Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Well, the piece of paper arrived in the mail today so it’s officially official: the Leadership & Management in the Not-for-Profit Sector certificate is mine! HOORAY!!

Moms go back to school every day, and I would like to applaud us all because that was a really tough thing to do.  That was 180 hours that I spent in the classroom and not with my family, not to mention the numerous hours spent at Starbucks completing assignments and studying for exams.  I wouldn’t have this certificate now if it weren’t for my husband and kids.  They left me alone when I needed to get my work done and snuggled me senseless when it was all getting to be too much for me to handle.

Attending those weekly classes was sometimes a scheduling nightmare – a husband working shifts means that every other week I had to find someone else to watch the kids.  In most cases, it was my mom.  I wouldn’t have this certificate now if it weren’t for her.  Her easy response of “of course” every time I asked her to come over and sit with the kids ensured that I went to school without worry, knowing my kids were being tucked in by Nana.

Like I said, I know many moms (and dads!) have done this before me and I know I didn’t exactly get my degree in rocket science or find a cure for cancer, but I am so super proud of myself.  I worked hard, I came one step closer to mastering my craft and for the first time in my adult life, I actually finished something.  And that feels damn good.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The One Where I Take My 4-Year Old to the Tattoo Shop

My 4-year old daughter has asked to have her ears pierced several times in the last year.  I have never had a definite age for when I would support her getting them done but just knew that it wouldn’t be until she could ask me herself and when I knew she was serious about it.  Well, we found ourselves with a few glorious hours of mom and daughter time today so I thought, why not?  Let’s head to the tattoo shop.

My ears (along with a gazillion other ears) were pierced at the local mall with a piercing gun.  I was just a baby at the time so I don’t remember how it felt but I did get my nose pierced with a gun a couple of times in my teens and man, did it hurt!  I wasn't too keen on having Edie go through that so I started asking around.

A mom-friend of mine suggested going to a professional piercer and listed a bunch of reasons why she thought it was a better option than a piercing gun:
  •   Professional piercers use sterilized hypodermic needles whereas piercing     guns cannot be fully disassembled and so only partially sterilized.
  •   Needles are used to core out a sliver of skin to make room for an             earring whereas a piercing gun uses blunt-force to ram the earring into    the ear lobe.
  •   Having a professional piercer use a needle to pierce the ear is relatively     painless whereas the piercing gun used by the part-timer at the mall         HURTS!

This particular mom-friend also happens to be a nurse, so I trusted her judgement and went the professional piercer route.* Karen, another friend of mine (check her blog out here!), is a professional piercer and did a perfectly awesome job piercing my nose last fall.  I knew I could trust her with Edie’s sweet little ears, so we paid her a visit at Eighth Empire Tattoos & Piercing in Burlington.  

Edie was nervous because she knew it would hurt a bit but my little girl climbed up on that big shop chair and seriously didn’t flinch.  Karen asked her to take a deep breath in and VOILA!  One ear was done and then the other.  Just like that.  Piece of cake.  No tears, no whimpers, just a couple of new glittery pink earrings on my now big girl.

I was proud of her.  Edie was also proud of herself for being so brave and now keeps checking out her cute new accessories in the mirror.  If you’re thinking about having your little one’s ears pierced, I would strongly recommend going to a professional for all the reasons I just mentioned above.  Plus, from what I hear, I paid the same amount you would pay at the mall, so why not?  Support your local piercer today.   

*Let me just mention that I’m not judging you for having your kid’s ears pierced with a piercing gun, if that’s what you chose to do.  I’m just saying that, after some research, this is what I decided on.  The piercing gun did a fine job on your kid and I’m sure his or her ears are not going to turn green and fall off.  This was simply the choice I made. Thank you for reading.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Enough With the Special Days, Okay?

Well, it’s a good thing I checked Facebook before leaving for work this morning.  Today was Dress Like Your Favourite Book Character day and I sent my kids to school in plain old clothes!  Imagine the horror! Our nanny had left the house with the kids only a few minutes before, so I raced upstairs to grab a couple of costumes then hopped in my car to dress them up before they got to school.  Whew!    

How did I let this one slip past me?

Oh, right.  I know how it happened….there are too many special days to keep track of.  THE SPECIAL DAYS ARE JUST TOO MUCH!  Earlier this week, it was Wear Pink Day.  Before that, it was Dress Like a Pirate Day, and then Snuggle Up and Read Day, and Green Day, then Blue Day, and Every-Other-Colour-You-Can-Think-Of Day.  And don’t forget the countless Pajama Days.  There’s also Mystery Bag Day, Popcorn Day, Cookie Day and Bring a Cup of Coins Day!

I would love to be the parent that can stay totally on top of this crap but I’m just not.  I do my best to pack my kids healthy snacks every day, I search high and low to make sure library books are returned on time and that they’re in comfortable pants and sneakers on gym days.  I have monthly classroom calendars stuck to the fridge and important dates written on our family calendar but still I find myself in a cold sweat burning rubber up my street when I’m already late for work and all because my kids are not dressed in costumes related to yet another special day.  When will it end?

Don't get me wrong, I believe that learning should be fun but all the special days?  They are just too much.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

December Boys Got it Bad

I watched Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me twice last week and now I can’t listen to anything but #1 Record and Radio City on repeat.  These records were made in 1972 and 1974 respectively, but when I hear those first few chords of September Gurls, it’s the early 90’s, I’m 16 years old and eagerly discovering all the music that would shape me, inspire me and make my heart hurt in all the best ways.  The Lemonheads, The Flaming Lips, Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub – all of them citing one common influence on their liner notes, magazine articles and interviews: Big Star.  If all of my favourite bands loved them, I certainly needed to hear them, so #1 Record and Radio City made their way into my music collection and have remained a part of it for the past twenty-something years.  For me, they represent a mixture of heartache, hope, love and youthfulness.  Today, I’m remembering Alex Chilton and the music of Big Star and I am incredibly thankful.
 Alex Chilton December 28, 1950 – March 17, 2010


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Not This Time, Winter. Please, Not This Time.

It’s been a long, dreadful winter and I’m starting to feel it.  It’s trying to pull me into its darkness.  I don’t want to get out of bed.  I just want to close out the world, to curl up under a mountain of blankets and to get as many carbs into my mouth as I possibly can.  I was starting to think I could take these winter blues on by simply ignoring them but when I heard the newscaster say we should expect a colder spring than usual, I surrendered.  I got into my bed and I stayed there for 13 hours.

This blog has been good for me.  It’s been a good way to get my experiences out into the world.  It’s helped me to think through certain things and, from the feedback I’ve heard from readers, it's also been able to help a few people along the way.  This morning, I realized that it also provides me with an excellent look back on the last year.  A way for me to remember exactly how I felt and what I was going through when last year’s winter got to be too much.  I read about the days when I had to force myself to get out of bed and when I had to remind myself to stand in the goodness of now.

A lot has changed since then.  I was home with the kids last year and I’m back at work full-time now.  I was also on horrible anti-anxiety medication that was making my depression worse.  I quickly weaned myself from that and have promised myself to never put anything so harmful in my body again.  This winter, I’m staying medication-free and trying to balance parenting (along with everything that comes with it) and full-time work.  I can feel this long winter starting to take its toll again though and that feeling of helplessness that I was experiencing last year is becoming all too familiar once again.

I want to stay stronger than my depression this year.  Not let it take over my life.  Not let it take the best of me away from my family.  This time, I owe it to myself to do two simple things:
  1. Get serious about my vitamin D intake.  I take a supplement now but only when I think about it (which is once or twice a week) and, since it’s a supplement I just picked up at my local drug store, I’m not sure how much good it’s actually doing for me.  I’m about to start taking a supplement my naturopath recommended and I’ve promised myself to take it every day.
  2. Take care of myself first.  You know when the flight attendant going over the emergency procedures on an airplane tells you to put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else with theirs?  It’s because without your oxygen mask, you’re dead.  No good to anyone else that might need your help.  I need to remember this every day whether I’m at work or at home.  I have to put my oxygen mask on first.

I think just making these small changes will have a huge impact on my day-to-day emotions.  I’m also diving right into the summer planning.  I’m not waiting for the warm weather to hit before I plan the June birthday party, the July wine tour or the camping trip in August.  I’m going to stay on top of it and not let it get the best of me this time.  I have to.  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

7 Tips for an Extra-Magical Disney World Vacation

My family and I spent last week at Disney World.  It was our first real family vacation and definitely the best trip I’ve ever been on.  At ages 4 and 5, it was the perfect time for our kids to experience Disney for the first time.  They were old enough to really get into it and still young enough to believe in all the magic that Disney holds.

I’m lucky enough to have a bonafide Disney Nerd for a friend.  We spent our time at the Disney Parks with her and her family and she was so was hugely helpful while we were planning our trip.  We followed her advice and stayed on Disney property, had the Disney Dining Plan and took advantage of the FastPass+ program.  Because of that, we had a worry-free, no cash needed trip.  We shared most of our meals with Disney characters and we were able to breeze past the line-ups for all the rides that we wanted to go on.  We would have had no idea about any of that stuff had I not consulted her at the very beginning of my planning.  If you’re planning your own first-time trip to Disney World, my advice to you is to find yourself a Disney Nerd to help you out.*
Knowing all about the Disney resorts and dining plans are certainly important things to know before you go, but there were a few other things I learned last week that I thought might also be helpful advice for someone planning a trip to Disney World with small kids.  So, here it is, my 7 Tips for an Extra-Magical Disney World Vacation:
  1. Rent a stroller
    It doesn’t matter that your kids don’t use a stroller when you’re at home.  My kids don’t either but, trust me on this one, you’re going to use it.  There is a lot of area to cover and the stroller just made everything so much easier.  We stayed out late a couple of nights to see the fireworks and the kids fell asleep in the stroller as we headed back to the bus.  It was an easy transfer from the stroller to the bed on those nights and again, it just made everything so much easier.  We also had a couple of rainy days while we were there so the rain-cover on the stroller certainly came in handy.

  2. Pack in Ziplocks.
    I learned this sweet little tip from Pinterest.  Packing complete outfits for each day in Ziplock bags made me feel so organized before we left and they were pretty great to have while we were there.  I just tossed each kid their bag at the beginning of the day and they got themselves dressed and ready to go.  Since I knew which parks we would be visiting each day, my daughter had her Belle t-shirt for a day in the Magic Kingdom, my son was in his Star Wars t-shirt while we were in Hollywood Studios and so on.  Each day’s outfit was perfectly planned ahead of time, which turned out to be really fun.

  3.  Get your glowy things at the Dollar Store before you go.
    I spent $5 on glow bracelets, butterflies and swords before we left and it was probably the smartest $5 I may have ever spent.  The kids loved them when we were out after dark and we didn’t have to spend a fortune on the over-priced Disney light-up junk.

  4. Start collecting Disney swag long before you leave.
    As soon as you decide you’re going to go to Disney, keep an eye on any sales and clearance items.  Just after Halloween is a perfect time to pick-up any Disney character costumes at a great price - my kids loved wearing their costumes while we were in the parks.  My local Disney Store was closing for renovations the week before we left and they were selling a lot of their stock at crazy clearance prices.  I was able to pick up a bunch of stuffies at just $3-$5 each.  We secretly packed them in a suitcase and had them waiting in our room each night when we arrived back at the hotel.  They kids didn’t ask for anything while we were there.  We spent $20 for each kid on Build-Your-Own Light Sabres (which was more for my husband than for them), and that was it for the whole week.  

  5. Don’t play Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom unless you have plenty of hours to kill.
    My son saw this interactive game highlighted on the bus from the airport to our resort and didn’t stop talking about it until we went to Magic Kingdom.  It’s a fun game that takes you all over the park to find secret portals and use spell cards to defeat the villiains.  Like I said, it’s fun but we spent 3.5 hours playing it over two days and it still wasn’t finished.  My son loved every minute of it and could have kept going for hours more, so I guess I shouldn’t complain.  It’s just a lot of time spent on one thing when there is so much to see and do.
  6. The food all week long was awesome.  Not one complaint on any of the meals we enjoyed at any of the parks or resorts.  The best food though, in my opinion, was found at Epcot.  We had an amazing lunch at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway (and were joined there by Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White and Ariel), which I would highly recommend but the best food and meal experience of the whole trip was at Biergarten Restaurant in Germany.  It was so good that we went there for dinner twice.  The German buffet was deliciously filled with sausage, sauerkraut, schnitzel, spatzel, strudel,  and plenty of other German fare all while a live band entertained with polkas, waltzes and, of course, the Chicken Dance.  The kids gobbled up their food and then made their way to the dance floor for two unforgettable nights of fun.

  7. Look out for people not looking where they're walking.
    Seriously, they were everywhere.  People of all ages looking one way and walking another, right into our stroller.  We experienced this several times a day.
Our trip was so amazingly fun that I’m saving all my dollars so we can go back next year.  I want to go again while they are still the perfect age for it.  I know they’ll have fun as they get older too, but there was something about this age that just added to the magic of it all.  I can’t wait to start my planning all over again.
*If you can’t find an official Disney Nerd, I would be happy to share all I know about staying on Disney property, the Disney Dining Plan and FastPass+.  I’m by no means an expert, but definitely learned a thing or two last week.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Straight Teeth and THE Worst Game Ever

 You can't blog about your braces and not have a before shot, can you?

Once upon a time, I was somewhere in my early twenties sitting in LaGuardia Airport with my boyfriend-at-the-time waiting for our flight home.  I don’t remember how it came up or why on Earth we thought it would be a good idea, but we decided to play a game of “Tell Me My Worst Physical Feature.”  I mean, really, who the hell plays this game?!  I went first and picked his feet.  Honestly, I can’t picture his feet now so couldn’t tell you if they were really his worst physical feature or not.  I think if you’re going to play this game, feet are a pretty safe answer.  They’re feet – no one expects feet to be good looking and no one really sees them anyway.  It’s the nice answer, right?  The answer that you ought to give should you ever find yourself in the middle of this horrible game!  This boyfriend clearly didn’t get that particular memo.  His answer?  My teeth.  My eyes filled with tears instantly.  My teeth!  Right in the middle of my face!!

In somewhat related news, today is my first day of a 10-week Invisalign program.  Now, I’m not saying that it’s all because of a conversation I had with a boyfriend fifteen years ago but I’m not exactly saying it isn’t either.  I’ve always been self-conscious of my teeth.  I had braces in my early teens and for a while they were pretty straight but with no permanent retainers they’ve shifted quite a bit and the shifting just got worse during my two pregnancies.* That airport conversation turned my self-consciousness from I’m-the-only-one-noticing-my-crooked-teeth-so-it-doesn’t-matter to oh-my-god-every-one-hates-my-teeth-just-as-much-as-I-do and I never got over it.

My husband says my teeth are perfectly cute now and that I don’t need to change them.  Maybe he’s right and maybe the biggest change will just be in how I see myself when I look in the mirror.  I'm okay with that.  I'll be posting my progress regularly.    
You can't see the Invisaligns, can you?!  They're pretty awesome.
*As if pregnancy doesn’t change your physical appearance enough already, it has to go and shift your teeth around, too?!  That’s just not fair.