Friday, 30 August 2013

Connecting Over Food

Something I've struggled with since becoming a mother is having nice conversations over food.  We eat out somewhat regularly as a family, but there's something about being a parent that makes you become a fast eater.  I have really missed the long, slow meal, with the long, easy conversation.

Wednesday, I met my mother-in-law for lunch.  I haven't spent much time with her one-on-one, so I was worried that we might have a hard time with conversation.  When I showed up at her workplace, she brought me inside and introduced me to her co-workers.  What struck me most about that was how proud of me she seemed to be.  She seemed truly excited to go out to lunch with me.  I don't know the last time someone introduced me with such pride.  Has it ever happened?  Wow!  How in the world did I deserve that!?  Anyway, we got on our way and went to a lovely restaurant downtown, where we talked and laughed and talked and enjoyed our food (and dessert).  We took our time, and it was nice.  I think we both needed that.

Today, I met up for lunch with a close friend.  I've known him since we were taking a math degree together, and I think he may be verging on "old friend" since it's been over 10 years.  Anyway, throughout our friendship we have always made a point of eating good food together; he is my steak buddy when my vegetarian husband is not around.

This is the last week of my summer vacation, and I will soon be back at work.  While I won't be able to meander downtown for my loved ones' lunch breaks, I will have a longer lunch break at school.  I plan on using it to connect with students, connect my students to their learning, connect with my staff and connect with myself.

All this thinking about connecting over food got me thinking.  If I could choose what to eat for my last meal, what would I choose to eat, and who would I eat it with?

I think I would make a spaghetti with a spicy tomato sauce, with some sliced grilled "chicken" breast and fresh Parmesan on top.  I'd make a marble cheesecake for dessert.  I would want to eat it outside with A & O, my two main men.  They'd like to eat this meal as much as me.

What would you want to eat? And with who?

Friday, 23 August 2013

Hello, Cruel World

I picked up a couple books today at Venus Envy, Halifax's lovely, friendly, sex-positive boutique.  Of particular interest was Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws by Kate Borenstein.  By the title alone, I felt like I could have used this book last year, when so many of the students I teach came to me with serious, real problems.  I picture myself lending this book out, perhaps buying a few more copies and letting them be dog-eared and filled with post-its.

As I sat in the restaurant by myself for lunch (not sad at all-- in fact, very relaxing) I got through about 50 pages of this little book.  Yes, I'm a fast reader, but it's a fast read, too.  It was about gender and sexuality at first.  But then it was about why there are bullies, and how bullying is a huge part of our culture.  And who knows what it will be about next.  It's serious, and funny, and eye-opening and uplifting.  I know so many kids who need desperately to know it gets better.

I need to read more of this book (and others) to say much more, but I knew straight away that I had to recommend this book to virtually everyone.  Particularly those who know young people, or those who fall into the category of freaks, geeks, weirdos, or other outlaws.  Because I believe everyone has fallen into that category at one time or another.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

On Painting

When I was 17 I got my first retail job at a paint & decorating store.  I didn't realize how much I'd love it.  I bought my first paintbrush then and learned to use it from some of the wizened painters.  I have since used that brush on every room I have painted.

My First Paintbrush

When I was 27 Andy and I moved to our condo when we were still engaged.  We were renting at first and didn't want to paint.  We made the place home in other ways.  The colors are nice (classy looking tan, different tan, red dining room, more different tan-- it all goes very well with our wood floors) but I found we were constantly checking out brighter and brighter light bulbs. Picture us in the hardware store:

"Only 75000 lumens!?  How will I read a book in that dim light!? I can hardly see to find a shirt in the morning!"

Duh.  The paint is too dark.  So we picked out a white color.  It will look clean and open and our artwork will stand out.  We're going to paint the whole place this color:

Behr's Gallery White

I set out to paint the easiest spaces to tackle because I have precious few hours where O is at daycare and I still have the day-to-day stuff to accomplish.  Here is how to pick the easiest-to-paint room:

The easiest space to paint is not necessarily the smallest (ie bathroom)

Consider the following:

  1. How much furniture is up against the wall?
  2. How many things are mounted on the wall? (ie what do you need to take down and then put back again?)
  3. How many door/window openings are there?
  4. How many corners are there?
  5. Is there a logical place to start and stop?
These questions will help you weigh out how tricky the paint job will be.

Here are some other shortcuts I like to use when I can:
  1. Paint everything the same color, if not with the exact same paint.  No kidding, ceiling, walls, trim.  When you can paint everything the same, you don't have to be as picky with where the paint goes.  
  2. The flatter your paint is (not glossy), the more imperfections it hides.  Invest in a decent can of paint which will still provide some durability.
  3. Skip the painters' tape and learn to use a brush.  I like results like RIGHT NOW and taping for hours does not deliver for me.
  4. Have some baby wipes handy for splatters, drops, whatever.  A drop of latex paint can be picked off when dry, but a smear can't as easily.  It's best to wipe it up straight away, and baby wipes do the job so easily.
I went with painting the hallway.  Lots of impact, no furniture against the walls and a not-too-big space for me to tackle first.  I finished the second coat this morning.  

It looks and feels like we just took all the blackout curtains off all of the windows.  White paint is underrated.

Have any painting tips/tricks that you'd like to share?  I still have every other room in my place to do!

Wednesday, 21 August 2013


My first blog post, my first blog.  I'm convinced I'll fall into more of a style as I continue to post, but I figure the best way to get somewhere is to just start.

My aim for this blog is to share the ways I use the two months of the summer to make changes that will positively effect my lifestyle, my family's health, my parenting, my home, my relationships.

And a bit about me:  I'm Rhea, I'm 29 years old, I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  I've been married to my husband Andy for 3 years so far, and we have a two-year-old son, Oskar.  I am a public school teacher from September to June, and that's why I've got these two months every year to make focus on improving things in my life.  I value kindness, music, calm, peace and fresh air.  I like food, reading, writing and performing music, and teaching adolescents.  (Reading those last two sentences, I sound like a real bore-- I'm actually frazzled, funny, honest and crass, sloppy, passionate, lazy and awkward).

I don't know if it's getting older, being a home owner, being a wife or becoming a mom, but something in me has changed.  I need to really become that woman I want to be, and I know myself;  I need to take baby steps.  I'm fickle and results-oriented, so I need to use this blog to stick me to my guns because I won't get skinny by just eating a salad for supper.

I want to work on:

Painting the inside of our condo.

De-cluttering and organizing.

Getting my ass to the gym regularly.

Trying new things in the kitchen.

Being a fun mom with lots of energy and patience.

Staying romantic and connected with my husband.

Using my bicycle more for errands (someday I'll commute by bike!)

I have already made a couple steps in the right direction on practically all of those areas, but there is much more to come.  I hope you will be able to relate to my experiences and share yours.