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On Writing

The Creative Process, by KarinaPrints on Etsy

Being a writer is a strange thing, full of contradictions.

One one hand, you think you have something worthwhile to say. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be writing. There’s a sense, deep inside of you, that you can tell stories in a way others can’t. You can sift and hum and weigh, and finally find it -that perfect word or sentence or phrase to express a previously inexpressible feeling. The worn-down feeling of a relationship on its last wobbling legs, the suffocating experience of being a mother to small children, the warm crush of close family, the hot rush of a sexual encounter.

On the other hand, your words are shit and your sentences are garbage and your sentiments are trite, overwrought, and pedestrian. You’re just repeating what other (better) writers have been saying (more skillfully) for decades.

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A list!

I have a million little tidbits whirling around in my head, with no time to fully flesh them out.

Here, Internets! Feast upon my mind-scraps !

  • If you read my potty-training post and became purple with rage, and wandered around your house the whole day sarcastically muttering things like “Oooh, I’m Madeleine, I’m such a hippie, MY kid was potty-trained in three days! Aren’t I soooooo great? I mean it was just It was sooooooooo easy!”  Then REJOICE, and take solace in my struggles, for we have been experiencing many a potty-training regression.

    After the accident-free week we had another week of around one accident a day, followed by a few of what seemed like not so much “accidents” as deliberate acts of defiance. And then we had the mother of all potty-training days, where she peed her pants during a bucolic visit to a nearby pumpkin patch, and then peed in my lap later on the same day.So, up and down, really. The pumpkin-patch incident I am attributing to lack of sleep (apparently naps and/or nighttime sleep are not necessary when both sets of grandparents are in town, PLUS an aunt. I mean really, who can sleep with so many people willing to bend to your whims and pick you up all the time?) but we seem to be on an upswing again, with a return to dry overnights and no accidents for a few days ago now.

    Anyway, I felt an update was necessary. It’s a process, I think, rather than a cut and dried situation.

    I was George Bush, basically. I hate being George Bush.

    Potty training accomplished! Oh no wait - shit! Olive, are you peeing? Stop peeing! STOP PEEING!

    Potty training accomplished! Oh no wait – shit! Olive, are you peeing? Stop peeing! STOP PEEING!

  • I have really been struggling with my health lately. Ever since moving back to Alberta I have been having horrific migraines: pounding head, nausea and vomiting and light sensitivity – the whole nine. It is extremely unpleasant and I am not sure what to do about it.

    I used to get migraines like this when I was in high school, and I’m wondering if it’s an Alberta thing. I am getting them roughly every week or so, and they involve this lovely routine of waking up to feel my head being gently bludgeoned by a sledgehammer, everything suddenly being SO LOUD and SO BRIGHT, and then puking. Then I have to take Gravol for the nausea and wait for that to settle in enough for me to be able to take some water and Advil to kill the headache. Then I crawl into the fetal position and cry and feel sorry for myself until it passes.

    Sometimes it come and goes with varying intensity for two days, which is just- wow. Migraines and toddlers should be mutually exclusive, if you ask me.I had one of these delights the morning of the pumpkin patch excursion, and felt better by the end of the day only to have it return with a vengeance the morning of Olive’s birthday. It was immensely frustrating, because I wanted to be hosting and preparing, I wanted to be getting things ready, rather than relying on Adam’s parents, and my mom and sister to do it for me. I was so grateful that they were there to do it, because otherwise I honestly don’t know if her party could have happened at all, but I can’t explain how disheartening it was to be lying in my dark bedroom listening to other people take care of Olive and get everything ready.

    I felt completely useless, and infuriated that I couldn’t be the person I wanted to be. I couldn’t be the host I wanted to be, the mother I wanted to be, or the wife I wanted to be. My body wouldn’t do what I wanted it to. All I could do was lie there and wait out the pain, and over think how incredibly useless my body can be.

    Struggling with my health will be a lifelong theme for me because of my kidney condition, but it never ceases to frustrate me. It bothers me that Olive pretends to be sad, and then asks for medicine to make her feel better, because of all the times she’s seen me crying in bed, and explaining that Mummy will feel better as soon as her medicine starts working. I feel like seeing this is letting her down in some fundamental way I can’t even put words to.

    I feel that to her, I should seem invincible, unstoppable. A mother should be a force of nature, a rock. And there’s nothing I feel less than right now.

  • In lighter news, I have a bunch of updates of the house kind to share with you soon. I have been going a bit crazy trying to get things done, so much so that after I complete a few things I still have on the go, I’m taking a break for a bit – no more house stuff.

    It can be so easy to jump on that treadmill, but the problem is that it’s never finished, you’re never finished. There’s always another project, another thing to do. So I am going to take a break, finish thing up, and then take it a bit slower and try to enjoy the process, rather than trying to race to that ever-elusive finish line. It’s a mirage , folks. But here is the list of things I have done, and am still doing. I’ll assemble pictures soon:- Restored the rusty wrought iron railings on our front steps, painted them a glossy black, and painted the worn front and back storm doors black, too.

    – Updated the knobs on our kitchen cabinets from flat brass knobs to colourful mismatched ceramic ones

    – Finished my desk, made from a door we found downstairs.

    – Painted my dilapidated black filing cabinet yellow and used it as legs on one side of said door desk

    – Found a old oak kitchen table on Kijiji for $50, sanded it, stained the top and made chalk paint to refinish the bottom in white. I found mismatched wood chairs at the Habitat for Humanity reStore and am going to paint them all coral.

    – Hung curtains in our room – no more nudie Madeleine for all the world to see. Huzzah! Modesty is restored

    – Painted the baseboards and hallway doorframes white, (in progress)

    – Finally got a composter, and set it up in the backyard. I am so excited to get composting again – our garbage stank! I forgot how stinky garbage can get when you are throwing food in it!

  • Perhaps most excitingly, I was approached to be a contributing writer for a fabulous site called Earth911. I’ll be writing roughly two articles a week. My first one (appropriately enough, about waste-free kids birthday parties) is here – and how cute is that baby?!

    This came about at the perfect time, because I was sort of sniffing around for something I could do part-time to contribute to our household financially, and keep my brain active. Sometimes I struggle with the identity of being “just” a stay-at-home mom – but that, as well as the process of transitioning into this role – is a whole post in and of itself. Nonetheless, it makes me feel somehow better to say that I am a writer. Which is horrible, really, because being a mother is enough all by itself. Or it should be.ANYWAY, Earth911! I am so overjoyed to be contributing to such a vibrant, informative site, and sharing fun ways to become a better hippie.

  • That’s all folks. Happy Tuesday!
Eco-Friendly Living, Natural Living, Uncategorized

Taking it one step further. Going shampoo-free, for REAL.

Going shampoo free - SweetMadeleine.ca

Week 1

 

Internet, I have stopped shampooing my hair.

You: Eww, why?! Wait – didn’t you already do that?

Well yes. Sort of. About five or six years ago I stopped using store-bought shampoo and conditioner and started making my own. But now I’m just…not using anything. Well, I’m using water, I guess. The magical cleansing properties of water.

The impetus behind this new hippie madness is an interview I had last week, where the reporter was doing a story on going shampoo free. (Me: “Mom! I’m going to be in the paper!”,  My mom: “Why?” Me: “Because I haven’t used shampoo in five years!” My mom: “Oh, I am so proud of you, mouse!”)

The reporter was a lovely lady who kindly sat down and heard me out about my lovely baking soda/ACV routine, and didn’t bat an eyelash when, in response to her asking whether or not ACV made my hair smell, I leaned forward and invited her to see for herself.  

This is my life, I invite esteemed journalists into my home and then make them sniff my hair.

ANYWAY! One of the other women she was speaking to was a true no-pooer. One of those totally shampoo-free, no baking soda no ACV no NOTHING types. The reporter too, was trying this out in order to more accurately report on it. And she asked me, “Have you ever tried it?”

And I had to admit, I had not. I have always thought about doing it, but guys, I was/am terrified. I have no idea why. I mean if it doesn’t work then I just have shitty hair for a month and go back to my normal routine.  Big deal! Nonetheless, I have never taken the plunge. Until now.

This experiment is not, as my brother so rudely suggested, a game of chicken, played hippie style. Nor is it a strange sort of one-upmanship (Oh you don’t wash your hair? Well NEITHER DO I)

It’s just that I am always encouraging people to at least try things. Try making your own shampoo! Try ditching the dryer sheets! Try not buying that awesome thing you want to buy! And here I am, not trying something. Because I am scared to become a gross smelly hippie weirdo.

I am fairly confident that at this point, (day 7? 8? I have no idea) I am indeed, a gross smelly hippie weirdo.

Or at least I feel like one.

My hair doesn’t actually look quite as bad as it did mid-week (let’s call that my rock bottom, mmkay?),  but it feels…thick. Like fur. Running my fingers through my hair doesn’t feel soft and sort of slippery like it did before. It’s still soft – maybe even softer? – but it feels…honestly just like fur. i don’t know how else to explain it.

Touching my hair right now is akin to petting a dog. A clean dog. But a dog nonethetless.

God, I am really selling this thing, aren’t I? How about some more pictures? This is the first time I’ve had my hair down all week, it’s been bun-city around here.

Going Shampoo Free- SweetMadeleine.ca

Gross. I’m sorry. Don’t you dare judge me, I am doing this for YOU.

Going shampoo-free - SweetMadeleine.ca

I am such a giver. A gross, greasy-headed giver.

Going shampoo-free - SweetMadeleine.ca

Not quite so bad from the back. Right? I mean, borderline clean…ish?

 

The Internets tells me it can take five weeks (ohhh god) for my hair to sort its self out, at which point I can be a respectable, normal-looking member of society again. Until then I will answer your questions:

 

Q: Does your hair smell?

A: I…I have no idea. I am not asking anyone to smell it. I am, generally speaking, just slinking around in the background of genteel society trying to avoid people and not make eye contact. I feel disgusting.

 

Q: How long are you going to keep up with these shenanigans?’

A: Hopefully this mess will just keep getting better and I will discover the holy grail of self-cleaning hair care, but if don’t eventually get that “clean” feeling back, this will not be a sustainable option for me. Even I have my standards. And my dignity. Despite the photographs above.

 

Q: Are you still showering?

A: Oh my god YES! Guys?! I’m still showering and bathing and using soap and shaving and brushing my teeth, I haven’t completely given up. I’m just….not shampooing. For reasons. Vaguely earth-related? I can’t remember. 94% of my mental capacity is now devoted to calculating how many people are judging me at at given moment. (Currently: 1. Olive can be so cruel.)

 

Q: What does Adam think about this?

A: You know what? I don’t want to talk about this anymore so let’s just end this thing here this was a bad idea ugh please seriously look away, LOOK AWAY.

 

edited to add front shots because why the hell not, and a palate cleanser at the end:

Olive looked at this picture and said "Oooh, ANGRY!"

Olive looked at this picture and said “Oooh, ANGRY!”

IMG_6843

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

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In and out – Two quick updates.

Firstly. The 3L/Day Water Challenge.

I didn’t even last a week. Sigh. Don’t blame me, or my inability to keep to any semblance of a routine, BLAME THE KIDNEYS. Seriously. No less than three people contacted me after I wrote that post, politely expressing concern about my malfunctioning kidneys and the amount of water I was drinking, and that it might not be a great idea for someone already low on electrolytes to be flushing her body of electrolytes.

I am smart, so I replied, “Why thank you, Internets! But you forget, I am CURED!” (and by “cured” I clearly meant “in denial”, because three days later I couldn’t figure out why I wanted to do nothing but curl up in a migraine-y ball on the couch watching house of cards and crying until I finally put 2+2 together and realized that everyone was, in fact, correct. It’s always a great sign when The Internets is more aware of your health than you are, right?)

So anyway, that went well.

However. If you do not have a horrifically inconvenient kidney disease, I would greatly recommend this water thing. Even within that 5-6 days the skin on my face looked clearer and more even toned, and I could see how a month would make a huge difference. Water! Does a body good. Who knew?

 

Potty Training. Or not.

A lovely lady named Megan contacted me and asked for an update on the early potty training. I have to apologize to Megan, because this will be the lamest update in the history of updates.

The backstory: We started sitting Olive on the potty at 6 months (this one. It’s biodegradeable and fit her perfectly). She regularly pooped in the mornings, and usually peed when we sat her on it at other times of day. For a long time we never had to change dirty diapers. It was sublime.  Then I don’t know what happened, I’m not sure if it was because she got more mobile or I went back to work but somehow the routine sort of fell apart, and because we weren’t in our house I didn’t (and still don’t) feel ok fully potty training her. I hear it involves lots of accidents, and I am infinitely more comfortable with her peeing on my floors than someone else’s.

I think if the situation had been different I would have tried to train her using the 3-day method that’s been floating around the internet, at around 18 months. As it stands, she is now 20 months and often tells us when she has to go and we get her onto the toilet fast enough it’s lovely. Other times she runs and hides, protecting her her business like it is some sort of filthy treasure and her diaper is Fort Knox.

What Megan wanted to know, however, is if early potty training is worth it. YES.  Unequivocally yes. Here’s why: It gets them used to the potty before they even know what it is. By the time Olive was old enough to understand processes and procedures, she had already been sitting on the potty for six months. It just opened up another alternative for where pee and poop goes, and if your life has a little less chaos in it than mine has in the last few months I think it’s completely reasonable that a child could be totally potty trained by 18 months.

I hereby solemnly swear to do another update when I fully potty-train little miss O, I am still aiming for before she’s two years old – I am so done with washing diapers! And ready for her to fit pants normally, too. (Fluffy butts for the win!)

This ends my two quick updates.

xo.