Saturday, December 15, 2012

November Book Reviews

September until mid-February is always our eye-twitch season. Hubs is away A LOT. Both of our kids have their birthdays in there along with 10 nieces/nephews/aunts/uncles; not to mention friends!
After mid-February we can usually breathe fairly nicely until the next September as most other things are spread out more.

Even with hectic rush I still find time to read as much as I can. I carry a book with me in the car at all times so I sneak in a few minutes when I pick the kids up from school or wait at appointments. I don't fit in as much as I'd like but I did get these five completed this month:

1. The Wide Window - Lemony Snicket: This is book 3 and I love this series! It's super sweet and I can't wait until the kids are a little older so I can read these books with them. There's not much point to go into detail in any of these books as they absolutely have to be read in order.

2. Grimms' Fairy Tales - Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm: I can honestly say I had no idea they wrote so many famous fairy tales. I knew they had done a handful but basically they supplied Disney with the majority of their bread and butter. I'd suggest getting the book so you can read the real versions of Rapunzel, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, etc. One thing I would suggest is that you don't read the entire book front to back. Take your time, read a few, and come back to it after a few days or a week. I read it without a break and started to find some of the tales repetitive. Still a book with great value.

3. The Miserable Mill - Lemony Snicket: This is book 4 and as above there's not much point to telling you the plot unless you've read the first 4. But I must say that I love all the new scenarios and characters the author comes up with.

4. The Secret Keeper - Kate Morton: I loved Kate's previous 3 books so had high hopes for this one. It's about Laurel who witnesses her mother kill a man when she's in her teens and how in the future when he mother is about to pass she can't give up on what she saw and wants to know the truth of what happened. In typical Kate Morton style the story continuously flips between the present and the past. The characters are interesting as is the storyline. About just over halfway through the book I woke up in the middle of the night and realized what I thought the twist was; what fun! Got to love a book that makes you think about it in the middle of the night.

5. The Voluntourist - Ken Budd: Loved it. Loved it. Loved it. Ken tells us how the loss of a loved one spurred him on to want to do something more meaningful with his life. He did something the majority of people would never think to do; he gave up his holidays and used them to volunteer and make a difference in another part of the world. I found his writing to be very candid, humourous and informative. He takes us through several different areas of the world and several different types of volunteer projects. All the while we get to know about Ken's struggles with the acceptance of his father's death and reality that he and his wife will not be having children. It's a very inspiring book that I'd certainly recommend!



Monday, December 3, 2012

Because Edmonton Cares - Year Two

It's officially been two years since I started Because Edmonton Cares so I thought I'd do a year in review for our second year of running.

In the past year we have grown from around 35 members to over 130 members. That's HUGE! Partially this is due to the fact that our group was featured in City and Baby,  MODCITY  and Edmonton Examiner . But I also think the word is getting out about our group through friends of friends. It makes me happy to know that our volunteers are enjoying their experiences enough to tell their friends about us.

 
We volunteered at a number of non-profits but it was our first time helping out at the Jeans and Jerseys event for the Alberta Diabetes Federation, Basically Babies (we went twice!), and we went to the Food Bank twice as well.


The members of this group is really what makes it so great! One of my favourite additions to the group is a couple who attend some of our outings as a version of Date Night; how sweet is that??

A great big THANK YOU to all our volunteers. Everyone is busy, but those people who pause for a few hours to give back to their community make my heart swell.

Great work Edmontonians!





Saturday, November 10, 2012

October Book Reviews

As per the usual the fall tends to offer less opportunities to read. Even so I did finish five books so here's what I thought of them:

1. My Left Foot - Christy Brown: This is one of the 501 Must Read books as well as our book club selection. I'm so glad I finally got to read this book. I remember when the movie came out and I thought it sounded interesting but I never got a chance to see it. The book is the story of Christy Brown, an Irish boy who was born with cerebral palsy. He recounts the courage and determination of his mother as she f0ught to keep him in her care and show the world that he was of value. His remarkable life really started when he realised he could paint with his left foot. From there he began to explore writing. The book follows his life from birth until around age 20ish. It's very interesting, and encouraging. I'd certainly recommend it!

2. Bobcat and Other Stories - Rebecca Lee: This is bad. I only read this book less than a month ago and I don't have much recollection of it. I do remember that it's a collection of short stories that are not at all related. There does seem to be a theme of infidelity and there's teachers involved in many of the stories. I remember they were all fairly depressing stories. Well, there's not much more I can say when they didn't leave enough of an impression to discuss in detail.

3. Gold - Chris Cleave: Well timed Chris, well timed. With the Olympics having just wrapped up I was certainly in the mood for this book. This story follows 3 main characters and a child over the span of about 20 years. The adults are all Olympic cyclists and it covers their journey through training and setbacks over the years. The characters are enjoyable and the story is interesting, though at times a little predictable. Though cycling is a major focus of the book it's really the story of the friends/lovers that make the book. Pick it up if you liked his other best seller Little Bee.

4. Casual Vacancy - J.K. Rowling: This book is a far departure from her Harry Potter series. Certainly it's an adult themed book with much swearing, drugs, sex, etc. The premise is that after the sudden passing of a town official there becomes an opening on the Parish Council. It follows the fallout of his passing and the fight for his spot on the Council. Really that aspect is quite small as compared to all the side story lines of the multitude of characters. It's a bit of a hodge-podge but still enjoyable.

5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky: I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Many people like to use the term 'coming-of-age' when they read books like this and I can see why. Where the Breakfast Club was popular for this in the 80's, this book would have similar themes for kids of the 90's. The main character narrates this story through a series of letters to an anonymous person. He relates the span of about 1 year of his high school life. Pick it up.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

August and September Book Reviews

August was a good reading month! I got through more books than I thought I would which will make up for my slow reading in September.

1. The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett: I saw the mini-series and figured it was worth a read. It was likely a bit easier to read since I already knew the characters and the premise of the story. It starts out by following Tom the Builder and his quest to care for his family while trying to fulfill his dream of building a cathedral all in the middle of a British war for the throne. The story has many twists, turns, is full of backstabbing and many sub plots unfold. It is well written and the characters are certainly likable or detested depending on the author's purpose for them. I'd definitely suggest it.

2. The Power of Six - Pittacus Lore: This is the 2nd book in the Legacy Series. If you've seen the movie you know the general premise of the series. It's about an alien race that came to Earth to escape another alien race trying to annihilate them. This part of the series gives the back story of another one of the 9 Loriens left to protect Earth. If you enjoyed the first book you'll certainly enjoy this one. It's a good form of escapism!

3. A series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1, The Bad Beginning - Lemony Snicket: Ever since I saw the movie a few years back I was excited about reading the entire series. If you haven't seen the movie you really should.This book is the beginning of the story of the Baudelaire orphans and their unfortunate placement with their nearest relative who wants their fortune. I think the writing is brilliant and the characters are rich and unique. I'm hoping to read these again with my kids when they're a little older.

4. Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K Jerome: This is one of our 501 Must Read Books. I found it to be more of a collection of funny quips and short stories that make up the bigger picture of the story. It was amusing but I must admit that some of the language/sayings escaped me so I feel I missed some of the humour. It's probably not a story that most would pick up to read but it was cute.

5. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry - Rachel Joyce: I really enjoyed this book. It's the story of a man who finds out that a woman he knew in his past is dying of cancer. He believes if he walks to her (hundreds of km away) that she will live longer, at least until he gets there. His journey brings him in contact with many characters that teach him things about himself while looking back at his past. It's well written and sweet.

6. The Lost Files, I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore: Another book in the series follows the story lines of other survivors. I won't say much about it as once again you won't have any interest unless you've read the rest of the series but it's still a great escapism series.

7. Kim - Rudyard Kipling: This is one of our 501 Must Read Books. It's the story of an Irish boy orphaned in India. He survives by begging and running errands but his life gets turned upside down when he decides to throw his lot in with a Tibetan Lama. From there he gets mixed up in with trading secrets with spies, and gets sent to a boarding school and eventually gets back with his Lama to finish their quest. I thought at times the story was a bit confusing but loved the little quips.

8. The Rise of Nine, I Am Number Four - Pittacus Lore: the next in the series. Also still good!

9. Falling Backwards - Jann Arden: I found this memoirs to be filled with funny stories about her childhood mixed in with sad ones as well. I felt I learned so much about her childhood and career before she succeeded as an artist. Worth the read!

September

1. Madame Tussaud - Michelle Moran: I've read a number of books by Michelle Moran before so figured I would give it a try. I found the general story to be interesting and was surprised at a number of things. Enjoyable and entertaining.

2. i, Robot - Isaac Asimov: I was genuinely surprised at this one as it's nothing like the movie, and I mean nothing! This book is based on recollections of a robot psychiatrist. She recants stories she's heard or seen in her days of work before she retires. It's interesting and full of great imagination.

3. The Story of Beautiful Girl - Rachel Simon: Interesting book and a fairly easy read. The main part of the story is about a women who was institutionalized in the 60's and the abuse she suffered there. She escapes long enough to give birth to a little girl and the story follows the main characters over the next 40 years. Enjoyable.

4. A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Reptile Room - Lemony Snicket: The second in the series and just as fun as the first. Full of great imagery and interesting characters. Great series!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Preschool To Grade 1 - Things We Couldn't Live Without

 A while back I wrote a blog post called Baby to Preschool - Things We Couldn't Live Without and I thought I'd so a similar list now that the kids are a few years older. Here's my list of favs!

Preschool:

1. Oliver's Labels: My son has a allergies and after I blogged about it Oliver's Labels offered to let me try some of their allergy aware labels. What can I say, I fell in love. I LOVED the temporary wristbands that have his name, phone number and a clear NO NUTS stop sign on them. My son always takes his medi-alert bracelet off so what I love about these is that my son can't get them off unless I cut them off. I've placed these new labels on his lunchbox, and backpack and feel much more confident it will be noticed. Can be found at www.oliverslabels.com

2. CHILDish: Wee! My kids get so excited to eat off these personalized plates and use their personalized lunch boxes. Seriously, how cool it is that you can make the products resemble your kid? The kids think it's pretty neat to see themselves and it's made meals more fun (plus less of a battle over what plates to use!) *note* It's also a grade school product because the new personalized pencils worked perfectly for school; I didn't have to label anything! Can be found at http://mychildish.com/

3. Band-Aids: Yes I know you probably already have these but do you have enough?! On average I think our household goes through at least 1 a day. I put extra Band-Aids in the kids backpacks and make sure they have their favourite characters on them, it always seems to help. So, go buy more!

4. Twooth Timer: in the preschool years we started to teach the kids how to brush their own teeth. We still take a turn brushing and found the Twooth Timer helped teach them how long to brush for. We set the timer for 2 minutes and the 1st minute they brush and the 2nd minute we brush. The kids get a real kick out of it! Can be found at www.sprogs.ca

Grade 1

1. Moonjars: This product works for kids from preschool up but I think slightly older kids get it more. It's an allowance jar that helps to teach kids how to save money for specific things. We use the jar as savings for the charity of their choice (they picked the Humane Society), one for saving for themselves, and one for gifts for others (siblings, grandparents, friends, etc). Can be found at www.moonjar.com

2. Knot Genie: why didn't someone tell me about these before?!? This the only brush that DD uses and doesn't complain about. She will brush her hair wet or dry with it and not once say 'ouch!' I picked up one for both kids and I think we'll use them for many years. Can be found at www.sprogs.ca

3. Lunchskins: My daughter's school is a litter-less lunch school so they have adopted the practice of 'pack in - pack out'. This was new to me so I had to start researching ways to send her lunch in reusable containers that would all fit inside one lunch box. I found these and really love how easily the kids can open them themselves, and how well they fit in her lunchbox. I only bought two to test them out so now I'm going to have to buy a whole collection of them. The best part is that you can put them in the top shelf of your dishwasher to clean them and they are estimated to have 1000 uses. That's saving 1000 plastic sandwich bags! Can be found at www.sprogs.ca

4. Melissa & Doug Travel Toys: If you're like me you try to plan ahead and take items along if you're going to a restaurant, appointment, or a long car ride. I've found these travel toys to be among the best and they can keep my kids amused for quite a while. The items are pretty sturdy and have withstood two pretty active kids who have thrown them, banged them on tables, and stepped on them. The memory game cards can get a little bent so I'd suggest you do your best to keep them in the holder. Now that they're getting a little older they also really like the Hangman game but be prepared as the answer will like be their own name 1/2 the time. Can be found at www.melissaanddoug.com or most Chapters stores.


*NOTE* I have not been paid to advertise any of these items, they're just things I have purchased and love. The only exception is the labels from Oliver's Labels as I received a few labels to trial and I'll be going back to buy my own set!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

100 Random Things

For my 100th post I thought I'd say something profound. But since I couldn't think of anything profound I thought I'd post 100 random things. Let the oddity begin:

1. I LOVE my daughter's freckles

2. Armadillos creep me out, they're like rats with a shell

3. Pasta, pasta, pasta - yes please!

4. My husband had a very elaborate way to propose to me but when it fell through at the last moment he planned a slightly less elaborate proposal.

5. I like GINGERS!

6. Bubble bath = Bliss

7. I didn't find my passion until I was 30 years old and working at the Mustard Seed in Calgary

8. Still don't understand why people have to be bitchy about what phone I use. I like it. It's my preference. Let it go. You are not superior for owning a different brand of phone.

9. Fall is my favourite season because I can wear many sweaters

10. GOILERS

11. My son loves robots and that makes him cool in my books

12. I have no idea what to do with our massive cd collection

13. Jinx!

14.  I say 'seriously' way to much and now my kids say it all the time

15. I sometimes repeat myself

16. I sometimes repeat myself

17. Words I find funny: bunwich, poke-check, five-hole, and kerfuffle

18. Cat purrs heal many hurts

19. The best invention in the past 20-ish years (besides the internet) is the PVR

20. That being said I watch many shows in FFWD mode

21. I've been married twice. HA! No I haven't, just thought I'd check to see if you're still reading.

22. Hugs and hearts to the people who come out and volunteer with me :)

23. Love that Hubs and I have the same love of fine dining, traveling and movies.

24. Troy and Abed in the MORNING!

25. Favourite 2 books of all time: To Kill A Mockingbird and The Power of One

26. Not a fan of going barefoot

27. Twitter kicks Facebooks butt

28. I talk too much and listen too little.

29. Nerds RULE!

30. What?! I'm only at 30?! I should have done this post for my 30th post not 100th.

31. I quote tv shows ALMOST as much as Hubs quotes movies

32. Vampires don't sparkle

33. A few months ago I got asked for ID at age 37. Woot woot!

34. Did you drink enough water today?

35. I'm lucky to have some amazing friends, all bring something different into my life and I hope I give a little something back to them :)

36.Going to be an Auntie again...wee!!!

37. According to Myers Briggs I'm 50% introvert and 50% extrovert; it's kinda right.

38. Watch Community and 30 Rock, if you don't you're missing out.

39. After living in the country for 18 years it took me 2 years to adjust to the noise & lights at bedtime

40. 4 is my favourite number

41. I always set a time limit to wallow and feel depressed

42. After many years of trying I still have yet to 100% correctly complete the paper crossword

43. So far it's taken me 4 days to write this post.

44. ohhhh, two 4's in a row (see #40)

45. People that share an email address with their significant other baffle me. I have 5 accounts to myself.

46. Does anyone else remember the tv show Four on the Floor? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_on_the_Floor 

47. I have no desire to ever be on tv. EVER.

48. I exercise so I can eat more foods I like that are not good for me (except they do wonders for my mental state)

49. We have a cat named Zazoo who likes to eat the strings on balloons and then puke

50. Half way there!

51. Love that my daughter has friends that call her Joc. One of the main reasons we named her Jocelyn was because it could be shortened to Joc.

52. I have one of the longest nick names ever: Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo (but I go by Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabado) and it's from the Simpsons http://simpsons.wikia.com/wiki/Joey_Jo-Jo_Junior_Shabadoo

53. Peanut Buster Parfait is my ice cream weakness.

54. I only tend to make it 3/4 of the way through self-help/parenting/advice books and then never finish.

55. Spoon!

56. Yes, certain references you'll only get if you're a nerd.

57. My Grandpa Charlie was my hero.

59. No really I'm on 58 but once again I was wondering if anyone was paying attention.

59. Places I  want to see the most: China, Rome, Costa Rica, Vietnam, Turkey, and the list goes on...

60. I got glasses when I was in grade 3 and contacts when I was in grade 11 because I broke 8 pairs of glasses in sports in grade 10.

61. Remember Beta, Palm Pilots, Texas Instruments, and transistor radios? I do.

62. I learned to type on an actual typewriter.

63. Why do people say 'dethawed'?

64. Smiling is my favourite.

65. CSIS is cool.

66. The real James Bond will always be Sean Connery

67. Since everything has become non-smoking I'm a total smoke-snob & can't stand the smell

68. I'll stop watching a boring movie but won't ever put down a boring book.

69. *snicker, snicker*

70. What the WHAT?!

71. It's now taken me 8 days to write this.

72. People that fight on social media sites amuse me.

73. We really liked the name Marcus for a boy but his name would end up sounding too much like the department store Marks & Spencer.

74. Still want to have 2 cats named Mulder and Scully

75.Remember the days the Black Dog used to show episodes of the X-Files in their basement? It was so packed people sat on the floor to watch.

76. Pop pop!

77. Dill pickle chips #FTW

78. Ironing was my least favourite chore growing up.

79. Shelling peas was my favourite because you could do it in front of the tv AND eat them at the same time.

80. I miss drive-in theatres.

81. My mom said my first crush was John Travolta after seeing Grease when I was 3 or 4.

82. Country music and I don't mix.

83. Have you watched The Soup? You should. It basically just makes fun of all other tv shows and it's awesome:  http://thesouptv.com/

84. The one famous person I would have liked to have met before her passing was Mother Teresa.

85. I buy local as much as I can, after that I buy Canadian as much as I can.

86. Always have a zombie apocalypse plan in place.

87. Rule #2: Double Tap

88. I have a gift for predicting tv show, book and movie plots early on. It's a fairly useless gift.

89.Zumba!

90. The weather is the weather, you can't do anything about it but move.

91. Go volunteer somewhere, it will make you feel like a million bucks.

92. I prefer using commas rather than semi-colons even when I know I'm using them incorrectly.

93. Tom Cruise scares me and he always has.

94. I dread the day my son will no longer let me pinch his cheeks.

95. What ever happened to keytars?

96. Oh I'm picking out a thermos for you, not an ordinary thermos for you

97. This is seriously the most random list EVER. See, I used #14 again.

98. Watch out for tickers.

99. My family is my everything.

100. I'm shocked I'm still blogging after 2 years and even more shocked I couldn't come up with a better 100th post than this!






Monday, August 13, 2012

As Clear As Mud

Have you ever tried explaining a cliche to a kid? The look of confusion is priceless, and to use a few old cliches, you could see their wheels turning and steam coming out of their ears ;)

I never realized how many old cliches I use in everyday language until I had to start trying to explain them to my kids. Some simply go over their heads and some I struggle to actually remember what the saying even means! Sometimes we simply say things because we've always said them and the kids have forced me to really look at what I say and when I use that saying.

I thought I'd list some of the cliches I use that I've found difficult to explain to my kids:

- Beat around the bush

- The best thing since sliced bread

- You can't teach an old dog new tricks

- Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

- Till the cows come home

- A stick in the mud

- A good rule of thumb

- More than you can shake a stick at

- A snail's pace

- The shoe is on the other foot

- The apple of my eye

- In the doghouse

- Full of vinegar (or full of the dickens)

Do you use these types of expressions? What's your favourite or most used? Have you tried explaining them to your kids?

As for my own use of expressions I think I'll have to filter them a bit more before my kids start thinking I'm nuttier than a fruitcake ;)

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Power of Blankie

Overtired and want some comfort? Green Blankie! Have a boo-boo and need a pick-me-up? Green Blankie!

I find it truly amazing how many children pick an object and become so attached to that object. It seems to be the source of many magical powers that can cure everything and do no wrong. 

Surprisingly our daughter never really became attached to one particular object but our son has a beloved Blankie. He needs it at night to sleep but if he had his way he's carry it around all day like Linus from Charlie Brown.

It made me wonder why and when we give up these things? If they bring us such joy and comfort are they such a bad thing? I understand it's not ideal if they won't go to school without it, or they want to take it to play in the mud but if they can just use it in the comfort of their home do you let them have it whenever they want? We try to restrict the Blankie to just bedtime and instead we're trying to encourage him to use words to describe his feelings rather than just put his head under his Blankie.

I remember having a great affinity for a little pillow when I was young and I kept it until I was around 25 and the pillow disintegrated. Since then I can't say I have an object that I cling to when I'm feeling down. Do you or your kids have something that gives you comfort? Would you let your kid have it whenever or wherever they want?

Part of me feels sad that when my son no longer needs his Blankie he's going to lose a piece of his childhood that has brought him so much comfort.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

June & July Book Reviews

Once again I'm behind with my book reviews so here's the books from June and July!

1. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith:  This book takes a few tidbits of the history of Abraham Lincoln and rewrites them to include his efforts to vanquish vampires. It starts from his birth all the way to his assassination. It's an entertaining take on history and a fun way to learn a few facts about that point in US history. After reading the book I took a chance on the movie and was very disappointed to see that only about 5% of the book was in the movie. The book stood well on its own as fast moving and exciting so it's a shame they didn't use more of that premise.

2. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh: This story follows Charles Ryder as he befriends a young aristocrat and his family in the 1920's. Charles becomes ingrained in the family and all his and their trials through divorce, religion, sexuality, love and alcoholism. The writing is smartly done and allows you to fully imagine the era and the eccentricity of the characters. It was enjoyable and I can see why it make the 501 Must Read list.

3. A Secret kept - Tatiana De Rosnay: This is the author of the much beloved Sarah's Key so I thought it was worth a shot. The beginning of the book showed promise but sadly falls short. It is written very much in the same style of Sarah's Key in that you travel back and forth through time but this is achieved through letters from the past. What I found to be an issue with this book is that there are far too many subplots. You follow the story of Antoine and his sister discovering the past of their deceased mother. From there you also follow Antoine's love life, his difficulties with his children/father/ex-wife, and many other little issues. It's just too much to follow and you finally start to lose interest in all his problems. It's still an OK read but don't expect another Sarah's Key.

4. The Forgotten Affairs of Youth - Alexander McCall Smith: This is a typical Isabel Dalhousie novel. It's very formulaic so I won't go into detail as until you've read the first 7 books this one won't mean much to you!

5. King Peggy - Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman: Peggy went from being a secretary in the US to a King in Ghana and this chronicles her journey. Her struggles with being accepted as a female King by her own elders was interesting and informative. It was encouraging to see her prevail and get clean water, better health care and the like to her small village. It's inspirational but at times a little drawn out.


July

Books 1, 2 and 3 of the Josephine B. Trilogy - Sandra Gulland: These novels follow the life of Josephine Bonaparte and the French Revolution.  It was very interesting to learn about her upbringing, her brushes with poverty, her first marriage, her imprisonment, her children and her relationship with Napoleon. The books are all very well written and super hard to put down one you start them.

4. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection - Alexander McCall Smith: again it's another in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series and it's really predictable. As in most of McCall Smiths books it follows a set formula so it's really much different than all the others in the series. This one follows Precious as she gets to meet her mentor, she helps the matron of the orphanage and a few other side stories.

5. Cosmopolis - Don DeLillo: This is a very odd, disjointed book. I was interested in reading it before the movie comes out and I'm not sure I'm going to be any the wiser when I see it! We get to see a day in the life of Eric, a 28 year old billionaire. His goal in the morning is to go get a haircut but he is waylaid by chance encounters with his new wife, his mistress, a presidential visit, a funeral, a riot and a few other weird scenarios. Throughout the entire day he's conducting business in his limo and trying to assess his impending downfall. The whole book reeks of narcissism and is highly unbelievable. Even with it being that it still offers an element of surprise entertainment like watching a car wreck.

Monday, July 23, 2012

His Allergy, His Life

Have you ever walked into a school classroom or a day camp and noticed one of these signs?

That's my son they're talking about. Well, it's him and usually at least 1 or 2 other kids in the class. In my daughter's class there was 4 kids out of 22 with anaphylactic allergies. It's something that is becoming more common and more talked about and yet I still see people who don't understand how serious it really is.

My son is allergic to Tree Nuts. More specifically he's allergic to pistachios, cashews, hazelnuts and pine nuts. I know, who would have thought pine nuts?! It means he can't eat Nutella, he can never eat pesto sauce, he can't try some of my favourite dishes from the local Indian or Thai restaurants, nor many types of chocolates or ice creams due to cross contamination.

What happens if he comes into contact with his allergy? He goes into anaphylactic shock. The doctors have told us that within minutes (possibly seconds) of his next exposure to any of those nuts means his face and throat will swell to the point where he won't be able to breathe. He will have abdominal pain, a fall in blood pressure and possibly fluid in his lungs. The symptoms are endless. Based on his last exposure, watching his little face swell beyond recognition, it's simply something that we never, ever want to happen again.

What does he need to live after exposure? An ambulance to get him to a hospital. He carries an EpiPen but that will only help to open his airways for 10 - 20 minutes so it's essential he gets immediate medical attention. I had someone ask me if he would need help administering it. YES, he's 4, of course he'll need help but even older kids would need help because they'll likely be in a panic because they can't breathe.

Basically what I'm asking is if you see the above sign, or one like it stating someone has an allergy, please take a moment to ask the instructors what the allergy is. Sometimes you don't have to do anything but sometimes making a few slight modifications on a lunch or snack you would normally send along could mean saving the life of someone like my little Ham.






Sunday, July 8, 2012

Is There an App For That?

A while back I was in a meeting and was talking to some other women about keeping our schedules straight. As a joke I started talking about building an app that would take my daughter's school schedule/appointments/special days/library book due dates and it would automatically put it into my phone calendar. The women went nuts with their excitement about this idea and kept talking about how great it would be and that I should develop it.

I was stunned. What no one realized is that I was joking. I had only made the comment in jest because I thought it was crazy that I was too busy to take the time to do it myself. Already the school uses a system to email us each time they make an update of information which includes all the above info. It's convenient and helpful and yet it's still not good enough. I need something EASIER. Isn't that kinda sad?

While I understand that there's many useful apps I also know that many are not necessary. I should make my daughter's schooling enough of a priority that I can take a few moments to check out the email I was sent and put the information in my calendar. It allows me that time to make sure the information actually registers in my mind.

So, though I love social media and technology I also need to take a step back and make sure I'm not getting wrapped up in the hype of making things easier. Instead I need to make sure I'm taking the time to sometimes go the longer route in ensuring my priorities stay a priority.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Live List

Twice over the past couple weeks I've had people ask me what was on my bucket list. The first time I said I didn't have one and the second time I went into a little more detail about why I don't have one. Basically I think the term is depressing. I understand why people use it and that it can help spur people on to do fun/amazing things in their lives. Now this is JUST me but I find it depressing to think about what I want to do before I die, like it's a giant hourglass and I quickly need to accomplish things before it runs out.

Instead I propose we all have a Live List. Things that help us to live our lives to the fullest every moment we get a chance to. Put skydiving down on that list because you want to LIVE the experience of free-falling, not because you want to cross it off on a list before you die. And then go back and do another dive because you want to re-LIVE that feeling!

To some I'm sure you don't see the difference between a bucket list and a live list but to me it's all in the way it's thought about. When I was much younger and people asked me where I wanted to travel to most in my life I used to say 'I want to see the Sphinx before anymore of its face falls off or it won't be how I picture it', not 'I want to see the Sphinx before I die'. Or when I learned to scuba dive it wasn't because it was on my list of things to accomplish, it was because I wanted to see what life looked like at the bottom of the ocean and to feel the sensation of loosing control over my environment. Basically I want to LIVE these experiences and make them a part of who I am today. I want them to help mold me into a different person who sees and appreciates the world in a different way.

Part of my live list has always been to see as much of the world as I possibly can. I love learning about new cultures and always feel like I bring away so much from each trip.  The other main part of my live list is to volunteer as much as I can for as many charities as I can. Each charity I encounter I learn something new and feel like someone touches my heart in a new way.

My list isn't as easy to write out as a bucket list but instead feels like an ongoing group of things that help drive me to learn and grow in new ways. Next up for me? I'm going to LIVE this birthday to the fullest with cupcakes, yes...plural ;)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

April & May Book Reviews

Once again I'm behind in posting my book reviews. But then again I haven't really posted anything of late so it's not a surprise!

April

1. Devil In The White City - Erik Larson:  I really enjoyed this book. It was a good way to learn about two stories that were intertwined about the World Fair and about a serial killer. I learned a great deal about the Fair and about the genius architects who put it on. Amazing piece of history that I knew nothing about!

2. Big Fish - Daniel Wallace:  Now I should state that this is one of my all time favourite movies. The character of the father reminds me so much of how my Grandfather used to tell us stories that the movie made me sob uncontrollably. Now the book was sweet but so much shorter and leaves one with an unfinished feeling. Still, it was a nice little story that everyone could enjoy.

3. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe: HAHA! Just reread my notes on the book and it simply says 'long winded'. I found the book to go into such great detail at times that I found myself skipping lines (which I hate doing). It was one of my 501 books so it had to get crossed off.

4. Behind The Beautiful Forevers - Katherine Boo: I really enjoyed this book but was shocked when I got to the end and finally realized it's non-fiction! The books follows the lives of several people who live in a shanty town near the Mumbai airport. It's truly incredible to realize how different their lives are from ours and how corrupt their government can be.

5. A Cold Day in Paradise - Steve Hamilton: I decided to read more from this artist after I so thoroughly enjoyed his book The Lock Artist. This story follows an ex-police officer who has turned private investigator and gets mixed up investigating a murder that turns personal. It still has the twists and turns you expect his writing to have but it does not compare to The Lock Artist.


May

1. The Bone Cage - Angie Abdou: I found this to be an interesting read based on the lives of two Olympic hopefuls. I grew up with a girl trying to make it on the Olympic swim team so remember her LIVING at the pool mornings, evenings, and weekends. The story follows a swimmer and wrestler as they train and compete and still try to have lives in between. A decent read from an Albertan author.

2. Gods of Gotham - Lyndsay Faye: This is the story of the conception of the New York Police Department. That alone may not make it sound exciting but it's focuses on their struggle to gain respect and acknowledgement all the while trying to solve the murders of Catholic children. I enjoyed the book and thought it told of an interesting time in history. I do enjoy books that take some fact and build a good piece of fiction around it.

3. Deadlocked - Charlaine Harris: What can I say? It's typical Sookie. I feel obligated to read this series until it finishes but at this point I'm getting tired of the characters and a storyline that really doesn't seem to be going anywhere. Charlaine needs to wrap this series up already.

4. Divergent - Veronica Roth: This is a very Hunger Games-ish series so it's no surprise at it's success. I found it to be very enjoyable with some original ideas. This will be a very popular series that I can definitely see becoming a movie down the road. It is set in the future where people, at age 16,  need to choose factions to live in and lead their life according to the rules/beliefs of that faction. It means possibly leaving your family behind as well as everything you learned/believed as a child. Needless to say there's going to be issues with this type of way of running a society as not all factions are going to get along and you follow the main character as she uncovers a major plot to undo some of the factions. Read it!

5. Insurgent - Veronica Roth: This is the 2nd book in the series. I don't want to give up anything in case you haven't read the 1st one so I'll just say you continue on following the character and her fights and discoveries at the fall of their society as they know it.

6. Left Hand of Darkness - Ursula K LeGuin: This story is a classic sci-fi book that was on our 501 list. It's an interesting look at the future where many plants have formed a huge collective agreement and send out emissaries to work with new plants on joining their agreement to trade information, ideas, items, etc. This is about one emissary sent to a planet and his attempts to get the leaders of that planet to listen to his offer or partnership. He's met with many struggles in attempting to deal with people that struggle to believe he is what he says. There's many original ideas and concepts to the book that make it worth a read.

7. The Forgotten Affairs of Youth - Alexander McCall Smith: Now I really enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's books but I'm finding the Isabel Dalhousie series to be getting a tad boring. He's starting to use the books to get so philosophical that I'm finding it dry. The books used to introduce more exciting characters but he seems to have phased those out in favour of long-winded philosophical discussions. I may just have to put this series to bed.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Land Of Half Written Blog Posts

The other day I realized how long it had been since I posted something and as I opened my blog I was immediately faced with a blog post that was about 90% written that I never published. It just needed an ending and a picture attached. That's it and yet I never got around to finishing it.

After viewing that I started to scroll through my posts and realized for every 10 posts I've published I have at least 1 post unpublished. Some I just decided they would stir up a litte too much dust for my liking and figured it wasn't worth the post; I didn't want to argue with anyone that may be opposed to my thoughts. Others I just lost momentum so decided to sit on it and then never found that momentum again. Some I simply forgot I even started!

Do you have any unfinished posts sitting waiting to be finished? Or do you always complete the posts you start?

Monday, April 16, 2012

What I've Learned From Blogging

Have you ever sat back and wondered what lessons you've learned from blogging? I've learned a few things I though I'd share:

1. You're Never Going To Please Everyone - most people will enjoy and appreciate your writing style or the things you have to say, or possibly just be indifferent to it. But there will always be someone who doesn't agree or like what you have to say. You have to learn that if you're going to put yourself out there publicly you need to take the good with the bad.

2. Perception - you may think you're coming across one way when in fact you are coming off totally different than how you intended. This somewhat goes hand in hand with #1. I find it's good to write a post and then just sit on it for a day or two...or sometimes more. It gives you a chance to reread and maybe try to see how you may be coming across.

3. Everyone Writes For Different Reasons - some people try to make a business out of it, some people just write for the sake of writing. Whatever your reasons you have to remember what is important to you and stay true to yourself. In the end it's still you you're representing.

4. It's Probably Been Written Before - since blogs have allowed everyone to post their thoughts publically you need to realize that whatever you're writing has probably been written before. Not the exact thing you've written but a version of it. So I've learned not to get offended if someone says 'I just wrote something like that' because chances are someone wrote something similar before them as well. Think of it like recipes, no one really starts from scratch, they start with a base and make it their own.

5. Try To Remember It's Supposed To Be Fun - if there comes a time when you don't feel like writing, then don't. I think if you ever feel like it's becoming a chore then step away and start writing again when you feel like you miss it.

What things have you learned from blogging?

Friday, April 13, 2012

March Book Reviews

Because I went on a kid-less holiday I was able to read a few more books that usual this month, yay! Some I liked, some...not so much. Here's my reviews:

1. Barney's Version - Mordecai Richler.  This is one of our book club selections that's also on the 501 Must Read list. It took me a few pages to get into the story but once I was into it, I was really into it. You follow the life of Barney and it jumps back and forth through his life. He leads a terribly interesting life mixed with murder charges, 3 wives, risky career choices, and some amusing friends. I found the book to be entertaining throughout and you really learn to like the curmudgeon of a lead character. Enjoyable!

2. When We Were Friends - Elizabeth Joy Arnold.  I picked this read up because it was on sale. Sometimes you win these and sometimes you don't, I'd say this was a 'don't'.  The story is about a woman who reconnects with a friend, turned enemy, from highschool. Shortly after reconnecting the friend asks her to protect her child for her but then tells the police her child was abducted. The whole situation is incredibly fake and sadly it just goes from fake situation to even more incredibly fake situations. The worst is the fake, too easy ending. Skip it.

3. The Cat's Table - Michael Ondaatje. This is the story of a boy being sent on a large ship to England for his studies. It's his tales of being stuck at the 'Cat's Table' which is considered the furthest away from the Captain's Table, therefore the lowest of the low. There are 2 other boys around his same age so the book follows their adventures on the ship. The book is decent but there's nothing terribly memorable about it. The ending feels unresolved, which are usually the books that drive me nuts.

4. Before I Go To Sleep - SJ Watson. I read this book over the span of 2 days because it was well written and timed to keep you interested. It is about a woman who suffers a condition where whenever she falls asleep and then wakes up she doesn't remember anything from her life for the past 15 or so years, A doctor tells her to start writing down what she experiences each day so the book is you reading how each morning she realizes she's married, older than she thinks she is, etc. but she adds some details each day to what she finds out. The book is a mystery so you know there's a twist in there somewhere and I'll admit that I didn't quite figure it out until closer to the end.

5. The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings. Most people have already probably seen the movie so I won't really give a big description of the story. Instead I'll just say that I actually found that this was probably much closer to a real family than to many other books or movies I've seen. The kids are real kids, a little messed up and confused. The dad is a real dad, a little disengaged from the family and the mom is someone who doesn't seem comfortable in her role as a mom. The way the dad struggles to deal with his wife in the hospital and the responsibility of 2 kids seems to be just how I'd imagine most men would react, a little shock and awe moment. Worth a read in my opinion.

6. Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James. Here's what I wrote in my book summary "HATED IT". Yep, that's all I wrote.  This book started as fan fiction. If you're not familiar with fan fiction it's basically when a fan of another author/novel (in this case Twilight) takes the characters and rewrites them in a slightly different way. I believe this is the the first time a piece of fan fiction has been published rather that just made available on the internet. It should have stayed as simply fan fiction. There's SO MUCH wrong with this book it would take me a whole page to rant and rave about how much I hated it. It's fake. Fake. Fake. Fake. On top of that the dialoge seems to be written by a 15 year old girl and the sex scenes by a 50 year old man. This book makes Twilight look like a Pulitzer prize winner. Arg. I have to stop there. It already is making me mad just writing this. When there's SO MANY wonderful books out there I want to burn things like this and hand people the 501 Must Read Book list and say 'pick one, they're 100 times better!!'

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feed The Masses, Feed The Soul

Last week Because Edmonton Cares had the privilege of volunteering at the Edmonton Food Bank. In the past we have helped the Food Bank by collecting food and tickets at Heritage Days but this was our first experience in the Food Bank itself.

Our team got to spread out and do various jobs. Some of our volunteers sorted incoming donations, some shucked corn, and I got to pack outgoing food boxes. As one of our volunteers said 'it's like grocery shopping, but for hours on end!'

After our volunteering a representative of the Food Bank took us on a tour of the warehouse and it was enlightening to learn more about what they do and who they serve. Did you know that the Edmonton Food Bank has over 190 spots you can pick up food from? And that through those agencies they serve more that 15,000 people a month. To me the most sobering stat is the fact that approximately 40% of those they serve are children under the age of 18.

The Food Bank is supported through the United Way but they receive no government funding. Generally they need to purchase between $500,000 - $600,000 worth of food each year to supplement the food donations they receive in order to provide nutritious meals to Edmontonians.

There are so many ways you can help out your local food bank. You can volunteer at various fundraising/food-raising events, you can volunteer in the food bank itself taking orders or packing boxes, you can ask people to bring food donations to parties you host, you can donate to any of the agencies that help support them or you can just help spread the word of what is needed most.  Here is a link to the list of items that is needed most in the Edmonton Food Bank:  http://edmontonsfoodbank.com/about/most-needed-items/

The best part of helping out at the Food Bank? While feeding the masses you're also feeding your soul by doing something amazing for your community. Do it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

February Book Reviews

February was a bit of a slower reading month for me as it was my son's birthday, Valentine's and we took the family on a trip (always less reading time for me as I'm with the kids nonstop). Even so I was able to fit the following 5 books in:

1. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nefesi

Scattered is the best way to describe this book.The author was trying to talk about her experiences as a university teacher and the challenges she faced as she tried to teach her students about all the literary greats. The issue was that the new government wouldn't let her talk about anything considered too Western. She eventually stops teaching but starts up a sort of book club/classes for her former students. The book jumps in the timeline so much that it's difficult to understand what happens when. I think the book has promise but the editor should have helped the author put things into a cleaner timeline.

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carre

Wee! I really enjoyed the movie and so I think that helped me keep the characters/ events straight when reading the book. It follows the British Secret Service (Circus) and the story of potential internal betrayal within their ranks. Smiley, an ex-agent, is asked to secretly try to find out if there's a mole in Circus and the story follows him unravelling a few major incidents and searching for the spy. I really don't want to say too much about it as it's a mystery and no one likes a spoiler! But I would suggest maybe starting yourself a little cheat sheet with the names to keep them straight.

3.  The Lock Artist - Steve Hamilton

Double WEE! Two good books in a row makes me happy. The book is one of those ones that flips throughout a timeline but I found this one pretty easy to follow. It is about a young boy who goes through something traumatic and it causes him to not speak to anyone. He gets mixed in with the wrong crowd growing up and it leads to worse and worse situations for him. This is one of those books that gets you right off the bat and holds your attention right until the end. It's good enough I immediately looked into the author's other books. It's a great read!

4. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - David Sedaris

I saw this little book sitting in Chapters and it looked so odd I just couldn't put it down. It's a bunch of little 1-3 page modern fables that kink of shock you at times and make you say 'ahh, good point' at others. There's not much to say about other than it's an odd little book!

5. I seriously can't remember what I read because I forgot to write it down. I know there's another one between Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and my 1st March book so I'll try to fill this in when I remember...if I ever remember.

What was your favourite read for the month?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mommy's Kisses Are Forever

The other day when I kissed my 4yr old he wiped his cheek and said 'Ha, I wiped it off!'  It didn't even take me a moment to respond with 'Nope, you can never wipe off Mommy kisses because Mommy kisses are forever.'


The idea is from a book called The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. It was recommended to us when the kids started preschool as a way to ease any potential separation anxiety. It's about a little raccoon that is going off to school for the first time but is nervous. The mother raccoon kisses his hand so that if he gets lonely he can put his hand to his face and the kiss will still be there to remind him that he's safe and his mom loves him. Such a sweet little story that I really took to heart. It even comes with little heart stickers so the child can wear it to school as a reminder.

Who doesn't love the idea of their mom looking out for them always and forever? Those soft little kisses or slobbery raspberry kisses are all filled with love, laughter, comfort, security, and understanding. Best of all, they last a lifetime! So sorry my little Ham, no matter how hard you wipe those kisses are not coming off.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Travel Trips Part Deux

Over a year ago I wrote about about Traveling with Toddlers and since we just made another major trip with them I thought I'd add a few things that worked/didn't work for us.
Me & My Turkey on the boat

What Worked

1. We had lower expectations of everything we were going to do on the trip. We didn't book any major excursions, this year we decided to just do simple sight seeing very close to the hotel. It worked better as there wasn't any extended traveling to and from the destination and it kept the attention spans for younger kids. 

2. We picked a resort with a Kids Club, it was a blessing! It was located beside the pool so when you needed the kids to get out of the sun for a while or just slow down for a bit we would take them in there to do all sorts of crafts and games. The women that worked there were super sweet and actually seemed to love their jobs. The kids loved having that outlet to do more activities than just swim. Win!

3. Hubs and I took turns having a morning to ourselves. Having 7 nights and days without a break from the kids can be a bit overwhelming so we gave each other a break for a morning to do something for ourselves. It was a little bit of time to refresh and rejuvenate.

What Didn't Work

1. I think we should have talked to the kids about ear pressure on the plane. They've never had issues before as I always get them to drink water on assent and descent but this time was different. A few kind passengers offered them gum but they've never had it before so I knew they would just swallow it. I think if I'd practiced letting them chew it before we left it may of helped. I also forgot that my SIL said places plastic cups over their ears help, wish I'd remember that one!

2. Even with multiple applications of sunscreen both our kids had their first sunburns. It wasn't much but it was right under their eyes and it made me realize that they were rubbing off their sunscreen every time the chlorine bothered their eyes and they would rub them. We went back to the store and bought the strongest sunscreen we could find and used that on their face and it was better after that. Still, I felt back they had their first burn :(

3. Rules. We didn't have any way to enforce any rules while on vacation. At home we have several ways we deal with unruly behaviour but it was a lot harder to figure out on the fly. Hubs and I should have spoke about this before we left to make sure we were on the same page and consistent in our methods.
Mr. C "Driving" the boat

All in all it was a better trip than last time. With the kids being a little older we didn't have to worry about naps or fret as much while they were in the pool. Here's hoping it gets better and better each time!



Friday, February 10, 2012

To My Dearest Mother

To My Dearest Mother,

I am so sorry.

It has taken me over 30 years and two children of my own to be able to fully understand your importance in my life and I am so very sorry it has taken me this long to acknowledge you.

I am sorry for the times that I got mad at you because you put down your foot and told me 'No'. You were right, I was wrong. You knew what my boundaries should be. You knew what was appropriate for my age and you made me act accordingly. You took the hard job and was the 'bad cop' but I respect you all the more for it now. You grounded me and gave me lectures for the mistakes I made. You helped me to realize there were consequences to my actions. It's not an easy lesson to teach, so I appreciate that you took the time and loved me enough to teach me the lessons I needed later in life.

I am sorry that we never realized all the small and the big stuff you did for us on a daily basis. You fed us three times a day. You made sure we always had clean clothes to wear. You gave us hugs and kisses when things didn't go our way or we were hurt. You drove us to our lessons and sat on the sidelines and cheered us on. You taught us how to use the toilet, how to feed ourselves, and how to walk and talk. You were literally there every step of the way.

I am sorry for all the times I rolled my eyes and was short with you when I answered the phone. You are a person and never stopped caring for me or worrying about me even as an adult. You deserve to be treated with respect and love. I am sorry I was impatient with you and didn't value your efforts to keep our relationship strong

I am sorry for the times we fought and I said horrible things to you. I will say that I was young and didn't truly understand how much words can hurt or how long they can linger. You were the strong one and you made us work through it. But you also let me know how much my words hurt you and taught me yet more valuable lessons in kindness and forgiveness.

I am sorry for the times I thought of you as 'just a mom'. You were (and are) so much more than that. You stayed home with us when we were young, you worked when we were in school, you made time for your own friends and went on dates with Dad. You are everything I wish to teach my daughter: a loving wife, a compassionate mother, a valuable employee, a great friend and a confident woman.

Most of all I am sorry for it taking me so long to show you the respect you deserve. As I go through raising my own children I know how lonely it can be at times. So often you wish someone would acknowledge your work and efforts in raising your children. So I am sorry for it taking over 36 years for me to tell you all this but you mean the world to me and I thank you.

Your Loving Daughter,
J

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bye-Bye Toddler Years

Today my youngest child turned 4 and our household officially said bye-bye to the toddler years. What's crazy is that he is in preschool and is even eligible to attend Kindergarten this September. How does a kid go from toddler to preschool to kindergartener in such a quick span?

After very quick deliberation we decided to not put our son forward a year. Instead we'll wait for him to enter kindergarten as a 5 year old instead of a 4 year old. I want him to have another year of being a preschooler before he becomes a kindergartener. It's not that I am afraid of my baby growing up but I just don't want him to rush through each age. So, I'm going to comfortably settle in and enjoy having only 1 preschooler and 1 kindergartener in the house.

Happy 4th Birthday Little Man!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Reviews - January

I've decided that this year I'm going to try a little harder to give a better description of the books I read each month. Hopefully it either spurns you on to pick up a new book or avoid others like the plague!

1. A Dance With Dragons - George R.R. Martin: 

I have owned this book since July and have been ready to read it since then but knowing how long I'll potentially have to wait for book 6 I kept this book on the shelf as long as I possibly could. For anyone who has heard of the Game of Thrones series but haven't picked it up yet...you're missing out! The series is full of great writing, interesting characters, and some fantastic twists and turns! A Dance with Dragons doesn't veer from George's masterful path. I found it to be very much along the lines of the other books but left me itching for the next one. ITCHING! I won't say much about the storyline as if you haven't read the first 4 books it's pointless going into the plot!

2. Kidnapped - Robert Louis Stevenson:

This is one of our Bookies Book Club selections and I have to say it's very much in the same style of his more famous Treasure Island. It's about a young lad on a perilous adventure when his only living relative (his uncle) bribes a ship to kidnap him and sell him into slavery in America. You follow his journey when he escapes and pairs up with Jacobite who adds to his level of peril. It's fairly easy to like the main character and I feel that I enjoyed the small little jokes that Stevenson drops into the story. Worth the read to always pick up a classic author.

3. Water - Bapsi Sidhwa:

This is a book that was actually based on a movie. I've never seen the movie but I did enjoy the book enough that I would watch the movie. The book is about 1938 India and the plight of widows. In the Hindu tradition when husbands passed away the widows would become ostracised and generally sent to a widows ashram. This story follows a little 8 year old who becomes a widow and is sent away from her family. She must live in a widow ashram and beg to support herself. The story is about her journey and her budding friendship with the other occupants of the ashram. I had a feeling I knew where the story was going, and I was right, and yet I still enjoyed it all the same. Worth a read.

4. Moneyball - Michael Lewis: 

I'm not going to say much about this book because it's a movie and most people have heard about it. All I have to say is that it is the LONG, BORING version of the movie. I've never read about so many stats and formulas since I took statistics in college. Just a few words of advice...don't do it.

5. Poultry Collective - Susan Juby:

Wow. What a different book as compared to the previously mentioned book. This one is lively and fun! This is the story of many characters. You follow a short time in their lives when they all end up living on the same farm together on Vancouver Island. They are all so different as there's the crunchy young single woman, the ol' timer set in his ways, the screw-up 20-something, and the young pre-teen girl who is escaping her unpleasant home life.The writing is full of really fun expressions, I loved them and wanted to start a list of them to remember. At times I felt it was like sitting down with my grandpa or great uncles; the language is very colourful and expressive. I enjoyed this book enough that I wanted it to be the start of a series of books where we follow the characters even further. Pick it up!

It was a great start to the year...let the books flow!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Me, My Faults, and I

No one REALLY wants to publicize their faults but in this case I think it's going to help me. There was a few things that bothered me this week and it led me to wonder if it was the other person (people) at fault, or if it was my own faults that led to my uneasiness. Trying to be as objective as possible I came to the conclusion that it was a combination of the two but it made me want to write about my faults and show that a. I know what the majority of my faults are and b. say that I do try to work on most of them.

It's not pleasant to give oneself a hard look but I do think it's necessary every now and then to make sure I'm trying to learn and grow. Some faults really embarrass me and I hope that by being aware of them I can change them. Others don't necessarily embarrass me but sometimes make me feel that they complicate my life in unnecessary ways.

So *sigh* let's get started. I'm not going to share them all as some are deeply personal and a little too hard to share with the world:

1. Impatience. It's a weird sort of fault for me as at times I impress myself with how patient I can be with a situation or person. Then other times I simply snap and lose patience in an instant. Part of me would like to be generous with myself and say that my bouts of impatience follow bouts of great patience but I can't say for sure this is the situation. All I know is that I would do just about anything to be able to achieve higher level patience in all aspects of my life.

2. Interruption. I interrupt people when they're speaking. I do it, I know I'm doing it, I hate that I'm doing it and yet it always seems to happen. When I go out with someone I think to myself' "Don't interrupt!" and yet at some point throughout the evening I find myself doing it. I'm going to keep trying on this one and hopefully some day I'll learn to wait my turn.
The King of Interruption

3. Hurt Feelings. I'm a logical person and can completely understand that people are allowed to invite whomever they want to events. However this seems to get jumbled in my head and I get hurt feelings when I don't receive an invite to something. To be fair to myself, I generally only really get hurt feelings when I have extended invites to the person and then in turn do not return the favour.

4. Judging. I do it. Not all the time, not on things you may expect me to, but I do judge people on certain things.  I will admit to judging how other people react to situations, certain parenting choices, clothing choices, political choices, etc. Lately I've seen many comments on how people shouldn't judge others, or how they should just support. I believe in those comments but I'm being totally honest and saying that though I believe in them, it's not something that one can just flip a switch on. The way I work on this fault is that I sit on my initial reaction. Sometimes I sit on it for a few moments before I can say 'to each their own' and I can admit that I am still sitting on some reactions that I just can not seem to get over. Sometimes it takes a bit of reminding that people are allowed to make their own decisions.

I think that's all I'll post for now. Someone advised me not to post my faults, or at least the judging one, and my response was 'But we ALL do it! I'm just being honest about it and I hope it will lead others to be more honest about it too'.  Am I crazy or do others feel that posting their faults will help lead to finding ways to improve on them?



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Letting Go of Control

I did it. I finally let go of control and took the child lock off the craft cupboards. I've given the kids access to glue, glitter and even scissors. It was a difficult choice to make because last summer they used the markers to "decorate" the couch and in the fall used pencil to graffiti my walls.

Even though I was quite worried I have to say it's been great so far. There have been far less 'Mommy, there's nothing to do!' comments and when they do pop up I remind them the cupboard is open and off they go. In conjunction with the freeing of the crafts I also purchased them some super cheap workbooks from Safeway and now every day I find them cutting, pasting, colouring and doing mazes.

Probably the only con I've seen so far is that I need to constantly remind them that if they're done with one craft they need to clean up before the move on to the next. Other than that they're enjoying their craft freedom and I'm enjoying those few more moments a day where they're not fighting. Now let's just hope they've gotten past their graffiti days and my walls and furniture are safe!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Quirky Self

Today when I was out with my daughter we stopped for lunch and I was super excited about having a bowl of my favourite wonton soup. Right off the bat I noticed that my wontons had a different look to them. About 1/4 of the way through I realized what the new ingredient was...mushrooms. I stopped in my tracks, I couldn't go forward. Anyone that knows me know that I have a SEVERE aversion mushrooms. Today I would even go as far as saying I have a bit of a phobia of them. It got me thinking about all my quirks and thought I'd try to name a few, just for your sheer amusement of my oddities.

1. As Mentioned, Mushrooms: the smell, the taste, the feel and worst of all...the look of them.They absolutely freak me out. Especially when they're whole as the fins just look so creepy. I'm going to have nightmares just thinking about them.

2. Buttered Popcorn: there's something unappealing to me about reaching into the bag of popcorn and drawing out cold, soggy popcorn and coating my hand with grease. Hubs loves it that way so we need to order our own bags.

3. Politeness: I'm obsessed with it and feel affronted if people do not wave when I let them in to my lane of traffic, or hold a door open for them, etc. I feel that it's such a simple thing that people can very easily do and yet it doesn't seem to cross the minds of so many!

4. Text Talk: pet peeve, pet peeve, pet peeve. In no way am I an expert in grammar but I'm pretty sure talking lk u r 13 is 4 13 yr olds.

5. Tappity-tap-tap: When listening to music I must tap my fingernails along to the music. It may not sound like much but it drives Hubs insane, he's been listening to it for over 11 years.

6. Girly TV: it embarrasses me to say I watch Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice. I normally prefer to watch things like Dexter, Walking Dead, Community, or Game of Thrones but part of me still is girly. Damn, I can't believe I admitted that. I'm not even sure why it actually embarrasses me but it really does.

7. Folding: if I'm going to do laundry, I'm going to fold everything in the basket and that includes underwear and house rags.

I think I'll stop there before I give you anything other glimpses into my little oddities, I think I've already given you all enough ammunition!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I'm Tongue Tied

Have your children ever asked you something that you do not know how to respond to? It's those moments where they throw you for a loop and ask something you weren't prepared to talk about at that very moment. Usually it seems to be about something like death or sex, or worse...they catch you in a lie you told them about Santa/Tooth Fairy/Easter Bunny/etc.

So far with my 5yr old and (almost) 4 yr old I've had a few of these situations arise. When my daughter was 3 she asked me exactly how Daddy got the baby in my tummy. I was at a loss. Three seemed too young to introduce the details of procreation so I used the fine are of distraction and the topic was dropped.

At Christmas I took my son shopping for toys for Santas Anonymous and I explained to him how some children don't get toys at Christmas because their parents don't have enough money to buy them. He caught me in the 'Santa' lie when he said 'well they DO get gifts Mommy, they get them from Santa like we do'. I was stuck. I wasn't sure what to say. I busied myself with putting him in the car and when I got in I said that Santa only brings 1 gift to each child and usually the moms and dads buy the rest. So we were buying the rest of their gifts that Santa doesn't bring. It felt like a lame answer with so many holes in it but he seemed satisfied at the time.

Moments like that terrify me. I want to be prepared and have all the answers but sometimes they catch me so off guard or they phrase it in such a way that I just have no idea what to say.

How do you deal with questions you're not prepared to answer? Do you give them just a little bit of info or give them the whole story? Do you prepare yourself years in advance for the tough questions?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Keepin' The Love Alive

Hubs and I lucked out and in the past few weeks we were able to go on a few dates. For one date we went to a pub, listened to a singer and then headed to a hockey game; it was so refreshing. For the other date we went to a local restaurant called D'Lish and then to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.


Hockey and a movie may not sound like the most romantic outings and yet for us it helps us share activities that we both enjoy. It puts us in a good mood because we're both doing something we like AND we're doing it together.

Even for those times that we can't get out on a date we try to watch a movie together at home or play a game. I find it really helps for us to have the same hobbies and enjoy the same styles of movies as neither one of us feels like we're being forced to do something for the sake of the other.

What I've always wondered though is how 'opposites attract' couples manage when it comes to dates. I see many women complain online about being forced to watch a sporting event or a man complain about watching The Bachelor. So how do they do things together without feeling some resentment for being forced to do something they're not interested in?

I find it helps us keep our love alive by doing things we mutually enjoy. Do you and your husband share similar interests or do you sometimes feel like you need to compromise on activities for date time? If so, do you take turns deciding what to do? What do you do to keep the love alive in your relationship?