Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday's Top Five - Things I Did This Summer

Let's clear something up right off the bat: I did not run a half-marathon this summer, nor did I travel to Disneyland.

Having said that, though, I'm still trying to hold on to every last little memory I have about the past few summer months, even though FALL is merely a week away. 

<Insert loud, agonizing, painful shrieks emanating 
from deep within my core>

Going back to my happy place now, I present to you........

Friday's Top Five - Things I did this summer:

5) Hosted an outdoor BBQ / potluck

You know how, when you're young, you and your friends essentially hang out every day after school or work? And then, as you get older, the gatherings decrease to about once a week? And then monthly? And then you finally reach the point where the only communication you have with the outside world is via Facebook?

Yeah, that's my life.

I'm hugely grateful for the advent of social media as a form of communication, but sometimes you really do just need to hang out with actual people.

It's always been really difficult to schedule a date that works for everyone, given that we all have our own separate obligations to deal with, so you can imagine my shock and surprise when all 9 adults (plus 8 children) accepted the first date we suggested for this potluck.

And it was on the Saturday of a long weekend, no less.

(Gone are the days when everyone scurried off to camp or party somewhere else for the long weekend......)

So, on June 29th, we turned our backyard into a chaotic play area for the children while we chowed down on some delicious food with some great company. There was even a bocce game or two to be had.

What better way to start the summer, right?

4) Took some time off for me

One of my goals for this year was to stop putting myself last and to actually start taking care of myself again. And so I really began achieving this goal in June, sort of.

Let's be clear: I'm pretty sure I'm borderline OCD. I hate clutter, and I genuinely feel that every item in my home should have a permanent place. My husband, on the other hand, is the polar opposite of me, and is more than comfortable residing among the insanity that is our clutter-filled house.

And I just couldn't take it anymore! So I booked three straight weeks off from work in June with the intent of cleaning and organizing our home from top to bottom.

I know you're probably thinking, how is this considered me time? Well, frankly, I was ready to lose my mind and go postal each time I had to step foot in our house, so, for me, cleaning and organizing was actually really therapeutic. I needed it for my sanity.

And I think I pulled it off.... almost.

We ended up having a staffing emergency at work, so I had to return early. Plus, in the middle of my three weeks, we traveled to New York for my sister-in-law's wedding. So, rather than a full three straight weeks to clean our house, I actually only had 6 days. Meh.

But it still felt great! And, though I didn't finish everything I had on my to-do list, I still made a pretty good dent in some rooms.

I hung pictures and floating shelves. I sold some items on Kijiji and completely organized the garage. And I even obliterated the cat-sized dust bunnies that were accumulating beneath our furniture and threatening to take over the world.

It was ugly, yo.

But at least I no longer hurl expletives each time I walk through the door. (Well, for the most part anyway.)

3) Went to the beach... twice!

In a perfect world, we would have an in-ground, Olympic-sized swimming pool in our backyard. Along with a cute pool boy to do all the maintenance, so that my lazy ass doesn't need to be concerned with such matters.

But, alas, my husband is dead-set against us ever getting a pool. And I'm pretty sure that goes for the pool boy, too.

So instead I went to the beach... twice!

Sure, it's an hour's drive away, but it was still heavenly.

The first trip was a girls-only outing, since my husband was out of town anyway. Divulge with Dani and The Brooding Woman joined my daughter and me as we frolicked in the sand and water at Wizard Lake, singing Zac Brown tunes on the way and basking under the hot Alberta sunshine all afternoon. 

It really was a perfect outing, insomuch that I insisted on going back again the following weekend with my mom, daughter, and husband in tote.

Who loves cooling off in the water? THIS GIRL.

The beach at Wizard Lake - one of my new favourite places.

2) Dinosaur adventures

Driving to southern Alberta really is like driving to another planet in some ways. There's no other place in Canada that has landscape akin to the desert-like dinosaur grounds around Drumheller, which is why we try to make this outing every few years.

Finally -- my daughter is no longer deathly terrified of towering dinosaur bones and statues, so this was a fantastic outing for her.

(The first time we visited with her, she was 25 months old and kept saying, "Bye-bye triceratops..." as she ran away crying from the structures around town.)

But now she's three! And fearless! 

(Okay, not really fearless, but she is improving.)

As exhausted as they were, both my mom and daughter managed 
to climb to the top of this bad boy in Drumheller.

The Drumheller outing was such a huge success that we also decided to visit Jurassic Forest, near Gibbons, the next day.

And, since my daughter managed to run around and growl back at all the dinosaurs, I now know that I have a bona fide paleo-nerd on my hands. 


Summer outings such as these are the best because a) they're fun and educational, and b) they usually keep my daughter entertained enough so that she won't misbehave too much.

And, for that reason alone, these outings were a God-send.

Jurassic Forest 
"Please stay on the path.... unless you want to be eaten."

1) Spent time in the great outdoors

This surprises a lot of people, but I have my degree in Environmental and Conservation Sciences.... which kind of implies that I should like spending time in the great outdoors, right?

And it's actually true - I most definitely DO love being outdoors...... although you certainly wouldn't have known this based on my last few summers prior to this one.

The truth is, by the time I get off work, pick up my daughter, make dinner, prep said daughter for bed, etc.... well, I'm exhausted. I just want to lay on the couch with my feet up and enjoy the cool central air.

But no more!

I needed to go back to doing things that actually make me happy, so I made a conscious effort to spend more time outdoors this summer. Even if that just meant wearing a huge, floppy hat and dousing myself in bug spray as I mowed the lawn.

(True story: My neighbour recently picked the exact moment described above to come over and carry on a conversation with me -- you know, while my face was beat red and I was dripping sweat under an enormously floppy hat while mowing the lawn in the scorching heat. I was horrified.... yet oddly grateful that I had at least remembered to wear a bra that day.)


Anyway, the great outdoors. I love 'em.

We weren't able to go camping anywhere this summer, so we did the next best thing and set up a tent in our backyard. And, yes, my daughter thought that sleeping out there was the coolest thing ever.

Okay, our backyard tent looked nothing like this... but how cool is that?? I now want a trampoline solely for the purpose of converting it into an enormous tent.

The other thing I've been doing outdoors this summer -- and this also ties back to point #4 above -- is going for regular walks through the River Valley again, specifically in Laurier Park. 

Sometimes I go alone, and sometimes I go with my family. Even The Brooding Woman joined us one night when we tackled all the stairs near the Quesnel Bridge and lived to talk about it later. 

(Okay, okay... so my daughter was with us, and we climbed those stairs at the pace of a three year old. But it still counts. Calories were burned, and I was gasping for air the entire time. That's normal, right?)

So there you have it. I crammed as much as I could into our incredibly short summer. (Can you tell that I'm not looking forward to the advent of fall??) Regardless, it's time to visit Divulge with Dani and The Brooding Woman for some insight into how they, too, spent their summers.

PS - Yes, I remembered to wear a bra today. And, also, you're welcome.

Update: Another great friend, A Piece of Apple, is joining us this week as well. Go check out her site!


  1. Since I also participated in some of these "events", I see that there will be some overlap with my list. But that just means that I got to spend more time with you and Dani this summer, which in my books is awesome.

    I also want a trampoline tent.

  2. You accomplished way more than me! But what fun you had, making memories!