A Walk in the Woods

This space has been a bit blank lately. It’s not that I don’t have things to say – I often find myself snapping a photo or two of a great recipe or noting things in my head as I want to record them later – but the summer is just slipping past on the road, in the sky, working, cleaning, feeding, all the daily routines sped up. With some sunshine sneaking in, too, luckily.

I have much to catch up on, but for today, I got up early with my little fellow. We had a great breakfast, got dressed, walked the dog, and then with the essentials taken care of, took a trip to the superstore. It’s a bit out of the way for me, but carries some pretty cute and well-priced kids apparel, and Baby J’s toes are sticking over the edge of his sandals.

So we shopped and he was a doll, letting me try shoes on him, laughing at the sweet grey hat I plopped on his head, humouring me while I tried on pair after pair of sunglasses to replace my recently lost ones.

On the way home, a sign for a trail caught my eye, and I pulled in, deciding on the spur of the moment that a bit of a romp in the woods would be a great way to pass the rest of the pre-nap morning time. And it’s this quick walk in the woods that’s made me really sit down and let the words pour out again.

It’s also the weekend – so I’ll add my ten things of thankful here. I am so thankful for the woods and this morning – an ordinary little memory, meaningless in itself and in the big picture, but a snapshot of the good and happy in life as it is now. So here we go!

1.) It’s been raining a lot lately, chilly at the edges of the evening, prompting a bemoaning of “Aug-tober” weather and the early end of summer. It was raining when we set out, when we loaded the car, but the sky stayed dry for the whole hour or so that we walked, ran, and explored.

2.) Because of said weather we had the place to ourselves. A family dressed in ponchos was leaving as we arrived, but other than that we didn’t meet a single soul besides the chipmunks that kept darting out inquisitively along the path.

Sarsparilla trail

3.) Baby J found a long stick and starting dragging it, first pulling it behind him, then pushing it ahead, and while part of me was thinking – what is he trips and hurts himself with that giant stick?? another part told me to let him go and play, and you know what? He was fine. He was actually squeaking with joy while he made designs in the dirt with it, so I’m glad I didn’t take that away from him.

walking stick

4.) We reached a small picnic area which I could see would be bustling on a sunny Saturday morning, but was quiet today. Baby J noticed the leafy bushes lining the area and did a little happy dance on the rocks, brushing his hand over the leaves. I’m thankful that little things are still so enjoyable to him – it makes me smile.

5.) Also thankful that the brush and greenery didn’t turn out to be poison oak or ivy – I think I’d recognize the plants but I wasn’t really thinking about it while watching him dance around with glee!

6.) I called his name as he started to go further into the woods past the picnic space, cautioning him about the sticks and tiny branches that would scratch his face, and he turned, came right back over and planted a slobbery wet kiss on me. Now that’s happy – both of us!

7.) Even though he’s still in the between baby and boy stage, he’s pretty good about exploring and is fairly cautious. Rocks don’t go in his mouth anymore, he can entertain himself a bit, but he’s more aware that we belong together (so he doesn’t take off running full speed away from me). This means in turn I can relax a little and don’t have to hover over him like a hawk. I can take in the scenery and breath deeply and take a few pictures too.

goldenrod ottawa

8.) The fresh, clean air. It’s one thing I always notice when I get outside away from the city streets and the hint of rain when you inhale this morning just adds to the fresh smell.

9.) Making me focus on the here and now. Unclogging my head a bit from thinking about the all the things that haven’t yet been done, the lists that nag at me, and the time I don’t seem to have to do things. I wasn’t wearing walking shoes, the blackflies were sticking to my lip gloss, but watching my kid roam and turn his face up to the sky in total awe makes me not care about anything else but that moment.

berries

10.) That we have places like this a stone’s throw from home, natural Ontario beauty in a protected, sprawling Greenbelt area, simple but idyllic, just perfect for a small kid learning the world.

That’s my list for today – it’s nice to have an hour or two that make you forget the meh mornings that might happen throughout the week. I wish you all a beautiful weekend full of simple moments to treasure!

Ten

A day full of good

I had such a nice day yesterday – it really stuck out in a week of some less than fun other things like trips to the clinic, a broken dryer, and a smashed iPhone screen. And since it’s the weekend, the timing is great to stop and reflect for all the things I am thankful for – along with Lizzi and the gang!

Early morning cuddles on the couch. Even though I miss sleeping in, I’m getting used the early wake-up calls and have been enjoying some nice, quiet moments in the morning with milk and a snuggly warm boy on the couch. He’s always on the go during his waking hours now, so I hope these morning moments can linger on a bit longer.

Green smoothies. I have started making my trusty green smoothies again in the morning and they are so good and perfect for a breakfast skipper like myself.

green smoothie summer

Reading. Just this week, Baby J has started randomly bringing over a book, and settling down for me to read it to him. He never used to want to do that, but I guess he’s more ready now. I’ll make a reader out of him yet!

My little helper. Baby J is getting to be in a nice phase where he understands everything and wants to help. Putting things in the garbage, helping unload the dishwasher, ‘washing’ things like his high chair tray – which in turn allows me to get some cleaning and whatnot done in the morning, while hanging out with him, too.

dishwasher

Friendly strangers.
A random person stopping me to point out how cute Julian was in Starbucks. I know that I want him to be kind, thoughtful, and brave, and a good human. But I can’t help smiling to myself just a wee bit when someone tells me how cute he is (his hair! they usually say). I also love it when people are friendly to each other like that.

An amazing splash pad close by and days off. I went with my cousin to a splash pad/ playground yesterday and our little ones had such a fun time. I’m so thankful Baby J has a little cousin his age to play with and the weather was so perfect for it, sunny and clear.

splash pad

A good sleeper. Tuckered out from his fun morning, my wee one passed out in the car, and barely stirred while I took him out, removed shoes and hat, and put him down in his crib.

Sleepovers. I remember going on sleepovers at my grandparents as a child and I’m happy that we have such willing family to keep our kid overnight so that we can go out once in awhile! Tyler had the night off last night – this is very rare – and we dropped our little guy off around 6 so we could go for a nice dinner.

Splurging on fine dining. I chose an expensive and amazing restaurant for our night out – a place called Beckta that is known for elevating the cuisine here in Ottawa. We opted for the 5 course tasting menu – sampling interesting dishes like tuna sashimi with a hint of foie gras, crunchy goat-cheese stuffed peppers on a bed of cucumber tabbouleh, oxtail risotto with lily buds, and a main of duck, followed by a rhubarb crumble cake. It was rich and delicious and the time just slipped away as we talked and ate. Wonderful restaurant, perfect atmosphere and the food was divine.

A morning of quiet. Due to a noisy barking dog and a sore back this morning, I didn’t really sleep in much more than usual. I did creep downstairs to a sunny spot on the couch, though, and sipped coffee while finishing up “An Ocean at the End of the Lane” before it was time to collect my boy.

Wishing a wonderful, perfect day to all of you – these days, sprinkling in with the mundane and frustrating ones, make all the difference sometimes!

Ten

It’s a cottage life

I am so lucky. So, so lucky to have wonderful friends who not only bought a cottage last year, but also invited me up this past weekend – going so far as to pick up me and my 1 year old up, drive us there, cook us meals, and hang out with us all weekend.

It was lovely and just what I needed to wipe the slate in my mind clean.

Some of the moments from the weekend that will stick with me:

Catching up with my friend Laura (from high school!), and watching our boys – her Baby J is just 12 days younger than my Baby J – try to play together. It mostly consisted of taking the broom away from each other, dumping game pieces onto the floor and Julian hugging her little guy so enthusiastically that he dragged him right to the ground.

They only stayed for one night, but it was wonderful to see them after so long.

buckshot lake

In the late morning, after putting Baby J down for a sleep, just my friend Dawn and I dragged beach chairs onto the dock, and sat there, and talked and talked. We get each other, there’s always lots to catch up on and say, and we sat out there, legs turning rosy, just basking in the sun and good conversation.

The trampoline. Oh how Baby J loved the trampoline, running and falling and getting up and falling again as I bounced gently. We couldn’t walk past the trampoline without him pointing longingly at it. His second favourite thing was running up and down a paddleboard laying in the grass. Over, and over, and over. At least he’s easily entertained.

baby on trampoline

A dinner experiment: we mixed up 3 types of barbecue sauce, cooked each one, basted and grilled chicken and then dipped to determine the winner. All 3 were different and two were very good. One was a mustardy, spicy-smoky blend while the other good one had a sweeter flavour. I contributed my favourite roasted vegetable salad as a hearty side and it was good eating!

The gorgeous water, as clear and calm as you could ask for, sandy but with enough rocks to keep curious fingers happy. The sound of the water lapping against the shore makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a different place that’s relaxing and carefree; the sun on my face, my toes curled in the sand and the music of a lake in the summer soothing my ears. Magical.

in the water

splash in the water

We decided to watch a movie from the assortment of childhood classics and family favourites on the second night and chose So I Married An Axe Murderer. Trev, my friend’s husband, recited the words to his favourite scene (Charlie going to dinner at his parents house) then promptly fell asleep.

Getting Baby J out of his crib when he woke at 6:30am and the house was quiet, snuggling him into bed with me, nestled in the lower bunk of a pine-knotted rustic bed, wrapped by a handmade quilt, just the two of us together. He’s still my little baby, even if he is running, babbling and pretending to be a boy during the day, and we both fell back asleep, dreaming and happy.

baby in beach chair

I’m so grateful to have had this weekend away. It recharged my batteries and gave me renewed energy to tackle life, work, and mamahood in my everyday.