Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Resolutions Are For The Strong.

Some say that making New Year's Resolutions is a bad idea. They wave the concept away as if one is making unrealistic promises to oneself, setting unattainable goals that look good only on paper and will never actually be achieved.

I say screw that: I love making New Year's Resolutions. And I maintain that making them is a good thing for anyone. Each year I become completely absorbed in the idea that the forthcoming year is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings, a chance to scratch away some of those less-than-admirable moments of the past year, and start up again with a new optimism and a new approach to as little or as much as you please.

I say that anything that prompts you to attempt to be a better, happier, healthier person is a good thing. If that means doing it on your birthday - great. Or on a random day of the year - excellent. For me, it's the start of a new year.

Writing my list of resolutions inspires me. Some are realistic and some are not, but there's always the idea that those resolutions exist, that those aspirations are written there on paper, whether or not they ever really happen.

My list of New Year's Resolutions ranges from completely bonkers (write a book; go for a run every day; learn how to sew; stop snacking) to moderately doable (get all my photographs in order; back up my computer files; be better at remembering birthdays) to utterly realistic and why-the-hell-am-I-not-already-doing-these-things (be smarter with my money; keep life simple; do something creative that I enjoy, be more thankful).

When I write a list of things I'm going to be better at next year I'm filled with motivation, as though there is a this sparkly new opportunity to improve. There's always room to be better: better mum, better wife, better daughter and friend, better neighbour. No matter that I don't accomplish everything on my list, the point is this: the list is there; the list is designed to push myself to be a better person; the list helps me believe I can change certain things; the list gives me great hope that the year ahead is going to be good.

And there's a chance that, in a few months, I'll find my list at the bottom of a pile of paperwork I never did get around to filing, but for now, it's a good thing.

How about you? Are you making any resolutions this year?

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Best Shopping Companions.

I have to admit that when it comes to clothes shopping I love to do it alone. I enjoy alone time like you wouldn't believe and I'm just lousy at shopping with other people. But, being with my kids all week, there are times when it's necessary to take them with me. For these occasions, I have an emergency shopping kit.

A few days ago I took my sons with me to look for a new sweater. With no hope of getting out on my own, I decided they were just going to have to come with me. In the store I ushered the boys into a fitting room under the worried eye of the sales assistant, armed with bundles of clothes (because I really can only get in and out of the fitting room once with two boys).

In the fitting room, I presented the boys with the emergency kit: loli pops and Thomas the Tank Engine magazines. The emergency kit is designed to give me approximately 7 minutes and 37 seconds of trying-on time.

After that I'm screwed.

The only problem with shopping alone or with kids is that there's no one to offer opinion. For this reason, I do enjoy shopping with my mother or husband, who both offer honest (sometimes too honest) assessments. And when there's no one to ask, sometimes I'll ask the shop assistant for their opinion.

On this occasion, grabbing at straws, I asked my sons to tell me what they thought of the sweater I was trying on: a red button-up cardigan. And then another: a long purple cardigan with belt.

"Which one do you think is best?" I asked my candy-faced sons.

"I like the red one" Said M.

"I like pooo-ple one," Said O.

I switched back and forth between the two, trying to decide.

"I think you should get them both mommy."

I love my son.

"You know what, I think you're right." I said. We left the fitting room with both sweaters.

I was so pleased with our successful expedition, I decided I might just bring my little shopping companions out with me again some time.
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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Weekend Before Christmas.

I love the run-up to Christmas: the excitement, the goodwill, the present-wrapping, the tree, the cookies, the movies, the wine and cheese, the parties and the dressing up. So much fun. And now I need to lie down.

Friday night: Party hairdo created by my hairdresser.*


Mad Men Christmas party complete with pearls, vodka gimlets and whiskey sours.


Saturday: Once Upon A Christmas at Heritage Park.


Sunday: Neighbourhood kids' party.

And a morning of work squeezed in for good measure. 

Hope yours was good too.

*p.s I've discovered getting your hair styled by your hairdresser is the most brilliant thing ever. It costs a fraction of a haircut and looks a million times better than when you do it yourself.
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Friday, December 16, 2011

Extravagant Delicious Coffee Habit.

If I could somehow see the total amount of money I've ever spent on coffee, I'd probably slap myself.

Over the years I have probably spent an unthinkable amount of cash on the caffeinated concoction: filtered, latte, flavoured, chai, full-fat, no-fat, tall, short, big, small, with sprinkles, whipped cream and plain.

When I lived in London, I would buy a coffee almost every morning on my way to work. When we moved to Canada I didn't walk past a coffee shop anymore and my coffee spending went down. Then we had kids and I was buying coffee often again since drive-through coffee places were so convenient for driving around with a sleeping baby in the back. Then it was time to re-evaluate my spending habits and the coffee budget was axed. Mostly. I was horrified when I worked out how much I was spending on coffee each year.

Now every morning I make myself a coffee at home. I love coffee. I love the smell of it, the sound of it brewing and dripping into the pot in the kitchen, the sound of milk steaming, the way the cream swirls and blends in the mug, the first sip when it's still steaming hot; the slight but welcome change in my alertness.

So I save money by making it at home, but once or twice a week when I'm out and there happens to be an espresso machine beckoning me, I buy coffee.

But it's becoming harder and harder to justify. Two medium-sized lattes a week costs in the region of $8. That's $32 a month and - wait for it -$384 a year. $384. And that's just two coffees a week.

You know what $384 could buy? Christmas presents. A new wool coat. A couple of massages. A night away with my husband. Several restaurant dinners. Half of one seat to England to visit my family. A bunch of new music. A bunch of new books. A lot of lovely stationery. A painting or print for my wall. New equipment for my business. Bed sheets. A lot of hats. A jewel-encrusted collar for my dog.

Want to know more calculations?

Three lattes a week is $48 per month, $576 per year.
Four lattes a week - $64 per month, $768 per year.
Five lattes a week - $80 per month, $960. That's almost $1000 in one year. Yikes.

I won't dare try to work out how much I spent on coffee seven years ago - I'd probably kick myself in the shin if I found out.

So, knowing this - knowing my money could be spent on something more meaningful than a fleeting moment of pleasure - why do I still spend money on coffee shop coffee?

Because there's something about buying a cup of coffee in a coffee shop. It's not just a cup of coffee. (I should be a marketing person for a coffee company.) It's a whole coffee-buying experience. (I may have had too much coffee this morning.) An indulgence. It's something that's just for me, that lets me breathe and relax for five minutes. It's the atmosphere created by the coffee shop with their music and lighting and comfy chairs. It's the sound of the espresso machine whistling and chugging and the collective buzz of waiting in line for coffee. It's the pretty red cup with snowflakes filled with warm liquid soon to be in my hands.

It's the taste of a hot drink that someone else has prepared. And it is so comforting.


My theory that coffee someone else has prepared tastes better is the same as my sandwich theory. Have you ever noticed how a sandwich prepared by someone else tastes better than one you have prepared? It's true! Or maybe it's just me.

But in the end, with everything stripped away, it is still just a cup of coffee, handed to me in a paper cup in exchange for a little bit too much money.

And in the end, yes, I am still going to part with my money for it. Perhaps just a little less often next year.


File under "new year's resolutions that look good on paper".



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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Boo.

As it turns out, it wasn't the last time I'd be writing here.

Hi.

Hello.

Is it naughty that I'm coming back after bidding farewell six months ago? Is it allowed? Well if it is or even if it isn't, here I am again. I went away and did my thing elsewhere for a while and in the end - though I think new endeavours are never lost or pointless - it felt right to return here.

And so here I am. Lady Mama again, though perhaps a slightly different version of her this time, with different rules.

But still with a sense of humour about all things and still attempting to find my way in the world of parenting like a person lost in a forest in the dark in another country with a blindfold. You know, the usual.

And still drinking the wine. 

Enough about me. How have you been?
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Fond Farewell

Ah, it feels odd to put words here for the last time.

Writing Lady Mama has been fabulous. It's been a true joy being part of this online community and meeting so many wonderful people. And I'll still be popping in to visit each of you every now and then.

But now it's time for me to move on. I've no idea where blogging will take me, but for now, I'll be over here.

All the best, friends.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Beauty of Unavailability.

Last week I ate up every second of being unavailable as we drove West into the next Canadian province, for a family vacation in Kelowna.

One day I'll enjoy being available - I'll long for emails and for the phone to ring and for people to want things from me. But right now, there's nothing quite so lovely as the peacefulness of not turning on my laptop for a few days, as letting my cell phone battery die and not charging it for an entire week, with the knowledge I'll get to it all later.

In all honesty, I did check into my emails every now and then (an Internet junkie can't do cold turkey), but it calmed me, that I didn't have to respond to anything then and there. It would all wait.

I enjoyed the long, winding drive through the mountains and took the time to think and reflect. And by that I mean, I took advantage of random intervals between shrieks of protest and groans of discomfort and requests for more DVDs, colouring books and snacks. I simply take what I can get.

There's a certain something about British Columbia. It's very peaceful, and very imposing. Everywhere are deep valleys and towering mountains, all of it covered in the most luscious green forests.The open space is limitless and the woodlands vast and mysterious.

Yes, I fell in love, as I always do when in BC. And did I mention that Kelowna is famous for its wineries? Yes, true love indeed.



Being away from my life and unavailable to everything back at home made me think about how "available" I am day to day. Or, how available I feel I should be, if that makes sense. It seems as though I'm always switched on, always in touch, always "on" in one way or another. I feel the need to respond promptly to emails, to answer the phone or the door, even if my mood doesn't suit the timing.

In the end I suppose there's nothing wrong with being switched on, so long as I learn to switch off occasionally, too.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Favourite Kids Books So Far 2011

It's crazy to think we only discovered the library a few months ago. Since then, a whole new world of kids' literature has opened up for us. Once or twice a week we go and replenish our collection with new reading material - with all kinds of books we we might not otherwise see.

One of the best things about the library is that you get to discover your favourites for free, before spending wads of cash on a million books you might not love.

Since we became avid library-goers, a few striking favourites have emerged.


How to raise a dinosaur, written by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi. 

For our dinosaur-obsessed boys, this is one of the best dinosaur books we've come across - and we've seen a lot. The illustrations are exquisite, the concept is funny, and the book is full of interactive flaps.



Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, by Mo Willems

We've read this book countless times. There's something charming and relatable about the story for young kids and adults - clearly the writer, Mo Willems, had this in mind when he wrote the stories. So loved was this book, that we went on to read Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.
Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus, by Mo Willems

Another Mo Willems book. My sons hooted and cackled as we read this book over and over. It's read from the perspective of the pigeon, who relentlessly tries to coax you into letting him have his way. Hillarious.



The Secret Birthday Message, by Eric Carle


I picked this up one day for no other reason than Eric Carle is one of our favourite authors (this grouchy one excepted). It's the kind of book that really lets the imagination run wild. As the secret message unfolds, the reader is taken through a visual adventure.




Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend, by Mélanie Watt

A tale about a cautious Squirrel who weighs up all the risks before venturing out to make a new friend. There's a nice combination of pictures and diagrams that make the book visually interesting to read with a child. And, in the end, the lesson is a good one: nothing ventured nothing gained. Scaredy Squirrel makes his friend even though its not who he had expected.




A Book of Sleep, by Il Sung Na

I'm not sure whether I love this book because of the sleep-inducing story (sleep inducing in a good way), or the lovely illustrations that I've considered sourcing, printing and framing. Whatever the reason, this is one beautiful book, and a great bed-time read for kids.

  

Big Earth Little Me, by Thom Whiley

A nice way to introduce simple ideas about protecting the environment, this book is even printed with soy ink. It's aimed at younger kids, but both of my sons liked this one.






How about you - what are your kids' favourite books right now?
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Monday, June 6, 2011

His Little Big Boy Room

We have no more cribs in our house, it's official. Yesterday we took apart our youngest son's crib and turned it into a toddler bed. It's one of those Ikea cribs that convert. The bed looked so tiny when it was all put together, but it worked in the spacially-challenged (!) bedroom, and felt immediately right when we moved it into its place.



And, most importantly, he approved.


He was more than okay with it, in fact, leaping off and on the bed for the next few hours and proudly telling everyone within ear shot about his "big boy room".


As we took apart the crib and put the redundant pieces away, I thought about how this room started out, four years ago, as a nursery, decked out with all its baby accessories. Now it's been bedroom to two boys and the signs of baby are quickly fading.
  

Some baby things remain though. It's going to take me a while to part with them all.



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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Complex Dilemma of Asking for Help.

I've always had a hard time asking for help. In my first job out of university, I preferred to sit at my desk, stewing over a problem rather than ask a colleague for help and risk exposing a weakness. When I moved to Canada I refused to let my family back in England know that I was having a difficult time during those first few months. And then, when I had children, guess what? I still refused to ask for help. If someone offered, I'd usually take it. But I wouldn't go out of my way to ask anyone, preferring to manage it all by myself.

Superwoman!

I think it has something to do with projecting an air of independence and strength to the world. And where does that even come from? At what point in my life did I become a person for whom it was important to be completely self-reliant and never admit I needed support?

Because really, it's not important to prove to the world I can cope alone, in fact it's kind of a lousy thing, and a lousy thing to teach my kids, too.

Have you ever heard that saying "it takes a village to raise a child"? I always wondered where the hell this village is - because it isn't in my neck of the woods. Practically all the parents I know are as self-sustaining as me. We're all doing it, more or less, by ourselves. Many people live far from their families, relying on the support of friends and outsourced help. It sometimes seems as though the way of the Western world is to be strong (whatever that means) and self-sufficient.

Or is it just me?


In some Asian countries, it's not uncommon for two or three generations to live together in the same house. The role of family plays a much bigger role, and families are much more involved in each other's lives.

There they are, with their villages raising children, and here we are, doing it alone.

Which is better?

Saying all that, I am fortunate. Very fortunate, actually. Despite living thousands of miles away from my parents and brother in England, I do have help here. My husband's Mom and her husband live in the same city as us and they are wonderful.

And it's because of this relationship that I felt okay, for (I think) the first time last week, calling my mother-in-law on a rainy Thursday morning after a bad night's sleep, for no other reason than feeling completely unable to face the chores of the day, to ask whether she could come over - and help me. In typical me-style, I felt awful asking. As if, by asking I was admitting I was an imperfect human, thereby revealing my vulnerable side. Gasp! She came over, no questions asked, no judgment. Having raised two boys alone, she understood.

On that rainy morning, as I drove around the city carrying out my errands childless, I was so glad I'd asked for help that it made me wonder why we don't ask each other more.

Like I said before, many of us live a long way away from our families, so we rely on friends, neighbours, acquaintances. And in a way, our friends become our alternate family. But it's not as easy to ask friends for help as it is family. We hate to impose. We don't want to be a nuisance. But we should ask, shouldn't we? Because when we ask for help, we admit that we're human. And we let other people know it's okay to ask for help, too.

How about you? How often do you ask for help?
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Two things I like right now.

When it comes to buying cosmetics, the truth is, I'm a bit of a cheapskate. Once, long ago, wallet permitting, I did splash out on expensive brands and thought nothing of slapping on a face cream that I wouldn't now dream of spend the same money on. Now(adays) I happily purchase pharmacy counter brands and, on the most part, I genuinely don't see a huge difference.

So when, a few weeks ago, I was shopping at the Real Canadian Superstore and walked by their new line of Joe Fresh makeup, I was compelled to stop and look. Not one to pass up a cheap powder or gloss, I began perusing the line, and was so impressed (mostly by the prices but also the nice packaging), that I grabbed a few things.

Funny how that always seems to happen to me in Superstore... things other than the groceries I went in for mysteriously make their way into my cart...



I've been really impressed by the products I bought: a gold nail polish, perfect for flashing toes in summer sandals, and a cream blush in apricot that gives the face a peachy glow (providing you don't slap on too much, in which case you might end up a bit like Aunt Sally, if you know what I mean).

Best of all (I told you I was a cheapskate) was the price: $8 for the blush and $4 for the polish.

!!!

That is all I have to say on the matter.

p.s. I may have to start shopping elsewhere, since the temptation to purchase things I don't need at Superstore is too great.

p.p.s This post was not sponsored or paid for in any way, the contents are simply my own opinion.
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Breathing for Parents

You know how, sometimes, you discover something and it makes your life exponentially better - so much so that you feel like telling everyone you know? Like PVR. Or wet wipes. Or Skype. Or robots that make breakfast. (I will totally get one of those as soon as someone invents one.)

My "thing" is breathing. Or to be more specific, deep breathing. When I was studying to become a therapist I learned a technique called diaphragmatic breathing. It involves expanding your diaphragm (the muscle located underneath the lungs) as fully as possible, drawing air deep into the lungs, and then exhaling to push all the air out again.

After listening to my instructor harp on endlessly about the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing (relieves tension, improves circulation, brings more oxygen and nutrients to the organs), I started practicing it myself about a year ago and have really noticed the difference it has made to me. Now, whenever I'm feeling stressed out, nervous, or like I'm about to snap, I use the technique to bring myself back down to some level of calm.


There are three good things about learning to breathe deeply.

1. it's free
2. you can do it anywhere
3. the result is instant and effective

Trust me.

And try it for yourself.

What you do is this: lie on your back, place one hand on your chest and one hand on your upper stomach. Take a deep breath in and as you do so, raise your stomach out as far as you can. Then exhale - a long, deep breath, pushing every last bit of air out of your lungs. The hand on your stomach should move while the hand on your chest should stay still. 


Try it once a day for five minutes (or ten, if you can manage it).

And then come back and tell me how awesome you feel.
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Kid's bedroom wall art.

About a year ago, after we had painted our older son's room bright orange (one wall is orange, the rest is white with an orange stripe across the middle), we looked around for appropriate wall art to hang in the room. We'd gone back and forth on illustrations of alphabets, rocket ships, dinosaurs, monsters and trucks - all the usual child-friendly designs. Finally, unable to decide, we left it for a while.

Then this week we remembered this picture - a silk screen by UK illustrator Olly Moss, that we'd purchased a while back. It's a Flight of the Conchords poster (have you seen the show? It's awesome.) featuring a red London bus. It had previously hung downstairs in the playroom, but had since been replaced and was temporarily homeless.

It hadn't occurred to us to try hanging a non-child-specific print in our son's room, but when we did, it just worked. And most importantly, he liked it! 





Seeing this print work in M's room makes me think I'll be more open minded about where I look for kids' wall art in the future.
Have a great weekend everyone! 



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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Random generosity.

The nicest, most unexpected thing happened to me today while I was shopping for diapers at Walmart.

Walmart is not typically a place where nice things happen to me, and so when a complete stranger approached me, lightly touching my arm in the middle of the toothpaste and shampoo, I froze for a second. "You look great!" said the woman.

I was so taken aback by this random act of kindness that words failed me for a few seconds as I tried to string together a response. "Um. Thank you?"

"It says in my book," said the woman purposefully, "that when you see someone who looks good, you should tell them."

"Thank you."

That simple, thirty-second gesture completely made my day. As the woman walked away, I promised myself I would pass the same sentiment onto someone else over the next week and make someone else's day.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wardrobe Resuscitation.

Every year like clockwork, I get into a flap about the state of affairs in my wardrobe. It usually happens at the start of a season, like summer, when I'm trying to decipher what still fits me and what I need to buy. Then, in a panic, I'll run out and purchase several must-have items only to discover they already exist in my wardrobe.

Bad.

This year, I decided instead to examine my entire existing wardrobe. I had a hunch there were good things lurking in there, probably in undisturbed corners gathering dust and cobwebs. I had distant but definite memories of bright hues and foreign textures - things that hadn't seen the light of my bedroom in years. So I went on a treasure hunt of sorts. I was like a pirate on a mission for gold (only without the eye patch and the parrot). 

I chose a time when I could be alone for one whole hour (a rare thing indeed).

I started by removing everything from my closet. Everything.

I laid everything out on my bed (and the floor). It was quite a mess.  

Then, completely overwhelmed, I ran out for a coffee to procrastinate for ten minutes.

I then began organizing things into categories:

- current: things I wear every week
- dress: things I only wear for special occasions
- old but good: things I haven't worn in the past six months
- dead: things I just shouldn't
- accessories
- shoes

The things I knew I'd never wear again, I put straight in a bag assigned for charity. Easy.

The "old but good" things I hadn't worn in the past six months, I tried on. There were some pre-baby clothes that fit me again. There were some clothes that didn't fit any more, and some that just looked plain wrong - I assigned those to the charity bag.

With the old clothes that fit again, I set about pairing them with my current clothes to make new outfits.

I found this oyster silk top purchased in a British shop about ten years ago. It was right at the back of my wardrobe, behind some old coats and blazers, and surprisingly was in fine condition. I hadn't given it a thought in years. I decided it would look great with a pair of jeans.



Then I found this old beloved striped chiffon top with waist tie. I could pair it with a pair of white linen pants for another summer outfit.



I'd worn this aqua-coloured dress to a wedding once, about six years ago, and it had since been committed to the back of my wardrobe, perhaps for fear it was too pretty / pastel-y / floaty. Or something. This summer I'll find a way to wear it. Even if it's just in my own back garden.



I had totally forgotten about this skirt - purchased at a store in Maui years ago. It is very pink and very boho and hasn't been worn anywhere for at least five years. Poor thing. I could team it with a black spaghetti-strap top and a pair of strappy sandals.



I found this silk halter top, hanging in there (by a thread) and I think it has at least one more summer's worth of wear in it. I could pair it with a pair of black capris and flip flops.





It was amazing to go through my wardrobe and rediscover things I'd completely forgotten about. As I put everything back in its place, I felt confident, knowing what I could still wear and what could be given away.

Another idea would be to have a friend go through your wardrobe and suggest outfits you might not have thought of. Sometimes a fresh pair of eyes can do wonders.

How about you? How do you revive your wardrobe?
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Evolving.

Hello readers!

Wow, so, three weeks. I'd like to tell you that in three weeks I've accomplished a lot but really, I haven't. I've focused on my job; I've enjoyed being a mum to two high-energy, eat-like-elephants, amazing boys; I've hung out with friends; I've congratulated a friend on the birth of her third baby; I've enjoyed reading my friend Carmen's new blog; I've finally gotten a little sun (and, oops, a little sunburn too); I've planted some veggies in my garden; I've done lots and I've done little.

It's been lovely taking a break from blogging, but of course I've missed it. And like any project, taking a break helps put things into perspective: you begin to see clearly which things are important and which things aren't.

When I started writing this blog three years ago I was pregnant with my second son, O, getting ready to exist as a mother of two very small children and not sure what to expect. In a funny way this blog saved me, because being able to put on paper (or, rather, online) the good stories, and the bad (especially the bad!), and the questions and the fears, gave me a much-needed outlet and, more importantly, a way to connect with other mothers going through similar scenarios.

As life goes through its inevitable phases I too am entering another. Three years ago I was caught up entirely in the business of mothering two small children, and while I'm still very much caught up in it, I'm also now caught up in other things, too.

So I'm going to turn this blog ninety degrees and take it in a slightly different direction - one that's a truer reflection of me. As well as the parenting stories, I'm going to talk about some of the things I used to love. Some of things I'm beginning to love again.

Like, design.

Before I was a mother I loved design. I studied it (interior design, furniture design and graphics) at university in London and then went onto work in that field for years. We were constantly preoccupied by design (I met J at that same university). We pretty much lived and breathed it - always on the lookout for new ideas and inspiration wherever we went. I loved fashion. I loved finding nice things for our home. And I loved that I could locate good design it anywhere and everywhere, if I just looked. When I became a mum it was easy to let it slip away a little, taking a backseat for other, more pressing matters. And then, a few years later, I realized I needed to rediscover my passion for design. Because pretty things make me happy. The end.

And, like, wellness.

Because since I started working as a therapist last year, wellness has become intrinsically woven into my life. I find myself surrounded by the facts of good health and the results of bad health. I find myself naturally drawn to find out more about how to live a healthy life and how to be happy(er). I've been learning how to breathe (trust me on this). And I apologize in advance, but I feel the need to share it with you.

So there'll be a little of this and a little of that.

And, I don't know, we'll see.

But enough about me. How are you? What's new?
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Necessary Interruptions.

As I sat back on my heels on the hard wood floor, I felt a familiar twinge in my hip and a slight click in my knee (getting old(er) really is a bore). I didn't care because I was watching the rain with my sons. They stood at the window, observing splotches of water and small round hail stones fall from the clouds, their noses pressed up against the glass, enquiring.

"Mummy, is Spring still not coming?"

"No, this is Spring. The rain is good. It cleans everything and leaves everything feeling fresh."

I love the rain. It reminds me of England, of long gray afternoons spent inside listening to rain tap on the roof and thunder rumbling outside. It's a cozy feeling of warmth and home. As my sons dove into my lap for protection from the snaps of thunder outside, I laughed softly and told them not to worry, that the sky was just "doing its thing".

It was one moment in a number of moments I've enjoyed with my kids this week. I've been spending more time with them, more time cooking food, more time lying on my bed reading my text books and magazines, more time doing nothing where possible. More time not being on the Internet, away from the social media sites that require participation and the many many blogs that await comments and the emails that need answering and all the things that pull me in yet another direction I can't quite stretch to at the moment.

It happened - this sudden desire to get away from the online world - because of last weekend. I spent in on a course, learning new techniques for my massage therapy practice. I reveled in the weekend, soaking up the education and the words of experienced therapists and the palpable atmosphere created by a room of women each connected by the same desire to learn and be better therapists. I was in heaven. And, as often when I come home after a weekend away, I returned entirely uplifted and nourished.

I suddenly looked at my lap top and couldn't bring myself to open it. So I didn't. And it felt good. And then I discovered something: during the minutes and hours that I wasn't online, my day was filling up with things as though they had always been there waiting for me to discover them. Small things, big things, simple things, insignificant things. I spent a day not being online and at the end of it, noticed something remarkable: I didn't miss it. Not even a weeny teeny inch.

Okay maybe a bit...

And for not missing it, I feel guilty. I find myself caught in a new conundrum: I want to be here and then again I don't. It's tough because I've made some great friendships online. I love reading all of your stories and I cherish your comments on this blog. I love writing and I'm exhausted by it. I enjoy the freedom of blogging and at the same time I find it incredibly demanding.

I'm not sure what this means for the now. I think often about how to make this work, so that it's less tiring and less of a distraction to the rest of my life. I consider how I could bend and twist myself in other ways to squeeze it in any available space, but unfortunately I'm all out of elasticity.

If only there were more hours in the day....

xox
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sephora Mother's Day Review & Giveaway (Canada only)

My search for better skin care products started when, a few years after moving to Canada, I noticed my sensitive/combination skin wasn't responding well to the dry Canadian climate. Calgary is notoriously dry year-round, and especially during the winter months. The basic face creams I'd been using were no longer cutting it - my skin was dry, flaky and irritated, and so I started hunting around for quality moisturisers that would help keep my skin hydrated through the winter months.


When Sephora offered to let me try Peter Thomas Roth's Viz-1000 I jumped at the chance. Peter Thomas Roth's Viz-1000 is a super-concentrated face serum that attracts 1000 times its weight in water from the moisture in the air. It promises to leave skin feeling "healthy, supple, and youthfully radiant."


It's fragrance-free, which I like, and is infused with all kinds of reputedly miraculous ingredients such as silk proteins, sea algae, honey and yerba santa. It all sounded very impressive on the ingredients list, but I was eager to see the actual results for myself.

The first night I applied the serum to my face before bed and then used my regular moisturiser over the top (Weleda Soothing Almond Facial Cream). As I applied the serum, I felt it sinking right into my skin and at first wondered whether it was going to be a little dry. But the next morning after my shower, I applied it again underneath my moisturiser, and immediately noticed a difference.

My face felt smooth - the kind of smooth you get after using a face scrub and mask. Later in the day, I inspected my face again. Some of the flakiness on my forehead seemed to have gone. The second day I noticed once again that my skin was smoother than usual, and again, a little more of the flakiness on my forehead had disappeared.

By the third day, the flakiness was almost completely gone, and I was noticing a new, pleasant glow to my skin. 

Overall, this is a very nice little product. I've used serums in the past and haven't seen great results. This one? I will probably keep using it. It's a pricey habit to keep up, retailing at $75 CAD. Definitely more than I'd usually pay for such a product.


GIVEAWAY

With Mother's Day right around the corner (May 8th in case you didn't know), the nice people at Sephora are kindly offering one of my readers (sorry, Canadians only) the chance to win one of these products.

Happy Mother's Day!

ENTER

To enter, all you need to do is leave me a comment, telling me what you do to look after your skin. For extra entries you can tweet this giveaway, follow me on Google Friend Connect (or tell me you do), or subscribe to my feed. A separate entry for each.

Giveaway closes on Saturday April 30th at 9:00 pm (MST). A winner will be picked using random.org.

Only open to Canadians.

Good luck!


**********  Giveaway Closed  *********

The winner is mean green mom, commenter #21. Congratulations!


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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Great Eggspectations.

M: "Mummy? When is it going to be Easter?"

Me: "In one week, sweetie."


M: "Mummy? Is it Easter now?"

Me: "Not yet. Three more sleeps."


M: "Mummy? Can you please make the clocks go forward so we can have Easter NOW?"

Me: "Nope. But we're going to put on our boots and go for a nice walk to the park and by the time we come back it'll almost be Easter."


M: "Mummy! Daddy! Wake up! The Easter bunny came while we were asleep!"


M: "Mummy?"

Me: "Yes sweetie?"

M: "When is it going to be Easter again?"


p.s. That picture above is the Easter Bunny. For reals.
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