience as a soccer mom I am happy Violet is going to be playing her first official team sport, and I love the idea of Tuesday evenings spent running around outside. I love the idea of a tuckered out girl falling into bed without an epic battle for one more story if the truth is to be told.

Side note: I hope that next week Violet doesn't have to wear two jackets under her uniform. Although if it looks that big with two jackets underneath we will be in full blown caftan territory next week!

Violet warmed up both literally and metaphorically as the night went on. By the end she was screaming, "I can kick faster than you" as she ran around the field. I am not sure speed of kicking is anything to be proud of, but she was feeling pretty good about it!

We wrapped up the evening with a quick trip to Dee Dees -- Violet had mint chocolate chip (mean mummy said no to the real thing) and Jeff had the maple walnut -- holy hannah. Get down to Dee Dees and try it. So good. So so good.

I am off to take a warm bath, my toes are still cold and my bed is singing a siren song.



{so she is capable of listening}

{only in Canada would one have to wear two jackets to play soccer at the end of May}

{ice cream night cap}

Monday, May 28, 2012

tired of the high road

{worth it}

It is not fair.

I hear a lot of that from a certain someone in my life.

Tonight I kind of get what she means.

You know when you want to yell, and point out that none of this is your fault, and that you did everything you could and that despite how terribly you have been treated you always took the high road? You know when your cheeks get flushed because what you really want to say is, I don't have to be this nice, you know; I could make this much worse for you, you know; you are lucky I am even willing to answer this call, you know? You know those times when insults are applicable, but the person who deserves them is just so sad, and it makes you sad too instead of angry? You know the feeling deep in your stomach that maybe everything will not be okay? Those times really suck. I can't think of a more poetic way to say it.

And so I've asked for the strength to be gracious when I really don't want to be gracious anymore -- the strength to be gracious when I'd rather use the f-word.

Tonight I am especially grateful to be able to tuck my sweet girl into bed. I am equally grateful to tuck myself into bed with the latest Mad Men and my sweet husband.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

a little taste of heaven

church dress
pain au chocolat
sun kissed cheeks
tanned hands
dirty blonde ringlets
grassy lawn
ocean breeze



Saturday, May 26, 2012

green thumb

{Mary, Mary quite contrary}

I think I've mentioned that contrary to this post's title I do not have a green thumb. I love other people's gardens, and I'd like to have a nice outdoor space I just don't have the skill or knowledge, nor the inclination to spend the time to make that happen. But, I am taking baby steps. I've kept herbs alive for a few months now, and I have a few house plants that have made it through the whole winter (okay, they are succulents and orchids -- not the hardest things to keep alive, but still progress).

This morning at the market I was inspired by all of the beautiful flowers for sale. We decided to spruce up our front steps with a couple of planters. I thought that potted plants would be a good place to start, before I consider what to do with our actual garden. The pots look a little sparse, but I love the light green, pink and white colour combination and I think they will fill out over the summer. Am I right?

It was fun digging in the dirt for a while. It is surprising how much of a difference a little colour can make to an entryway. It was an overcast day here in Halifax, but it ended beautifully with suppertime sunshine -- just what my little plants need!

Our backyard is an issue for another day. I don't know how to approach it. It is very shaded, rocky and is about 60% grass/ 40% dirt. We don't own our place, but I'd love to make the yard more useable while we are here. Any suggestions?

Have a great Saturday!


{my first outdoor potted plant}

{a girl after my own heart -- telling a joke...}
{...and then laughing harder than anyone else!}

Thursday, May 24, 2012

one ingredient ice-cream

{an instant summer classic}
When I heard about one ingredient ice-cream I was skeptical. When I heard that bananas were the one ingredient I thought, yeah right. Well I am eating crow tonight ladies and gentleman -- that is, I will eat crow once I finish my bowl of delicious frozen banana ice-cream. I literally cannot believe it.

Let me back-track a little, my friend Jackie shared a recipe with me that uses frozen bananas to make a one ingredient ice-cream. All you need are four frozen bananas and a food processor. I was still wary, but I thought what do I have to lose -- four overripe bananas, I can handle that. Don't get me wrong I like bananas, but I don't love them. Like many people, I eat them mostly because I know they are good for me.

My parents came over for a quick weeknight dinner tonight and I decided to test out the banana ice-cream on them. This morning before work I quickly cut up four ripe bananas into thick slices and tossed them in the freezer. After dinner I popped the frozen banana slices into the food processor and waited. Low and behold after a minute or two the bananas started to look like ice-cream.

The recipe I was forwarded mentioned that you could eat the ice-cream as it is, with only bananas or you could add a little peanut butter and/or cocoa powder. I tried the banana ice cream without anything in it and it was delicious. It has the texture of a frozen cream pie. It was smooth and deliciously creamy. I decided to add a generous tablespoon of almond butter to the bananas for good measure. Oh my word it was delicious. I definitely think it was better with the almond butter, but I would eat it either way. I am excited to add cocoa next time (though I could hardly call it one-ingredient ice-cream at that point could I?)

I think this is something you have to taste to believe, so I'll give you the "recipe".

This is what I did (and what I will be doing again repeatedly all summer):

1. Chop four ripe bananas into 2 cm slices. Put them in the freezer in a ziplock bag.

2. Let the bananas freeze (I left mine in the freezer all day)

3. Put the frozen bananas in a food processor and whiz -- it takes a few minutes so don't be discouraged if the mixture doesn't look like ice-cream right away

4. Once the mixture is smooth (it looks like soft serve) add a heaping tablespoon of almond butter, but only if you want to take it to the next level, you could just eat the banana only ice-cream. It would make you happy too.

5. If you chose to add the almond butter, whiz until it is integrated.

6. Serve any way you enjoy ice-cream. It might be a little soft for a cone, but perhaps if you put the mixture back in the freezer it would firm up a bit (I'll test this and let you know).

So, you absolutely must try this. Go get bananas right now while you are thinking about it. It is so cussing delicious, I just know you'll love it.

Thank you Jackie for the recipe and you are welcome everyone who is reading this. This is a life changing moment for you (see Exhibit A). Healthy, easy, inexpensive ice-cream. Yep, that just happened.



Exhibit A:

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Jane Austen moment

{Marianne Dashwood & Willoughby -- obviously}
Today as I walked home from work a light mist was falling. Unlike my walk to work, where I hid under a rain jacket and a broken umbrella, on my way home I let the light mist hit my face. It felt good. I spent all day cooped up inside with my back to the window; it was so nice to feel the cool water on my cheeks.

As I walked home I pictured Marianne Dashwood (of Sense and Sensibility fame) walking in the hills of Southern England, her hair curly from the rain, her cheeks flushed from exertion. I'm no fool, I know I don't look like Kate Winslet (or the beautiful Charity Wakefield pictured above), but the thought did cross my mind that I must look so healthy and possibly even Victorian as I walked home through the mist. The thought gave me an extra spring in my step, I smiled at everyone I passed. Walking home is the best, I thought to myself. I always say I wish I lived a more European lifestyle and now look at me, walking home, despite the crummy weather. I could live in Southern England or Denmark. The rain had nothing on Ms. Dashwood and it has nothing on me I thought.

But then, as I approached my house, I saw my reflection in the screen door. I stopped dead in my tracks. Instead of the Marianne Dashwood-esque figure I expected to see I saw frizzy hair, smudged mascara and sweaty cheeks. It is a bizarre feeling to be shocked by your own reflection. Emily, you have officially lost touch with reality I thought, then I laughed to myself. What was I thinking!

I wiped under my eyes, smoothed my hair down with my hands and blotted my cheeks with my sleeve -- a minor improvement, but I was still no Winslet.

No more period dramas for me for a while!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

always be prepared

Before I had Violet the phrase witching hour evoked images of cheesy horror movies, or maybe a certain Roald Dalh novel. I wish! Bring on the fake blood and witch conventions, I can handle them. What I can't handle is the horror of the five o'clock hour when Violet's blood sugar is plummeting and my blood pressure is skyrocketing -- not a good combination. Last week I got lots of great advice about how to avoid pre-dinner meltdowns and tantrums (let alone addressing Violet's behaviour). Smoothies came highly recommended and since we had a fridge full of fruit and a plan to head out of town, the timing seemed right.

My friend recommended this recipe she found online. Now this is a healthy smoothie my friends-- just fruits and veg (and a little ground flax for good measure). It was really yummy, but I made the cardinal mistake of telling Jeffrey that it contained spinach. He just couldn't get over it. You honestly cannot taste the greens, you can't even see them for that matter, but he knew they were there and he couldn't cope. He thought it had a "spinach aftertaste". I'll be doing blind taste tests in the near future to test this hypothesis (watch your glass Pond). Needless to say I drank a lot of smoothie that day.

Despite my husband's lacklustre response, I don't consider the endeavour a total waste of time. Violet doesn't have the same aversion to drinking leafy greens that Jeff does so she was happy to have a small smoothie, better than a day's worth of sodium packed into a fish the size of a thumbnail I suppose. Even if I am the only one who really gets into the whole smoothie thing, I think I'll still try to make them. Hey, a smoothie is a better snack than three blue Quality Street chocolates leftover from Christmas -- you know the coconut ones no one eats until they are really hungry after work in May (a recent personal low).

Baby steps...



Monday, May 21, 2012

Anne's Land

{daddy-daughter soft-serve}

There is something special about PEI. Every time I am there I ask myself why I don't make it over more often. This weekend the beauty of the island was enhanced by perfect weather. It was hot. Hot! In PEI, in May -- that is unheard of. We had the most relaxing visit you could hope for with a three year old in tow. 

Jeff went out fishing with a second cousin -- everyone is a second cousin in Murray Harbour (home of Brad Richards, but more importantly home of the Harris clan). He had the time of his life and brought back lunch to boot:

{we like our lobster cold}

{with potato salad of course}
This weekend my grandfather said to me, "when people look around Murray Harbour they see houses, but I see history." He was born and raised there, and he and a few of his brother's still call it home. I can see why they wanted to stay: 

{water like glass}

{not a bad day to be a lobster fisherman}

{home of the world's best clam strips -- or at least Murray Harbour's best}

{the apple blossom's were just coming out in town}
We spent the weekend reading (I started and almost finished The Corrections - finally, and on the recommendation of a friend - Jonathan Franzen is a man who can write); playing at the beach; and of course eating lots of food made by my grandparents and served in Midwestern proportions. I think a cleanse is in order.

{Uncle David's beach}

{not so little girl}


{Violet and her papa -- she looks like a little fairy}
I can honestly say I feel really relaxed, I still feel the red sand between my toes -- I am ready for a four day week. Gosh, I love long weekends. We need one every month, no?



Thursday, May 17, 2012

someone isn't three years older than her husband anymore

{birthday milkshake}
It is Jeffrey's birthday tomorrow and since we will be en route to PEI we decided to celebrate a little early. Violet and I met him for supper at the recently opened Chicken Burger in Halifax. (As a side note, now that we have Chicken Burger and Two if By Sea right in Halifax, this little family may never leave the city!) We had fish and chips on the brain, but much to our chagrin they were out of fish (that would never happen in Bedford would it Ames?). 

{it's my party, I can cry if I want to}
We had to settle for this:

Sorry arteries, good thing birthdays are only once a year.

We'll continue the birthday celebration into the long weekend. Violet was very perturbed none of Jeff's friends joined us for dinner tonight. A party without friends...what gives? 

I love three day weekends, and I can't wait to be on the island (did you know I am an Islander? Yup, if you were born on the island you are an islander, if you lived there all your life, but weren't born there you don't get the same status. Not sure what this status does for you, but I know it exists and I know I have it!)

I hope you all have a lovely long weekend. Here's to four sunny days in a row. Wouldn't that be something.



{for someone who takes a lot of pictures, I don't look impressed being on this side of the camera}

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

throwing out the baby with the bath water - opps!

{chez Violette}

Last night after work I was rushing around trying to make supper while cleaning up the mess from breakfast and thinking about what I needed to do for the rest of the night -- you know the usual weeknight routine (yes I realize this is only day three for me). Violet was in her room and she kept asking me to come in and see her. I kept telling her I'd be there in a minute -- I just had to chop one more thing, then put out the napkins and then clean my coffee mug from breakfast. One thing kept turning into another. Each time VIolet would call my name I'd feel a little guilty, but I reassured myself I was doing all of this for her. She needs a healthy supper, and a clean home and a brightly coloured, perfectly folded napkin?

When I finally pulled myself away from the to-do list (that only I cared about) and poked my head into  Vi's bedroom she asked me, "would you like to join my tea party mummy?" It struck me that maybe I was missing the whole point of this being a mum thing. Violet doesn't care if the sink has a few dishes in it, she certainly doesn't notice how I set the table, and though I do think it is important to prepare healthy meals, she is strong and meeting all her growth targets and I'm sure one night of eating something "prepared" wouldn't kill her. What Violet really wanted was for her mum to sit down and play with her. I'm embarrassed to admit that I don't always stop and do that. I get caught up doing things "for Violet" and I forget to actually be present when I am with her.

I thought about this, then I ran and got my camera, because the picnic she had set up was so cute. Old habits die hard. Then I remembered my whole live in the moment, take time to hang out with your child thing and I put the camera down. It felt nice to sit and play.



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I miss my house husband!

{bye bye delicious weekday breakfasts}
Day two of Jeff's new job: I miss my house husband!

Those of you who know me will undoubtedly call my bluff -- I always have cereal for breakfast. Not even those delicious waffles with fresh berries and whipped cream can entice me before 8:00 am. Jeff whipped these up for he and Violet one morning last week. It is not the waffles that I will miss, it is the lazy mornings that I will fantasize about from now until retirement I'm sure.

I should say, in all seriousness, that I am so so so happy Jeff got a job that he really likes, in his field, in Halifax. That could be the end of this post. It really sums up how I feel, but even good changes come with an adjustment period and I am adjusting to our new pace of life. We all are. Most of the changes are good, some are great...having to think about someone else needing hot water in the morning -- not so fun.

I think in a weird way I have been spoiled having Jeff home a lot this past year. FIrst of all it has been a great way for him to grow even closer with Violet. Second I had a sweet husband who was very available, which was awesome. If I needed a drive, he was there. He almost always got supper started (and often finished it and cleaned up). He even cleaned the bathroom joke. I got a good one. It is not like Jeff will abandon all domestic responsibilities now that he is working full time, not at all, he just won't be so available to help whenever it suits me...which is an adjustment!

One thing I am finding challenging about our new routine is figuring out what to feed VIolet when we get home from work/ her school at 5:00. You see our supper won't be ready for at least an hour and she is hungry from an afternoon running around. She hasn't been sold on having a banana or an apple and I don't want to fill her up before dinner (her suggestion is always fishies, but they are so salty and I worry she won't eat real food at supper). Any suggestions? I was thinking maybe smoothies?

I am so proud of Jeff. He waited a long time for a job, and I can see how happy he is. We'll adjust to this new pace of life. It will just take a little time.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Run Forrest Run

3.  Run a marathon. I've run two marathons before. Once I didn't train (naivety and age were on my side) and once I did. I felt worse when I did. I would love to qualify for Boston someday. That is one nice thing about getting older, the qualifying times will only increase. Cheers to Boston at forty?

My legs hurt! 

I am some kind of sore today, but it is worth it because I had a great race and an even better weekend. If you had asked me about the weekend last night, before I laid my tired bones in a warm bath, I might not have had the same opinion. Marathons are hard! I think I am more of a "half girl" at heart. 

As an added bonus I can check another thing off my "to do before I turn thirty" list. I feel a little guilty because I had it in the back of my mind that I might run a marathon this Spring when I made my list. I'll consider a 26 mile race my freebie ;)

Thanks so much for all the advice about the whole taking Violet to Fredericton vs. dancing thing. It was really fun and she never mentioned dancing once. I think she is totally oblivious to the fact she missed the recital, which makes me feel better. She had a great weekend and she has decided she wants to go on a "roadie" every week. 

The weekend flew by. Fredericton is such a pretty city, I haven't really spent much time there, but I get the impression it is a seriously underrated town. The marathon course was gorgeous; it was mostly on a trail along a river, it was way nicer than any running trail I've been on in Halifax. The UNB campus is really pretty, I got a great view of it on the run. Best of all I got to catch up with one of my oldest friends who happily hasn't changed one iota. 

Of course Ms. Violet kept us entertained the whole time, here are a few of my favourite Violet moments:

  • Literally thirty seconds into the car ride (for those of you who know where I live, we hadn't even hit North street) Violet looked at Laura and said, "are we almost there". I didn't know kids actually said that. I thought it was a bad sitcom joke...
  • When we got to the hotel Violet jumped on the bed, lay on her back and said, "I love living in a hotel Nana." A girl after my own heart. 
  • When I promised Violet a swim in the hotel pool I envisioned the four of us girls playing in an empty pool. That is not quite how the evening unfolded. Unfortunately for us the pool was full of teenagers -- too many hormones, too little common sense for my liking (e.g., cannonballing right next to a toddler). There were no adults in the pool. My mum and sister got cold feet and cheered Violet and I on from the deck. As we all know, Violet can't swim so I got cold everything. Isn't it the worst when you are only half in the water and people splash you? I definitely gave a few "Harris double-whammies" to those who dared to get close. Holy fun vacuum! Wait, this is a list of my favourite memories...the cute little story that came out of this incident was when Violet sat on the top step that led into the pool, in barely two inches of water, petrified to take another step, anyway, she got pretty comfortable on that top step, eventually she splashed and squealed with delight. After a few minutes she looked at me and said without any irony, "I wish my dad could see me now" like she had just one an Olympic gold medal. She was so proud of herself. We really need to get to the pool more often!
  • On our way home we stopped at a farmer's market. Violet asked me if she could get something to take home for her daddy. The market had lots of delicious looking baked goods that I knew Jeff would like so I said sure. Violet walked around, thinking about what Jeff would like, then she spotted the Babybel cheese -- you know those little round cheeses covered in red wax. She choose a gouda round for him. The cheese had a huge orange sticker on it that said "99 cents". She told me, "I just love that sticker"...She held on to that cheese the rest of the way home, just itching to give it to him. Gross and hilarious, but what a little sweetheart.
I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I wish I did (none of my mum and I on mother's day), but I'll leave you with a few.

What did you get up to this weekend?



{and we're off!}

{moon mist anyone?}
{a muffin or an apple...difficult decision}
{the morning of the big race, looking dorky and nervous}

{my biggest little fan, after the race}
{my friend Leah came out to cheer me on, it was so nice to see her sweet face}

Thursday, May 10, 2012


{Halifax's own babydecks}

Imagine my delight when I arrived at the East Coast Momma's spring fair and I saw my friend Lisa selling these awesome, custom painted skateboards for babies -- I knew I wanted one for Violet's room and I am thrilled with how it looks. I don't know if it is because this is Violet's first time in her own room, but I just can't help picking up little things to brighten her space. It is easy to justify  purchases when you know you are supporting local business, better still when the business is run by a friend! 

Lisa has lots of different patterns to choose from on her facebook page. I love ours of course, but I also love the one with the peacock feather and the one with the tall ships. I think a nautical theme would be perfect for either a little boy or a little girl who live near the sea. 

What do you think about where I hung the baby deck? Is there too much going on in that corner? I'd love to hear what you think.



{VP's bedroom}

rain rain go away

{Oh, I'm a little teapot short and stout}

{here is my handle, here is my spout}

{when I get all steamed up hear me shout, tip me over and pour me out!}

It has been a rainy week so far and it always surprises me just how quickly we can go shack-whacky. I normally take Violet up the street to the playground after supper to run out any lingering energy before bed. When this routine is removed from the equation we are left with an antsy little girl with energy to spare.

Enter the nursery rhyme.

My parent's recently gave us a pile of books that belonged to me when I was little. Among them was a nursery rhyme anthology. One night about a month ago I picked the book up, I didn't think Violet would like as much as the books about dancing she has been into lately. I was wrong. She absolutely loves the simple rhymes. It is so cute hearing her repeat them, and kind of impressive that she has so many memorized. 

A few of the nursery rhymes are downright offensive (e.g., Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater keeps his wife in a pumpkin shell), while others are just bizarre (why would a butcher, a baker and candlestick maker be in the tub together?), but I think the lessons Violet learns about language and how it works make them worth reading nonetheless. 

So after supper last night, instead of going to the park, Violet ran around our apartment squealing nursery rhymes. I sure do hope the sun comes back soon.



Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Let the wild rumpus start

How much did you love the book, Where the Wild Things Are when you were little? If you ever made mischief of one kind or another, I bet you loved it as much as I did. Writing about the dark side of childhood takes courage and sensitivity and author Maurice Sendak, who died today, was a pro.

Being a kid isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It isn't fun always being told what to do, and how and when to do it. Kids get angry; sometimes that isn't a bad thing. I think that is why Where the Wild Things Are captured the imaginations of so many generations of kids. Max is every kid. No, Max is every kid only more badass. Max is for children what Holden Caulfield is for adolescents; he stands up for kids in a world ruled by boring adults. He has his imagination and parents can't take that away with rules and time outs.

When Violet is acting particularly Max-ishly I will try to remember what it is like to be a kid. I just hope that when she gets to where the wild things are she is reminded of home and makes it back while dinner is still hot. I also hope that no matter how many time outs she has and no matter how many "privileges" she loses, she keeps a little of her Max-ish spunk and a lot of her Max-ish imagination.

Read Where the Wild Things Are today if you can get your paws on it.



Monday, May 7, 2012

a little perspective

{"there are so many beautiful yellow flowers!"}
After a night full of puke and a long day spent at a desk, it was refreshing to hear a three year old marvel at the wonders of a field of dandelions. I looked around and saw a lot of weeds (and a lot of potential stains for that matter). Violet looked around and saw a whole field of beautiful yellow flowers, better still, flowers that she was allowed to pick.

Violet immediately thought about her papa and how much he would like some freshly picked dandelions. I think she was probably spot on; my dad would like anything Violet gave him and he is a lover of all things Spring.

It is refreshing seeing things through the eyes of a three year old.

I should qualify that, it is refreshing seeing things through the eyes of a three year old who is behaving. I think Violet spends a fair bit of her time seeing red, the world doesn't need any more of that!

Here's to fresh perspectives and good nights sleeps for all.



{Vi on a mission: operation dandelion}
{for some reason Violet reminds me of Meryl Streep in this photo - do you see it?}