Hot Mess Mama

Today we continue the saga of the small human. IF you missed yesterdays post you may want to catch up before you continue. This is a two parter.

We left off as we decided to switch to an English school. Yes, we talked all the options and we decided on the school that this was really best for him. And that’s really what’s important. The English school is right next door, it’s going to be so easy to walk to, so let’s do this!!! (insert crazy cackle laugh again.)

Let us travel back in time a year (make that silly Waynes World sound in your head). Imagine next to the French school is a condo beginning construction. Parents were upset, large construction next door, pollution, etc. Many parents (203-ish) wondered (aka threatened) if they should switch to the English school nearby. That would cause the English school to overflow drastically. So, they made a rule that if you are coming from this one specific school there is now a “Formal Process” and despite moving here mere weeks ago and living next door to the school, having had nothing to do with this other school, except give it a try for a day and a half, you may now have to schlep your 2 kids to the French school and then race 3 blocks to the designated bus pick up spot so your child can be bused to a school in a different area. Even though right now I am sitting without pants on, staring at the school!  See how I twisted that? OMG, are you kidding me????
P.S. I feel I’m done with pants. **You may want to give me a heads up before you drop by.**

Let’s short form this experience, because I do understand it really isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just how things happened. There were a few days of a really hot mess, confusion, school board, etc.  A week later (yesterday) I dropped off the smallest 2 and was then hand walked by the principal of the French school into the English school. She sat with us, the whole morning, she patiently ironed out every detail. Can you believe the kindness of virtual strangers? We are now registered in our local school. Phew.

We would hope this would be the end of our hot mess, but alas, no. This experience has taken its toll on Jack. It’s hard enough to move provinces, switch schools, get tossed around and feel like there is no place for you anywhere. You’d probably get it in your head that we should move home, cry so uncontrollably that I’m pretty sure you’re starting to have anxiety attacks. All the while I smile and comfort, get mad, bribe, explain, cuddle. There is no good way to do this.  This double-sucks because he has had to do the first day of a new school twice in the last week.  Double the Ativan for me. I can’t keep doing this, it’s tearing my heart out. Not to mention the tearful goodbyes of little pink and having this scene EVERY MORNING.


Will this be funny one day? Will I look back and think “oh, haha how trivial this was, la la la.” Right now I am stressed as F about it. Heres hoping he can tough out the whole day. He has two super nice kids showing him around, he just needs to let them in. I’ve seen his classroom and it felt so nice. His teacher is sweet, they have “flexible seating options.”  I love it. I hope he will soon too. How did your week go? Does anyone else keep ending up crying in a Starbucks?


The Story of Kate Part II

This story has been hard to tell. I haven’t made piece with my lot yet. I’m trying but I’m not there yet so it’s a bit raw. I’ve also seemed to have triggered a flare up and I am super sucks, one eye open, ref lipstick sore. I’m trying to spend as much time with my smalls as possible and family visits, putting down my phone and making contact. The result is a very boring blog and very boring Instagram feed. But happy kids, lol! I’m sure I’m not alone in this, every time I go to write, someone needs something, or two someone’s are stuck in a giant pink donut, or three someone’s are not going to bed, again!!!!!!…….Continuing……. 

(If you missed the last post you can refresh here: The Story of Kate 

 I receive a phone call from the base hospital to discuss my MRI results with the Nurse Practitioner. To all my NP’s I’m sorry, I love you and take no offence here because I have the greatest respect. The Greatest! But… with respect to the base hospital and being a Pilot I generally (always/only) deal with a Flight Surgeon. This was the NP versus the Flight Surgeon so I immediately thought this was a protocol to go over the results with me. I think I actually bickered with the person booking the appointment as I didn’t want to waste my time or theirs. I’m trying to upgrade to Aircraft Captain after coming off maternity leave. I’m already paying what some of us women affectionately call the post maternity return “mommy tax” (where you realize you’re equal but….maybe not so equal. Another story completely). I lost the argument and booked a time slot. 

When I showed up for that appointment I had no idea what I was walking into. As far as I recall this is how it went: I don’t remember a hello, I don’t remember an introduction, I didn’t know this woman at all. We had had no previous interactions at all. As far as I knew I was 30 something pilot in excellent health, mother of three littles and my arm injury was cycling but I was taking it easy and it seemed to be healing. We walk in the room and sit down and she says something about the flight surgeon being away but wanted to get the results to me. That bit is the bit of a blur because next she laid it all on me. I had serious neck injuries, I would need surgery, I would be in pain for the rest of my life, I would be released from the military I would never fly again and oh maybe she should just ground me right now . …………Blank……I can still remember sitting there just blank faced, slow blinking trying to absorb of the words she was saying. I’m still trying to absorb them today. What I did get was mad. How dare you tell me this. How could you be so insensitive? I don’t think she heard or cared. I didn’t get grounded and I left.

That night was a date that night for husband and I. I remember we went to a Jets game, I told Husband on the car ride. I wasn’t going to tell him, I thought about just keeping it a secret. We were in a bit of a rocky stage of our marriage and this was so unexpected that maybe I should just put a pin in it for a while. I made it all the way to the car ride, I made a little awkward small talk and then blurted. It’s funny I remember all that but I don’t remember his reaction at all. What I told him was according to my MRI I had degenerative changes that are worse at this C4-5 and C5–6 levels and a mild indentation of the left anterolateral cord at the C4-5 level. There is moderate to severe left neuroforaminal narrowing with suspected moderate compression of the existing left C5 nerve root.’ So that’s fun! 
I honestly don’t remember how I felt at that point physically I mean. When I look at the paperwork it says pilot/numbness down/index finger pain radiating left arm. But I’m blurry when the pain was really bad, I don’t even know if I knew I was in pain.  It was so insidious as it worsened I became used to it. I was so focussed on getting back to work after three babies. I wanted to keep up an image of not being a ‘chick pilot’ and was trying fitting in to an all male unit, some of whom had never flown with a woman before. I just wanted to fit in, I just wanted my aircraft upgrade, (to be an aircraft captain), to drink coffee and fly around, train students and be joyful. I wanted to be selfish and stamp my foot, I didn’t want to be in pain, I didn’t want to miss work for doctors appointments, I didn’t want it to hurt when I reached for the buttons, I just wanted life to be easy, just for a minute.

So on I went. I did see a Flight Surgeon who assured me that’s he had seen many people much worse than me who recovered without surgery. That made us feel about better. I was then expedited through the wait lists for specialists, I skipped the 18 month wait list at the pain clinic, I was front of the line everywhere I went. Somewhere along the line I had become the “Female Jet pilot”. It didn’t matter that I flew a Dash-8, somewhere in there I had become the young mother of three/Jet Pilot and people were a little in love with the idea of fixing me. At first I’d try to explain that I didn’t fly a jet and in honest only ever flew a little baby jet for a short period of time. I learned quickly that people didn’t care and that it worked in my favour so I just let it slide. I did want to go back to training pilots and that would involve getting me back into an ejection seat, so I thought let them help. 

I’m going to have to leave it here. The children are a hot mess all over me. I signed them up for summer camp, the one which we adore. We still adore it but they adore me more. I’ve been trying to write this for four days and every time I pick up an electronic device it’s an explosion of children on me like a fat kid on a Smartie. I’m half happy that they love me so much, but I need a little break and I want to get some things done. It would be glorious if they would all go to camp and give this mama a little break. 

How is everyone’s summer going? We had such a beautiful view this morning, it seemed as if boats were floating in the sky. 

Have an amazing beautiful day. P.S. I can still tell you all about the pain clinic and weird procedures I’ve had done, my surgery, recovery, drugs, if you’re interested. 

I’m also getting excited to tell you about our fabulous new condo, and new Glass House city life! Less than a month and we will be in such a different place, it’s hard to imagine. 

I am going to go strap some life jackets on these smalls, float in a donut and enjoy the sunshine. 

Birthday Kittens

I am trying to tame myself and hold back but I am so freakin excited about this move. I have cottage tasks to do that normally would thrill me but all I can think about is Pottery Barn Kids sheets, flower markets, decorating and Neurosurgeons! ( because if you’re me second opinions with neurosurgeons makes you excited )I am so ready. OK breathe deeply and exhale, whoooooo.

Number one on the list of cottage things to do is sweet Lily’s birthday.

Can you believe that she will be five? They say that time flies, and that was a little bit bullshit, I strongly remember it felt pretty slow at certain points along the way. But then it happened, I will have no children under the age of five! How is this so? When Lily was born I had three children under five and the only thing I can say is it was hard! H. A. R. D. All of you in the thick of it, mothers and fathers, know that this too shall pass. You are right now the strongest most amazing people on earth. You’ve got this.

Who’s this little gal? 4 going on 15,

Remaining on my list of things to do cottage wise is to revamp the sun porch. New cushions for the furniture, a little paint touch up for the craft table and I’m thinking a new front door colour and more perennials around the house. Flowers that will grow and mostly take care of themselves. As much as I want to have a green thumb mine remains solid black brown I just don’t have a knack for it. Maybe this summer I could actually learn a little about the plants…? Meh! Let’s see if I can get my mom to do it for me!!

First things first, I need to find some kitty ears for a dozen little smalls. I have no idea where I’m going to get these so I should probably get a hustling.

Have a beautiful day all my beautiful friends. 

And The Deal is Done

It’s hard to believe that as of today we no longer own The Rose House. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I’m sad but happy. Sweet Lily and I had such a hard goodbye from The Rose House. Lily started to cry and then I started to cry and then the neighbors started to cry. Because I love ya’ll here are our hot mess ugly cry goodbye photos.

Goodbye my Rose House. I wish you a family full of love. 

(Wipes tears) 

Jumping into cottage life, we are amazing, it’s true. But life is still not as easy as I’d like. Somewhere between the move, being lone wolf (solo parent), worrying about change of physicians, work, etc my pain flared.  Husband I went to breakfast last week(ish)after dropping the smalls at camp, I admit he was a touch grumpy for all the move stuff but what better way to solve your stress than brunch at the beach! A fabulous day date.  The only problem was I forgot my pain pills and halfway through my vision blurred so much I could only see husband directly in front of me. It was a touch crappy so we ate and left quickly to go home and find pills. That’s not a part of my life I love to share and I do my best to separate it. Husband says there are three people in our relationship; me, he and my pain!  

 During the days I am so appreciative to have day camp available. It is honestly the childhood I would imagine in a perfect world. This camp is so adorable and they do what I can’t, run wild and free, play, roam, explore. It gives me the ability to spend my days mellow, appreciative of the things I have and can do but still fairly full of pain meds and narcotics. I’m doing my best to be still and allow the wave to pass. Husband will be home soon, my mama is here to help. I’m hoping she’ll help me plant a beautiful garden (hint hint).

And because you know I can’t sit still and was in need of another project: The cottage is in need of a bit of a spruce up. We are enlarging the trim around all the screens, we are going to install an outdoor shower so my house doesn’t have to be as full of sand and fixing up the bike/storage room so I don’t find it creepy every time I go in. I think it’s going to be just lovely. 

Today marks a total new begining. What should we do now???

Love K

Tiny Transitions 

When I found we were posted to Toronto I immediately knew this was my chance, my chance to embrace something completely new, not just our house but our entire lives.  It took husband just a little longer to get on board with my visio but we both knew it was time for a new beginning and a fresh start. I’ve always had a fascination with people who can pick up and change their lives. I felt for many years that I just wasn’t living life right. On paper I looked good. Mother of 3, Airforce pilot, runner, baker, blogger, loving husband, big house. But inside I just kept thinking life was too hard, why does this have to be so hard? What am I doing wrong?? 

 I think our tiny house discussions began after my spine surgery. I spent a lot of 2015 laying on the floor watching HGTV. Tiny house hunters became one of our favourite shows. Not that it was in our future but so fun to imagine. Right?! Ironically until last week our family of 5 lived in a 3200 square-foot, 3 story century home. 

We purchased the house a few years ago, honestly it was a bit of a marriage patch. We were struggling between a deployment, 3 children under 5, me returning to work and retraining. Truthfully there was a lot of tension in our house and somehow it felt if we lived in a larger space we would have more personal space and thus create more space within our marriage. Our new home was fabulous, on a beautiful street with lovely kind neighbours, and over the years we became a community. It was last minute shared dinners, children flow freely from house to house, birthdays, holiday, wine and late night parties full of laughter. What I started to realize was that more than our home it was our community I loved, more and more the house faded into the background of what was bringing me joy.  At the same time I began to notice that the space we actually used within our home was minimal. Despite having 3200 ft.² if you look at my photos you’ll see that the children are almost always within an arms reach of me. I feel like I am the centre of the family right now. I’m the grounding point and they swirl about me. Wherever I went within the house people (and always our faithful puppy) all gravitated with me, it’s not uncommon for four people to follow me to the bathroom!  So here was the big question, If we are all just using 400 ft.² and just rotating that space through the home, do I really need all that space?

When this one year opportunity arose I knew we were going to do this! Husband and I sat down and discussed what was really important to us. What we came up with was; location, bright space, big windows, kitchen island big enough to hold two cookie trays, and minimum two bedrooms. (Husband thought we were looking for three bedrooms, but I knew we could do two so I just let him come around slowly and didn’t tell him I told the agent 2, shhhh). We ended up with a 2+ 1 bedroom condo, which means 2 bedrooms and a den. It’s an excellent location, it’s bright and open, it has incredible windows, and island big enough to hold to cookie trays and with a grand total of 968 ft.² 

This was a hard choice, the downsize has been an incredible transition but I am looking forward to a year of living simply. I’m not sure most people look at downtown Toronto as “the simple life” but no lawns, no snow, less cleaning, soooo much less cleaning! Our building is amazing. Groceries, pool, green space. Everything about it so far makes me happy. 

So our furniture is currently enroute to our new home. Husband is supervising our move. Today he got keys, he’s last minute measuring and trying to make sure everything will fit (last minute man stressing). I’m just trying to be mellow and envision what I want the space to look like and how I’m going to feel in it. I can’t tell you exactly how it’s going to work out but I am so excited about this upcoming year and sharing the experience.  I hope you’ll follow along our journey and see how a family of five, plus puppy, fit into a 2+ highrise condo in the city. 

I hope you have a beautiful day, wishing you happiness and joy. 

This post was written for inclusion in the July collection of the Small Family Homes Blog Community. Read below for more writings on living small from our community of writers. Check back next month for a new topic and posts in the series and follow our community board on Pinterest for the latest small homes and family minimalism pins!

Minimalist Meg -“Our Story Behind Small and Simple Living” : Sometimes living simply and living small doesn’t happen because of a grand event. Sometimes it just happens and it’s not until after that you decide to keep it that way.
Little Bungalow– “Accidental then Intentional” : A visual tour of all the small homes we didn’t buy before we bought our most recent smallish home in beautiful Victoria, BC.
Fourth and West– “The Home That Chose Us” : Realizing the home we had was actually perfect all along.
Tiny Ass Camper– “Casita Life” : How and why we chose a 17′ Casita Spirit Standard as our home on wheels.
600 Sq Ft and a Baby– “How We Ended Up Living Small” : Looking back on why living small stuck for us.
Fancy Pigeon– “Why We Live Small” : A vlog on why and how our family has consistently downsized over the years.
The Streamlined Life– “Why I Fell in Love with Small House Living” : Sometimes our earliest memories have the strongest impact.
This Lovely Day– (that’s me!!)”Tiny Transitions” : Follow along with Kate Shaw, a retiring Air Force pilot, as she transitions her family of five from living in a 3200 ft.² century home to a 900 ft.² downtown high rise condo in the city.
The Justice Pirate– “Minimalism: My First Tiny House” : Once upon a time, a little girl dreamed of having her own tiny house and her dream came true…temporarily.
Family Pedals– “Finding Abundance in 1500 Square Feet” : In our culture it would be easy for us to view our house as a stepping stone to something bigger, something nicer. For us, the next step we’d like to take is to something smaller, something simpler.

Love K

In which I meet “the internet guy” 

Today is a me day, an honest to goodness me day. I scheduled ‘the internet guy’ to come to the lake. Which my husband by the way says ‘sounds a bit sketchy.’ I’m totally into air quotes today! I’d call him the cable guy but I’m not getting cable! They gave a window of 8 to 4, we’re on lake time I guess. At first I was kind of bummed and then it slowly dawned on me, I will have to spend the whole day at the cottage!I don’t get like to get up that early sooooo I should probably spend the night too. So here I am 1130 in the morning, in my PJs drinking coffee, looking at the lake while Henry lays on his back with his feet in the air, I think it agrees with us. Strongly contemplating pulling the kids from the last week of school and moving here early. 

I’ve had a glorious morning thinking about life and motherhood. Sometimes being a mom isn’t just about being a mom, we forget to be people too. I don’t know why I need an excuse to take a break, why it feels like I’m cheating if I check out of parenting early. If I want to pay someone just so I can have a break. My husband knows this and I’m lucky that he reminds me/pushes me to take time. (That took a lot of training folks, you don’t get that with baby number one lol) But honestly I think as parents, not just mothers but parents, we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect and amazing. I don’t know at what point I started letting that go, somewhere around the third child probably? Or maybe it was only after my surgery, but I became more relaxed. 

I knew a few years ago that I wasn’t happy. I was angry and frustrated so much of the time. I love flying and I loved my job but if I’m honest about it I wasn’t happy where I was. There was a lot of frustration at work, not being able to achieve my goals. There are many reasons, some are what I call the ‘mommy tax’, some medical, but some out of my control, which technically I’m probably not allowed to talk about until I’m out of the military so let’s save that for the book version. I had a vision of who I was and I struggle, now more than ever, that I’m not who I wanted to be. I didn’t get to do all the things I wanted to do, achieve the goals I set, to be my version of amazing! I struggle with letting that be OK, appreciating what I have done. More than work though I looked at myself and saw I wasn’t the the parent I wanted to be. I was grumpy, I was short, my voice wasn’t soft. I’m so embarrassed to say but shouted, and who shouts at children? I wasn’t a bad mother at all, I baked, I sang, I loved, but I wasn’t the mother I dreamed I would be.  I knew I couldn’t be that person anymore. 

Life is handed me a bunch of bullshit and I’m not saying that any of that was worth it, because I’d give it back in a heartbeat. I didn’t ‘need’ to experience any of those things. I’m just trying to take the best out of everything I can. I realized life is short and if I didn’t like the way it was going I had to change it. I don’t think it happened overnight, but I am changing. I am a better mother for everything I have been through. I can honestly say that. 

Today was a great day for me. I think husband knew I was getting close to snapping point. He probably knew because I didn’t hint or try to shyly say it, I think I said “I’m about to snap!” Last night Henry and I packed up and here we are. 

And so I decided today is ‘our’ day as well. Let’s finally catch up on some of the pieces I think you’ve been patiently waiting for. I think I’m going to have to split it into a couple posts because A. it’s too long for one post and B. I think you’d get totally bored! 

Let us begin with(drumroll please) The Story of Kate….  (this is where you anxiously await my next post, tell all your friends and I become famous) also while you wait watch this clip. It’s not me I swear, but you’ll think it is. I adore her. 

Two Chips

Truthful Thursday

Good Mornings

I thought maybe we would do a little  truthful Thursday. I know I post a lot of clean white pictures and people ask me how I can have so much white? Well A. I love a clean slate, and B. it often cleans more uniformly and C. I try to buy everything machine washable. Including our sofa. Anyway I thought I would share with you what our house actually looks like on a typical morning.

I just snapped this picture quickly this morning. Jack is talking to me about something, I can’t remember what but look at his hands! He is so clearly the son of pilots, I don’t know if you know but pilots love to talk with their hands, its our thing. I didn’t notice when we were talking that he was doing it. Now that I look at it my heart is filled with joy and I couldn’t be prouder. He’s going to be hot stuff …..and I think he know it, that face!

If you look past our overdue library books, yesterdays art and pilot son you can see Henry in his Hudson’s Bay dog Sweater that he refuses to take off and he’s eating someone’s toy. I have no idea what nor do I care. If you don’t want the dog to have it put it up. Mama doesn’t care anymore. Keep going and you can see our crazy lego, skylander,dimensions hot mess toy table. It used to be the train table but we outgrew the trains somewhere along the way,  we painted it with chalkboard paint and it is a completely repurposed fabulous toy table.

And finally behind that Lily And Benny are having hot cereal by the fire, while riding a wooden sled. I mean why not, our children are quite the indoor kids during the winter. city kids, unfortunate seeing as we live in the prairies, filled with nature, and snow, and stuff. If you look closely Benny is brandishing a metal Christmas tree and Lily is about to hit him with that pillow, that OR the pillow is a reindeer and the tree is a present they are out delivering. I’m not sure. Both stories work for me.

So welcome, welcome to our morning routine. Whats yours like? Feel free to send pictures or post and tag me on Instagram. #thislovelyday

Have a beautiful day

love K