Margarita

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the art of doing nothing

baby-sleeping

Suppose children were brought here on earth to teach their parents a lesson: what could you learn from your child? It’s our role as parents to teach them, right? And yet every single day I learn something new from my kids. Today’s lesson involved the art of doing nothing, which in Italian is  l’arte di non fare nient. This is a lesson in zen, truly, it’s not just doing it’s nothing – it’s accepting the silence, appreciating the stillness, allowing your mind to drift and wander without worries or care. It’s a skill.

The other night, Holland surprised me by sleeping at night – imagine that? He awoke a couple of times but for a very brief nursing and went straight back to bed. In the morning my husband was already off to work and the baby was in our bed, sound asleep. He was sleeping in the crook of my arm, right at my breast, and I couldn’t move or else I’d wake him. I had no idea what time it was and I couldn’t reach my phone. I was teetering on the brink of frustration, but instead I took a different path.

I watched my child sleep. His eyelids fluttering, his perfect little nose, his tiny hands holding me. Occasionally I’d adjust my arm and he would suddenly move towards me, mouth first at the nipple, eyes closed the whole time, like a little forest creature seeking his mama in the dark. He would calm himself almost immediately and roll onto his back moments later, his chest rising and falling with each little breath.

Occasionally a thought would flicker in my mind that it was time to get up, start the day, get Chanel ready for school, find out what time it was – but as quickly as these thoughts invaded my mind, I kicked them out. Now was not the time.

Right now I am doing nothing.

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i will never forget what he said

BlogEverday

I’ve been following Jenni’s challenge at Story of My Life, almost from the beginning of May, but haven’t actually posted any of them until today! For your information, today’s challenge is: Something someone told you about yourself that you’ll never forget.

I was in the second or third grade. I had my brown hair, my big mouth always getting me in trouble, I was super loud, always running rampant, and eating too many sweets. I was never a ‘fat kid’ but I was never part of the skinny club. My little belly was always there, my thighs have touched as long as I can remember being on this earth. Safe to say, I weighed ten pounds more than I should have my whole life. But I was always told how pretty I was, so I think everyone can overlook that extra junk in my trunk (or appreciate it for what it is!).

Anyway! 

note-preview

Little me was always crushing on some boy. At the time, I had some weird crush on another Polish kid in my class, I don’t know why. Probably because he ignored me. I always liked the ones that were a challenge and stepped on the boys that fawned all over me. Polish kid had a Canadian best friend, and the two boys were inseparable – making my attempts to talk to the Polish boy alone pretty difficult. (I realise how weird and bizarre this sounds, I was young but always trying to fall in love!)

For whatever reason, (I don’t remember how this came up in conversation), the Polish kid said this to me:

“You know, Maggie, you’re pretty. But you’d be REALLY pretty if you just lost a little weight.”

(shock, horror – I know! We were so young! What a bastard!)

I remember standing there, a little stunned as he turned to walk away, wishing I had a good comeback to hit him back with (I still suck at the comeback line).

And then the Canadian boy looked at me and said:

“Don’t listen to him, you’re beautiful. You’re always beautiful, you don’t need to lose any weight.”

And suddenly my crush for the Polish boy switched to the Canadian boy.

I don’t know why I remember that, it’s such a vivid memory in my mind, and it’s fairly insignificant. I mean, nothing real happened, just words.

In Polish there’s a saying that ‘Polish Girls are the Prettiest’, and that day I learned that indeed, we are the prettiest while Polish boys can be complete douchebags. Even in the second grade.

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my experiences with postpartum depression

postpartum

After the births of each of my children, I went through periods of postpartum depression, which I am still going through today. The one surprising thing is that after the birth of each child, the PPD symptoms were different.  Just like each child is completely different, so were my mental health problems, I suppose.

I was 22 when my first child was born, I was young, I was not prepared for the realities of motherhood, and really, who is? But I know in my heart that my maturity level wasn’t truly ready to accept the changes in my life. I was weepy for the first few months of my daughter’s life. They called it the “baby blues”. I would cry at the drop of a hat, I wasn’t ‘sad’, I didn’t feel ‘depressed’, but I would cry for no reason at all. I tried to keep it hidden away, pretend everything was okay in my life, and on the surface I thought I had succeeded. Only the closest people in my life really knew, and the closest ones usually receive the shit end of the stick (like my poor husband found out)…

It hit me the hardest when I weaned my baby girl from the breast, at about 5 months. Those were my lowest moments, and when I say ‘low’, I don’t mean suicidal. I never thought of myself as “depressed”, since I wasn’t simply just sad all the time. I felt conflicted, confused – wasn’t I supposed to be enjoying motherhood? Why was I always crying? Why was I waiting for the fog to lift? Why was I numb to joy?

Recently I discovered many articles linking postpartum depression with weaning, including these posts from A Cup of Jo & Helen Jane. And I just wish that I had told a doctor how I was feeling back then, I wish I had confided in somebody and gotten help, instead I felt like it was my cross to bear alone, I felt that it would eventually go away on its’ own, perhaps? I’m not sure exactly, as it was six years ago, but I look back and think that I could have benefited from some help, instead of trying to be “strong” and ignore my pain.

With this recent pregnancy, the first four or five months went by in a blur! I was waiting for the baby blues to start, I was apprehensive about it – and when it didn’t seem to show I was somewhat in disbelief but also very relieved. I even talked to friends about it, that I was simply “too busy to be sad”, which was also true, at the time. But during the sixth month, and then seventh month, this “busyness” attributed to anxiety and panic attacks.

Having never felt true anxiety before, I was confused. I felt weak. I felt I couldn’t complete the simplest task. The thought of throwing in a load of laundry, or wiping the counters, or answering the phone would turn my stomach. I would have trouble breathing to the point where I one time googled “what to do when having a panic attack” in the middle of one, and started doing breathing exercises in my daughter’s room. My poor husband would call and ask me to send him a file by email and I would freak out. I stopped listening to what people asked of me. I didn’t want to leave the house. I just felt overwhelmed.

Was this post-partum depression? I didn’t feel sad. I wasn’t running around crying all the time. I just couldn’t handle life anymore – which pissed me off, more than anything. I thought of myself as a strong woman who could handle anything life threw at her – I used to be an events planner for chrissakes! And now I would miss my daughter’s swimming practice and forget doctor’s appointments and couldn’t even handle making food without breathing exercises. I stopped going to play groups, I stopped socializing, and instead would just hole up in my house, not leaving unless I absolutely had to. I was disappointed in myself, in a way – and I didn’t understand what was happening, and I didn’t want to go out in the world and let someone see my cracked, and fragile, exterior.

This time, I went to my doctor. I sat in his room, looked at him and proceeded to blubber on for twenty minutes, alternating between crying, looking away and trying not to cry, and admitting to him that I just wanted to get away from it all. I just wanted to leave and go somewhere – no kids, no husband, no phone calls, no responsibilities, no one depending on me, nothing. I apologised for ‘losing it’. I told him I didn’t feel like myself, that I felt crazy, and I knew ‘crazy’ wasn’t a term doctors were PC about, but it was the only way to describe how I felt at the time.

He was concerned, and after some discussion we decided that I would go on an anti-anxiety & anti-depression medication.

It takes a lot for me to admit this. That I’m not perfect. That even though I am a strong person, I can benefit from help – that everyone can. I know I’m a better mother to my children, a better wife to my husband, and a better person all around, now that I am allowing myself to help myself.

I’m really glad that I took the time to write this, and if you’re still reading, thank you.

And thank you to Alice from More Than Toast for writing this about her own recent experience with Post-Natal Depression.

A great source for more information is Postpartum Progress, which helped me identify my anxiety being linked to PPD.

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ombré hair dye at home

Is ombré hair still in style? I’ve seen it around for years, and over time the look has grown on me immensely – especially when done more subtly, so it looks sun-kissed and naturally grown-out. It can be very chic when it’s bold as well, but I need something more casual, more everyday, a hair style that can look good when styled messy or chic.

ombrehair

I’m not really sure if it’s still in or not, but I’m not one to jump on a trendy bandwagon until the ‘cool’ people are over it, anyway.

I tend to play it safe with my hair lately – first because I’ve been trying to let it grow out forever and it takes a loooong time to grow. Secondly because bleach kills my hair, so if I was doing highlights and extreme colour changes, then my hair would die a slow death and I would need to cut it to keep it healthy.

before

So after years of being a fabulous, but boring, brunette, I decided to do something with a little more je ne sais quoi… and I decided to do ombre hair at home.

And why did I decide to do an ombré hair look at home? Because the salon quoted me $250. And L’Oreal Feria came out with an at-home ombre kit which immediately intrigued me as well as horrified me, because although the box with the blonde girls looks pretty good, the dark-haired model box looks kind of bad. Who wants two-tone hair that looks like a ruler is separating the colours? So I researched a bit, and discovered that the Feria ombré  kits are great for ‘virgin’ hair – ie. not mine. So I decided to go with a Clairol lightening product for dark hair, basically a high-peroxide bleach product.

So here is the somewhat terrible looking “before” shot. As you might be able to tell from the horrible iPhone pictures, the ends of my hair are darker than the roots, mainly because I’ve dyed it so many times – and I used to dye it a bit darker, whereas my roots are just blah.

In order to achieve a natural-looking ombré, I applied bleach to the tips of my hair, and let it sit for a five to ten minutes, and then reapplied. Each time I reapplied I think I went a wee bit higher. If you decide to do this, take a look at pictures online and really figure out what you want the end result to look like. There is no right or wrong way to achieve an ombré, you have to decide if you want it all over, how high you want the colour to go, what type of contrast you are looking for, etc… I admit I was a bit undecided and actually went higher with the bleach than I thought I might.

And now, for the most embarrassing picture ever taken and put on a blog – the I-wear-my-husband’s-old-dirty-shirt-to-dye-my-hair look:

during

 

Bwahahahaha. Pigtails are so not my look. Near the end of the process, I took out the pig tails, just to make sure that the bleaching product was applied rather evenly, and because I took the product all the way up to my chin almost. I left the bleaching product on for about an hour – you might not have to, but my ends were so heavy with colour that it simply took that long to lift. The good thing about doing it this way is that you can also wipe the product off of your hair with a paper towel and see how light your hair is getting.

after

 And voila! I will take another picture when I’m outside, so you can see the colour a bit better than what my bathroom lighting (which sucks) and my iPhone can give you.  You can tell the bottom half of the hair is lighter! Ombré achieved! I am very happy with the results! The ends of my hair are lighter, it looks like it has been grown-out, and the colour, though not exactly what I was hoping for, was what I expected anyway.

back

It’s hard to lift dark hair colour, especially at home, so in the sunlight the tips look a bit ginger-ish, which is kind of a fun take on the whole ombré look.

The whole process was super easy – especially because it’s supposed to look a little messy, perfection is not a necessity! But I will say that it was trés stressful. I had no idea what the end result would be or if it would even look good on me – so I bought a box of back-up hair dye in the colour brownjust in case it turned out looking not so good.

I am so in love with this easy hair-change! If you’ve been wanting to try an ombré hair style – go for it! It’s very simple to do and is a lot of fun, especially if you are fearful of huge colour changes. If I get sick of this look I can easily dye it to match my ‘roots’, or I can even make the ends lighter by bleaching them again, which I think I might do in the summer.

What do you think? Would you ever try this at home?

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living with less & loving what you have

charming book nook
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My husband and I are currently in the process of building our next home, a modern dwelling built on a mountainside with beautiful ocean views. We currently reside in a rental, and we’re going on our third year here! I cannot wait to break free of these bare off-white walls and truly create a home for our family. As we start to pack away our winter things and place them in storage, I slowly start removing things we don’t need throughout the house. Instead of just packing stuff away to deal with when we arrive in the new house, I am going to take the next few months to really think about the place of each item, both in our house and in our lives.

I am on a constant battle with “stuff”, “junk”, and “clutter”.

There are simple solutions to living with less: find a place for everything, and always put everything in its’ place. If it doesn’t fit, doesn’t belong, doesn’t get used – it most likely doesn’t need to be taking up space in your home. It sounds simple but it’s obviously a much more tedious task to actually go through your drawers, your closets, and your shelves and purge everything.

I sometimes think my husband wants to literally just get rid of EVERYTHING and start fresh and new. But economically this just doesn’t make sense. I do see his point though…

When I’m on my minimalist kicks, I start with one ‘section’ of my home. It can be small, such as the ‘junk’ drawer in the kitchen or the bucket of toys in the bathroom that seems to always hold more duckies than can fit, or it can be  on a larger scale, like the pantry or the hallway closet. Regardless, giving yourself ONE task is a much easier way to delve into de-cluttering than psyching yourself out with a LIST of tasks to get done.

But there’s always a battle that happens, between what we really need, what we really use, and what we’re guilted into keeping because we’ve spent money on it.

There’s no sense in being archaic about it, allow yourself a collection or two that makes you happy and adds beauty to your space.

I adore books, but realise as life goes on that I rarely have time to read them. Over the years I’ve given much of my collection away and downloaded the ebook version of the ones I truly love. Yet there is no way I can rid myself of my cookbook collection, which honestly consists of over 100 books at last count. I can’t bring myself to do it. They are beautiful to look at, they hold memories of the past and ideas of the future – our family loves to eat and I love to cook and create. I will always make space for cookbooks in my life, as they make me happy.

Could I live without them? Sure. But I wouldn’t want to!

When going through your stuff, you start to realise what is important to you and what you could really live without…

Once you acknowledge that, the guilt of how much you spent on something is overshadowed by the prospects of having more empty spaces in your home to fill with love and light.

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