Waking Our Summer Garden

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Toronto isn’t really known for exceptionally good weather.  On the contrary our Winters are long and they seem to never quite want to end. We have about four months of good weather to plant, grow and enjoy our garden.  I think planting season, or planting weekend as we call it, is Michael’s favourite time of year.

I help of course, but Michael is really the planner behind our yearly garden.  My input usually is pretty minimal and limited to what veggies and herbs we want, but the actual design and build process is all him.  This year he researched vertical planting and ways we can maximize our incredibly tiny amount of space.  He decided we should grid our boxes into square feet because it would give us a better idea just how many of each vegetable or herb we could fit into one square.  He also settled on a cylinder made out of chicken wire to try growing beans vertically, and a spud box so we can try growing potatoes! yey!

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The long weekend that just passed was the perfect time for us to do our planting. I should add though, that prepping the soil of the beds took place about a month ago.  We mixed and filled in the boxes, weeded and broke up the soil well in advance.  The actual planting though, that we did over the weekend.

In total we planted over 30 different varieties of herbs and vegetables.  Lettuces, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cilantro, parsley, thyme, chives, kale, arugula, beets, radishes, carrots, pumpkin, zucchini, cucumber and eggplant. We made notes of what squares contain what plants to help us plan out next year’s garden. For the vegetables that are the most sensitive to cold, Michael built sort of tent greenhouse which we can take off later. It has an opening so we can water and give them fresh air during the warmer days but they get covered up at night.  The peppers and cucumbers are especially sensitive and we found out last year that this was the only way we could extend their growing season.

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At the end of the day Sunday the boys had dirt in their hair, mud under their finger nails and grass between their toes.  The water ran black with mud, and all you could smell in our little bathroom was that heavy earth smell mixed with sunscreen, the smell of a day well spent outdoors filling their lungs full of fresh air.  So now we wait impatiently for the day when we can enjoy what our garden has to offer while doing our best to keep raccoons and squirrels (and kids and puppies) out of the beds.

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Treating Our Eczema with Skinfix

It started when I was pregnant with Johannes.  Suddenly my knuckles and fingertips began to itch and hurt, I dismissed it because we live in Toronto after all and its minus a million degrees out in the winter time.  Then summer came and the eczema went away some what.  But ever since, year after year, during certain times I get terrible eczema on my hands and fingers, getting worse year after year. And its not just me, Johannes and Magnus have it as well, with Magnus having it the worst out of all three of us.

I have tried everything.  Cortizone creams, natural organic creams, home made essential oil creams, you name it.  I really haven’t found much that worked long term.

But recently I found out about Skinfix, and you guys, its so great!  Their baby products are by my favourite of the entire line, though I also have a tube of their Hand Repair Cream, specifically formulated to treat eczema, in every bag I own in addition to my nightstand and my desk at work.

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The Skinfix Gentle Baby and kids line is amazing.  Free of any fragrance, parabens, phthalates, nuts or soy, its made with natural ingredients and recommended by both paediatricians and dermatologists. I used the Lotion, Wash and Gentle Eczema Balm on Magnus for a couple of weeks and the eczema flares on the back of his arms and butt cheeks is almost gone.  And as an added bonus, the Skinfix products don’t break the bank.  They’re completely reasonably priced compared with so many other lotions and potions I’ve come across.  Oh, and they’re Canadian!

These are the Hard Years: an Open Letter to Young Parents Everywhere

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This week we found out that another set of our friends is separating.  They’re not the first, and they’re likely not going to be the last.  Another young couple just like us, working, parenting, grinding it out with little humans and little sleep.

It made me sad, I suppose it made us all sad, all us friends I mean.  It could be any one of us splitting up.  Michael quickly pointed out how hard it is having young children while working full time really is, and he’s right.

These are the hard years, completely taxing emotionally, spiritually and financially too.  If you’re a working couple you have to worry about childcare for the days when you’re headed into the office. You worry that you may lose your job if you take too many days off, or work from home other days, and little kids get sick a lot and then they give it to you…and your spouse too, and maybe even the cat!  Like a lot, a lot.  If you only have one child, you can expect to miss work about every 3-4 weeks, but if you have more than one it sometimes feels like you’re home playing nurse to barfy, snooty, crying babies, more than you’re actually being a productive member of the workforce.

And then there’s the cost of that childcare you need so badly to facilitate your ability to work and make money.  There is no cheap way out really, unless you’re lucky enough to have a family member offer to do this for free.  And if you’re one of those lucky ones, then cherish it and thank them daily because it is a huge blessing.

For the rest of us it can sometimes feel like we’re swimming against the current.  There’s a little progress made, but mostly we’re just bloody exhausted.

Young humans need attention all day long.  ALL. DAY. LONG.  Its completely all consuming, and at the end of a really long day full of screaming, complaints, tantrums, many many hugs, kisses, and career work, its all we can do to just lose ourselves in the abyss of our pillows the second the kids go to sleep.  Affection for our spouses?? Forget it.  I suppose I shouldn’t speak for everyone else, but after being touched and hugged all day long, I long for a few moments where I can just feel my body be MY body. So yes, our spouses, my husband, gets the short end of that stick….but then again he’s generally feeling about as drained as I am.

So where is the romance?

Well there isn’t really any at the moment.  We feel slow and out of shape, daily showers are a thing of the past and our self-grooming is more of a sham than a reality.  And when I talk to my fellow young parents out there it seems like this epidemic is pretty consistent across the board.

We are tired.  Lack of sleep makes everything hard, relationships included.

So these are the hard years.  Right?

It gets better doesn’t it?  The babies grow.  The puppies learn to pee outdoors. The expensive childcare gets replaced by free schooling, well until university I suppose, but we are crossing our fingers that we will be a bit more financially affluent by then.  Night wakings for hugs get replaced by a desire to constantly sleep in especially on school nights.  And so the goal is to hang on.

You guys, hang on to that love you have!  Hang on to our friendship with our partners above all else.  Ask about each other’s day, and not just because its something to say, but because you actually care, they do interesting stuff I promise. Try to say “I’m sorry” from time to time.  Love them for the people they’re becoming through every stage of husbandhood, fatherhood, friendship. Look at each other as though we are on the same team rather than opponents in the coliseum fighting to the death.  Hang on to every moment and learn to love each other a new as we move through these challenging new experiences together.  And hope that’s enough to keep us together in the end.  So when things aren’t so hard we crawl out of the trenches and march on victoriously together and stronger because “we made it”.

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MAY 1 – #anas31

I suppose technically it is May 2nd today, but what counts is the day I wrote this and that is the first.

About 5 weeks ago I started a new workout routine, at lunchtime at work.  1 hour of Barre 2-3 times a week, healthier eating and meal plans.  It worked.  I got off my butt and moved more.  The planned lunches and dinners were great not just for avoiding the stress of meal-times, but also for keeping me in check with what I was consuming.  But I feel I need more.

I didn’t weigh myself, or take any measurements, and I don’t think I really lost any weight doing what I did so this month I’m upping the anti a bit more and really tightening both the workout and the meals and challenging myself to 31 days of good healthy eating and daily workouts, with a rest day on Sundays.

On the food side, I’m cutting sugar completely.  Yep, I want to cry just writing this.  But it has to be done. No sugar, that means wine too…no wine (gulp).

On the workout side, I downloaded the Kayla Itsines SWEAT app on my iphone, and plan to commit to 31 days of her ass-kicking workouts.  They’re only 28minute-ish in duration but apparently they’re incredibly hard to do.  There are 3-4 of her workouts a week mixed in with LISS workouts, which is fancy speak for cardio…I love this part since I can start mixing in my own cardio loves like running and spinning or just even walking the dog!

So that’s it, I’m going to do this.  31 days. I may die in the end but I’m going to do it.  Lets see what happens.  Oh and I’ll likely tag some of my posts with #anas31

So We Got a Dog

It wasn’t planned at all.  Michael and I had been talking about maybe getting a dog later on this summer, but nothing was set in stone, and we definitely hadn’t made solid plans. But then we came face to face with a super special puppy through a couple of local rescues, T.E.A.M. Dog Rescue and Paws Above, and we tossed all our plans out the window and brought Maddie into our home late last Friday night.

A little bit about Maddie and her story you can find here.  She came to join us through three different organizations starting with Helpaws in St. Lucia, lots of amazing people and though she had a bit of a rough start at first, she is home now.

Michael and I didn’t tell the boys that Maddie, formerly known as Clover, was joining our family.  Johannes especially had been begging us to get a dog for some time.  We put the kids to bed as usual that Friday night and Michael drove out to bring her home.  She was a perfect house guest, minus a few pee accidents, but she didn’t cry once and slept through the night.  At 6 am when the boys woke up, I quickly took Maddie for a pee and as the boys made their sleepy way down the stairs to breakfast, I let her out of the kitchen to greet them.  Johannes was over the moon excited, and ultimately he picked her new name “Maddie”.

Since then Maddie has been with us just a little over a week.  She’s never had more than one accident per day, and for the past two days hasn’t had even that.  She’s come out of her shell a bit, playing and being more vocal with the cats and neighbourhood dogs.  We’re estimating she may be about 12-13 weeks based on her foster story on the rescue website.  She is still due for her next round of shots so until then she cannot run at the dog park.

Aside from a few logistical issues, figuring out when its best to feed her so I can take her to pee in the yard while having two boys to look after on my own Monday-Friday, and working hard to housetrain Maddie, I really can’t say she’s hard work.

I realize we probably got lucky a little bit, with a puppy who sleeps through the night, holds her pee all night too, and doesn’t cry.  She is a dream in the sleep department.  She’s playful when she needs to be but quiets down quickly especially when she senses the boys aren’t enjoying the puppy nipping. We crate train her, so at night she sleep in her crate, and if we have to leave the house for anything she rests in her crate as well.  We turned it into a little bit of a den, with a large blanket strewn over top and lots of soft fleecy blankets inside to keep her cozy and warm.

Its work to watch her at all times and anticipate when she needs to go out, but then again so is taking care of a toddler and 5 year old.  Walking and getting outside is no problem, since we do a lot of it as it is.  So I would say she has folded into our family life quite nicely, and even the cats have come around to at least accepting her presence, with my hopes of them being best of friends one day soon.

And to those people who say having a puppy is like having a baby, I would say that they either don’t have a baby, or have since forgotten just how dang hard babies are!  Puppies are way WAY easier! If potty training Magnus will be as easy as pee training Maddie, I will be one happy mama.

Rufus & Murdog Spring 2016: behind the scenes

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Playing photographer is my all-time favourite hobby, and when I get to do it for my shop or kids, well, its even better.

A few weeks ago Nicole and I shot our Spring Summer look book for Rufus & Murdog, you can see the final edits here but one of my favourite parts is all the behind the scenes photos!  We wanted to photograph real kiddos, not models.  Real deal followers, fans and customers.  So we opened up the “casting” to everyone on Instagram and picked 6 kiddos to shoot.

We think the behind the scenes might be even cuter than the final look book shots!

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