a peek inside the fishbowl

10 Dec, 2010

A quick poll and short update

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

We’ve had a flood of giveaways here at the Fishbowl. And as much as I love giving stuff away, I need to know:


Thank you! Your vote helps make the Fishbowl a happier place.

Let’s talk ADVENT.
I need to write it down before I lose track of what we’ve done. I feel like I haven’t been very creative with our family activities this year. I am feeling burned out – not by Christmas – just by life. I feel like there’s this pressure for me to be a happy homemaker. And I am – to a certain degree – a happy homemaker. At the very least, I know that I’m a happier homemaker than many women out there, but I can’t help but feel like I am seriously lacking in the Christmas department. What is wrong with me? This is why I love all things Martha Stewart, and I hate them almost as much. Nothing makes you feel more inferior than a perfectly decorated sugar cookie. I feel like I would be a better mom if I loved baking and decorating (and scrubbing the baseboards, but that is a whole different post) and lovingly darning the socks of my delightfully well-bred offspring. 

The truth is, I suck at baking and decroating cookies. I don’t love doing it, and for some reason I think I should. I love having a tree but I need to force myself to decorate it. Where does this come from? I can’t figure it out.

 There’s a house around the corner with a huge four-season front garden and decorations that come out at each major seasonal interval: Easter, Halloween, Christmas. How do they do it? The living room is really the only place I ever have the energy to decorate.

Gah. Enough of that. Here’s the lowdown on what we’ve been doing:

Day 6 – Mini pedi spa day (a.k.a. Keeping Up With Personal Hygiene)
Day 7 – Decorating the tree
Day 8 – Was going to be “dress up for dinner,” but Emma had something going on right after school so we turned it into a mashup of “wear hats at the dinner table” “eat dessert before dinner” (I made a kick ass pudding. Kick.Ass. I must post the recipe.) and a last-minute “Get take-out from The Works because mum didn’t plan anything for dinner. Just pudding.”
Day 9 – Sarah had an art class at 4Cats Arts Studio, which I first wrote about here. (It was amazing. Here’s what she created!) and we attended a fundraising party at Emma’s school, AND topped it all off with two holiday TV shows before bed.

Today I am waiting anxiously for a delivery of a new camera. I ordered a Nikon D90 from Henry’s. Mark agreed that it was time for an upgrade. I was hoping it would arrive yesterday and the whole thing is making me squirrely.

In other news I am making a little somethin’ Christmassy for YOU too. It’ll be a downloadable kind of thing. Stay tuned for that.

This post is part of our 2010 Family Advent, a.k.a. 25 Days of Christmas. You can read more about that here.

14 Responses to "A quick poll and short update"

1 | Valerie

December 10th, 2010 at 1:07 pm


LOVE Sarah’s picture! We’re going to do the paper maché class just before Christmas – thanks to you telling us about the studio.

2 | karen at virtually there

December 10th, 2010 at 1:12 pm


“Nothing makes you feel more inferior than a perfectly decorated sugar cookie.” You penned perfectly what I’ve been feeling for years! Years, I tell you! And you know I love to bake… but I stink at decorating any baking – cakes, cookies, whatever. I like making ooey, gooey good but making it look pretty is not my forte and I do feel inferior at times because of it.

Ditto for the house… and this year especially I’m not feeling it so much and I’ve read that others (such as Lynn) are feeling that way too. Is there something this year that is just off?

3 | Lynn

December 10th, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Just had to comment that I would gladly, GLADLY, eat anything Karen ever makes. No matter how ugly. It’s NOT A PROBLEM.

I voted above but also wanted to add that I like the giveaways on this blog, in particular. Usually I shy away from blogs that are doing giveaways all the time, but yours are always a) really, really quality products, b) local stores/events, so even if I don’t win, I could still shop there or show up, so it’s great info; and c) you personally believe in them, and that means something to me. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a giveaway on your blog that didn’t interest me. So go ahead, keep them coming!

4 | Javamom

December 10th, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Over the years the only thing that has made me want to do LESS decorating over the holidays is the fact that taking it all down when it’s all said and done just takes up so much time and energy. The whole idea of having to re-wrap the precious ornaments and store them for another 11 months….it makes me tired just thinking about it. So I do the same….a little bit of decorating the living-room and maybe outside the house and the rest of it? nah.

Cookie decorating at this house is the kids’ job and they have, um, ‘incidents’ with the sprinkles. Not a fan either…


5 | Ginger

December 10th, 2010 at 7:03 pm


I voted number 4 since I live in Texas. But I don’t mind your giveaways. In fact they sort of make me sad that I don’t live in Ottawa.

As for you feelings towards Christmas…I am glad I am not alone. I feel like I should do so much more than I do. But working almost full-time and raising 2 very active toddlers and trying to fit in time to do my miles and cooking dinner and…and…and…it all leaves me quite drained.

I want their holidays to be magical like mine were. But you know…as I have watched them this year I think Christmas is magical without much help from me. The are in awe of the lights and the tree and all of the special things. And on Christmas morning when suddenly there are new toys waiting by the tree I know their faces will light up. I will never forget the look in Dean’s eyes when I handed him a strand of jingle bells. They don’t need a perfect Christmas…it already is perfect in their eyes. And that is something I am trying to focus on when I feel frustrated!

6 | Shannon

December 10th, 2010 at 10:30 pm


I like your giveaways, they’re not the usual “we give you a product and you rant and rave over it whether you like it or not because we are also giving you a $50 GC to Chapters” (which is so glaringly obvious). I like the local focus, keep it up!

7 | Carly

December 10th, 2010 at 11:31 pm


Went to see Sarah’s creation and saw the D90 box. It came! It came! Enjoy – we love ours. :o)

8 | Carly

December 10th, 2010 at 11:32 pm


Oops, and I loved Sarah’s artwork too. Bee-oo-ti-ful, as my friend Flossie from the Bobsey Twins books would have said!

9 | Jen Hughes

December 11th, 2010 at 1:35 am


I’m having a good chuckle at your Day 8 dinner. So what if you didn’t plan dinner, you got to eat Works burgers. And, so what if you suck at baking and decorating cookies, because you made a kickass pudding. And that is something I’ve never made.

I’ve been feeling the same way about Christmas for a couple of years now. I love it, but it’s just all so much WORK. I’m TIRED. This year my excuse for general lack of Martha-ness is the baby. Last year my excuse was being pregnant. The year before, my excuse was probably having a toddler. Which will also work neatly as my excuse for next year. :)

Congrats on the new camera!

10 | Hellcat13

December 11th, 2010 at 11:20 pm


Just a note, off topic, to let you know that I popped in to Tag Along Toys today. I adored it! I picked up a few unique and affordable toys for my nieces and nephew – really fun stuff. As always, another great recommendation from the Fishbowl.

11 | Sasha

December 12th, 2010 at 12:14 am


Phew! I was feeling a little inadequate in the 25 days department. I’ve rationalized it thus: my eldest just turned two. She doesn’t really know, or care, that Christmas is coming. So 25 days is for mommy, and if what mommy needs is to go hide in the office and finally write her 25 days blog post, so be it :).
So I will finish that post. At some point. Because what mommy actually needs right now is sleep. :)

12 | Kathleen

December 12th, 2010 at 7:13 pm


Oh the pressure we moms put on ourselves sometimes. I’ve been trying to be low key and relaxed about Christmas for the last few years. But it’s taken awhile to let go and just have fun with whatever we happen to do.

Seeing my seven year old stress about what she was going to make her cousins for Christmas finally helped me realize that you have to work and keep working at a relaxed Christmas.

Here’s what we’ve done to keep things simple:

1. No gifts for adults outside the immediate family except grandparents and teachers (they’re getting coffee thanks to a friend’s school fundraiser).

2. Lights on the tree, not on the house. My daughter asked me why we weren’t putting lights up outside. “I just don’t really want to” was my answer. Remember — this isn’t just about us, moms! It’s about being a positive role model for our kids.

3. Tree decorated with the kids. Whatever they do is beautiful.

4. We don’t send Christmas cards. It’s a sweet tradition, but too much work.

With all this free time, we’ve actually had some fabulous, semi-spontaneous family outings over the last few weeks. We’ve gone skating, skiing and to the art gallery. Some of us have been to a family dance party. Others went to a local art opening.

And the parents have had afternoon naps, runs and even the odd badminton game. I just feel like a more friendly person when I’m not trying to do up Christmas all super special.

Thanks for keeping it real on your blog! Reading it is another treat I offer myself on a regular basis.

13 | Scatteredmom

December 13th, 2010 at 3:09 am


Andrea, do not worry about the cookie thing. Do what makes Christmas fun for you and your girls, and buy the cookies. Or if you must bake them, buy pre-made dough and let the girls just decorate how they see fit.

I’ll always remember the Christmas I tried to be Martha by making a gingerbread house from scratch. Would you believe the thing was chucked across my kitchen because I was so stressed out about it?

I’m putting together a post about having a simple Christmas, which is how we roll in our house now. I love it that way, and anything that makes us stressed out or unhappy gets set aside. (or modified so that we enjoy it)

(and psst…I have a DELISH no roll/ice sour cream sugar cookie recipe)

14 | Kaitlin

December 14th, 2010 at 11:56 am


Ha. “Mum didn’t plan anything for dinner. Just pudding”.

That line did it for me. (Tonight is breakfast for dinner at our house!)

comment form:


Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • wisma bet login: alwa?s i ?sed to ?ead smzller posts ?hich al?? clear t?eir motive, and that is als? happening wityh t?is paragraph whi?h I am reading ?t this plac
  • /Article//110482: What i do not understood is in truth how you're not really much more neatly-favored than you might be now. You're so intelligent. You understand th
  • Jenn Jilks: That is really exciting! Break a leg!
  • fun88: I was excited to discover this page. I want to to thank you for your time for this fantastic read!! I definitely liked every part of it and i also
  • Gretchen Humphrey: I had a beautiful bee& birdbath filled with a solar fountain and dozens of antique marbles that were suddenly disappearing. At first I thought my
  • Jinjer: I am sobbing reading this post. And you're right, companion is not enough. Little furry treasured gifts that they are. Thanks for sharing cutie-pi
  • Karen: Dear Andrea, Mark and your daughters I am so very sad for your family xxx Piper was/is my favourite Instagram post. You shared with us so intimately

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

Still calling it Twitter