Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of the Best 2011

It's the end of the year and I though I'd post my 2011 Best of the Best to help charge me up as we prepare to enter 2012. It has been a mixed bag year for us with a few losses, some injuries, much work travel by Hubs, and finding out our little man  has an anaphylactic allergy to tree nuts. So I needed to remind myself of what some of the best moments were this year and hopefully it will help put me in a positive mood as we usher this year out and the new one in.

My Best of the Best List for 2011...

Best Volunteer Moment:

After volunteering at Kids Kottage we sat down with their volunteer coordinator and I heard one of the Because Edmonton Cares volunteers say "so, how else can we help you?" It is the EXACT reason I do what I do.






Best Mr. Cole (AKA Ham) Moment:

Seeing him play Joseph at his preschool Christmas concert. He was just so sweet in his little costume singing his songs! He LOVES school, the teachers and other students love him and I love seeing him enjoy school this much.

Best Turkey (AKA Miss Jocelyn) Moment:

Her first day of Kindergarten. She looked so independent and confident I felt such pride in knowing she was going to do great. The other best part was when she came home and told me about all her new friends

Best Moment Spent With Hubs


Funny enough it wasn't our trips together but it was just a date night we had a couple weeks ago. We went for dinner at D'Lish and then went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie. Everything about the night was enjoyable and relaxing. We haven't had a night like that in ages! I think my runner up was watching Hubs take our Turkey skiing. It was so cute to watch the two of them on the hill together :)





Top 10 Books I've Read This Year (in no particular order)

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak
Game of Thrones - George R.R. Martin
The Hound of the Baskervilles - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner
Little Princes - Conor Grennan
The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
11/22/63 - Stephen King
Bossy Pants - Tina Fey
A Storm of Swords - George R.R. Martin
Prisoner of Tehran - Marina Nemat


Best Trip I Took

Jasper with my sister-in-law in January and I went again in May with Hubs. Both trips were memorable and it reminded me why I love Jasper, and the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge so much!


Best Concert I Saw


photo from http://www.chriscornell.com/
 This is tough as I saw a number of great acts this year but I'm going to have to go with Chris Cornell singing acoustically. Especially when he sang Hunger Strike and then threw us a wild card and sang Better Man by Pearl Jam. Simply awesome.  I'd say my runners up are U2 and seeing Cake/Metric/Joy Formidable at Sonic Boom.




Best New Restaurant We Went To

Vivo. Awesome little Italian place that opened up just a few minutes away. It's all served family style which makes it more fun when you go with a group.

Best Times Spent With Friends

There's so many good times with friends this year but I'd have to say it was spending my birthday, and numerous other occasions, at Guru Indian Restaurant with my girlfriends. The food is always AMAZING and so is the company.


Best Personal Moment

This is a hard one!  I'd have to say that I have 2 moments which really stood out for me. One was when my friend designed and emailed me a logo for Because Edmonton Cares. It was the moment for me when everything felt real, like it was all more tangible because we had a logo. And yes, I cried a little.

My other personal best was winning the Graceful Goddess FIERCE award. I honestly, honestly didn't think I'd win. I even picked who I thought would win and showed Hubs her work. I didn't prepare a speech, I didn't wear sensible shoes to make that walk to the podium, and I didn't ease up on the wine as I didn't think I'd need to speak to an audience...all of which I regretted when they called my name! It still amazes me and makes me feel that people do actually get what I'm about.

So, those are the Best of the Best Moments that stood out for me this year. What were your special moments?



November & December Reads

As per my usual pattern I'm late for posting my reads so I'm going to post both November and December. I know, I know...December isn't done yet but it's close enough that I'm not likely to finish another book between now and then.

November

1. Niccolo Rising - Dorothy Dunnett:  This was a selection from our Facebook book club and it was more than a little difficult to get into. There was SO MANY names/places to remember. It was hard to keep them all straight. It was unclear who the main character was until almost 1/2 way through the book. Once it was established how the story was going to play out you got a glimpse of the brilliant mind of Niccolo and I actually started to enjoy the story. So, since it took so long to get into I wouldn't suggest it for everyone but I can see that once you get into the character you might be interested in the entire series.

2. The Blue Flower - Penelope Fitzgerald:  This was from my 501 Must Read list and it was an interesting tale as it was based on the eighteenth century poet Novalis and his love for a 12 year old girl. It sounds so wrong but it was it was an interesting tale and knowing the customs at the time you realize it wasn't terribly uncommon. It was decent but not something I would recommend to everyone.

3. The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern: Now THIS book I would recommend. I greatly enjoyed this book. The imagery is stunning. It's like the author tapped into the mind of Tim Burton to come up with some of the different tent themes. This is the type of book that almost everyone would enjoy.

4. How to Be An American Housewife - Margaret Dilloway: this was an interesting book that I think was a fairly easy read that most people would enjoy. It follows a family where the mom/wife is a Japanese transplant in America after the war and her struggles to fit into a new culture. It was interesting and worth a look at.


December

1. Corduroy Mansions - Alexander McCall Smith: This book looks like the start of a new series. It was decent and very much in the writer's usual style. If you like any of his books then it's one I'd suggest you pick up.

2. 11/22/63 - Stephen King: I haven't read a Stephen King book in a loooonnng time and have to say I really happy that this one was selected as one of our Bookies book club selections. It was an interesting concept for a book, well written, and one that was hard to put down. Pick it up!

3. We Bought A Zoo - Benjamin Mee: I figured I'd give it a shot and it turned out to be just a so-so book.  I wanted to love this book and story but found that it got wrapped up in a fair amount of zoo technical talk that it lost some of the feeling. It also looks like they have changed the story quite a bit for the movie, which would be in typical form.

4. When God Was a Rabbit - Sarah Winman: this was a bit of a puzzle as the back of the book does not describe the story at all. But it is a tale of a brother and sister and their ups and downs. It was a bit dark and disturbing at times but speaks to sibling bonds. Kinda sticks with you a bit.


5. Cabel - Michael Dibdin: I wanted to like this series but it's not my favourite. I just can't seem to like the main character which seems essential for liking a series. I still have 1 more to read and unfortunately I read them out of order so I'll be going back to the beginning to start with book 1.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yikes! Who is That Woman in the Mirror?

The other day I looked into the mirror, I mean REALLY looked, and wasn't quite sure who was looking back. I was asked for ID until I was 35 years old so I think I took for granted that wrinkles wouldn't touch me for some time. And yet here they are...with a vengeance. It's changed the whole landscape of my face to the point I am not sure who this woman is anymore. Who is that scary ol' lady in the mirror!

It was probably about in April that I looked at my face a little closer than normal and noticed my 'mom lines'. You know the ones I mean, they're the ones that run between your eyebrows and nose and crease up into your forehead. There's nothin' pretty about them. They make you look angry all the time rather than that 'surprised!' or 'say what?' wrinkle lines you can get that run across your forehead.

What the hell!?! I was shocked. They literally appeared overnight. For the first time in my life I sought out wrinkle cream. Oh my God, I've become my mom. Just like her I now have jars and tubes of creams and concoctions overflowing on my bathroom counter to try and repair the wrinkle damage to my skin. Do I think it will work? No. Do I keep doing it anyway? Yes.

It makes me wonder, and worry a little, who will be looking back at me in the mirror next year. More white hairs? More wrinkles? A creepy, out of place hair growing in the middle of my chin (probably my biggest fear)? Until further notice I think I'll be joining the hordes in search of the fountain of youth and will be avoiding direct eye contact with myself in the mirror.

Do you have any aging/wrinkle/acceptance advice? How do you deal with the changes you face with growing older?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Because Edmonton Cares - A Year in Review

It was around a year ago that I decided to start the group Because Edmonton Cares. We started with 1 member (me) and with no name. I was quickly able to recruit a few friends to join in and we went on our first outing to the Ice on Whyte Festival to serve hot chocolate for donations towards YESS (Youth Emergency Shelter Society).  It was probably one of the coldest days of 2011 but we survived as we were inside a heated tent. We all took turns heading outside into the cold to head down the ice slide - wee!


In the past year we have grown to 50 members with a Facebook page, an awesome friend designed us a logo, and we have put just shy of 300 volunteer hours back into our community. We have helped non-profit organizations such as The Mustard Seed, AdaptAbilities, Canadian Cancer Society, Kids Kottage, The Food Bank, and Santas Anonymous. I am exceptionally proud of our accomplishments as a group. It's so exciting to see the enthusiasm and hard work of our volunteers.

What's in store for 2012? Hopefully more of the same...much more! I'm hoping to have enough interest to plan more than 1 event a month. I would LOVE to have t-shirts printed with our logo on them and I have hopes to get a website started; though that one is last on the list since I have no idea how to build one!

Thanks to everyone for your support and belief in this group. We've accomplished some amazing things for this community :)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Finish Up!

Over the past two months I've noticed I'm having a hard time finishing projects/chores that I start. I swore that I was going to get rid of at least 12 garbage bags worth of clutter in our house and stopped after I reached 5 bags and only emptied 5 cupboards.  I buy baby gifts for people within days of receiving the announcement and then I let the gift sit on the dining room table for up to a month before I get around to wrapping it, and then sometimes another few weeks before I get it to the post office.

Is anyone else having this issue? What do you do to stay motivated to get these types of things accomplished?

Generally I make myself a To Do list and am happy to cross things off it. But I find that lately I'm just moving items from the old To Do list to the new one without finishing up the task.  I need to find a new way to motivate myself to finish what I started so am looking for some suggestions/ideas on how to do this. Anyone have a method that works for them?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Uncle!

So it's the end of November and I'm already crying 'Uncle!'. I'm tired. I'm beat. I give in. You know you've hit a wall when you're standing in Safeway bawling your eyes out without even noticing if anyone is around to see your meltdown. DS woke us sick and I had just called his Doctor to get him checked out only to find out that the doctor has left the practice and they won't say where he's gone. It's just another thing to add to my growing To Do list. I now need to find a new doctor for DS prior to his allergy tests that take place in just over a week. He's anaphylactic so he needs someone to prescribe him his Epipens! Seriously, just not something I needed to add to the crazy birthday/Christmas list right now.

Every year I try harder to get things organized early and yet every year I'm still scrambling to get things done on time. This year I ordered our Christmas cards early, I got DD's birthday invitations out 2 1/2  weeks before the date, I shipped my niece's birthday present a month and a half early, and yet I'm looking at my To Do list and I feel like I've crossed nothing off. How can that be?

I realized that the older the kids get the more the list grows. This year I need to get gifts for 3 teachers, not 1. I also need to attend 3 Christmas concerts between 2 children and not only need to do our Christmas cards but have to help the kids do their Christmas cards for their classes, teachers and support staff.

With them both being in school it means more birthday parties to attend. Every year we only ever had to worry about my DD's birthday at the end of November, and 2 nieces that live too far away to attend. Now each kid gets invited to a birthday party almost every month so it means more scheduling, and shopping for presents.

The older the kids get the more activies seem to pile up in my calendar. I have become a master scheduler. If I had to toot my horn about something it's that. I'm pretty much never late even carting around 2 kids to multiple events throughout the day. Do they offer degrees in that? If so I should get an honourary one.

Not only has our schedules exploded as they kids have gotten older, but Hubs has been travelling a fair amount for work. He has been on 9 business trips in the past 12 weeks and he's going on 2 more over the next 3 weeks. It's left me struggling to figure out how to work the snowblower, searching for a vehicle to eventually replace mine, attempting to get quotes on a new home security system, putting in a warranty claim for our house siding, and buying ALL the Christmas presents he would normally buy for his family...even the ones from him to me! With him being away so much and so busy I've been trying to play both roles in the family and it isn't working out very well. I handed over the reins to these kinds of things long ago and am not too keen on picking them back up.

I'm worn out and in this wrestling match against the To Do List I've given in. Sadly, even after crying 'Uncle!' the To Do List is not listening and keeps giving me a pounding. Let's just hope that the next time I have a meltdown like that it's not in such a public setting. In the meantime I'm going to dream of Easter.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Inspire Me!

What do you do with your family over the holidays to give back to the community? Do you donate food to the food bank? Do you serve Christmas dinner at a local shelter? Or do you donate a gift to Santas Anonymous?

These are all things we have heard of before and are very popular choices to do something for others during the Christmas season. All are very important and need people to continue to support them. But what I'm looking for is something off the beaten track. I want to know about those charities, events, or people that do not get as much press or support. The ones that might be forgotten about or go unnoticed during the crazy holiday season.

Even if you live in a different city I'm willing to take suggestions as we may have something similar here. This year I just want to try something different with my family so help inspire me :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Halloween Experiment

Last year I had a 20-something, childless, non-married woman made a comment about how moms need to 'pick it up' and make costumes for their kids instead of buy them. The comment really, really bothered me but it also made me feel very, very guilty. Last year my 2 yr old wanted to be Thomas the Train. The whole idea of trying to make him a box train, painting it, finding accessories/make-up etc was overwhelming to me. I work on the Run For The Cure committee so the thought of that occupied all of September, then I hosted Thanksgiving for 28 people, hosted the inlaws for a visit, had Halloween, took the kids on a beach vacation and then had DD's birthday party the week after we got back. All of that in the span of 2 months left me feeling pretty overwhelmed and in no shape to make costumes from scratch.

Even though I don't know how to sew, I don't own a sewing machine and have no interest in learning how to sew I felt guilted enough to try and make the kids some costumes this year. Stupid Mommy guilty perpetuated by a non-mommy!!

So I asked the kids what they wanted to be and at first DS said he wanted to be the alien from Toy Story. Yeahhhh, no. That sounds way too hard. Try again kid. So he said he wanted to be Handy Manny. BINGO! How easy is that? Then DS said she wanted to be an angry ghost. SCORE! Project Halloween Costumes was a go and I couldn't be happier by the selections they made.

AND then I started trying to figure it all out. Yeah. It was way harder than I thought it would be. It took me 5 shopping trips to find all the components of DS's costume. I estimate that it cost about $85 for his costume plus 8 hours to make it.  It might have been easier if there had been a pattern to work from but I was going in blind and tried to figure it all out as I went along.

DD's costume, I thought, would be way easier and yet caused me more stress because I didn't want it to cover her head. I bought her face make-up, silver hair spray, and devised we would just make her face look ghostly. Then came the problems of arm holes. I wanted her to be able to use her arms so I cut holes out and then cut and sewed strips onto the arms so she looked like she had 'spooky' sleeves. Then I took the costume and distressed the bottom of it. Her costume cost approximately $50 and took me 5-6 hours to make.

The time might not sound like much but it doesn't count the hours spent shopping for the components to the costumes or the time it took to think/plan it all out. I estimate it took about about 18 hours to do these costumes and copious amounts of stress. Who knew 2 such simple ideas for costumes could cause so much work?

Here's the questions...would I do it again? No, not in the same manner that I did it this year. If I was going to do homemade costumes again I would first make the kids build off things we already had in the house and just look to add a few embellishments. Starting from scratch was difficult, stressful, expensive and time consuming.

In the end I was proud of what I had done but looking at their costumes you really would have NO IDEA of how much time I spent on them. The kids were so very happy but to be honest I don't think they were any happier that I made them than if I would have bought them. Most of all what I learned from this experience is to not have an early 20's,  non-mom, non-married woman guilt me into being what SHE thinks a mom should be.

September/October Books

Once again I'm tardy with my list of reads for the past few months so I'm combining the past 2 months into just one post. And after having typed that I realized I didn't even keep track of my October reads so I'll have to do my best by memory. Oy.

September:

1. The Golden Notebook - Doris Lessing.   The book is off our 501 Must Read list and at the beginning I felt it had some promise. Sadly I felt it never panned out. The book started interesting but I found that 1/2 way through it started to get confusing and frustrating. It was hard keeping up with what the real story was and what the make believe versions were. It make for a difficult read towards the end.

2. Oranges are Not The Only Fruit - Jeanette Winterson.  Another book off the 501 Must Read list. This was an interesting concept for a book but it was certainly depressing. The story follows a girl from youth to adulthood and her struggles with religion and her sexuality. The book didn't really have any closure which made it hard to put it down even after I put it down.

3. Night of Many Dreams - Gail Tsukiyama.  This is the second book I have read from Gail and I think I enjoyed the other one more. I liked the characters, and the idea behind the book but I didn't feel connected to the characters. It's like she just scratched the surface of the characters so you had a hard time feeling for them in each situation. I love mother/daughter/sister stories like this but I felt Gail could have made it a little longer with more character development.

4.  State of Wonder - Ann Patchette. I've read 2 of her other books and I find her to be a decent writer. The book was alright but ending seems to wrap up very fast and in a very odd way. I wasn't fond of the twist as it seemed so unbelievable.

5. The Last Champion - Rick Riordan. Maybe I would have felt different about this book if I had realized it was the last one. For some reason I thought there was 1 more so when I got to the end and realized it was over I sort of felt jipped, like I didn't get to enjoy it as much.


October

1. The Corrections - Jonathan Franzen.  This was a pretty depressing story. The characters were pretty messed up but I have to say I did feel for the mom who still wanted to at least pretend they held normal lives. It was such a desperate attempt at normalcy that it was sad as she didn't know how screwed up her own kids were. It was still an interesting book but not at all uplifting.

2. The Pursuit of Love - Nancy Mitford. Hilarious. I just read my notes on this book and I only wrote 'Ok. Nothing memorable'. And I'm sitting here and can't remember anything about the book!!!  Take that as a sign maybe to leave this one be.

3. Vendetta - Michael Didodin. this is a mystery where you follow the character of a detective. Part way through the book I realized that this is not the 1st book but it's the 2nd in a series so there was some back story that didn't make any sense to me.  I enjoyed the beginning of the book so purchased the 1st and 3rd book in the series but then found the book to kind of fall apart at the end. I'll read the 1st book and hope I like it enough to get through the 3rd!

4. Cleopatra's Daughter - Michelle Moran. Very much like her other books. Just an escape from some heavier books I read. They are all starting to seem similar but still an easy read and enjoyable.

5. I can't remember the last book I read so will need to wait until all loaned out books return and then I can add it here ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A FIERCE Way To Have Fun!

This past weekend I was very fortunate to hang out with some amazing women at a FIERCE Fusion event that was held at Miss Boss Handbags and Accessories. FIERCE Fusion events are for women to get together in a fun atmosphere to be able to connect, share stories, learn from one another, and make business contacts.

The location for the mixer was a great choice. It was flirty and fun with wine, dessert, shopping and good conversation; a very girly affair!  The best part was meeting some amazing ladies that I've been chatting with on Twitter. The event was a great way to meet new FIERCE women in a casual, fun environment. It also didn't hurt that I found some great new jewelry, and a Matt & Nat wristlet!

There's a handful of new FIERCE Fusion events coming up over the next few months that cover a broad range of Women's topics. There's events called Sexy Panel, Shopping at Sephora and Money Talks. Be sure to check them out on MOM Magazine. You'll get to meet some amazing women, learn something new and possibly come away with a goodie or two ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Overwhelming Gratitude

Between the Run For The Cure last weekend and Thanksgiving this weekend I've been feeling many moments of gratitude. How can one not feel gratitude when watching close to 10,000 walkers/runners/spectators/volunteers support finding a cure for breast cancer and then the next weekend being surrounded by loved ones over a meal we all helped out with, laughing, smiling and enjoying each other's company?

This week has been very enlightening and inspirational. It made me reflect on everything I experienced this week and brought tears to my eyes, made me smile, or laugh out loud and I came up with this list of just a few things that made me experience these things:

- at the Run the corporate team who raised the most funds raised them in support of Kelly Mah. It was so incredibly sad to hear that Kelly had passed away just weeks before the Run, but her efforts to help other breast cancer patients is inspirational.

- several times this week (yoga, shopping for a FIERCE dress, and Thanksgiving) I realized how incredibly lucky I am to have a sister-in-law who I share so many interests and passions with. It's such a pleasure to have an amazing friend who always has my back, not only because she has to (because we're family) but because she wants to. She helps to broaden my horizons, she supports my efforts, she brings me a ton of support and makes me laugh. Seriously, thank GOD my brother found her!

- my husband was sooooo supportive over the past few weeks. Even though he is incredibly stressed out from everything at his work, he watched the kids a ton so I could make all my volunteer commitments and he didn't complain once. He offered hugs, support and lots of love. It makes me feel so understood and loved.

- my little fruitcakes were so cute this week! J had her first field trip. It made me realize how adaptable she is to situations, how excited those things make her, and how much pleasure I get watching her enjoy the small things in life. C made me so proud watching him in his last swim lesson class and make friends with kids twice his age at the playground. He's adventurous and so sweet. It's a treat to watch him interact with other kids and adults, he's growing up so fast! They are pretty amazing little souls.

- I got so excited this week when I heard back from 2 new organizations about Because Edmonton Cares potentially helping them. Every time an organization talks to me about needing some help, someone signs up to volunteer at one of our events, or I get a new person interested in helping out I get giddy. It makes me thankful to be able to do something for our community with the help of some amazing volunteers.

- My family is everything to me and seeing them all at Thanksgiving dinner just reminded me how thankful I am for all of them. They are so supportive, helpful and loving; how did I get so lucky to be a part of this family?! I am so grateful for them that I could never fully express my love for them.

This week has been very emotional and inspirational. If all weeks could be like this I think my feet would never touch the ground. I know all weeks can't be like this but I am sure appreciative of them when they come along; it makes me so grateful for all that I have in this life.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Help The Animals

Last year we decided to start giving our daughter an allowance for doing a certain amount of chores. It also came with the understanding that part of her allowance had to go to charity. Not really understanding what charity is we picked 2 charities and said she could either 'help the animals that have no home' or 'give gifts to kids that don't get presents for Christmas'. She picked 'help the animals' and this has been the phrase we've used ever since we started this.

When my son turned 3 we started the same process of chores and an allowance and when given the option who to help he said the wanted to 'help the animals'. Both kids have been saving for quite some time so today I took them down to the Edmonton Humane Society so they could deliver their donations and take a tour of the facility. Since they've become a little older I explained that their money would go towards feeding and caring for these animals until a family would give them a new home. They seemed to understand that a bit better than just 'help the animals'.

When we got there I was saddened to see that the main facility was closed until 2pm (we were there just after noon). I was especially sad as I had called in to ask someone about coming down and was told to just come down anytime. So we trucked inside to the only section that was open and I just asked if the kids could leave their money, figuring we would need to make another trip some other day to actually visit the animals. When I explained the kids wanted to leave part of their allowance money I was so pleasantly surprised that the receptionist said that someone was coming down to meet the kids. Not only did Marissa come to meet the kids but she took them on a tour, counted out their money ($36.90) and gave them each a little package of colouring books, toys, treats, etc. The kids were estatic when she toured us around and took the kids in to pet the cats.

The staff at the facility were so kind and enthusiastic about a 3yr old and 4 yr old giving up $36.90 from their allowances to help the animals. I could see the kids were a little shy about the acknowledgements but were very pleased that people cared about what they did. I have to say the staff were also so nice to me, as the parent, for helping to get them involved in it. They asked why I started it with them and I said that they are very blessed children; they are relatively healthy, they're loved, and have a home over their heads so it was important to me to help them learn that there are others (people, animals, the environment) that need their help. They said that they have definetly noticed that the earlier you get kids interested in this kind of stuff that it follows them for life. That just warmed my heart to know that for all my faults, I am doing at least 1 thing right!

So I encourage you to help your child pick something important to them and let them see how they can make a difference in this world.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

What? No Snack Time?

So now that my little girl has completed her first few weeks of Kindergarten I thought I would reflect on the things I wish someone had told me BEFORE she started Kindergarten.

1. At my daughter's school they do not have a formal snack time for the kids. It seems that every other parent in the class knew this but me and yet it wasn't on any of the info we were given prior to the start of school. No snack time? Are you serious? What can I say, I was shocked.  So, not knowing this, I packed the usual lunch bag full of snacks and sent it along with her. When recess started the teacher explained that the kids take A snack items with them to the playground and they eat at the picnic benches before they hit the playground. This meant a shift in the types of snacks I usually send her because Lord knows those Tupperware containers would never make it back from the playground each day.

2. Only 1 kid in the whole class (besides my daughter) had a backpack with a character on it. What??? They're already too old for backpacks with Disney characters on it. That's so sad :(  I lovingly remember my Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Rainbow Brite, etc, lunchboxes and this it's so sad DD's generation is already phasing these things out at too early of an age.  It turned out her Disney backpack was too small to hold her 'homework/paperwork' folder so we had to go buy a new backpack anyway so she got one with hearts on it. *sniff, sniff*

3. They do not give you a class list with the parent's names (which we got in preschool) so we've started the slow process of exchanging vital information in case one parent is late and needs another to watch their child. It was so much easier when you were just given the list of info!

4. You need to send your kids in coats/shoes they can completely do up on their own. DD had been able to do up her last jacket on her own but as with a new school year and growing up I had purchased her a lovey new coat and forgot to have her practice doing it up on her own. The bloody buttons are so small she can't do it so thankfully we had another coat she could wear. We've been practicing at home to manage the buttons and zippers on all outerwear as the teacher doesn't have time to do up 22 sets of shoes and coats. Recess would be over before she got it all done! Now we need to start focusing on getting her to get her snowsuit on and off by herself as we all know that season will be upon us faster than we expect.

There's also a few things I haven't figured out yet that I hopefully will over the next few weeks: Can we just walk to her classroom or library or do we need to check in at the office first? How do you hand out birthday invites to the kids without all the other kids seeing and having their feeling hurt? (in preschool they had mailboxes you could slip it into)

It's a whole new world for me as a first time parent in the school system. I'm sure that by the time DS enters school I'll have this all down pat but until then I feel like the blind leading the blind. I'll take any advice people have!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

August Books

I've decided to switch things up a little and no I'm going to list the books I read in order from the one I liked the least to the one I liked the most (or the one I'd recommend the most).  I'm hoping I didn't forget to write any down this month. Normally I try to write them down as soon as I've read them but this month I was bad and just stacked them up. BUT then I was a dumb ass and gave 1/2 the stack away for others to read before I realized I hadn't recorded what I'd read! From memory here's what I remember from least enjoyed to most enjoyed:

5. The Vendetta - Honore de Balzac:  This one is my fault. I knew I had to read a book called Vendetta from the 501 Must Read Book list but who knew there were so many books named Vendetta?? So, apparently I read the wrong one. I read THE Vendetta instead of Vendetta. Sigh. So the one I did read was a simple tale. Not a ton of depth but was still a bit sad at the end, which one might guess with such a title.

4. The Heretic Queen - Michelle Moran: This was the 2nd book I read of hers. I enjoyed it but really it's very simple reading that's more like escapism for me. I'll admit I did buy another of her books as it's a good break every now and then. The hard part about these books is that I'm not sure how much of it is actually fact based. I figure very little so it makes it harder to enjoy.

3. The Paris Wife - Paula McLain: Really the only reason this one is higher up on the list is because I know more of it is true based on what I read in a Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemmingway's memoires. Really I think both books should be read together so you get a good understanding from both sides. They lived in quite a fantastical time; it makes you think of old Hollywood movies when you read about their lives.

2. The Dressmaker of Khair Khana - Gayle Tzemach Lemmon: I like these kinds of books because it gives me a glimpse into the lives of people who are going through things we read in the news. It makes it more tangible, something easier to understand when you see the human side to the info you read in the newspaper. These women are fulled with courage and it makes me wonder if I had one tenth of their moxy to be able to pull something like this off. It proves women do whatever it takes to look after their loved ones.

1. Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal - Conor Grennan: what I loved about this book is that you can tell it's not written by a professional author but just by someone who wants to retell his experiences to his friends. I love that he was honest to say he started this journey because he thought it would look good on a resume and sound good to girls he's trying to pick up. His honesty was refreshing as is his passion for his cause. An enjoyable read from someone trying to make a difference.  READ IT :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Confessions of a Frantic Mom

Time to fess up. Whenever someone says to me 'You're so organized' the first thing I think is how I want to tell them it's all an act. Yep. It's all an act. I'm a faker. I do my best to hide my frantic side from most people but at times like this it's not just seeping through the cracks, it's pouring out.

September is notoriously a difficult month because it's the start of the school season but it;s also one of Hub's busiest months at work as he travels a great deal in this month. This year though we not only have DD starting kindergarten but DS is starting preschool and both kids are starting swim lessons twice a week. On top of that it's less than a month before Run for the Cure so it means lots of meetings, events, etc. Now I just got the schedule for both kids and see that I have to attend some parent info nights and had to sign up to volunteer for their schools. Yep. I'm in panic mode.

Simply put I'm a frantic mom who has no idea how to pull this all off. Most days I just want to cry 'I want my mommy!'. The calendar is freaking me out and I am honest when I say I'm not handling it very well. Lately I've been going to bed earlier and earlier each night. It's a way for me to escape the reality of our crazy lives. I'm just so entirely thankful that we have the help of my parents. I couldn't imagine trying to manage this month without their help.

At this point my best hope for the month is to just manage without falling apart. Or at least to manage without other people noticing me fall apart. I have my fake image to uphold right?


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Who Are You Running For?

The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run For The Cure 2011 campaign has a focus on telling the stories of why we walk/run and they're doing it in a unique way...though our shoes! Grab a pair of shoes and start painting. Get creative and show the world who/why you are walking and running. What is your inspiration? Who do you want to pay tribute to?

For some ideas and inspiration head to this site: http://www.runforthecure.com/site/PageServer?pagename=2011_Fundraising_Shoe 

Tomorrow the Run Committee is convening at the Muttart Conservatory to paint our shoes! We will have some paint supplies on hand if you would like to come down and paint your shoes with us. We'll also have an information booth open from 12pm-4pm if you would like to pick up any info on the Run or about CBCF.

Those are the shoes I painted :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Stay At Home Mom

The other day I heard someone joke that stay at home moms watch soaps and eat bonbons all day. I could tell that they were only kinda joking and kinda serious. It made me wonder how many people secretly think at least part of that is true? I figured it might be interesting to some to know what I actually do with all my time throughout the day so I kept a diary one day last week of how I spent my time. It's not super exciting but may give some a chance to see there is no time for soaps and bonbons!

My day starts at 6:45am when the kids get up. We have 15 minutes of snuggle time and then I spend then next 30 minutes helping them get dressed, make their beds, brush their teeth, all the while trying to do the same for myself.

After that I head downstairs where I made breakfast for the kids, fed the cat, made coffee for Hubs, emptied the dishwasher and restacked it with all the breakfast dishes.
Then came the crafts. We spend several hours a day on crafts and at this stage of their lives they need lots of help with them. Yesterday I kept track and we did painting, Funfusion (little beads you put together to make a picture (they're the bane of my existence as they take a long time to put together, then one little bump and the whole thing will be ruined), shrinky-dinks, mosaic art photos, sticker/stamps/glitter glue pictures and workbooks.  We didn't do it all at one time but at various times throughout the day so there is lots of time spent on set up, helping with the craft and then clean up.

Mid-morning we had our daily outing. We try to plan at least 1 activity a day outside the house and today we went to visit a 1 week old baby for some baby snuggles. After an hour there we stopped at a playground so the kids could work off some energy. This outing then basically took up just over 2 hours of our day. Other outings we do during the week are visiting the zoo, Muttart, playdates, host luncheons, etc.

Errands. Normally I run an errand almost every day. Yesterday we only stopped for gas so it only took a few minutes but I can run errands, like getting the groceries, that can take 1 1/2 hours. Generally throughout the week I hit the dry cleaners twice, groceries twice, the bank, post-office, go shopping for kids clothes or gifts (birthdays, new babies, anniversaries, etc), take library books back, and the list goes on.

After getting back to the house it was time to make lunch. I estimate between making 3 meals and 2 snacks a day I'm spending 3 1/2 to 4 hours on cooking/meal prep. With that comes cleaning up all the dishes and other household chores. Yesterday I did the dishwasher twice and 3 loads of laundry. This dishwasher is an every day thing but the laundry can be swapped out with garbages, sweeping or washing the floors, cleaning the counters, cleaning cat litter, etc, etc.

In the afternoon we played hide and go seek, played in the backyard, played cars and I answered 10 million questions about life. Well maybe not 10 million but it sure feels like it with 2 kids in the same 'Why? What's that? Who is that?' phase.

At about 3pm I finally put on a movie for the kids so I could hit the treadmill for 40 minutes. Did I watch soaps? No, I watched Ratatouille, the Disney movie. At least I'm grateful I didn't have to watch Toy Story one more time!

Then after dinner we played a few games before bath, books and bedtime. After getting the kids to bed it's usually between 7pm-7:30pm. After that time I generally do some volunteer work, research to find outings for my volunteer group, book reservations at restaurants/hotels, and keep up correspondence with other friends and family.

As mentioned all days are slightly different but this is the basis of most days. Things will be changing in the fall when I estimate I'll be spending up to 3 hours a day in the car. I'll be driving DD to school 5 times a week, plus DS to preschool twice a week, and both kids to swimming lessons twice a week. My car is going to be my best friend for the next 3 years until both kids are in school full time. THEN maybe I'll give myself a day to watch soaps and eat bonbons just to see if it's all it's cracked up to be.

Monday, August 15, 2011

July Reads

Because we've had so much rain this month it's given me more opportunities to read than I usually would get in the summer months. I threw in some strange selections this month but got to strike 2 books off my 501 Must Read list so that's always a plus.

1. Emil and the Detectives - Erich Kastner:  This was such a sweet little book! I randomly selected 3 new books to order based on my 501 Must Read list and this was one of them and certainly my favourite. I would say this book would be perfect to read to about 6-8 year old. Even though it was meant for a younger audience I really enjoyed it and thought it was super sweet :)

2. Bossy Pants - Tina Fey: Loved it! I love her sarcastic humour and thought it was really well written. I liked finding out more about how she got started and her years at Saturday Night Live. She's brilliant and it was fun sneaking a peak into her life.

3. Tom's Midnight Garden - Philippa Peace:  This was another one on my 501 Must Read list though I can't say I'd agree to its presence on the list. It was geared to kids maybe 10ish? The idea was decent but there wasn't anything stunning about it. My favourite part was the last page of the book which gave me a few tears in my eyes as there was 1 really sweet, memorable sentence.

4. Blood Meridian - Cormac McCarthy:  This is a dark, dark book. Cormac tends to write dark books but I found this one to be in a different category. Many people say they can't finish reading The Road and yet I found that book to be really engaging. I liked the characters and felt that I had stock in what happened to them. In Blood Meridian I felt that we never really got attached to any of the characters, instead you just floated around watching what was going on and what was going on wasn't pretty. This probably isn't a book I'd recommend to many people, just a select few I know would find it interesting.

5. The Time Traders - Andre Norton: this was book 3 I purchased from the 501 Must Read List.The one thing I found most interesting about this book was that it is Sci Fi and written by a woman in the late 50's. How uncommon is that?!? She wrote under several male names as she figured no one would buy her books under her real name. The concept was decent but I found the actual book to be a bit of a mess with no fluidity. Granted I'm not a huge Sci Fi fan but the few books I have read have been more compelling.

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Great Equalizers

Whenever I've had a rough day I search out the same few things to make my day right. If I'm on the road and am having a bad day I search for the nearest Starbucks. Chai makes everything juuuuusssttt right. The first sip makes me say 'Ahhhh', and each sip after that just seems to help me put the pieces back together.

If things have gone wrong and I am home I want my bathtub and a book. There's times I would be perfectly happy to crawl into that thing in the middle of the day but I can usually hold off until the kids are in bed. It has amazing restorative healing powers! (no, I don't rent it out, it's all mine!!)

Volunteering or setting up a volunteer event always brightens my mood. I can go to a volunteer outing in the worst mood ever and find that it's turned around in 2 minutes flat. Once you see who you are helping and why you're there, it melts all other worries/stresses away.

A snuggle with the kids or an impromptu hug or kiss from them is also a Great Equalizer, especially if they were the ones causing my stress ;) I feel lucky that my daughter is a snuggle bunny. She loves to hug and kiss and snuggle up close so if I'm in a down mood I just scoop her up for some snuggles. My son does this more sparingly but it makes it all the more special when he volunteering one on his own.

There are days when I need all of the above and days where I might just need one. The days I get  none of the above - watch out! Back up! Danger! Danger! DANGER! 

What are your Great Equalizers? What helps to make you feel better when you're having a rough day?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

June Reads

After finishing May with Prisoner of Tehran I decided to mix it up a little in June and start light. It was a real mixed bag of reads in June so hopefully everyone will find something they like out of it!

1. The Battle of the Labyrinth - Rick Riordan: This is part of the Percy Jackson series so it's written for pre-teens but I enjoy the break after reading more heavy material. Still part of the typical pattern but enjoyable.

2. A Visit From The Goon Squad - Jennifer Egan:  I read her other book, The Keep, and have to say I found that book to be an odd read; this one I enjoyed more. It was a collection of little snippets of lives of several characters. It takes a while to figure out how they all connect but is interesting to figure it out. All in all it is a little different but enjoyable.

3. The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle: How bad is this, I am 36 and have never read any Sherlock Holmes novels! I loved this book! I was surprised how much I really enjoyed reading this book. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is a master. I have read many books that try to follow his lead but you can not improve on his style.

4. The Given Day - Dennis Lehane: Several people told me they were not too fond of this writer but I have read a few of his books and liked them; The Given Day didn't disappoint me. I feel like I learned a lot and started to get a bit tired of reading about the strikes but I think that's because both Air Canada and Canada Post were striking at the time that I was reading this! Still, a decent book but it is a little long.

5. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry: This was a tiny little book that was a sweet surprise. It would be a good book to read with kids around 10yrs old. Even as an adult I thought it was a unique idea and story.

6. A Storm of Swords - George R. R. Martin: This is my FAVOURITE in the Game of Thrones series (so far). So much happens in this book that you are sad, angry, happy, excited...it is jam-packed with excitement! Read the series, it is worth getting to this book :)  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Does It Get Easier?

Since becoming a parent almost 5 years ago I've notice that parents tend to say 'If you think they're hard now, wait until they get to __ age'.  I never wanted to hear it. Ever! Why would I want to hear that it's going to get worse? Isn't diapers, crying, spit up and no sleep the worst? What's worse than that?

Phrases of that nature bugged me so much I have tried to adopt a different approach and when people ask about the challenges of children at this age I usually 1 of 2 things depending on how hard the kids have been that day. I either say 'they're crazy. Yep my kids are crazy' or I say 'some things have gotten easier and some things have gotten harder'. So may see that as not very helpful but really it's the truth. There's things at each age that looking back you realize were easier than you realized and things that were harder.

As an example here's a list of a few things I've found easier about preschool aged children, and some things I've found easier harder:

Easier:

1. Once they're potty trained you only have to wipe the occasional bum and clean up the occasional mess. It's awesome. I don't miss changing kids one bit and I certainly don't miss smelly poop!

2. They understand simple rules and instructions which means they can do chores! We have our children do several chores in order to earn an allowance and they have to give part of that allowance to a charity of their choice. I've also started giving them a bonus allowance for additional chores. It's awesome.

3. They are big enough to get into their own carseats. Yes, yes. Don't worry frantic moms I ALWAYS double check to make sure they're in correctly and tighten up the belts myself but it's great that I don't have to lift them up anymore.

4. They can play on their own. Now they don't always DO this but they can in fact do it. I've seen it and I remind them frequently whenever I hear a 'Mom, what can I do? There's nothing to do.'

Harder:

1. They talk back, can be rude and something say hurtful things. Oh, and sometimes they even backseat drive. It's annoying.

2.  They ask 1 billion and 10 questions about every little thing. Once they get on a roll it's no longer to distract them into stopping with 'Hey look, there's a person on a bike over there!'

3. They fight with each other all the time. They can be playing so nicely for 2 minutes and then suddenly someone is crying. We've been trying harder to let them sort it out on their own but nothing seems to be working. Letting them sort it out on their own just means I have to get off my butt less to go break it up which I guess is still a win.

4. They remember things. Example: Mom, remember when you said next time we were really good in this store you would take us out to McDonalds for lunch?  Ahhhh, yeah - crap. I didn't think you'd remember that.  Oh no. Now you're going to remember the word crap. CRAP!

Those are just a few things I'm finding easier/harder with preschool kids. Anyone else have anything to add about the upcoming ages and challenges I will soon face? Help a girl out and give me some warning!





Thursday, June 30, 2011

May Reads

Gosh. I guess I should post my May reads before I post my June reads and this is already the last day of June! For shame...again!

1. Broken Ground by Jack Hodgins - This was the book we selected for our #twreaders book club and I really enjoyed it. There were a few parts I didn't connect with as much but on the whole I enjoyed the characters and the style of writing. A good Canadian read!

2. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris - another one of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. I really enjoyed the series for about the first 8 books but now I just find it's starting to get old. Maybe she should just wrap this series up.

3. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith - another series that's starting to get a little too old. I wish he'd focus on his other sets of series instead of churning these out. And yet, here's me complaining and yet I still keep reading them. Sigh.

4. A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin - I call this one Musical Castles. I read it about as fast as the first as I'm enjoying the characters and storyline but as expected...nothing is resolved! If it was there wouldn't be room for the other 3 books in the series and supposedly there's another 2 coming after that. Still, I love the series and am glad for the HBO show which prompted me to pick up the books in the first place.

5.  Prisoner of Tehran by Marina Nemat - I purchased this book for my mom for Mother's Day and I'm sure glad I did as we share all our books and I'm so glad I got a chance to borrow it. This book was written by a woman who now lives in Canada but who grew up and was imprisoned in Tehran in her later teens. It's a moving account of her experience and her need to write about it. I'd suggest it for sure.

Did anyone else read anything memorable in May?  I'll post my June reads in the next few days...I promise!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Moms, You Deserve More Credit

Moms, you deserve more credit. There is simply no one else who can do the jobs moms do. Perfect example: on Monday my 3 yr old son slammed his thumb in between 2 doors and took his entire thumbnail off and guess what...I didn't flinch. There wasn't a moment of hesitation, not a second of being squeamish about the site of it because you know why? I can't. I'm the mom and it's my job.

Just telling the story to my husband he started to do the heebie jeebie dance and wouldn't even let me finish the story. Sort of makes you wonder what would have happened if he had been the one home to witness it instead of me? He probably would have just given the kid a sucker and put him to bed with a towel wrapped around his thumb. *sigh*

It was just one of those moments that reminds me why I'm the mom; I can handle it. I'm the one in the relationship that has been given the responsibility to do all the messy jobs: grow them, birth them, clean up their poop/puke, and clean and kiss their scrapes (or missing thumbnails), to name JUST a few.

So Moms of the world, I'm giving you a round of applause because Lord knows you all deserve it and don't get one nearly often enough.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Nine Days

Well he's off. This morning Hubs left on a 9 day work trip to Germany so I'm here alone with the kids wondering what the heck I'm going to do with them all that time.

The first minute he was gone DD started to cry and said she missed him. Yeah. Not the best start. The day just went downhill from there with both kids acting up like crazy. Needless to say I made sure the kids were in bed 30 minutes before their bedtime as I just couldn't deal with it anymore!

Now that I've had a chance to sit back and reflect (with the help of a drink) I realize I need a game plan for the week. I have a few activities planned but it's just not going to be enough to keep these two occupied/distracted for 9 days.

We will be going to the zoo on Monday, playgroup on Tuesday, and playgroup on Thursday but what do I do with them on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday? Especially if it's rains?!? I'm in need of some suggestions for activities, crafts, etc. Basically...HELP!

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Week Of Fun

I enjoyed so many things this week that I thought I'd blog about it! We did such a variety of things that the week had a little something of everything.

My Week of Fun started on holiday Monday when, along with my folks, we took the kids to the Telus World of Science to see the IMAX film Born To Be Wild. We got there early so enjoyed playing with all the science displays; the kids LOVE the hands-on experiments. They don't understand them yet but the more we go the more I'm sure they'll start to get interested on how and why things work the way they do. The film was great! It was only about 40 minutes or so (great for a 4yr old and 3yr old) and they loved watching the animals get a bath! We enjoyed ourselves so much I bought a yearly pass as we'll pay for it within 2 visits. I'm planning on taking the kids again in a couple weeks as the new show, Sesame Street presents The Body, it starts this weekend and runs all summer.

On Tuesday night I met up with some friends to see go for dinner and see a concert. After a rough start (I forgot one of the tickets) I still ended up having a lovely dinner with Two and The City at Bistecca. After dinner we made it for about the last 15 minutes of the opening act - Bright Eyes. I only know maybe 1 of their songs so wasn't really familiar with their stuff. We went to see Death Cab For Cutie and they performed really well! I found the sound to be a bit off at the beginning but it was fixed and I enjoyed the show.

Wednesday night I had the pleasure of attending the Modern Mama Hottest Tot Products event which was held at the Century Grill. What a fun night!!! There were some pretty amazing products that the moms got to take home but the BEST part was socializing with all the moms. Check out the link attached as I think there's still a listing of all the prizes that were won - you wouldn't believe it but there were things like strollers and booster seats given away!

I capped the week off by participating in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life. The event runs from 7pm until 7am. Most teams put up tents and take turns walking/sleeping but our team tries to stay awake the entire night AND walk the entire night. Three weeks before the event  I broke my toe so didn't walk as long as I'd hoped but I did walk for 7 1/2 hours and I estimate that I walked around 23km. I was walking pretty slow towards the end but I still went as long as I could. Our team consisted of 14 people and between us we raised over $32,000. One of the most amazing moments in my life is when this was announced at midnight to the arena of walkers, they gave us a standing ovation. What made it so amazing was having cancer survivors stand up and cheer for us, when really we should be standing up and cheering for them. Such an emotional moment.  If anyone has ever done this event they know the most difficult hours to keep walking are around 3am - 5am. It's cold, it's dark and usually fairly deserted at that time so it's also very lonely; a small touch of what someone with cancer must sometimes feel like. All in all it's a very uplifting and emotional 12 hours but my twitter folk kept me company throughout the walk so I didn't feel terribly lonely.

There's my recap on my week of fun. Up this week...dinner and a show with Two and The City tonight, U2 concert on Wednesday night, International Children's Festival on Thursday and my birthday party on Saturday. Looks to be another good week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

April Reads

April was a bit of a slower reading month for me; shame as I have SUCH a stack of books waiting for me to read! Oh, and I just bought 2 more...help me!

1. Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann:  I had great hopes for this book. I'm not exactly sure why but I think maybe it's because I liked the picture on the cover. There were some really good moments and ideas in this book but at times it got drawn out so that you wished it would just hurry up and get back to the good parts. It's not a book I'd probably pass along to others but I still liked aspects of it and am glad I learned a few things out of it.

2. The Ringworld - Larry Niven:  I'm not a huge fan of Sci-Fi books so I was surprised when I found myself liking this book. There were so many original ideas and concepts that I found I actually had to read every word in this book or else I'd miss something important. There were times that I needed to take a break from it because it took so much thought to follow it, but all in all I enjoyed it.

3. The Wind and the Willows - Kenneth Grahame: I KNOW! How is it I haven't read this book before now?!? But, it was in my 501 Must Read Books list so it was about time I got around to it. Plus it helped that it was on sale for $4 at Chapters ;)  I found it was an enjoyable book but must admit there didn't seem to be much of a point to it other than to follow the lives of these little critters. I think I might have enjoyed it more if I had read it when I was younger.

4. Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin:  I loved it! I was in a panic to try and read it before the TV series started but quickly became so absorbed in the book that the TV show didn't matter at all to me. I loved that the author could make you love his characters and not hate him when he killed a few off! I'm already 1/4 through the 2nd book in the series and just ordered the 3rd.

Anyone else read anything interesting this month? I'm always open to suggestions ;)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day Do-Over

Well, if anyone read my last post they know I was really looking forward to Mother's Day and my time alone. I even said to my SIL on Saturday night how much Mother's Day means to me. I must have jinxed it.

When I got home on Saturday night my 3yr old son was kept waking up with a sore tummy and I could tell we had the beginning of a stomach bug. Within the first 30 minutes I had changed his night-time pullup three times. I stayed up with him until about midnight and then Hubs took over so I could get some sleep. I was praying I'd wake up and he'd feel better but sadly that wasn't the case.

We still decided to get ready for brunch since we'd already bought the tickets to go and as I was doing my hair I could hear my son crying so went to check on him. He was standing in the bathroom with poop EVERYWHERE. I've never seen anything like it. On the walls, on the floor, on his clothes. Yep. Happy Mother's Day.

There was no way I could take this kid anywhere, he might get someone else sick! So I had the job of cleaning poop out of his clothes and the floor while hubby gave our son a bath. Then instead of getting into my new dress to wear to brunch I threw on some jeans and ran to get groceries since we were running low on wipes and pullups (since he's potty trained except for at night we don't keep many supplies like this).

I'd fully admit that I had a good cry. When I thought about my ideal Mother's Day of sleeping in, going to brunch and having a few hours to myself I thought I was being pretty realistic by knowing I'd only maybe get 2 out of 3 of those wishes. But never did I think this would be my Mother's Day. Admittedly I've been having a string of bad things happen lately so this hit harder than it might have but all in all it's still a sucky thing to happen.  I just wanted 1 day to feel special, feel appreciated and acknowledged for my work as a stay-at-home-mom.

Oh, and as per the rule of life my son slept through the night last night and isn't complaining about his stomach at all today. Figures.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mother's Day Wishes

With Mother's Day coming up next week have you given much thought to what you would like? Are there any family traditions you like to do each Mother's Day? Our family does the very typical Sunday morning brunch. But after brunch I do something that is not so typical; I ask for my husband to take the kids out for a few hours so I can have a little time to myself.

I'm sure there's more than a few moms that probably just stopped reading in disgust but it's my Mother's Day and that's what I like. I'm at stay-at-home mom who has a husband that travels a fair amount so I spend copious amounts of time alone with my children. We also do many family activities when Hubs is home on the weekend so that angle is covered as well. What I don't get a lot of is alone time, especially in my own home.

What I wish for on Mother's Day is for some peace and quiet. I still enjoy brunch with my Hubs, kids and the rest of the family. But after a very chaotic family brunch I want to be able to enjoy my own home without the noise, the crying, the fighting, and all the other things that come with my normal life of being a stay-at-home mom. 

What do I do with my alone time? Anything I want!! Last year I watched a movie in the middle of the day. When's the last time you can say you did that without it being a kids movie?? I also ate snacks and had a nap...a nap!!! I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with my time alone this year but I am tempted to actually go out of the house and attend the Maggie Walt fashion show that afternoon. But in all likelihood I'll probably stay home, eat bonbons, and read a book in bed in the middle of the afternoon - what a treat!

Is there anything you do on Mother's Day that isn't the norm? Or anything you WISH you could do?  Share! Maybe I'll get some new ideas for next year ;)

Monday, April 25, 2011

My City, My Home

I love my city. I can't say it enough. I hear people complain about the weather, the potholes, the construction and yet all I see is a city I love. What I see is multiculturalism, community spirit, and amazing opportunities for Edmontonians to get together like one big family through festivals and events.

There is always something fantastic to do, you just need to look for them. I always read the What's On section in the local paper, and use several websites to see what exciting things are happening I can attend.

Last week my sister-in-law came with me and we attended the Edmonton Volunteer Fair which was held in West Edmonton Mall. There were 100 non-profit organizations represented at the fair so there was a little something of everything! It was a great opportunity to speak with them and find out how we can make a difference in our community. I was also extremely flattered to have 1 group recognize our volunteer group by name...yay for Because Edmonton Cares!

If you missed the fair and are interested in helping out at some of the fabulous upcoming festivals they have another fair happening on May 12th.  Go to http://volunteeredmonton.com/ to get all the details!

This coming weekend, April 30th and May 1st, I'm excited to witness the Over The Top Edmonton Fashion Swap. Last year I had several friends attend and they RAVED about their new finds. I even commented on a friend's jacket a few weeks ago and she said it was one of the items she got at the swap so I know you find good stuff!  

If you've never heard of it before you're missing out. You bring in some items from your closet and after they get fairly evaluated you get gold, silver and/or bronze tokens to go spend on the other items at the show.  They also have a spa set up so you can get complimentary hair treatments and make-overs.

Not only is this a great way to spruce up your wardrobe but you get to participate in an event that's helping out our community at the same time. If you have any items that are not suited to swapping you can still bring them in and donate them. All donated items and remaining items at the end of the show will be given to the Canadian Diabetes Association and Bissell Centre. How great is that!!  Hope to see you all there this weekend :)

Another great find in this city was when I stumbled across the company Modern Mama. The company hosts mom-focused fashion, lifestyle and parenting events that allow you to bring your baby along. Most events have nannies at them so you can check out this amazing city with your baby in tow.  Did I EVER need this company after I had kids! I was feeling fairly isolated and that I was missing out on so many things being home with the kids all the time. Now I'm finally getting to check out so many cool stores, and most importantly I'm meeting other moms!

I'm a huge advocate for this company as I love the events they put on! I'm ESPECIALLY excited about the next two events I'm attending. I've signed up for the West End Babysitter Mixer on May 4th. It's an event where you go meet sitters over 17 yrs old. You get a chance to ask them some questions in a casual atmosphere while enjoying some wine and sweet treats. And since most people don't have a sitter yet they have nannies available if you need to bring your children along. I've heard many moms rave about the sitters they find at these events so I'm really looking forward to it.

I'm absolutely giddy about this one. Really. I know many people can't really picture me giddy but I honestly am! The Weekend Walkabout  is on May 7th and it's a guided shopping tour of some of Edmonton's coolest shops with a personal stylist! EEK! We meet with her first to discuss what we're looking for, what we want to add to or change in our wardrobe and then we're off to shop. Not only will I get an expert's advice (who is working for ME) but we get discounts at each store! I can't wait for this event to come up and I'll be sure to post some photos of my finds.

There are so many fantastic things in this city - go out and experience some of them! Volunteer, go check out some of the festivals and learn about other cultures, and most importantly...connect with the people who live around you.



*all views expressed in my blog are my own :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Did They Get That From Me?

When you were growing up did you ever dislike something about how your parents raised you and promise yourself that you would raise your kids differently? But then now after you have kids you realize exactly how much you are like your parents?

It makes me fret that I'm passing along impatience to my children. I know I got it from my mom and now I'm terrified I'm passing it down to my kids. At this stage it's hard to tell if they're impatient or just being normal small children but it's something that crosses my mind whenever I see them act out. I always swore I would be more patient than my mom was with me and yet I see myself acting just like her sometimes.

There are certainly good things I picked up from my parents that I know I'm passing down to my kids but those are hard to focus on when your kid is throwing a temper tantrum in a restaurant. It disappoints me that I wasn't able to be a better parent in the way I wish my upbringing had been different. It's something I struggle with and hope I can either come to terms with or find a way to break this chain of parenting mistakes.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Things I Miss

People don't speak very frequently about the things they miss from before they had kids. It's like they're afraid of being judged so they keep mum. Last night I was in bed thinking about sleep which led me to think of other things I miss from before I was a parent so here's my list.

1. Sleep. I have a feeling that will be on my list for a very long time. Before kids I was a CHAMPION sleeper. I would go to bed at 10pm almost every night and sleep almost 8 hour straight. The only nights I had sleep issues was on the nights my basketball games started at 9pm. Other than that I slept great, I could sleep in on weekends, and could nap whenever I had the time, it was amazing and I daydream about it frequently. Even though my kids now sleep through the night I find I'm the one that wakes at every little sound in the house.

2. The ability to peacefully eat a hot meal in a restaurant. Now when we go to restaurants with kids I usually get about 1/3 of my meal...if I'm lucky. Most of the time the kids tend to have to go to the bathroom about 2 minutes after our food is served. They also need more napkins, more forks, food cut up, etc. Then you spend the rest of the time saying 'turn around and sit down' or 'pay attention and eat your food'. Most food for me is cold but it always seems more annoying when you've paid to eat cold food in a restaurant than when it happens at home.

3. The ability to go out whenever I want. I always hear about people going out for drinks after work, wings after work, meeting for lunch, or going out dancing. I get jealous! I realize this isn't my life anymore but that doesn't mean I can't get jealous that they're having all that fun without me. One of the things I miss the most is going to the movies on the opening weekend. We used to go to movies every week and now we are lucky if we make it there once a quarter. Mainly I just miss that freedom of being able to make a quick decision to go out to these sorts of things without having to say 'I need to check Hubs calendar' or 'I need to see if I can find a babysitter'.

4. Sleep. Oh wait, I already mentioned that.

5. Everything that comes with having a regular job: appreciation, adult conversation, going to the bathroom without someone interrupting me, hot lunch, and recognition for a job well done. 

6. My body. That's all I'm going to say about that.


Having kids is great, I'm not saying it isn't, but there are certainly things I miss and I'm sure there's at least one or two you do as well! What do you miss from before having children?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shopping Local

On the weekend my sister-in-las (SIL) and I went shopping to find her a dress for her upcoming Phd. defense. I'm not sure we entirely enteded to shop at stores that were locally owned but it's what we ended up doing.

We started our afternoon by stopping at Floc Boutique on 124th Aveune. The dress selection was fairly large for such a small store and SIL found a handful she wanted to try on. The staff were very helpful and after only our 1st store we had already found  SIL's dress for her defense! But, going against my nature I suggested we put it on hold and keep looking so that our day wasn't over so soon (being the practical woman I am my urge was to have her buy it and go to the movies!).

Our next stop was Maggie Walt Design where my SIL has always wanted to shop. I have never been in before so found it was refreshing to walk into a store with so much colour! In some ways I sort of felt I was walking into a yoga studio and after meeting Maggie Walt herself during our visit I realize that's probably what she was going for! Most of her designs have a distinct Asian/Indian feel to them. The colours, patterns, and styles all fit into those cultures. SIL found a super stylish jacket that I, not so secretly, covet and I surprised myself by finding a dress for myself!

After this we hit a few more locally owned dress shops but it was my visit to Queen of Tarts that stands out the most. We both bought 1 tart to eat right away and 1 tart to take home. Our selection for eating right away was the lemon tart...oooohhhh just thinking about it makes me want to go back for another one! The flavour was so crisp!  My second tart was the hazelnut tart that I found to be a little less in the flavour department but still yummy. SIL had the goat cheese tart so she'll have to let you know how it was.

After this we topped off our shopping trip with a stop for dinner at Culina Mill Creek so that I could have my FAVOURITE SALMON DISH EVER. Here's the description:  LINE CAUGHT WILD SALMON with goat cheese almond sauce and cucumber tomato salsa on orzo pasta. Seriously, I eat a lot of fish when I eat out and this is my absolute favourite. On a side note I also liked that when they described the feature of the evening they could say that every ingredient was purchased at the local farmers market except the fish; that's like supporting local x 2!

I found the entire experience to be so refreshing from just shopping at the local mall. It was a beautiful day out and we saw so many unique clothes we never would have seen there. So if a sunny Saturday afternoon is open on your calendar...give me a call and we'll do it all over again ;)



*all views expressed in this blog are my own :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Calendar Overload

On a daily basis I struggle with my calendar; we have a love/hate relationship. I love being busy and doing so many fun things but I also hate looking at the next two months and seeing maybe 3 days/nights without anything on the schedule.

Recently I bowed out of 2 commitments in order to try to alleviate some stress off my overflowing calendar and yet I feel like I haven't removed anything at all. The calendar still looks as busy as ever and I am not sure how to rectify this. If anything, it's just going to get worse as the kids start swimming on Saturday and DD's soccer starts up in a few weeks.

Bowing out of 2 commitments was huge for me, I never do anything like that...ever! I was the person at work that used to get there at 7am, work through lunch, stay until my work was completed, take work home, etc.. I have carried that over to my personal life and I'm not sure how to scale back.

My inability to say no and my need to be seen as a capable person have led me into deep waters and I'm sinking. So,  I've decided that I need to once again take a serious look at all the activities I've committed to and start scaling back.  There's some things on the list I would never touch as they're too near to my heart but there's others I do out of a sense of obligation so I'm thinking those will be at the top of the list!

Now, one might wonder what I have planned for the nights I want to free up. Watch tv? Go to bed early? Read more?  Nope, I hope to entertain more. Yep...more work! BUT I think this is positive work because it leads to building closer relationships with my friends and family. Sometimes I feel so scattered with so many commitments it leads to relationships that don't go beyond the surface and instead I want deeper, more meaningful friendships and relationships.

To achieve this I know I will need to drop more than a few things off my current buffet of activities so I'm thinking it will take me a little while to sort it out and make the right decisions. Here's hoping I can figure this out so I can have you all over soon for some good food and an even better chat ;)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March Reads

Two book posts in a row! Good thing I write these down or I might have forgotten what I've read :)

1. The House at Riverton - Kate Morton  - I like Kate's style of writing. Most of her books are the same sort of concept/style but I do enjoy them. Of the 3 books of hers I've read I'd actually say this was my least favourite. It was her first book so it's good to see she got better over time as it makes me hopeful for future books.

2. Lolita - Victor Nabakov - Creepy, creepy, creepy novel. Not sure this book would have bothered me as much prior to having my own little girl, now it hits me on a whole new level. Creepy!

3. The Sentimentalist - Johanna Skibsurd  - I had no idea where she was going with this novel. I figured it was about her and her relationship with her dad but then at the end she threw in another storyline but didn't really give a final explanation so I found it to be disjointed.

4. The Titan's Curse - Rick Riordan - again after reading 2 heavier books in a row I opted for a mind break with this one. I got the series when I was buying Scholastic books for the kids and am glad I have it for my backup break books :) Simple concept, simple read.

5. These Things Hidden - Heather Gudenkauf - again one of my Safeway bargain bin buys. You never know what you're going to get but I found it to be a pleasant read. I enjoyed it even with the somewhat heavy subject matter.

6. Little Bee - Chris Cleave - Interesting concept for the book. I liked the way the story played out BUT I found it to be another heavy book that was depressing. I was expecting more of an uplifting read so it might not have been the right time to read it.

7. The Book Thief - Markus Zusak - Finally! A book that I liked pretty much everything about it. I liked the speed of it, the way it was written, the concept of having Death narrate the book to us...if was full of great things. I finished this book on the plane back from holidays and am sure many people were wondering what was making me sob so much! Definitely the book over the past couple months that I would suggest to others.

8. Stones into Schools - Greg Mortenson - a good book. I didn't find it as moving as his first book but it was still informative. He started something great and it was like a follow-up book to keep the project in the minds of those that support the project. Good to see people are waking up and helping him build these schools, especially the military support he gets now.

February Reads

I'm seriously behind on this! Here's the books I read in February and what I thought of them:

1. Ape House - Sara Gruen    -  I had high hopes for this book because of her other book Water For Elephants. Alas, this book is just not at all up to the same standards as her previous book. I felt this book was rushed towards the end and everything works out just a little too neatly for my taste.

2. They Fight Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children - Romeo Dallaire  -  second book of the month and another disappointment. I thought it would be a very moving account of child soldiers and was shocked to find that he didn't really use any real accounts and instead resorted to inserting a fictional account of what it might be like for a child soldier. Just surprised me that with his knowledge and experience he didn't recount real stories instead. I learned from it but I think it could have been WAY more powerful.

3. Left Neglected - Lisa Genova   - Finally, a book I liked! Even though I don't have the 80 hour a week job I still felt I could identify with the main character. The craziness of trying to manage the schedules of your kids, work (or my case volunteering), and home life can be super overwhelming at times. Then her life gets turned upside down by a brain injury that I've never heard of yet find fascinating. I appreciated the writing style; you were able to learn a great deal without it seaming like a lesson. Good read!

4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery  - I found this to be a mildly depressing book because the main characters hide their true natures and put a front up for everyone around them. I liked the idea of the book but then found it was taking FOREVER for it to get to the point. When it finally got to the part of the book that I thought was the main focus on the book it was actually right towards the end. Then it took a turn I wasn't expecting so was left wanting in the end.

5. Unbearable Lightness - Portia de Rossi  - Wow. This was one incredibly depressing book. It just hit me at the wrong time and I struggled with the low mood of the book. She did write it well but most of the book focused on her developing the disease and how severe it got. It's good to see her life is turning around after getting so sick; it would have been nice to have a bit of a longer ending so we could see more of how her life is now and how she eats/stays healthy.

6. I am Number Four.  - Pittacus Lore  - So after reading Unbearable Lightness I was walking through Safeway and saw this in the 40% off bin. I grabbed it and started it right away. I REALLY needed something light, easy to read...basically fluff. It was interesting but not stellar writing but I wouldn't expect that with a teen novel anyway. It was a nice break from such a heavy topic.

7. In a Far Country - Linda Holeman - I found this book to be about 200 pages too long (it was over 600). It took so long for something to happen that I though it would have been a better book if she had cut it down and sped it up a bit. I knew what was happening in the beginning of the book and found it frustrating the main character took until the last 1/4 of the book to figure it out. Not my cup of tea but I know many that like her work.

There's my reads for February, have you read any of the above? If so what were your thoughts?