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 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?