Archive for Little RuRu

Making myself useful

It’s just after 11pm.  I was hoping to be asleep by now, but I’m not.  I figured if I’m going to be awake I might as well be useful and update everyone as to what’s going on and taking me away from this blog.

Not too long ago, I got pretty durn frustrated with myself.  In my vivid imagination, others were frustrated with me as well.  Why was everyone so grumpy?  Because I was always saying I couldn’t do things because I had no money, and never doing anything about it.

So when an opportunity to work a night shift suddenly appeared on my Facebook feed, I took it.  I sent in my application, and got a call back the next day.  The whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think about it.  Suddenly, I was employed!

The job is a retail job.  The store I work at uses a door-to-floor sales model – that is, there is no store room in the back.  When people ask “Do you have this in another colour/size/material in the back?”, the answer is always “No”.  Merchandise is delivered to the store three times a week.  It is unloaded from the truck and then distributed immediately to the sales floor.  The shipments arrive right as the store closes, and at the same time the Night Stockers appear from the woodwork to git ‘er done.  If there isn’t a shipment, there is still a store to be tidied, inventory to be taken, and new products to merchandise.

I didn’t really want to work retail, but the hours meant that I didn’t have to put Little RuRu in daycare.  The hours also mean I don’t have much of a social life (or much time for blogging).  A successful woman I respect once told me that while you could choose to put your child in daycare, you had to be able to look back at your decision in 20 years and be happy with the outcome.  I really don’t think I would be. I’m not trying to judge those that do.  Everyone has to do what is right for them.  I saw the opportunity to both work and stay home, and I took it.  The decision is not without its sacrifices.

So, every evening as soon as Mister gets home from work I head out the door.  My shift finishes at 1am, and I am usually home by 1:15.  I read a little to unwind, then tuck in for the night.  RuRu wakes me up around 7, we have breakfast and read books, then go back to sleep for a couple of hours.  In the afternoons we walk BoBo and try to do chores and/or prepare dinner.

On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays I also walk a dog.  These days I don’t get a nap.  RuRu goes to Granny’s house or hangs with Mister while I work.

On top of that, right around the time I started this new job I took an unpaid internship writing articles for a Green company.  I can’t say I’m happy with the speed that I’m turning the articles out, but I’m happy that I took the initiative to try.

All in all, a lot is going on in the Farm Fairy household.  We have to cram all of our weekend into one day (Saturday) and Mister and I barely see each other during the week.  Despite it all, it feels good.  It feels good because it instantly made my goals feel more attainable.  It also is nice to be able to treat ourselves a little (perhaps a little too much the first paycheque!).  The people I work with are awesome, and I am noticing my self-confidence returning.  No longer do I feel like I have nothing to contribute to a conversation, since I now LEAVE MY HOUSE and talk to REAL ADULTS.

I feel like I’m moving forward, making positive steps.  Who knows where this will lead me? I’m excited to find out.


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Rewards-based chores

Recently, I’ve implemented a new chore system in the Farm Fairy household.

When the baby arrived at our household, the balance of who did what was thrown way off kilter.  Suddenly there were a whole lot more responsibilities, as the little one had needs which we had previously not had to contend with.  I’m not going to lie, it was seriously hard to find our groove again.  The sheer volume of chores was daunting, and we were overwhelmed with the influx of “baby” things.  The fact that our home was so embarrassingly out of control left us crabby and short with each other.  It was far too easy to just avoid the whole situation by packing up and going out somewhere.  Once the door closed behind us, we were relaxed and could enjoy each others’ company.  However, I knew we needed to deal with the state of the place at some point.

To start with, I decided to try a system where I rewarded myself for cleaning.  This idea came from Karen Pryor’s “Don’t Shoot the Dog”.  For those of you who haven’t read it, the author describes a situation where she has to go to a class that she doesn’t always look forward to.  She buys herself a chocolate bar and eats a small piece of it every time she accomplishes one portion of her journey.  Walked to the subway?  Chocolate.  On the train?  Chocolate.  Transferred to the bus?  Chocolate.  Eventually, she effectively trains herself to go to the class without needing the chocolate.  This should apply to cleaning, right?

The first system I made was a colossal failure.  I remembered a system my sister used to use, where she wrote her “To-do” list on little scraps of paper and pinned them to a cork board.  When the task was completed, she would tear down the job from the board.  She described a sense of satisfaction from clearing the board, and found that that feeling of accomplishment was, in itself, rewarding.  I didn’t have a cork board, but I did have a bunch of sticky notes from various realtors and charities.  The fridge would serve as my cork board.  To keep myself on track, I made a rule that I HAD to finish one sticky per day, or do three the next day.  When all the stickies were gone, I could reload the fridge with more.  As an added bonus, I decided that when I finished all my sticky tabs I would treat myself to a Fudgesicle.  That’s plenty motivating, right?

It seemed like a great system, but after about two weeks it started to fall apart.  I missed a sticky one day, and then the next I didn’t finish three, and it just snowballed from there.  Eventually my “sticky debt” reached a critical mass and I avoided the whole thing.  It was easier to pretend it wasn’t there than to admit I had failed.  On top of that, my first go around had 42 stickies on the fridge.  That is WAY too many stickies to complete if the reward is a measly Fudgesicle.  If the reward had been a trip to Hawaii or a new car, then maybe I would have finished it.

The stickies stayed sad and forgotten for a period of time while I grieved my failed system.  Eventually, I decided I could rebuild it (I had the technology!).  I had learned from my mistakes and this time around, the sticky system seems to be sticking!

Here’s the new system:

These are the job stickies.  There are a mix of colours, each chore is randomly assigned a colour.

Underneath the job stickies are the finished stickies.  There’s a column for me and a column for Mister.

I have simplified the rules a lot to make the system flow better.  The rules are as follows:
1.  You must complete one of each colour sticky (that’s 5 stickies) to get a reward.

2. Each participant is the rewards commissioner for the other, so the reward is always a surprise.

3. You can’t write a chore on a sticky that is a colour you need to complete your 5 unless there aren’t any of that colour currently on the jobs list.

4. If a sticky has been up there for more than a month, you can’t add another sticky of the same colour until that task gets completed.

5.  No guilt allowed.

So far, it’s working out pretty well.  Sometimes we fly through the chores and sometimes we don’t, but because we don’t allow guilt the system doesn’t become uncomfortable.  We have fun thinking up rewards, and I usually have a couple for Mister hidden around the house (because the rewards are more effective if they are immediate!).
I think this system could easily be applied to other things besides chores, if you so desired.  For example, someone wishing to exercise more could put lists of things like “Go for a 30 min walk” or “Do 10 sit-ups” on the jobs list.  As long as the stickies are measurable and you know you can achieve them, you’re golden.

Now, go forth and motivate!  I’d love to hear how it turns out if any of you get the inkling to try it.  Good luck!

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Just some pictures of my son and various farm animals

This post is exactly as the title states – pictures of my son with various farm animals.  So far, he’s been delighted by just about every farm animal he’s come across, which in turn delights me.

The photos are taken over the span of several trips, so the constant outfit changes are due to the changing days and not due to some Bollywood-esque need to change costumes 37 times during a single dance number.

He loved the chickens, but they kept running away!

You couldn’t pet the pigs, but he loved them so. He kept signing “please, please, please” and pointing at them.

Goats on a bench are fun to poke

While standing in a herd of goats, he discovered that goats poop. Then he discovered goat poop can be squished under his feet. *sigh*. I should have put him in his boots.

He tried to open the sheep’s mouth to look inside. The sheep was very patient.

Last but not least, the Jersey steer. This was his favourite. He patted it for a very long time, and laughed while doing so.

So that’s it for this post.  Sorry for those who wanted something more wordy, but there are many out there who want to see pictures of the wee farmer.  I’m pretty stoked about the post I have planned for next, so stop by soon to see it!

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Can you believe this kid?

My little mini-farmer just celebrated his first birthday!

It’s hard to believe that in just a year he went from this:

To this:

He walks, he signs please, he has nine teeth and a head of blonde hair.  He loves animals and wants to be involved in everything we do.  He’ll make the best little farmer.  I couldn’t be prouder!



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Small-scale aquaculture

Recently, I’ve become interested in small-scale aquaculture.  Aquaculture’s gotten a bit of a bad rap because of the whole farmed salmon/sea lice fiasco, but inland aquaculture of herbivorous fish can be sustainable when done right.  In some cases, you can even polycrop – grow other crops in your fish habitat (for example, raising tilapia in ponds where you also grow rice).

Those of you that are from around here may know of Minnekhada, a decommissioned hunting-lodge-turned-park in Coquitlam.  If you walk the grounds of the park, you come across a cement pond about 30 feet across.  It was a trout pond for the lodge, and a pretty good example of small-scale aquaculture in history.

This historical success of aquaculture in our area was encouraging for me.  I decided I had to try it.

Here’s our set up:

Jus’ kidding!  Obviously we’re not going to eat anything from this tank.  2.5 gallons just isn’t enough to raise anything of any substance. This handsome fellow is Mr. T.

Mr. T is clearly not going to be eaten, but rather bought for the purposes of entertaining Little RuRu.  So far, it’s worked.  Little RuRu thinks Mr. T is hilarious.

All joking aside, I’ve done a bit of research about small-scale aquaculture and it’s totally possible.   Several designs even exist for a blended system called “aquaponics”.  Hydroponics is a soil-free growing method (often used to grow marijuana, but also very useful for tomatoes and lettuces and such).  The growing media is usually a pea gravel, which is flooded with nutrient-rich water.  In aquaponics, as the water is drained from the growing media it collects in a tank that holds fish.  The fish use oxygen from the water and deposit nutrients of their own.  In most backyard systems, aquaponics is more productive from the vegetable standpoint than the fish standpoint.  I still think it’s a cool idea, though.

The research has been encouraging.  With the right equipment, you can raise fish or freshwater shrimp for your own consumption in your backyard (or your basement, if you are so inclined).

I think this is one that I won’t explore in my condo (past Mr T, of course).

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Loaves of love?

Oh, hey!  Just a picture of some bread I made

I wish you could smell it!

I love baking bread.  Maybe it’s because I’m a little odd, but one of my favourite smells ever is melted butter in warm milk.  It reminds me of baking bread with my Mum when I was little.

This bread is a simple white bread.  Nothing is special about it, beyond the fact that it was handmade with love.  The loaves are not quite as tall as I would like them to be, but they still taste divine.  They are subtly sweet, with a springy texture that you just can’t get in mass-produced loaves.

Baking bread is not hard at all, it’s just time-consuming.  Even then, it’s mostly sitting and waiting.  It was only about 30 min of actual work, and the rest of the time it was sitting and waiting for the bread to rise or bake.  You have to be willing to stay home (or close to home) for three or four hours in order to complete the project.

It’s so much better, though.  I think I’ll make the time to make my own bread more often.  Look, Little RuRu likes it, too!

I know, it's a little blurry. The camera flash didn't go off, and then the moment was gone and I couldn't take another. That kid doesn't sit still long!

I hope he always values something homemade over something store-bought.  Right now he really has no idea, obviously, but one day in the future I hope he gets it.   Currently, my lovingly hand-made bread ended up all over the floor, ground into my sweater, and in the belly of the dog (but I don’t begrudge her that).

One day, right?

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Let’s get this rolling again

Alrighty.  Mister, RuRu, and I have returned triumphant from the South.  As promised, here are a few photos from our adventure:

RuRu was very good on the plane!  Our trip was in two flights – Vancouver to Denver, Denver to Tampa.  He slept through the better part of both.

First plane ride!

We had a seven hour layover in Denver, which Mister and I dreaded.  RuRu walked holes in the feet of his jammies he was so busy during the layover.  It kept him happy, though!

Ooops... how did that happen?

Our action-packed trip started out at the Florida Strawberry Festival.  The first order of business?  The Dairy Costume Ball.  I know we’ve all been waiting for these pictures!

After the Costume ball (Which was won by the cow dressed as the Strawberry Queen, even though I thought the Cowola Crayons were way better) we enjoyed the food the fair had to offer, partaking in chocolate covered bacon, deep-fried catfish, and of course, strawberries.

Next on the agenda?  We stopped in to visit the manatees (no pictures, the water was choppy and they don’t show up in pictures) and then RuRu’s first hockey game!  Tampa vs Ottawa (Ottawa won).  RuRu wasn’t fussed, though…he wasn’t even watching.

Yup. Sleeping peacefully.

That’s right.  He watched the pre-game, then slept soundly through the rest of the proceedings.  He woke up as we were leaving the arena.

The next day yielded a lovely surprise!  An unplanned trip to…

Icicles in this heat?

Harry Potter World!  Mister and I aren’t really fans, but some of our traveling companions were.  Even not being fans, it was really neat to see because it was so carefully staged (and the rides are still fun, whether you know the plot or not).  RuRu had the best time waiting in line to go into Hogwart’s.

Next up: Busch Gardens.  A large part of the day was spent on roller coasters, while RuRu hung out with Nana.  However, in the afternoon Mister headed for the coasters while Nana and I took RuRu to enjoy the day.  He rode his first carousel (unfortunately the pics of this are on Nana’s camera and I don’t have them yet) and got to see many zoo animals!

That’s a hippo, if you couldn’t tell.

We visited Tampa’s gay district, and ate at Hamburger Mary’s.  Not sure if RuRu enjoyed it or not… what’s your vote?

Our final (interesting) day was spent at the beach (we spent another day and a bit poking around, shopping at Target and such).  Siesta Keys has been voted the #1 beach in America, and rightly so from what I’ve seen.  The child wasn’t sure he liked the sand between his toes, but the rest of us had a good time.

And so ended our trip to Florida!  The trip home (again in two parts, this time through Chicago and with a much shorter layover) was uneventful.  Our kid’s an easy traveler!

The next morning I woke up confused as to where I was… It didn’t look like my house (I think while I was away I convinced myself it was cleaner than it actually was!).  All the same… we’re still happy to be home.

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