Saturday, December 24, 2011

We wish you a Merry Christmas

To my real life friends and family, to my bloggy world friends and to anyone who happens to stop by: Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Another year, another pat on the back

This week wraps up another full year of working for myself. Another year where I've learned to balance being a stay-at-home mom and work-from-home entrepreneur. Some days it's easy and other days I wish I had another 12 hours in the day -- or at least a daycare to send the kids to.

This year has been my second complete year of working for myself. I've learned to manage my time to a tee. I've learned that movie afternoons are sometimes not only acceptable, they're a necessity. I've learned that the second you pick up your work phone to make a business call, the kids will, without a doubt, need your attention and need it right now. I've learned to try not to feel guilty for ignoring the kids (in other words, letting them play by themself or letting them sit in front of the TV) when I absolutely have to get work done. I've learned to make the most of my days with them when I don't have a lot of work on the go -- or a lull in the work that is on the go. I've learned to sometimes live on less sleep.

I worked hard at my business this year. This will sound strange, and I think I've said it before, but I never dreamed I would be doing this. Aside from the easy part, which is writing and editing, I'm learning to smooze and network, sell my strengths and convince complete strangers to sit down and meet with me. In other words, I'm doing so many things I was never very good at and never had the confidence to do.

All while getting to do my dream job -- which is being a stay-at-home mom (all comments about how some days I want to put the kids on the front deck with signs around their neck that say 'free, take me home' will not be included in this post).

I worked hard this year. Last year at this time, I really only had three main clients, with some odds and ends other work on the side. This year, I have the same three core clients -- two of whom sent a lot of work my way -- and another dozen or so other contacts who have sent work my way. It really has been a word-of-mouth kind of business and I'm certainly not complaining.

And I'm proud to say that I brought in almost the exact same income as last year -- actually $66 more. Although I worked harder for every dollar this year than I did last year -- this year, I took a few jobs which didn't prove to be as profitable as I would've hoped. But I guess I can say that's another thing I've learned. I've learned to try not to sell myself short and to make sure that the job is actually worth the money.

As I move from part-time to full-time in Septemer 2012, my contacts and client roster is growing so I should be in good shape.

And what I'll definitely have by then is time. Because once the kids are in school full-time, I won't have to feel as guilty about balancing my mom job and my job job.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

To go to bed, or to not go to bed

I have a really bad habit when Ryan's out of town. I stay up way too late.

I don't know why I do it. When Ryan's home, he usually goes to bed before me (because he gets up at 5) and then I usually come up to bed around 10:30-11 p.m. Sometimes earlier. Sometimes he goes to bed later, and so we both turn in at the same time.

But when he's away, I can't seem to convince myself to go to bed. I can always convince myself to watch just a little more TV. Or do one more thing. Or, when I do finally manage to convince myself that I have to go to bed, I'll read just a few more pages.

So my usual weeknight bedtime just gets later and later and later. Until I realize that by the time I'm turning my light off, it's well after midnight. And unless I get to sleep in (which is just a dream when you have kids), going to bed after midnight is not enough hours of sleep for me.

As I said yesterday, luckily he doesn't go away often. And he rarely ever travels for work (I think I can count on one hand the number of times he's travelled for work since we've had kids. Actually, I think I can count using just a finger or two.) So, when he does go away, it tends to be on a weekend -- a guys weekend, or something like that.

And that's ok. A late Friday night, all day with the kids, a late Saturday night and then on Sunday he's home again.

But since this trip was unexpected and it's during the week -- here it is Thursday and I'm finding myself pretty damn tired. And it's my own fault. I haven't been to bed before midnight all week -- yet I'm still up just after 6. It's stupid really, and the only person I have to blame is myself. If I would just go to bed when I'm tired instead of staying up for an extra hour or two just because he's not home, I wouldn't be so tired.

But the crazy thing is, no matter how tired I may complain I am right now -- I'll still end up staying up past midnight tonight. Why is that?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Figuring out creative ways to pass the time

Luckily, Ryan doesn't go out of town often. But he's out of town this week.

And although I'm on my own every Monday to Friday from the time the kids wake up until 6 p.m., somehow, knowing that he's hundreds of miles away makes the days just tick by so slowly.

I don't know why that is, really. Because the difference is only two hours -- it's only two extra hours I have alone with the kids that I wouldn't have if he were coming home as usual at dinner. But somehow, those two hours can make the entire day feel long.

What weird is that I don't feel this way if Ryan's just working late, or it's volleyball night and he's going straight there from work. I only feel like the days last forever when he's out of town.

I think that when Ryan's away, it just throws my routine off. I'm pretty set in my ways -- it's the best way I know how to keep my sanity as a stay-at-home mom. Every day, I drop the kids off at school, do whatever it is I need to do for a few hours, pick them up, have lunch, do stuff in the afternoon with them and then -- as it gets on to be 5 o'clock, I'm already thinking about making dinner and the fact that Ryan will be home soon. Maybe that's it. Here it is, getting on to be 5 o'clock and I know there's still 3 more hours to fill before bedtime. Part of my mentality of stir-craziness and the need to fill the time I think stems from the fact that the kids are also used to a certain routine. And they miss the fact that daddy isn't coming home at dinner time.

So, since Monday, I've been working hard to fill my days and fill my evenings. We've been to the library and visited Santa at the mall (just to say 'hi'), we've been to the Science Centre (just for an hour before close -- which by the way, is the perfect time to go) and we've had movie afternoons and yesterday after dinner, my neighbour came over with her kids for an hour. We've done a lot actually, but I still feel like I need to fill my time or I'll go crazy.

Or they'll kill each other.

Or me.

Or both.

(But I'll quit my whining now. This out-of-town trip wasn't exactly pre-planned, but you can't plan life. Just a few more days (I hope) and life will go back to normal.)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Why run?

Sometimes, when I tell people that I'm a runner; the response I get is along the lines of 'why?'.

This response is usually followed by "wow, I can't run at all" and because they can't run, they figure it's the hardest thing, or the worst thing, or both, in the world and so they wonder why the hell I would want to do such a thing.

Sometimes, I wonder myself.

I started running -- seriously running -- a little over three years ago. I say seriously started running, because two to three years before that, I did try running. But I never managed to run more than a kilometre or so. And at the time, I had silly hopes of running a half marathon or marathon. But then I discovered how difficult it was and quickly abandoned the idea.

It was when I was on maternity leave with Alex that I started running again. And that's when I decided I was going to run 10 kilometres. It took me a year to work my way from being able to run a mere 1k to being able to complete a 10k race. But why did I do it? Because I wanted to prove to myself that I could. And I did. But why do I still do it?

Because I've discovered that I really like it.

Running clears my head. Running is the best stress relief at the end of a long day with the kids. Running keeps me in shape and, when I was training really hard this spring for a race, helped me finally lose the last of the baby weight. Running is something I can do all by myself -- when I can just let my mind wander, lose myself in the music from my ipod and have no one around to yell 'mommy'.

Don't get me wrong. It's hard work. There are some days when I'm running and I love it. It hurts but I love it. And I push myself just a little bit harder. And there are other days -- the bad run days -- where it becomes mind over matter and no matter how much I try to tell myself to keep going, all my mind can say is 'I can't do this anymore'.

I'm going to actually run this winter -- because usually I get a 3-month membership to the gym and then only bother going a few times. But I mean it this time, I'm going to run on the treadmill 2-3 times a week this winter. Why? Because yesterday I got my own treadmill.

Now why would I get my own treadmill when I've said before how much I hate running on a treadmill.

Because in 2012, I'm going to run a half marathon. That's 21.1 kilometres.

Gulp. I just said that out loud, didn't I?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Letter writing

Last week was report cards at school. Austin did very well -- and his teacher's only comment was that he needs to continue working on his writing.

So I've taken that comment seriously (not that I would take it any other way) and started to encourage him to work on his writing. But I quickly realized that to a five-year-old boy, sitting down and 'writing' isn't all that much fun.

So, on the fly, I came up with a game to make it more interesting. And it's working. It might take him a while to write something but at least he's doing it.

What's he doing? He's writing letters. Practice I guess for that letter to Santa we should really write soon. Last week, when I suggested he write a letter to someone, he immediately decided he would write a letter to Grandpa.

And so he did. He wrote: To Grandpa, I do not have school tomorrow. Love Austin.

(It was a PA day the day after he wrote it.)

And we mailed it to grandpa -- who was thrilled to get a letter from his grandson.

He's working on another letter right now, this time telling another family member that he baked cookies today. The process of writing just those few words takes him about 30 minutes -- but the point is is that he's doing it.

So all you family members out there who read my blog. Keep checking your mailbox -- you never know when you'll get a letter from Austin.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I am so lucky

We had a house full of people this past weekend. The first set of visitors -- my sister-in-law and her fiance -- were visitors we had been counting on. Visitors that we had made plans with weeks in advance.
But late Thursday afternoon, our friend who lives in Berlin called and asked if he could stay with us -- for about four days starting the next day. You see, he lives in Germany with his wife and son, but he's from here so he has some family in the area (two sisters). And he had a family emergency.

A horrible one.

His sister had had a baby early in the week. From what I understand, she had a healthy pregnancy and everything was fine. But when she went into labour, something went horribly wrong and the baby was deprived of oxygen for too long.

He died two days later.

I felt sick when my friend told me this on the phone from Germany. I feel sick just writing it down now. I feel sick just thinking about it and I feel pain for this woman I don't even know. I've never met my friend's sister and I know very little about her but I can't help but think about her.

This baby was her first. Here she was preparing to be a mother for the first time. The hopes, the fears, the getting-a-nursery ready, the baby showers and feeling those little kicks inside you.

And instead, she's left with an emptiness I cannot even begin to understand yet one that makes me feel sick just thinking about.

My friend says his sister is doing well...considering. But all I can do is hug my baby, who's 3 and a half now, and then hug my first baby, who's almost 6, and think: I am so lucky. I am so blessed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Me time

Ever since I've been home as a full-time mom, I've sort of 'scheduled' me time into my every day. And that me time is first thing in the morning.

Yes, I still need a few minutes to myself to get things done or ignore the world during the day, but that time to myself first thing in the morning is very important to me.

Since before Austin started JK last year, many mornings I would set my alarm so that I'd be up before the kids. Before we had a school day routine, I used to get up, make some coffee and then enjoy drinking my first cup of coffee in peace and quiet. Some days I do so while folding the laundry (I actually don't mind folding laundry, it's mindless), other times I'd read the paper, other times I'd surf Facebook or blog and other times I'd just tackle some small tidy up project that there's never enough time to do in a day (you know, like tidy up the never-ending junk pile on the dining room table). Since my kids are rarely up before 7 -- back in those days, I could get up at 6:30 or so and get anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to myself.

By the time Austin started school, I turned that several times a week habit into an every morning habit. And so many people I say this to think I'm crazy for getting up even a minute earlier than I have to.

But I love it.

Now, I set my alarm every morning for 6:15 a.m. I get up; I make coffee; I take a shower; then I get dressed and put on a bit of makeup while I drink my coffee. It's quiet and it's peaceful. No one is yelling, no one is demanding my attention.

It's just me and my coffee. And let's face it, I'm a much nicer person to the kids after I've had a cup of coffee.If there's still time when I'm all ready and backpacks are packed with snacks, I'll fold laundry (again, sounds weird, but it's a mindless activity that I don't mind), surf Facebook, read blogs or tackle some small tidy up project. And at 7:10 a.m, if no one is up yet, I'll start waking the kids and making breakfast.

It's my routine. It's my me time. And when that me time gets disrupted, it messes with my day.

The last few days -- ever since we changed the clocks back -- one or both of the kids have been waking up before 7. Often well before I've even managed to pour my coffee. And when I hear them step out of their room before 7 I just groan. I'm not ready for anyone yet. Even if it's only 15 minutes of me time lost, it's still 15 minutes that was mine. And now it's not.

So here's hoping the kids go back to having to be woken up in the morning. Because although I've gotten used to waking up early, I'd rather not wake up any earlier just to get more me time.

Monday, November 07, 2011

My business-savvy son

At five years old, Austin has figured out that he wants money. Because having money means being able to buy things. And he wants to buy things. But he's smart enough to understand that I'm not just going to give him money.

So, Ryan and I recently started giving him an allowance. If both he and Alex do their list of chores every week -- on Saturdays, we give them one dollar each. It's not a lot of money, but their list of chores is quite short too. Every evening, they have to put the recycling out and they have to make sure their rooms are tidy. For the record, since we started this routine two weeks ago, we have to remind them to do their jobs -- and for the recycling, we have to unlock and open the back door for them -- but the point is, they do it.

Having the kids do a 'job' was, in a round about way, Austin's idea. A few weeks ago, as we were walking home from school, he pointed out that there sure was a lot of garbage on the ground. And there was -- not to stereotype, but we live near a high school and the students there don't always care to put their garbage in the pail (which is only a few feet away from where it gets strewn on the ground). And so, Austin decided to clean up a bit.

At first, I cringed. But then, we lay down the rules of what he can and cannot touch (no cigarettes, no broken bottles and no napkins or Kleenex) and he went to town.

And again the next day. And the next.

But now that he has discovered that he makes money by doing chores at home, he wants to make money elsewhere. No, he's not asking me to pay him to clean up the garbage near the high school.

Instead, he's hunting for beer cans.

Yup. Beer cans. You see, his grandpa told him that he picks up beer cans whenever he sees one on the ground and in return, he gets 10 cents a can from the store. Well Austin thought that was a great idea!

And now, whenever we're walking to the park; going for a bike ride; walking home from school; or even playing at the park -- he's on the lookout for beer cans. But, since he can't really read yet, he picks up an awful lot of Coke and Sprite cans.

But he did find one! One whole beer can hiding in the brush behind the playground. We were with his grandpa and grandpa had just found one on the edge of the brush. This was unacceptable to Austin so he actually went walking through the brush until he found one. And he did.

And he was so excited that he was going to get 10 whole cents!

When we got home from the park, I took the beer can from him, added it to our empties and gave him a dime -- which he proudly put in his piggy bank.

Of course, now that he's found one, he's always on the hunt for more. Maybe if we're lucky, by the time he goes to university, he'll have collected enough cans to pay for it. Then again, in another 9 cans, maybe I'll just take him to the dollar store.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Rocking the Mo for Movemeber

Two years ago, Ryan grew a beard. Sorry hon, but I'll tell the truth -- he sort of did it by accident. It was Christmas holidays and he was on vacation for about a week and a half. The beard grew out of laziness -- he didn't feel like shaving. But after 9 or 10 days, he admitted that he kind of liked it, if he, you know, cleaned it up a little. And I admitted that I kind of liked it too.

And so, the beard was born.
As I said, that was only two years ago so until that point he was always clean-shaven. And yet, I got used to it. And I really like it.

But yesterday -- November 1 -- he shaved it all off. And so, (since I didn't see him in the morning), he came home from work yesterday afternoon and I saw him clean shaven for the first time in two years.
But it's all for a good cause. He's growing a mo for Movember. What's Movember, some of you may ask.

It's the month where guys grow mustaches to raise money and awareness for men's health -- but specifically for prostate cancer. And not only do they raise money, but the sometimes funny-looking mustaches they sprout spark a conversation or two or ten about the importance of men's health. Because let's be honest here -- most men I know (my mustache-growing hubby included) don't always have their health at the top of their priority list. It's not that he doesn't care about his health -- he eats well, exercises, etc. -- but going to the doctor just for check there's something that doesn't often happen without a wife's subtle and not-so-subtle reminders.

So I support the growing of the Mo. There are countless women's health campaigns out there -- but something that supports men's health and prompts men to talk and take action is a rarity. It's literally an in-your-face campaign. So support Ryan's Movember campaign -- he'll be posting pictures on his official fundraising page throughout the month -- or support someone else you may know (because I know many of my readers don't actually 'know' me or Ryan) and their Movember campaign.

After all, who doesn't love a guy who's rocking the mo?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My rocker kids

We've created monsters in our house. Or maybe we've proved that kids don't only want to listen to The Wheels on The Bus all day long.

My kids like AC/DC and Guns 'n Roses.

It started in the summer with Austin. I'm not sure I even remember how or why, but AC/DC's Thunderstruck was on and Austin liked it. He started singing along. And Ryan taught him to make the rock 'n roll sign. And for days, he'd go around the house singing 'Thunder....nah nah nah nah nah nah....Thunder'.

And so, Alex picked it up.

Then, a few weeks later, the kids and I were driving home from the grocery store and Guns 'n Roses' Paradise City came on the radio. And Austin pipes up from the back seat: "I like this song!".

The next day, he was playing by himself in his room and singing: "Take me down to the Paradise City where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Oh won't you please take me home."

I laughed out loud.

And what was even funnier was when Alex picked it up a few days later. Except she has it down pat to include the 'yeah yeah' at the end of the chorus. And she likes the song so much that several times a week she asks to hear it. Or randomly starts singing it from the back seat of the car.

And so, between her Guns 'n Roses obsession and her AC/DC obsession, we seem to have a genuine rocker chick on our hands. And then, as we were going through a bag of hand-me-down clothes, we found this shirt:

And she's in heaven.

Although, since it's a hand-me-down shirt from a friend of mine, I guess I'm not the only mom with a three-year-old rocker chick!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pour your heart out: Just the thought of it makes me anxious

I've been home full-time for three and a half years now. Since Alex was born. For the first year, I was on maternity leave -- meaning (for my U.S. readers) I was collecting EI payments and was on leave from my job. After the year was up, I never went back. It was a long and complicated story as to the various reasons I never went back, but suffice to say, I haven't worked in an office in 3 and a half years.

Instead, I plunged myself in to full-time educator, entertainer, snuggler and bum wiper. Oh yeah, and part-time freelance writer and editor. That line between part-time and full-time sometimes blurs and I find myself working a silly amount. But other times, I have no work on the go and I have lots of time to just spend with the kids.

I never really had a concrete plan as to how long I would stay home. I figured I'd definitely stay until Austin was in JK (that's come and gone) and most likely until Alex was in Kindergarten. Then, I figured, at some point around then, I'd go and find another job.

But working for myself has been both rewardig and profitable. And I'm only doing it part-time. The possibilities open up dramatically when I think about when I can actually work on a more full-time basis.

And the possibility of that terrifies me.

You see, unlike Austin who spent last year and this year in half-day Kindergarten -- starting full-time school in Grade 1 next September -- Alex will be going to full-day Kindergarten. All the schools in Ontario are changing from half-day to full-day for 4 and 5 year olds by 2015 and our school is changing in September. So suddenly, two years earlier than I expected it -- I'm going to have no kids from 8:30 until 3:30 every single day.

Did I say that that terrifies me.

Part of it is just not wanting to change -- I like being with my kids every day. And I like the fact that I get Austin every afternoon still. And the idea that I can now have 6 to 7 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY to work, instead of only an hour and a half when they're both in school (Kindergarten and preschool) and many evenings and weekends is something I rejoice at. But is also causing me a lot of anxiety.

What if I can't get enough work to fill all of my hours. What if I find myself for days and weeks at a stretch with no work. That's the nature of contract work -- you work when there's work, and you don't when there isn't. And if I go through great stretches with no work, what will I do to fill my days in a quiet house? And that's the second downside to working for yourself (the first being when there's no contracts, there's no paycheques), there's no colleagues to work with -- no water cooler to chat at. Just me, my basement office and my laptop.

Will I like it? I don't know. Will I be able to get enough work to transition from part-time to almost full-time? I don't know. Will I prefer to go back and work for a company and go to an office every day? I don't know. Will I continue working from home and try it out once the kids are both in schol? Yes. Because doing this gives me the flexibility to take my kids to school every day and pick them up every day -- and just be with them a little bit longer. But is the whole thing making me anxious a whole year in advance? Absolutely.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pour Your Heart Out: A terrible disease

I've been reading Shell out Things I Can't Say for months. If you don't read her, check her out. And every Wednesday, she runs a meme called Pour Your Heart Out -- where you get to write about whatever you want, no critical comments allowed. I've thought about writing for months -- I've even started a few posts but never finished one. So here I am, trying again.

My grandmother has Alzheimer's Disease.She's 97 years old. So your first thought may be along the lines of "well, she's 97, she's lived a good life" or "wow, she's 97 years old!". And both of those statements are true. She has lived a good life and wow, she is 97. But no one, regardless of their age, should have to go like this.

Until two years ago -- at the age of 95 -- she lived by herself in the upstairs of a Duplex in Montreal. Her two sons (my dad and his brother) lived in other cities. And she was doing fine. But then she started to forget things, and started to make odd statements (and I don't need to go into details) and my dad and his brother became concerned. So, she moved to Ontario and in with my parents -- but before long, she moved to a retirement home and now a nursing home.

And since she moved into the nursing home in the winter, I feel like she's been deteriorating rapidly -- but maybe it's just because we didn't see her a lot during the disease's onset. I saw her less than two weeks ago for the first time in almost two months (her nursing home is an hour and a half away from my house so it's not an easy trip to make without pre-planning). She recognized me but never once said my name. In other words, she doesn't remember it. In August, when I last saw her, she knew my name. And at Easter when I saw her, she knew my name and that Ryan was my husband. This time, she didn't remember my name and wasn't quite sure who Austin was. He was such a good kid -- wanting to come with me to visit her -- and it broke my heart to have to explain to a five-year-old that although she'll be happy to see you, she might be 'silly' and not remember your name. And she didn't. But he took it in stride -- better than I did I think.

And when we talked about his sister, Alexandra, with her, she had no idea who she was or that she even had a great-granddaughter. And yes, she's met my daughter many times.

Soon will come a time when I go visit where, not only will she not remember my name, but she won't remember who I am. And I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with that yet.

Back in January of this year, she was hospitalized for pneumonia And although she was already visibly suffering affects of the disease, she was still very chatty and cognitive of her surroundings. And I sat for about 45 minutes and chatted with  her. It was an odd conversation in that, some moments were very clear, and other moments we were talking about how she forgot to call her office and tell them she wouldn't be in that day. But we talked.

And in a way, I think I might have said goodbye to her that day. Because now, when I visit her, it makes her happy -- because she's always happy to see people -- but it's not entirely her there anymore, it's the disease.

And this disease is a terrible way for a person -- any person -- to end their life. It robbing her of 97 years of memories, and leaving memories for the rest of that we'd rather forget.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Racing Day run report

Saturday was racing day -- my 10K run at the zoo.

It started off as a great day. The weather was beautiful -- sunny and about 14C -- the warmest it has ever been for any of my races and I was excited to have a running buddy. The only downside to the day was that when I woke up that morning, my chest felt tight and my muscles were achy -- I figured it was the onset of a cold and I popped some cold drugs (hey, there's no drug test at these races, so it's ok!)

But within a kilometre and a half, I realized that this 'cold' was going to kick my ass and this was not going to be an easy race. My breathing was off, my legs wouldn't loosen up and the whole thing just felt like a struggle. The only thing that kept me going at a decent pace was my running buddy -- we stuck together for the first six and a half kilometres -- and having him beside me definitely kept me in the mental game of wanting to 'keep up'.

But back to the 1.5K mark -- I was already feeling like I was struggling and there was a still a long way to go. But I powered on, and it felt like it got a bit easier. Finally, we rounded 4K and I needed to take a minute to catch my breath, so we walked for a minute or so before starting up again.

As we rounded 5, our cheering squad was waiting for us -- Ryan and the kids and Hugh's wife and kid were yelling and cheering us on. And, in every other race, I've smiled and waved at my cheering squad as I ran by. And I'm sure I did this time, but Ryan later told me that he saw the look on my face and saw that I was having a bad day.

Because you see, bad run days happen from time to time. And when I'm out on a training run, and it's just not going my way, I usually call it quits -- say 'to hell with it', head for home and run again another day. Except when running the race I've been working towards for the last few months -- I didn't want to call it quits.

At 6 and a half kilometres, my running buddy left me. I was seriously starting to slow down, and he wanted to push through. I don't begrudge him for leaving me at all (we had actually talked about it before we even started -- that when one wanted to leave, then they should just go). But after he left, I lost a lot of motivation to go on.

The last few kilometres are a bit of blur. I wanted to quit -- but I didn't want to. And so I pushed on, and on, and on. I felt like I was barely moving. And even when I got to 9 and had hoped to pick up the pace, I just couldn't do it.

The kids and Ryan were cheering for me just past 9 and a half and I tried to smile and wave but I was hurting. Ryan ran over the hill and met me on the other side as I rounded the corner -- maybe 200 metres from the finish line -- and encouraged me to go on, told me I could do it. 

And I did. I finished. And at first, when I got my time, I was disappointed. It wasn't as fast as I had hoped. But then I remembered, that what I really wanted to do was quit -- and I didn't. So that was all that mattered. And besides, it's still faster than the very first time I ran the zoo run in 2009.

So I finished the run in 1:15.7. I'm pretty pleased with myself, actually. In 23 months, I've run 4, 10K runs, and 3 of them have been in the last 11 months. And these two monsters and my very supportive hubby have gotten out of bed early on a weekend morning each time just to stand outside (sometimes in the cold) to cheer me on as I run by.
Oh yeah, and when I got home I could barely move -- I was hot and I was shivering. So I got out the thermometre, took my temperature and discovered I had a low-grade fever. No wonder it was such a hard run!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Something tells me he may not want to hang out with me by then

Austin's in SK now but it's still only half days. Meaning, by lunch time, he's home with me and Alex.

He's never blantantly expressed it, but sometimes I get the feeling that he feels left out by the fact that Alex and I hang out every morning and he goes to school. Even though he enjoys school, he feels he's missing out on mommy time. He gets school time and mommy, Austin and Alex time. But never mommy and Austin time anymore.

Last year this wasn't a problem. Because last year, when he was in half-day JK, Alex still napped in the afternoons. So after lunch, it would be mommy and Austin time while Alex slept. Now, to be fair, some days, he watched TV or played quietly in his room while I worked during that time -- but other days, it was 'our time'.

We don't get that anymore. Although it makes me realize that I need to make a point some weekends to do something just with him for a bit.

Anyway, this afternoon, he was figuring out what grade he would be in when Alex started JK (Grade 1). And then he proceeded to go though the entire grade system, one by one, telling me what grade Alex would be in when he was in such-and-such grade.

And then he got to Grade 12 (and Alex would be in Grade 10) and he said: "and then I'll be done school and I can stay home with you mommy when Alex goes to school."

It was really sweet actually. But something tells me that by the time he finishes Grade 12 (and he's, gulp, 18 years old), he won't necessarily want to stay home and play with me every day anymore!

And this is why I stay home with the kids...because I may have my bad days and complain that the kids are driving me crazy -- but before I know it, they won't want to stay home and 'play' with me anymore.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Magic Moments

I've been reading Shell at Things I Can't Say for months now. This week, she's linking up Magic Moments, so, I decided to join in.

Here's mine:

This is my daughter Alexandra (who is now 3, by the way). As my friends and family know, she was born in a hurry -- a mere 7 minutes after I walked into the hospital triage room. Oh yeah, and in the middle of the night -- 4:27 a.m. to be exact.

Ryan snapped this picture about two hours after the frenzy that was her birth. First there was the panic of waiting for a friend to get to our house in the middle of the night to stay with Austin; then the mad rush to the hospital; then there was the mad rush of the doctors and nurses trying to set up the birthing suite and telling me not to push just yet; then out she came; and then everyone else was bustling about afterwards doing all the things I'm supposed to do before the birth (like fill out forms for admission, get a hospital bracelets, etc.)

When all was said and done, the nurse wheeled me and Alex to our room where, once settled into bed, we had our first moment of peace and quiet (and Ryan and I realized it was only 6:30 in the morning!). She dozed lightly on my chest as I lay in bed -- and Ryan snapped pictures. And then she opened her eyes, and almost looked like she was smiling for the camera.

And here's another one of my favourite moments. I was an unusually hot day for early May (last year), and Ryan was visiting his dad with the kids (I was visiting my sister and nephew in California). They took the kids to the beach (in May!) and I just love this picture he captured of the two of them playing together. They almost always play so well together and this picture is them just doing that. Either that, or it's them conspiring against us.

I am linking up with Shell over at Things I Can't Say Sharing My Magic Moments this week.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Racing day, it's (almost) racing day

At the start of 2011, I set myself of goal of running two 10K races this year. Why? I don't know really. Just to prove to myself that I could I guess.

In October 2009, I ran my first 10K, the Zoo Run and as almost as soon as I finished, I wanted to run another, but then I sprained my ankle and ended up on crutches -- and so, the May 2010 race was out of the question. So, I recovered, built up my strength and re-trained to run the Zoo Run again in October 2010.

The first time, I was so proud of myself for just being able to do it. The second time, I was proud of myself for managing to do it again when it would've been so much easier to say the hell with it after spending time on crutches.

The third time, in May of this year, I was just excited to be able to do the run I had wanted to do the year before. And it a fun one. And I did it fast too. This time, I don't know. I'm excited, but for the first time don't feel the least bit stressed about whether I can do it. I know I can do it. I may not do it as fast I would like to (afterall, the May run was all downhill, this one is, umm, full of hills), but I know I can do it.

So why do it? Well as I said, to prove to myself that I can. That I can do two runs in one year; that I can maintain my fitness and endurance level for longer stretches of time that one-year intervals.

It'll be a fun run. It'll be the very first time in three years of running that I'll have a running buddy. I convinced two friends to sign up with me -- one has had to pull out because of an injury but the other will be running beside me on racing day. I'm looking forward to it.

And when it's done, I will not only have ran two 10K races in this year, but in actually, it'll be three 10K races in a 12-month period -- because the Zoo Run last year was in October 2010 and the Zoo Run this year is September 2011. So in 11 months, I will have run three 10K races. Not to shabby now that I think about it.

So what's my big plan for next year? I have one in mind. One that I'm not entirely willing to share just yet. Because sharing means committing and I'm not quite ready to commit to that many kilometres just yet. Ask me next Spring -- that's when I'll be deciding.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

How does your garden grow?

Remember me? It's been awhile since I've had time to sit down and write.

Anyway, the backyard growing season is just about wrapping up for me; the fall weather came in with a vengeance on Monday -- what is it, Mother Nature figured it's Labour Day so that's it, summer's most definitely over?

So, how did my garden do this year? Unfortunately, not so well.

But the good first. My raspberry bush was fantastic! Every day for the month of July, the kids and I would go outside in our pajamas and pick about a pint worth of raspberries. Every single morning for a month. And every single day we ate raspberries -- and I can't say 'we ate them until we got sick of them' because we never got sick of them. I'd like to also say that I made jam or some other tasty treats with the raspberries. But no. We ate them. And ate them. And ate them.

And they were delicious!

The cucumbers did alright. I haven't had to buy cucumbers at the store for about a month now, and I made two batches of relish with the overflow cucumbers -- so I guess they did more than alright. But then again, I planted five cucumber plants this year instead of two or three -- so it kind of makes sense that we had more cucumbers.

The tomatoes produced, but nowhere near as many as the last two years. In fact, we had enough to eat tomatoes whenever we wanted one with dinner but there was never an excess. So no tomato sauce and no salsa this year. I had to buy baskets of tomatoes from the market to cook with.

And the zucchini. Well, think back to last year when I complained that my damn zucchini plant was taking over my garden and producing multiple baseball bat size zucchinis on an what-seemed-like daily basis. I had so much zucchini that after we ate as much as we could and I baked as much zucchini bread as we could handle (and I used 12 cups of shredded zucchini in two batches of salsa) I still had something like 10 or 12 cups of shredded zucchini in the freezer.

This year....1 zucchini. That's it. My entire plant produced just one single zucchini. And we ate it.

But, believe it or not, I still had shredded zucchini in the freezer from last summer! So maybe, somehow, my new plant knew that I didn't really need any more of the vegetable.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

How to be popular with your kids

You've probably noticed that I've been out of touch lately.  For any of you who read my family blog as well, you'll notice that it's horribly out-of-date as well, with no new pictures from the summer, no write up on our vacation and no updates on what the kids are doing.

It's not you, it's me. Honestly.

I've been insanely busy these last few weeks. We were at the cottage for the second week of August, and just a couple of days before we left, I got not one big contract, but two. Both require what feels like a million hours of work and both are due within days of each other. Like tomorrow ( a deadline I won't entirely make, through no fault of mine) and early next week.

So, in an effort to squeeze every single minute out of every day, I've been working like crazy. And still trying to do things with the kids. But, they hung out with a sitter twice last week, and this week they hung out with grandparents.

So, how am I popular with my kids when I haven't had any time for them lately. Easy:

Give them all day Wednesday with granddad (so mommy can work), then give them all day Thursday with grandma (so mommy can work). Grandparent time is fun for both the kids and the grandparents, so there's no guilt on my part of shuffling them off and neglecting to spend time with them.

Oh yeah, and when all that grandparent time is done....the way to really put the icing on the cake of making you popular with the kids is to take them to McDonalds for dinner (because daddy is going to the Jays game tonight and won't be home for dinner and I don't feel like cooking).

So, avoiding your kids for two days and then neglecting your duties of making dinner for them is a sure-fire way to be popular.

Who knew?

Monday, August 15, 2011

One of my favourite places

We were at the cottage last week. I say 'the cottage', although it's not our place -- it's a place we rent. But this is the third summer in a row that we've rented this cottage and the fourth year that we've rented from the same guy (the first summer, we rented on this property, we rented the cottage next door.)

It's two cottages owned by a guy. The cottages are more or less hidden from each other by trees and each have their own private beach. What they share is their waterfront --which is huge. So in reality, when we rent this cottage, we have a huge property, with a huge sandy beach and about 50 yards of private waterfront that is shallow enough for the kids to walk in all the way to the dock.

It's just outside a small town about 60 kilometres north of Huntsville (or about 3 hours north of home). It's quiet, it's relaxing. There's absolutely nothing to do there. And I love it. It's one of my favourite places to be.

And the kids love it. Because to an adult, there's absolutely nothing to do there (which is heaven) but to a kid, there's everything to do there (which is heaven).

So while I spent the week reading an entire book, working on my latest scrapbook in the evenings, getting out for three good runs and, of course, playing with the kids in the water and the sand, they spent the entire week running around the property, burying each other in the sand and spending hours upon hours in the water.

So as I sit here today (Monday) buried in work (I have two big contracts right now with short turnarounds) and surrounded by mountains of laundry and unpacked bags, I think back to my view from the porch last Monday, and rather wish I was there instead of here:
Only 51 more weeks until we can go back.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's alive! It's alive!

...or phone saga part III.

Yes, my phone is alive. Turns out, I fretted and stressed and spent way too much time on the phone with my service provider looking for solutions than I needed to.

I just needed to take the phone to a nearby cellphone repair shop and for $40 the guy replaced the parts behind the trackball. A little more than 30 minutes after I walked into the store, I walked out with a phone working good as new.

Let's just hope it stays that way. Goodness knows you're all tired of reading about me and my phone.

So, really, the moral of this saga is: don't be a dumbass and leave your phone lying in the rain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It didn't make it

My phone didn't quite make it.

After drying out for a day and a half, I put it back together yesterday afternoon and powered it up. And did a little happy dance when it booted up and then turned on and then started showing me all the messages I'd missed.

And then....the track ball didn't work so I couldn't actually view any of those messages. (Actually, I have since figured out ways to navigate without using the track ball -- it's very difficult and is very limited. For example, I can go to a new unread message, but I can't read anything longer than one screen in length. And, once I've read a message, I can't go back to it later.)

So, needless to say, it's not a very effective Blackberry anymore. Sigh.

So, I took it to Rogers this morning. And the technician tried to fix it. He was really nice and all, but nope, he couldn't fix it. My options are to take it to a cellphone repair shop (because he was nice enough to tell me that if I send it out for repair through Rogers, it'll cost me more than twice as much as going to a repair shop myself) or get a new one.

The get a new one sounds like the best option except for one small problem -- I'm 10 months away from being eligible for an upgrade, which means that it'll cost me a minimum of $250 to get a new phone.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's dumbass award goes to...

To keep it short and sweet -- I left my phone, my Blackberry to be precise, lying on the front deck last night. I remember sitting on the steps, reading a magazine while the kids played on the driveway and I remember taking my phone out of my pocket because it was jabbing me in the hip.

What I didn't remember to do was to pick it up and put it back in my pocket when it was time to go in.

So that's where it stayed. All night. On the front deck.

Did it get stolen? No. But it might as well have. You see, it rained last night. For the first time in a month.

That's right, it hasn't rained in an entire month here. Other than a slight drizzle on one or two days, there hasn't been a good soaking of rain since June 23.

It rained early this morning. Poured actually. Thunder, lightening, heavy downpour kind of rain. All while my phone was out there taking a bath in it.

Ryan discovered it as he left for work just after 6 this morning. He brought it in, took all the parts out and started wiping it out with a towel. I woke up to sounds of him cursing under his breath and went to check out what was wrong. And then I started cursing -- not so under my breath.

A little research taught me the following things about a wet phone: 1) DO NOT attempt to turn it on when it's wet. 2) Take all the pieces out (battery, etc.) 3) put it in a container full of rice (the starch will absorb the moisture) and leave it there for at least 24 hours, longer if you can.

So, that's where my poor Blackberry is right now -- buried in a bowl of rice on the kitchen counter.

I feel naked without it. I can't get work phone calls. I can't get my business e-mail on the go. I can't get texts. I can't use bbm. I can't check Facebook.

But I can live with being naked for one day. All I really hope is that when I take it out of that bowl of rice tomorrow (or the next day) that it turns on.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A crazy idea

On Monday, I did something really crazy. It's crazy because it didn't work. If it had worked, it would've been brilliant. But it didn't so, I'm just a crazy geek.

You see, I'm a huge U2 fan. Have been for years and years. I've seen them in concert 4 times -- the most recent time being almost 2 years ago when I had General Admission tickets. It was a fantastic show -- maybe because I'm such a big fan, or maybe because it really was great, or maybe because with our general admission tickets, the experience was different because I was the closest I've ever been to the stage.

But when they announced a second show in Toronto just 8 months after the first, I decided to take a pass. Afterall, I had just shelled out lots of money to see this tour, I didn't need to see it again.

Then the show got cancelled and rescheduled for this summer. And this past Monday, U2 was in town -- almost 2 years since I had last seen them. And suddenly, I really wanted to go.

But I didn't have a ticket.

So I moped about most of the day, I tried to win tickets on the radio (yup, I'm a geek) and I admitted to myself that I wasn't going to go to the show.

At 5:30, Ryan said to me "if you really want to go, go down and buy a scalper ticket."

I thought about it for about half a second and said that we didn't need me spending several hundred dollars on a scalper ticket. Even though his response was "it's up to you", I swear, he exhaled just a little when he knew I wouldn't spend that kind of money on a ticket.

Then, at 8:30 -- a mere half an hour before U2 came on, it was Ryan who came up with the crazy idea. He said: "why don't you go downtown now and see if you can get a cheap scalper ticket?"

I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of that earlier! Fourteen years ago, when Ryan and I saw U2 for the first time, we were poor students. So, on the night of their second show, we went down to the Skydome about 15 minutes after U2 hit the stage, hit up the first scalper we saw and got tickets for 20 bucks. I think that might have even been $20 for the pair, not $20 each. It was cold out, the show had already started and the scalper just wanted to go home.

Fast forward 14 years and I find myself thinking about repeating that experience. After a few minutes of indecision, I go for it. I jumped in my car at 8:45 and drove downtown -- getting there about 9:05.

But here's the kicker -- and here's what turned a brilliant idea into a crazy idea. I couldn't find parking. All the lots were full, so I started circling the streets. It was almost 9:30 by the time I found somewhere to park and almost 9:40 by the time I made my way back to the Rogers Centre.

By then it was too late.

I walked up and down the street and made a complete tour of the Rogers Centre but couldn't find a single scalper. At one point, a couple were yelling "who's got tickets?" and no one was biting. By this time, anyone who may have still had tickets had given up and left.

Too bad really, I wouldn've happily parted with $20 or $30 to catch the last half of the show.

But instead, I was just a geek wandering around outside the stadium, catching little bits of the concert (Rogers Centre was actually playing other audio outside so you couldn't just stand around and listen....jerks!). At one point, I found a window, where if you stood just at the right angle, you could see part of the big screen. So I stood there for a few minutes and watched.

And then, I walked back to my car and drove home.

No ticket, no U2 concert. Just a crazy idea.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Discovering your own city

I've been living in Ontario for almost 21 years now and with the exception of the odd summer and about six months (where I worked elsewhere), I have been living in Toronto for 16 of those 21 years. (So I guess if you take all that time off, it's fair to say, I've been living in Toronto for 15 years.)

In that time, I've lived right downtown in the heart of the city, I've lived uptown in a sort-of trendy area and I've lived in the suburbs -- which is where I am now.

And in 15 years, I've gotten to know a lot of this city. Parts I know really well and can easily make my way around to the best restaurant, the best park, the best splash pad or the best bar (depending on what needs I need to fill at the time) and other parts I've been to, but don't know well. Hey, it's a pretty big city afterall.

So, imagine my surprise, when earlier this month, I discovered a part of the city I never knew existed.

Ever since Austin learned to ride his bike this spring, we've been going on family bike rides -- with Alex on the back of Ryan's bike of course. They started out as short rides, as I was constantly picking him up off the ground, but, as he improved, they gradually got longer. Until Canada Day weekend, when we decided to try out our new car bike rack.

We strapped our bikes to our car and drove to Wilket Creek Park. (For those not familiar with the area, it's near Eglinton and Leslie -- and for those not familiar with that, well, it's in Toronto). I've been there a few times over the years, walking along the path in the fall with the kids (it's really beautiful in the fall). But this time, instead of going the way I knew (north), we decided to check out where the southern path took us.

Turns out, Toronto has a whole system of bike trails (or walking/running/inline skating trails) that I never knew existed. There we were, down in the valley, far away from traffic and buildings -- biking along trails through open fields and through forests. Under bridges and over creeks. Who knew?

About 3 kilometres away from where we started, we reached a path that travelled parallel to the DVP. And although Ryan and I would've loved to keep going -- we figured 6 kilometres (we had to go back afterall!) was probably enough for Austin's little legs. So we turned around and headed back where we came from.

After that adventure, I'm already excited for our next non-busy weekend so that we discover other routes along that trail.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

It's just about that time of year again

I'm planning to take the kids strawberry pickings in the morning. It'll be the third year in a row that the three of us go so I guess that officially makes it a tradition. And I figured it would be a fun way for us to start off the summer holidays.

I'm excited about the outing - I love strawberry picking - but I'm even more excited for what we get to do when we come home with a big bucket of freshly picked strawberries...make jam. Last summer, I really got into the canning, making four batches of jam (strawberry, peach and two batches of grape), two batches of salsa, a batch of relish and a batch of pickles. And now suddenly, I find myself tracking down all my recipes and looking for new ones. Who knew canning could be so much fun!

Sure it's a ton of work, but, last summer at least, the kids helped with the cooking part and I don't see why they wouldn't this year. And getting to eat fresh-made jam...yum!

Although this year, I'll try to make the strawberry jam a little less syrup like!

Wordless Wednesday: Last day of school

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers....well actually, Austin's JK teacher was a wonderful woman who we will all truly miss next year when he starts at the French Immersion school in the fall.

But no need to think about that right now. Right now, there's just one happy boy as he heads off to his last day of school before summer vacation. It doesn't feel that long ago that I was taking first day of school pictures....

Friday, June 10, 2011

My office: Before and After

When I started working as a freelance writer two years ago, I didn't have a proper home office. My office was also the family room, was also the kids' play room. In other words, I had a desk and a computer at one end of our all-purpose room.

It worked sometimes.

But other times, it was challenging. If I needed to get some work done in the afternoon, it was hard to just put a movie on for the kids to distract them -- because the TV was in the same room. And on a weekend -- especially in the winter -- if I needed a few hours to work, Ryan couldn't exactly just take the kids downstairs to play. Because their toys were in the same room.

So late last year, we decided that our so-called spare room would become my office. I call it a so-called spare room because it was really a pretty sad room. Which is part of the reason I resisted the idea at first. The thought of working in such a sad room was depressing. It's a tiny room in the basement. And it's windowless.

So already it had two knocks against it. But then there was the way we had treated it for the last five years or so which made it even more depressing.

First of all, it had a bed in it. A double bed which took up most of the space. It was such an old bed that one side of the mattress now had a hole in it (and some people when staying over requested to sleep on an air mattress in the family room rather than on the spare bed in the spare room.). Yes, it was that bad.

But secondly, even more important than the sad bed was the mess in the room. The spare room was where we sent everything we didn't know what to do with to die. Extra pieces of it in the spare room. Old baby stuff...spare room. Presents we're not quite sure what to do with....spare room. Random items that should really be thrown out...spare room. And every time someone would come to stay, we would do a quick clean out of the room -- which usually invovled hauling as much crap out of it as we could and putting it somewhere else in the basement. When they left, the crap would go back.

And because of all the crap, the room was rarely dusted or vaccumed. So it was crowded, dirty and full of crap. Oh yeah, and it was wall-to-wall dark wood panelling (and don't forget, I said it's a tiny room).

Not exactly an appealing place to park myself day in and day out to work.

So, in early February I got to work. First a friend helped me clear out some of the crap -- it always helps to have someone else who has no history with any of the stuff to be ruthless for you. Then, we put the bed on the curb for the garbage truck. Then I packed up everything else that wasn't being thrown out and started painting.

By the end of February, the room was primed and painted By the end of March we had a new futon (because this tiny little room had to serve two purposes -- an office for me and a guest room for anyone who may need to stay over.) By early April, I had a brand new IKEA desk.

And I did it almost all by myself. I say almost all because I did the planning and the painting. Ryan did the electrical (because he knows how), the baseboards (because it was faster for him to just do it than to show me how) and put together the newly-bought furniture (because I think he actually likes doing that kind of thing).

I moved in what was absolutely necessary and now I have my VERY OWN HOME OFFICE!

I've been waiting a couple of months to write this post because the one thing I haven't finished yet is to put art on one wall. There's art over the futon, but not over my desk. I've planned out what to put there, but I just haven't had time to do it yet.

But without further ado, here is my before and after look:

Right before I took these before pictures, I thought about cleaning up the room first and then thought "why, it looks like this most of the time anyway".
The built-in shelves were always, always, always a disaster of stuff -- 90% of which we didn't even need!

....and after. Over my desk is where I'm going to hang the last of the art. Mainly so I'm not staring at a blank wall all the time.
The guest bed. To be able to pull it out, I have to move my desk chair out of the way.

And finally...the built-in bookcases. Painted with a bit of contrast and only holding the stuff we need -- well mostly. What the heck am I supposed to do with all those CDs that no one listens to anymore?

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Be careful what you wish for

I haven't worked in over a month. That's just the way life is when you're a contract worker. Contracts come whenever they come. And often, no matter how often you stay on top of keeping in touch with your contacts, there's no work to be had.

Until there is.

For about six weeks now, I've been trying not to be anxious about not working. Trying to enjoy my days with the kids and enjoy the fact that I had a little spare time to do other things -- like blog and scrapbook and plant my garden (and of course, all the typical day to day chores). I say try because when I'm not working, I feel a little anxious about it, and when I am working I'll start to feel guilty for not spending enough time with the kids (double-edge sword, I know.).

So here's hoping that my last six weeks of trying to not be anxious and enjoying my time with the kids will pay off. Today, I picked up not one, but two contracts. One's a big one that will be a fair bit of work and is due in early to mid-July. The other is a smaller, proofreading job that is also due in early to mid-July. Oh yeah, and then there's the third contract that is sitting on the horizon that I've been asked to quote on. It's a big one -- a proofreading instead of a writing job but still a 400-page proofreading job.

All three in one day. I went from no work to a hell of a lot of work in one day. So don't be surprised if you hear from me only sparingly in the next month and a half.

Seriously, a few weeks ago I was wishing for more work. I've really got to be more careful what I wish for!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wordless Wednesday -- Water slide!

Hot is the word of the day today. It's really, really hot out there. So after Alex and I picked up Austin at school, they put their bathing suits on and played in the sprinkler for the first time this year. And managed to move the sprinkler around the yard until they discovered that they could turn the climber into a water slide!

Find more of this week's Wordless Wednesday (or Wordful) posts at 5 Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

The end of the world as I know it

My world is coming to an end. Alex is giving up napping.

I know I shouldn't be surprised, she's over 3 years old and many kids give them up way earlier, but just because I'm not surprised doesn't mean I have to be happy about it.

Nap time routine has been a part of my life for pretty much 5 years. Because even after Austin gave up his nap 2 years ago, Alex still napped. And since she napped, I could convince him to go into his room most days and 'rest'. Sometimes he'd read books, sometimes he'd play, sometimes he'd even lie down. Heck, to be perfectly honest, he's 5 years old and I still make him go into his room most days to play quietly for a little while. Partly because the downtime is good for him and mostly because that means I get 30 minutes of peace and quiet every afternoon.

The routine for the last two years has been this: Alex lies down for a nap, Austin and I play quietly for a little while and then he goes into his room to play by himself while I do some work or play around on the computer if there's no work to be done. It's my time (or my clients' time).

But now, she's going into her room -- and more days than not, not sleeping. And the days she does fall asleep is usually because I threatened her to do so. (The other day, I knew we were going to be out late so I told her if she didn't nap, we weren't going. Needless to say, she slept.) But overall, she typically only sleeps 3 days a week if I'm lucky. The other 4 days she lies in her bed and complains that she doesn't want to sleep. And so I eventually cave and tell her to get up and play quietly in her room. She does for awhile and then she'll open her door and yell "can I get up yet?".

The plus side is it's happening at a time when the kids are old enough to play on their own together and therefore don't need me to constantly entertain them all day long. Many days after lunch, they go off and play and I've gone down to my office to get some work done. They don't need me, so I try not to 'need' them. It's not exactly peace and quiet, but it's still a little bit of time to myself.

Of course, the problem with the end of nap time is always the same -- she may not be tired at 2 p.m., but she sure as hell is a miserable wreck by 7 p.m. without one.

But as the end of nap time draws near -- just in time for school to let out -- I'm going to have to relook and rework how I balance my stay-at-home, work-from-home life. Because now, I'm going to have 2 kids all day for 2 months and no one is going to want to stop to sleep.

Well, except maybe me.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ok, I finally admit that I need glasses

Three years ago, I had my eyes checked for the first time in about 10 years. Why I had never bothered to go before was...well...simply laziness. I could see just fine, so why spend money for a doctor to tell me that.

But three years ago, I started to notice that I was having trouble seeing (actually, it was when I was trying to take pictures with our digital SLR camera and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the camera to focus). So I went to the optometrist and sure enough, I needed glasses. I no longer had 20/20 vision.

At that time, I was eight and a half months pregnant and had a two-year-old at home. I just didn't have the time, or the patience, to deal with needing glasses. So I picked a pair that would do from the optometrist's office and was done with it.

And rarely wore them.

Until awhile later, I realized that driving at night was easier with glasses. And then, driving when it was cloudy was easier with glasses. And then watching TV upstairs on the smaller TV was easier with glasses. And then watching TV downstairs was easier with glasses (well at least if I wanted to actually enjoy watching HDTV). And then, driving in general was easier with glasses. And live sporting events and concerts and movies and....

Until very recently, I realized that life in general was easier to see with glasses on. And here's where the problem lay -- I still didn't want to wear them. Why? It's not because I was ashamed, or anything like that, to wear glasses. It's just that I finally realized that the glasses I picked out in a hurry three years earlier weren't all that nice.

In fact, I didn't really like them at all.

And if I didn't like them, I didn't like the way I looked when I wore them. So I didn't wear them.

Except now life was a little blurry.

So after months of procrastinating, I finally went to buy new glasses (and prescription sunglasses too). And now, I actually wear them. I wear them to drive, I wear them to watch TV, I wear them to sporting events, on the subway and to walk Austin to school in the morning. I wear them pretty much any time I'm not just hanging around the house (because really, what's there to see there that I haven't already seen!).

And I don't know why I never bought prescription sunglasses before. I'm so used to the world being blurry when I wear sunglasses that I forgot that it's not always like that!

So here's the new me. Next time you see me, I'll probably be wearing glasses.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Kids say the darndest things

Austin is full of questions these days. I thought the why stage at age 3 was bad. This is even worse. He has a question for everything. What are these buttons for? Why is the road two different colours? Why are the street lights still on in the daytime? And so on and so on and so on.

But sometimes, he asks honest to goodness questions. Questions that don't drive me crazy.

The other day, he asked me about banks. We were in the car and I told the kids I had to stop at the bank,deposit a cheque and take out some money. The conversation went like this:

Austin: What's a cheque?

Me: It's money. When people pay me for writing, they use a cheque and then I put it in the bank.

Austin: But why do you put money in the bank, you're supposed to get money from the bank.(In the kids' eyes, you need money, you go to the bank machine, it gives you money. Easy as that.)

Me: (proceeding to explain how banks work by telling him that everyone at the bank has a different number and when I want to put money in, I put it into that number and when I need to take it out, I take it from that number. And I can only take out as much money as I have in the bank. So, I then said (because Austin knows basic math)....)Austin, if I had $10 in the bank and I want to buy something that's $20, can I do it?

Austin: No, you need 10 more dollars.

Me: That's right.

Austin: (Thinking for minute). Mommy, I think you need to work more so that we have more money.

Me: (Trying not to laugh out loud) Why?

Austin: So you can buy me more things.

Monday, May 16, 2011

A matter of national security

When we packed to go to Florida (which is where we were last week), we packed way smarter than when we went to Texas last fall. Last fall, we had it in our heads that less is more -- meaning the fewer things you have to carry, the better.

A good theory, really. And one that should be practiced when travelling. But when you decide to use just two suitcases between four people -- so that there's less to cart around airports -- don't forget that the damn airlines will charge you an extra arm and a leg for going a mere ounce overweight. So, when we flew home from Texas, one of our bags was too heavy and we had to pay an extra $50 on top of the $25 per bag you had to pay when you checked in (again, damn U.S. airlines charging bag fees at check-in.)

So, with this trip, we decided that we would take three suitcases -- two big and one small. And then, we had the brilliant brainwave. We realized, that since we weren't just going to Florida, we were going to Disney World, there would likely be a lot of 'stuff' on the return trip home. Afterall, we were going with grandparents -- and they like to buy things for the kids. A lot of things.

And of course, mom and dad wanted to hit the outlet malls too.

So this brainwave was simple -- pack an empty duffelbag into one of the suitcases. It doesn't cost anything to bring it back full because we're four people, meaning we're allowed to have four checked bags.

And sure enough, having an extra bag was a briliant idea Because we needed it. We had toys, we had dolls, we had Mickey clothes, we had two new pairs of adult shoes each and a bunch of other clothes from the outlet malls.

So, when we were packing up, we used the duffel bag to throw all our dirty laundry in. Then everything else -- the toys, the dolls, the new clothes and shoes, the unworn clothes -- went into the other suitcases. And we balanced the weight almost perfectly.

And when we got home, we unpacked and discovered this in our laundry duffel bag:
Our bag was searched. I'm sure it was random or something. But it's much funnier to think that our dirty laundry is a matter of national security.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Five misconceptions my kids have about me

Recently, it dawned on me that at the ages of 3 and 5, my kids have certain misconceptions about me. So, in honour of Mother's Day, here are five things my kids think they know:

1) My kids think I can sing. Both my kids love singing (and dancing to) kids songs. Learning through song is a big part of how kids grow up, and I find myself singing to them a lot. The other day, I was trying to wake my daughter up by singing our good morning song, when she opened her eyes, smiled and said "again". And I sang it again. It dawned on me, that she thinks I can sing. When in all honesty, I can barely carry a tune. Although how hard is it, really, to carry a tune when the extent of your repetoire is ABC and Wheels on the Bus? I wonder how many more years it'll be before they realize I can't really sing?

2) My kids think I'm crafty. Let me put it very simply. I'm not. Over the years, I've learned how to do simple kids crafts with the help of my dear friend the Internet. 19 times out of 20, a craft we do together was someone else's idea. I just followed their directions.

3) My kids think I know everything. They have questions for everything. I have answers. The relationship is as simple as that. Although at least half the time, I'm talking out of my ass.

4) My kids think that on the mornings they're both at school (2 mornings a week Alex is in preschool and 5 mornings a week, Austin is in Kindergarten), I'm sad all by myself. It takes a lot of willpower every time one of them says that to not tell them that what I do when they're gone is the happy dance.

5) My kids think I'm supermom. Well, at least they get one right.

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Running right down the middle of Yonge Street

I did it. I accomplished my third 10K run in less than two years, finishing with my best time yet -- by far. 1:09:37.4. That's 69 minutes! I was targetting a 70-minute finish, so let me tell you, right about now, I'm pretty proud of myself.
It was an amazing running experience -- and a very different one from running at the zoo. At the Zoo Run 10K, the number of runners is capped around 2,500. Here, it's not. So there were more than 12,000 runners, running down Yonge Street.

At the zoo, after the first kilometre or so, the pack spreads out and you're pretty much on your own -- well at least you are when you're nearer to the back of the pack. At the Sporting Life run, you are always amongst the pack. It is simply a sea of people running straight down Yonge Street -- from north of Eglinton to Richmond, and then across Richmond and over to Fort York to the finish line.
And yet, it was such a rush. So much so that in a way, it seems like a bit of a blur to me. I just ran. And waved to Ryan and the kids who were cheering me on around the 1K mark. And found some friends standing around 3K hoping to catch a glimpse of me (and they did because I started smiling and waving madly). And looked around at the stores as I went by. And looked down and realized, "hey, I'm running right along the yellow centre line -- and I'm at Yonge and Dundas!"

And before I knew it, I was passing Yonge and Bloor and passing Yonge and Dundas and passing the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond. I was just running. And enjoying every minute of it.

I felt like I was flying. I had no idea how fast I was going, but it felt faster than I'd ever gone before (and it was!). I messaged Ryan as I stopped to walk around 4K and then again around 7K so that he'd know where I was. He and the kids wanted to see me near the finish line, but it's a little more complicated with this race than at the zoo which is contained in a small space.

When I messaged him, I had no idea how long I'd be running, but it didn't feel like it had been very long.

And then, I was there. I could see the finish line, Ryan and the kids were yelling "Go mommy go" and I found a new speed I didn't know I had.
It felt incredible. And, I have to admit, although I complained about having to get up early (I was up at 5:45 a.m.), drag the kids out of bed (we got them up at 6:30 a.m.) and get my butt to Yonge and Eglinton before 8 a.m. on a Sunday, I may just consider doing this run one more time next year.

But first up is the Zoo run one more time this fall. Austin wants to do the kid 500 metre run that follows the 10K, so I figure if we're going to go for that -- I might as well run another 10K.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Please no rain, please no rain, please no rain

Sunday is my third 10K race. I've been wanting to do this particular one pretty much since I crossed the finish line of my first 10K race in October 2009. (Damn crutches having got in my way last spring).

I'm excited. I'm ready. I can do it. I even think I can do it faster than I did the Zoo Run in October 2010. But please, please, please weather Gods, don't let it rain. Because right now, Sunday is calling for a 70% chance of showers all day.

It's not that I can't run in the rain. I've done it. It's not that bad -- but it's not that pleasant either. Especially when a light rain turns into short downpour. Then it's just downright unpleasant. And since Ryan and the kids are getting out of bed to watch me (it's a 8 a.m. start), they might grumble if they have to get out of bed just to stand in the rain for an hour and a half.

I don't care what the rest of the day does -- but maybe, just maybe, between 7:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, you could all ask the rain to stay away. Or at least stay away from Yonge Street.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm going to Disney World!

I may be in my thirties, but I'm not embarrased to admit that I fall into that category of honestly believing that Disney world is the happiest place on earth.

Of course, I know there's many other places to visit in this world, and I've been fortunate enough to visit some of them over the years...but Disney World is well, Disney world!

We booked the trip in early March - a really good deal that my dad found in the paper (and we're going with my parents) - but until yesterday, I've had to be quietly excited. And have had to quietly go about planning and reading up. Because the kids didn't know.

Yesterday we told the kids. They were quite muted in their excitement at first. Not because they don't know what Disney World is - because ironically, right after we booked the trip, Playhouse Disney (the TV channel they watch all the time) started showing commercials for Disney World and the kids' mouths would drop open and they'd start asking if we could go. I think they we're a little muted because they were in shock.

After about 5 minutes of Austin asking a million and one questions (when are we going? how long are we staying for? Where are we staying? How are we getting there?), he got up and danced out of the room while singing "We're going to Disney World! We're going to Disney World!"

The excitement really sunk in for both of them this morning, as they asked me another million and one questions over breakfast about what there is to do there. And every now and then throughout the day, one of them would break into song about how "we're going to Disney World!".

I'm excited. I'm really, really excited. It's been 14 years since I was there -- more than 20 years since Ryan was last there.

And even though my kids are the ones who are the kids, somehow, just the thought of going makes me feel like a kid again.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Mickey Mouse birthday

This past weekend was Alex's birthday, and once again I created a cake for her.

Or actually, cupcakes.

Deciding what to do this year was difficult. The idea for Mickey cupcakes was actually tossed around a few months ago and then forgotten about. So as her birthday was approaching, I fretted about what to do. Having been sick for much of the week and a half before her party, the idea of doing a big cake was daunting. Yet, the only thing I could think of was to create a Belle cake (from Beauty and the Beast) because she recently developed an obsession with her.

So two days before her birthday, at 7:30 p.m., I headed over toBulk arn to see if I could get a cake pan and Barbie torso to make a Belle cake. And while I'm standing there in the store, I realize that I could do Mickey Mouse cupcakes instead. Afterall, she may be obssessed with Belle right now, but she LOVES Mickey. No characters in the world are better than Mickey and Minnie.

So now I'm standing in the store with an idea, and no idea how to go about making them. So I called Ryan and he Googled it. And together we came up with a great idea:
This website was what came up when Ryan Googled 'Mickey cupcakes' and they were really easy to make. All I had to do was ice the cupcake, dip it in Oreo cookie crumbs until all of the icing was covered and then using toothpicks, I stuck on two Oreo cookies for ears. Finally, to top it off, I added two little white dots (I used labelling stickers, but you could use chads from a hole punch too) to the front of the cupcake liner.

Ta da. Mickey Mouse cupcakes.

But why, do you ask, does that picture have one Mickey and one that looks like it could be Minnie without a bow? Because, at first, I made chocolate cupcakes in plain white liners. You see, Alex wanted chocolate cake, of course. I figured, after they were baked, I could slip the red liner on top to make the Mickey cupcakes.

It was a great plan, except for one small problem. The red liners were bigger than the white ones I had used to make the cupcakes. Oops.

So I had to make another batch of cupcakes -- this time using white cake in the red liners. But since Alex really wanted chocolate cake, I slipped a polka dot liner (which thankfully fit) on half a dozen of the chocolate ones to create Minnie cupcakes.

Which meant, on birthday party day, Alex just wanted one of each. And what the birthday girl wants, the birthday girl gets.