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


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



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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