Balance

I sometimes feel like there is a brand new set of challenges waiting for me at the beginning of each month. Lately, my biggest challenge has been finding balance in my life as a new mom. Balancing motherhood with womanhood is something I know other women in the world are facing as a challenge to overcome. Some may find it’s as easy as taking a moment at the end of the day to read or catch up on some mindless games on the iSomething, but others (like me) are having a hard time separating ourselves and creating the distinction between being a mother and being a woman.

All my life I have wanted to be a mother and nothing in this world could ever make me want to go back to the life I had before our little man strolled into my life. That being said, I don’t think I was aware that I would struggle so much with maintaining my “Self” separate from being “Mama”. There are lots of things that bring me joy and make life fulfilling for me and being a mother is one of those things (a big one in fact), but when do I find time to do the other things I enjoy? When I reach the end of the day and take stock of what I have accomplished on my big todo list, 90% of the time I have done housework in some form or another, spent a good deal of time vegging out in front of a small screen, and taken care of the boy. I always end up feeling guilty for not getting MORE housework done than I did, and for spending as much time doing “nothing” as I did. The truth of the matter is clear though, any time I have been “vegging” it’s been the only thing I could do that didn’t require any commitment in case the boy needed me. I have been told that I need to stop being so hard on myself. What I really need to be doing though, is (yes, stop being so hard on myself…and…) spend an hour or two after the boy goes to bed, just taking care of me.

And so do you!

My self assigned homework for the next couple days is to make a list of all the things I enjoy doing just for ME. I am a big fan of lists and I make them often. In any small pile of paper that needs to be dealt with (we all have them scattered around the house, I know it can’t be just me) you will usually find at least two lists, if not more, of random crap that I need to do. 100% of the time my lists are of household things that need to be taken care of. This time, no household chores on the list…just personal care type items. For example, I love writing this blog so I am going to add it to my list and assign one night a week where I will dedicate at least one hour to writing. Not many people read it, but what it comes down to is that I have done something that brings me joy and makes me feel human again. I’m also going to make sure that at least once a month I play with my sewing machine and create something fun. I’m not an excellent seamstress, but I like to pick up vintage items from garage sales and thrift stores, then Frankenstein them together to make entirely new pieces of clothing. That little feeling of accomplishment and pride when a project works out is pretty special. There are many other things I would like to spend more time doing, but those will find a place in my day one at a time.

Sometimes all a woman really needs is a nice long shower where her thoughts aren’t revolving around what the baby is doing, is he safe, what was that sound, why is it so quiet, is he still alive, I had better cut this shower short, where is he, oh my god where is he, oh he’s absolutely fine sitting there with his toys.

What are some of your favourite things to do to keep you grounded? Comments are encouraged and welcome.

Until next time!

Hopefully it won’t be such a giant gap between posts this time.

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Orchids

This is going to be one of those random posts that pops up every once in awhile…

Baby boy is napping and I am searching for a part-time job for when my maternity leave is up. I am not a fan of job hunting, but I don’t really want to go back to my old job where I came home at the end of the day angry, stressed out, and hating people. Since job hunting isn’t my favourite thing to do, I have a tendency to get a little distracted and I found myself sitting in front of the computer Googling “Orchids and Vaginas”. That’s right folks.

Orchids and Vaginas.

You see, I was on Pinterest (yep…not job hunting) and a friend had posted a picture of a tattoo design she liked. It was a lovely drawing, but the orchid that was the main focus of the tattoo looked an awful lot like a vagina. This got me to thinking that most orchids really do look a lot like vaginas and I decided to roll with it. So I Googled.

While this is probably enough randomness for one post, I would like to add on by posing a question.

How come, when looking at a large variety of orchids (surprisingly not many vaginas), Google thinks that a picture of a crack pipe is relevant?

I suppose it’s probably a good thing that I’m looking for some part-time employment so my brain has more to do than draw comparisons between flowers and human anatomy.

That is all, we will return to our regular scheduled programming shortly.

I don’t feel like being an adult right now.

The terribly dreamy and realistic side of me keeps hoping that we will some day win the lottery so that we can build our tiny home RIGHT NOW. However, we do not play the lottery and occasionally I win a couple dollars on a scratch-and-win, so I think I need to find another way to dream up the funds we need. The fact is, we are living off a single income in a home that our parents wish they could move us out of. For now, I am bringing in some income with my maternity leave benefits, but that will be up in April.

So what do I do next? Do I check out my options and see if I can get my maternity leave extended? Talk to the Women’s Centre about my options for having schooling funded? Go back to the minimum wage job that I work my ass off at, just to be told I essentially don’t deserve to be compensated appropriately for the work that I do? If I simply go back to work, where does little boy go for the forty hours a week I am busting my ass? If I choose to get some extra education, I will still need to find somewhere for the little boy to go while I’m busy. Childcare is not an affordable option where I live, and I don’t want to make everyone in the family have to shuffle him around from place to place because I’m suddenly too busy. This has been my source of anxiety lately.

The questions are endless, and researching my options on the internet is not making anything easier. I have reached a point of overload where I would like to just stumble upon a page that is just a  single button that says: “Take Care Of It.”

I don’t feel like being an adult right now. But I will keep trying.

Our plans for the tiny home seem to be following a rough timeline so far, but it’s probably not the most efficient timeline out there. We are both pretty much primarily focused on getting the funds saved up and don’t seem to be very passionate about moving beyond that first step. We do have moments where we get really excited about the layout, or kitchen cabinets, or mattresses… We do have moments where we marvel over a specific shade of yellow, or the unique effect of finishing and staining pallet wood. We even have lengthy discussions regarding whether or not to utilize a composting toilet. All of this happens on a regular basis, but we still have yet to write down any concrete plans. So here I am, writing something down.

I think we have, at least, finally chosen a layout we both are happy and comfortable with. It is pretty much exactly the layout we have seen of Music City Tiny House. Music City Tiny House in Nashville, Tennessee is a tiny home with a focus on a fully functioning kitchen with two sleeping lofts. One of the lofts has a set of stairs leading up to it, which is something that I wanted to see for the space we will be setting up for the little man. Our boy is only seven months old right now and we are working on a timeline of him being about two years old when we move in to our tiny home full time. Safety is a concern for me and I feel that it may be slightly easier for him to navigate a small set of stairs rather than a vertical ladder climb. There have been a couple of other layouts that we have really liked the looks of, but ultimately it came down to the gut reaction we had when watching a video tour of Music City Tiny House. I encourage you to take a look at their blog as seen in the first link I provided above, a lot of good reading there.

There are a few other things I think we have decided on as well, but if I write them all down right now, I won’t have anything else to share!!

Strength and luck to all you Tiny Warriors out there, it’s not always an easy journey, but at least it’s entertaining!

Making the right choice.

We are taking a moment to discuss one of the challenges of motherhood, instead of talking about tiny houses.

So many things change from the second you see your sweet baby for the first time. I spent my pregnancy reading through all the books I could get my hands on and I was pretty sure I had a rock solid plan figured out. I was going to breastfeed, I was going to keep baby in cloth diapers, I was going to make everything he wore, and I was going to be the picture-perfect hippie Mama. My confidence began to crumble when I figured out I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed.

When I was 20, and beginning what I like to call second adolescence, I decided to go and get a breast reduction. I was warned that there could be a possibility that I wouldn’t be able to breastfeed once I was ready to have children, but I thought it was a long-shot and that I would be one of the many women who could breastfeed after having the reduction. I was able to produce milk, but not enough and only from one side. My sweet man and I worried for weeks about our baby boy (and his lack of weight gain) before we decided to supplement his milk with formula. Choosing to give our baby formula was incredibly difficult. I had developed such a judgement around formula feeding babies, and I hadn’t even been aware of it until the time came for me to join those mothers who were not able to breastfeed. I was surrounded by so many incredible women who had lots of advice for me regarding my milk production: how to increase it, how to use a breast pump, how to help baby feed more efficiently, how to make my nipples feel better. You name it. However, at the time, all I wanted was for someone to say: “I know this is difficult for you, but you are making the right choice.” It never, throughout my entire pregnancy, occurred to me that I would eventually be entirely unable to breastfeed.

There is a lot of judgement in the world about breastfeeding. “Everyone should breastfeed their babies and formula is like feeding your baby straight from the devil’s teat.” However, there’s the flip-side too. “Nobody wants to see you flashing your breasts all over the place! It’s gross to feed your baby in public where everyone can see!” Either way you look at it, half of the judgemental faces will be appalled at accidentally staring at your nipple, and the other half will be disgusted that you’re feeding your baby formula.

Get over it. Everyone. Your baby needs nourishment. As long as your child is healthy, happy, and growing well, you are doing right by them. Being able to breastfeed is a beautiful thing, and I applaud every woman out there who has been able to make it past that first (very painful) first hurdle that is the learning stage. I also think that any woman who decides NOT to breastfeed deserves to do so without feeling like she’s buying drugs when she purchases a tub of formula.

Now that baby boy is six months old though, I am truly in my happy place. I get to make all kinds of food for our little man to try! A vast array of flavour combinations await on the horizon of our solid food adventures! The best thing? He gobbles up pretty much anything I give him and does so with such joy in his little face. You’d think I had placed a bowl of sunshine and rainbows in front of him. I say that he eats pretty much everything because it doesn’t matter how creative I get, avocado makes him gag before the spoon is even in his mouth. So far our experiments in the baby culinary world have been pretty tame. Peas, carrots, yams, butternut squash, apples, pumpkin and banana, and just plain old banana. I like to give him some cereal even though that has been added to the list of terrible things you can give your baby. Also, we tried a couple of those little jars of baby food because I wanted to give it a go (and save the tiny jars for reuse) but I wasn’t a fan. I’m not sure why, but the jars of fruit made baby boy break out in a bit of a rash around his eyes and on his temples. From what I’ve read, it’s a common reaction when babies are given jarred fruit. Any homemade fruit experiments have gone well, so we are just going to stick to making things ourselves. I’m not sure what we are going to try next, but I look forward to seeing that curious little face light up when he discovers a new flavour!

“It looked easier on Youtube.” And other such thoughts.

Something that I like to do for big-dream projects, is create a dream/vision board covered in images and words that help to make things feel a little more grounded in reality. I find the process of scouring magazines for the right images, cutting them out (so they fit perfectly), and pasting them to a board to be quite meditative. I think that’s why it’s such an important step for me. When I’m letting my creative juices flow, all that I’m thinking about is the task at hand and staying focused.

The biggest challenge facing me during this creative stage in our planning and development, is that I lose focus easily. It’s not that I don’t want my dream to become a reality, it’s just that I like to have something right in front of me that says: “Hey! This is real! This is actually going to happen!” It doesn’t make any sense to go out and start buying building materials before we even have a rough blueprint, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to run straight to the ReStore and start looking at windows and doors. This is why we started out by creating the vision board for our tiny home. Another thing I like to do, is go out and look at building materials. It’s not like building materials are all that exciting or anything. I just find it helps to look at a 2×4 so I can more accurately imagine the thickness of an exterior wall etc. The other day my man and I took baby boy to Home Depot and just walked around and looked at flooring (fun), doors (more fun than I expected), windows (ditto), plywood (it looks like plywood…), and just about every possible light fixture they had hanging in their aisles of retinal doom. You know what? I would do that every week if it meant keeping this dream in the forefront of my every waking thought. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted something more than I want to bring this tiny home into existence.

As for taking REAL steps in the direction of making our dream a reality. We have begun to figure out Sketchup. This is a fairly small step, but even baby steps are getting us closer to the end result. I’m baffled by Sketchup, but with every Youtube video we get a little closer to figuring out what each funny little button does. I confess, I don’t have the time (or, honestly, the patience) to learn an entire computer program right now. That’s why I have chosen to take care of the baby while my husband-to-be does the initial planning and “sketching” of our tiny home. Planning this adorable house on wheels is a bit of a scattered mess right now, but hopefully we will pick up the pace a little and begin to get more organized.

I often find myself wishing we had decided to build a tiny home BEFORE we had a baby, but sometimes life throws these delightful ideas into our noggins and we just have to go with it. I like to think I’m adjusting to motherhood fairly well, but there are new challenges and surprises every day. Baby boy is officially six months old, and we are having a lot of fun with the curveballs he’s been throwing our way.

Did you know that babies have a growth spurt around six months?

I did.

Did I remember?

Not in the slightest.

I am certain that many of the next few posts will be a little crazy. This particular post actually had to be written a few different times before it stopped looking like I was just stream-of-consciousness writing. I guess the craziness is just a side effect of dealing with a baby who has all of a sudden decided he isn’t interested in maintaining the perfectly functional routine we have been developing over the past six months. While my man was away for work this week, baby boy and I had a difficult time. He decided that sleeping through the night was out of fashion, so he would test my patience by waking up every hour or so. On top of that, he was sporting a nicely elevated temperature, an aversion to eating, and a sensitive Oscar the Grouch type of demeanour. For a week. So what happens on the first night that his Papa is home? He eats well, his temperature is normal, and he sleeps almost all the way through the night. I felt like I had completely fabricated the previous week of temperamental breakdowns. No amount of reading will prepare you for when things actually start to happen to you. All this being said, I am incredibly proud of our little man for battling through the tough week and coming out on the other end of the madness perfectly healthy, whole, and complete. I’m still putting my own pieces back together, but I know I don’t have to do it alone.

I find myself sitting at the computer after deleting three different closing paragraphs, and choosing to end this post just like this:

“Next time on our program: Tiny Home Mama regales us with tales of her endeavours into the world of home-made baby food.”

This is my blog. A place for me to share what inspires me, tell you about our tiny home journey, and maybe go a little crazy sometimes… Because, if you can’t go bonkers on the internet where a bunch of strangers will read about it, then what’s the point?

I am, by nature, fairly particular/peculiar and a little bit anxious. I’m not usually one to write about how I’m feeling, or how something changed the way my day went. I’m certainly not the type of woman to tell the world what’s going on in my whirlwind thoughts and dreams. However, I have decided that it’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone and share what’s going on in my life with you, a whole bunch of strangers.

I will begin by telling you a little bit about myself. I am a first-time mama living on Vancouver Island in beautiful British Columbia. I have an amazing fiancée who treats me well, and a gorgeous baby boy who has captured my heart and soul. I am currently a stay-at-home mom and I am so grateful for the hard work my man does to take care of our little family. Every day is a chance to learn something new about myself, life, or anything else that comes along. Being a mother has taught me that there is no time to dwell on anything but the current moment in time and space that I occupy right NOW.

That being said, I am going to tell you about our little family’s journey toward designing, building, and living in a tiny home. This is our dream, and I hold it close to my heart.

We have only just begun our planning process and we are beginning to draw up a budget and some rough sketches for our dream tiny home. A lot of research has already been done, but I know there will never be an end to the learning process, and I am sure myriad challenges are waiting on the sidelines to jump out and stir us up. So far, we are at square one.

This is the step in the process where you get serious, sit down with a cup of tea, and write out your reasons for wanting to make such a big change. Asking and answering these questions is a big challenge for some people, and for others it is a very simple question with a very easy answer. For us, the biggest driving force in our desire for tiny living is FREEDOM. Freedom from debt, freedom from things, freedom from the unrealistic expectations we have placed on ourselves. The idea of living in a home that we own is spectacular, but it isn’t all that great when we start to think about the costs of such a lifestyle. Right now, we are living in an affordable apartment where we are able to save up some extra money to begin building our tiny home. It isn’t, however, ours. We can’t change anything about it, and we are paying rent every month to someone we don’t even know. What we really want to be doing is living in a home that we completely own, without going into debt in order to make that happen. Is that too much to ask? I don’t think so. As a result of this driving force of freedom, we have landed on the dream of living in a tiny home on wheels. Why stay in one place when you can choose where you want to call home, and have the option of changing your mind in a month?

The possibilities are endless.

So here I am, sitting in front of a computer while dreams and ideas swirl around in my head, trying to sort it all out so I don’t go crazy and forget everything. The world likes to joke about “pregnancy brain”, but it’s nothing compared to “Mom brain”. Good lord do I ever feel like I’ve gone completely nuts sometimes. Where did I put that book that’s sitting RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME? Welcome to my blog. It might not make a lick of sense sometimes, but I’m hoping it will at least be entertaining!

And so we begin…